Three Pakistani brothers under investigation for data theft of congressmen
Washington DC: Three Pakistan-origin Information Technology experts have been sacked from jobs and are being investigated, report US media.
US media claims that they are real brothers and had been accessing computers without the authority to do so, and may have seen classified information.
“Abid, Imran, and Jamal Awan were overpaid, getting at least $160,000 and one of them had a criminal background”, claim Fox News.
The brothers are suspected of serious violations, including accessing members’ computer networks without their knowledge and stealing equipment from Congress.
Jamal handled IT for Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat who serves on both the intelligence and foreign affairs panels.
Jamal also worked for Louisiana Democrat Rep. Cedric Richmond, who is on the Committee on Homeland Security.
Imran worked for Reps. Andre Carson, an Indiana Democrat, and Jackie Speier, a California Democrat.
Then-Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, employed Abid for IT work in 2016. She was a member of House committees dealing with the armed services, oversight, and Benghazi. Duckworth was elected to the Senate in November, 2016. Abid has a prior criminal record and a bankruptcy.
Abid also worked for Rep. Lois Frankel, a Florida Democrat who is member of the foreign affairs committee.
A criminal investigation into five unnamed people began late last year related to serious and potentially illegal violations of House IT policies, Politico reported Thursday. Chiefs of staff for the members were briefed Thursday by the Sergeant-at-Arms.
Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Malecki said the investigation was still ongoing, and arrests have not been made but staff were “asked to update their security settings.”
Buzzfeed reported that the Sergeant-at-Arms told staff that the subjects were four men who were brothers and one woman. It did not name them. It quoted one of the affected members as saying “they said it was some sort of procurement scam, but now I’m concerned that they may have stolen data from us, emails, who knows.”
Jamal did not return a request for comment from media at a personal email address, while emails to House addresses in the three men’s names bounced back.
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Abid, Imran and Jamal have all shared a house in Lorton, Virginia, that is owned by Hina R. Alvi. Alvi is a female House IT employee who works for many of the same members as the three brothers, as well as the House Democratic Caucus.
Signs of trouble have long been visible in public records. The Congressional Credit Union repossessed Abid’s car in 2009, and he declared bankruptcy in 2012, facing multiple lawsuits.