U.S. arrests oil industry networking site creator over hacks

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The founder of an oil and gas networking website was arrested on Wednesday on charges that he hacked and stole information from a rival site he had created and sold to DHI Group Inc, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

David Kent, 40, was accused in a criminal complaint filed in Manhattan federal court of stealing data on over 500,000 user resumes from Rigzone.com, which he had sold for $51 million in 2010, to boost the membership of his new site Oilpro.com.

The complaint said Kent tried to sell Oilpro, created in 2013, to DHI by misrepresenting that the new website increased its membership to 500,000 through standard marketing methods.

The FBI arrested Kent in Houston on Wednesday morning on charges of conspiracy and wire fraud, agency spokeswoman Kelly Langmesser said.

The complaint did not identify Rigzone by name, but in a statement, DHI Group Chief Executive Michael Durney confirmed that his company was “in complete cooperation with law enforcement officials on this investigation.”

A lawyer for Kent did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Rigzone was launched by Kent in 2000 and allows members to create profiles and upload resumes. When the website was sold to New York-based DHI in 2010, its member database was worth $6 million, the complaint said.

From the start, Kent aimed to build a website that DHI would be interested in acquiring, the complaint said. By January 2016, the database of his new Houston-based company had grown to 500,000 members, the complaint said.

Rigzone’s database was hacked twice in 2014 and 2015, the complaint said, resulting in members being solicited to join Oilpro, the complaint said.

The case is U.S. v. Kent, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-mj-1906.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Chris Reese and Richard Chang)