About 4,000 confidential records — the purported home addresses of police officers, lawyers, and judges — have been published on the website PBSOTalk.com, and the former owner of the website is blaming it on Russian computer hackers.
Mark Dougan is a former Palm Beach Sheriff's Office deputy. After leaving the force in 2008, he made it his mission to expose corruption within the department. He created PBSOTalk.com and encouraged visitors to air complaints. On the website, Dougan has published documents such as the probable-cause affidavit in a lieutenant's pain-pill addiction case, purchase orders showing that the sheriff's office spent more than $60,000 on barbecue grills, and a copy of an internal-affairs complaint filed against the sheriff.
He says the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office has been retaliating against him and others who criticize the department. Now a technology consultant who regularly travels to Russia, Dougan says he made friends with hackers there and sold his website to them. He says they are responsible for the hack — which exposes home addresses of people such as Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg, federal judges, and even FBI agents.
“People are in a freaking uproar,” Dougan told New Times midday Tuesday.
Dougan claims that PBSO officers snoop on people who are critical of the agency or of Bradshaw. He says that they have been spying on his social media accounts and that they anonymously reported one investigative reporter to the Florida Department of Children and Families after she wrote a story on police shootings. In August, GossipExtra reported that one PBSO investigator, Kenneth “Mark” Lewis, was recorded on tape by a woman who was flirting with him. On a recording, he admitted to using software to investigate people inside their homes.
Dougan says the Russians were upset by this and, to retaliate, hacked the property appraiser's site and posted the 4,000 confidential property records Monday evening.
Dougan says that PBSO so far has not contacted him for information but that he will cooperate in any investigation.
“I had nothing to do with this,” Dougan says. “It's like when your friend robs a bank and you're sitting at home. They can maybe try to say I encouraged it, but I'm not worried about that.”
Dougan says that while he no longer owns PBSOTalk.com, he still has access to the wiki site's analytics (not the web forum). He says he can see that “so far, the FBI has spent 20 minutes searching names.”
On the PBSOTalk.com forum, a user named “BadWolf” is taking responsibility for the hack. Dougan says PBSOTalk.com was designed in a way that would make it impossible to trace the IP addresses.
Currently, police officers, prosecutors, and judges are exempt from public property records requests.
A spokesperson for the Property Appraiaser's Office tells New Times that the matter is being investigated by Information Services. He says that their database does not contain the 4,000 posted records and that he's not sure how the hackers obtained the addresses.
New Times has reached out to PBSO and the county for comment. We'll update this post if we hear back.
“They [PBSO] have already done their dirty deed — hacking into all my stuff,” Dougan says. “As for me caring, I really don't.”
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