PTC News

From: Steven (
Date: Thu Aug 24 2000 - 19:05:29 EEST

FBI arrests extortion
                   suspect at library

                       The man wrote e-mails to a company
                       threatening to release company secrets
                       unless it paid him $1-million, the FBI says.

                   By KATHERINE GAZELLA

                    St. Petersburg Times, published August 24, 2000

                   TARPON SPRINGS -- The man using the Internet at the
                   Tarpon Springs Public Library looked inconspicuous. In
                   recent weeks, he came and went from the library, largely
                   unnoticed by the librarians.

                   But Federal Bureau of Investigation agents were watching
                   Michael Pitelis closely. They watched as he drove from his
                   Tarpon Point Condominium complex to the library earlier
                   this week. An agent looked at the computer screen as he
                   typed the words "payment in full," "cold war" and "PTC" in
                   an e-mail message Monday.

                   Tuesday afternoon, they closed in. About a dozen of them
                   encircled Pitelis at the library, handcuffed him and
                   him on charges that he tried to extort more than $1-million
                   from a Massachusetts software company.

                   Pitelis, 39, had threatened top executives at Parametric
                   Technology Corp., telling them he would post information on
                   the Internet that would allow people to use the company's
                   software without paying, according to a sworn statement by
                   FBI Special Agent Nenette L. Day.

                   U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Pizzo on Wednesday set
                   Pitelis' bail at $25,000. Pitelis was being held at the
                   Hillsborough County Jail on Wednesday.

                   Pitelis' contact with the company began Aug. 3, records
                   show. He sent an e-mail to Richard Harrison, the company's
                   chief executive, in which he detailed the installation
                   instructions for the PTC software package Pro/Engineer,
                   Day wrote.

                   PTC develops, markets and supports software packages
                   that help manufacturing companies design and develop new
                   products. For example, Dynasty Motorcar Corp. recently
                   announced it would use a version of Pro/Engineer to design
                   a new electric, low-speed vehicle.

                   PTC's software is sold on compact discs, and customers are
                   given passwords to access the functions on the CD they
                   have purchased.

                   If the information contained in the e-mail were posted on
                   Internet, users would have access to the full range of
                   functions contained in a Pro/Engineer CD, Day wrote. The
                   retail value of those functions is more than $100,000.

                   That e-mail and some subsequent messages were signed
                   "Bill Myers," but the messages were traced back to Pitelis.
                   He used the address, until a PTC
                   employee contacted Yahoo and the account was canceled.
                   He then used, records show.

                   In later messages, most of which he composed at a library
                   terminal, Pitelis wrote that an "unnamed individual" was
                   willing to pay $250,000 and, later, $400,000 for the

                   "We will initially accept a lump sum of $400,000 from PTC
                   to contain this information," he wrote in an Aug. 11 e-mail,

                   FBI records show. He also asked for a $40,000 monthly
                   "maintenance fee." He also wrote that an offshore account
                   had been set up to accept a wire transfer from PTC.

                   He later raised the stakes. In an e-mail dated Aug. 21, Day
                   said, Pitelis demanded $1-million from PTC. Federal agents
                   watched as he typed the message, and he was arrested the
                   next day.

                   Agents and PTC were able to trace Pitelis' e-mails through
                   the Internet service provider that passed along his e-mails.

                   First, PTC obtained a civil subpoena that it used to track
                   down the telephone number from which the first two e-mails
                   were sent. It was, according to the FBI, a phone in Pitelis'

                   name. Agents traced later e-mailed threats to the Tarpon
                   Springs library.

                   Pitelis' Web site,, lists him as the
                   and senior associate of Pitelis and Associates, P.O. Box
                   894 in Tarpon Springs. The company "specializes in the
                   application, training and support of (PTC) Pro/Engineer,"
                   Web site says.

                   The arrest involving about a dozen federal agents was
                   surprisingly quiet, said Elizabeth O'Brien, the library

                   "They really were very smooth about it," she said.

                   O'Brien and other library employees did not know about the
                   surveillance, she said. But the library had been contacted
                   its Internet service provider, who alerted them that one of
                   the machines was being used for illegal activity.

                   O'Brien did not know how long Pitelis had been going to the
                   library, but she guessed it hadn't been very long.

                   "We weren't sure whether he was a new customer, or if we
                   just hadn't noticed him," she said. "Nobody knew him."

                   - Times staff writer Larry Dougherty contributed to this
                   Katherine Gazella can be reached at (727) 445-4182 or

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