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Google Is Your Friend, Unless You're A Dumb Criminal; Then It's Your Downfall

from the search-sentence-terms dept

One of the common aspects of most of the stories about dumb criminals we cover here is how they use some aspect of technology to do something tangentially stupid. Recall, for instance, the stupid fraternity that somehow thought they'd get away with going Heisenberg on their Facebook page, or when a young woman robbed a bank and then bragged about it on YouTube. But what if you had on your hands a criminal so dumb that they weren't sure exactly what would happen once they had attempted their criminal-y exploits? Well, what is your first step these days if you want to get an answer to something?

Meet Sarah McLoud, Robert Owens, and Daniel Murphy of Boston, a group of not particularly intelligent bank robbers. These three were apparently dissatisfied with the heroin ring they were allegedly running, so they decided to rob a bank. But they didn't know how to successfully rob a bank, evidenced further by the ease with which they were caught.

Narcotics detectives who viewed surveillance footage believed they recognized McLoud, a suspect in the ongoing investigation of a heroin ring based at 51 Torrey St., just around the corner from the bank, police said. Owens was also a suspect in that investigation. Police found McLoud and Owens at the Torrey Street address shortly after 4 p.m. and arrested them, according to the statement. Police did not disclose the arrests until Monday. Officers then secured a search warrant for McCloud’s room at Torrey Street and found the clothing she wore during the robbery, the stolen cash, and “a significant quantity of heroin packaged for sale,” police said.
Fine, so we have a drug dealing trio that apparently went to the Superman School Of Hiding In Plain Sight when it comes to concealing their identities. And, sure, perhaps keeping all of that sweet china white and the clothes they robbed the bank in out and available for police to find was stupid. But how about an extra bit of stupidity candy to really wrap this all up? Remember the question I asked you above? What would you do if you wanted to rob a bank but didn't know much about robbing banks? You already know where this is going, don't you?
Officers also found a computer recently used to search the phrases, “What happens if you rob a bank,” “What happens if you rob a house,” “What happens if you rob a drug dealer,” and “If you’re going to rob a bank,” police said.
Ah, delightful, because apparently all the copies of Robbing Banks For Dummies at the local library had already been checked out. So here's a note to my idiotic criminal friends: burn your clothes, hide your heroin, and at least clear your search history from your browser after you carry out your nefarious misdeeds. Otherwise, you just look lazy.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 7:32pm



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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 7:42pm

    This is the stuff that news rooms want to call news. I find it not very funny, not very informing, and not very interesting.


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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 7:49pm

    I know it's secondary to the investigation at hand and the overwhelming evidence that proves these people stupid and guilty, but I do worry about the precedent of using search terms as evidence. Maybe in a much more grim future search terms may be all that is needed to build a case.


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    out_of_the_blue, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 8:05pm

    The stupidest people believe "Google Is Your Friend"!

    As I read this days ago -- you're a SLOW but tiresome re-writer, Timmy -- I'll just take the (really unavoidable) cue and go off on my usual topic:

    Slanting this to you pirates: Google's tracking can literally rat you out to MPAA and RIAA. -- That they don't (far as known) do so at present doesn't remove your future peril. -- Any links site you visit may have links to Google; that'd give a particular page, easily linked to specific file, and of course your IP address directly if not using some means to obscure. -- BUT you're not safe from Google's tracking even if behind VPN! Google specializes in identifying individual browsers by getting as much information as can: OS and somewhat subtle items as fonts, font size, various settings -- and of course cookies if you're THAT foolish. Anyway, if you've ever used that browser/system anywhere on the Internet, it's quite likely that Google has a hashed "fingerprint" that can be matched up instantly whenever appears again, along with a count of how many visits and everything else: they've enough storage and the collating process is immense, but last heard, they've 900,000 servers to do it with, and such tracking is Google's business model. -- SO, IF ever gets to that stage, your "friend" Google could easily give MPAA and RIAA enough on you for them to get a real search warrant for a specific file.

    All you pirates can really do is scoff, as that's easily feasible technically right now.

    But you pirates don't have to worry much, yet, as the real purpose of Google is social control: same techniques can identify political dissidents, spot trends, and so on. The Establishment actually likes for you pirates to consume their crap and be diverted from noticing the BIg Brother system all around.


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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 8:05pm

    Lawyers have already been requesting search terms on IPs from Google for a while now. This is not news. This is not new. It's been going on.

    Clean your browser. Don't use search engines that record everything you do. Use those that offer some anonymity. Make sure your computer isn't giving the right IP. Lots of ways to do that. What I am saying is that you can have reasonable privacy provided you do things yourself to ensure it. Some things you just have to realize you say no to.


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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 8:10pm

    Re: The stupidest people believe "Google Is Your Friend"!

    Once again you show how clueless you are ootb.

    You apparently can rant but can't spend the time to actually find the tools that prevent what you rage about.

    So far, everything you have mentioned has a defense. Go back to school boy. You need an education in the worst way. Maybe then you can talk about something other than Google.

    Oh, btw, Google has lots of stuff here. I hope you're enjoying them all.



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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 31st, 2013 @ 8:10pm


    And I find your lack of humor......distuuuurbing....


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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 31st, 2013 @ 8:12pm

    Re: The stupidest people believe "Google Is Your Friend"!

    "As I read this days ago -- you're a SLOW but tiresome re-writer, Timmy"

    Isn't there some heavy traffic or areas just on the other side of a bridge railing in which you could be playing? Please?!?!


