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Congressional aide punk'd, then fired
Published: 2006-12-22

A member of a Republican Congressman's public relations staff attempted to hire two "hackers" to change a college grade, but instead became the punch line of an online joke, giving up his Social Security number, school ID, and even taking a picture of a squirrel, according to online reports.

In transcripts of the e-mail exchange, a person claiming to be Todd Shriber (corrected)--the communications director for U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.)--asked members of security Web site in August to help him change his college grades. Shriber, when contacted by a reporter at NetworkWorld, eventually admitted yesterday afternoon that he did indeed send the e-mail messages.

The Congressman fired the communications director on Thursday, according to media reports.

Perhaps the oddest piece of the exchange was the ability of the two members--security professional Brian Martin, also known as "Jericho," and another member using the name "Lyger"--to convince Shriber that he needed to provide them with a picture of a squirrel or pigeon.

"I can supply all that," Shriber allegedly wrote when Jericho asked for Shriber's personal information and whether or not there were pigeons on campus. "Forgive what I assume is dumb question, but what are pigeons? I know you're not talking about the bird."

To which "Jericho" responded: "Actually I am."

When the duo assured him that a picture of a squirrel would work fine, Shriber sent a picture a week later.

Politicians and business leaders have not been above dabbling in cybercrime. In 2004, two Republican staffers repeatedly took Democratic memos that had mistakenly been left accessible on the U.S. Senate's network and leaked them to the press. This year, a staff member to Phil Angelides, the Democratic rival to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, took audio files that had also apparently been left accessible on the Schwarzenegger's campaign site. And, in 2005, a number of prospective business students hired a hacker who had access to business school networks to find out whether they had been accepted.

Rep. Rehberg's office could not immediately provide a comment on the issue.

CORRECTION: The original news brief had misspelled Todd Shriber's name. The article was also updated at 10:30 am PT with the news that Rep. Rehberg's office fired the communications director on Thursday.

Posted by: Robert Lemos
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Congressional aide gets punk'd 2006-12-22


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