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By | Dan Goodin 19th May 2008 20:02

'Hacker Safe' leader defrauded investors, prosecutors say

McAfee security researcher ordered to stand trial for fraud

A Indiana state judge on Monday ordered a security researcher at McAfee to stand trial stemming from felony charges he and a brother defrauded nine people by selling $1.25m in fraudulent stock and then using some of the money for personal items.

Brett M. Oliphant formally joined McAfee in February, at least three months after the charges were filed. He faces 32 years in prison if convicted. At a brief hearing in superior court in Elkhart County, Indiana, a trial on the charges was scheduled for November 18, according to court documents. McAfee declined to make 29-year-old Oliphant available for comment and attempts to independently contact him were not successful. It would appear he has pleaded not guilty.

Oliphant was vice president of security services at ScanAlert, which was acquired by McAfee in February. At ScanAlert he managed the research team for the company's "Hacker Safe" labs, which provides daily audits of ecommerce websites to certify them as "hacker safe." Over the past several months, the program has come under fire after dozens of sites bearing the program's logo were found to be vulnerable to cross-site scripting attacks that could allow them to be spoofed by criminals.

According to court documents, Oliphant was charged with four felony counts of securities fraud connected to the sale in 2005 of stock in a company called Electronic Scrap Recycling Corporation (ESRC). Oliphant failed to tell investors that the stock wasn't registered with Indiana's secretary of state. And he and a brother, who also is being charged, allegedly diverted some of the funds to their own personal use.

"Although their stated intent was to raise investment funds to develop ESRC, the investigation revealed that Brett M. Oliphant and Bryan D. Oliphant used 'investor' funds for other enterprises and for their own personal living expenses on such expenditures as rent, clothing, vehicles and gifts," one document filed in the case reads.

The defendants later reimbursed some of the victims.

It is unclear what Brett Oliphant's title is at McAfee. A company spokesman didn't immediately have a comment. Brett Oliphant's ScanAlert bio has been removed, but according to this cache, he is called "a widely recognized expert in computer security."

"Prior to joining ScanAlert Brett served as the founding CTO of Security Profiling Inc. where he developed innovative security management technology including 6 patents involving patch management and vulnerability remediation strategies," the bio goes on to state. ®

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