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NYPD detective hires hacking service to help spy on fellow officers

23 May 2013

The FBI has arrested a New York City police detective for stealing the login details of at least 30 people (including 21 NYPD employees, 19 of them officers), across 43 email accounts and one cell phone. He did it by hiring a contract hit man, of sorts.

Edwin Vargas allegedly paid $4,050 via PayPal to a hacking-for-hire service between March 2011 and October 2012, according to Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Once in possession of the user names and passwords for the accounts, he allegedly set about essentially spying on his fellow police officers.

Vargas also allegedly used the federal National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database to uncover information about at least two NYPD officers.

“As alleged, Detective Edwin Vargas paid thousands of dollars for the ability to illegally invade the privacy of his fellow officers and others,” Bharara said in a statement. “He is also alleged to have illegally obtained information about two officers from a federal database to which he had access based on his status as an NYPD detective.”

An examination of the contents of the hard drive from the detective’s NYPD computer revealed, among other things, that the contacts section of his Gmail account included a list of at least 20 email addresses, along with what appear to be telephone numbers, home addresses, and vehicle information corresponding to those email addresses. Also included are what appear to be passwords for those email addresses.

The motivations for the one-man stalking/espionage effort is not yet known, but Vargas, 42, has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking and one count of computer hacking. Each count carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison.

“When law enforcement officers break the laws they are sworn to uphold, they do a disservice to their fellow officers, to the Department, and to the public they serve, and it will not be tolerated,” Bharara said.

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