FBI Seeks Google’s Help to Crack Alleged Pimp’s Android Phone

March 15, 2012

PCMag.com on March 14, 2012 released the following:

“By Damon Poeter

The FBI needs some help cracking the Android phone of an alleged pimp being investigated as part of a federal human trafficking investigation. Agents out of the FBI’s San Diego office seized one Dante Dears’ Samsung phone on Jan. 17, tried and failed to get past the device’s pattern lock , and have now applied for a warrant ordering Google to unlock it for them.

Dears is the convicted founder of a San Diego street gang called “Pimpin’ Hoes Daily.” After his release from state prison in January 2009, he allegedly fell in with his old set and the FBI secured a search warrant for his phone. In the affidavit filed on March 9 with the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California, FBI agent Jonathon Cupina reveals that after seizing the device, FBI Regional Computer Forensics Lab (RCFL) technicians tried “multiple times” to get into the locked-down phone but couldn’t do it.

So where does Google come in? The RCFL techs’ attempts to get past the phone’s pattern lock triggered a memory lock on the device that can’t be unlocked without the user’s Gmail address and password. The feds want Google to divulge that information, plus “any and all means of gaining access” to the phone, including password reset info and the manufacturer default code, or PUK, “in order to obtain the complete contents of the memory” of the device.

Christopher Soghoian of the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research first spotted the FBI warrant Wednesday. Posting on his Slight Paranoia blog, he wondered why the RCFL techs didn’t just “use commercially available forensics tools or widely documented hardware-hacking techniques” to get into Dears’ phone.

But the competency of the RCFL techs or their willingness to use possibly illegal hacking tools isn’t the primary concern of Soghoian and his commenters.

For one thing, Soghoian raises the issue of whether texts, voice mails, emails, or other communications arriving on the phone after it was seized could be used as incriminating evidence against Dears if the original search warrant didn’t also request the phone be used as a surveillance device.

Second, at the end of the warrant application, Cupina requests of the court that Dears (or any other subscriber using the phone—the suspect claims the phone isn’t his, according to Cupina, but the feds believe otherwise) not be told “by any means of communication” about the effort to collect the data on it. Either the court decided to disregard that request or somebody made a pretty big error in unsealing the record of the application for all the world to see and report about.

Of course, it would be somewhat baffling if Dears didn’t realize the FBI wanted to see what was on his phone when they seized it. Unfortunately for the feds, it’s possible he may have already taken steps to erase data accessed through the phone but stored in the cloud, like email.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Christopher Kice Charged by a Criminal Complaint With Allegedly Possessing Child Pornography

August 26, 2011

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on August 25, 2011 released the following:

“Shorewood Man Arrested for Possession of Child Pornography

A southwest suburban man was arrested earlier this week at his Shorewood residence and was charged with possession of child pornography. The arrest was announced today by Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

CHRISTOPHER KICE, age 41, of the 1100 block of Callaway Drive West, was arrested Monday night, without incident, by Special Agents assigned to the Chicago FBI’s Innocent Images Task Force (IITF). KICE was charged in a criminal complaint filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court in Chicago with one count of Possession of Child Pornography, which is a felony offense.

According to the complaint, investigators were first alerted to KICE’s possible involvement in the collection of child pornography by his employer, an unnamed Chicago area law firm where KICE was employed in the Information Technology Department. When co-workers noticed that numerous large files with suspicious sounding names, such as “kiddie” and “pre-teen”, had been downloaded on a company computer then transferred to removable storage devices, they notified the IITF.

Initial investigation by IITF personnel developed probable cause to conduct a search of KICE’s residence, which took place on March17th of this year, pursuant to a Federal search warrant. During the search, several computer hard drives and other digital storage devices were seized. A preliminary forensic review of the digital devices recovered during the search discovered numerous images and videos of what appeared to be child pornography.

A subsequent forensic examination conducted by the Chicago Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory (RCFL) discovered alleged pornographic images on one of the computer hard drives of what appeared to be a minor female child. Investigators recognized the background on these images, indicating that they might have been taken inside KICE’s residence. This discovery led investigators to arrest KICE that same evening.

KICE appeared before Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez in Chicago on Tuesday, at which time he was formally charged. KICE was ordered held without bond, pending his next court appearance, which is scheduled for tomorrow (Friday) at 2:00 PM before Judge Valdez. Until then, KICE will be held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Chicago. If convicted of the charge filed against him, KICE faces a possible sentence of up to ten (10) year’s incarceration.

A photograph of KICE accompanies this release. Anyone recognizing him or having any information which might be relevant to this investigation is asked to call the Chicago FBI at (312) 421-6700.

The FBI’s Innocent Images initiative was established in 1996 and is part of a nationwide effort to combat the manufacture, distribution and possession of child pornography. At present, there are 43 separate Innocent Images task forces in various FBI offices around the country, which are investigating similar cases.

The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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