A former IT technician for Expedia subsidiary Hotwire was sentenced to 15 months in prison today, after he pled guilty last year to allegations of breaking into employee accounts and stealing sensitive information from documents and emails that he used for insider trading.
Jonathan Ly used information he got from accounts as high up as the company’s chief financial officer and head of investor relations to pocket more than $331,000 from stock trades between 2013 and late 2015, surrounding events such as quarterly earnings reports, and the acquisitions of Travelocity and Orbitz.
“This was not a one-time lapse in judgement – this defendant used his technology skills to repeatedly invade the email accounts of Expedia executives so that he could enrich himself at the expense of others,” U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes said in a statement. “Even after he moved on to a better paying position at a different technology firm he continued his crimes, all while trying to make it look like other employees were at fault. I commend Expedia for quickly contacting law enforcement and working with investigators to stop the computer intrusions and identify those responsible.”
As part of his plea agreement Ly will pay $81,592 to Expedia, the equivalent cost of the company’s investigation of Ly’s acts. He is also facing a separate Securities and Exchange Commission action requiring him to pay back the more than $331,000 in illegal profits he made in the scheme.
As a “senior IT support technician” based in San Francisco, Ly routinely had access to Hotwire and Expedia employee login information and devices. Ly used those credentials to break into company files to get information he later used in stock transactions.
In 2014, Ly began using an IT administrative service he was not authorized on that allowed him to get even more access to employee accounts, including individual emails. Ly tried to cover his tracks by using login credentials of other employees when using the service to look at sensitive information.
Ly’s acts didn’t end when he left the company in April 2015. Ly kept a company-issued laptop that could connect to Expedia’s network, and he used other employees’ login information to continue breaking into Expedia files and emails.
Expedia said last year it detected Ly’s alleged actions through “enhanced monitoring practices we had in place. Expedia worked closely with law enforcement authorities to identify, track, pursue, and put a halt to these activities.”