A family-owned IT business that formerly contracted to 32 Democratic House offices is the subject of an investigation into the theft and leaking of sensitive information. Some even fear that the contractor may be blackmailing House members and are dismayed at the lack of attention the story is getting.
Imran Awan and three relatives were colleagues until police banned them from computer networks at the House of Representatives after suspicion the brothers accessed congressional computers without permission.
Five Capitol Hill technology aides told The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group that members of Congress have displayed an inexplicable and intense loyalty towards the suspects who police say victimized them. The baffled aides wonder if the suspects are blackmailing representatives based on the contents of their emails and files, to which they had full access.
The whole mind-blowing story began when an anonymous IT vendor who worked with other Democratic offices approached the offices served by the Awans and offered his services at a fraction of the price that Awan and his family were charging. When the offices declined, the vendor began to suspect that the Awans were blackmailing staffers into keeping them on.
“I don’t know what they have, but they have something on someone. It’s been months at this point” with no arrests, said Pat Sowers, who has managed IT for several House offices for 12 years. “Something is rotten in Denmark.”
Sowers and other IT service providers suspect that the Awans held power over the congressional offices they serviced because they had possession of sensitive, and in some cases embarrassing, information that belonged to the clients. Apparently the Awans also dealt directly with representatives to hold sway over office staffers.
One Democratic IT staffer said Awan “would come in and only help the member — he’d tell me this — because staff come and go. There was one staffer whose computer was broken and said, ‘I’m not going to pay my invoices until you fix my computer,’ and Imran went to the member, and they fired [the staffer who complained] that day. Imran has that power.”
Awan’s company would keep prices high by failing to keep inventory. Some offices would pay for phone and data lines that had not been in use for years. Some staffers’ iPhones were linked to the same iTunes account at Awan’s office, and some computers held the express purpose of remoting to off-site servers and sending data to those servers – an act which violates House rules.
Many of Awan’s clients within the House stuck with the status quo in hopes that the situation would “blow over,” while others lived in fear that the Awan family would go public with the information they had. It’s blackmail with a decidedly 21st century twist.
“There’s no question about it: If I was accused of a tenth of what these guys are accused of, they’d take me out in handcuffs that same day, and I’d never work again,” the anonymous manager said.