A former IT technician at Expedia pleaded guilty to insider trading charges on Monday after allegedly hacking the firm’s senior executives and illegally trading on company secrets.
According to prosecutors, Jonathan Ly, 28, accessed the emails of Expedia’s chief financial officer and head of investor relations, obtaining inside information on upcoming quarterly results to make “highly profitable” trades in stock options.
Ly reportedly earned more than $331,000 between 2013 and 2016 by trading ahead of numerous company news announcements.
Authorities said the insider trading scheme continued even after he left Expedia in 2015 when he kept a company laptop and connected remotely to Expedia’s network to steal the confidential information.
Ly pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud in U.S. District Court in Seattle, which is punishable by up to 25 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced on February 28, 2017.
In a separate settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Ly agreed to pay back his illegal profits plus interest, totaling more than $375,000.
“The irony of our increasingly digital world is that the greatest threat to our networks is a human one,” said U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes in a statement.
“In this case, an IT professional used his employer’s networks to facilitate a get-rick-quick scheme,” Hayes said.
Hayes added Expedia quickly contacted the FBI when it discovered the scheme.
The company told CNNMoney that it detected the intrusion by using “enhanced monitoring practices” it had in place. Expedia also said it “worked closely with law enforcement authorities to identify, track pursue and put a halt to these activities.”
Ly was also ordered to repay Expedia the nearly $82,000 it spent investigating the hacking incidents.