Wake register of deeds' emails allegedly accessed illegally for a year
Posted December 9, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.