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IT consultant gets 5 years for plundering $2m

... from banks he administered

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A contractor who provided IT administration services to banks was sentenced to more than five years in prison this week after admitting he used his insider knowledge to plunder some $2m from four financial institutions.

Zeldon Thomas Morris, 43, was ordered to serve 63 months in federal prison and pay restitution of a little more than $1.8m, according to documents filed in US District Court in Utah. The rogue employee was also required to forfeit cars, real estate, and other personal property, and prohibited for life from "participating in any manner in the affairs of any federally regulated financial institution."

The sentence, handed down on Wednesday by US District Judge Clark Waddoups, came two weeks after Morris signed documents pleading guilty to one felony count of bank fraud. Using his unrestricted access needed to install software updates on the banks' systems, he was able to make fictitious transactions that transferred funds into accounts he controlled.

"Because of my position in upgrading the software, I was able to carry out this scheme without detection for nearly two-and-a-half years, from approximately August of 2006 until approximately April of 2009," Morris wrote in the court document.

"During that period, I used the means I have described to steal approximately $2 million dollars from four financial institutions, including, as part of my scheme, transferring stolen funds among those institutions to disguise the ongoing fraud."

The case is the latest to highlight the threat insiders pose to banks and other businesses trying to secure highly sensitive information. Besides financial gain, many stand accused of using their privileged access to exact revenge on their employers. ®

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