FBI Raid on UWWWB

Postby Relee » Wed Jul 29, 2009 2:39 pm

http://uwwwb.com/FBIRaid.html

I don't know if this is true or made up, it was at the top of Reddit today. It's the sort of thing you don't want to believe.

I can't really put it into words so I'll just quote it here:

Hello, this is CygonX. Our Hosting Data Center has suffered a major disaster: Namely the FBI storming the Data Center and the company's owner's home (that's me). The FBI took an entire data center, hundreds of servers, routers, switches, UPS system, cabinets, monitors, printers, and even power strips...as evidence.

You would expect this kind of totalitarian storm-trooper activity in the name of the war on drugs, the war on terror, or etc. But the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation actually did NO investigation in this particular case. They took the statements of an ex-employees of the company, which was fired for drug use.

What were they looking for? Well that’s a tricky question, and I am not even sure they know, but the short answer is $6.1 Million Dollars. Hang in there, the story gets more interesting.

As many of you may know I have played the role of Administrator for the UWWWB forum, AKA CygonX for many years. Truthfully, CygonX was a lot like Santa Claus, and has actually been played by many people over the years in order to manage the site, but I am the original and current owner. My real name is Mike Faulkner, and I have hosted the Network Security forum and community at this domain name since sometime in early 2002.

I was the CEO of a small tech company when I took over the site, and I hosted it off my own network on a pair of T1s. That company went under, taking most of my money with it, and UWWWB was actually hosted off a cable modem for a period of time from an equipment rack in my home. This is my forum and community that I have nourished for years.

Over the years, I have bought, sold, and built a large number of small tech companies. I worked my way up, with 100 hour work weeks, and by taking almost no money out personally for many years. For the past few years I have been a very active venture capitalist. Investing in various small technology businesses, and using them to support each other. My VoIP Companies used my Hosting Companies, which leased space in my Data Centers, and etc. This was the Crydon Capital Corporations family of companies.

Crydon Technology, was the data center and hosting company that the FBI raided in Dallas March 12th, 2009. UWWWB was tucked away on a tiny server in the data center for years, and we never even got a single complaint from RIAA, or MPPA, or anyone. This is not just about UWWWB, although the FBI certainly is holding it against me for running a security site.

Here's what happened: March 12th, 2009, at about 5:AM in the morning, my home alarm system went off. I get up to see what’s going on, on maybe 3 hours of sleep, and my wife points out there are two people with flash lights in my back yard. Now, this may not be unusual for everyone, but I lived in a fairly nice home in Southlake Texas, the United States highest per-capita income city for 2008. A very nice community, virtually no crime, and excellent schools. That is to say, I did not live in a shack in the hood, this is nice suburbs, and not where the FBI usually does raids.

So I run out the back door of my home, thinking I was about to confront some crackheads trying to steal the copper off my AC unit or something. And although I couldn’t quite see them yet I heard the very authoritative voice of what appeared to be law enforcement officers, with the radio noise to go with them. They proceeded with the expected dialogue, "stop", "show me your hands", "hands in the air" etc. They didn't shoot me, and sadly that really was the highlight of my day. I assumed my alarm had triggered by itself and the cops had been called, as we had problems with the alarm system before. They handcuffed me, while I was telling them I was the home owner. No big deal, they’ll figure it out in a second, right?

It wasn't a false alarm on my home security system, the FBI had cut my phone lines.

When they brought me around to the front of my house, there was a very large number of SWAT team type vans, and men with automatic weapons and body armor. Dark green gear, with FBI in black so it was barely visible. At that point I was very confused. I assume one of my employees had killed another employee, or one of my customers had threatened the president. I ran through all the crazy scenarios in my head, as to why in the hell the FBI would send a SWAT team to my family's home at 5:AM. As a data center owner you deal with the FBI on occasions. In the past, they had always come by during the day, at sensible business hours. And always for customer issues. But not this time, this time they were running around my home at 5:AM in the morning with their muddy boots, pointing machine guns at my wife and three children in their pajamas.

So the lead agent shows up, well after any possibility of shooting had past. His name is Allyn Lynd, google him when you have the time. [click here for that Google results] And he asks me about piracy, spam, and some kind of wire fraud. The Gestapo raids my home at 5:AM for what appeared to be some white-collar misdemeanor offenses, of which they had no real evidence of me even being involved with. They continued to ask me questions for 4 to 5 hours, and although I swear on my skin I gave them nothing but the truth, this guy repeatedly told me I was lying, and he knew I was lying, because the truth I told him didn’t match the stories of the their "informant". The amazing thing is that this guy was fired almost 2 years ago. So NONE of the information the FBI had was even current.

