TS #47 – A Messaging App from the FBI

With all the talk about how Google and Facebook and whatnot knowing your activity on or off the internet, one would think how do drug dealers and shady people get away with it? They actually use devices and services that are encrypted, making them particularly untraceable, unless, of course, the developer of the device/ service itself intends to spy on them!

Back in 2018, the FBI took down an encrypted messaging service provided by a called Phantom Secure. This was one of the widely used services by criminals to stay under the radar. Soon after that, users of Phantom Secure turned to other services. This led to FBI thinking of starting something similar on its own.

The F.B.I. recruited a former Phantom Secure distributor who had been developing a new encrypted communications system called Anom. The informant agreed to work for the F.B.I. and let the bureau control the network for the possibility of a reduced prison sentence, according to the court documents. The F.B.I. paid the informant $120,000, the documents said.

New York Times

Once the product was developed, they wanted someone to promote it. Brands use influencers and celebrities. The FBI and Australian Police USED an underground drug Kingpin in Australia – Hakan Ayik, who was referred to in Australian media as “the Facebook gangster”. Ayik was given a handset by undercover cops which he then went on to circulate with his associates.

The operation, code named Operation Trojan Shield, had collected more than 27 million messages from about 12,000 devices in 45 languages, according to Associated Press.

They also seized: –

  • 8 tons of cocaine and 22 tons of cannabis
  • 55 luxury vehicles
  • 250 firearms
  • $48+ million worth of various currencies and cryptocurrencies!

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Shreesha S
Shreesha writes about Business, Finance and Tech for The Snippets Journal. He is also the Founder and Head of Content Development.
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