FBI Created Fake Seattle Times News Story in Scheme to Implant Spyware on Bomb-Threat Suspect’s Computer

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 4.29.11 PMBy Juliya Ziskina

Should the FBI be permitted to impersonate the news media in order to nab criminals?

That is the question being raised after an American Civil Liberties Union analyst reviewed documents showing that the FBI created a fictitious online news story in 2007 under the guise of The Seattle Times. The FBI hoped that the story would entice a teen bomb-threat suspect to click on the link, and as a result implant spyware (known as CIPAV software) on his computer.

The tactic worked––the story appeared in the suspect’s MySpace feed, which lead to the arrest and conviction of a 15-year-old who had been sending bomb threats to Timberline High School in Lacey, Washington. However, The Seattle Times was unaware that the FBI created the counterfeit URL, or that it was using the Times’ brand to implant spyware on the suspect’s computer. Continue reading