Auxiliary officer accused of hacking into NYPD computers

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

NEW YORK -- A New York City Auxiliary Deputy Inspector is under arrest and facing charges that he hacked into a restricted NYPD computer and other sensitive law enforcement databases.

Police say 45-year-old Yehuda Katz, assigned to the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn, obtained personal identifying information of traffic accident victims and fraudulently posed as an attorney soliciting clients.

Katz was taken into custody early Tuesday morning.

"The defendant allegedly used 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," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said. "The threat posed by those who abuse positions of trust to engage in insider attacks is serious, and we will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to vigorously prosecute such attacks."

According to the criminal complaint, Katz surreptitiously installed multiple electronic devices in the Traffic Safety Office of the NYPD's 70th Precinct, which allowed him to remotely access restricted computers and law enforcement databases, including one maintained by the FBI, that he did not have permission to access.

One of the electronic devices reportedly 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.

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 Katz to remotely log into the computer using usernames and passwords belonging to NYPD uniformed officers.

Thereafter, he allegedly 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.

The complaint further alleges that, after the defendant accessed the NYPD computer and law enforcement databases, he 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.

Letters sent by Katz to accident victims included claims such as "I can advise you with 100 percent confidence that I can resolve this claim in your favor," and "My fee is 14 percent only when you collect. And I know that you will collect."

All told, according to the complaint, between May and August 2014, Katz 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.