Arrest made in Family Medical Center hacking case involving 43,000 patient records

STAFF REPORT :::

An Idaho man has been arrested and charged with hacking into the computers of Family Medical Center in Griffin, computers in the city of Newnan and others.

Robert Purbeck, of Meridian, Idaho, was on March 2 indicted in the Northern District in Georgia on federal charges including computer fraud and abuse, access device fraud and wire fraud.

“This alleged cyber-criminal and extortionist targeted the City of Newnan as well as medical clinics in our District, stealing over 60,000 records containing personal information of our citizens,” said acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine. “He then allegedly attempted to extort a Florida orthodontist, threatening to sell the social security number of his minor child unless the orthodontist submitted to a payment demand. Now, this defendant must answer for his alleged crimes in the Northern District of Georgia.”

Authorities say Purbeck, age 41, also known as Lifelock and Studmaster, between June 23, 2017 and April 28, 2018, Purbeck allegedly purchased, on a criminal marketplace, the username and passwords to computer servers belonging to multiple Georgia victims which he allegedly used to access the victims’ computers and steal sensitive personally identifiable information.

Officials say Purbeck stole medical records and other documents that contained names, addresses, birth dates and social security numbers of over 43,000 people from Family Medical Center in Griffin; police reports and other documents containing personal information of over 14,000 people from the city of Newnan; and the personal information of over 7,000 people from a Locust Grove medical practice. 

“The charges against Purbeck highlight the need to remain vigilant in our cybersecurity efforts,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The theft of intellectual property to be used to extort citizens is a very serious crime and one the FBI will diligently pursue, no matter if you are hiding behind a computer screen.”

According to Erskine, the charges, and other information presented in court included allegations Purbeck allegedly hacked into the computers of an orthodontist in Florida and stole medical records of over 1,800 people, and then threatened, harassed and attempted to extort the orthodontist, demanding a ransom payment in Bitcoin. 

Purbeck also allegedly threatened to disclose and sell the stolen patient and personal information unless the orthodontist paid the ransom demand. Purbeck reportedly identified the name and social security number of the orthodontist’s minor child and threatened to disclose and sell their personal information, as well. 

During this attempted extortion, Purbeck allegedly sent numerous harassing emails and text messages to the orthodontist and his patients.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Atlanta Field Office, with valuable assistance provided by the FBI Boise Resident Agency.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Herskowitz, Chief of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section and Nathan Kitchens, Chief of the Public Integrity and Special Matters Section and the U.S. Department of Justice Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) are prosecuting the case. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho has also provided valuable assistance in this case.

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