The criminal investigation of a suspect accused of illegally accessing more than 20,000 Social Security numbers of University of Utah students, staff and faculty has been turned over to the prosecutors for possible criminal charges.
University police detective Mike McPharlane said the case was submitted Tuesday to the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office, along with his recommendation for the filing of a felony computer-theft charge.The investigation concluded earlier this week after McPharlane enlisted the help of campus computer experts who were able to tackle the 5-million byte data file and determine the intricacies of the hacker's methods.
The file, accessed April 1, contained names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses and the Social Security numbers of 23,000 people.
At first, university authorities feared the illegally obtained information had been used in a fraudulent manner to secure credit. McPharlane said the investigation has revealed that wasn't the case.
Although it does appear the hacker didn't cross state lines via the computer in the criminal case, McPharlane said federal charges could still be filed if investigators can show the suspect used the Social Security numbers for any type of fraud.
McPharlane said university officials are declining to release the suspect's identity until a criminal charge is filed. At this point, the suspect has retained an attorney and refused to discuss any details of the case except through legal counsel, McPharlane said.