Best Buy Geeksquad Informants for FBI?

FrgMstr

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This article over at TechDirt brings up a lot of interesting questions. It talks about Best Buy Geeksquad employees being paid informants.

According to court records, Geek Squad technician John "Trey" Westphal, an FBI informant, reported he accidentally located on Rettenmaier's computer an image of "a fully nude, white prepubescent female on her hands and knees on a bed, with a brown choker-type collar around her neck." Westphal notified his boss, Justin Meade, also an FBI informant, who alerted colleague Randall Ratliff, another FBI informant at Best Buy, as well as the FBI. Claiming the image met the definition of child pornography and was tied to a series of illicit pictures known as the "Jenny" shots, agent Tracey Riley seized the hard drive.

Are these guys actually "informants" or just doing what they are required to by law when coming across kiddy pr0n on a customer's system while it is in for repairs. The article goes into a lot of depth and seemingly brings up a lot of other questions about the subject.

I know we have more than few Geeksquad employees that read our forums, so please let us know your thoughts on this and what the procedure is.
 

xCWolf

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I am not now, nor was I ever a paid informant for the FBI. I worked at the Geek Squad precinct for 3 years and now am an Autotech there.

Standard procedure is we/they can't look for anything and can only alert police if it's right there (like lets say a screen saver or desktop background or thumbnails) If we were to open a folder we wouldn't be able to do anything about it.
 

Martinez

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When I worked as a tech at CompUSA when they still had retail stores, and we had a visit from the FBI pretty much 2 weeks after we opened. She dropped off a card with her contact number. We were given no rules on how we found anything, just that if we did, we were to contact her office ASAP.

There was no of pay or reward.
 

temporalwar

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Federal law prohibits concealing information about specific crimes. Under 18 United States Code, Section 4, you may be obligated to report a crime if you are directly asked during a criminal investigation whenever:

You have knowledge of the commission of a felony;
The felony actually occurred; and
The felony is a federal offense;
If you willfully conceal the commission of a felony federal offense, you can be charged with “misprision of a felony.” Misprision of a felony is a form of obstruction of justice. If you are convicted, you face up to a $250,000 fine, imprisonment up to three years, or both fine and imprisonment.

If you see something in 'plain view' you should report it.
 

sboucher

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Federal law prohibits concealing information about specific crimes. Under 18 United States Code, Section 4, you may be obligated to report a crime if you are directly asked during a criminal investigation whenever:

You have knowledge of the commission of a felony;
The felony actually occurred; and
The felony is a federal offense;
If you willfully conceal the commission of a felony federal offense, you can be charged with “misprision of a felony.” Misprision of a felony is a form of obstruction of justice. If you are convicted, you face up to a $250,000 fine, imprisonment up to three years, or both fine and imprisonment.

If you see something in 'plain view' you should report it.

I didn't see nuthin.. ;)
 

Dew

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Just replace the word "accidently" with "intentionally" and the article would be right.

Come on, lets get it a bit closer to reality:

According to court records, Geek Squad technician John "Trey" Westphal, an FBI informant, reported he was scanning through all the images on Rettenmaier's computer, looking for amateur nude images to add to his already massive stash that was built from doing the same to every other customer computer he had ever serviced. In so doing, he found an image of "a fully nude, white prepubescent female on her hands and knees on a bed, with a brown choker-type collar around her neck." Westphal notified his boss, Justin Meade, also an FBI informant, who alerted colleague Randall Ratliff, another FBI informant at Best Buy, as well as the FBI. Claiming the image met the definition of child pornography and was tied to a series of illicit pictures known as the "Jenny" shots, agent Tracey Riley seized the hard drive.
 

thesmokingman

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^^Exactly.

Accidentally, my ass. That's half the job in retail is snooping into people's shit. They probably made copies for themselves to boot.
 

sir-gold

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I never came across any child porn in my computer repair days, but I did stumble across a bunch of pictures showing a (male) customer wearing lots of different wedding dresses.
 

aarhos81

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I work for a rental company and almost every computer/tablet/phone comes to my desk. The guys at the stores ask me all the time if I ever find anything good on them. I personally don't want to see what these people look at but obviously a lot of other people do. That being said, once the device is on if I see something that makes me think there could be something like that it goes to the police dept right down the street. Sadly(that people are so sick) there have been 8 busts since I started working here 6 years ago.
 

vegeta535

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How stupid are people to freely give up their computer to a shop knowing they got child porn on there. Year's ago a friend gave me his computer to fix and had child porn right on his desk top. I gave him his shit back and never talked to him since.
 

sir-gold

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You forgot to say accidentally... lol.
It gets worse, it was the exact opposite of accident, as he specifically brought in the computer for us to put those picture on a cd for him. (he didn't tell us what the pictures were though)

It was a bit awkward when the boss asked him about it afterwards, and the customer spent 15 minutes explaining his love of wedding dresses (as the lowest-price shop in town, we got a lot of weirdos)
 

zalazin

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What!!!! images planted no way honesty and integrity rule, nothing like that here.................
 

piscian18

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I don't have any problem with it. I think if you choose to have another person work on your PC youre accepting that your business is out there.
 

