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BidPrime Sues SmartProcure, Alleging the Company Stole 52,000 Bid Listings

BidPrime also published the SmartProcure CEO's home address, along with other personal details, online when it posted a court filing along with a press release. A BidPrime official said he believes the SmartProcure CEO performed most of the activity in question from his home computer.

BidPrime, a Texas startup that offers government contracting bid listings online, is suing similar startup SmartProcure for allegedly stealing those listings from its database.

BidPrime filed a lawsuit June 5 against SmartProcure in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, alleging that the Florida company obtained access to a series of legitimate user accounts in order to find and copy more than 52,000 bid listings from its database.

Stephen Hetzel, BidPrime’s head of operations and co-founder, said the company isn’t sure what SmartProcure did with the data. At the very least, he said, the bids represent a list of the company’s data sources.

“At this point we don’t know what information they put out there for their subscribers, but we do know that our bid data that did get scraped had a large number of unique data sources from where we capture those bids,” he said.

The Texas company published a press release about the lawsuit online on June 7 and attached a full copy of the complaint with it. Inside the complaint are several personal details about SmartProcure CEO Jeff Rubenstein, including his home address, office computer’s IP address, work email address and phone number and a cellphone number listed in his email signature.

The complaint alleges that Rubenstein used the improperly-accessed accounts from his home and work computers. And while it does list his home address, it doesn’t include his home IP address. Hetzel said BidPrime made the decision about what to include based on legal advice.

“We believe most of the infractions occurred from his home IP address … many of them used proxy accounts also to (conceal) identity, but there were fingerprints that attached directly to his home IP,” he said.

According to the filing, Rubenstein first contacted BidPrime on Oct. 11, 2017, to ask about setting up a partnership between the two companies. The deal never happened, but BidPrime did give Rubenstein access to a free trial account.

From there, BidPrime alleges, Rubenstein and SmartProcure Director of Sales Marc DiGeronimo signed up for more trial accounts and gained access to a legitimate paid account and a third-party free trial account as well. They used false names and tools to mask their IP addresses as they pulled the files from BidPrime, the filing says.

Hetzel said he’s not sure how SmartProcure got the login credentials from those third-party accounts, but it likely wasn’t from BidPrime’s own databases.

“We’re confident that the credentials were not obtained from our server because of the way that we store passwords, the way that they’re encrypted and cached,” he said. “So basically we have not detected any breach on BidPrime.”

BidPrime’s terms of service prohibit users from viewing more than 1,000 bid listings at a time or from reproducing those listings for financial gain.

Bill Culhane, BidPrime’s vice president of marketing, said the company hopes to get more details about what happened going forward.

“The investigation is still ongoing, so there are still many unanswered questions on our end,” he said.

Toward that end, BidPrime has asked the judge in the case for a temporary restraining order against SmartProcure to demand that they not access BidPrime’s services and that they preserve data relevant to the case. The court will hold a hearing on that motion on June 12.

Rubenstein and SmartProcure did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.
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