Keystroke Tracking Device Leads to Indictment

April 9, 2004 ( - A man charged with illegally recording a secretary's keystrokes to gain access to an executive's passwords has pleaded not guilty.

Larry Lee Ropp of Huntington Beach, California was indicted by a federal grand jury last month on one count of endeavoring to intercept electronic communications. The alleged crime is a violation of federal wiretapping statutes, according to a San Jose Mercury News report.

Ropp was working at Bristol West Insurance Group/Coast National Insurance when, authorities contend, he installed a device known as a keystroke logger on the back of a computer used by the secretary to the company’s vice president. By planting the device, federal authorities alleged Ropp was able to access the executive’s e-mails, password, mailings lists and other information.

Once the information was obtained, the indictment charges Ropp gave some documents relating to Bristol West’s handling of claims to the California Department of Insurance, which requested more documents. To this charge, Ropp says he was operating as a whistle-blower for the Department of Insurance. However, the Department of Insurance told the FBI it had never requested that Ropp obtain any evidence that he would not be able to obtain in the normal course of business .

Roppwas fired in September from his job as a claims manager. Soon after, he contacted a former co-worker and asked her to retrieve the key-logging device, known as “KeyKatcher,” from the back of the computer where it was installed, the indictment states. The FBI began investigating Ropp after co-workers alerted authorities to his suspicious activities.