PersonalJ

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They're not informants, the author was confused by their silly job titles. Their job titles are literally like "Counter Intelligence Agent" and "Counter Operations Agent".
 
D

Deleted member 184142

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Back when I did computer repair I never went into peoples personal files other than a few times when it ended up being a "fake" MP3 file or something that could not be deleted by the program and I needed to do it on my own.

You would be shocked at the number of men and women who keep very "private" photos straight on the desktop however. Child porn or other out there stuff, I never came across, but I never went looking either.

I don't have any problem with it. I think if you choose to have another person work on your PC youre accepting that your business is out there.

That's like saying "because you choose to have someone fix your plumbing, and the person rifles though your belongings, you are accepting that your business is out there", which is utter and total bullshit, have some standards as a worker.
 

Zion Halcyon

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Meh. If the media can have CIA agents (Operation Mockingbird?) then why can't Geek Squad have the FBI?
 

thesmokingman

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I don't have any problem with it. I think if you choose to have another person work on your PC youre accepting that your business is out there.

Technically yes, but no. It's actually against the law in other circumstances like a real work environment. Like for instance a help desk employee accessing a database outside of their clearance. But something stupid happens with retail repair, it seems to be accepted that hourly yahoos have a right to sniff thru your stuff, its expected even lol.
 

PaulP

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From what I know of the law, this was an illegal search, so unless they can coerce a confession out of him, the perp may walk. Also, I think this tech's admission that he intentionally violates the privacy of his customers may open him up to a lawsuit. And perhaps his employer too, if can be shown they knew of his activities.
 

Dead Parrot

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Oklahoma has a law on the books that if working as a computer repair/technician/expert, you discover child porn on the system, you are required to notify law enforcement. No requirement to search for, just report if found. No clue on how the law interacts with customer privacy expectations. Our legislature isn't noted for its ability to write Good legislation.
 

Quartz-1

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I'm not in the US but my own tale may be of interest. A long time ago I was a techie working at a military aerospace company. In the process of repairing one PC I stumbled across some pictures which appeared to be of underage Asian girls. I consulted with an Asian colleague who judged that they were actually of age. But along with those images were other files of a disturbing nature. We alerted my manager and he alerted the security department and the guy was gone very shortly thereafter. I'm not going to elaborate further.
 

heatlesssun

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I'm not in the US but my own tale may be of interest. A long time ago I was a techie working at a military aerospace company. In the process of repairing one PC I stumbled across some pictures which appeared to be of underage Asian girls. I consulted with an Asian colleague who judged that they were actually of age. But along with those images were other files of a disturbing nature. We alerted my manager and he alerted the security department and the guy was gone very shortly thereafter. I'm not going to elaborate further.

If you're put in a situation where you stumble upon evidence of clear criminal or potentially criminal behavior as a result of your job, you have to report it. It's not a matter of spying on but being a responsible person. No one likes a rat but then there's doing the right thing.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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If you're put in a situation where you stumble upon evidence of clear criminal or potentially criminal behavior as a result of your job, you have to report it. It's not a matter of spying on but being a responsible person. No one likes a rat but then there's doing the right thing.

Agreed.

in fact, I'd go even further and suggest that it is a civic duty to report crime wherever and whenever you come across it.

Now, if - while repairing a computer - they go searching for hidden pr0n folders to determine if there is anything kiddie related in it, that is a different matter, and I'd argue that they shouldn't as it amounts to illegal search and seizure, but if you stumble upon crime - any crime - in your daily life, it is a ethical responsibility for every citizen to report it to the relevant authorities, ESPECIALLY if it is the type of crime that has very real victims.

The only exception I can think of is circumstances where the laws that are being violated are unjust (Like reporting hidden Jews to Nazi occupiers or something like that)
 

Derangel

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Yeah, I'm leaning towards the latter as well. The article does specifically say "paid informant", but I'm not sure I buy it.

