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First alleged space crime under investigation

  • Birdsall Obear

What may be the first crime committed in space is under investigation. Federal authorities are investigating whether US Army astronaut Lt. Col. Anne McClain committed federal fraud charges for accessing her estranged wife's bank account during McClain's six-month tour on the International Space Station.

Her estranged wife, former Air Force intelligence officer Summer Worden, questioned how McClain could mention specific purchases during arguments. At her request, Worden's bank confirmed that her account was accessed with credentials inputted on a computer network that was registered to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. She then filed a complaint against McClain with the Federal Trade Commission. Worden alleged that McClain committed identity theft while she was in space, even though McClain did not tamper with any of the bank funds. Worden said that the FTC did not respond to her identify theft complaint, but investigators were gaining access to her family's complaint to NASA.

Worden's parents claimed, in a separate complaint, that McClain gained access to the bank account as part of highly planned campaign to obtain custody of her son. He was born a year before their marriage. The couple married in 2014. Worden filed for divorce four years later after McClain accused her of assault.

Worden denied the assault charge, which she said was part of McClain's attempt to gain custody of their son. The assault case was ultimately dismissed.

McClain claimed that she accessed the accounts while performing due diligence in keeping track of the couple's entwined finances, that she used the same account password from their relationship and that she was never told to stop accessing this account. In a tweet, McCain denied the unauthorized access charges and said that the couple underwent a painful separation.

Anyone facing federal fraud charges may suffer long-term consequences. They should know their options and rights.

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