IT exec accused of $10m backup tape theft
800,000 virtual wallets
A former IT executive for a Canadian marketing firm has been accused of taking a computer backup tape containing personal information of 3.2 million customers that could net as much as $10m on the black market, according to court records.
Nick Belmonte, who earned $150,000 as vice president of IT for Vancouver-based C-W Agencies, recently ordered an employee to deliver three backup tapes to his office for copying. When the employee returned later, only two tapes were found. In addition to names and other details, the missing tape contained credit card and bank account information of more than 800,000 customers.
"The information in the customer library is highly confidential to the plaintiff and its clients," a C-W executive wrote in an affidavit filed in court, according to The Vancouver Sun. "If the customer library data is sold, it cold have a devastating effect on CW's business and that of CW's clients worldwide."
After being accused of the theft, Belmonte went on leave.
It's unclear how many CW customers have been notified that their data has gone missing. US-based businesses are required to give such notifications to customers located in any one of 44 states, and presumably similar laws exist in Canada as well. Executives have known of the alleged theft since at least November 4. A CW employee hadn't returned a message seeking comment by the time of publication.
Attempts to reach Belmonte were unsuccessful. We'll be sure to update this story if either party gets back to us.
The episode is the latest to shine a light on the informal structure of IT departments that store detailed records on millions of us all over the world. While banks, hospitals and many types of businesses are required to follow basic security measures protecting records, plenty of others, ubiquitous marketers among them, are not. ®
Data loss was not North American
C-W Agencies has not provided direct marketing in Canada or the USA for several years now. Most of the clients in the database are European.
C-W Agencies ran afoul of U.S. law in 1998. The firm pleaded guilty to criminal charges, was fined $500,000 (US), and was ordered to "cease all marketing of lottery products to United States residents."
B.C. consumer protection legislation, proclaimed in August 2001, made it illegal to resell lottery tickets without authorization or special licensing. And no individuals or companies have been licensed.
Other than their Senior Management troubles, C-W Agencies/European Lottery Guild/Continental Mail Processing BV run a legitimate enterprise.
Simple answer - he accidentally used one of the originals as the target for one of the copies. It's not missing, just overwritten, and sent off with the other copies.
Never attribute to malice that which can be better explained by stupidity.
"presumably similar laws exist in Canada as well"
Short answer ... No such law for us Canadians