Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Prostitution Suspect Used Data Access to Keep Tabs on Cops

A federal government worker who abused her access to sensitive consumer data to try to stave off a prostitution investigation has been sentenced to four months' home confinement with another four years of probation.

Candice "Candy" Smith, 44, of Blue Springs, Mo., pleaded guilty to making unauthorized inquiries into data aggregator LexisNexis's database of non-public information on millions of consumers, such as driver's license and address information.

Many people might assume that only cops can look up this type of information, but Smith was granted access to the database by virtue of her job as a bill collector for the Center for Medicaid Services, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services.

By night, Smith was making around $3,000 a month turning tricks with about 20 regular johns, prosecutors say. By day, they say, she was using her LexisNexis account to look up data on a people she thought were involved in an investigation into her double life.

According to court documents, Smith spotted a post to the Yahoo! group "kchourlyfriends" about Kansas City police Sgt. Brad Dumit, and decided to run a background check on him in hopes of figuring out what types of undercover names Dumit might have used. She also looked up information on another prostitute she believed was cooperating with law enforcement, according to the documents.

In addition, Smith ran checks on her ex-husband to look up bankruptcy records and child support information. The two are in the midst of a custody battle over their two children, ages 8 and 11. In a telephone interview, Smith expressed remorse for her actions, which she said have made it difficult for her to find a job.

"It was never my intention to harm anyone. I'm a good lady who made poor choices that I'm going to be paying for for the rest of my life. I know it will be hard to find [an employer] who will trust me in that capacity again but I'm sure someone out there who has needed a second chance will hear my story and give me a second chance."

This case raises disturbing questions about just how many government employees have access to data on millions of Americans, and how many of them routinely abuse that access for their private gain -- financial or otherwise.

Update, Dec. 5, 6:15 p.m. ET:The documents released by the Missouri US Attorney's office said Smith had access to credit history data, but LexisNexis officials say their service does not offer such access. The text above has been corrected.

By Brian Krebs  |  December 2, 2005; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  Fraud  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Sunbelt to Rescue Kerio Firewall
Next: Researcher: IE Flaw Allows Data Theft

Comments

So, which is it? Did she "abuse her access", or is she an 31337 h4x0R who used "computer hacking", the way the DoJ press release states?

I guess maybe to the DoJ, using a legit username and password to do something you're not supposed to do...here's a key to the double-secret-monkey-stuff room, just don't go in there...is "computer hacking".

Posted by: keydet89 | December 5, 2005 6:45 AM | Report abuse

Hey Keydef - We chose not to use the term "hacking" in the post for just that reason, although my first thought for a headline was HHS Hooker Sent Packing for Hacking."

The DoJ charged her with violating Title 18, section 1030 of the US Code, which of course encompasses access device fraud. But you're right, she wasn't really "hacking" at all, just abusing her access.

Posted by: Bk | December 5, 2005 8:58 AM | Report abuse

You know, it would behoove reporters to do a little fact checking before they go hanging their letters out on the line, wouldn't it? I did not hack--I abused my access. I looked up a prostitute and her boyfriend who were harassing me--the same prostitute who was giving my private information to Sgt Dumit to investigate me. I did not have 20 regular johns--I had 20 over a 3-year period, which is what I stated to the Kansas City Police Department during my investigation. I did not make $3,000 a month--I told them that at times, I had made that much. I was a prostitute one day a month--and often went months without any prostitution activity. Of course, none of this is accurately translated in the media. I am a single mom who was left by her abusive husband--a mom who had been at home for 7 years with my kids--and I was left to start our lives over with nothing. I got into debt, and did what millions of women have done in some form or fashion--I traded sex for money. But for the news media to jump all over this case as if I have committed fraud, or embezzled money, or something as victimizing as that--is without merit or conscience. I would never do anything to cause anyone harm. I looked up another prostitute, and her boyfriend, because they were harassing me. I looked up a police sergeant because he was instrumental in encouraging their harassment. The question to then be asked is this--what did I do after I looked them up? Nothing. I wanted to know who I was dealing with--nothing more, nothing less. When you are being harassed in emails and phone calls, you want to know the extent of the criminality you are encountering. I assure you--the Kansas City Police Department and Office of Inspector General used methods to entrap me which were much more corrupt than anything I did. They perjured themselves in federal court, and yet I am called a criminal. I told the truth in spite of the consequences I knew I would face. Yes, I was a prostitute. Yes, I used my government computer inappropriately. But I did not sit in a court of law and commit perjury as did William Tyneman (OIG) and Cliff Balicki (KCPD). And to make a felon out a woman for being a prostitute who happened to also be a government employee--isn't this like killing a gnat with an atom bomb? Isn't there a better way for taxpayers' money to be spent? They could have charged me with a prostitution misdemeanor, and fired me from my job for computer misusage. It's how they handle other prostitutes, and how they handle other government employees who spend all day looking at porn! No one is charged with a felony. Had they arrested me on a misdemeanor, I would have stopped being a prostitute (which I have not done for a year, and will never return to). Had they fired me, I would have no longer had access to the government database. But to make me a felon is overkill--how am I supposed to support my family now when I cannot find work? How am I supposed to pay my mortgage? How am I supposed to keep my children fed and off the streets? How can anyone consider this as justice served? They made a headline--and that was all they wanted to do. Everyone involved in this witch hunt, from the confidential informants to the media--take a bow. You attempted to destroy a single mother and her children--you must be so proud of yourselves. Next time you want to report on someone, Mr. Krebs, I suggest you start with the basics--like how to spell someone's name correctly. It's Candi, not Candy. And I was happy to see that Lexis-Nexis set you straight as well on what their database houses. In my opinion, sloppy journalism reeks. By the way, Mr. Krebs failed to report that he used Lexis-Nexis to look up my unpublished home number, and gave me a call. I believe that this constitutes an abuse of privilege. I doubt that Lexis-Nexis should be used to badger people for interviews. I tried to explain to him about my life situation, and yet I see how he chose to report it. This speaks volumes about his character. I say this--next time anyone wants to look at a prostitute, look a little deeper. As Veronica's Voice states, "It takes a stagnant community to see a prostitute. It takes an enlightened community to see a victim. It takes a courageous community to make a difference." Perhaps if Mr. Krebs had chosen to share more of my story, then I would not consider him a member of the "stagnant community." But he didn't, so I do. And note this--the gentlemen who cooperated with police to have me arrested--they went back to their legal offices and medical practices. Why do these men get to carry on with their lives, without the media's harsh attention and the stigma of the scarlet letter on them? And why is the single mother the one left carrying the entire bag of guilt and shame? Tell me how that's justice. I was not a prostitute all by myself. I hope that some of you reading this take pause and ponder--did this woman deserve the unwarranted media attention which further incriminated her? Did she deserve to have to explain to her young children why she was on the front pages of newspapers, labelled a "hacking hooker", when her crime was about computer misusage? Mr. Krebs, please re-read your Journalistic Ethics 101 some time...

Posted by: Candi (not Candy) Smith | January 23, 2006 11:52 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company