August 1, 2019
By GENE JOHNSON and FRANK BAJAK
SEATTLE (AP) — The 33-year-old former Amazon software engineer accused of hacking Capital One made little attempt to hide her attack. In fact, she effectively publicized it.
It’s one of many riddles swirling around Paige Thompson, who goes by the online handle “erratic.” Well-known in Seattle’s hacker community, Thompson has lived a life of tumult, with frequent job changes, reported estrangement from family and self-described emotional problems and drug use.
FBI agents arrested Thompson Monday for allegedly obtaining personal information from more than 100 million Capital One credit applications, including roughly 140,000 Social Security numbers and 80,000 bank account numbers. There is no evidence the data was sold or distributed to others.
Thompson, in federal custody pending an Aug. 15 detention hearing, wasn’t reachable. Her public defender, Mohammad Hamoudi, did not return an emailed request for comment.
But her online behavior suggested that she may have been preparing to get caught. More than six weeks before her Monday arrest, Thompson had discussed the Capital One hack online with friends in chats and in a group she created on the Slack messaging service.
Those chats and the recollections of others offer a sketch of someone talented and troubled, grappling with what friends and her own posts indicate was an especially bumpy crossroads in her life.
Friends and associates described Thompson as a skilled programmer and software architect whose career and behavior — oversharing in chat groups, frequent profanity, expressions of gender-identity distress and emotional ups and downs — mirror her online handle.