Brain Dump Site Nailed for Trade-Secret Theft

 
 
By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2002-08-30
 
 
 
Robert Keppel, owner of the defunct brain dump sites CheetSheets.com and Cheet-Sheets.com, has pleaded guilty to charges of theft of trade secrets after selling exams and answers needed to become an MCSE (Microsoft Certified System Engineer) and MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solution Developer).

According to the U.S. Attorneys Office in Seattle and the FBI, beginning in 1999, Keppel began selling the exams and answers via the CheetSheets Web sites. According to government officials, in January 2001, Keppel began buying actual copies of the MCSE and MCSD exams and answers. The individual from whom Keppel bought the exams and answers, whom government officials declined to identify, photographed and/or videotaped actual tests at a test site in Pakistan, the government officials said.

Those materials made Keppel some hefty profits: Records from NOVA, an Internet company that performs billing services for Visa and Mastercard, show that between July 2000 and October 2001, Keppel deposited about $756,633 worth of business proceeds into a merchant account. Those funds represent proceeds from the sale of the pirated MCSE and MCSD exams and answers, as well as other exams belonging to Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems Inc. and other businesses, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1832(a)(2), prohibiting theft of trade secrets.

Keppel will face sentencing on Nov. 1. He has already agreed to forfeit a Lexus RX300 and a Ferrari 355 Spider bought with money made off CheetSheets.com. In addition, the government has seized $56,000 from merchant bank accounts. He faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

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