June 19, 2018 / 2:56 AM / in 4 months

Maryland woman pleads guilty to using IDs from massive U.S. government hack

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Maryland woman pleaded guilty on Monday to participating in a scheme to use identification data stolen in a massive 2015 data hack of a U.S. government agency to get fraudulent personal and vehicle loans through a Virginia-based credit union, the Justice Department said.

Karvia Cross, 39, and others she recruited used the identities to get loans from Langley Federal Credit Union, according to a Justice Department statement. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft and faces a maximum of 30 years in prison when she is sentenced on Oct. 26 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, it said.

A co-defendant, Marlon McKnight, pleaded guilty to the same charges on June 11.

The charges and guilty plea are among the first to result from the hack of sensitive personal information from the Office of Personnel Management on more than 22 million federal employees, contractors and job applicants disclosed in May 2015.

The data breach, a major embarrassment for the administration of President Barack Obama, resulted in the resignation of OPM’s leader and a change in how security clearance checks are conducted.

Justice Department officials did not immediately respond to enquiries about how Cross and McKnight acquired the data.

A congressional investigation in 2016 found that the hack could easily have been prevented through the use of rudimentary cyber security measures.

That probe faulted OPM - which manages employment matters for the federal government including background checks for most agencies - for not moving more quickly to address early signs of an attack, allowing hackers to later siphon off reams of data.

U.S. intelligence officials have linked the Chinese government to the OPM breach, an accusation Beijing has denied.

Reporting by Eric Walsh; editing by Richard Pullin

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