Alabama man accused of stealing credit union data, sharing on dark web fraud scheme

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, January 4, 2023

An Alabama has been arrested and charged with stealing personal information from members of a credit union where he worked and distributing the information on the dark web.

Wade Hampton Helms, 34, of Arab, Alabama, was arrested on a Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) warrant last week on one count of offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks and electronic devices; eight counts of criminal use of personal identification information; 34 counts of unlawful possession of personal identification information; and one count of unlawful use of a two-way communications device. All charges are felonies.

FDLE’s investigation began in September 2022, when internal fraud investigators with a Pensacola-area credit union reported possible fraud related to Helms, who at the time lived in Pensacola and was an employee of the credit union.

Agents discovered that Helms misused his employee access to compromise dozens of credit union member accounts, taking the members’ personal identification information and providing it to third parties via the dark web. He also assisted the third parties to gain access to the credit union member accounts, resulting in the third parties stealing funds from the accounts.

The credit union has notified members whose information was compromised.

Helms was arrested by the Arab (Alabama) Police Department on the FDLE warrant and transported to Pensacola. He was booked into the Escambia County Jail on a $47,000 bond. The case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office, First Judicial Circuit.