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  1. Driver gets a-weigh with Chromebook thefts and doesn't get away with it Gevorg Kevliyan, a resident of Decatur, Alabama, was sentenced earlier this month to a year in prison and three years of supervised release – for stealing 900 Acer Chromebook laptops from a truck he'd been hired to drive. Back in 2017, according to the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia, computer maker Acer hired a trucking company to deliver 15 pallets consisting of 900 Acer Chromebook laptops [PDF] worth an estimated $245,000, or about $267 apiece. The devices were driven from a distribution center in Los Angeles, California to a Costco warehouse in College Park, Georgia. But when they arrived, there were undisclosed problems with the purchase order paperwork, so Costco decided to return them. Kevliyan was hired to drive the notebooks back to the Golden State. According to the government, Kevliyan took control of the cargo and later reported it empty, telling investigators that he ended up driving to Chicago, Illinois, to pick up a different load before arriving in California. But the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), a state law enforcement agency, found a discrepancy with his tale. Records from a truck weigh-station in Ringgold, Georgia – most US states require large commercial vehicles to stop and be weighed to make sure they aren't destroying the roads – showed that Kevliyan's truck weighed several thousand pounds more than an empty tractor-trailer. The excess weight just happened to be more or less what 900 boxed Acer laptops on pallets would weigh. Upon arriving in Chicago, GBI agents followed the truck's GPS trail to a warehouse where they obtained surveillance video showing 15 pallets being unloaded from a truck that appeared to be Kevliyan's with the help of an on-site janitor and other unknown men. The janitor, the government said, recounted being paid $250 by the owner of a local business to unload the pallets. Investigators believe the janitor later helped load the pallets onto another truck with another driver for the same amount. However, the Chromebooks have not been recovered and further investigation appears to be unlikely. GBI agents also found that Kevliyan had gambled at the Virgin River Hotel and Casino in Mesquite, Nevada, with over $11,000 in cash after arriving from Chicago. Kevliyan's wife, two sons, and sister submitted letters to the court attesting to their father's otherwise good character and difficult circumstances. The public defender handling the case argued Kevliyan should not be incarcerated because he has Type 2 diabetes, because his offense was non-violent, and because he's remorseful and unlikely at his age to re-offend. While these pleas may have mitigated Kevliyan's sentence, they didn't keep him out of prison. In addition to serving a one-year sentence, Kevliyan must pay $245,000 in restitution. Source
  2. He was also secretly filming in leisure centres A perv who reportedly hacked people's iCloud accounts to obtain sexual images before sharing them online has been sent to prison for nearly three years. Tony Spencer of Victoria Hill, Eye, Suffolk, was found by Basildon Crown Court to have "accessed iCloud accounts without the owners' consent" by using "software", according to a police statement. One of Spencer's victims had told Essex Police in 2017 that her iCloud account had been breached and her "personal intimate pictures" posted online shortly afterwards. Spencer pleaded guilty in September last year to a dozen Computer Misuse Act offences, nine counts of voyeurism and five counts of making an indecent photograph of a child. On top of his 32-month sentence, handed down late last week, he was put on the Sex Offenders' Register for life and handed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years. In addition to iCloud hacking, Spencer had also filmed women and children getting changed in his local leisure centre with hidden cameras. Detective Sergeant Ian Collins of Essex Police's Cyber Crime Team commented: "Spencer was not able to access any accounts secured with 2FA as he would have needed the mobile phone of the victims at the same time." The policeman added that Spencer's sordid secret lifestyle "went hidden for many years until we received just a single report that revealed much, much more… he used his specialist knowledge to hack his unsuspecting victims' accounts and then accessed their most intimate photographs for his own sexual purpose and that of others." No details were given of what software Spencer was using, though a simple online search throws up millions of results which may or may not actually work. The Register has asked Essex Police for more information and will update this article if the force responds. The force said it was conducting a larger investigation into iCloud account hacking, partially triggered by its investigation into Spencer. The force appears to be a fan of using the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) against hackers. Academics and campaigners have called for the CMA to be reformed for the modern era, arguing that because there is no specific sentencing guideline for judges to use, jail terms handed down to CMA criminals are inconsistent. The Crown Prosecution Service's London tentacle recently slapped a last-second fraud charge onto a man who admitted hacking the National Lottery, a wise decision from the prosecutors' perspective when the judge used that as the basis for handing down a nine-month prison sentence. Previous research by The Register found that prison sentences under the CMA tend to be measured in months rather than years. Source
