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Crime Privacy Communications Security

Collar-Bomber Tracked By Gmail Accesses 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the crimes-that-would-have-worked-better-in-the-80s dept.
RockDoctor writes "Reports indicate that a suspect has been arrested in the Australian 'collar bomb' hostage/extortion case. The allegation is that the suspect had set up a Gmail account, through which he (allegedly) planned to communicate with the extortion victims and arrange delivery of the payment. Unfortunately for him, records were kept showing the location and time the account was set up, and also for a number of accesses. This information, combined with 'CCTV footage and motor vehicle records,' allowed the police to put an identity to the suspect, and arrange for his arrest. So, if you're planning an extortion scheme, don't drive your car to the internet cafe, don't set up the account from an airport, wear anonymous clothes (like Jason Bourne does?) and do all your accesses through hacked shell accounts somewhere in Outer Mongolia. But, this being Slashdot, everyone knew that already."
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Collar-Bomber Tracked By Gmail Accesses

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @08:17AM (#37117724)

    Don't do anything illegal.

    • by dwarfsoft (461760)

      If he really wanted to get away with it he should have been behind 7 proxies.

      • by mfh (56)

        He could have used one proxy service and been fine. More proof that crime doesn't pay, unless you are a _real_ criminal. LOOK AT WALL STREET!

      • by AP31R0N (723649)

        Or better yet, seven boxxies.

    • by dohzer (867770) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @08:22AM (#37117750) Homepage

      Tell that to the people who get wrongly jailed.

      • by Thansal (999464)

        Tell that to the people who get wrongly jailed.

        Well, those people didn't get CAUGHT, now did they?

        If you want to avoid being wrongly accused/jailed I think your only real option is prayer, as there are no real preventative measures for something you aren't related to.

    • by INT_QRK (1043164)
      Fantastic, common sense (and moral) advice. However, while one can intend to do nothing illegal, it becomes increasingly difficult with the proliferation of laws in today's society coupled with eroding privacy. So, while unfortunately not fool proof, the best strategy, then, is to try to live a good life, but recognize that if some government official with law enforcement powers (or influence over same) were so motivated, s/he could go after you on something. Therefore, the best strategy becomes, "try to li
    • by sorak (246725)

      Don't do anything illegal.

      I'm sorry. That response is only appropriate in cases in which someone is falsely accused. Blaming the victim when it's actually his fault is a radical new twist on that argument.

    • by lexsird (1208192)

      Look, if criminals were smart enough to be good criminals, they wouldn't be criminals to begin with, they would do something else. Right?

      Here's to hoping.

    • by Nehmo (757404)

      Don't do anything illegal.

      Of course, you mistakenly posted as anon.

    • sometimes completely reasonable things to do are considered illegal by one's government.

      • by RockDoctor (15477)
        Change your government, or if you don't like getting involved in politics, change your country. Oh, sorry, you wanted a difficult solution to your problem? Can't help you there.
    • by amiga500 (935789)
      But, this being Slashdot, everyone knows that already.
    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      Psshhh, be reasonable here!

  • by js3 (319268)

    He probably would have gotten away with it if he didn't use gmail.

  • Finding a shell account in outer Mongolia is more work than it is worth. What are you going to get from an extortion gig? A couple mil? You couldn't drag me to outer Mongolia for less than 10. Well. Unless the alternative was inner Australia. :P

    • by Larryish (1215510)

      With the Jason Bourne thing... was I the only one sitting there the whole time thinking "c'mon man, put on some gloves, or a hat, or maybe a different color jacket"?

      • Bourne WAS wiping fingerprints down etc up until the midpoint of the first film. After the Clive Owen incident he stopped running and started taking the fight to them, after which he WANTS them to know exactly where he is and what he's doing most of the time, to fuck with them, basically.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Would that be a Bourne Shell or a Bourne Again Shell

    • I take it then that you've never actually been to Mongolia?
    • by xaxa (988988)

      A friend of mine, who lives in China, just visited Mongolia. The photographs on Facebook look interesting, but I haven't seen him since he went so I'm not sure what he thought of the trip.

      You couldn't drag me to outer Mongolia for less than 10 [mil]

      I'd visit if I lived closer. Maybe if a return flight was £500, rather than £1500.

      • by sgt scrub (869860)

        It IS expensive isn't it?!? I hear it is well worth the money. I'm sure some the pics you've received are of the country side. in all seriousness it has a lot of beautiful country side views. There is a reason the Huns took their sweet time crossing it.

