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iPhone Photo Leads To Cybercrime Arrest
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Tom Murphy
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Tom Murphy,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/19/2013 | 5:38:18 PM
Nowhere to Hide
The role of photo recognition software here makes it evident that it is getting increasingly difficult to hide once someone has your photo -- or once you're dumb enough to put it on Facebook and then get photographed by a bank surveillance camera.

But I also have to question why any car dealer would accept a pile of cash from someone in their mid-20s for a luxury car worth $100k or so.  Perhaps I'm expecting too much from car dealers, but shouldn't that send up a signal that the money just might stem from criminal activity?   I believe the car dealer should have to return the money, because it belongs to someone else.
rradina
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50%
rradina,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/20/2013 | 12:22:04 AM
Re: Nowhere to Hide
Did I miss something?  Did they use photo recognition software to match the license photos with the surveilance and Facebook photos?  The article isn't clear on that.

Also, the iPhone photo could have been any smart phone or even regular camera.  I'm puzzled by the article's title.  I assumed some new and significantly novel use of an iPhone to thwart crime.  The significance of the iPhone photo is nothing special and could have been accomplished with a quaint Polaroid found in one of their wallets.
Mathew
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50%
Mathew,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/20/2013 | 5:19:40 AM
Re: Nowhere to Hide
Very good point; the iPhone angle wasn't intended as linkbait. What I didn't detail in the story were the questions that the use of an iPhone raised.

To recap: The suspect allegedly snapped a photograph of a suitcase packed with $800,000 in cash gathered by money mules. That suggests it was a "before" picture for the recipient of said cash to compare with what was actually received (after co-conspirators allegedly transported the suitcase to Miami by bus). 

From an investigation standpoint, the fact that the Feds noted that one of the pieces of evidence they have is an iPhone photo is significant. It suggests -- and the indictment doesn't mention the phone, so this is all supposition -- that the alleged suspect emailed the photograph to the planned recipient of the suitcase, per the above. But what if the Feds tracked down the photo because it had been automatically sync'd to iCloud? Or looked at the EXIF data in the image and found that it was the suspect's house? 

Again, this is guesswork, but I wouldn't be surprised to see one or both of those angles come out at the trial.
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
11/20/2013 | 8:07:10 AM
Re: Nowhere to Hide
Thank for the clarification, Mat. I too was scratching my head about the iPhone photo. I guess we'll have to wait until all the evidence is presented at the trial. Interesting story and yet another cautionary tale about the sophistication of organized criminals in credit card theft. Well, perhaps the iphone photo wasn't such a smart tactic. Keep us posted about how that fits into the case.
rradina
50%
50%
rradina,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/20/2013 | 9:41:18 AM
Re: Nowhere to Hide
It might also be interesting regarding the various cases involving search and seizure and whether or not the iPhone was locked.  Most of the law enforcement community believe a suspect's locked digitial device is discoverable without a warrant.  Many believe a more conservative approach is required in that there must be judicial approval before a locked device is part of discovery.
Mathew
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50%
Mathew,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/20/2013 | 9:49:56 AM
Re: Nowhere to Hide
That's true. But it's also possible that the FBI subpoenaed Apple and gained access to the suspect's stored iCloud data. At that point, there's no need to worry (at least legally speaking) about the device itself at all.
rradina
50%
50%
rradina,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/20/2013 | 1:04:25 PM
Re: Nowhere to Hide
I see your point but getting it without a warrant could still be interesting and might depend on whether or not it's reasonable for the suspect to assume device privacy even though it's being saved in iCloud.  There have been a few cases (discarded lottery tickets in trash cans) where the expectation of privacy has been raised.  As long as we're permitting what ifs... What if the suspect doesn't understand what iCloud is and what it does with the data?  What if they believe iCloud is something on their Mac or PC since that's where data was previously stored/synced?  To them it might just be a highly convenient wireless and automatic sync with their Mac or PC.  Ignorance of the law is no excuse but this isn't ignorance of law.  This is ignorance of tech and whether or not a judge thinks iCloud affects the reasonable expectation of privacy on a personal device.

Of course before someone brands me as a bleeding heart for criminals, if the evidence that establishes them as suspects was not obtained with due process, it has to be discarded.  Why?  I'm thinking of the person who is pulled over for speeding, gets belligerent and suddenly everything on their personal device is on Twitter.  Although it was stupid to make the police angry and get arrested, is it reasonable to assume everything on their smart phone is now discoverable?  No crime ends up being found but revealing that private information could forever alter their life.  It's not right if it's reasonable for a person in that situation to expect smart phone privacy as much as their own thoughts.


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