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posted by janrinok on Tuesday June 08, @10:17PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

FBI-controlled AN0M app ensnares scores of alleged criminals in global police sting:

On Tuesday, Australian police said they had carried out hundreds of search warrants in the past 24 hours and arrested 224 people, with simultaneous stings taking place in Europe and the United States. New Zealand police said they detained 35 people, including top members of criminal gangs.

For nearly three years, law enforcement officials have been sitting in the back pocket of some of the world's top alleged crime figures. Custom cellphones, bought on the black market and installed with the FBI-controlled platform, called AN0M, circulated and grew in popularity among criminals as high-profile crime identities vouched for its integrity.

The FBI in the past has dismantled encrypted platforms used by criminals to communicate, and infiltrated others. This operation saw the FBI create a closed encrypted app, AN0M, to fill the void and to target organized crime, drug trafficking and money laundering activities across the globe by monitoring people's communications about their criminal offending.

(...) The users believed their AN0M devices were secured by encryption. Rather, they were feeding criminal intelligence directly to law enforcement agents.

"Essentially, they have handcuffed each other by endorsing and trusting AN0M and openly communicating on it — not knowing we were watching the entire time," Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said.

The global operation, known as Special Operation Ironside in Australia and Trojan Shield in the United States, has allegedly exposed criminals linked to South American drug cartels, Triad groups in Asia, and criminal syndicates based in the Middle East and Europe.

ANOM: Hundreds arrested in massive global crime sting using messaging app

More than 800 suspected criminals have been arrested worldwide after being tricked into using an FBI-run encrypted messaging app, officials say. The operation, jointly conceived by Australia and the FBI, saw devices with the ANOM app secretly distributed among criminals, allowing police to monitor their chats about drug smuggling, money laundering and even murder plots. Officials called it a watershed moment.

Targets included drug gangs and people with links to the mafia. Drugs, weapons, luxury vehicles and cash were also seized in the operation, which was conducted across more than a dozen countries. This included eight tons of cocaine, 250 guns and more than $48m (£34m) in various worldwide currencies and cryptocurrencies.

[...] The FBI began operating an encrypted device network called ANOM, and covertly distributed devices with the chat app among the criminal underworld via informants. The idea for the operation came after two other encrypted platforms were taken down by law enforcement agencies, leaving criminal gangs in the market for new secure phones. The devices were initially used by alleged senior crime figures, giving other criminals the confidence to use the platform.

Also at the Associated Press and The Guardian.

See also: Hakan Ayik: The man who accidentally helped FBI get in criminals' pockets

Australian police have told local media that the man who unwittingly helped to distribute the FBI-run encrypted messaging app was a fugitive named Hakan Ayik. Alleged to be a drugs kingpin himself, officials say Mr Ayik was identified as a key influencer and given access by undercover agents to a handset which he then recommended to other criminal associates. "He was identified because of his standing within the underworld," a senior investigator quoted by the Australian Telegraph said. "He was a primary target as someone who was trusted and was going to be able to successfully distribute this platform."

It is reported that he has been living abroad in Turkey for years and police have urged him to come forward for his own safety. "Given the threat he faces, he's best off handing himself into us as soon as he can," Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said.


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  • (Score: 3, Touché) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday June 08, @10:33PM (1 child)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 08, @10:33PM (#1143301) Homepage Journal

    Put your trust in those who are worthy.

    --
    "Trust the science" -- Tony Fauci and his army of psycophants
    • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Wednesday June 09, @05:15AM

      by mhajicek (51) on Wednesday June 09, @05:15AM (#1143440)

      Gotta wonder if all that wailing and gnashing of teeth over encryption wasn't reverse psychology.

  • (Score: 0, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @10:35PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @10:35PM (#1143302)

    Hunter Biden had a laptop.

    • (Score: 4, Touché) by Tork on Tuesday June 08, @11:29PM (1 child)

      by Tork (3914) on Tuesday June 08, @11:29PM (#1143315)
      "...we still have our hopes pinned on the Hunter Biden hoax."
      --
      Slashdolt Logic: "23 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday June 09, @03:26PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 09, @03:26PM (#1143548) Journal

      . . . but her emails!!!

