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Arrest in ID Theft Scheme

June 25, 2002|STUART SILVERSTEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

U.S. Secret Service agents are investigating a Russian immigrant suspected of tampering with computers at Caltech and Pasadena City College to try to steal credit card numbers and other personal information.

The suspect, Dimitri Sinilnikov, 48, was arrested by campus police at Pasadena City College on May 24 and was to be returned to Florida. Although authorities have not charged him in connection with the California incidents, the arrest warrant cited Sinilnikov for violating his probation on a previous conviction in Florida on identity fraud.

Security officials at Caltech and Pasadena City College said Sinilnikov sought to install software in the schools' computer systems that could record the keystrokes made by students and other computer users on campus. They said the apparent aim was to record credit card numbers and possibly other personal information.

Secret Service officials initially tipped off Caltech authorities May 24 that they had detected Sinilnikov through electronic surveillance trying to tamper with a computer. After apparently failing to break into the Caltech computer system, campus police said, Sinilnikov crossed the street to Pasadena City College and started working on a computer.

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