Suing The Government For Computer Damages In False Accusation

from the doubly-wreaked dept

One of the issues with identity theft is that, unlike most other crimes, the victim is the one who is left to prove they’re not the guilty party. Sometimes this makes things much, much worse. Take the case of a couple who ran a small software business. The husband had his identity stolen, and that identity was used to set up a child porn site. Federal Agents then showed up at their door and took all of their computers away. After investigating the case for six months and not charging the husband with anything, they returned the computers – though many were damaged and more than half their hard drives were erased. As you might imagine, this completely shut down their business. They’ve now sued the government for damages. However, there’s some confusion over the case, because it’s actually the second attempt to sue. The first attempt was thrown out after a judge ruled that you can’t sue federal agents for property they hold – even if that property was taken incorrectly and then destroyed. The article does say that the FBI often will pay for damaged equipment in such situations, but believe that the couple is asking for way too much in this case.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Suing The Government For Computer Damages In False Accusation”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

It's about time...

Considering some of the rank amatures that run government investigations of “computer crimes”, it’s really about time some responsibility was injected into the system.

On a personal note, I had a friend who’s entire life was turned upside down several years ago due to a government investigation (it’s federal!) of hijacked telnet sessions at Stanford. What a complete debacle. Rather than put packet sniffers at the larger “mainframe” where the hackers were jumpping off from, the investigators decided is was much better to put the packet sniffers infront of the kid’s work computer…. and despite having almost no evidence beyond completely currupt/altered log files (bork.bork.bork to you too!), the continued to insist that telnet hijacking was “only theoretical” (this was back in the days when University admins were *just* discovering up to the fact that SSH is absolutely *necessary*). A few months later, hunt and juggernaught came out of the wood work and into the mainstream press.

Oh, BTW, he didn’t do any time in federal “pound you in the ass” prison, but he never got any of the $5000 worth of computer gear that was confiscated and his reputation was damaged beyond repair (actually had to move out the area start life over… try getting a good job without references). Plus they have this little program that they put suspects on: first they see if you are willing to help incriminate yourself in any way, shape or form; then, if you won’t cooperate, they get you fired from your job; and, finally, to insure that you don’t receive proper legal councle, they’ll throw wire fraud of some type into their investigation and get the IRS to freeze your any of your remaining assets. 6 to 8 months later (if you’re lucky), you get to go to court with a public defender.

Most government run computer investigations are complete crocks and the FBI is so friken desperate to gain experience that they’ve established a track record of dooping people into believing that they’re working as a “technical consultant” (even paying them sometimes) and then prosecuting them for their “work”. IF ANYONE APPROACHES YOU ABOUT A FEDERAL COMPUTER CRIMES INVESTIGATION, YOU NEED TO FIND A GOOD LAWYER *FAST* *AS* *YOU* *CAN*. It doesn’t matter how innocent you think you are; the entire legal process at the federal level has simply become about producing a conviction, truth be damned.

Anonymous Coward says:

IP hypocrisy

> […] The article does say that the FBI often will pay for damaged equipment in such situations, but believe that the couple is asking for way too much in this case.

Funny how a government, that is more than happy to see its citizenrey prosecuted for violating IP rights due having a movie or two on their hard drives, is happily able to dismiss any intellectual property damages *IT* may have directly caused…

Could it be due to the fact that all government, at some fundamental level, are based upon hypocrisy?

Folks of America, don’t you think it is time for a change…

Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Past History

My brother got popped by the locals for ongoing credit card fraud. He was using his Commodore 64 to dial into the credit bureaus and picking names at random from the phone book, he would look up their credit card info and then use it to mail order stuff or call into Home Shopping Network. He was eventually caught and the local cops confiscated his Commodore 64, the TV it was connected to, the AT&T phone that was plugged into the modem, every floppy disc they could find, etc. and some weird, non-computer related stuff including an oscilloscope(?) several cups full of pens that were on the desk, a portable 300 baud terminal and other stuff lying around.

They would not provide us with a detailed list of all items removed, nor when the case was over did they return a large number of the items. When we pressured them over the return of items having nothing to do with the case they told us that many items had been either donated to the state Zoo (?) or had been sold at a police auction.

Since we never received a list of all the items ‘removed’ from the house we had no ‘proof’ that the police walked off with it and were unable to ever make any legal claims. Believe me, at the time we would have loved to have been able to sue them.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...