A former federal public servant who stole nearly $1 million in computer parts from the Department of National Defence and sold some of them on the classified website Kijiji has pleaded guilty to fraud and breach of trust.
Andrew Heggaton, 33, was a civilian member of the Canadian Forces Crypto Support Unit when he ordered the hard drives, motherboards, processors and graphics cards he would later steal over a four-year period between June 2011 and March 2015.
Heggaton’s scam began unravelling in September 2014 when his superiors in the crypto support unit, also known as CFCSU, started getting invoices for graphic cards they didn’t normally buy, and hard drives and processors that were usually purchased as part of larger orders of complete computer systems. Worse yet, no one in the CFCSU could find the items they were being billed for.
Two of the invoices — one for $61,647.46 and the other for $76,405.31 — indicated the items had been shipped to Heggaton.
“When questioned by his supervisors about this, Mr. Heggaton provided some nonsensical explanations,” said prosecutor Bruce Lee-Shanok following Heggaton’s guilty plea earlier this year. “He stated those two orders were in fact official government orders, however the authorization forms attached to the orders had signatures that weren’t recognizable by anyone in the unit.”
The invoices were also missing an additional level of certification that is required before they could be sent out, Lee-Shanok said.
“Further, Mr. Heggaton had attempted to pass off older model processors to his supervisors, claiming that those were the processors that had in fact been delivered as part of those invoices,” said the prosecutor.
Following the discovery of irregularities in September, the CFCSU contacted military police to report a possible fraud. By November, the Canadian Forces National Investigative Service, or NIS, was examining invoices.
Two in particular caught their eye, mostly because they had the exact same invoice number and both were shipped to Heggaton.
The orders were for 40 Intel Core i7 processors, along with 40 licences for computer software. The Ottawa company that supplied the parts conducted an internal review and concluded the invoice for the licences had been doctored by someone who “attempted to cut and paste” to make it look legitimate.
On Jan. 27, 2015 — four months after his employers first questioned him about a suspicious order — the CFCSU received an invoice from another supplier for the purchase of Intel Core i7 processors that was never logged as being received.
“That invoice was reviewed in the presence of Mr. Heggaton, who began acting in a way that is described as ‘weird’, stating that it must of been a mistake due to the year-end rush and he would look into it,” said Lee-Shanok.
By this point, a system was implemented that any products sent to Heggaton were to be reviewed by the supervisor. All deliveries that entered CFCSU were also now to be documented by a commissionaire.
But despite the increased scrutiny, Heggaton wasn’t dissuaded from ordering more Intel Core i7 processors.
On March 6, 2015, a package addressed to Heggaton containing what the prosecutor described as a “large number” of the processors was intercepted. After it was determined the processors weren’t needed by the unit, investigators released the package for Heggaton to pick up.
A surveillance team later watched as Heggaton left work carrying a large laptop bag. Investigators stopped him and searched the bag, finding 15 Intel Core i7 processors valued at $11,430 and four hard drives valued at $2,084. All were still in their original retail packaging.
A search warrant was later executed on Heggaton’s cubicle and common area, and investigators seized what was described as a large number of suspicious invoices, purchase orders and brand new computer parts that were not used by the unit.
Further investigation revealed that Heggaton was selling some of the stolen items on Internet classified site Kijiji.
Investigators were able to recover one Intel Core i7 processor from an online purchaser. The serial number matched one of the missing processors that had been ordered by Heggaton and delivered to the CFCSU, according to the prosecutor.
“CFCSU and NIS conducted an audit that revealed a total value of items fraudulently ordered and stolen by Mr. Heggaton to be $966,933.82,” said Lee-Shanok, adding the invoices dated back to June 3, 2011.
Heggaton’s lawyer, Michael Smith, told Ontario Court Justice Heather Perkins-McVey that Heggaton didn’t receive all that money, it was just the value of the items.
Heggaton pleaded guilty to fraud, breach of trust and the trafficking of the processor that was sold online. Smith didn’t offer any explanation in court as to why Heggaton stole the computer parts.
Those details are likely to emerge during a sentencing hearing, which was initially scheduled for November but was put over until January. However, Smith did tell the judge that Heggaton has been attending Narcotics Anonymous.
Smith declined to discuss the case in further detail when reached by Postmedia, but confirmed addiction played a role in the crime. He said his client had been fired.