Missing From The Story: LulzSec Informant Sabu Released Early Because He Got LulzSec To Hack FOR The FBI

from the time-served-indeed dept

Earlier this week, there were plenty of reports about how Hector Xavier Monsegur, also know as “Sabu,” the leader/turned informant of the Anonymous spinoff hacking project LulzSec, was released from jail early for his “extraordinary cooperation” with the FBI. Technically, this was at his sentencing, and he was given “time served” (amounting to about 7 months in jail). Most folks have noted that the “extraordinary cooperation” involved handing over the names and information on other LulzSec members, including Jeremy Hammond, who was recently sentenced (by the same judge) to 10 years in prison.

However, that seems to leave out the other, increasingly troubling, aspect of the Sabu story — which was that he didn’t just “cooperate” with the FBI in fingering various LulzSec members, he actually gave them orders (which first came from the FBI) on who to hack, including key government computers in a variety of foreign countries. It seems likely that this was the “extraordinary cooperation” that helped Sabu secure a much shorter sentence.

Two of the other individuals that Sabu helped authorities arrest and prosecute have commented on Sabu’s deal. Jake Davis highlights how Sabu was a huge “get” for the FBI, since they didn’t seem to understand much about internet hacking without Sabu to lead them through everything — and he wonders if this will lead others to rush to become informants as well. In fact, Davis points out that the whole reason for the light sentence is probably to encourage more informants — though, it could equally be argued that it’s not just to encourage more informants, but more people who can help the FBI secretly hack into targets.

Meanwhile, another LulzSec member, Ryan Ackroyd, who was recently released after serving 9 months of a 30-month sentence, pointed out that while the sentence is unsurprising, it’s somewhat ridiculous given Sabu was in many ways “the worst” of the bunch:

“Sabu was the worst one out of us all, he should have been given the largest sentence. He was the one stealing from people’s bank accounts, credit cards and PayPal so that he could pay his bills and buy new things. Sabu talked people into hacking things for him and when he got caught he decided to snitch on these people, for something he asked them to do, in order to save himself.”

Either way, no matter what you think of the situation and Sabu, it seems worth remembering that he didn’t just help find other LulzSec members, he got them to hack specific FBI targets.

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Comments on “Missing From The Story: LulzSec Informant Sabu Released Early Because He Got LulzSec To Hack FOR The FBI”

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zip says:

body count

Although it’s well known that the length of a convicted criminal’s sentence is inversely proportional to the number of associates he is able to ensnare (and their respective prison sentences) by becoming an informant and testifier for the FBI, I wonder if anyone has ever put together a formula showing the mathematical relationship?

Just as a guess, it seems that to get one other person convicted means a 50% reduction in a person’s sentence, while getting 10 people convicted might translate to a 90% reduction.

madasahatter (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The typical DOJ warm-body is marginally competent enough to turn on a computer. They think hacking is this incredibly difficult activity when most hacks are done by script-kiddies and often rely on (spear-)phishing to get credentials.

The problem is it easy often easier to use the abusive powers of the US DA to coerce someone to their bidding.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“They really cannot manage to find people that are willing to do that job for them?”

They’ve had a real problem finding such people, yes. For good reasons. Even assuming that they can find skilled people who don’t have an ethical problem working for the feds, those positions aren’t very desirable: low pay, extremely difficult and invasive application process, etc.

Skilled people can do a whole lot better than working for the feds.

prodigitalson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I don’t think its so much the FBI’s reputation as an employer as it is working for “da man” in general. I assume that most people in the field with a decent skill level have an aversion to authority and especially law enforcement (at any level). Even if one has no qualms about going that route I would think the law enforcement would be pretty much a last choice. It would be much more interesting, and likely lucrative, to work for the NSA or CIA.

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