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.

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Comments on “Man Charged With Using Open WiFi To Send Death Threats To VP Biden”

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Anonymous Coward says:

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.

chris (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Griff (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

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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