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Woman's nude photos exposed by tech support

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Sacramento woman says a tech support engineer in India managed to expose her secrets and make charges to her credit card after she called him with a desperate request.

There's no getting around the fact that Tara Fitzgerald was faced with an embarrassing situation and a 14-year-old daughter in the house.

"I was missing pictures on my computer. And they were personal pictures and I didn't feel comfortable," said Fitzgerald.

They were extremely personal pictures intended only for her boyfriend.

"I couldn't find them on my computer and that made me nervous," said Fitzgerald.

So she called Dell support for help with her new Dell computer and delicate problem. She was connected to a Dell support contractor in Mumbai, India named Riyaz Shaikh.

"I trusted him. I trusted him because he was a Dell technician and I don't like the cyberworld, you're so vulnerable," said Fitzgerald.

She gave the technician permission to access her computer remotely and watched as he found the pictures and downloaded them.

"Oh yeah, I'm totally convinced. I watched him take the pictures out of my e-mail. I watched him," said Fitzgerald.

Shortly thereafter, 16 nude photographs appeared on a vulgar website created for the sole purpose of displaying her pictures.

"I've been violated. My life's been violated," said Fitzgerald.

In conversations that became increasingly personal, the support technician offered to help Fitzgerald remove the offensive website and somehow convinced her to ship him a brand new Dell laptop so he could work on her case from his home in Mumbai.

"And I'm telling myself, my conscience is talking to me saying, 'Tara, don't send this. What are you doing? Are you crazy?' I sent it anyways because I really believed in this guy. I really had faith that he was protecting my dignity," said Fitzgerald.

And then her disturbing experience with the tech support rep took an even more bizarre turn.

On Valentine's Day he told her he had fallen in love with a young woman in Tennessee who had also called Dell tech support.

Fitzgerald later discovered he shipped $800 worth of Dell computer gear to the woman's home in Waynesboro and billed it to Fitzgerald's Dell credit card.

The Tennessee woman did not respond to a request for comment and neither did Shaikh.

In several online chats between Shaikh and Fitzgerald, he acknowledged the improper charges as recently as this week.

In one message from his official Dell account he said, "You're my true friend, Tara. I am sorry accidentally I charged your Dell account but I will pay. I don't want to lose my job. It was a mistake which happened with me."

Yes, this all happened more than a year ago and Fitzgerald said she complained to Dell several times about it. It took her this long to try a different strategy and go to the media.

"When you trust somebody with your computer, and you expect them to respect your privacy and they don't, and they try to manipulate and control you, you feel like an idiot," said Fitzgerald.

Dell has not issued a formal response to Fitzgerald's claims. She says she has contacted an attorney and is considering legal action against Dell.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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