DEA paid Amtrak worker $854K for customer data it could have obtained for free



A former Amtrak employee has been selling passenger data to the DEA for almost twenty years, and the individual received about $854K for their efforts. But the DEA could have obtained information relevant to the agency's work for free.

The ill-gotten data included names, email addresses, phone numbers, names, credit card numbers, and itineraries, and was provided by an employee described as a "secretary to a train and engine crew," according to AP.

The employee was not publicly identified except as a "secretary to a train and engine crew" in a report on the incident by Amtrak's inspector general. The secretary was allowed to retire, rather than face administrative discipline, after the discovery that the employee had effectively been acting as an informant who "regularly" sold private passenger information since 1995 without Amtrak's approval, according to a one-paragraph summary of the matter.

On Monday, the office of Amtrak Inspector General Tom Howard declined to identify the secretary or say why it took so long to uncover the payments. Howard's report on the incident concluded, "We suggested policy changes and other measures to address control weaknesses that Amtrak management is considering." DEA spokesman Matt Barden declined to comment

Amtrak was aware of and approved of the data sale, and has long worked with federal agencies to track drug trafficking on its train routes. Here's the Amtrak Inspector General's website--no information about the data sale scandal is online at the time of this blog post.