Ex-BP economist in Chicago guilty of fraud in Texas case

MarketsAssociated Press

A refining supply economist with BP America Inc. faces up to 20 years in prison over a failed online extortion scheme against the Houston-based energy company.

Prosecutors say 28-year-old George Koutsostamatis of Chicago pleaded guilty to wire fraud in a case involving emails he sent from an outside account. A federal judge in Houston on Monday accepted the plea and let Koutsostamatis — who's no longer with BP — remain free on bond pending sentencing.

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Investigators say Koutsostamatis falsely claimed to have personal information of BP workers and threatened to release the data, plus threatened to provide internal company details to competitors. He demanded 125 bitcoins, a digital currency created and exchanged independent of banks or governments.

He was indicted last November.

BP America didn't immediately return messages Monday.