Digital Identity Digital Privacy Industry News

Hackers behind Wolf & Associates Breach Sentenced to 33 Years in Prison

Two San Diego residents pleaded guilty last week to hacking a computer network to steal client identities and collect more than $2 million in unemployment benefits.

San Diego residents Gordon Welterlen, 37, and Nicole Milan, 31, are described as two habitual offenders, responsible for multiple felonies, including one of the biggest data breaches in Santa Barbara County history. The pair pleaded guilty last week to multiple felony counts that will send them to prison for a combined 33 years, the Independent reports.

The two notoriously hacked a computer network belonging to the Wolf & Associates to steal client identities and apply for unemployment, collecting over $2 million in the process.

Curious to see what data about you is there online? Check it now with Bitdefender’s Digital Identity Protection.

Welterlen will be sentenced to 18 years in prison, while Milan will be sentenced to 15 years, come March 18. Both have extensive criminal histories of fraud and theft, court documents say.

A 40-year-old Santa Barbara accomplice named Rosa Bradley is set to be given probation for two years for receiving some of the stolen money. A fourth accomplice named William Gormley remains at large.

David Zarate, 44, of Oxnard and Christina Renata Hesler, 40, of San Diego are also named as co-defendants in the case, according to an August report by local station NewsChannel 3.

Because Welterlen is known to have conducted extensive illegal dealings on the dark web, the information stolen from Wolf & Associates may have also ended up in other crybercriminals’ hands.

Wolf & Associates customers who filed an application with the firm between 2017 and 2020 may have had their personal identifying information compromised, according to the news station. Anyone who believes may be affected is instructed to contact the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office at IdTheft@co.santa-barbara.ca.us.

About the author

Filip TRUTA

Filip is an experienced writer with over a decade of practice in the technology realm. He has covered a wide range of topics in such industries as gaming, software, hardware and cyber-security, and has worked in various B2B and B2C marketing roles. Filip currently serves as Information Security Analyst with Bitdefender.