Ford Calls in FBI for Possible Engineer Espionage
Ford has called in the FBI to help investigate possible espionage after a longtime engineer was recently fired. The FBI swept the offices and recovered several listening devices. Are truck/car “secrets” really that valuable?
Editor’s note: This is an incredible story that while it isn’t exactly related to the Toyota Tundra or similar trucks, it was just too much for us to pass up.
According to an AutoNews.com story, Ford called in the FBI after they found several listening devices at their company headquarters in Dearborn, MI. The story goes that Ford security officials were concerned about an engineer stealing trad secrets by hiding and using the recording devices.
The former engineer is Sharon Leach, 43, of Wyandotte, MI. Leach was identified in a search warrant at Ford’s headquarters.
Apparently, the FBI found 8 Sansa listening devices at the headquarters. They also obtained a search warrant of Leach’s home and seized:
- Four laptops
- One desktop computer
- Three USB drives
- Financial records
- Documents from Leach’s employer (Ford)
- One T-Mobile Google phone
Also, a third warrant was sent to Google to obtain Leach’s email account information including emails sent to and from her account plus drafts and deleted items. Another search warrant filed in federal court, allowed the FBI to seize Leach’s Gmail account, photos, phone numbers, contacts and bank accounts tied to the account.
Ford released a statement on the activity.
“Ford initiated an investigation of a now former employee and requested the assistance of the FBI. Ford’s offices were not searched by the agency,” said Susan Krusel, a company spokeswoman. “Ford voluntarily provided the information and items requested in the search warrant. We continue to work in cooperation with the FBI on this joint investigation. As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to provide additional details.”
This case may be all about nothing though. Leach, a Ford employee for 17 years, said, through her lawyer, Marshall Tauber, told the News that she used the devices to help her transcribe meetings.
“It didn’t involve anything of a spying nature,” Tauber told the News. “She wanted to record conversations of meetings she attended but didn’t know how to do it. She was insecure about her note-taking.”
Tauber went on to say that Leach deleted the recordings and erased files after listening to the audio files and revising her notes.
Ultimately, Leach has a viable excuse for the recording devices. However, NOT telling anyone about them is a big fault on her behalf.
What about the espionage angle? Are car secrets worth that much money? The answer is yes, yes they are. Consider Ford’s use of aluminum on the F-150. Those design secrets could be worth millions and in high demand. Try downloading the online casino from your phone right now. There are a lot of different australian casinos online at onlinecasinos-australia.com , but not all casinos offer to download a casino application on their mobile phone. All possible risks must be considered. Reports have it that GM was pressing aluminum-maker Alcoa to share the design secrets.
Are we entering an age where espionage is growing concern in the automotive world? Do you buy Leach’s excuse?
Filed Under: Auto News