Dan Taft

The Colorado Elections Clerk Who Stole All the Info

Investigators turn to background reports to stop hackers in their tracks.

The Colorado Elections Clerk Who Stole All the Info

It’s the kind of story that makes you want to run a background check on everyone around you… You want to believe you can trust people. And trust our elections process. But when you hear a story like this, it just makes you question everything, and everyone you know.

The story from InfoSecurity Magazine goes something like this. Two Colorado women, both 66 years of age, have been formally accused of messing with election equipment. Their misconduct knew no bounds apparently, as the equipment in question potentially stored highly confidential data.

When it comes to protecting your identity, running a background report is a great way to ensure there is no funny business going on. Nobody messing around with your highly sensitive personal information. Protect yourself from identity theft and avoid becoming a victim before it happens. That’s the best strategy, and a background check is a powerful tool to help keep you safe.

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The Indictment

In the case of the Colorado Election Clerks turned identity thieves, the Mesa County grand jury had to step in, as they delivered a 13-count indictment against the two women in question. Tina Peters, clerk and recorder, and Belinda Knisley, deputy clerk, are accused of tampering with the very security of the Dominion Voting Systems machines dating back to May of 2021.

This is how the scheme worked... Step one: the dastardly duo of Knisley and Peters would switch off the security cameras in the room where they kept the voting machines. Step two was letting a shady co-conspirator come in and copy the machines’ hard drives.

This alleged third party, a.k.a. the dastardly duo’s co-conspirator in the scheme, was also apparently present during a software update known as a “trusted build” upgrade. What clearly can’t be trusted is those around you who may be every bit as suspicious as this treacherous trio.

So do yourself a favor and trust your own gut. If you suspect someone of keeping compromising secrets, living a double life, or even being an identity thief like the real-life characters in this story, don’t hesitate. Run a background check on them immediately and find the truth down to every last detail.

The Plot Thickens

Aside from the mysterious co-conspirator, the third man if you will, we have our main two suspects: Knisley and Peters. The duo are accused of stealing the identity of Gerald Wood, an IT consultant they pretended to hire only to use his social security number to pass background checks, obtaining an illegal security clearance and access badge.

And this is where it all comes back to that shady co-conspirator, who, it seems, the access badge was given to. With badge in hand, the third man went into that secure voting machines room, copied the hard drives, and the rest, as they say, is history. Criminal history.

According to the indictment obtained by InfoSecurity Mag: “Beginning in April 2021 and in advance of the May 25-26, 2021, trusted build, Tina Peters and Belinda Knisley, either as principal actors and/or acting as complicators, devised and executed a deceptive scheme which was designed to influence public servants, breach security protocols, exceed permissible access to voting equipment, and set in motion the eventual distribution of confidential information to unauthorized people.”

This is where we issue another warning to you: if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, it’s a duck. Your intuition is your greatest tool to protect yourself from those who would do you harm. Identity theft is on the rise, along with all types of cyber-crime. Running an in-depth background check on those you suspect of wrongdoing is not only warranted, but it may save you from years of headaches and stress that you simply do not need in your life.

After the Breach

Back to Mesa County. After the alleged data breach, Mesa County’s election software, or the illegally obtained copies of it, we should say, began circulating online in late summer of 2021. Tina Peters is currently being charged with multiple counts of attempting to influence a public servant.

Additionally, she’s been charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit criminal impersonation along with one count of identity theft, one count of official misconduct in the first degree, and one count of violation of duty and failure to comply with the secretary of state.

Belinda Knisley is in hot water as well, as her and her legal team are looking at nearly identical charges. The bottom line is that identity theft can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Background reports can act as a strong first line of defense if used properly.

With clearly outlined, detailed public records, running your own background report might just be the thing that alerts you to someone breaching your highly sensitive, personal data. It’s all about remaining vigilant, and not allowing yourself to become another statistic in this increasingly crime-ridden world.

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