How A Pimp's Android Pattern Lock Foiled Feds

The FBI seems to be having a bit of trouble accessing electronic evidence lately. First there was the case of the forgotten encryption key, and now the Bureau is unable to prosecute a notorious San Diego pimp because they can't break his Android's screen lock.

Dante Dears was recently paroled from state prison recently after serving time for his founding role in the Pimpin' Hoes Daily organisation (PHD). Yes, that's the real name of the group and its purpose is exactly what the name implies. Since the conditions of his parole dictated he wear a GPS tracker that confined him to his home, Dears ran his pimpire from there using a standard Samsung Android.

When the FBI got wise to his plan, they confronted Dears about the phone-pimping. Dears immediately claimed the phone belonged to his sister and refused to give up the unlock pattern even though they confiscated the phone. So the Feds sent the Samsung to its Regional Computer Forensics Lab in Southern California for cracking.

That didn't work out as well as they had hoped. Technicians "attempted to gain access to the contents of the memory of the cellular telephone in question," said the FBI, but were unable to decipher Dears' password before the system shut them out permanently for excessive login failures. The only way to get into the phone now is with Dears' Google account credentials, which he'll share just after he divulges the unlock pattern, so the FBI is SOL right? Wrong!

The FBI has now filed for a new warrant against Google requesting pretty much everything they would need to build a case against Dears, including:

  • The subscriber's name, address, Social Security number, account login and password
  • "All e-mail and personal contact list information on file for cellular telephone"
  • The times and duration of every webpage visited
  • All text messages sent and received from the phone, including photo and video messages
  • Any e-mail addresses or instant messenger accounts used on the phone
  • "Verbal and/or written instructions for overriding the ‘pattern lock' installed on the" phone
  • All search terms, Internet history, and GPS data that Google has stored for the phone

Google hasn't responded to the warrant yet. It should also be noted that this isn't just a case of the Man coming down on a hard-working pimp. Dears, if court records are to be believed, is no Big Poppa with a heart of gold. According to Ars Technica,

Before Dears pleaded guilty in the middle of his 2005 trial, one minor female testified how Dears had recruited her out of a homeless shelter.

"He told me he was going to help take care of me and be there for me," she told the court. "He told me what to do and how to do it and said we would make money that way... I was tired of living on the streets."

Her $US500 a night went straight to Dears, though, who "took care of her" in his own special way. As San Diego's Union Tribune reported, Dears found out the woman had spoken to a man who wanted to help her get off the streets. So Dears "beat her up in the back seat of his Cadillac and then forced her to get into the car's trunk, she testified. While in the trunk, she was driven from East Main Street in El Cajon to Hotel Circle in Mission Valley, she testified...the girl, only 15 at the time, was released in Hotel Circle, "bleeding and bruised."

[Ars Technica via CultofMac]

Image: HK-Android



    Before Dears pleaded guilty in the middle of his 2005 trial, one minor female testified how Dears had recruited her out of a homeless shelter.

    what am i missing? PLED GUILTY?

      Are you seriously suggesting 'pled' is a word?

        Are you seriously suggesting it isn't? An older form, to be sure, but "pled" is definitely a word. Google can prevent you looking like a jackass here...

          I'm drowning in irony right now

    She testified before he plead guilty... not after.

    Aren't SMS's, by default, stored on the SIM? Easily removed and read in a SIM card reader. Also pretty sure there might be some call history there (though surely they could get that from his carrier anyway with a warrant, they usually do). Photos and videos sent were probably on the device first, and therefore should be accessible on the SD card, which is also easily physically removed.

    Why would Google have his Social Security number?

    Either this is fake or these agents are dumb.

      I know right?

      All they had to do was find out what his favorite food is, and his favorite fictional character.

      That may have been the case on much older phones, but I'm pretty sure any modern smart phone handles everything in its in-built memory. Many won't have an SD card either.

        just about all android phones do have SD card readers, its a known fact because its all the fandroids go on about when attempting to laugh at apple's iPhone. only a few android phones do not, so im pretty sure his would.

          Jesus Christ... Shut the fuck up already.

      Pretty sure a SIM could only store up to 15 messages, modern phones generally tend to store them all internally since they're expecting to need to hold far more than that.

    The awkward moment when me a 17 y.o. Uni student can crack the android lock screen... Smudges are an amazing give away...

      not if its one of those dang oleophobic screens!

      Wiping the screen on your shirt is a pretty simple way to foil that one.

      This is nonsense, after un-locking the screen and using it, you pretty much cover your tracks. This is assuming they haven't wiped it down, or he has greasy as hell fingers.

    How come the people who steal cell phones can get around these locks??

      Cause they know what they are doing lol!

      Because they don't care about the data, they just want the phone. In this case, the FBI needs the data itself.

    You are all missing the point........Why hasn't he got an iPhone?

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