Thief Scams Fortress D.C.

Thief Scams Fortress D.C.
Thief Scams Fortress D.C. 

By Noah Shachtman 
Danger Room
February 08, 2008 

If you're looking for a great yarn [1], you could do a whole lot worse 
than the cover story in this week's Washington City Paper.  Here's a 

    A little before 2 p.m.... a woman returned to her office [at the 
    Nuclear Regulatory Commission] and found a stranger sitting at her 
    desk...  I was going to leave you a note, the stranger said, rising 
    from the chair. She explained that she had a piece of mail for the 
    woman and needed to deliver it in person.

    Her supervisor had insisted she get a signature since the parcel was 
    actually addressed to someone else. Oh, and she didnt have it with 
    her right then. The whole thing seemed very odd, the NRC employee 
    later told investigators. Nonetheless, she allowed her visitor to 
    leave without further questions. In a hurry to make a 2 p.m. 
    meeting, she left the office as well..

    It was an odd interaction for sure, but not quite alarming. But such 
    blas encounters began to emerge as a pattern as the NRC investigated 
    11 separate thefts of cash and credit cards. According to incident 
    reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, most of the 
    crimes took place between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 16 in two 
    heavily secured buildings occupied by the commission on Rockville 
    Pike. The complex is not a tourist destination, as armed guards will 
    inform you. Visitors need to have verifiable business in the 
    building and must provide photo ID. Bags get scanned, people get the 
    metal detector. Employees must show a badge with their photo and job 

    Elsewhere around D.C., at other highly secure federal buildings, 
    similar thefts were causing frustration among security officers... 
    Witnesses who later realized theyd seen the thief said she passed 
    muster at the time. The fact that she didnt have an escort, one 
    secretary reasoned, proved that she belonged in the building. 
    Another employee described the potential suspect as dressing and 
    acting like a typical secretary at the NRC. Those who stopped and 
    questioned her gave up on their suspicions as soon as she started 

    Her excuses were flimsy inventions. But people dont like 
    confrontations. They feel theyve done enough if they ask a question 
    and get an answer.

    NRC investigators launched an inquiry into the thefts. But as the 
    weeks passed, they failed to come up with a suspect. The woman had 
    stolen only cash and credit cards, but her crime exposed the 
    potential for much more costly breaches at the agency trusted with 
    overseeing 104 commercial reactors and the storage of tens of 
    thousands of tons of nuclear waste.

    No one could have guessed that the mastermind behind the thefts was 
    a 19-year-old mother from Southeast D.C.


Subscribe to InfoSec News 

Site design & layout copyright © 1986-2015 CodeGods