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Man sentenced to prison for hacking into hotel company's computers in Phoenix

The defendant stole reward points from the company's customer loyalty program to book free hotel stays, officials said.

PHOENIX — A computer hacker has been sentenced to 51 months in prison for stealing hundreds of credit card numbers from a hotel company based in Phoenix.

Chirag Patel, 38, of Virginia was sentenced earlier this month after pleading guilty to computer fraud in Arizona. 

Between 2017 and 2020, the defendant hacked into the company's computers and stole reward points from the company's customer loyalty program to book free hotel stays and redeem gift cards, prosecutors said.

Patel additionally stole more than 1,200 credit card numbers from the company's computer system and made several fraudulent purchases.

Court records show the defendant used the stolen information to buy televisions, laptops, and a plane ticket. He also tried selling the stolen credit card numbers.

The defendant kept a Google Drive folder containing screenshots of a hotel customer's personal information. 

Officials said Patel started the hacking scheme while he was in custody for unrelated charges and continued after his release. Prosecutors believe Patel was partly motivated to start hacking out of fear and desperation.

"He started hacking while in prison so he could buy drugs and continued because he was pressured or threatened to do so," prosecutors wrote in a court filing.

Patel was ordered to pay $87,522 in restitution. 

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