Data From Smartwatch Help Investigators Solve The Case Of The Stabbing That Never Happened

from the regular-wikipedia-browns-these-guys dept

Once again, another crime has been solved with the help of smart devices that shows "going dark" is mainly just an FBI product it's having trouble moving in such a sunshine-y market.

Third party apps and a surveillance camera allowed investigators to solve one crime (by determining it never happened) and charge someone for the crime that actually happened. [via Slashdot]

A 26-year-old man faked his own stabbing at the West Bloomfield synagogue where he worked and then reported he was attacked because of his Jewish faith, authorities say.

Now Sean Samitt is facing a felony charge of filing a false police report, according to West Bloomfield Police.

Samitt claimed to have been attacked while leaving work at the Temple Kol Ami. Supposedly the attackers stabbed him while yelling things about "you Jews" and "too many immigrants." Investigators were unable to find a weapon, blood, or any other evidence of the crime in the parking lot that Samitt claimed the attack took place.

What they were able to find was a security camera attached to a house across the street that captured the crime that never happened. When they confronted Samitt with this, his story changed. He hadn't actually been hate crimed. Instead, he claimed he had passed out (due to an unnamed health condition) while doing dishes at the synagogue.

He then claimed that this was kind of a hate crime as well, because he had been "harassed" about his medical condition at the synagogue and felt compelled to create a cover story for his inability to do dishes without losing consciousness.

Sometimes the best surveillance is the surveillance we inflict upon ourselves.

Officers were able to obtain information from Samitt's cellphone health application that was synced to his Apple Watch, confirming he did not lose consciousness. Samitt then admitted to intentionally stabbing himself.

A wealth of data about people's lives is generated daily by anyone carrying a smartphone or wearing a smartwatch. Device encryption is only preventing investigators from seeing a very small slice of that. Almost every third party app generates records law enforcement can obtain from developers or in the multiple clouds storing data and communications. The few communication options that are completely locked down may impede a handful of investigations. But for the most part, law enforcement is coming out ahead in the so-called tech war, years after device encryption became a standard offering.

Filed Under: data, evidence, sean samitt, smartwatch, stabbing, west bloomfield


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2020 @ 8:01pm

    Almost all the encryption is broken. Don't buy into that particular lie.

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2020 @ 8:16pm

    Why, once told that the original story was false and that he passed out in the kitchen (already admission of falsifying the report) did the police go the extra mile to get data from his smart watch? What more did that add to the "filing a false police report" crime?

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

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2020 @ 8:26pm

    Re:

    Speculation:

    Collecting information from his electronics provided independent corroboration of the falsity of the original report. Hypothetically, suppose the following chain of events had happened instead:

    • Man files police report.
    • Police confront man.
    • Man recants report, admits it was false.
    • Police file charges. Police believe they have an easy win, and do not bother collecting the smartwatch / cellphone evidence.
    • At trial, man takes the stand and testifies that he never admitted the report was false.

    We now have the man's word against the police. While jurors will often trust the police in this case, the police may have felt it worthwhile to collect and have available independent evidence (other than the officer's memory of the recanting) that shows the original report was false. With that evidence introduced, the defendant then needs to convince the jurors that the evidence is wrong or misleading.

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

  4. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 9 Jan 2020 @ 9:14pm

    STOP BREEDING WITH STUPID PEOPLE!

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

  5. identicon
    Pixelation, 9 Jan 2020 @ 9:56pm

    The FBI missed their chance on this one. I'm sure they could have convinced him to become another fake terrorist.

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jan 2020 @ 11:27pm

    Re: Call yahoo customer service representative

    Still a better comment than blue balls.

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2020 @ 3:07am

    Re:

    I don't think the people you are talking about read (I'm pretty sure they are able to, just they refuse to, or can't be bothered do).

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

  8. identicon
    Michael, 10 Jan 2020 @ 4:21am

    So is this still a hate crime?

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2020 @ 5:50am

    Re:

    Is it ironic that you used all-caps instead of bold markup?

