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Canadian IT Exec Accused Of Stealing Customer Database

Data on more than 3.2 million prospects could be worth more than $10 million
An IT manager of a Canadian direct marketing firm has been accused of absconding with a copy of the company's customer database.

According to a report in last week's Vancouver Sun, an affidavit filed with the British Columbia Supreme Court accuses Nick Belmonte, vice president of IT at C-W Group, of stealing a computer backup tape containing names and information about 3.2 million customers -- potentially worth more than $10 million. The tape also contained credit card and bank account information of more than 800,000 customers.

"The customer library could also potentially be marketed as a discrete asset with a value in the tens of millions of dollars," the affidavit said.

In her affidavit, C-W chief executive Gloria Evans recalled she became extremely concerned that Belmonte had recently ordered another employee to bring three backup tapes to his office, where he made copies. Only two tapes were found on Belmonte's desk. "The tape containing the customer library data was missing," the statement says.

Evans and another top executive, Brian Page, phoned Belmonte, who denied knowing anything about a third tape, according to the court documents. The CEO then changed the locks on the computer room and terminated off-site access to the company's computer system.

Although the information on the backup tape was encrypted, the tape contained information and programs that would allow a knowledgeable user to decrypt the data, the report states.

Page's statement in the court records suggests that Belmonte was a "problem employee" whose office attendance was irregular, who charged lunches with his friends to the company, and who had informed employees he would be leaving soon.

The court records include an e-mail sent by Belmonte at 1:05 a.m. on Nov. 5, saying he was on stress leave because he had been wrongly accused of theft.

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