Not-so Anonymous: How hackers wreaked havoc in St. Louis

David Hunn has a lengthy piece on how so-called hacktivists and identity thieves disrupted the lives of people who were neither responsible for Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson nor for law enforcement’s response. Here’s how it begins:

The first call came on a Thursday, 12 days after Michael Brown was shot. Patti Knowles and her granddaughter were watching “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”

The caller warned that the collective of computer hackers and activists known as Anonymous had posted data online — her address and phone number and her husband James’ date of birth and Social Security number.

Anonymous had been targeting Ferguson and police officials for days. But this seemed to be an error. Patti and James weren’t city leaders, they were the parents of one — Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III.

Within hours, identity thieves had opened a credit application — the first of many — using the leaked data.

The second call came on a Friday, nearly two months later. This time, it was their bank.

Someone, posing as James, the mayor’s father, had called in and changed passwords, addresses and emails. Then the individual sent $16,000 in bank checks to an address in Chicago.

The name on the address?

Jon Belmar. Same as the chief of the St. Louis County police.

Read more on St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As I noted, it’s a lengthy piece, but I think it’s important to read and think about.

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