Man sentenced for blackmailing Marriott hotels chain for job

A Hungarian man who blackmailed a U.S. hotel chain into giving him a job was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Attila Nemeth, 26, was also sentenced to serve three years of supervised release following his time in prison, according to a statement by Maryland's U.S. Attorney's Office.

Nemeth pleaded guilty in November to hacking the computer system of Marriott International Corp. and threatening to release the company's proprietary information unless the chain gave him a job maintaining the company's computer system. Marriott is headquartered in Montgomery County.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, in November 2010 Nemeth emailed a computer virus to Marriott employees that gave him access to confidential information on the corporation's servers. He then threatened to release these private documents unless the company gave him a job.

A few days after threatening the company, at least one U.S. Secret Service agent posed as a Marriott human resources employee and communicated with Nemeth over the Internet. Nemeth continued threatening the release of private documents unless he was offered a job, according to prosecutors.

He emailed the undercover agent a copy of his Hungarian passport and said he would travel to the U.S. to meet with Marriott about job opportunities, prosecutors said.

About two months later, Marriott paid to fly Nemeth to the U.S. for an "employment interview." During the undercover meeting, Nemeth described how he hacked the company's computers and threatened to release secret information, prosecutors said.

Marriott estimates that it spent more than $400,000 to remedy its compromised computer network.