Suffolk social services agency warns clients of possible security breach

January 11, 2008

By Dave Forster

The Department of Social Services has mailed about 1,500 letters to warn of a "potential security breach" involving a department computer that police suspect was used to commit fraud.

The city does not believe any clients' personal information was compromised, and there is no evidence the data used for the fraud was retrieved from the computer, said Leonard Horton, director of Social Services.

Kia James, 26, is accused of using her work computer while employed by Social Services last summer to apply for a credit card using her landlord's information, according to a search warrant and criminal complaint.

She was charged with two felony counts, credit card fraud and forgery, and is accused of spending nearly $1,000 on the card.

A grand jury is scheduled to review the case Jan. 28.

The letters were sent as a precaution to everyone who applied for or received tax relief in 2007, Horton said. The department sent letters to them because James worked in that area, he said.

The criminal charges concern only one victim, who works in Richmond.

But police investigated a potential second victim who was a former Suffolk Social Services employee, according to the search warrant.

Horton said that former employee left the department several years ago. James worked for Social Services for seven months, according to her court record.

The Department of Social Services offered to help residents conduct a free credit check.

Horton said more than 100 people have called in response to the letters.

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