  3. John McAfee of antivirus software fame has arrived in London from the Dominican Republic, where he had been detained for several days with his wife and several others for entering the Caribbean nation with a cache of weapons on his yacht, his lawyer said Friday. Authorities “asked him where he wanted to go, and he decided on London,” his attorney Candido Simon told Reuters. News of his arrival in the UK came two days after McAfee, 73, the eponymous founder of the PC software security giant, said on Twitter that he was released “after four days of confinement” along with five other people, including his wife, Janice. “I was well treated. My superiors were friendly and helpful. In spite of the helpful circumstances, we’ve decided to move on,” the British-born tech guru said in a tweet Wednesday. After Dominican authorities ensured that the US had no active legal cases or extradition requests for McAfee, they allowed him to choose where he wanted to go, Simon said. McAfee has been sought by US tax authorities since January 2012, when he announced that he had fled the country and “living in exile” on a boat because of felony charges handed down by the Internal Revenue Service. A spokesman for the IRS told The Post on Friday that he could not release any information about the case, as per policy. McAfee — who is seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination for US president in 2020 — asked his Twitter followers on Friday whether he should also campaign to be British prime minister. “Can a person run for, and be, President of the United States and Prime Minister of Great Britain simultaneously? Yes. Absolutely. Without question. But I believe I am one of the few people still alive who could qualify for the combined position,” he tweeted. Earlier this week, McAfee docked his yacht, Great Mystery, in Puerto Plata, a province on the DR’s Atlantic north coast, where the weapons and ammo stash was seized, Reuters reported. Customs officials said they found pistols, a shotgun and bars of suspected silver on the yacht. While in custody, McAfee retweeted a photo posted by his wife of himself sitting shirtless in a cell. “@theemrsmcafee insisted I looked better in this jailhouse photo since I was smiling. Janice was incarcerated in the cellblock next door at the same time. She just forgot how to properly smuggle phones,” he wrote. “My crime is not filing tax returns – not a crime. The rest is propaganda by the U.S. government to silence me. My voice is the voice of dissent. If I am silenced, dissent itself will be next,” he wrote in a July 19 tweet. “The CIA has attempted to collect us. We are at sea now and will report more soon. I will continue to be dark for the next few days,” he said in another tweet, which included a photograph of himself and a woman brandishing rifles. On July 22, he wrote that they had been “at sea 4 and a half in rough weather. Nearing port. All is well. Will be back in the saddle shortly.” McAfee said he couldn’t wait to “get off of this God forsaken boat that lost air conditioning and water 18 hours into the trip. None of us have bathed for 5 days.” His Twitter account was later taken over by his campaign manager Rob Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Loggia-Ramirez, who wrote: “If John misses his next check-in, events will be set into motion that I cannot prevent once they have begun. At the peak of his wealth, McAfee’s net worth topped $100 million – but he reportedly lost the bulk of his fortune during the global financial crisis in 2009. He then liquidated his assets and moved to Belize, where he surrounded himself with a harem of young women – many of whom moved in with him at his heavily fortified beachfront compound on Ambergris Caye. In 2012, Belize police said McAfee was a “person of interest” in the murder of a neighbor. He told the news outlet Wired in November of that year that he was forced into hiding because local authorities were trying to kill him. Prime Minister Dean Barrow dismissed the allegations, describing McAfee as “extremely paranoid — even bonkers.” McAfee was later arrested in Guatemala, where he sought political asylum but was charged with entering the country illegally. He was hospitalized for suspected heart attacks, which he later claimed he faked to avoid being handed over to police in Belize. On Dec. 21, 2012, Guatemalan authorities deported him to the US, where he reportedly met Janice, who solicited him as a prostitute in South Beach, Florida. The couple have lived in constant fear of his assassination by agents of the Belize government, according to a Newsweek report. McAfee sold his famous anti-virus software company, which he founded in 1987, in 1994 for about $75 million. “John has secreted data with individuals across the world. I know neither their identities or locations. They will release their payloads if John goes missing.” McAfee said in a video earlier this year that he was charged for “using cryptocurrencies in criminal acts” by Tennessee authorities, according to bitcoin.com. “I am running my campaign in exile on this boat for the duration — I will not allow them to imprison me and shut my voice down, which they will do immediately — Why? I am a flight risk. Obviously, I am in flight,” McAfee said in the video. The cybersecurity pioneer also boasted in a Jan. 3 tweet that he had not “filed a tax return for 8 years,” saying “taxation is illegal” and that his “net income is negative.” Source