      --
      A Digital stupidity meter can't get pegged like a mechanical meter always does.
  • (Score: 2) by drussell on Tuesday June 08, @10:40PM (1 child)

    by drussell (2678) on Tuesday June 08, @10:40PM (#1143304) Journal

    Mr. Ayik is dead...

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday June 08, @11:01PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 08, @11:01PM (#1143310) Journal

      Mr. Ayik is dead...

      No skin off the teeth of law enforcement. It's one way to get rid of an otherwise untouchable criminal. And it might even be true.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by looorg on Tuesday June 08, @11:00PM (1 child)

    by looorg (578) on Tuesday June 08, @11:00PM (#1143309)

    News like this just puts a giant smile on your face. Just goes to show there are a lot of criminals that are just not paranoid enough to be in their line of work. Every "encrypted" and "secure" phone out there now is going to be viewed with massive suspicion, after all this is the third network now that has gone down in about a year. This one turned out to be a giant honeypot and the others was just infected with malware of sorts. I guess it's back to meetings in person and trying to talk in code again, like nobody understands what they are talking about ...

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by AnythingGoes on Wednesday June 09, @12:07AM (7 children)

    by AnythingGoes (3345) on Wednesday June 09, @12:07AM (#1143330)
    Don't worry, the next gen criminal boss will never touch anything electronic themselves - they will give orders face to face, with no record of them, and the underlings will only use a self-developed app on a phone with nothing else. Then the government will ask again for "no encryption without a backdoor"
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @12:19AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @12:19AM (#1143336)

      Psst. Wanna buy a phone? Cheap?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @12:48AM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @12:48AM (#1143346)

      Or use pages on random Tor onion sites to pass along a few simple code phrases. With steganography on top.

      Their problem was that they joined a compromised platform and used it the same way normies use Facebook or SMS, except with crimes.

      If the Australian government tries to mandate an encryption backdoor, the criminals will just use servers in Indonesia or Singapore.

      • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @01:08AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @01:08AM (#1143360)

        Tor project is infested with purple-haired Jewish trannies who are working for some combination of American intelligence and Unit 8200. I wouldn't much trust them either. All good things are eventually ruined by Jewish infestation, and the ToR project is no exception.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @02:53AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @02:53AM (#1143406)

          Go home, Eth. You're sober.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @07:21PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @07:21PM (#1143649)

          Yeah and they said like 1000 new nodes came on line recently. Probably these surveillance nodes. Send all Jews back to Turkey.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday June 09, @03:34PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 09, @03:34PM (#1143551) Journal

      the next gen criminal boss will never touch anything electronic themselves

      It won't matter if they never again get back into office.

      --
      A Digital stupidity meter can't get pegged like a mechanical meter always does.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, @08:37PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, @08:37PM (#1144054)

      Many of them already do this. I know for a fact that many cartels operating in rural California will not do business over the phone at all.

  • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @01:00AM (15 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @01:00AM (#1143352)

    Having read through the inventory that they seized, most of this shit was victimless "crime". Just disenfranchised entrepreneurs. It's interesting, honestly. And the most considerable seizure by weight alone was marijuana which is legal or decriminalized, with a majority in favor of deregulating it in the US. I wonder how much it all cost, between manhours, traveling, bribing, building and etc... The best part is this shit will probably be taken as evidence, resold, and then recaptured. Totally ridiculous and wanton expenditure and to what end exactly? Certainly everyone knows by now that black market participants are netting a supermassive risk premium for their enterprises, and that they have to be their own police and military force, this is just fueling the whole underground which itself won't be eradicated with these superfluous and ineffective means.

    >This culminated in a "series of large-scale law enforcement actions [that] were executed over the past days across 16 countries resulting in more than 700 house searches, more than 800 arrests and the seizure of over
    >8 tons of cocaine,
    >22 tons of cannabis and cannabis resin,
    >2 tons of synthetic drugs (amphetamine and methamphetamine),
    >6 tons of synthetic drugs precursors,
    >250 firearms,
    >55 luxury vehicles and
    >over $48 million in various worldwide currencies and cryptocurrencies," Europol wrote. "Countless spin-off operations will be carried out in the weeks to come."

    One concerning item on that list. I wonder how many of those were actually functioning firearms, how many were held in the US or where it's otherwise legal to possess them. How many were possessed for legitimate purposes and not criminal affairs? How many even had ammunition to accompany them?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @01:11AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @01:11AM (#1143365)

      The more concerning item is cryptocurrency... that stuff is usually used for criminal activities such as child pornography.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @06:38AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @06:38AM (#1143452)

        ..and you know this because?

