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AMP staffer pleads guilty to stealing customer identity data

Yi Zheng is seen leaving the Downing Centre Courts in Sydney, Thursday, February 7, 2019. Zheng, 28, a former contractor for financial services company AMP has pleaded guilty to the unauthorised access of customers’ identity-related documents. (AAP Image/Danny Casey)

A former AMP contractor has pleaded guilty to stealing customer data from the financial firm.

Yi Zheng is accused of sending 23 identity-related documents regarding 20 customers as a zip file to his personal Gmail address in December.

The Chinese national was hired as a contractor in May and was required to access documents associated with customers on a daily basis, according to court documents,

NSW Police, after a tip-off from AMP, stated it arrested the 28-year-old as he was attempting to fly home to China with his family on Thursday January 17.

The police seized mobile phones, SIM cards, a notebook computer and electronic storage devices after a search of Zheng and his luggage. He was later charged for unauthorised access and downloading of customer identity information.

“Identity information is an extremely valuable commodity on the black market and dark web,” said detective superintendent Matt Craft.

“In this case, the company’s systems detected a potential issue, and their expert technical staff immediately took steps to identify what occurred and prevent further breaches.”

Zheng’s lawyer submitted a guilty plea at Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday, according to AAP. Magistrate Michael Barko adjourned the case to March 23.

An AMP spokesperson told Yahoo Finance that it contacted all affected customers back in December and that there was no evidence their data has been “further compromised”.

“AMP has strong cyber security systems in place to protect the privacy and data of its customers. These systems worked effectively in identifying a potential issue and we moved swiftly to protect our customers, alerting NSW Police.”

Craft told journalists in Sydney that the police is still unsure about the motive for the theft.

“But certainly that information was taken without permission,” he said.

Strike Force Paunelle, established to investigate the AMP incident, is continuing its enquiries.

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