  4. Founder and operator of defunct bitcoin exchange Bitfunder gets 14 months jail time for lying to regulators about the loss of more than 6,000 bitcoins. A crypto criminal case that dates back to 2013 has finally come to an end. The founder and operator of the now-defunct Bitcoin exchange Bitfunder, Jon Montroll, was sentenced yesterday to 14 months in jail for lying to federal regulators about a hack that cost his customers more than 6,000 bitcoins—worth nearly $70 million at today’s prices. Montroll allegedly defrauded his customers by failing to disclose a hack of the exchange in July 2013. The Bitfunder operator then attempted to cover it up by misappropriating their funds to hide the lost bitcoins, according to federal prosecutors. The ordeal initially caught the eye of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the fall of 2013. When questioned about his bitcoin exchange’s operations and the breach of its systems by the SEC in November 2013, Montroll allegedly misled regulators, assuring them that his exchange’s funds were safe through a phony screenshot of balance statements. Montroll pleaded guilty to federal charges of securities fraud and obstruction of justice and was sentenced to 14 months in prison and three years probation by a federal judge in the Southern District of New York. But the trouble doesn’t end there for Bitfunder’s founder, who also faces civil charges stemming from the case. In February 2018, the SEC charged Montroll with “operating an unregistered securities exchange and defrauding users of that exchange” in a civil-enforcement action. The Commission also alleged that Montroll sold “unregistered securities” that were supposedly “investments” in his business, and absconded with those funds as well. Source
  5. “The world should know that what they’re doing out here is crazy,” said a man who refused to share his passcode with police. As police now routinely seek access to people’s cellphones, privacy advocates see a dangerous erosion of Americans’ rights, with courts scrambling to keep up. William Montanez is used to getting stopped by the police in Tampa, Florida, for small-time traffic and marijuana violations; it’s happened more than a dozen times. When they pulled him over last June, he didn’t try to hide his pot, telling officers, "Yeah, I smoke it, there's a joint in the center console, you gonna arrest me for that?" They did arrest him, not only for the marijuana but also for two small bottles they believed contained THC oil — a felony — and for having a firearm while committing that felony (they found a handgun in the glove box). Then things got testy. As they confiscated his two iPhones, a text message popped up on the locked screen of one of them: “OMG, did they find it?” The officers demanded his passcodes, warning him they’d get warrants to search the cellphones. Montanez suspected that police were trying to fish for evidence of illegal activity. He also didn’t want them seeing more personal things, including intimate pictures of his girlfriend. So he refused, and was locked up on the drug and firearms charges. William Montanez Five days later, after Montanez was bailed out of jail, a deputy from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office tracked him down, handed him the warrants and demanded the phone passcodes. Again, Montanez refused. Prosecutors went to a judge, who ordered him locked up again for contempt of court. “I felt like they were violating me. They can’t do that,” Montanez, 25, recalled recently. "F--- y’all. I ain’t done nothing wrong. They wanted to get in the phone for what?” He paid a steep price, spending 44 days behind bars before the THC and gun charges were dropped, the contempt order got tossed and he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor pot charge. And yet he regrets nothing, because he now sees his defiance as taking a stand against the abuse of his rights. “The world should know that what they’re doing out here is crazy,” Montanez said. The police never got into his phones. While few would choose jail, Montanez’s decision reflects a growing resistance to law enforcement’s power to peer into Americans’ digital lives. The main portals into that activity are cellphones, which are protected from prying eyes by encryption, with passcodes the only way in. As police now routinely seek access to people’s cellphones, privacy advocates see a dangerous erosion of Americans’ rights, with courts scrambling to keep up. “It’s becoming harder to escape the reach of police using technology that didn’t exist before,” said Riana Pfefferkorn, the associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. “And now we are in the position of trying to walk that back and stem the tide.” While courts have determined that police need a warrant to search a cellphone, the question of whether police can force someone to share a passcode is far from settled, with no laws on the books and a confusing patchwork of differing judicial decisions. Last month, the Indiana Supreme Court heard arguments on the issue. The state supreme courts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are considering similar cases. As this legal battle unfolds, police keep pursuing new ways of breaking into cellphones if the owners don’t cooperate — or are enlisting help from technology firms that can do it for them. This has put them at odds with cellphone makers, all of whom continually update their products to make them harder for hackers or anyone else to break into. But the hacking techniques are imperfect and expensive, and not all law enforcement agencies have them. That is why officials say compelling suspects to unlock their cellphones is essential to police work. Making the tactic more difficult, they say, would tilt justice in favor of criminals. “It would have an extreme chilling effect on our ability to thoroughly investigate and bring many, many cases, including violent offenses,” said Hillar Moore, the district attorney in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who got the FBI’s help in breaking into a cellphone belonging to a suspect in a deadly Louisiana State University fraternity hazing ritual. “It would basically shut the door.” Clashes over passcodes In the part of Florida where Montanez lives, authorities are guided by a case involving an upskirt photo. A young mother shopping at a Target store in Sarasota in July 2014 noticed a man taking a picture of her with his phone while crouching on the floor. She confronted him. He fled. Two days later, police arrested Aaron Stahl and charged him with video voyeurism. Authorities got a search warrant for Stahl’s iPhone, but he wouldn’t give them the passcode, citing his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. A trial judge ruled in his favor, but a state appellate court reversed the decision in December 