The FBI's informant, was a partner and investor in one of my business ventures called Premier Voice, a Hosted VoIP Service for Small Businesses. This company was an epic failure. The informant put $70,000 in, I put in close to $600,000, and then the venture failed largely due to the fact that Marcus likes to drink on top of handfuls of prescription pain killers, leaving him not a very effective network engineer or Chief Technology Officer. After this guy destroyed my company, and lost my money, he had the nerve to ask for his $70K back. Meanwhile, I had lost so much personal money in the project I was trying to figure out a way to pay my own mortgage at the time. Needless to say, I told him feel free to sue, but I wasn't paying him a dime for destroying the company.

Since then, he has threatened to contact the FBI and tell them that I intentionally ran up a bunch of dept without paying, among other factually untrue things. He further clarified that due to the fact that his Father was an IRS Enforcement Agent, that he could cause me all kinds of problems. Although 9 out of 10 tech companies fail, and ultimately owe money when they go under, it’s of course legal as long as you don’t do it intentionally. However, company's like Sun Rocket went under owing $90 Million, and they did so after running with an impossible business model, but the FBI didn’t so much as make a phone call to them on that one. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how this works.

Long after I fired him, I discovered the informant was a notorious drug dealer at SMU in Dallas for the 4 years he spent there. He of course left that out of his resume of course.

The most damaging false statements made by the "Informant", was that we didn’t have a single customer, and that anything that happened from the data center or our 64,000 IP addresses, was part of my evil empire of cyber crime. So the feds seize the data center based on that 2-year old statement from a very unreliable source.

Well, one of my customers, of which I had 300 - 400 of, was Intelimate. This is a government contractor; they provide all the phone service for prisons in 3 states. All of which lost their phone services when the FBI raided the data center. We also had a Credit Card Processor, Mortgage companies, and dozens of VoIP companies as well. The FBI effectively did tens of millions of dollars in damages to dozens of businesses within a few minutes based on bad intel, and no investigation whatsoever. I actually got a copy of the 40 page affidavit they submitted to a federal magistrate to get the search warrants…it’s 90% outright lies, and 10% misrepresented truth. With a lot of “my experience as a special agent of the FBI for X number of years leads me to believe…” as excuses for a warrant.

Seriously, is each "cybercrime" is so identical that you can actually "profile", when every other use of profiling in law enforcement in less complex environments has been proven ineffective?

These guys actually put in the affidavit that it was alleged that I did crack cocaine and methamphetamines. I am a 36-year-old white-collar father of three, I work 100 hours a week, and when I am not working I am very actively involved in both body building and MMA. These bumbling fools accused me of using illegal drugs, when in fact I have never even seen these drugs anywhere but on TV. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t even partake in simple carbohydrates. I’m an athlete, and they made me out to be some deranged CEO dope fiend in order to get their bogus search warrant to invade my home.

The whole document is an insult to the intelligence of the magistrate that signed it, and the reputation of the agent, and agency, that submitted it.

Okay, so let’s just say they are doing their job, and they are not turning the country we love into the new Nazi Germany. To be honest, I am not a tin-foil-hat guy, I don’t believe in 9-11 conspiracies, and I just don’t buy into any of the government conspiracies. So let’s look at the facts. The Dallas FBI Cyber Crime division has only 9 employees, 3 of which are highly technical forensic data guys. Special Agent Allyn David Lynd runs the show, he’s a 42 year old guy, that we’ll say is just doing his job to the best of his ability. ( Be sure to read up on how he got his job as Cyber Crime guy for the FBI, 3rd Post down by Allyn Lynd himself at this link. ).

Quote from Allyn Lynd:
"The way I ended up in Cybercrime is not all that glamorous ... In 1998, when we formed the Dallas regional squad, the powers that be asked if anyone knew anything more about computers then how to turn the power on. I raised my hand up and said that I played a lot of computer games and had put together PC's so that I could have a better gaming experience and the rest is history."

