Estranged wife of a NASA astronaut accuses spouse of hacking her bank account from space
In a first-ever crime committed from space, a top NASA astronaut has been accused of accessing mails and bank accounts belonging to her estranged spouse while aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The accused, Anne McClain, a NASA astronaut and Spokane native, and her estranged ex-wife, Summer Worden, a former Air Force intelligence officer, are in the process of a divorce and battling over the custody of their 6-year-old son.
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Both the parties have been involved in a bitter divorce and parenting dispute since 2018. However, things took an ugly turn when Worden filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) earlier this year, which was followed by another complaint filed by her family with NASA’s Office of Inspector General that accused McClain of identity theft and improper access to Worden’s private financial records while in orbit.
According to Worden, when she contacted her bank to find out the locations of computers that had recently accessed her bank account using her login credentials, she discovered one of the computers, where her login credentials were used from, was registered to NASA.
Worden said her bank “did give evidence to my attorneys that she did access my bank accounts. I was shocked and appalled at the audacity by her to think that she could get away with that, and I was very disheartened that I couldn’t keep anything private.”
While McClain did admit accessing Worden’s bank account, she insisted that she did this to ensure that there were sufficient funds in the account to pay bills and care for the child they had been raising before they split.
“She strenuously denies that she did anything improper,” said her lawyer, Rusty Hardin, who added that the astronaut “is totally cooperating.”
US space agency NASA is currently investigating the case. Under the space law, any crime committed in space comes under the jurisdiction of the country of origin of the astronaut concerned. This means that if McClain is found guilty, she could end up facing U.S. law.
“Lt Col. Anne McClain has an accomplished military career, flew combat missions in Iraq and is one of NASA’s top astronauts. She did a great job on her most recent NASA mission aboard the International Space Station. Like with all NASA employees, NASA does not comment on personal or personnel matters,” NASA officials said in a statement acquired by Space.com.
In the meantime, McClain took to Twitter on August 24 and posted a statement, saying: “There’s unequivocally no truth to these claims. We’ve been going through a painful, personal separation that’s now unfortunately in the media. I appreciate the outpouring of support and will reserve comment until after the investigation. I have total confidence in the IG process.”