Six suspects are facing 275 felony complaints in connection with a security breach at Wolfe & Associates Property Management in Santa Barbara in March.
The investigation is ongoing, but anyone who filed a rental application with the property management company between 2017 and 2020 may have had personal information compromised, according to the company.
Rental applications contain personal information such as names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers and addresses.
The individuals, mostly operating out of San Diego, have been charged with two counts of accessing and using a computer system of Wolfe & Associates, one count of multiple identifying information theft, six counts of unlawful transfer of identifying information for identity theft, one count of conspiracy to commit multiple identifying theft, one count of conspiracy to commit unemployment insurance benefit fraud and 263 counts of unemployment insurance benefit fraud.
The suspects have been identified as Gordon Welterlen, Nicole Milan, David Zarate, Rosa Bradley, William Gormley and Christina Renata. The suspects, the Santa Barbara Police Department told Wolfe & Associates, appear to have a history of obtaining personal information and using it to submit fraudulent insurance claims.
According to an email sent by Wolfe & Associates to potential victims of the breach, Santa Barbara police notified Wolfe & Associates on March 5 that data thieves operating outside of San Diego breached the secured online database of several companies, including Wolfe & Associates.
Police told company officials that the thieves likely used “strong-arm” tactics to force breaching of the security measures that were in place. Company officials immediately arranged for their information technology consultants to change passwords and review logs for any information about the hackers’ operations, the email stated.
On March 23, police provided Wolfe & Associates with information about the identities of potentially affected applicants, to which Wolfe then contacted by email.
The property management company arranged to offer NortonLifeLock for one year at no cost to all affected customers.
The defendants also have been charged with an aggravated white-collar crime enhancement because the theft amount totals more than $500,000.
Milan, Bradley and Welterlan were arraigned last Wednesday and are each being held on $250,000 bail. Milan and Welterlan are being held on $1 million bail for a related case.
The Investigation Division of the California Employment Development Department along with Santa Barbara police are conducting the investigation. Wolfe & Associates urges tenants to immediately report any unusual activity to Santa Barbara Detective Rapp at firstname.lastname@example.org.