    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      Finding a shell account in outer Mongolia is more work than it is worth.

      I'll take your word for it for the moment, but if or when I find out for certain myself, I'll let you know.

      You couldn't drag me to outer Mongolia for less than 10.[million dollars?]

      I'd do it - perfectly happily - for my usual fee of around a thousand (USD, post tax) per day. From what I've heard, Outer Mongolia is a pretty wild place, with some interestingly wild people there. Should be a fun job. At least as much fun as this months j

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The idiot also bought a USB memory stick he used in the 'collar bomb' (Given the description though, it's basically a box and chain) from a local Officeworks [officeworks.com.au] using his Mastercard. Real genius there. Although it's important to note that law enforcement around the world subpoena email providers everyday so I wouldn't exactly call this news.
    • by INT_QRK (1043164)
      What I've learned from watching crime shows on cable: never buy duct tape, a tarp and a shovel at a home depot using your Visa card and wearing a bright Hawaiian shirt. Just saying.
      • by lxs (131946)

        So you're saying that Dexter wasn't accurate in that respect?
        Oops.

      • by Z00L00K (682162) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @11:49AM (#37119780) Homepage

        Duct tape at Home Depot, Shovel at Sears, pay cash.

        But what do you need a shovel for?

        I can think of several alternatives:
          - Drop of body in a location where there are bears and wolves.
          - Open a manhole cover, drop down the body into the sewer system.
          - Drop body from a bridge or into the sea. (a naked body showing up at the beach is not always conclusive to be a murder victim - especially during the summer.)
          - Leave body in the desert.
          - Locate a cement factory, throw body into the kiln. (this will definitely take care of all traces of a body)
          - Build a special trailer which you mount the body under, drive on remote highway during dark hours lowering the trailer to slowly grind off the body against the highway. Traces of the body over several tens of miles. Do this right before a rain and the traces will get washed away. Burn the trailer afterward.
          - Place body in derelict building, burn building.
          - Use a considerable amount of explosives, blow the body into pieces.
          - Butcher the body into unrecognizable pieces, leave pieces at local butcher. (don't eat sausage from that butcher for a while)

        And always make sure that the body is completely naked - no clothes will make identification harder. DNA will still require something to match the body to, and to match a specific body to the large number of missing persons can be tough.

        • by 6031769 (829845)

          We need a new mod category: "Far Too Informative".

        • by cayenne8 (626475)
          I hear the old mob trick of cutting off the head, hands and feet to dispose of somewhere else (easier due to smaller pieces) helps with preventing identification too....
        • buy shovel's, etc. at local goodwill stores, garage sales, etc. A new tool will possibly have them looking through surveillance cameras at stores. Used items are not only harder to track down, but will lead investigators on a wild goose chase if they are able to get any identifying information from them.
        • by RockDoctor (15477)
          Continuing in the far too much information vein, along with the potassium chloride ("Lo-Salt" and the like) ...
          1. Drain the body and butcher in the bath - keep the mess as contained as possible.
          2. Gut contents down the shitter and flush. Contents, not guts!
          3. Butcher the body down to large joints - essentially long bones, mound of guts, head and girdles. Bag them, and into the freezer.
          4. As soon as necessary (maybe immediately, depending on how soon the victim is likely to be searched for, and how soon you're like
  • by stevegee58 (1179505) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @08:44AM (#37117926) Journal
    You mean a business suit and a Guy Fawkes mask?
    • Where can I find a good, higher-quality Guy Fawkes mask? The ones I see online are just plastic shell molds that suck nuts.

  • Um (Score:5, Insightful)

    by assertation (1255714) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @08:45AM (#37117938)

    But, this being Slashdot, everyone knew that already

    Anyone with a gmail account should know it. You go to a few Google places while signed in it tells you your location. You don't need to be a geek or what passes for one on Slashdot. You only need to be awake.

    • So...the secure proxy in Hong Kong that changes all my default Google sites to google.com.hk? Considering I'm in the middle of the US I'd say I feel safe.

  • And if you did, you'd get a nice treat! The victim has some DAMN first-class sweater meat!!!

  • What a sick freak! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by darkmeridian (119044) <`william.chuang' `at' `gmail.com'> on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @09:01AM (#37118064) Homepage

    So he wasn't very technically savvy, and let's make fun of him for that. But Jesus F'innng Christ!!! He stuck a fake bomb collar around the neck of an eighteen year old girl to extort her parents. It took cops TEN HOURS to get that device off of her. Can you freaking imagine that ordeal? I would have shit my pants a few times already in that time span.

