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By | Ashlee Vance 20th November 2006 18:33

HP's newest board member a pretexting veteran

Been there, seen that

HP's freshest board member Ken Thompson won't need to take the company's Pretexting 101 course offering. As Wachovia's CEO, Thompson has become well acquainted with the legal concerns surrounding phone record fraud.

Just months before the HP scandal materialized, Wachovia was found to be keeping curious company. The financial services firm stood out as the largest customer of Global Information Group, paying the Florida-based data broker and suspected pretexter $456,250.

It's not clear what Wachovia hired Global Information to do. Wachovia won't say. And, when a Global Information staffer was brought before Congress in June to testify about the practice of pretexting, she took the fifth.

We do know, however, that Florida's attorney general in February sued Global Information, accusing the firm of making fraudulent calls to Verizon to obtain customer telephone records. Verizon has also sued Global Information. (Verizon's vice chairman Larry Babbio is also on HP's board.)

Global Information shelled out $250,000 to settle its case with Florida - without admitting guilt - and agreed to stop pretexting.

Wachovia severed its ties to Global Information this year. It had been the data broker's largest customer, along with other big spenders like Wells Fargo and Citigroup.

You can be sure that Thompson kept an eye on the Global Information proceedings in both Florida and Congress. The company must have been taken aback when Global Information coughed up its customer list to the Feds.

But perhaps that's why HP tapped Thompson as its newest board member. Always good to have someone with experience in this kind of thing on the board. ®

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