Throughout the modern era, there has been an ongoing struggle between tax-paying, law-abiding citizens, and those who seek to steal from them. In the 1950s and 60s this was done through the use of check forgeries. In the 1980s, theft and fraud began to move to electronic means with credit cards. In the late 1990's, theft transitioned to the internet with America Online and various other Internet Service Providers (ISP). In the current decade with the exponential increase of online shopping, the theft and fraud has moved into the arena of electronic hacking. Whereas previous methods of fraud targeted people individually, hackers are now able to defraud thousands if not millions of people in a single attack.
In the fall of 2013, Peyton Scott and Lander Mason were juniors at West Wake University (WWU). Both were computer engineering majors. During the course of the semester, Peyton Scott was working with Professor Hayden Malloy in an effort to evaluate the security risks of Holden’s, a South Carolina based retailer.
During the research conducted by Professor Hayden Malloy, the online shopping site of Holden’s was hacked in excess of the contract terms. During the hack, customer information including credit card numbers and expiration dates were exposed. Following this data exposure, 35 South Carolina residents became victims of fraud, and more than $10,000 in fraudulent purchases were made. Through the Director of Operations of Holden’s, the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Computer Crimes Division was able to trace back the source of the hack to a MAC address of a computer on the WWU campus.
Following a search and seizure warrant executed by SLED at the on campus apartment of Peyton Scott and Lander Mason, Peyton Scott was charged with financial transaction card fraud, financial transaction card or number theft, and computer crime. Lander Mason worked with SLED and alleged that everything seized within the apartment was the property of Peyton Scott. Peyton Scott admitted to causing the breach, but claimed to charge only $10 on each of the five contracted credit cards. Further, Peyton Scott reported the website breach to Professor Malloy as part of the contract with WWU and Holden’s.