‘Hacker’ case pits suspect’s intellect vs. FBI surveillance

Dennis Wagner reports:

In spring 2008, FBI agents were struggling to identify a criminal who electronically filed hundreds of fraudulent tax returns, ripping off the federal government for more than $3 million.

Investigators and informants started referring to their phantom bad guy as “the Hacker.” Prosecutors persuaded a federal grand jury in Arizona to secretly indict him, even without a name, and agents traced his computer to Northern California.

The Hacker continued to cash in tax refunds using the pseudonym “Travis Rupert,” with help from accomplices who did not know his real identity.

That April, FBI agents arrested one of the associates and persuaded him to help arrange a sting.

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