FRESNO (CBS SF) – A Central Valley couple with ties to the United States Navy is facing multiple federal charges in an alleged identity theft scheme.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said 30-year-old Marquis Assad Hooper and his wife, 37-year-old Natasha Renee Chalk are in custody. The pair, who are from the community of Selma in Fresno County, have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.READ MORE: COVID Reopening: Santa Clara County Indoor Dining, Gyms Open For 1st Time Since December After Shift To Red Tier
Court documents said Hooper was a chief petty officer with the Navy’s Seventh Fleet until October 2018, while Chalk was a naval reservist stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore.
Before Hooper’s separation with the Navy was finalized, prosecutors said he contacted a company which had a database containing the personal information of millions of people, falsely claiming he needed to run background checks on behalf of the Seventh Fleet. The database serves business and government customers.
After Hooper received approval for his account, prosecutors said he gave access to the database to Chalk and several other individuals.READ MORE: COVID: Swollen Lymph Nodes After Vaccination Could Lead To False Breast Cancer Diagnosis, UCSF Doctors Say
The couple then searched for “tens of thousands” of individuals in the database, and sold the information to third parties in exchange for Bitcoin. Prosecutors said the third parties used the information to commit identity theft.
After losing access to the database in late 2018, Hooper and Chalk are also alleged to have tried to regain access through one of Hooper’s contacts stationed on the USS George Washington.
Prosecutors said the couple face a maximum of 20 years in prison on the conspiracy and wire fraud charges and a mandatory two years on the identity theft charges, if convicted.MORE NEWS: Basketball Star Jeremy Lin Speaks Out About Attacks On Asian Americans, Racism On Court
Chalk was arraigned on Monday, while Hooper is scheduled for arraignment Tuesday afternoon.