Stranger than fiction? Sometimes.
Sometimes the things that happen in real life, especially in seemingly boring and ordinary situations, are stranger than what we can imagine.
A 48-year-old woman named Tara Fitzgerald from Sacramento was the victim of some very special technical support from Dell's outsourced team in India. In December 2008, she contacted Dell's technical support seeking help in a very sensitive problem.
Fitzgerald thought that she had misplaced a number of erotic pictures of herself that she was saving for her boyfriend. She contacted Dell's technical support and was helped by a level 2 tech named Riyaz Shaikh in Mumbai, India (who was actually an employee of Sitel India, an outsource call center service).
"I trusted him. I trusted him because he was a Dell technician," said Fitzgerald.
She let him have remote access to her PC, and she witnessed him take the pictures off of her email. Little did she know, those pictures were being saved for a nefarious purpose.
Less than a month later, Fitzgerald was notified from an unknown email that her naked pictures were published on a website called "bitchtara."
Fitzgerald then contacted Shaikh again about the pictures, and he suggested that perhaps her boyfriend had leaked them to the internet. Oddly enough, a user named "rayizshaikh" claimed ownership of those photos on the bitchtara website, but Fitzgerald didn't have the heart to study the online posting.
Shaikh told Fitzgerald that he would work on her case from home and requested that he be provided with a new Dell laptop in his home in Mumbai.
"My conscience is talking to me, saying 'Tara, don't send this. Are you crazy?' I sent it anyway," she said.
Fitzgerald spent $195 sending the laptop via UPS next-day air shipping.
The conversations between the two became of personal nature. In an email dated January 11, 2009, Shaikh wrote: "There are no words to express how I feel about you. I constantly search for the words, and they all seem less than I truly feel. You are my life, my heart, and my soul. You are my best friend. You are my one true love. I still remember the day we first met. I knew that you were the one I was meant to be with forever."
But then a month later on Valentine's Day, Shaikh broke the news to Fitzgerald that he had fallen in love with a 22-year-old woman from Tennessee who had also met him through Dell technical support.
Fitzgerald soon discovered two charges on February 17, 2009 totaling $802 on her Dell Preferred credit card for a computer and router that were shipped to a woman in Waynesboro, Tennessee.
Fitzgerald was able to get in contact again with Shaikh on March 18, 2009, when he admitted his fraud: "ur my True friend Tara... I am sorry Accidently I charged ur Dell Account but I will pay. I don't want to loose my job. It was a mistake which happend with me and I am screwed."
Shaikh at a later date promised repayment: "We will pay u 1000. 500 and 500. remaining 500 u have to wait 2-4 mth."
Fitzgerald said that she reported the inappropriate contact and credit fraud to Dell on three separate occasions last year. Dell provided an affidavit to disavow the fraudulent charges on her credit card, but she refused to sign it because she wanted Dell to acknowledge the charges had been made by one of its representatives. Her most recent contact from Dell was a letter seeking a past due payment of $77 on her Dell Preferred credit card.
After reporting the incidents to Dell and the Sacramento Police Department more than a year ago, Fitzgerald finally decided to turn to the media to share her story.
"I've been violated. My life's been violated," said Fitzgerald. "I'm a woman, and no woman likes to be taken advantage of."
Dell has yet to respond.
(Source: News10 KXTV.)