IT worker gets prison after stealing data for online surveys

A former IT staffer has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison for stealing sensitive information belonging to his co-workers and using the data to make money filling out online health surveys.

Cam Giang, 31, was fired from the University of California San Francisco Medical Center earlier this year after investigators discovered that he'd been using the names, birthdays and Social Security numbers of other UCSF employees to fill out hundreds of online surveys. The point was to collect online vouchers, worth US$100 each.

He had worked at the medical center's IT department for five years and had access to the sensitive information through his job, according to court records.

Between January and April of this year, Giang filled out 382 surveys before the company that was paying for them, StayWell, figured out what was going on. StayWell had been offering UC employees the gift vouchers as incentives to fill out health surveys, but it grew wise to the scam.

The company received complaints from employees who couldn't fill out the survey. When StayWell investigated, it turned out that Giang had already filled out surveys in their names.

In court filings, Giang's attorney said he received 218 vouchers (total value $21,800) but never managed to cash them in. Giang only used part of the Social Security numbers of his co-workers while filling out the survey, his lawyer states in a sentencing memorandum. "Mr Giang never intended to steal their identity, and other than losing the opportunity to participate in StayWell's marketing surveys, the victims did not lose anything," says the Oct. 20 memorandum asking the judge for probation instead of jail time.

Giang has been "despondent since his arrest and attempted to commit suicide," the memorandum states.

Giang pleaded guilty to wire fraud and identity theft charges on July 22. He was sentenced Wednesday by Judge Jeremy Fogel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

In early May, the UCSF warned 486 people that their information had been accessed.

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert's e-mail address is robert_mcmillan@idg.com

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