Local News

Wake register of deeds' emails allegedly accessed illegally for a year

Posted December 9, 2014

— Investigators believe a former computer systems administrator accused of tapping into the email account of a Wake County public official had been doing so for at least a year, if not longer.

Register of Deeds Laura Riddick said Tuesday that email records showed messages from her Wake County government email account were automatically forwarded to a Yahoo! account that was not hers between October 2013 and October 2014.

Yahoo! was only able to provide records dating back a year, Riddick said, but Wake County IT staff discovered the rule that was automatically forwarding her messages was created in December 2012.

The State Bureau of Investigation last week arrested Nelish Kumar Ramesh Tailor, 39, of 1007 Cantrell Lane, Apex, in connection with the crime. He's charged with 13 counts of improperly accessing government computers.

Tailor was fired Nov. 3 after four years working at the Register of Deeds Office, where he was one of four computer administrators. Investigators accuse him of accessing Riddick's email at least 600 times.

Messages included confidential information about personnel issues, county litigation and other sensitive matters, she said.

Riddick said she was stunned when the county's IT department made the discovery in September. She said she has no idea why someone would be motivated to have access to her emails.

"That's a great question," she said. "I don't have any idea why somebody would do this, much less a trusted employee in this office on our IT staff.

"I was shocked and felt very violated."

Investigators determined someone used Riddick's password to set up the rule. At least one member of her IT team had her password for legitimate work purposes.

"Whether you're a government agency or a private citizen, you need to protect your passwords and be mindful that, when you're online or when you have passwords, you need to keep them protected," Wake County Interim District Attorney Ned Mangum said Tuesday.

His office contacted the SBI to investigate after Riddick and the Wake County Sheriff's Office brought the matter to his attention.

The case is not the first time a Wake County email account has been improperly accessed. In 2008, an ex-girlfriend accessed the deputy county manager's email account 1,400 times.

But Mangum said he does not believe there is a system-wide issue in the county and believes the most recent case is an isolated one.

Tailor, meanwhile, is out of jail on a $5,000 bond and due back in court Dec. 29. When contacted by WRAL News Tuesday, he declined to comment.

The investigation into whether others are involved continues.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Eq Videri Dec 10, 2014
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    If it was done secretly, as the SBI says, then there was no way for Reddick to know about it.

    For all I know, someone is secretly forwarding my work emails right now without my knowledge.

    If I wanted to find out, who would I ask? Probably ... our system administrator.

  • CherryDarling Dec 10, 2014

    Seems kind of odd that it would go on that long and she would never realize (by doing a search of some kind or checking her "sent" box for anything) that this had been done... :/

  • iopsyc Dec 10, 2014

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    It's possible the county doesn't allow forwarding as a general rule, but that as a sysadmin he would have simply gone around that rule.

  • VickLo Dec 10, 2014

    LOL. No matter how protected your password is, if an administrator sets up a rule on the mail server, that rule will be executed each and every time it is called.

    Keep hiring the cheapest admins and you will keep hiring the cheapest ethics.

    Like they say at a popular restaraunt... "Have it your way!".

  • TruDat Dec 10, 2014

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    According to WRAL's story, Taylor was charged with 13 felonies for forwarding his boss's work emails to a bogus private email account without her knowledge or consent. That's what made it a state crime.

    My question is, why was that even *possible*? If the county never allowed email forwarding, then it couldn't have happened in this case.

    So they must allow it. Why? For whom?

    For those of us who need access to work email from home, our employers can give us online access and/or a cell phone to use our office email systems. There's no need to automatically forward anything to a private, unsecure account.

    Remember when Governor Mike Easley did that to get around the disclosure laws? Huge controversy. Why would Wake County want to repeat it?

  • TruDat Dec 10, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Or not:


  • jimcricket15 Dec 10, 2014

    System administrators can get any password you are using on internal computer networks.

  • archmaker Dec 10, 2014

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    they don't (on purpose). that's why its a crime and the guy was arrested...

  • Gork Dec 10, 2014

    "TRUDAT" or whatever - sit back and watch as these charges melt right away...

  • TruDat Dec 10, 2014

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    I have to agree with SaysWho. Most of us depend on our office IT people to maintain, update, and protect our computer systems -- not to steal our email. That's why it's a crime.