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FBI: Rockland Software Engineer Tried To Steal Trade Secrets From Employer

A Rockland County man is facing federal charges for allegedly stealing trade secrets from his former employer.
A Rockland County man is facing federal charges for allegedly stealing trade secrets from his former employer. Photo Credit: File

ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. - A software engineer from Rockland County is facing up to a decade in prison after allegedly attempting to steal trade secrets from his employer.

On Friday, Joon Kim, the acting United States District Attorney for the Southern District announced the arrest of Dmitry Sazonov, who has been charged with the attempted theft of trade secrets for his alleged attempted theft of proprietary computer codes for a trading platform from his employer, a financial services firm in Manhattan.

According to Kim, for approximately five years, Sazonov’s former firm has spent approximately five million dollars updating its trading platform, which is used every day to execute hundreds of millions of dollars in trades daily. Sazonov worked as a software developer for more than a decade at the firm, developing trading strategies to be implemented in conjunction with the deployment of the new trading program.

In February this year, Kim said that Sazonov learned that his immediate supervisor had resigned and began looking for a new job. The following day, Sazonov was scheduled to meet with another supervisor about his future with the firm.

Before that meeting took place, it is alleged that Sazonov took steps to steal source code from the trading program. Kim noted that he ran Internet searches and viewed websites related to steganography - the practice of concealing messages or data within other files. Sazonov allegedly then deployed a computer program that appears to have used steganography in an effort to break up a PDF file believed to contain the source code, and append pieces of the file to otherwise apparently innocuous documents and files in a folder on his desktop, including personal tax and immigration documents taken from the Internet.

Kim said that Sazonov’s program appears to have produced a manifest, permitting the reassembly of the source code from those stolen documents. He then uploaded that information, as well as personal emails from the firm, to his desktop at the firm. Sazonov would be fired by his new supervisor later that day and was not permitted to return to his workspace.

The 44-year-old Sazonov attempted to contact individuals still employed by the firm to retrieve the files that were still on his desktop. On Wednesday, April 12, he reported to the lobby of the firm in an effort to fetch them himself, but he was arrested.

Sazonov was charged with one count of attempted theft of trade secrets, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine up to $250,000 or twice the gross loss from the offense. He is due back in court later this year.

“As we allege, Sazonov went to great lengths to conceal source code for a trading platform in order to steal it from his former employer,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney Jr. said in a statement. “He researched and ultimately used the technique of steganography to hide the code within other PDF files like personal tax and immigration documents on his work computer.

“He also uploaded encrypted zip files to a third-party website to complete his heist.  Stealing from an employer is a serious offense especially when it comes to proprietary source code that companies have invested heavily in, and that they rely on to generate revenue.”

“As alleged, Dmitry Sazonov attempted to steal valuable proprietary computer code that took his employer years to develop,” Kim added.  “Sazonov allegedly took elaborate steps to conceal his attempted theft, including camouflaging pieces of source code within harmless-looking draft emails on his work computer.  Thanks to the FBI, Sazonov has been stopped and is now in custody.”

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