Computer parts probe continues

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Crime > Calls were made pretending to make purchases for LANL and Sandia

By The Staff

Court papers allege that somebody fraudulently obtained more than $1 million in parts from Dell Computers by making hundreds of calls while pretending to place orders for Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories in New Mexico.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the alleged fraud reportedly started in 2007 and continued until 2010.

The case was turned over to the Secret Service that year after a Dell security investigator contacted Albuquerque police.

Two Albuquerque men were indicted last May on 131 state counts each of fraud up to $20,000. Ronald Campus and Allan Friedt have pleaded not guilty.

The newspaper reported that a caller who identified himself as Andy Tyler made more than 600 calls to Dell between 2007 and 2009, using serial numbers of the lab computers to place orders.

It appears a Dell Computers security agent broke the scheme.

According to the affidavit obtained by the newspaper:

The U.S. Secret Service got the case in February 2010 from the Albuquerque Police Department, which had been contacted by Don Samuels, a Dell security investigator.

Samuels had been looking into fraudulent orders requesting replacement parts for computers that had been shipped to valid Dell customers. The primary account holders were Sandia and Los Alamos national labs — even though the computer parts were being shipped elsewhere.

Dell became aware of the fraudulent orders in October 2009, but they had been going on since Feb. 6, 2007. Dell stopped all shipments to the suspect addresses and credited the accounts of valid customers. Dell also absorbed the cost of the shipped parts.

The shipped orders went to two Albuquerque addresses by private carrier —where almost 2,700 orders were shipped to a southwest Albuquerque business and 396 orders were sent to a computer business on Menaul. In all, according to the affidavit, about $896,000 in parts were shipped to the addresses.

The newspaper reported that Dell thought it had ended the fraudulent activity by stopping deliveries to the two addresses, but the orders resumed in May 2010.

According to the Journal story, “they continued the pattern of mainly using Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratory computer serial numbers,” but asked that they be shipped to a new address, a business complex on Washington SE. This time, the surname Thomas was used repeatedly — 59 times with the name Lee Thomas, a dozen times with the name Jim Thomas, and others with 13 other first names.

The Secret Service began surveillance of the Washington street business and linked up vehicles with the Campos addresses.

By July 2010, Samuels had found an additional 1,287 orders shipped to Campos’ home over a four-year period ending in 2006 and totaling $389,611, and $13,000 in orders from March through July 2010.