So the FBI is under-funded, under-educated, under-staffed, and they don’t have the budget or the man hours to truly investigate anything. The CSI you see on TV, is 100% not real. The lead agent of the investigation is non-technical. I could barely have a conversation with him. They just don’t get it, they don’t understand the business, and it’s actually their lack of technical expertise that caused them to raid my home, office, and data center to begin with.

They found no drugs, no guns, and no evidence of any criminal activity. No one has been arrested, and to the best of our collective knowledge and attorneys, no one has even been charged with anything.

Here’s the biggest problem, they don’t understand collocation. So they are holding me personally accountable for EVERYTHING that has ever occurred from any of IP addresses, of any of the companies I managed. This is like holding an investor that has bought into multiple apartment complexes, responsible for the contents and activities of the tenants of the apartments! It’s ludicrous, and it’s insane, but that’s the least of it.

They actually think that I am responsible for not only companies I owned and operated, but my clients as well, and not just their Internet Activity. Apparently out of the hundreds of VoIP companies that have used my network in the past few years, several of them collectively owe AT&T and Verizon a few million dollars. If you know the industry, you know that’s par for the course. VoIP companies get sideways with the Local Exchange Carriers (LEC) all the time. But these guys want to believe that I am actually some criminal mastermind that somehow controlled hundreds of businesses in one big conspiracy to screw the phone companies, while smoking crack and methamphetamines.

And a federal judge actually bought that line of manure.

Once again, I know it’s insane, but these guys sat at my kitchen table and truly believing it was the truth, interrogated me on these very issues, and then called me a liar when I tried to explain the industry to them. I would had to have started at Computer Science 101, and followed with Basic TCP/IP, and maybe if I had 2-years to kill, got to the point where I could explain a top-down overview of the Telecommunications’ industry within the confines of the emergence of VOIP, in a Legacy TDM world. But they were not interested in hearing anything but a confession.


Fact: Allyn Lynd went to Westpoint, not CalTech, MIT, or even a Junior College with a technology program. The lead investigator for the Dallas Cyber Crime Division, does not have a technology degree.

Maybe by now your thinking, hey they’ll look into it, see this guy (me) has a nice family, good businesses, pays his taxes, and is a loyal upstanding member of the community and give all his stuff back…yea, in a perfect world where you have a government that can admit mistakes, maybe. But that’s not this world.

The FBI seized all of my bank accounts; they seized all of my employees, and contractor’s accounts. They even seized the life savings of a previous employee’s elderly mother. My ex-controller, I fired almost two years ago, happened to be a signer on her account, and they got it too. They took hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of data center equipment, and anything of value as well: most of which belonged to customers.

Ultimately the FBI seized many racks full of customer equipment, because a junkie told them those customers did not exist. Now, in the bank accounts they seized, obviously with a little “investigation” they could have seen payments from hundreds of customers, but there was no investigation. They are destroying businesses left and right completely without oversight, or even the slightest due diligence.

I know many of you are suffering with the poor economic situation, and although I wasn’t doing real well to begin with I am now right there with you. But realistically, money is replaceable, albeit not easily. But these guys didn’t just take the money. They actually took my children’s Xboxs, Wii, PS3, their computers, their iPods, and everything in our home that could store data. Within 8 hours they cleaned my home out more thoroughly than ten crackheads could have in a week. And they did so in the name of Justice.

How do you even begin to explain a government to your children that could allow this to happen?

They questioned my current employees, as their usual MO is to turn someone against the guy they want, by threatening each member of the company with jail time, but with a reduced sentence for cooperation. Which hey, I don’t approve of, I think it’s wrong, but if they are using it on real criminal and terrorist, as a good American we think that's okay. They actually jacked up one of the UWWWB forum members that I had hired as a technician, and told him that I had said he was the mastermind behind the whole thing, and that I was trying to pin the whole deal on him. I am told he laughed so hard he may have peed himself. Not a single person questioned has said anything to indicate their investigation is anything but a mistake. They have no case, and they are desperately trying to piece together bogus information at this very moment: utterly incapable of admitting they were wrong.

So what am I to do?

If they sent over a carpet cleaner and a big truck with all my stuff, hey I’d say “apology accepted”. I wouldn’t expect a real apology. Of course the fact remains that they destroyed dozens of my businesses, and the businesses of my clients, and put all my employees out on the street. But at least it would be a gesture, and right now I am not seeing any indication they intend to do anything but destroy more businesses.

By this time, you have to be thinking “Hire a lawyer”, well I did think of that...

