Monday, February 10, 2014
Update. This must be very frustrating for the FBI but the stakes seem to be rising also. What happens if the court tosses out their evidence? (Read the article!)
Dennis Wagner reports:
In spring 2008, FBI agents were struggling to identify a criminal who electronically filed hundreds of fraudulent tax returns, ripping off the federal government for more than $3 million.
Investigators and informants started referring to their phantom bad guy as “the Hacker.” Prosecutors persuaded a federal grand jury in Arizona to secretly indict him, even without a name, and agents traced his computer to Northern California.
The Hacker continued to cash in tax refunds using the pseudonym “Travis Rupert,” with help from accomplices who did not know his real identity.
That April, FBI agents arrested one of the associates and persuaded him to help arrange a sting.
Read more on The Republic.
[From the article:
More than five years later, Rigmaiden is still behind bars — battling the Justice Department in a legal odyssey that has questioned the constitutionality of federal surveillance methods and added to a growing national controversy over the government’s willingness to compromise Americans’ privacy in the pursuit of evidence.
… The Justice Department alleges that Daniel Rigmaiden is a crooked computer geek who figured out how to loot the federal Treasury while using multiple aliases. He is accused of filing more than 1,900 phony tax returns and is under indictment on 74 felony counts of wire fraud, identity theft, mail fraud, hacking and conspiracy.
In court, Rigmaiden pleaded not guilty and alleged that FBI agents deceived a federal magistrate, unlawfully infiltrated his computer, smeared him in news releases, destroyed evidence and violated his constitutional rights.
The case is based in Arizona because federal agents initially focused on fraudulent tax refunds sent to a bank account in Phoenix established by co-defendant Ransom Marion Carter III, who already has pleaded guilty.
Rigmaiden’s court docket lists more than 1,100 motions, responses and other entries containing profound legal arguments and mind-numbing discourse about invasive technology. Some search-and-seizure issues are so important that the American Civil Liberties Union supported Rigmaiden’s motion to suppress evidence.
Rigmaiden, who is not a lawyer, has remained incarcerated since his arrest. Early on, he dismissed five successive defense attorneys because he was not satisfied with their work. He now represents himself with support from private investigators and a lawyer-adviser, or “shadow counsel.”
At the Central Arizona Detention Center in Florence, Rigmaiden works on a laptop computer with no e-mail or direct Internet access. When he goes to court, the angular, bearded inmate with thick glasses delivers cogent legal arguments with machine-gun articulation.
Attorneys with no stake in the case show up as spectators.
… The FBI case against Rigmaiden hinges in part on the StingRay — a surveillance tool generically known as an “IMSI catcher” because of its ability to track the International Mobile Subscriber Identity of cellular devices. In simple terms, the StingRay allows police to pinpoint the location of a wireless phone or computer.
The FBI traced the Hacker to Rigmaiden’s apartment complex, but it could not identify the unit or perpetrator. Investigators subpoenaed Verizon to remotely change the program of an air card in the suspect’s computer so that when agents dialed the wireless number, it would disconnect from a regular cell site and ping against their device. StingRay not only determined the computer location, it captured a unique wireless ID number and data.
But the FBI’s technology and tactics have come under challenge for several reasons.
First, StingRay and a similar tool known as KingFish did not just gather information from Rigmaiden’s computer, but from numerous other wireless Verizon customers in the vicinity — even though they were not under suspicion of criminal activity.
Second, agents obtained a court order for surveillance rather than a search warrant, which requires probable cause. According to court filings, their application did not inform the judge that StingRay would be used, explain how it works, or divulge that the privacy of innocent parties would be compromised.
Third, although police use of cellphone locators has been common knowledge in criminal probes for two decades, federal agencies had not previously divulged the breadth of intrusions or the degree of complicity by service providers such as Verizon. Even in Rigmaiden’s case, the FBI affidavit remains sealed, though segments have been quoted in legal filings.
Flappy Bird Flies The Coop
Flappy Bird is no longer available to download, with the game’s creator Dong Nguyen deciding to pull the game from the iOS and Android app stores. Flappy Bird was released back in May 2013, but gained notoriety after being featured on a popular YouTube channel and consequently shared on social networking sites.
By the end of January Flappy Bird was a mainstream hit sitting atop the free game charts on iTunes and Google Play. By the time Nguyen removed the game on Sunday (Feb 9), it had been downloaded by more than 50 million people. Those who hadn’t yet succumbed to the lure of this maddeningly difficult game have now missed the opportunity to ever experience it.
The reason behind the removal of Flappy Bird remains mystifyingly unclear. In a series of tweets, Nguyen explained that he “cannot take this anymore,” but denied it was due to “legal issues.” He also refused to sell the game to interested parties, but promised to “still make games.” Flappy Bird is thought to have been bringing in $50k a day in advertising revenues, making this decision absolutely bewildering.
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