FBI Sting Captures New York Man Who Stole Trade Secrets from MasterCard
and Offered Them for Sale to Visa
March 21, 2001
MARY JO WHITE, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New
York, and BARRY W. MAWN, Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Office
of the FBI, announced the arrest today of FAUSTO ESTRADA for allegedly stealing
various confidential documents from the credit card company MasterCard International
and offering to sell them to MasterCards competitor Visa International.
A five-count Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court charges ESTRADA
with theft of trade secrets, mail fraud and interstate transportation of stolen
According to the Complaint, ESTRADA was a contract food services employee
working at MasterCards headquarters in Purchase, New York. The Complaint
charges that in February 2001, ESTRADA, using the alias "Cagliostro,"
mailed a package of information he had stolen from MasterCard to Visas
offices located in California. ESTRADA allegedly offered to sell to Visa sensitive
and proprietary information that he had stolen from MasterCards headquarters
and allegedly offered to record high level meetings within MasterCard if Visa
paid ESTRADA and provided him with recording equipment. According to the Complaint,
among the items ESTRADA offered to sell to Visa was a business alliance proposal
valued in excess of $1 billion between MasterCard and a large United States
As part of a sting operation conducted by the FBIs Computer Intrusion
and Intellectual Property Squad, an FBI agent posed as a Visa representative
and negotiated for the purchase of the MasterCard documents in ESTRADAs
possession. These negotiations culminated in a covert meeting at which an
undercover FBI agent met with ESTRADA in a hotel room to exchange money for
the stolen proprietary documents.
If convicted, ESTRADA faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a
fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the crime
on each of the two charges of theft of trade secrets and the two interstate
transportation of stolen property charges, and five years in prison and a
$250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss resulting from the crime on
the wire fraud charge.
ESTRADA lives in the Bronx, New York.
The theft of trade secret charges are brought under the Economic Espionage
Act, Title 18, United States Code, Section 1832. The Economic Espionage Act
was enacted in 1996 as part of an effort to thwart various forms of economic
espionage in both the public and private sectors, and this is the first criminal
prosecution in the Southern District of New York under the statute.
Ms. WHITE stated: "This case demonstrates that employees cannot expect
to profit from the illicit theft of valuable and sensitive trade secrets from
corporations without facing criminal charges. Economic espionage is a multi-billion
dollar threat to American businesses and jobs and will not be tolerated."
Mr. MAWN stated: "The unflinching pursuit of these investigations by
the New York FBI and the U.S. Attorneys Office signals our offices
commitment to use this new law to help industry protect against predators,
both domestic and foreign, who steal trade secrets to the great detriment
of American businesses and jobs."
Ms. WHITE praised the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
and said that the investigation is continuing. Ms. WHITE and Mr. MAWN further
commended Visa for being a "good corporate citizen" by reporting
the incident to MasterCard, and praised both MasterCard and Visa on their
commitment to work with the U.S. Attorneys Office and the FBI to successfully
thwart economic espionage.
Assistant United States Attorney MARC A. WEINSTEIN is in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant
is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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