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

  10. identicon
    kallethen, 10 Jan 2020 @ 6:04am

    Totally not the story I expected from the headline...

    Is it sad that my first thought when reading the headline was to expect this to be a story to be about the FBI fabricating another "terrorist" plot, and ensnaring a poor sap to be the fall guy using his smart watch tracking as evidence?

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

  11. identicon
    Michael, 10 Jan 2020 @ 6:53am

    What they were able to find was a security camera attached to a house across the street that captured the crime that never happened

    Probably a Ring camera purposely pointed at a place of worship using facial recognition to identify the people that go there.

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2020 @ 7:50am

    Happens all to often; fakehatecrimes.org

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2020 @ 7:52am

    *sigh* So much for the hope that fake hate crimes could be a relic of the 2010s that we could leave in the past...

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

  14. icon
    Thad (profile), 10 Jan 2020 @ 8:33am

    Re:

    Haha, it's funny because eugenics.

    Seriously, though, not a fan of that shit. Populations breed toward the norm; insofar as intelligence is spread from parent to child, it's a product of environment, not genes.

    Eugenics is, at best, pseudoscientific bullshit. At worst...well, I'm sure you're familiar with what it is at worst.

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

  15. icon
    Koby (profile), 10 Jan 2020 @ 8:58am

    Not so bad

    Maybe we SHOULDN'T fight for encrypted devices. I have to admit that I enjoy it when frauds like this guy get exposed. Maybe a lack encyption isn't completely bad.

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

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2020 @ 2:53pm

    The worst part about what he did is that it makes it that much harder for actual victims of hate crimes to be taken seriously.

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

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2020 @ 6:02pm

    Re:

    If his fake accusation pointed to members of some protected class, it might fit the definition. That might require specific persons being accused. But 30-40 year old white males are not a protected class by law, just by culture.

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

  18. icon
    Zof (profile), 11 Jan 2020 @ 7:32am

    Re: Re:

    Yup. People hating on white guys isn't a crime. It's just a way to spot hateful people with mental problems everyone should avoid.

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

  19. identicon
    Bishop, 11 Jan 2020 @ 10:35am

    Re:

    Yes: older encryption is broken. Older app versions are also insecure, as are older locks, older WW2 codes; and even many older medical treatments are unsound. Also, Alchemy's busted. You're not the victim of a lie you bought into, but of a particular bias you created yourself. Keep things up to code so you won't have a bad surprise.

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

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2020 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re:

    Old encryption still works, like one time pads and stenography. However modern consumer computers are easily compromised and the encryption is compromised with it.

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

  21. icon
    nasch (profile), 12 Jan 2020 @ 11:49am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Old encryption still works, likeone time pads and stenography.

    You probably mean steganography, which is arguably not encryption, but related.

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

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2020 @ 7:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    People hating on anyone isn't a crime, it's a First Amendment protected pastime.

    Committing a crime out of, or partially inspired by, hate for a white guy because he is white doesn't fit the current legal definition of hate crime because white and male are about as culturally privileged as you can get. It's a stupid name and a fairly broken concept, but the intent was to help protect the less privileged classes from being attacked by the (on average, by class) members of more powerful classes.

    It's a thing that happens, but legislation intended to handle it is generally not well thought-out.

    But all sorts of people hate on other people and, yeah, we could do with less of it. Some people have a reason, although hating everyone fitting a certain race or whatever isn't the best option.

    I hate hateful people and denialists, but i wish i felt that way less.

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

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2020 @ 7:41pm

    Re: Not so bad

    That is some shit reasoning right there. Not in the least in that the encryption was never a problem.

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

  24. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2020 @ 12:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Steganography is a type of encryption where a picture or other media is exchanged with a key.

    When the key is process by the correct algorithm with the image or other media then a different image or message is produced.

    It is exactly encryption.

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

  25. icon
    urza9814 (profile), 13 Jan 2020 @ 12:20pm

    Re:

    Possibly added a second count, since they've now proven his second statement was also false. Also prevents him from claiming that he thought he was attacked, because he couldn't know for sure because he was "unconscious".

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


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