March 24, 2004
Larry Lee Ropp, a former employee at Bristol West Insurance Group/Coast National Insurance Co. in Anaheim, Calif., has been indicted on federal wiretapping charges for allegedly installing an electronic device on a company PC that recorded every keystroke made by another employee at the company.
A federal grand jury in Los Angeles on Monday indicted Ropp, 46, on one count of endeavoring to intercept electronic communications, a violation of the federal wiretap statute. Ropp, who was employed by Bristol West until he was terminated in September, is free on bond and is scheduled for arraignment on April 5. The Public Affairs Office for the U.S. Attorney, Central District of California, says this is the first case in the nation in which a defendant has been charged with illegally using a hardware device known as a keystroke logger. The device attaches to a PC's keyboard cable to record all keys pressed on the keyboard. The indictment and criminal complaint filed in this case alleges that Ropp installed the device called a "Key Katcher" on a PC used by the assistant to the VP at Bristol West. The device wasn't identified until Ropp was terminated and called another Bristol West employee to ask that she remove the device from the computer. During interviews with the FBI, Ropp admitted using the Key Katcher, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney's office, but claimed he was a whistleblower working on behalf of the California Department of Insurance, a claim denied by representatives of the Insurance Department.
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