A tech-savvy NYPD auxiliary deputy inspector allegedly “installed multiple electronic devices” in an NYPD Traffic Safety Office; one device gave him remote access and another was a hidden camera to surveil the office. He would supposedly check the surveillance camera over the Internet to make sure no one was using the computer and then log into the database.
Yehuda Katz, the alleged con man taking kickbacks, was arrested last week for using “his position as an auxiliary officer to hack into restricted computers and networks in order to obtain the personal information of thousands of citizens in a scheme to enrich himself through fraud.” United States Attorney Lynch vowed to “vigorously prosecute” individuals who “abuse positions of trust to engage in insider attacks.”
The devices allegedly “allowed him to remotely access restricted NYPD computers and law enforcement databases, including one maintained by the FBI, that he did not have permission to access.” According to the complaint, “One of the electronic devices installed by the defendant contained a hidden camera that captured a live image of the Traffic Safety Office and was capable of live-streaming that image over the Internet. The second electronic device was connected to one of the computers in the Traffic Safety Office and allowed the computer to be accessed and controlled remotely.”
Eventually the hidden camera was discovered inside a cable TV box in the office where car accident reports were stored. Investigators then found the device on a computer that had been “logging into the NYPD database using the passwords of three cops on their days off.”
The press release stated:
As alleged in the complaint, investigators with the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau and the FBI determined that the devices had been used to allow the defendant to remotely log onto an NYPD computer using usernames and passwords belonging to NYPD uniformed officers. Thereafter, the defendant ran thousands of queries in databases, including a restricted law enforcement database maintained by the FBI, for information, including the personal identifying information of victims, related to traffic accidents in the greater New York City area.
Although federal investigators don’t spell out how the cop was profiting from the scheme in the press release, the New York Daily News reported the “rogue” cop would collect information about traffic accidents and then pose as “an ambulance-chasing lawyer” when he contacted victims. “Numerous calls on his cellphone were associated with medical clinics, law firms and chiropractors, suggesting he was getting kickbacks for referrals.”
After Katz accessed and gathered information from NYPD computer and law enforcement databases, he allegedly “contacted individuals who had been involved in traffic accidents and falsely claimed to be, among others, an attorney with the fictitious ‘Katz and Katz law firm’ who could assist them with potential legal claims.”
According to the complaint, in letters sent to accident victims, Katz claimed, “I can advise you with 100% confidence that I can resolve this claim in your favor,” and “My fee is 14% only when you collect. And I know that you will collect.”
Federal prosecutors allege that “between May and August 2014, the defendant ran over 6,400 queries in sensitive law enforcement databases that he accessed remotely via the compromised NYPD computer for information related to traffic accidents.”
The NY Daily News added that after Katz was released on $75,000 bond, he was met outside the court by an Internal Affairs Bureau officer who had Katz sign a form resigning his position as an NYPD auxiliary deputy inspector.