Harrisburg man arrested for attempting to hire hacker to wipe out fines in the Lancaster Co. clerk of courts computer system

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Zachary J. Landis

LANCASTER, PA (WPMT) — A Harrisburg man is charged with soliciting a hacker to hack into the Lancaster County clerk of courts system to wipe out his fines and court costs.

The investigation began on March 9 when Detective Gregory Wahl,  with the Lancaster County Computer Forsenics Unit, received a call from Detective Matthew Dotts of the Derry Township Police Department. Detective Dotts, who works his department’s on-line investigations, said that while looking at Craigslist, he found an advertisement for someone looking for a hacker.

Detective Dotts, began an undercover conversation with the suspect who posted the ad using Safe-mail.net.  The suspect told Detective Dotts that he had fines and costs in Lancaster County and wanted Dotts to hack into the clerk of courts system and make the balance zero.

Detective Wahl, agreed to take over the investigation.   Wahl now posing as the hacker, told the suspect that he could get into the system, but would need information relating to the suspect’s docket/identifier in the system.

Later that day, the suspect replied to Detective Wahl’s request and attached three criminal docket sheets and one miscellaneous docket associated with Zachary J. Landis, 27, of Harrisburg.
During his conversation with Detective Dotts, the suspect say that he wanted Dotts to wipe out a couple thousand dollars to prove that it could be done. After that, the suspect indicated that he would exchange money with Detective Dotts to wipe out the remaining balance.
As negotiations over price and ability to perform the task continued, the suspect sent Detective Wahl a screen shot of his computer. That screen shot indicated that suspect was currently logged into a Gmail account. Records obtained from Google, Inc. indicated that the email account belonged to Zachary J. Landis.
Records obtained from Craigslist indicated that the posting was made using Zachary J. Landis’ email address and phone number, and was created from an Internet Protocol (IP) address registered to Zachary J. Landis’ residence in Harrisburg.
Landis was arrested at his home in the 1800 block of Boas Street this morning. Charges against Landis include, Criminal Solicitation to Commit Unlawful Use of a Computer, Computer Theft, Computer Trespass, and Tampering with Public Records or Information. If convicted Landis faces maximum of 7 years in prison on each count.

Following arraignment he was sent to Lancaster County Prison in lieu of $50,000 bail.

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