Man Charged With Using Open WiFi To Send Death Threats To VP Biden

from the but-look,-they-figured-it-out! dept

For years and years, we've heard that one of the evil things about open WiFi is that someone could connect to it, do something bad, and then get away totally free, since there would be no way to trace him. Of course, as we pointed out at the time, that assumes that whatever evil things they do won't be traceable via other means. In fact, as we've noted, good old fashioned detective work can often catch those folks. It looks like we've got another case of that happening. Reader btr1701 points us to the news of a guy who jumped on his neighbor's open WiFi to send a death threat to Vice President Joe Biden. The threat read:
This is a terrorist threat! Take this seriously. I hate the way you people are spending money you don't have ... I'm assigning myself to be judge, jury and executioner. Since you folks have spent what you don't have, it's time to pay the ultimate price
Creative. Apparently, the guy who did this, one Barry Ardolf, was trying to frame his neighbor. Around the same time, he apparently also sent child pornography to his neighbor's co-workers, using a fake email address pretending to be the neighbor. If the "open WiFi" haters were correct, he would have been able to do this without any way to catch him. But, of course, that's ridiculous. With a little effort, the FBI was able to trace the origin right back to Ardolf -- and he's now been arrested for threats to the VP and for identity fraud.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    CStrube (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 8:46am

    Mike, you shouldn't bring things like this up. If you don't keep facts like these buried, however will the powers that be effectively orchestrate the moral panic to its advantage. Why, following logic doesn't even give our police more power to invade citizens mistaken notions of privacy! Think of the potential law enforcement jobs you're killing!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 8:47am

    One less script kid on the streets.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 8:48am

    Unforunately, I don't think all these organizations suing people for copyright infringement would do quite the same level of investigation as in the criminal case above. If the guy owning the wifi were instead accussed of copyright infringement and sued, he would probably have a much harder time proving it wasn't him.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 9:13am

    Without knowing exactly how they caught this dude, I would think it would be a simple matter of checking MAC addresses from the router's log and going from there. I can't help but think it would be all but impossible to track somebody down if they weren't the next door neighbor.

     

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      A Dan (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:08am

      Re:

      It would have been a far better framing if the guy had spoofed his neighbor's MAC address. Then even traffic logs would look like they came from the framed guy's computer.

       

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        A Dan (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:11am

        Re: Re:

        I know replying to myself is weird, but oh well...

        There could even be meta-framing involved. The guy who owns the wireless network could spoof the neighbor's information and frame him for framing him.

         

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          chris (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 11:22am

          Re: Re: Re:

          There could even be meta-framing involved. The guy who owns the wireless network could spoof the neighbor's information and frame him for framing him.

          the next door neighbor could also set the wifi owner up in a pseudo meta frame scenario, wherein the neighbor frames himself framing the wifi owner.

          the neighbor would get away free because the evidence of the frame would be evidence that he was framed.

           

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            BearGriz72 (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 2:10pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Or it could be some random guy war-driving that hacked the PC of the guy with the open WiFi and spoofed the MAC of the neighbor to fake the traffic logs and frame him for the pseudo meta frame?

            Ouch... My brain hurts now...
            The Point being that there needs to be other evidence than 1's and 0's to prove a case.

             

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:10am

      Re:

      I think the MAC addresses are fairly unique, and that certain "chunks" of addresses are given to certain hardware manufacturers (note that I am assuming a lot here, can anyone confirm this?).

      If this is true, then with the MAC address, they could trace the manufacturer and from there (if they have minimally decent logs) they could find to what store the wireless card (or PC) was sold to. With that, they may be able to find who the store sold the card to. If they were sloppy, this will lead the police straight at them.

      Just an idea...I'm no detective.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 12:03pm

        Re: Re:

        You are correct, but MAC addresses can be spoofed, making this an 'ideal scenario works, but practically it fails' situation.

         

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          Sean T Henry (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 1:12pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          It is an easy spoof to get any router that can be used as a bridge and set the MAC to what you want and not your MAC is not your MAC.

           

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      Berenerd (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:51am

      Re:

      My guess would be that if the wifi was unsecure that the router wasn't doing much either and someone else drove outside the house, connected to the wifi and browsed to the PC doing the bad things and found a true ID.