2016, saying Stahl had to provide the code. Facing the possibility of getting convicted at trial and sentenced to prison, Stahl agreed to plead no contest in exchange for probation. While Stahl did not provide the passcode in the end, prosecutors still rely on the precedent established by the appellate ruling to compel others to turn over their passcodes under the threat of jail. “Up until that point you could be a pedophile or a child pornogropher and carry around the fruits of your crime in front of law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges and taunt them with fact that they couldn’t get the passcode,” said Cynthia Meiners, who prosecuted Stahl at the 12th Judicial Circuit State’s Attorney’s Office. “You could say, ‘I’m a child pornographer and it’s on my phone but I’m not giving you my passcode because I would be incriminating myself.’” But that ruling only holds in a few counties of Florida. Elsewhere in the country, skirmishes remain unresolved. In Indiana, police officials are trying to force a woman to share her passcode as they investigate her for harassment, saying she was making it impossible for them to obtain key evidence. The woman’s lawyer says authorities haven’t said what evidence they think is in the phone, raising concerns about a limitless search. Her appeals reached the state Supreme Court, whose ruling could influence similar cases around the country. Attorneys general in eight other states filed a brief in support of the police, warning against a ruling that “drastically alters the balance of power between investigators and criminals.” The stakes are similar in New Jersey, where a sheriff’s deputy accused of tipping off drug dealers to police activities has refused to hand over passcodes to his iPhones. The state Supreme Court agreed in May to hear the case. These clashes aren’t limited to the use of passcodes. Police have also tried to force people to open phones through biometrics, such as thumbprints or facial recognition. Legal experts see the Fifth Amendment argument against self-incrimination as more of a stretch in those cases. The law has generally been interpreted as protecting data that someone possesses — including the contents of their mind, such as passcodes — but not necessarily their physical traits, such as thumbprints. Still, some judges have refused to sign warrants seeking permission to force someone to unlock their phone using their face or finger. The rules on compelled decryption are more lenient at the U.S. border, where federal agents have given themselves wide authority to search the phones of people entering the country ─ and have reportedly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on third-party hacking tools. “Depending on where you are in the country, there is different case law on what police can do,” said Andrew Crocker, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties nonprofit. In some states, there is no authoritative court ruling, leaving law enforcement authorities to decide for themselves. Virginia falls into that category. Bryan Porter, the prosecutor in the city of Alexandria, said he has told local police it’s OK to try to force someone under the threat of jail to open a cellphone by thumbprint or face. But demanding a password seems to go too far, he said. Criminals shouldn’t be able to inoculate themselves from investigations, Porter said. “But it kind of rubs me the wrong way to present a piece of paper to someone and say, ‘Give us your passcode.’” ‘What they were doing to me was illegal’ In Tampa, Florida, where Montanez was arrested last year, judges still rely on the 2016 ruling against Stahl by the Second District Court of Appeals. That is what prosecutors cited when they tried to force Montanez to give up his passcodes. But Montanez’s lawyer, Patrick Leduc, argued that, unlike Stahl’s case, police had no reason to search the phone, because it had no connection to the offenses he was charged with. The “OMG, did they find it?” text message — which turned out to be from Montanez’s mother, who owned the car and the gun in the glove box — was meaningless, Leduc said. He warned of a police “fishing expedition” in which authorities could search for anything potentially incriminating on his phone. While sitting in lockup for contempt, Montanez’s resolve not to give up his passcodes hardened. “What they were doing to me was illegal and I wasn’t going to give them their business like that,” he said. “They told me I got the key to my freedom,” he added. “But I was like, ‘F--- that.’” But the experience shook him. “I ain’t the toughest guy in the world, but I can protect myself. But it was crazy,” he said. “Bad food, fights here and there, people trying to take your food.” At the same time, the drugs and gun case against Montanez was crumbling. Laboratory tests on the suspected THC oil came back negative, voiding that felony charge and the gun charge related to it. That left prosecutors with only minor pot charges. But he remained in jail on the contempt charge while his lawyer and prosecutors negotiated a plea deal. In August 2018, after Montanez had spent more than five weeks in jail for refusing to provide the passcode, an appellate court dismissed the contempt case on a technicality. The court invited prosecutors to try again, but by then the passcode’s value had diminished. Instead, prosecutors allowed Montanez to plead no contest to misdemeanor drug charges and he was freed. When he was released, Montanez carried a notoriety that made him feel unwelcome in his own neighborhood. He noticed people looking at him differently. He was banned from his favorite bar. The police keep pulling him over, and he now fears them, he said. He finally left Tampa and lives in Pasco County, about an hour away. “Yeah, I took a stand against them,” he said. “But I lost all that time. I gotta deal with that, going to jail for no reason.” Source
