An IT consultant used a Wi-Fi network sniffer to obtain the network login credentials of staff at a financial publisher as part of a scheme to obtain stock purchasing recommendations ahead of their release.
IT consultant Steven Oakes has been handed a three-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to illicitly accessing the publisher’s network.
Oakes obtained unpublished Port Phillip Publishing (PPP) stock tips and used that information to inform purchases of shares in a number of ASX-listed companies. Buy recommendations from PPP often trigger a rise in a company’s share price, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
ASIC last year accused Oakes of using information illicitly obtained from PPP on 70 occasions to buy shares in 52 different companies, selling the shares shortly after PPP published a recommendation.
Oakes faced 115 charges relating to insider trading and hacking during the period January 2012 to February 2016; he pleaded guilty to 11 charges and was sentenced today in the County Court in Melbourne. Oakes was also charged over an attempt to hide his activities.
ASIC said that during its investigation Oakes had sought to conceal evidence of his conduct, but their digital forensic analysts were able to retrieve data he had deleted from his electronic devices before he handed them over to investigations.
“Despite the sophistication of cyber criminals, ASIC can identify and investigate suspicious market activity connected to computer hacking activities, as it did in the case against Mr Oakes,” said ASIC commissioner Cathie Armour. “Traders should be aware that ASIC continues to focus on cyber-related offending.”