So I call 20 of Dallas’s top lawyers. All of them agree that the government is about to issue a big multi-count indictment and offer a plea bargain to plead guilty to a lesser included offense or etc. They think this, because the federal prosecutors win 90% of their cases, and that's a fact, and this is how they do it:

You’re looking at 100 years in prison, or a maximum of 5 for pleading guilty. Alternatively if you take it to court, and run out of money, and lose on any one count, you’d get more than the 5 years, so you’d be nuts not to take the 5 years. So what I am saying, guilty or innocent, you have to take the 5 years away from your family, leaving them to fend for themselves, missing your children’s graduation from high school and/or college….for something you didn’t do. You have little choice.

Our system was designed to beat the high priced attorneys of drug kingpins. I get that. I understand it. And I wouldn't usually complain. However, due to the government’s inability to admit a mistake, that same system is about to be used against several upstanding citizens whose only crime is being in technology too complicated for the FBI to understand. And to add fuel to the fire, the FBI took every dime I had leaving me to struggle to find a way to pay my 3 mortgages and feed my kids.

And about that lawyer, the quotes I have received have been non-refundable fees of $100,000 and up to defend a case this complicated. Not a retainer, these guys want a non-refundable $100K with no guarantee of any kind.

If your one of the 35,000 loyal UWWB members that has been a part of this community for any part of the past 9 years, I want to thank you for participating in the freedom of speech here at UWWWB.

Will I go to jail in the next 6 to 12 months, and will my family be left out in the cold? All indications point to yes. There is not a whole lot I can do about that, I am working against a very big government that isn’t running on logical thinking.

As you may know, in the past many years, we have only accepted donations or asked for them on 2 occasions, both times when the server died when I happened to be broke. Otherwise, I have paid for all the bandwidth and the servers, out of my own pocket. And regardless of how this FBI thing works out for me, I do honestly appreciate each and every one of you that has ever filled a request, set a n00b straight, or done anything to support one of the longest running communities in the scene.

I can’t begin to explain to you how it made me feel when the FBI’s top Cyber Crime guy talked down to me for running a “piracy” forum. I mean WTF, “piracy”, really? I have never thought of this community as lowly pirates, as if we are just a bunch of ass clowns downloading software to burn and sell on the street corner. That’s not UWWWB, not then, and not now.

Obviously, I have a lot of problems, and I am probably going to prison for something I didn’t do. Either way, I paid for hosting for UWWWB for a few months, on the cheapest server I could fine. It wasn’t the smartest thing to do when you have kids to feed, but it’s done. If I have not got my act together by then, I am sure one of our members can come up with a way to host it while I am incarcerated.

So far I have only heard a single 8 year prison term for a full confession, and as stupid as this may prove to be, I am not taking a plea bargain for any reason. I am going to spend every dime I have, and I am going to cost this damn government as much time and money as I possibly can while fighting every single charge against me. If i lose any of them, I will appeal them from prison, and I will continue to bleed every dime I possibly can out of this system in hopes that next time they make a mistake, that they can make it a policy to write off their loses and call it a day.

Regardless what happens, I appreciate you reading my story, and I appreciate you sharing this story with others in the technology industry. If every owner of a hosting company or data center out there knew that the FBI was capable of this, I think someone might one day be able to change the government’s way of thinking.

Also, as much as I absolutely hate to do it, if any of you can spare a single dime to help me keep things afloat for awhile, I'd greatly appreciate it.

I know it’s hard to get onboard. Since the Kevin Mitnick debacle, I really haven’t really felt compelled to assist anyone with their plight against the government.

It’s the American way, to look the other way.

When the SWAT team kicks in your door, suddenly the problem is much more real. I’m awake. They have my attention. But now I am now under the gun, and if I don’t move fast I’ll be out of the game altogether. But each of you, you don’t have to have this happen to you. Even if you don’t own a tech company, the FBI has assured me they are going to charge me with all the pirated software, spam, and etc. regardless if I was ultimately responsible for it or not.

When they get your number, it doesn't matters where you are on the financial or social ladder. So while we have the distinct pleasure of having the highest violent crime rate in the world, our government still has the time and resources to destroy the lives of people like me and you. Believe that.

Update: 4/2/2009
The FBI just raided another Dallas collocation facility, same 5:AM raid, same special agent, and apparently a related "cause". They took all the equipment. This time the damage was done to many large telecom companies, and it appears to already be in the millions. It's in the local news in Dallas. Search for Fox 4 or WFAA, now with video from the local news.

