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Congress Aide Sought Hacker To Hike Grades

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The communications director for Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., has been fired for trying to have the director's college record inflated by people he believed were computer hackers, Rehberg's chief of staff said Friday.

Todd Shriber was fired Thursday from the communications post that he held for about a year, Erik Iverson said. He said the dismissal came after Shriber informed him of a pending article on the Internet that detailed attempts to hire men believed to be hackers.

The men actually were not hackers, but Shriber's e-mail communication with them last summer reinforced his belief that they were available for hire to change grades he received at Texas Christian University, NetworkWorld.com reported Thursday.

Shriber, 28, declined to comment Friday. Iverson said Shriber had been concerned about his grades because he eventually wanted to pursue a master's degree.

"He's a good guy," Iverson said. "This was out of character for him. But at the end of the day, he just wasn't exhibiting the kind of veracity that we need and demand out of our employees."

The firing was supported by Rehberg, a Republican just elected to a fourth House term. Iverson said the congressman was not available for comment Friday.

In an Aug. 9 e-mail to the Web site attrition.org, Shriber said he needed to "make contact with a hacker that would be interested in doing a one-time job for me. The pay would be good."

Attrition.org is an online clearinghouse for information on Internet and computer security.

NetworkWorld reported that two members of attrition.org, identified as "Lyger" and "Jericho," fooled Shriber into believing they would meet his wishes of tapping into the Texas Christian computer system so his grades could be altered.

NetworkWorld said the Internet relationship ended with an Aug. 27 e-mail in which Lyger told Shriber, fictitiously, that hacking attempts were detected and it would be wise to "duck and run if you can."

As communications director, Shriber held "a position that entails a lot of trust," Iverson said. Shriber's work involved communicating with the public, often through the news media.

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at CBSNews.com and cbssundaymorning.com.