How could someone so smart be so dumb? Sergey Aleynikov, the Russian immigrant genius whom the Federal Bureau of Investigation has charged with stealing proprietary computer codes from Goldman Sachs ( GS), certainly made the jobs of investigators and journalists covering the alleged crime easier by sharing a bit too much information online. Aleynikov was arrested by the FBI July 3 and charged with theft of trade secrets and transportation of stolen property in foreign commerce, according to court documents filed July 4 with a U.S. magistrate judge in New York. The documents state that Aleynikov copied and sent a trade secret that belonged to a giant U.S. financial institution, and though it does not name Goldman, Goldman is the bank in question, according to a court transcript cited by Reuters. Some obvious clues that connect Aleynikov to Goldman can be found on the social networking site LinkedIn. Several news articles published about Aleynikov cite information he posted about himself on the site, such as the fact that he studied at Rutgers University, is interested in ballroom dancing, and, yes, worked at Goldman. Information about institutions where Aleynikov worked and studied, plus the various people recommended by Aleynikov and who recommend him, may have been helpful to the FBI in putting together its case. Undoubtedly it makes the work of reporters much easier, not to mention that drawing lots of people and institutions into loose association with an accused criminal may not be the best way to make friends and influence people.
One developer linked to Aleynikov on LinkedIn and who worked at one of his former employers, told TheStreet.com he was surprised to be contacted by reporters, since he has not spoken to Aleynikov "for a couple of years." The developer says he has received one other call from a reporter wanted to discuss Aleynikov. Aleynikov's extensive use of LinkedIn has also created an additional headache for Goldman. Not only did it make it easy for reporters to figure out that he worked there, it also offers up names of Aleynikov's past colleagues at the bank. Two former Goldman colleagues who recommended Aleynikov's work are no longer at Goldman and initial efforts to reach them were unsuccessful.