Update: 4/3/2009
I have been contacted by a few reporters, in spite of the fact that the FBI threatened me and my family regarding disclosing the details of their raid(s), as other data centers in the area have been hit and are on the news, I will be happy to discuss the detail with anyone I can. Here is a letter to the customers from the owner Core IP, the data center that was raided yesterday by a SWAT Team. [ link ] I will be including a full copy of the bogus search warrant affidavit as soon as I get a chance to Photoshop out my home address:(

Update: 4/4/2009
Due to the fact that I can't afford a new copy of VB (only a single donation so far, and thank you very much Mr. Hill) and due to the fact that I don't need any additional "piracy" problems, I am going to go with Open Source Blog Software for the new community site for now. Will be up soon. New story on CBS 11 Dallas, check their Video Library link. They mention the AT&T and Verizon claims, and my comments, but they didn't get very technical.



Sincerely,

You can reach me by email at CygonX@Gmail.Com, if you can possibly help in any way, please use the same email address for PayPal. If you can help in any other way, non-monetary, please let me know. I don't think shipping can goods is going to be cost effective, but if you work for a tech company, or have any resources to help support me or the community, please let me know. Hosting could become an issue.
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Re: FBI Raid on UWWWB

Postby Idiot Glee » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:03 pm

I'm still having trouble figuring out what UWWWB is. Could someone fill me in?
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Re: FBI Raid on UWWWB

Postby arex » Wed Jul 29, 2009 7:48 pm

I may be wrong, but this doesn't quite ring true for me.


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Re: FBI Raid on UWWWB

Postby draque » Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:55 am

Without knowing what UWWWB actually is, it's kind of hard to form any kind of opinion here. I do agree that the agencies in charge of enforcing law online need to be better educated, though. That they are given so much power without having a good understanding of the technologies is disturbing.
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Re: FBI Raid on UWWWB

Postby Wic » Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:31 am

It's a warez site. I think we can safely assume that the 50 clients also were warez sites.
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Re: FBI Raid on UWWWB

Postby draque » Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:12 pm

Ah. Honestly, I want to be indignant about the whole situation anyhow... but if the site was legitimately illegitimate and openly breaking the law, it's tough to be 100% on the side of the guy who got raided. I do hope that he doesn't get nailed for things that truly are not his fault, though (responsibility for the actions of all of his clients, responsibility for the financial debts of his clients, etc.). That would create very negative case law that could be wielded against innocent people in the future.
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Re: FBI Raid on UWWWB

Postby Mitsukara » Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:08 pm

Better reading-through and deeper commentary aside...

What could power strips possibly be evidence of?
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Re: FBI Raid on UWWWB

Postby Ashes » Sun Aug 02, 2009 10:41 pm

Mitsukara wrote:What could power strips possibly be evidence of?

They're evidence of corruption!

The power strips mean he absolutely had power, and absolute power corrupts absolutely!
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Re: FBI Raid on UWWWB

Postby Monocheres » Mon Aug 03, 2009 12:37 am

I would think they would be evidence that whatever power he had, it was clean and even and measured, without any sudden corrupting increases. ;-)
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Re: FBI Raid on UWWWB

Postby Skatche » Mon Aug 03, 2009 9:55 pm

draque wrote:Ah. Honestly, I want to be indignant about the whole situation anyhow... but if the site was legitimately illegitimate and openly breaking the law, it's tough to be 100% on the side of the guy who got raided. I do hope that he doesn't get nailed for things that truly are not his fault, though (responsibility for the actions of all of his clients, responsibility for the financial debts of his clients, etc.). That would create very negative case law that could be wielded against innocent people in the future.


Even if you have some attachment to intellectual copyright law, running a warez site is cause for a class action lawsuit at most. It is absolutely NOT a reason to be raided at gunpoint by the FBI.
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Re: FBI Raid on UWWWB

Postby draque » Tue Aug 04, 2009 4:42 am

Skatche wrote:Even if you have some attachment to intellectual copyright law, running a warez site is cause for a class action lawsuit at most. It is absolutely NOT a reason to be raided at gunpoint by the FBI.


Point. Above all else, the police action does reek of ignorance, both in terms of the bad information from the previous employee (i.e. my employer is a dangerous junkie) and in terms of their sad misunderstanding of any kind of technology.
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