FBI agent took down teen hacker by pretending to be a reporter – and media didn’t like that

Raphael Satter of AP reports:

The young hacker was told in no uncertain terms: You are safe with me.

“I am not trying to find out your true identity,” AP journalist Norm Weatherill assured the teenager in an online chat. “As a member of the Press, I would rather not know who you are as writers are not allowed to reveal their sources.”

But Norm Weatherill was no reporter. He was FBI agent Norman B. Sanders Jr., and the whole conversation was a trap. Within hours, police descended on the 15-year-old hacker’s home and led him away in handcuffs for making a week and a half of emailed bomb threats at his high school in Washington state. He eventually confessed and was sentenced to 90 days in a juvenile detention center.

The 2007 bust would put an end to the bomb scares and save graduation at the school but would also raise a troubling question that is unanswered to this day: How often do FBI agents impersonate members of the news media?

Read more on OC Register.

About the author: Dissent

3 comments to “FBI agent took down teen hacker by pretending to be a reporter – and media didn’t like that”

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  1. Indee One - March 19, 2017

    I have been sharing this story everywhere…I love it… Specifically the media having an issue with this… Snort…Well maybe they need to start covering more of this then

  2. Norm Weatherill - March 20, 2017

    @Indee One, your comment makes no sense. Are you saying the media doesn’t cover bomb scares in local schools or that the media didn’t cover this specific story? The latter is self-evidently false.

    Why shouldn’t the press have a problem with FBI impersonating them? Srsly? Would have been more egregious if Norman had impersonated a real journalist instead of making up a name, but even Alex Jones would have a problem if FBI agents started claiming they were representatives of his “media” organization.

    The operational failure of the teen hacker in this case was no background check the “journalist” who reached out to him. “Send me some links to your articles,” would have put that particular subterfuge to bed.

    • Dissent - March 20, 2017

      FWIW, her comment made no sense to me, either. Anything that makes sources less likely to trust journalists works against the public interest.

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