NASA astronaut Anne McClain may have missed her chance earlier this year to take part in history’s first all-female spacewalk, but she made up for it in ways that could also land her in the history books — and perhaps the slammer. Turns out, her Russian connection may go well beyond the International Space Station.
August 27, 2019
By Andrew Squibley and Arthur Bushwhacker, Head Animal Trainers at Cirque du Soleil
“Democracy Dies in Darkness…On The Edge of Town” — Springsteen
WASHINGTON (RUETERS) — The first-ever alleged “space crime” –unauthorized access into Florida bank accounts by a NASA astronaut orbiting on the International Space Station (ISS) — may be rooted in another Russian organization right here on Earth, federal investigators said today.
Astronaut Anne McClain, a US Army lieutenant colonel, is facing the first allegation of a crime committed in space, according to FBI investigators. McClain’s estranged wife has accused the astronaut of accessing her Capital One bank accounts while McClain was on a six-month mission aboard the Russian-built ISS that ended with a safe landing in June.
A RUSSIAN CONNECTION TO A CASE THAT COULD GET MUCH BIGGER, MUCH FASTER
The woman accused of hacking more than 100 million files from Capital One bank, Paige Thompson, will remain in jail pending her trial for one of the largest ever corporate data breaches, a federal judge has ruled.
But prosecutors are telling the court they may have the wrong person in custody and have asked to delay Thompson’s trial while they continue digging into the electronic assault on one of the largest banks in the US, sources said.
“The timing of the Capital One hacks, the digital ‘fingerprints’ of the computer servers used in the hacks which implicate NASA, the motive behind the hacks, that is, to harm her estranged wife — they all point to another person, Lt. Col. McClain,” an investigator told Rueters.
While Thompson remains in federal custody, McClain remains free although under surveillance by US marshals, investigators said. “Unless she hops another rocket ship, we know exactly where to find her.”
McClain, 40, flew combat missions in the Iraq war. An engineer by training, she is a 2002 graduate of West Point and joined NASA in 2013.
Investigators said that before McClain reached the ISS they don’t believe she had the advanced computing skills required to successfully hack a “hard target” such as Capital One. “Nowhere in her training do we see where she picked up these skills,” an investigator told Rueters.
“But then we thought, the astronauts on the International Space Station have a lot of free time. And look who she (McClain) is living with up there — fucking Russians,” the source said.
Investigators started digging into the background of McClain’s Russian ISS colleagues, Oleg Konensko and Alexey Ovchinin. They uncovered evidence Ovchinin has an uncle working in St. Petersburg. “Ovchinin doesn’t list his uncle among his contacts, and for good reason. The guy is Sergey Pavlovich Polozov. He works at the Internet Research Agency (IRA). And, by the way, he was indicted by (Special Counsel) Robert Mueller,” an investigator told Rueters.
The IRA is the famous Russian “troll farm” directed by President Vladimir Putin to use social media to disrupt the 2016 US presidential election and help candidate Donald Trump win the White House, intelligence officials have informed Congress. Some 13 members of the IRA staff were named and indicted by the special counsel in 2018.
Investigators said they believe Ovchinin arranged lessons in computer hacking for McClain through his uncle who remains at the IRA. “She’s a brilliant engineer and pilot. It wouldn’t have taken too many hours for someone in St. Petersburg to teach her how to hack tough targets, including a huge commercial bank” such as Capital One, a federal law enforcement spokesman said.
“We think McClain hacked all of Capital One’s customers to cover up her attack on her estranged wife,” Summer Worden, “although 100 million accounts is a bit more than necessary to hide the crime,” the official remarked dryly.
McClain and Worden have been in the midst of a separation and custody dispute over Worden’s young son for the majority of the past year, according to press reports. Worden became suspicious when she says she discovered that McClain knew details about her spending — details only Capital One could have provided, she told NASA investigators.
While McClain confirmed that she accessed Worden’s bank accounts while in space, her lawyer told news media she was tending to the couple’s finances.
Worden disputed the claim and filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Her family also submitted a complaint with NASA’s Office of Inspector General, accusing McClain of identity theft and saying she had improper access to Worden’s private financial records.
There could be more to the story of McClain allegedly stealing the identity of her estranged wife, however. Rueters has uncovered evidence she may have been practicing her new high-flying skills, courtesy of the IRA, in the months leading up to the attack on Capital One.
A great fan of space movies, McClain’s friends told Rueters, the former test pilot may have have taken her first hacking steps in the computer networks of well-known Hollywood studios. But what crimes she may have committed there are unknown at this time, Rueters learned.
“What’s really ironic about her space fantasies,” an investigator said, “is that in real life she may have been chosen to be the first US female astronaut to land on the moon. Now, if she’s lucky, she might get a part in the remake of ‘Lost in Space.’ That’s an appropriate title for her, too.”
McClain in the classic “2001: A Space Odyssey” and opposite George Clooney in “Gravity” — or was she?
Graphics by Das Schrader Grafikarbeiten