        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday June 09, @03:38PM

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 09, @03:38PM (#1143553) Journal

          It is a reasonable deduction.

          Totally anonymous digital currency seems like a neato idea. Until you realize that the only (primary) real purpose of it is to enable criminal activity.

          At the first level it would be seemingly "innocent" people wanting to exchange money for something to avoid taxes.

          Then it becomes wanting to exchange money for something that we don't want to talk about.

          Then it becomes wanting to exchange money for things that are illegal.

          And for services that are illegal.

          Then ransomware.

          What makes you think that child exploitation photos would not be included among the above? Does that one have some special exemption from being covered as exchanging money for things that are illegal?

          Maybe you just love the children so much that you think this is okay.

          --
          A Digital stupidity meter can't get pegged like a mechanical meter always does.
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by looorg on Wednesday June 09, @01:20AM (5 children)

      by looorg (578) on Wednesday June 09, @01:20AM (#1143369)

      Officers were able to read millions of messages in "real time" describing murder plots, mass drug import plans and other schemes.
      "All they talk about is drugs, violence, hits on each other, innocent people who are going to be murdered, a whole range of things," said Australian Federal Police commissioner Reece Kershaw.

      From the BBC link, my bold highlight. The victimless murder plots. If this had just been about shipping large quantities of drugs they would probably just have left this running more or less indefinitely and siphoned of info for busts. But when they start planning and ordering murders of innocent people they can't really just sit back and watch any more. They might be able to sort of see it as "victimless", or a part of their criminal life and business, if it's just gangster doing other gangsters but when it goes beyond they have to intervene.

      • (Score: 2) by bradley13 on Wednesday June 09, @04:52AM (1 child)

        by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 09, @04:52AM (#1143434) Homepage Journal

        The victimless murder plots. If this had just been about shipping large quantities of drugs they would probably just have left this running more or less indefinitely and siphoned of info for busts.

        I'm a lot more cynical. Have you ever listened to lowlife idiots talking? They're always gonna kill somebody, gonne get dat bitch, gonna... Talk is cheap.

        More likely, they had been running this scan for enough years, costing enough money, that they had to have something to show for it. So they impounded lots of property, much of which was certainly legal to possess (vehicles, probably the firearms, arguably all of the marijuana), busted a lot of people, and now they're going to pile on the charges until they take a plea deal. Oh, I'm sure they also blocked or emptied all the bank accounts they could identify, so the people can't afford to pay lawyers.

        Color me unimpressed...

        --
        Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
        • (Score: 2) by looorg on Wednesday June 09, @11:31AM

          by looorg (578) on Wednesday June 09, @11:31AM (#1143486)

          I'm fairly cynical to but when it comes to this I'm slightly more realistic. Yes I have listened to, and read the transcripts of when, these type of people talk. Just like a lot of normal people they do talk about doing a lot of stupid things -- including killing other people. But when normal people do it you can sort of dismiss it in a lot of cases cause it's just talk. But when these people actually plan and put up resources to get it done, being people that one can assume have done these things before or just operating in a world where violence and death is a more normal thing, or seen as an actual form of problem resolution, you can't really assume they are just smack talking each other.

          In this case they more or less already stated that they sort of started as high up, and as high value, as they could and are now working their way down the ladder. I'm sure that eventually, or fairly soon, they'll make their way to the people that they want to or that will be willing to talk and make deals. Many of the objects seized might be legal to possess under normal circumstances but if they are bought with illegal money they are not. Seizing the goods is also a blow to their lifestyle and ego, a lot of them want to live (or at least present the illusion of living) a luxury lifestyle, so taking away things from them is in that regard proper.