    And not to be disrespectful or anything, but that girl is really pretty!

  • There was a similar case in Erie PA back in 2007 I believe using a collar bomb. The poor guy had to rob a bank and reach a final destination before the timer ran out. Sadly the police held him at gun point and the timer went out before the bomb squad came.
  • by Mikkeles (698461) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @09:23AM (#37118276)

    I guess one could say that he got collared!:)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      *puts on sunglasses* Yeeeaaahhhhh!!!!!

  • by kaptink (699820) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @09:29AM (#37118328) Homepage

    Reading through the police report pdf the guy appears to be a complete moron. Using his own credit card, car, public internet spots surrounded by CCTV, wearing/keeping the same clothes. Not real smart if you ask me. "A lawyer for Mr Peters said his client would fight the charges against him." - Why bother even trying given the evidence? Save your money or whats left of it for buying your way out of inevitable ass-rapage in jail.

    • by hesiod (111176)

      Why bother even trying given the evidence? Save your money or whats left of it for buying your way out of inevitable ass-rapage in jail.

      Umm... paying a lawyer to argue against the evidence is exactly how you buy your way out of that.

  • by swarm (71375)

    What an idiot. Where do these guys learn their techniques.

  • if you are smart enough to run a successful extortion plot, you are also smart enough to make money honestly and jeopardy-free, and realize that's the better choice

    i know, i know: there is always the common refrain that you don't hear about the smart criminals. that their invisibility is proof of their success. their invisibility could also be taken as proof of their nonexistence

    not that smart criminals don't exist. i am certain there's some dude in french polynesia sunning himself right now with his ill-gotten gains from a perfect caper. but i believe this is the rarity. most people have hollywood-addled imaginations, and overestimate the number of the mysterious perfect criminal in this world

    • Re:or, even better (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @09:50AM (#37118556) Journal

      Smart criminals exist. We call them politicians and executives.

      • Smart criminals exist. We call them politicians and executives.

        But they're not criminals: they are acting according to the logic of the system in which they exist. They are rewarded for their behavior by social prominence and an abundance of wealth, not punished for it like a burglar both by social stigma and the prison. If we didn't live in a place that both culturally and economically encourages the behavior, people like that would appear to no longer exist; they would be the pariahs on the fringe, unknown to all but the few who are forced to interact with them (perh

        • Re:or, even better (Score:5, Informative)

          by biodata (1981610) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @10:14AM (#37118770)
          Being in a position not to get caught and punished for their crimes does not make them not criminals.
          • And being a politician or an executive does not make one a criminal. Nelson Mandela: politician. Warren Buffet: executive.

            It is more like abusive police. Not all police are abusive. But it is true that the idea of police work attracts certain people with the psychological need to assert dominance and violent physical power. Like the priesthood or the teaching profession appeals to pedophiles because of positions of trust and access to children.

            Likewise, the profession of politician and executive does indeed

          • by u38cg (607297)
            Bullshit. If you actually know a politician who's a criminal, report him to the police. Prosecute him yourself if you really think you're right. Otherwise, you're just committing libel.
            • by biodata (1981610)
              The UK lot have already been investigated for fiddling their expenses (i.e. fraud). The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg "claimed £160 each month to cover "garden maintenance", including keeping his hedges and front bushes trimmed.". (guardian.co.uk). Claiming nearly £2000 a year of taxpayers' money to have your front bush trimmed is criminal as far as I can see but the deputy prime minister is not going to be doing any jail time whatever I say to the police.
              • by u38cg (607297)
                And a number of them went to jail. MPs are required to maintain two properties as a consequence of being an MP. Paying them for the expense of doing so is not really unreasonable.
                • by biodata (1981610)
                  Asking us to pay £1000 to cut his hedges is not reasonable, as most of us can't afford to pay anyone to cut our own hedges. If it was reasonable, I think he wouldn't have decided to pay it back when he was caught. Paying it back allowed him to escape any risk of prosecution, but it doesn't make it legal to have made the claim in the first place.
      • Actually, we don't call smart criminals anything, because they're never caught and we don't know who they are unless they want us to. Ask Kaiser Soze.
    • Re:or, even better (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @10:50AM (#37119148)

      Given the copyright laws in most of the developed world, I'd say most Slashdotters are smart criminals...