I know for sure that if I came across something that heinous, I would report it too. No one would need to pay me.

Side note, what kind of idiotic criminal hands a computer containing evidence of their crimes readily viewable to a repair service? If you are into something illegal, you'd think you'd either repair it yourself, or just toss the damned thing if unable to do so, rather than get caught and be sent to federal - pound me up the ass - prison.

if even halfway intelligent people start getting into crime, we are screwed. :p

By and large most criminals are morons. That's why they get caught. They don't think about or consider things like that.
 

Darunion

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because you won't hear about the criminals that don't get caught. Also why is the employee digging so deeply for hidden porn files? With that kind of history, it might cause him to be looked at as well, like did he only report this guy because he didn't like him? Might hear later that the employee has his own collection.

So it was found in unallocated space on the hard drive, so he was scanning with an undelete tool and restoring files and then looking at them? That is a lot of work to put into that.
 

Pusher of Buttons

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My wife worked tech support for an ISP...she never came across anything illegal, but it had happened over the years when they'd be on GoToAssist or whatnot or an in-home service tech would come across something.

On the lighter side, she was assisting someone over GoToAssist and the guy had dual monitors. Apparently he figured as long as he accessed the GoToAssist page from only one of them that my wife couldn't see the other one...so meanwhile she's running a malwarebytes search (they offered up-sell services where they'd do full support, basically if she found something malicious could do an upsell to their full in-home support) the guy has really graphic gay porn going on the other monitor....
 

Zarathustra[H]

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By and large most criminals are morons. That's why they get caught. They don't think about or consider things like that.

Or we just don't hear about the ones that aren't morons, because they get caught a lot less frequently :p
 

thesmokingman

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My wife worked tech support for an ISP...she never came across anything illegal, but it had happened over the years when they'd be on GoToAssist or whatnot or an in-home service tech would come across something.

On the lighter side, she was assisting someone over GoToAssist and the guy had dual monitors. Apparently he figured as long as he accessed the GoToAssist page from only one of them that my wife couldn't see the other one...so meanwhile she's running a malwarebytes search (they offered up-sell services where they'd do full support, basically if she found something malicious could do an upsell to their full in-home support) the guy has really graphic gay porn going on the other monitor....

To be fair, any gay porn is rather graphic in general. I had a roommate for a semester in college, it was a random match as I was late that year. I walked in his room for something small and was like HOLY FUCKING SHIT OMFG, GAY PORN all over his walls!!!
 

Zarathustra[H]

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To be fair, any gay porn is rather graphic in general. I had a roommate for a semester in college, it was a random match as I was late that year. I walked in his room for something small and was like HOLY FUCKING SHIT OMFG, GAY PORN all over his walls!!!


I guess by its definition as gay, or straight, it would have to be hardcore right?

Because softcore stuff would just be a dude standing or laying there nude, with or without boner, in which case, who knows if it is gay or straight intended for women? :p

It's only once you have multiple people performing acts on each other you can tell which orientation it is, and at that point it's pretty graphic :p
 

thesmokingman

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I guess by its definition as gay, or straight, it would have to be hardcore right?

Because softcore stuff would just be a dude standing or laying there nude, with or without boner, in which case, who knows if it is gay or straight intended for women? :p

It's only once you have multiple people performing acts on each other you can tell which orientation it is, and at that point it's pretty graphic :p

Don't really want to think to hard on it pardon the pun.
 

Ultima99

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Just for the lulz now I am inclined to take them a computer with a drive full of nasty really old people pr0n.
 

Vader1975

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Like many of us on here, I worked on retail customers pc's for many years. I never once bothered to go digging through their pictures etc. I guess I just never cared and had work to do. What I did tend to notice was all the unique desktops that people had. This did generate a few laughs, but that was truly incidental as you always saw their desktops when you logged in. I guess I never was snoopy enough to care what people downloaded into their pictures etc. Given what some people are into I am happy that my younger self was so wise in this regard.
 

lironmiron

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That's like saying "because you choose to have someone fix your plumbing, and the person rifles though your belongings, you are accepting that your business is out there", which is utter and total bullshit, have some standards as a worker.
Well, if, as a plumber, you find a human finger in someone's pipes, you should probably report it.
 

MavericK

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Or we just don't hear about the ones that aren't morons, because they get caught a lot less frequently :p

Exactly...the ones getting caught for stuff like this are but a tiny fraction of the overall picture. Which, in the case of CP is really depressing and gross, but still true.
 
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