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Queens Chronicle

FBI arrests Flushing computer programmer

Chinese national faces 10 years in prison for alleged Treasury data theft

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Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2012 12:00 pm

A Flushing computer programmer was arrested last week by the FBI and charged with stealing information from the Federal Reserve Bank.

Bo Zhang, 32 is accused of illegally copying Federal Reserve software onto an external hard drive. The software that Zhang allegedly stole is said to have cost $9.5 million to develop, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors say that Zhang was working as an independent contractor for the Federal Reserve when he allegedly stole the software in question. FBI Assistant Director Janice Fedarcyk said that Zhang, “took advantage of the access that came with his trusted position to steal highly sensitive proprietary software. Stealing it and copying it threatened the security of vitally important source code.”

Zhang worked for the New York Federal Reserve bank between May 2011 and August 2011. The U.S. Attorney’s Office claims that Zhang admitted to making a copy of the program in July 2011.

Zhang, who is a Chinese citizen in the United States on a work visa, claimed that he stole a copy of the program in order to help him with a job he had training others in computer programming.

The program Zhang is accused of stealing tracks fund appropriations from the Department of Treasury to other agencies. It also keeps track of the account balances of government agencies. Zhang was hired to develop the program of which the alleged theft took place.

The case raises concerns about whether or not government agencies are secure from cyber attacks. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara took a strong stance against cyber thieves in a statement issued about the case.

“Fighting cyber crime is one of our top priorities and we will aggressively pursue anyone who puts our computer security at risk,” Bharara said.

Joseph Grob, Zhang’s lawyer, could not be reached for comment on the case before the Chronicle’s deadline.

Zhang was released on a $200,000 bond following his arrest. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His next scheduled court date is set for Feb. 17.

Kevin Korber

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