A Pennsylvania man was sentenced to up to four years in prison after he pleaded guilty this week to attempting to hire a hacker on Craigslist to wipe a county record of more than $16,000 in fines owed.
That "hacker," according to WHTM-TV, turned out to be an undercover police detective.
Zachary Landis, 27, was charged with felony counts of attempting to remove or tamper with the public record, unlawful use of a computer and computer trespassing, according to court documents. The fines owed, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney's office, were for two DUI convictions and restitution to the victim of a 2008 assault.
He attempted to hire someone off Craigslist in March to clear these balances. Here's more from WPMT-TV about how the events transpired:
Detective [Matthew Dotts with the Derry Township Police Department], began an undercover conversation with the suspect who posted the ad using Safe-mail.net. The suspect told Detective Dotts that he had fines and costs in Lancaster County and wanted Dotts to hack into the clerk of courts system and make the balance zero.
Detective [Gregory Wahl with the Lancaster County Computer Forsenics Unit] agreed to take over the investigation. Wahl now posing as the hacker, told the suspect that he could get into the system, but would need information relating to the suspect’s docket/identifier in the system.
Later that day, the suspect replied to Detective Wahl’s request and attached three criminal docket sheets and one miscellaneous docket associated with Zachary J. Landis, 27, of Harrisburg. During his conversation with Detective Dotts, the suspect say that he wanted Dotts to wipe out a couple thousand dollars to prove that it could be done. After that, the suspect indicated that he would exchange money with Detective Dotts to wipe out the remaining balance.
After more detective work was done to tie Landis and his computer to such a request, he was arrested.
WPMT reported that Landis had faced up to a seven year prison sentence, but as part of a plea deal, he will only serve two to four years, according to the district attorney's office.
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