The FBI has recently managed an operation for arresting criminals by a seemingly encrypted chat app.
During the operation, Australian Police could seize $44.9 million cash and assets, 3.7 tons of drugs, and arrest 224 people from the Italian Mafia, motorcycle gangs, and other criminals. Moreover, hundreds of people have been arrested in 18 different countries. The New Zealand Police could also arrest 35 people and seize $3.7 million.
The investigation title was “Operation Trojan Shield,” and it just started in 2018. Everything begins with the arrest and indictment of the CEO of Phantom Secure.
The Phantom Secure was an encrypted platform to connect the criminal gangs and create a messaging platform for them. This service was shot down in 2018. As it was knocked out, so criminals were looking for a new encrypted messaging platform.
The FBI is watching you!
Meanwhile, the FBI could develop a messaging app called “Anom” and make it available to criminal organizations. Then, through a master key, FBI agents could monitor all exchanged messages and save them.
The app has passed its testing in Australia. At the same time, Encrochat and Sky Global, which sold encrypted phones to criminals, were destroyed by police. So everything was ready for the FBI to sell Anom as a reliable communication alternative to criminals.
“These criminal influencers put [law enforcement] in the back pocket of hundreds of alleged offenders,” an Australian Federal Police commissioner said in a statement. “Essentially, they have handcuffed each other by endorsing and trusting AN0M and openly communicating on it – not knowing we were watching the entire time.”
The criminals thought everything was safe
According to the documents, the FBI encrypted chat app has been installed on 11,800 devices in 90 countries and has recorded 20 million messages. In addition, for phones outside the United States, the FBI has decrypted and transferred messages to a secure server in a multi-step process.
A Jabber Identification (JID) was given to each Anom user through FBI-approved sources to increase the security of identification. Moreover, users could choose a username for themselves and change it at any time.
According to the FBI, Anom is running on over 9,000 devices around the world. Also, Through this app, they have been able to identify more than 300 criminal organizations in different countries. Alleged plots to kill, mass drug trafficking, and gun distribution are the common crimes arranged through Anom.