A French Police Officer Charged over Mobile Phone Tracking Services on the Dark Web
A Senior French police officer has been arrested and charged for trading confidential police intelligence data on mobile tracking services for bitcoins on the dark web.
According to the prosecution, the said police officer is accused of starting, advertising and running an illegal business using police confidential data to offer mobile device tracking services based on a linked phone number. According to his advertisement on the dark web, the tracking service would help people track and monitor their spouses as well as help criminal gangs to track their prey and rivals. The service also told customers if they were also being tracked by law enforcement agencies and the information they had on them.
The French authorities said that the accused police officer was operating under the username “Haurus” and that he sold his illegal services on a dark web marketplace named “The Black Hand”. He is also said to have advertised sensitive and confidential information on the dark web which criminal gangs and cartels used to forge important documents.
French authorities believe that suspect was using the police resources set aside for high profile investigations such as tracking criminals, for his own personal gain which is against their oath.
According to a report from ZDNet in a French newspaper—Le Parisien, Haurus worked for the French Directorate for Internal Security. The agency is specialized in the collection of intelligence, as well as, combats cybercrime, Terrorism, and espionage.
The investigating officers said that they had been able to link documents found on the dark web Black Hand marketplace to the suspects using special coding embedded on police computer systems that enabled them to track the source and the history of the recovered documents. The accused faces up to seven years imprisonment and a maximum fine of €100,000.
The exposure of the French officer’s misconduct comes to light after the French police crackdown on a dark web market. To everyone’s surprise police officers are supporting criminal gangs. You might think that this is new but it’s not. Two federal agents who shut down the Silk Road were later charged with fraud and money laundering after stealing bitcoins and issued fake subpoenas to serve their personal interest.
The sale of police assets especially on the dark web is also not really a new affair. However, the trend is now a concern. The most recent case is the hacking of the Bengaluru City Police website and the third time in a row confidential data was sold on the dark web. This is after two similar hackings in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
In 2015, PoliceOne.com, a police news site was hacked and over 710,000 member credentials including passwords, usernames, birth dates, and email addresses were stolen and later surfaced on “Tochka” dark web marketplace for $400 on sale. The seller operating under the username “Berkut” insisted that he only accepted cryptocurrencies.
Late last year, James Goris, a former Australian police officer was charged after selling UK and Australian fake police IDs on AlphaBay, after unknowingly transacting with an undercover police officer.
Other police officers have been charged for selling illegal items and services on the dark web and for posing as customers. Allen Kennedy a former officer with the Police Service of Northern Ireland was jailed five years and six months for buying a 9mm Russian Pistol, a silencer and 10 rounds of ammunition.
This is ‘a people’s problem’ and not ‘a law enforcement problem’. The problem of giving so many police officers access to so many confidential databases full of sensitive information, as well as, many tech tools is negligent. This is where the job demands the best people not forgetting the need to maintain limited access and minimum staffing to reduce such cases from happening. This also explains why no government agency should be allowed to operate encryption backdoors.