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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 31st, 2013 @ 8:14pm


    You're really insistent on pushing that this isn't news. And taken as it is, maybe this isn't really amazing news (it is still news). However, if you take it with previous articles, you can see how this is just a continuation of other stories. No, not that Google got hacked, not the NSA tracking your ass. It's the general technophobia that seems to be persistent throughout humanity. This funny little story just shows that the technology we fear is just a tool, nothing more. We are the ones that use it for bad or good.


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    Carl "Bear" Bussjaeger (profile), Oct 31st, 2013 @ 8:41pm

    To be fair...

    ...the search history wasn't that big a deal evidence-wise; what with the money, clothing, drugs... I'm sure the cops appreciated the bonus laughs, though.

    But if you're googling how to rob the bank, you're probably in the wrong line of work.


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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 9:27pm

    And here was I watching how ticks attach themselves to skin.


    Of course if people were intelligent they wouldn't be robbing banks, they wouldn't need to unless they wanted some cheap thrills, but is getting difficult to get away with those things unless you wear a full hazard suit.

    The latest trick is using particle accelerators to identify substances left behind which can give a fingerprint of the environment one was in or live.


    And then there is the future of investigation, watching Batman Arkham: Origins (thank whomever uploaded the scenes from it), when Batman is investigating the crime scene he uses virtual reality to reconstruct the path of bullets and so other stuff that is not likely, with Google Glass you can actually do that for real, more you can have literally a microscope on the scene to process and see things that would be difficult or impossible otherwise. Not that the police is using that right now, but they could, is getting easier to see what happen somewhere and we are learning how to interpret the writings literally left in walls, floors and ceilings everywhere.

    Anyways Google is wonderful for finding funny robbery stories.

    Drug Possession Defendant Christopher Jansen, on trial in March in Pontiac, Michigan, said he had been searched without a warrant. The prosecutor said the officer didn't need a warrant because a "bulge" in Christopher's jacket could have been a gun. Nonsense, said Christopher, who happened to be wearing the same jacket that day in court. He handed it over so the judge could see it. The judge discovered a packet of cocaine in the pocket and laughed so hard he required a five minute recess to compose himself.

    Oklahoma City: Dennis Newton was on trial for the armed robbery of a convenience store in a district court when he fired his lawyer. Assistant district attorney Larry Jones said Newton, 47, was doing a fair job of defending himself until the store manager testified that Newton was the robber. Newton jumped up, accused the woman of lying and then said, "I should of blown your (expletive) head off." The defendant paused, then quickly added, "if I'd been the one that was there." The jury took 20 minutes to convict Newton and recommended a 30 year sentence.



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    michael, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 9:41pm

    Funny ...

    I just googled "What happens if you rob a bank" and all that came up in the first page was pictures of these losers and their story.

    Now I know what happens, and I'll never do it. Lesson learned. Thanks, internet!


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    apauld (profile), Oct 31st, 2013 @ 10:38pm

    Re: The stupidest people believe "Google Is Your Friend"!

    'they' will be around to pick you up on Monday, about 2:00 PM.


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    Ninja (profile), Nov 1st, 2013 @ 2:18am

    Re: Re: The stupidest people believe "Google Is Your Friend"!

    Throw a doll resembling Mike, he'll go fetch on the other side.


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    Ninja (profile), Nov 1st, 2013 @ 2:20am

    Re: Funny ...

    That. Beware of the NSA though, they are watching your search terms.

    We should start searching regularly, en masse, for weird terms such as goat or motherfucking eagles on the bigger search engines. Just for the lulz. Imagine NSA trying to figure out what sort of nefarious code is "goat".


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    Mark Harrill (profile), Nov 1st, 2013 @ 6:07am

    Office Space saw this coming

    I may be off on the exact quote but roughly: "What kind of criminals are we, we are looking up money laundering in the dictionary."


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    Andrew D. Todd, Nov 1st, 2013 @ 6:31am

    Competent Outlaws

    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, who were moderately competent bank robbers, had a fixed rule of always putting five hundred miles between themselves and the scene of the crime, and five thousand miles when possible. In the end, that wasn't enough. They went to Argentina to get away from the "SuperPosse," but the Pinkerton Agency sent a reward notice after them, and so recruited all the local bounty-hunters. So they fled, after robbing a couple of Argentine banks for traveling money, and wound up in Bolivia, and eventually in the village of San Vincente, a bleak place of mud huts at more than fourteen thousand feet, treed by the local citizens.

    What's more, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid lived in an age when most business transactions were in the form of negotiable paper. Modern bank robbers don't get very much money because there isn't very much money in the bank, what with the increasing dominance of other means of payment. When a sum of money is reported in a bank robbery, it is generally on the order of ten thousand dollars.

    See: Anne Meadows, Digging Up Butch and Sundance (1994)


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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2013 @ 7:18am

    "Google Is Your Friend"?

    The NSA would certainly like you to think so.

    SSL Added and Removed Here! :-)


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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2013 @ 10:09am

    Re: The stupidest people believe "Google Is Your Friend"!

    Google isn't out_of_the_blue's friend. It's his downfall. He's a dumb criminal.


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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 1st, 2013 @ 10:12am


    Not sure of the point of the link, there. That article is highly bullshitty. Android is open source, period. I know because I use one of the forks of the open source Android(Cyanogenmod).

    What isn't open source is Google's core applications (mail, etc.).

    But who cares? What's the point? There is absolutely nothing that requires you to use those apps -- they all have readily available open source alternatives if you want them, and the OS works perfectly well without them.


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    Anonymous, Nov 1st, 2013 @ 4:51pm


    So you read this because...?


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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