EDISON – A township man was arrested Thursday for alleged computer hacking and wiretapping of his former company’s email server, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick said in a statement.
Jian Yang Zhang, also known as Kevin Zhang,” 37, is charged with one count of unauthorized access of a protected computer and one count of interception of electronic communications.
He was scheduled to appear Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni in Trenton federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Zhang and his family were part owners of a New Jersey-based company that imported and supplied products to dollar stores, discount stores and wholesalers across the United States.
After a dispute among the owners in 2015, Zhang and his family agreed to sell their interest in the company to the other owners, the statement said. While negotiating the buyout, Zhang, who served as the email administrator for the company, created a hidden sub-user account within the company email server account.
When Zhang left the company in February 2015, he provided the login credentials for the email server to the remaining owners, who then changed the password.
However, Zhang did not disclose that he had created the hidden sub-user account. On numerous occasions over the next 14 months, Zhang accessed the email server without authorization and set various employee email accounts to forward to outside email accounts that he controlled, the statement said.
Both charges carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, authorities said.