  6. For years, the arrest and case has been kept under-wraps. Friday, a court sentenced Thomas White to 5 years and 4 months for his role in running a huge dark web drug marketplace. In 2015, WIRED published a list of the ‘dark web drug lords who got away.’ That list included the Dread Pirate Roberts 2 (DPR2), the creator of the second Silk Road site, which launched almost immediately after the FBI ended the first with the famous arrest of founder Ross Ulbricht. Under DPR2, Silk Road 2 went on to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars a day. The FBI shut that one down too and arrested its remaining administrator. By that time, DPR2 had already passed ownership of the site on and, publicly, it looked like he had evaded prosecution. But today, a court in Liverpool, England, sentenced Thomas White, a technologist and privacy activist, for crimes committed in part while running Silk Road 2 under the DPR2 persona, among other crimes committed under another persona. White pleaded guilty to drug trafficking, money laundering, as well as making indecent images of children, and was sentenced to a total of 5 years and 4 months in prison. White’s arrest took place in November 2014, but the case has remained largely under-wraps because of the UK’s strict court reporting rules, which prohibit journalists from covering some cases before their conclusion. This is to stop suspects facing "trial by media," and in order to let cases run their course. Paul Chowles, an investigator from the National Crime Agency (NCA) who worked on the case, told Motherboard in a phone call one piece of evidence included the private encryption key belonging to DPR2 on one of White’s computers. If someone possesses the private part of a PGP key, which is used to decrypt and sign messages, it can be a good indicator that they are behind a particular online identity. White has been out of prison on bail since his arrest in 2014, and became reasonably well-known in security circles under his real name in the time between his arrest and sentencing. After working on the Silk Road 2, White adopted the handle ‘The Cthulhu,.’ a moniker that may be familiar to those who follow technology news. On Twitter he mused about security and privacy topics, and has appeared under his own name in articles in Motherboard, Forbes, and more as an expert on Tor and other subjects. He previously ran a website archiving large data breaches that anyone could download, including the MySpace breach, data from hacked affairs website Ashley Madison, and customer information from a Muslim-focused dating site called ‘Muslim Match.’ White wrote blog posts on his own website, including a guide on how to securely setup a Tor hidden service, and he also ran a number of nodes for the volunteer-driven Tor anonymity network. White declined to speak to Motherboard on the record about his case. White deleted his Cthulhu Twitter account on Thursday. White's computer equipment seized by the NCA. After the FBI took down the original Silk Road site in 2013 and arrested Ulbricht, a small cabal of Silk Road veterans banded together to create its replacement. Those included moderators of the first site, and “StExo,” White’s persona which he used to offer money laundering services. White spear-headed that effort, and told others he would drop StExo and take on the mantle of DPR2, according to Chowles from the NCA. The Dread Pirate Roberts is a reference to the character from the book and film The Princess Bride, in which the title trickles down from successor to successor. “DPR2, aka Thomas White, was the boss. He was the controlling mind in all of this, and he was the one driving it forward,” Chowles added. One Silk Road moderator that White directed went by the handle “Cirrus.” As Motherboard showed in 2014, Cirrus was an undercover law enforcement official who captured chat logs detailing White’s transition from StExo to DPR2. “He was able to capture that; that kind of transition,” Chowles said, referring to Jared Der-Yeghiayan, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agent who controlled the Cirrus account. Chat logs US authorities recovered from the computer of Blake Benthall, Silk Road 2’s co-administrator, reflected much the same thing, Chowles added. In a longform 2016 profile, DPR2 told Motherboard what it was like to create the second Silk Road. “Once you hit that enter button, you've just launched something that you know there is going to be an absolutely fucking huge manhunt after you,” he said. In December 2013, when law enforcement agencies arrested a number of the original moderators, DPR2 stepped back from public view. When the FBI launched Operation Onymous the following year, which took down Silk Road 2, UK authorities arrested White. “This [wouldn’t] have been achieved without the significant assistance we’ve had from the [Department of] Homeland Security and the FBI and the Department of Justice,” Garry Tancock, a second NCA investigator who worked on the case, told Motherboard in a phone call. "He was the controlling mind in all of this, and he was the one driving it forward." The NCA investigators linked White first to the StExo identity in part by following financial and bitcoin transactions in the early days of the account’s creation. “We effectively got him from his day one, week one, of activity on Silk Road,” Chowles said. Chowles explained that included tracing a loan from payday loan company Wonga in White’s name, which was then sent to cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox, which then transferred bitcoin funds to the StExo account on Silk Road and paid for some items on the site. Other evidence included receipts for items seized from other Silk Road vendors addressed to White, and White being in possession of bitcoin wallets associated with DPR2. John Williams from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) told Motherboard in a statement that White "received an income that allowed lavish spending with no credible explanation." The case has not been straightforward, however. Chowles said the NCA had challenges with White’s use