       

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      Griff (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 12:02pm

      Doesn't have to be the next door neighbour

      " I would think it would be a simple matter of checking MAC addresses from the router's log and going from there. I can't help but think it would be all but impossible to track somebody down if they weren't the next door neighbor. "

      Nah, it's easy. Just ask you friendly neighborhood StreetView database if they have a physical location for a given Mac address. With a subpoena, of course, because they'd probably prefer to do no evil.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 9:30am

    This is why I love the City, no one gives a damn about their neighbors enough to pull shit like this.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 9:38am

      Re:

      unless you have a dog that barks all night or some other source of sound throughout the night. then your neighbors will care.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 9:51am

    Only 1/2 right Mike, anyone who tries hard enough can more than do it properly. This guy just didn't know the first thing about what he was trying to do.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:03am

      Re:

      Even the most high tech cracking operations sometimes get sloppy and leave traces. All the police has to do is follow them.

       

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      Michael, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:20am

      Re:

      ...and you if you have enough expertise, you can also connect to and use a 'properly' secured WiFi access point. Someone who needs an unsecured access point to do this would probably not be technically proficient to cover their tracks very well.

      Heck, with an extra cable modem, I could walk to my neighbor's house and connect to their wired network by splicing into the cable on the outside of their house.

      Stopping people from creating open WiFi access points just makes it inconvenient for the people that want to use them legitimately. If someone wants to do something nefarious, encrypting the WiFi at the local Starbucks is not going to be a deterrent.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 11:08am

        Re: Re:

        Actually, you can use a cable modem anywhere in the city and it still shows up as YOUR cable modem. The cable modem is more like the water or electrical meter. It's the endpoint for your service, but is slightly less bulky and not bolted to your house. If you move it to your neighbor's house or take it into work and hook it up, it still looks like you to the ISP.

         

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    Robert Ring (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:18am

    Uhhh, hopefully they're hitting him with some child pornography charges, too.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:29am

    Another script kid bites the dust.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 10:58am

    Just Google "Mac address changer". Many programs to change your Mac Address

     

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    Michial Thompson, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 11:40am

    This all assumes that he was traced through the wifi

    Each of you assume that this guy was caught because of something hardware related. Who's to say the FBI didn't show up at the wifi owners house, question them, believe them when they say they didn't do it. Then go to the neighbors house knock on his door flash their badges and the guy panic and confess?

    Also notice that none of the other crimes were even investigated, the child pornography went un prosecuted etc. The only crimes the guy was accused of revolve around the "threat" to Biden...

    Would any resourced have even been invested had that threat not existed?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 11:52am

    you can easily use open wifi to do anything you want without fear of reprisal, there are about a dozen free mac spoofing progs out there for windows and im fairly sure that the macchanger command is built into at least a few linux kernels.

    Other than that as long as you dont send your name or compromising information over the connection there is absolutely zero physical evidence to connect back to a person. This guy was caught because his neighbors already suspected him, he had motive, and opportunity.

    If he had actually cared about sending threats to Biden he could have drivin down the street and done it from another open or WEP connection and he wouldnt have been cought.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 21st, 2010 @ 12:05pm

    Even with the good outcome here... the neighbor would have had a better day if he had his WIFI locked down. I see no reason whatsoever to share mine with whoever wants it and just end up dealing with crap like this when the law comes looking later on.

     

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    zcat (profile), Jun 21st, 2010 @ 2:42pm

    I'm betting the police went next door, 'claimed' they had logs and the neighbour panicked and confessed. Do home routers even keep track of what MAC addresses connected to them? I'm pretty sure mine doesn't!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2010 @ 7:11am

    They all keep track of MAC addresses. Even if your router doesnt display it in the web interface, the addresses are there. Just telnet into it and dig around.

     

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    rlwieneke, Jul 3rd, 2010 @ 11:04am

    MAC address

    I heard he was caught through his MAC address. If he had bought used hardware for cash including the pc or laptop and wifi card, then not used them anywhere else they wouldn't have been able to find the MAC address being used anywhere else and connect it to him.

     

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    rlwieneke, Jul 3rd, 2010 @ 11:05am

    MAC address

    I heard he was caught through his MAC address. If he had bought used hardware for cash including the pc or laptop and wifi card, then not used them anywhere else they wouldn't have been able to find the MAC address being used anywhere else and connect it to him.

     

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