Software Engineer Gets Federal Prison For Stealing Fishing Spot Info From Escambia County Company

June 26, 2020

A software engineer from Alabama has been sentenced to federal prison for stealing trade secrets from an Escambia County company and then trying to extort more information from the company’s owners.

Timothy J. Smith, 43, of Mobile, was sentenced to 18 months in prison in United States District Court in Pensacola on charges of theft of trade secrets and interstate extortionate communications.

Strikeline, the victim in the case, is a Pensacola based company that uses commercial side scan sonar equipment to locate fishing reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and sells the coordinates using an interactive map on their website. StrikeLines also provides public coordinates for free to those interested in finding valuable spots to fish in the Gulf.

The evidence showed that between April and November 2018, Smith obtained private information valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars from the local company by using sophisticated cyber techniques in order to gain the trade secrets and decrypt information of the company from its website.

After hearing how Smith stole private sonar coordinates of reefs, the jury received testimony and exhibits showing how Smith then tried to extort the two owners of StrikeLines for more valuable information. During this entire time, the victims did not know Smith’s identity or why he was trying to harm them.

Federal and state law enforcement were able to trace all the criminal acts back to Smith in Mobile where he committed the cyber theft against the Pensacola company.

At sentencing, United States District Judge M. Casey Rodgers announced that she thought Smith’s acts were based upon “spite” and “arrogance.” In addition to his term of imprisonment, Judge Rodgers sentenced Smith to a one-year term of supervision once released from custody. Smith was also ordered to forfeit all the electronic devices he utilized to commit his crimes.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office takes very seriously cyber crimes of all kinds, ranging from protecting our national security to the secrets of private companies,” said U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe. “In our increasingly online society, cyber security is vital to all of us as we conduct Internet transactions and conversations so that we can be confident our identities and personal information are protected. Our office is pleased that the jury held the defendant to account for victimizing a small local business.”

“This is the first time we’ve investigated a case like this and it most likely won’t be the last,” said FDLE Pensacola Special Agent in Charge Jack Massey. “I applaud our FDLE agents and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for always working to stay at the forefront of technology and one step ahead of the bad guys.”

This case resulted from an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the FBI, and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorney David L. Goldberg prosecuted the case.


5 Responses to “Software Engineer Gets Federal Prison For Stealing Fishing Spot Info From Escambia County Company”

  1. Scott Sherlock on June 26th, 2020 10:20 pm

    Glad to hear jurors took this seriously. Cybercrime is a threat to us all. Also glad to hear Judge Rogers is still serving in the Federal
    Capacity. She is a Gracious and Fair Judge. It was a pleasure to serve under her in the past.

  2. No Excuses on June 26th, 2020 5:02 pm

    @Tim, if he goes to the federal prison camp in Pensacola, he’ll be doing exactly that.

  3. tim on June 26th, 2020 2:39 pm

    put him in a road camp, working in the heat, let him sweat out all that maliciousness

  4. BT on June 26th, 2020 1:46 pm

    Good! The kind of guy that would steal another man’s fishing hole should go to jail.

    I’m talking about you, Ronnie. Ya good for nothing bum!

  5. Amy on June 26th, 2020 12:50 pm

    Glad there was a successful prosecution

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