of encryption. The agency was eventually successful, in part because of gaining access to a password manager which contained the unlock phrase for one of White’s encrypted laptops. White's custody image. Image: The whole process has also taken years. According to a source familiar with the case, the investigation data didn’t arrive in the UK until June 2016, and the FBI didn’t provide full copies until December 2018. Motherboard granted the source anonymity to speak more openly about a criminal case. White’s motivation was a mix of financial gain and power, Chowles believes. Chat logs between White and Benthall said White planned to start a paid-for child pornography site to make money, Charles said. White would tell Benthall to work on a UK timezone and write in a particular way, the investigator added. “Might set a forum up in onion land to bring together people who run hidden services to share knowledge? What do you think?” White tweeted in 2015. This piece has been updated to include comment from the CPS. Source
  7. Charges announced by the Justice Department on Thursday against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange provide fresh insight into why federal prosecutors sought to question whistleblower Chelsea Manning last month before a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia. Photo: Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor of WikiLeaks, and barrister Jennifer Robinson speak to the media outside Westminster magistrates court where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was appearing in London, Thursday, April 11, 2019. Manning, convicted in 2013 of leaking classified U.S. government documents to WikiLeaks, was jailed in early March as a recalcitrant witness after refusing to answer the grand jury’s questions. After her arrest, she was held in solitary confinement in a Virginia jail for nearly a month before being moved into its general population—all in an attempt to coerce her into answering questions about conversations she allegedly had with Assange at the time of her illegal disclosures, according to court filings. Though Manning confessed to leaking more than 725,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks following her deployment to Iraq in 2009—including battlefield reports and five Guantanamo Bay detainee profiles—she was charged with leaking portions of only a couple hundred documents, including dozens of diplomatic cables that have since been declassified. British authorities on Thursday removed Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, his home for nearly seven years, following Ecuador’s decision to rescind his asylum. The U.S. government has requested that he be extradited to the United States to face a federal charge of conspiracy to commit computer crimes. Until Thursday, the reasons were fuzzy as to why Manning had been called to testify at all. Prosecutors had privately hinted to her attorneys that they believed the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst had provided conflicting statements about her communications with the anti-secrecy organization. But as of late March, supporters working closely with her legal team said that no such accusation had been raised in court. Charges made public against Assange indicate that federal prosecutors sought to question her over online discussions in which Assange allegedly aided her in attempting to crack a password that would provide access to Defense Department network used to store classified documents and communications. While Manning already had access to the network, known as SIPRNet, the password would have enabled her to download additional material under a username that was not her own. As Gizmodo first reported Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has exempted all files related to Manning under the Freedom of Information Act, citing risk to ongoing criminal proceedings. Manning had signed a Privacy Act waiver last year to allow national security reporter Emma Best to the more than 8,000 pages of documents the bureau had amassed on Manning. Among the documents leaked by Manning were nearly 500,000 military field reports known as Significant Activities, or SIGACTS, which were housed in a database accessible through SIPRNet known as the Combined Information Data Network Exchange (CIDNE). During her trial, prosecutors said that Manning had downloaded roughly 24 percent of the SIGACT—none of which were classified above “secret.” CIDNE, as noted by Manning trial reporter Alexa O’Brien, was accessible by thousands of government employees, military personnel and contractors. “Almost all the information the military presents to the White House and Congress about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan originates in the CIDNE database,” O’Brien wrote. While CIDNE also contained records of intelligence sources and methods (HUMINT), Manning avoided disclosing any of this material to WikiLeaks. Ultimately, she was charged with leaking only portions of 227 classified documents, including many diplomatic cables that were later declassified. A damage assessment prepared by a review task force at the Defense Intelligence Agency on the nation security impacts of the redacted Iraq SIGACTs—which WikiLeaks calls the “Iraq War Logs”—concluded in October 2010 that the leaked information “was either dated, represented low-level opinions, or was commonly understood and known due to previous public disclosures.” Reuters likewise reported in January 2011 that internal U.S. government reviews found the leak of State Department cables caused only limited damage, or as one unnamed official put it: “embarrassing but not damaging.” Of the five Guantanamo detained profiles leaked by Manning, three related to British citizens known as the Tipton Three: Ruhal Ahmed, Asif Iqbal, and Shafiq Rasul. The men were captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and held in extrajudicial detention by the U.S. government in Cuba until March 2004. After being