From January to June 2018, seven members of Da Boss’ gang pleaded guilty to various identity theft charges. In total they had caused about $1.2 million in damage, using stolen identities to buy luxury cars and iPhones and to lease apartments in Charlotte. Both they and their crimes would have been quickly forgotten as garden variety larceny were it not for the way they stole those identities.
Cops alleged Da Boss and his co-conspirators had access to the Holy Grail for any Internet-age scam artist: a surveillance technology that police and debt collectors use to track most of the United States’ 325 million inhabitants via their Social Security numbers, license plates, address histories, names and dates of birth. The mass-monitoring tech, called TLO, is a product of the Chicago-based credit reporting giant TransUnion, which last year had revenues of nearly $1.9 billion. One brochure for the service promises access to a startling amount of personal data drawn from myriad sources: more than 350 million Social Security numbers of dead and living Americans, 225 million employment histories and four billion address records. Add to that billions of vehicle registrations and call records and you have one of the largest commercial surveillance databases in existence.
It’s used not just by cops but also by debt collectors and private companies carrying out background checks. Private investigators use it to track cheating spouses. But in the wrong hands it can be used to steal the identity of almost anyone in America. And Da Boss and his crew got access to it. […]
Founded in 2009, TLO was the brainchild of the data mining pioneer Hank Asher, who died in 2013. The name, an abbreviation of The Last One, was Asher’s final entrepreneurial project, the third of a trio of massive data mining enterprises, which included Database Technologies and Seisint. Database Technologies, whose main product, AutoTrack, was used by insurance companies and cops to hunt down people’s vehicles, merged with Choicepoint in 2000; Seisint, which did much the same as Database Technology on a grander scale, sold to database goliath LexisNexis for $775 million in 2004. In 2008, Choicepoint was bought by LexisNexis’ parent company, Reed Elsevier, for $4.1 billion. […]
At least at times, the rap crew bought their way in with the help of another charged coconspirator, Lakesiah Norman. Norman had direct access to TLO through her part-time work at an unnamed Charlotte debt collection agency between May and October 2017. That’s according to a court document supporting her plea agreement, signed in May 2018.
Norman would query the database, find people with good credit ratings who were ripe targets for identity theft and sell their information, including name, Social Security number and date of birth. Norman did this for at least 20 people, charging just $100 for each victim’s data. […]
Once they’d stolen citizens’ identities, the rappers went on spending sprees, according to the government. The DOJ said the scammers used fake IDs to purchase and resell iPhones and iPads. They leased luxury apartments and purchased expensive cars. In one case, two of the coconspirators took out a fraudulent loan of about $30,000 and used the funds to acquire a 2014 Mercedes-Benz, according to North Carolina court filing supporting Mobley’s plea deal.
It’s unclear if their Nest cameras were bought with illicit funds. But the purchase backfired. Just as the crooks turned the turbo-powered TLO software on its head, cops used the Nests against their owners. In June last year, Postal Service investigator Berkland obtained a warrant ordering Google to hand over all the data related to those cameras. The company complied, shipping surveillance footage back, along with personal details of its owners. It’s the first known case in the United States in which a federal law enforcement agency has demanded information from a Nest provider, and it has obvious implications for anyone who has purchased a smart home appliance that contains a camera or a microphone. The DOJ declined to comment.
- If you thought government mass surveillance was sinister, I have great news: much of the time, the government isn’t actually doing the surveillance itself, but contracting it out to private entities, who can go on and sell those services to whoever else they want (like two-bit debt collectors) with minimal oversight. America!
- One of those companies is fucking Elsevier, somehow
- Actually the government barely has to try and surveil you anymore, because it turns out every IoT/“smart” device you have is hoovering up data to be sent to Google’s or Amazon’s servers to be subpoenaed at will. You’re doing your Fed agent’s job for them!
Jan “Starbug” Krissler, the Chaos Computer Club researcher who broke the fingerprint reader security on the new Iphone, had given a long interview to Zeit Online explaining his process and his thoughts on biometrics in general. The CCC’s Alex Antener was good enough to translate the interview for us; I’ve included some of the most interesting bits after the jump.
WASHINGTON – Deenise Becenti remembers watching this summer as a woman in the Navajo Nation who had been waiting more than 20 years to get electricity in her home flipped the switch to turn on the lights for the first time.
“She had a whole lot of happy tears,” said Becenti, the spokeswoman for the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority. “It was a very humble day because you knew that she had been waiting for ‘the day’ for a very long time.”
“The day” was made possible by the Kayenta Solar Project, the first large-scale solar farm on the Navajo Nation and the largest tribally owned renewable power plant in the country. The 27.3-megawatt plant, which went on line last summer, now generates enough power for 18,000 homes on Navajo lands.
But many thought the day might never come.
I know I’ve been gone for a while.
In part it’s because I’ve been working on an app!
I keep a lot of plants. I think everyone should!
- They clean your air
- They give you something to name
- They give you something to take care of
- They teach you about care, needs, and resources
- They make you look like you’re good at decorating
Here are some of mine:
But some people, because they’re overwhelmed or simply can’t figure out how to start, think that plants are out of their reach.
DRYP is for newcomers and experts.
It reminds you when to water
And it helps you fix what’s broken
If you think the world would be better with this app in it, please consider contributing to the Kickstarter!
I’ve tried to make it worth your while:
Again here’s the link to contribute:
And if you like me / if you like my idea, please signal boost!
guys I just checked and they need a lot more to get to their goal ;^; there’s only 17 days left!!!
This seems extremely cool!