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[ISN] Computer Swindle Preyed On Prosecutor
By TRACY GORDON FOX
Courant Staff Writer
September 29, 2006
Raymond Clifford Dugan apparently picked the wrong victim.
When police say Dugan used a state Department of Labor public computer
to hack into a carpet store's on-line records, he did not know the
credit card information he obtained belonged to Melissa Streeto
Brechlin, a prosecutor with the chief state's attorney's office.
"It's a cautionary tale, and it's comical it happened to someone who
upholds the law for a living," Brechlin said Thursday, after Dugan was
charged with attempted larceny and computer crimes. "My husband said,
`this guy messed with the wrong person.' I said, `yes he did.'"
Dugan, of Newington, who tried to conceal his identity using a public
computer station, was tracked down by detectives from the Department of
Public Safety's newly formed computer crime unit.
Dugan, 40, who was recently incarcerated on an unrelated case, was
charged with first-degree computer crime, illegal use of a credit card,
identity theft, criminal attempt to commit third-degree larceny and
third-degree larceny, police said. He is also suspected of defrauding
numerous other customers of Galaxy Discount Carpet in Newington, where
he used to work, police said. He was being held with bail set at
$100,000 and is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in New Britain on
Brechlin had made an on-line purchase from Galaxy Carpet at the end of
July. Brechlin said she just happened to check her bank account at the
end of August, and noticed $1,100 was missing.
She called the bank, and it said the charges, which had not yet been
approved, were for online gift cards, including $500 for Nordstrom, $500
for Macy's, and the rest to another on-line store.
According to the bank, the money had not been spent. But Brechlin
informed the bank that it was still attempted larceny, and that she
wanted to get to the bottom of it. She called Nordstrom's and Macy's,
and they gave her the e-mail address of the person who purchased the
on-line gift cards.
Brechlin typed in the e-mail and Internet provider address, and was
shocked to find they were registered to the state.
"That just blew my mind," Brechlin said. "I'm an employee and I'm
thinking another employee is ripping me off. I was just horrified."
She fired off an e-mail to the Department of Information Technology,
which oversees state computers, saying that someone using a state
computer was attempting to steal from her bank account. Technicians
there determined the computer was one of the labor department's public
computers in Hartford or Wethersfield. The computers are there for the
public to look for jobs on-line.
Employees at information technology passed on the information to
troopers, who traced the purchases back to Dugan. Nancy Steffens, a
spokeswoman for the labor department, said it does not block many
Internet sites, and must allow access to retail sites so people can find
jobs. She said the department of labor was quickly able to help state
police learn who used the computer.
It turns out that Dugan had worked at Galaxy Discount Carpet as its
computer systems administrator, and knew how to access the server by
remote. He quit awhile ago, but continued to secretly access the
customer credit card information and use it "to make unauthorized
Internet purchases," police said.
A manager at the store described Dugan as a "computer genius." She said
they have had to rebuild the store's entire website, at a cost of more
Brechlin said she hopes the labor department will put more security
measures on its public computers. In the meantime, she said, she is a
lot more careful where she uses her credit card.
"I see those [identity theft] commercials now, and I think, that's me."
Contact Tracy Gordon Fox at tfox@xxxxxxxxxxxx
Copyright 2006, Hartford Courant
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