Two former employees of The Home Depot have been sentenced to federal prison for their role in an identity theft scheme that involved stealing personal identifying information from fellow employees and job applicants in order to submit fraudulent applications for credit cards.
According to reports filed by the United States Department of Justice, Paulette Shorter and Lakisha Grimes worked as Human Resources employees at the Atlanta, Georgia headquarters of the Home Depot, Inc., where they had access to the company’s employee database containing employee names, Social Security numbers, and birth dates.
The defendants used personal identifying information stolen from the Home Depot employee database and other sources to include employment application documents to apply online for Capital One credit cards in the names of different individuals, including Home Depot employees and job applicants. Home Depot Corporate Loss Prevention discovered the credit card fraud scheme based on a tip from a Home Depot employee and reported the identity theft to federal investigators.
“The defendants stole the very personal information they were entrusted to protect,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn. “They applied for fraudulent credit cards with personal identifying information taken from The Home Depot’s human resources database. Grimes and Shorter violated the trust of their employer and their fellow employees, and they did so to enrich themselves at the expenses of others.”
In total, thirty-two fraudulent Capital One credit card applications were submitted as part of the scheme using stolen personal identifying information, and two of the approved credit cards were mailed to Shorter’s and Grimes’s residences. Two of Shorter’s relatives used a fraudulent credit card issued in the identity theft scheme to purchase merchandise at several outlet stores.
Shorter was sentenced to two years and one day in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. Grimes was sentenced to two years in prison to be followed by one year of supervised release.
The theft of personnel information from Home Depot insiders has no apparent relationship to ongoing civil litigation involving a massive data breach at Home Depot last year that may have exposed as many as 56 million customer credit card numbers to hackers. More than 50 suits have been filed in what has been consolidated as multi-district litigation in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. The plaintiffs claim that collectively they sustained millions of dollars in damages as a result of the security breach.