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FTC reaches settlement with companies over spying software loaded onto rental computers


Tampa company part of spying software deal

The Federal Trade Commission said this week it has reached a settlement with several rental companies on charges they secretly loaded software onto computers they rented out that let them spy on customers. The software let the rental companies track, shut down and recover the computers if customers fell behind on payments. But the FTC said the software did much more: It also illegally took pictures of computer screens, captured key strokes, stole email and social media passwords, collected confidential financial and medical records and even took intimate webcam photos. The settlement was reached with seven companies including J.A.G. Rents LLC of Tampa, which served as a ColorTyme franchise. The owner of J.A.G. Rents could not be reached for comment Wednesday night. The settlement forbids the companies from illegally spying on customers and using their personal information to collect debts. The FTC is accepting public comments on the settlement until Oct. 25 at


CentCom: Suspect is not in military

U.S. Central Command officials said Wednesday that Stephen Michael Governale, arrested and accused of trying to sexually entice a 17-year-old boy, is a civilian employee of CentCom's protocol office at MacDill Air Force Base. CentCom said Governale is a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve and is not assigned to CentCom in a military capacity. Governale has worked at CentCom since 2008. An FBI arrest affidavit identified Governale as an active military officer assigned to CentCom. CentCom officials say they cannot comment on the case. Governale, 49, of Tampa, who was arrested Friday in Seminole County, is being held without bail pending a hearing Monday in Orlando federal court.


Man gets prison for pot charges

A Tampa man caught with 323 pounds of marijuana has been sentenced to more than six years in prison. Arianne Rodriguez, 29, was convicted June 20 of conspiring to possess and possessing with the intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana. Prosecutors said Rodriguez and another man showed up at a Tampa shipping company on Dec. 9, 2011, with a delivery truck and picked up crates filled with pot. The men took the payload to Rodriguez's house, then federal authorities swooped in after the men had already opened one of the crates, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.


Arrest made in firebombing

A Clearwater man faces five charges of attempted first-degree murder and a charge of arson following his arrest Wednesday in connection with a Sept. 16 firebombing. Thomas Lewis Cservak, 29, threw an incendiary device into the living room of a house at about 2:45 a.m., according to a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office arrest report. People were asleep inside the house at the time, deputies said, but no one was injured in the ensuing blaze. Cservak believed he knew two of the people inside the house, officials said. Cservak is being held without bail at the Pinellas County Jail.

FTC reaches settlement with companies over spying software loaded onto rental computers 09/26/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 11:59pm]
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