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Web entrepreneur accused of massive data heist

9,000 plus consumer reports lifted, suit says

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Consumer rating service Angie's List has accused a web entrepreneur of plundering thousands of its records so he could start a rival company that offers a similar service.

In a lawsuit filed in Indiana state court, attorneys for Angie's List claim Christopher "Kit" Cody became a paying member of the site and then used scraping software to mine reports it provided on plumbers, dentists and roofers. Cody allegedly used the records for a competing site that he called Trustys.com.

An attorney for Cody disputed the allegations.

"We consider it industrial espionage," a spokeswoman for Angie's List told IndyStar.com. "He came in to use technology to basically cut and paste reports."

Angie's List boasts more than 750,000 consumers who use the site to screen companies offering services in more than 400 categories. The site, which is something of a Yelp focusing on consumer services, has been expanding rapidly in the US. Members submit reports, which are then relied upon by other members.

The suit claims Cody accessed 9,278 service-provider files from the site using a bot during multiple sessions. During a single two-hour period in early December, he harvested more than 2,450 profiles, IndyStar.com reported.

"We dispute the allegations, and we intend to defend against them vigorously," an attorney for Cody said.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for next month. ®

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