released, they unsuccessfully sued the U.S. government, claiming they had been tortured while in custody, beaten, forcibly injected with drugs, and told they would be secretly executed. In 2009, the Tipton Three’s case was dismissed by a U.S. appeals court on the basis that U.S. officials were immune from being prosecuted and that their treatment at Guantanamo was not considered illegal at the time. The Supreme Court declined to take up the case. Other material illegally disclosed by Manning, but never published, included briefings on the 2009 U.S. cluster bombing of alleged Taliban defenses in the Bala Baluk district of Afghanistan’s Farah province. The strike reportedly killed more than 100 civilians. “It was like Judgement Day,” a health worker who witnessed the attack told Human Rights Watch. In 2011, journalist Kim Zetter reported for Wired on the alleged exchange between Assange and Manning that now appears to form the basis of the charges against the WikiLeaks founder. Manning made initial contact with WikiLeaks in February 2010, while on leave. After attempting unsuccessfully to disclose battlefield reports to the Washington Post, the New York Times, and her own hometown paper, she reached out to WikiLeaks on her laptop while inside a Barnes & Noble bookstore in Rockville, Maryland. The following month, according to her court-martial transcripts, Manning sought help from Assange in cracking the SIPRNet password. Chatlog allegedly shows Manning (“Nobody”) discussing password cracking with Assange (“Nathaniel Franks”) Source
  8. It feels like there's a moral here IF YOUR MANAGER is pressuring you to take work home with you, you now have a ready-made excuse as to why that isn't a good idea. Ex-NSA employee Nghia Hoang Pho has been sentenced to five and a half years for taking top-secret defence files home - an act which ultimately saw US secrets being leaked. 68-year-old Pho maintained in court that he only took the files home to work on out of the office, with the aim of getting a promotion. If this was the case, it turned out to be a catastrophic error of judgement, as the Kaspersky Lab antivirus software on his computer hoovered up top secret information. Whether the reasoning for that is because the software liked or didn't like what it saw depends on who you believe, with Kaspersky claiming the NSA code was lifted for legitimate security analysis, rather than on behalf of the Russian government. Either way, it triggered a chain reaction which culminated in Kaspersky software being banned from government computers. However the secret information got into the wrong hands, in the court's eyes the root cause was the same. By taking the work home for five years, Pho was nonchalantly risking national security because, unsurprisingly, your off-the-shelf antivirus software isn't quite as effective as the NSA's own solutions. "Removing and retaining such highly classified material displays a total disregard of Pho's oath and promise to protect our nation's national security," said Maryland district attorney Robert Hur. "As a result of his actions, Pho compromised some of our country's most closely held types of intelligence, and forced NSA to abandon important initiatives to protect itself and its operational capabilities, at great economic and operational cost." Despite this, the five-and-a-half-year sentence is actually quite a bit lower than the maximum punishment of 10, and even the eight which prosecutors were pushing for. All the same, the moral of the story is don't take your work home with you. It can end very badly. Source
  9. A court in Wales has handed hefty jail sentences to former partners who ran a business selling fully-loaded Kodi boxes. Michael Jarman and Natalie Forber, who sold more than 1,000 devices over a two year period, pleaded guilty to operating a fraudulent business. Jarmain was jailed for 21 months while Forber, who had no previous convictions, was handed a 16-month suspended sentence. While users of older peer-to-peer based file-sharing systems have to work relatively hard to obtain content, users of the Kodi media player have things an awful lot easier. As standard, Kodi is perfectly legal. However, when augmented with third-party add-ons it becomes a media discovery powerhouse, providing most of the content anyone could desire. A system like this can be set up by the user but for many, buying a so-called “fully-loaded” box from a seller is the easier option. As a result, hundreds – probably thousands – of cottage industries have sprung up to service this hungry market in the UK, with regular people making a business out of setting up and selling such devices. Until three years ago, that’s what Michael Jarman and Natalie Forber of Colwyn Bay, Wales, found themselves doing. According to reports in local media, Jarman was arrested in January 2015 when police were called to a disturbance at Jarman and Forber’s home. A large number of devices were spotted and an investigation was launched by Trading Standards officers. The pair were later arrested and charged with fraud offenses. While 37-year-old Jarman pleaded guilty, 36-year-old Forber initially denied the charges and was due to stand trial. However, she later changed her mind and like Jarman, pleaded guilty to participating in a fraudulent business. Forber also pleaded guilty to transferring criminal property by shifting cash from the scheme through various bank accounts. The pair attended a sentencing hearing before Judge Niclas Parry at Caernarfon Crown Court yesterday. According to local reporter Eryl Crump, the Court heard that the couple had run their business for about two years, selling around 1,000 fully-loaded Kodi-enabled devices for £100 each via social media. According to David Birrell for the prosecution, the operation wasn’t particularly sophisticated but it involved Forber programming the devices as well as handling customer service. Forber claimed she was forced into the scheme by Jarman but that claim was rejected by the