Toyota Sued For Cell Phone Pretexting

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A former employee of Toyota's Georgetown, Kentucky plant has sued the auto maker, one of Kentucky's largest employers, for accessing his personal cell phone records by using a technique called pretexting during an internal investigation at the Georgetown plant in 2005. Although federal law requires that the owner of a cell phone must give permission before any third party accesses the owner's cell phone records, the employee, Charles W. Jones, Jr., has stated in court documents that he did not give Toyota permission to access his records.

The lawsuit, (case no.:3:06-cv-0246-JDM) which was filed on February 8, is pending in Federal U.S. District Court Western District of Kentucky Louisville Division. Toyota has denied any wrongdoing and is currently attempting to dismiss the case according to documents it filed in court. Mr. Jones, Jr. seeks unspecified damages, including punitive damages, for violation of federal law, invasion of privacy, and for emotional distress caused by the investigation.

Cell phone pretexting, which is forbidden by federal law, is an investigative technique in which the person attempting to access the cell phone records pretends to be the holder of the cell phone account and convinces the service provider to allow access to the records. The technique and its use in employee investigations gained notoriety during the recent scandal involving the Board of Directors of computer giant Hewlett-Packard.

According to papers filed in the case, Toyota's investigation of Mr. Jones, Jr. began in the Spring of 2005. The auto maker's investigation of Mr. Jones, who worked for the company for 13 years before he was terminated in the Fall of 2005, focused on alleged employee fraud and kickbacks involving off site storage of equipment for refurbishment used at Toyota's plants in Georgetown, KY. and through out North America. Mr. Jones has denied the allegations and states in court documents that he was fired for failure to cooperate in the investigation and that he was never prosecuted for any alleged fraud or kickbacks.

Court documents state that Toyota hired North American Security Solutions, Inc., an Ohio investigative services firm, to conduct the investigation. Based on deposition testimony on file in the case, a Toyota Human Resources manager in charge of the investigation provided Mr. Jones, Jr's cell phone number, the billing address for the account and other information to North American Security Solutions so that the firm could monitor Mr. Jones, Jr's cell phone activity during the investigation. Both North American and Global Information Group, Inc., a Florida company which performed the pretexting at North American's request, are also defendants in the case. North American Security Solutions, Inc. has denied any fault in the case.

Greenebaum, Doll & McDonald PLLC
John A. West
Chairperson, Appellate Practice Team
2800 Chemed Center
255 East Fifth Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Phone: 513-455-7688
Fax: 513-455-8500


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