Woodbury Facebook hacker sentenced on 13 identity theft counts
A case that prosecutors said is emblematic of the hazards of sharing information online has led to jail time and thousands in fines for a Woodbury man.
A Washington County district court judge on June 22 sentenced Woodbury resident Timothy Noirjean to 150 days in jail, five years on probation and more than $15,000 in fines.
Noirjean, 27, pleaded guilty in March to 13 counts of electronic identity theft. He was accused of posing as a Facebook friend to an Oakdale woman and hacking her information - and information belonging to her friends.
Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said his prosecutors never budged from his assertion in 2011 that the case would not be plea-bargained.
"I'm not willing to tell one or several (of the victims) that we dismissed one or several of the counts in return for guilty pleas for the others," Orput said.
He said he was committed to getting convictions on the 13 counts - all felonies - due to the harm caused by Noirjean's actions. After hacking the women's information, Noirjean posted photos of several of the women on an adult website.
Orput said that while his office could prosecute Noirjean, it couldn't legally make the website take down the photos.
"That harm goes on forever," he said.
Orput said Internet users must be critical when it comes to sharing information, adding that identity theft has emerged as perhaps the most common crime in Washington County.
"This case illustrates the need to be very, very safe and vigilant online," he said. "I hope people just won't share passwords with anybody."
Authorities were alerted to the case in February 2010 after the Oakdale woman came forward with information about an unusual Facebook encounter.
According to a criminal complaint, the woman reported having a Facebook chat with someone she thought was a friend. When the woman logged off Facebook, then attempted to log back in, she learned her password had been changed.
After gaining access to her Facebook page, she found a link on her page that appeared to have been posted by the friend she had been chatting with earlier. That link led to a sexually explicit website that contained three of the woman's photos and identified her by first and last name and city of residence. Those photos had been stored in her email account, according to the complaint.
The woman then realized that she had unwittingly disclosed account information to her chat correspondent, later identified as Noirjean. The friend Noirjean had been posing as also learned her account information had been hacked.
Police closed in on Noirjean using Internet records. In an interview with police, Noirjean admitted to hacking into - or attempting to hack - more than 100 accounts.
More victims were discovered after a search of Noirjean's computer.
As part of the sentence, Tenth District Court Judge Elizabeth Martin ordered Noirjean to pay $1,000 to each of the 13 victims. She also required him to pay more than $2,000 to two women to cover computer expenses.
Noirjean must also complete 100 hours of community service, attend counseling and provide a DNA sample as part of the sentence.