prosecution. Between February 2013 and January 2015 the pair banked £105,000 from the business, money that was transferred between bank accounts in an effort to launder the takings. Reporting from Court via Twitter, Crump said that Jarman’s defense lawyer accepted that a prison sentence was inevitable for his client but asked for the most lenient sentence possible. Forber’s lawyer pointed out she had no previous convictions. The mother-of-two broke up with Jarman following her arrest and is now back in work and studying at college. Sentencing the pair, Judge Niclas Parry described the offenses as a “relatively sophisticated fraud” carried out over a significant period. He jailed Jarman for 21 months and Forber for 16 months, suspended for two years. She must also carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. The pair will also face a Proceeds of Crime investigation which could see them paying large sums to the state, should any assets be recoverable. Source
  10. A New Mexico man admitted being responsible for DDoS attacks against the websites of former employers, business competitors, and public services. John Kelsey Gammell, 55, from New Mexico has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on dozens of organizations and for firearms-related charges. The man used popular ‘services of “DDoS-for-hire” companies to power DDoS attacks against its victims, cyberattacks, including VDoS, CStress, Inboot, Booter.xyz, and IPStresser. The list of the victims is long and include business competitors, former employers, law enforcement agencies, courts, banks, telecoms companies, and firms that refused to hire him. The man used VPN services to hide his identity and cryptocurrency for his payments, but he was identified due to a poor ops sec. The man sent emails to the victims while they were under DDoS attacks and proposed his services to mitigate the problems. The mails were sent from Gmail and Yahoo accounts he accessed from his home without masquerading his real IP address. The man initially rejected a plea deal, but in January he pleaded guilty to commit intentional damage to a protected computer, admitting to launching DDoS attacks on websites in the United States in the period between July 2015 and March 2017. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of being a felon-in-possession of firearms and ammunition. The man was condemned to 180-month in jail and will have to compensate the victims of his DDoS attacks, the overall amount will be determined soon. Source
  11. Sweden Considers Six Years in Jail For Online Pirates Sweden's Minister for Justice has received recommendations as to how the country should punish online pirates. Heléne Fritzon received a proposal which would create crimes of gross infringement under both copyright and trademark law, leading to sentences of up to six years in prison. The changes would also ensure that non-physical property, such as domain names, can be seized. Ever since the infamous Pirate Bay trial more than a decade ago, prosecutors in Sweden have called for a tougher approach to breaches of copyright law. In general terms, the country has been painted as soft on infringement but that could all be about to change. After reaching the conclusion that penalties in Sweden “appear to be low” when compared to those on the international stage, the government sought advice on how such crimes can be punished, not only more severely, but also in proportion to the alleged damage caused. In response, Minister for Justice Heléne Fritzon received a report this week. It proposes a new tier of offenses with “special” punishments to tackle large-scale copyright infringement and “serious” trademark infringement. Presented by Council of Justice member Dag Mattsson, the report envisions new criminal designations and crime being divided into two levels of seriousness. “A person who has been found guilty of copyright infringement or trademark infringement of a normal grade may be sentenced to fines or imprisonment up to a maximum of two years,” the government notes. “In cases of gross crimes, a person may be convicted of gross copyright infringement or gross trademark infringement and sent to prison for at least six months and not more than six years.” Last year the Supreme Court found that although prison sentences can be handed down in such cases, there were no legislative indications that copyright infringement should be penalized via a term of imprisonment. For an idea of the level of change, one only need refer to The Pirate Bay case, which would undoubtedly be considered as “gross infringement” under the new proposals. Under the new rules, defendants Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundström would be sentenced to a minimum of six months and a maximum of six years. As things stood, with infringement being dealt with via fines or up to two years’ imprisonment, they were sentenced to prison terms of eight, ten and four months respectively. Under the new proposals, damage to rightsholders and monetary gain by the defendant would be taken into account when assessing whether a crime is “gross” or not. This raises the question of whether someone sharing a single pre-release movie could be deemed a gross infringer even if no money was made. Also of interest are proposals that would enable the state to confiscate all kinds of property, both physical items and more intangible assets such as domain names. This proposal is a clear nod towards the Pirate Bay case which dragged on for several years before the state was able to take over its thepiratebay.se domain. “Today there is organized online piracy that has major consequences for the whole community,” Minister Fritzon said in a statement. “Therefore, it is good that the punishments for these crimes have been reviewed, as the sentence will then be proportional to the seriousness of the crime.” The legislative amendments are proposed to enter into force on July 1, 2019. SOURCE
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