          In some regard the police are now just mindfucking the lot of them. After all would you trust any device at this point for your communication? They didn't trust each other before, now even less so and as a bonus now they are going to start to blame each other if you are the one that got them on one of these devices and networks. If you used one of them and the police have yet to kick down your door it probably tells you how far down the criminal totem-pole you are, but you shouldn't worry they'll come for you/them eventually. Then it's snitch-o-clock for sure. Cause all those ideas of brotherhood just goes out the window when you are alone in the interrogation room, then it's everyone going under the bus to save yourself. Some of them just can't stop talking fast enough.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @12:35PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @12:35PM (#1143497)

        It's only after we've read the messages that we can condemn these people for conspiracy. It's absolutely probable that they were just talking shit, but removing it from context and making exuberant accusations is a perfectly sound strategy to justify this. And as I said before, theae people operate outside the boundaries of the law, they are their own police force because they're disallowed the coersive power of the state - not because they're predisposed to reckless violence. How often do you see pharmacies or liquor stores warring?

        • (Score: 2) by looorg on Wednesday June 09, @02:24PM (1 child)

          by looorg (578) on Wednesday June 09, @02:24PM (#1143522)

          Not really. If they have or had one of these devices they are known members of criminal organizations and/or enterprises. Entities which only exists to further and be involved in criminal activities. While they might have normal everyday conversations like the rest of us these devices are not for those conversations. So no they are not innocent or victims of some kind of conspiracy. They are criminals doing criminal things and this is or was a device that only existed to further that goal as far as they were concerned, since they didn't know it was just a gigantic honeytrap but non of them were coerced or entrapped in any way by LEO. Clearly tricked but nothing more.

          That criminal organizations have their own rules or laws etc doesn't matter. No government can tolerate alternative forms of authority and still claim dominion. The claim of or for a monopoly on violence and/or physical force is the basis of all forms of statecraft as we know it have been since more or less the civilization or urbanization of man. It might not be a very nice thing to think about but in the end everything is eventually backed up by the threat of force or violence. In which case you can not tolerate alternatives.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, @12:38AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, @12:38AM (#1143750)

            Firstly, in civilized nations one is dealt with by the rule of law and is innocent until proven guilty, which is to say they're due every reasonable doubt until evidence is submitted to crystallize the conviction. But this is getting circuitous. Most of these people are regular people who sell illicit substances as a means to an end, namely income garnered from such business - business which once again I will reiterate is victimless. It's by the artifice of the justice system that they're defined criminal, and not by any real crime defined such as the involuntary injury of a third party's person or property. The fact of the matter is that this is a PR piece and it should be read with every caution due to the motives of such a release.

            As to your short sighted retort regarding the functionary role of government, it is because of the institution of law that these enterprising young folks are driven to police their economy. It's by that virtue that any such crime is precipitate, and thus the legal system and the government itself is complicit in producing and facilitating criminal enterprise and any real crime generated in its function. These laws, again, are ineffective and stand to do little more that perpetuate more ineffective policies. One might call it a perverse positive feedback loop, which ultimately compromises the security and privacy of the law abiding for the sake of the remediation of an illusory boogeyman - who for all intents and purposes would, in a vacuum where government behaved itself, be as docile as your local pharmacist or liquor store owner.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @01:21AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @01:21AM (#1143371)

      Belittleling the real accomplishements of others to minimize the fact that you're an incel basement-dwelling loser who's never accomplished anything meaningful in his irrelevant, worthless life ?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @01:48AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @01:48AM (#1143380)

        Better to accomplish nothing than to spy on the population and create fake terrorists to catch.

    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @01:30AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @01:30AM (#1143374)

      Tax evasion is the ultimate crime in the eyes of the state.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @02:15AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @02:15AM (#1143394)

      Give it a rest Runaway. You're pathetic.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @07:26PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @07:26PM (#1143654)

      right so all non crimes. even entrepreneurs have the right to self defense. they should have exercised it on these pigs.

  • (Score: 2, Flamebait) by bradley13 on Wednesday June 09, @04:41AM (4 children)

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 09, @04:41AM (#1143428) Homepage Journal

    Wow, amazing, great! They're arresting criminals!! Eleventy!!!

    Wait.

    So, the FBI eavesdropped on thousands of people, intercepting and reading their messages. They had warrants for that, outlining the specific reasons why they were eavesdropping on each particular person? Signed by judges in the proper jurisdictions? Oh, I guess they forgot...

    Look, stopping crime is all fine and dandy. However, indiscriminate actions like this violate all sorts of guarantees of individual rights. Even if the FBI promoted Anom in the criminal underworld, some number of users will have been geeks or people concerned about their privacy. And even criminals have rights. There are procedures to be followed; that's what differentiates law enforcement from vigilantism.

