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Hewlett-Packard Pretextors Fined

Posted by Bill on May 28, 2008

  From Wired:  A key figure who pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection to the Hewlett-Packard spying scandal was ordered Wednesday to pay hefty fines and to refrain from selling personal phone records obtain fraudulently via pretexting.

A Florida judge ordered Bryan Wagner to pay $428,000 in ill-gotten gains and his co-owner of Eye in the Sky Investigation, Cassandra Selvage, to give up $110,762, according to a default order in a civil suit brought by the Federal Trade Commission. The two did not defend themselves in court, an FTC spokeswoman said.  Click Here for Wired Blog Story  See Also PC World Article

Click Here FTC Press Release

“According to the FTC complaint, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 provides that a customer’s phone records may only be disclosed “upon affirmative written request by the customer.” But the agency alleged that since at least 2005 Action Research Group, Inc., and its principals, Joseph and Matthew DePantes, sold confidential customer phone records, including lists of calls made and the dates, times, and duration of the calls, to third parties, without the knowledge or consent of the customers. To get the records, these defendants relied upon the other defendants, Eye in the Sky Investigations, Inc., Cassandra Selvage and Bryan Wagner, who obtained them from phone companies through “pretexting” – using “false pretenses, fraudulent statements, fraudulent or stolen documents or other misrepresentations, including posing as an account holder or as an employee” of a phone company. Selling the records constitutes an invasion of privacy that could endanger the health and safety of consumers, the agency alleged.

The DePantes and ARG agreed to settle the FTC charges. Defendants ESI, Cassandra Selvage, and Bryan Wagner are subject to default judgments entered by the court.

The settlement and default judgments permanently bar the defendants from obtaining, marketing or selling customer phone records or consumers’ personal information derived from those records. They also bar the defendants from pretexting or using others to pretext to obtain consumers’ information. The settlement order entered a judgment in the amount of $67,000 against the DePantes and ARG, the estimated amount of ill-gotten gains the defendants earned from their illegal scheme; the judgment was suspended upon a payment of $3,000 based on the defendants’ inability to pay. In the default judgments, the court ordered Wagner to give up $428,085 in ill-gotten gains and ESI and Selvage to give up $110,762.”

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