Why hackers escape

Wednesday, 15 May 2002, 11:26 AM EST

The nightmare for Ecount, an online gift certificate service, began last year when a hacker broke in to the company's system and stole personal information belonging to its customers.

Nine months later, the criminal is still at large. The thief has brazenly taunted executives with repeated e-mails while staying ahead of investigators, deftly wiping away his electronic fingerprints and covering his tracks at every turn.

"We're sick to death of hearing from him," Ecount Chief Executive Matt Gillin said of the intruder, who has offered to return the information for a fee.

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