    The UN Declaration of Human Rights includes both the presumption of innocence and this phrase: "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence". Similar guarantees are found in the documents underlying most governments. In the case of the US, it is the 4th amendment to the Constitution.

    When can we look forward to seeing FBI officials prosecuted for this gross violation of people's rights?

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 5, Informative) by looorg on Wednesday June 09, @11:14AM (2 children)

      by looorg (578) on Wednesday June 09, @11:14AM (#1143484)

      You seem to have misunderstood something, or have a very different view on things. This device was not sold to the public. You could not walk into a store and buy one. If you had one and was connected to their invite only network you are a criminal. The device couldn't even make normal phone calls, it was only for communicating with others of these devices. So it will probably be quite hard to make the case that this was some mass-surveillance operation or dragnet that monitored a lot of innocent people and their conversations.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @07:33PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, @07:33PM (#1143658)

        What kind of stupid faggot supports the scum at the FBI? Are you fucking retarded? All they do is create fake criminals and terrorists: when they're not out shooting mothers holding babies in the head, killing little boys dogs, or spraying them up the back with an mp5, or maybe burning some kids alive in Waco, TX. Fuck you, you stupid slave, traitor, piece of shit.

        • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, @02:22AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, @02:22AM (#1143772)

          Aww incel is all angry today. Oh wait, that is every day.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, @11:48AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, @11:48AM (#1144221)

      "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence"

      It seems like privacy and correspondence are separate things, and they are not to be separately interfered with. Ok.

      One might make the claim that these criminals had not had their correspondence 'interfered with' on the basis that they were indeed able to talk and hear each other. Messages were passed intact, it's just that the police read them also.

      One might further claim that privacy does not traditionally apply as a concept to correspondence.

      This is because: once sent, it is impossible to be sure that *only* your intended recipient will receive your message, in fact, you should rightfully be satisfied by them merely receiving it unmoddified (i.e. not 'interfered' with) - as opposed to the alternative of simply failing to be received. Privacy in correspondance amounts to a 'hope', and isn't reflective of reality - otherwise, why would post cards exist? And hell, isn't this is reason for classical stenographic coding, so you can send a secret message in plain sight - or encryption, where you don't care if someone else knows you're sending a secret message, so long as they probably can't read it?

      In the end, stenography makes this a temporary victory.

      I think it's justification enough that they were able to save the lives of a family of five - probably the listeners becoming sure that the planning for that hit was sufficiently likely was what precipitated them to finally act.

      I have personal experience of narrowly surviving a murder attempt.

      I can therefore tell you, first hand, that you will hopefully never realise just how much you really want to live -- until you suddenly realise you are about to die, unless someone else changes their mind.

      I got lucky - the guy wasn't a murderer, he was just a scared kid following orders from someone who terrorised him.

      I'm the sort of person who, in a pub game of pool - can occasionally jag ludicrously unlikely trick shots, but most of the time I'm sub par.

      I now realise, that day - I totally jagged an ultra-high difficulty, hostage release negotiation. Which I only know now because I have studied such things (Chris Voss -- google him. Buy his book - basic skill at making deals when you don't have any power ought to be taught to kids at highschool level as a matter of course, being without it from ignorance puts you at such a disadvantage, well, maybe it's just me, but I buy copies of his book for friends and family).

      Anyway, I managed to interrupt him, and then negotiate for my life.

      Lucky. And I am sure there are many, many people who never get that lucky.

      Back to the topic at hand:

      Ok, so some people got themselves arrested for dealing in things they knew they could be arrested for.

      Their choice.

      That you feel that certain things shouldn't be grounds for arrest I understand.

      But again - they accepted that risk.

      This action saved multiple innocent people from - at best - sharing my experience.

      Please believe me - just sparing them from having to live with surviving that kind of situation, if they got as lucky as I: It's justification Enough.

      Compared to that being raped wasn't so bad. (The reason why he wanted me out of the way).

      Sure, that was no picnic: He literally 'ripped me a new one', leading to multiple ongoing medical issues / disorders.

      But it's the PTSD from nearly being murdered that really stands on its own.

      So in my book - these cops did good.

      I would maintain that no-ones human rights were violated: it was more a case of just giving the criminals 'enough rope'.

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