  • I can understand why it took 10 hours to take the collar off that gal. Made a lot of sense to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @09:58AM (#37118616)

    All these Hollywood films give the impression that a clever individual can, with anonymity, challenge the state, rob a bank, uncover corruption at the highest levels and so on. In practice it is already impossible to do any of those things. Yes, you can get your hands on explosives, guns, private data, information etc. and sure, you can send emails, make phone calls from a stolen mobile phone and so on, but there are so many logs these days that if the authorities want to track down who did it they can.

    You cannot walk through London without being recorded on hundreds of CCTV systems. All mobile phone calls are logged by number and location. No vehicle on the UK motorway system goes unrecorded. Twitter, Google and Facebook all cooperate with the authorities and hold your data long after you believe that you have deleted it.

    One person in the UK has just been given a 4 year jail sentence for encouraging rioting via his twitter account. Come the revolution the revolutionaries will be outsmarted and in jail.

    Technology has tipped the balance heavily in favour of authority and you cannot do much about it, except wave banners around and chant, and to be honest that is just entertainment for the masses, column inches for the tabloids and will change nothing.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      That will get the stupid ones who fail to use being tracked to their advantage instead of simply trying to avoid tracking.

      The idea that people will only use cell phones and computers to communicate is nice for....conditioning most of them to do that....and conditioning the surveillance state to expect that and not look elsewhere.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      First, this guy deserves the punishment he's about to get..

      Second, tech used by the state isn't the big problem with "revolutionaries". The problem these "revolutionaries" have is that there is very little to revolt against. Minor injustices aren't worth overturning an entire system. Cutting state benefits, reducing university subsidies, etc.. BFD. You're complaining about a reduction in benefits, and your solution is to overturn the system so the benefits don't exist at all?

      Fact is, the "revolutionaries" a

    • I would agree with a lot of what you say. The main weakness with these security systems is the true quality of the images.

      In 2008, a man set fire to the Texas Governor's Mansion with a molotov cocktail. The structure essentially burned to the ground. He had to jump a fence and walk across the mansion grounds to lob the bottle. It's all on video. Three years later, no one has been charged with the crime.

      Video camera footage is pretty hit-and-miss, while hard data like IP addresses, license plate phot
  • I must give the Australian Police kudos for how they handled this from start to now. Contrast that to the collar bombing that happened in the US. I saw that video and that is something I wish I could unsee. After the collar bomb went off there was a policeman running up the decapitated man with a gun drawn. Yeah right! The guy was dead right there and the cop still had a gun on him. Everything done by policy and procedure. I bet the same thing would've been done to that girl if she had been in th
    • by GooberToo (74388)

      I completely agree with this. A very clear cut case of murder by cop. They didn't even try to help the poor guy. They treated him as a terrorist to the bitter end.

  • And don't use GMail (Score:4, Interesting)

    by J'raxis (248192) on Wednesday August 17, 2011 @10:20AM (#37118836) Homepage

    So, if you're planning an extortion scheme, don't drive your car to the internet cafe, don't set up the account from an airport, wear anonymous clothes (like Jason Bourne does?) and do all your accesses through hacked shell accounts somewhere in Outer Mongolia.

    And don't use Google, who fed the IP information to the police.* That seems to be the key here; without an ability to link the GMail account to an IP address in the first place, they never would have found a physical location at which to look for a specific person or a car.

    * GMail headers, last I checked, do not contain this information. Some webmail providers add an X-Originating-IP header, e.g. Hotmail, but Google doesn't.

    • by trawg (308495)

      Did Google just "feed" the information to the police? Or did they obtain a warrant from a judge to get them to reveal it?

      • by J'raxis (248192)

        Sure. My point wasn't to necessarily say that Google gave them the information proactively, but just to point out one glaring omission in the chain of events that led to the police finding this guy: That Google and their records made the connection between GMail and IP address.

        Being a Slashdot reader, you and most of the other people here would probably say this is obvious. But for the thousands (millions?) of ordinary people who read the BBC article, if it had been explicitly mentioned that Google provided

  • A collar bomb? I think the perp played a little too much Fallout 3.

  • Outer Mongolia is no haven for criminals - that country's government is on pretty good terms w/ the West, and would either prosecute such criminals, or extradite them, as applicable. Try such things either in Inner Mongolia (which is a part of China, assuming that you have internet access there) or in countries, like Iran, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, et al
  • RockDoctor,

    Question marks mark questions. This is not a question. It's a statement. /. should have a requirement that you must have a better grasp of the English language than a fifth grader to post headlines. Or maybe hire an editor.

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