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Woman charged in e-mail case

August 29, 2001 

Ames, Ia. — An Iowa State University graduate student allegedly tapped into a former friend's e-mail and impersonated him to turn down a $200,000-a-year technology job.

King Chong Iris Fung, a student in ISU's math department, is charged with electronic eavesdropping. The charge carries a one-year jail term.

ISU campus police would not disclose the name of the alleged victim but said he met Fung at a Wisconsin college and now lives in Virginia. Fung, 36, is a doctoral candidate from Hong Kong, investigators said.

Fung had been viewing the e-mails of her friend and his wife for nine months, ISU police said. Fung accessed one or both e-mail accounts at least 33 times, nearly half of which were from a computer laboratory on campus.

"The exact nature of their relationship has not been determined," said Jerry Stewart, interim director of ISU's campus police department. "I don't think they've seen each other for several years."

Fung became a suspect after officials of the unnamed company called her former friend, saying they were disappointed that he'd turned down the job, Stewart said. The friend called ISU police, who have investigated the case since July.

Fung got access to her former friend's e-mail account by guessing his password "after numerous attempts," Stewart said.

Fung turned herself in to campus police Monday and was released on her promise to be in court next month. She has no criminal history in Story County, officials said.

The alleged victim can sue Fung if he loses the job offer, Stewart said.

A knock at the door of Fung's Ames apartment went unanswered Tuesday. Three neighbors said they didn't know her.

Fung is a research assistant who taught in the math department, ISU officials said. The math professor she works for, Dan Ashlock, did not return a telephone call Tuesday. Another professor described her as a smart woman with a good personality.

"She seemed reasonably outgoing, and she's articulate," said Stephen Willson, a math professor.

ISU officials would not disclose how long Fung has been at ISU. Student records typically are public information, but Fung signed a privacy form that limits her records to university employees, according to the ISU registrar.

Officials from ISU's dean of students office will review the case, said Pete Englin, interim dean of students. Possibilities range from no action to suspension, Englin said.

By STACI HUPP, Register Staff Writer. Copyright © 2001, The Des Moines Register.

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