“Private Wedding Photos” is not a good file name for unmarried employees to hide stolen company data.
That’s one revelation from a lawsuit filed by a New York City brokerage and advisory firm that accused four former employees of stealing company secrets and recruiting fellow employees to join their startup. .
Investment Property Realty Group on Thursday accused former employees Quartet and Brock Real Estate Group of accusing them of stealing confidential information and seducing colleagues in violation of a contract they signed. filed a lawsuit.
IPRG itself was a startup founded by a broker who left a larger company.Derek Bestreich launched it in 2016 as Bestreich Realty Group. The same month he left Marcus & Millichap after serving his seven years. LinkedIn page. his website He says he oversees 20 brokers who have sold more than 450 properties for more than $2 billion.
Two former brokers, Sean Masihi and Gabriel Cates, allegedly founded Block Real Estate Group in May while they were still working at IPRG, according to the complaint. Before leaving the company this summer, Masihi and Cates conspired with fellow broker Daniel Shawa and data analyst Serge Sarkisian to obtain market information from the company’s database, according to the complaint.
Masihi and Cates allegedly used this information and the potential for higher fees to recruit colleagues at the IPRG to join their new firm. Lawsuits require IPRG employees to sign non-disclosure agreements that bar company information and investments from being disclosed and bar ex-employees from retaining such data after leaving the company .
Former employees are also prohibited from soliciting colleagues for one year after leaving the company.
According to the IPRG, suspicions that Masihi and Cates conspired with Shawa and Sarkisian to download and steal the company’s data, set up their own company, and actively try to cover it up, led to an internal investigation into the company’s software. A “secret scheme” came to light after it was revealed this month on .com, according to the complaint.
Investigation revealed “illegal and anomalous” exports from the database and that the information was downloaded from company computers. According to the complaint, Salesforce’s audit logs showed an “illegal scheme to build a competing business based on information stolen from IPRG.”
The downloads allegedly took place in June, before Mashihi and Kates left the company, twice in September, and once before Shawah left this month. The downloaded file is said to have been exported to Jump Drive in order to obtain information that was out of the company’s reach. For security reasons, brokers are not allowed to store personal information outside the company’s network, according to the complaint.
The most recent alleged conduct took place just hours before Shawah announced his departure from the company earlier this month, according to data records.
Sarkisian, who was responsible for curating the database and organizing the data for use in marketing materials, was allegedly contacted by Shawah and downloaded various database runs from the system onto a jump drive and another computer. . According to the lawsuit, Shawah tried to cover up the act by placing the documents in a folder named “Private Wedding Photos” and deleting the files and reports from both his computer and Salesforce.
According to the complaint, Sarkisian admitted to asking Mashihi, Kates and Shawah to email company information from the database before they left the company.
A search of Sarkisian’s wedding photo files found no images of the wedding, stating that Sarkisian was “unmarried and lives with his parents”. Defendants allegedly paid $5,000 for the data obtained.
Since leaving IPRG, Mashihi and Cates are said to have sought to recruit former colleagues to join the Brock Real Estate Group, according to IPRG interviews and a survey of company records. The company also accused Block Real Estate Group of using the stolen data to market and sell properties.
The IPRG sent a cease and desist letter to the defendants, seeking a response by last Tuesday. They didn’t, so they filed a lawsuit.
The IPRG seeks at least $6 million in damages for alleged violations of the Trade Secrets Act of 2016 by the defendants. The brokerage firm sought an injunction to prevent the defendants from using stolen company information, recruiting company employees and destroying sensitive data.
However, the request was denied, according to Mashihi and Cates’ attorney, Eddie Whipper.
The attorney said his client “will further prove itself against these allegations, which they vehemently deny.”
A lawyer representing the IPRG declined to comment on the lawsuit. A lawyer for Shawa also declined to comment. A lawyer representing Sarkisian has not yet responded to a request for comment.