updated 9/29/2006 3:19:18 PM ET 2006-09-29T19:19:18

Cingular Wireless LLC, the nation’s largest cell phone provider, on Friday sued a private eye caught up in the scandal over the Hewlett-Packard Co. leak investigation, seeking to make him pay for allegedly obtaining customer call records under false pretenses.

The Atlanta-based company said in federal court papers it wants Charles Kelly, his firm CAS Agency Inc. and any of its agents to return all Cingular customer information they may have, give up any profits they made for getting the data and pay unspecified damages for their conduct.

The complaint, which follows a similar suit filed late Thursday by Verizon Wireless, also seeks an injunction against CAS, which is based in Carrollton, Ga.

Kelly could not immediately be reached for comment Friday. No phone listings for Kelly or CAS could be found through directory assistance, an Internet search or a Georgia state Web site on corporation registrations.

Citing testimony before a House committee, Cingular said the defendants or their agents improperly obtained the customer call records of CNET news.com reporter Dawn Kawamoto and provided the information to HP as part of the computer maker’s probe to root out corporate leaks to the media.

Cingular said that in an attempt to circumvent its safeguards, the defendants or their agents used several different types of ruses to gain the customer information. This included posing as customers seeking information about their accounts, posing as fellow employees needing access to an account or using customers’ online passwords without their consent, the suit said.

The practice of obtaining customer call records by posing as the customer is known as “pretexting.”

Kelly was among five private eyes summoned to appear before a congressional hearing to explain their alleged actions.

HP officials are accused of conducting an investigation, designed to trace a boardroom leak, that used a network of private detectives who impersonated the targeted individuals to obtain their phone records, snooped through their trash and physically spied on them. The probe targeted HP directors, employees and journalists.

Besides the inquiry in Congress, federal and California prosecutors are investigating whether company insiders or outside investigators broke the law. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has said he has enough evidence to indict HP insiders and contractors.

Cingular is jointly owned by AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp., while Verizon Wireless is a partnership between Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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