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Trade Secret/Economic Espionage Cases - U.S. v. Estrada (S.D.N.Y.)



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Press Release
For Immediate Release
March 21, 2001
 

 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 MasterCard’s 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 property.

According to the Complaint, ESTRADA was a contract food services employee working at MasterCard’s 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 Visa’s offices located in California. ESTRADA allegedly offered to sell to Visa sensitive and proprietary information that he had stolen from MasterCard’s 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 entertainment corporation.

As part of a sting operation conducted by the FBI’s Computer Intrusion and Intellectual Property Squad, an FBI agent posed as a Visa representative and negotiated for the purchase of the MasterCard documents in ESTRADA’s 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. Attorney’s 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. Attorney’s 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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