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18 Indicted in Sale of U.S. Computer Data for Private Use

<i> Associated Press</i>

Eighteen private investigators and Social Security Administration employees in nine states were charged Wednesday with buying and selling confidential data from federal government computers.

The investigators paid for personal information illegally taken from the SSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Atty. Michael Chertoff said.

The confidential data--personal earnings histories and criminal records--were not taken by outside hackers breaking into the system, Chertoff said, but by government employees exploiting their access to the system.

The private investigators either bribed or duped government workers to provide the confidential information, Chertoff said.

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