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Texas Lottery suffers computer security breach

Nov 3, 2008, 6:00 pm

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Texas Lottery

Sensitive personal data on 89,000 players copied by former employee

The Texas Lottery Commission is alerting tens of thousands of lottery winners that they're on a not-so-lucky list.

More than 89,000 lottery winners are being notified that sensitive information about them including their names, Social Security numbers, addresses and prize amounts were taken from the agency without permission by a former employee.

The 39-year-old computer analyst, who left the state commission last year after eight years on the job, apparently copied onto computer disks sensitive information on thousands of lottery commission employees, retailers and vendors, as well.

The employee, who told investigators he eventually copied the data onto his work computer at the Texas Comptroller's Office, has not been charged. The case is being investigated by the Travis County District Attorney's office.

Investigators with the Texas Comptroller's Office said they have no evidence the information was used to commit fraud.

Still, the Lottery Commission is advising those they contact to place a fraud alert on their credit files.

Agency spokesman Bobby Heith said that while officials were looking at measures to prevent similar acts from occurring, no new security procedures had yet been adopted.

In August, investigators with the Comptroller's Office were asked to examine the computer files of the former lottery employee, who was working for the comptroller.

They discovered sensitive data on 27,000 individuals, the majority of them winners. Subsequent searches turned up data on 78,000 additional individuals, including 62,000 winners.

The agency notified people in the first group last month and began sending out letters to the 78,000 people this past week.

Several days after he was fired, the employee told investigators that prior to leaving the lottery commission, "I indiscriminantly copied all the files from the My DOC folder to a CD/DVD which I carried (to subsequent jobs)," according to a search warrant.

The employee added he wanted the information "for possible future reference as a programmer at other state agencies."

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