- By Darren Thompson
On Thursday, March 31, David Ramsey, age 58, of Lac du Flambeau, was arrested by local law enforcement and charged with Attempt Computer Crime-Destroy Data (Int. Serv.)—a Class F felony in the state of Wisconsin— by the Vilas County District Attorney’s Office in Eagle River, Wisc.
Ramsey’s crime, according to the Wisconsin Criminal Code, is classified under “Offenses-Computer Data and Programs.” Specifically, the state is alleging that Ramsey destroyed or altered data, computer programs, or supporting documentation as an employee of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.
“Unfortunately, there's been a single employee who has been arrested for alleged criminal activity within the workplace related to his professional responsibilities,” said Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians Tribal Administrator John Young in a statement. “We are actively involved in the investigation working alongside law enforcement. At this point, we will allow the court process to play out in determining the facts of the matter.”
According to a statement made by the Tribe, law enforcement is still investigating seized evidence and additional charges will be filed in court if new evidence warrants the charges.
“As the region's largest employer, we value our employees and their contributions, and will always make every effort to ensure the protection of the dedicated people who work for the Tribe and its enterprises,” the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians said in the statement on Facebook. “The events of this past week have been unusual for our community, and have understandably raised some concerns.”
At request of the Tribe, the Court ordered as a condition of Ramsey’s bond that he is not permitted on the premises of any Tribal business, clinic, governmental building, or enterprise. He is also restricted from any interactions (phone, electronic, or in person) with Tribal employees of any Tribal enterprise or related operations.
It is unclear how often Tribes face cyberattacks, but Native News Online has reported previously on various Tribes, including the Three Affiliated Tribes in Ft. Berthold being subject to a ransomware attack last year.
According to court documents, Ramsey is a Caucasian non-tribal member and a former employee of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. He appeared in Vilas County District Court on Friday, April 1st, without an attorney, to determine bond, which was set at $1,000 cash. The court scheduled Ramsey’s initial appearance on Monday, April 4, and adjourned his initial appearance until May 2, 2022, likely because he appeared in court without an attorney. According to the court docket, Ramsey does not qualify for a public defender.
A Class F felony in Wisconsin is punishable by a fine of $25,000, a state prison sentence up to 12 years and 6 months, or both imprisonment and a fine. It is a Class F felony if the offense results in damage valued at more than $2,500.
The Vilas County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond for comment.
The most common cyberattacks are phishing, ransomware, and malware, according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). “While today’s technology creates many advantages, it also creates risks like cybercrime, fraud, and abuse,” said CISA in a statement to Native News Online. “The more we rely on technology, the more vulnerable to technology we become. This means anybody who uses technology should practice good cyber hygiene, every day.”
Updated Thursday April 5th: Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity have shared that Ramsey was an accountant for the Tribe's health clinic. Any and all information obtained by any healthcare organization is highly protected.
Updated Wednesday April 6th: This story has been updated to correct the date of the arrest from April 1st to March 31.
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