It seems like a Clive Cussler novel - a beautiful woman, a corrupt government, espionage, state secrets, and a giant cover-up.
Sadly, this story is only too true. And if you're an Arizona resident, then your data has been at risk for over seven years.
In 2007, a Chinese nationalist was granted access to the Arizona Terror Center under the guise of a facial recognition software expert. He had unlimited access to over 5 million Arizona state driver's license photos and personal information.
Then, after five months, he disappeared. But he didn't leave empty-handed.
In spite of the personal watch guard that was supposed to be monitoring him and even escorting him to the bathroom, he took several hard drives full of information. Including the source code for the facial recognition software he was supposed to have been working on.
The mysterious Chinese nationalist was named Lizhong Fan, and after he stole data from the Arizona Terror Center he disappeared in 2010. No one has found a trace of him since.
But why are we only just hearing about this now? It seems that corrupted parties have moved to block the incident from the public's eye.
In fact, a review of records shows that David Hendershott, who was second-in-command at the sheriff’s office, moved aggressively to maintain silence, a silence that has now lasted some seven years. Two weeks after Fan departed, Hendershott directed others in writing not to discuss Fan and the possible breach. In an email to the outside contractor that had hired Fan, Hendershott wrote: “Keep this between us and only us.”