FBI raid suspected Half Life code thief


#1

From his blog: http://squeedlyspooch.com/blog/archives/000072.html

January 15, 2004
The whole surreal story
So at 6:30am on January 14th, I woke up to the doorbell buzzing. Not a short lived buzz. Someone had their thumb pressing the button and holding it there. “****ing drunkard” I thought, and rolled over, intent on ignoring it. It then started a rythmic buzz buzz buzz buzz, over and over again. After about 5 minutes battling to get back to sleep, I gave up and got up. Put my pants on, grabbed my sweatshirt, and stumbled off toward the door.

As I walked down the steps I heard them talking to the nextdoor neighbor, asking him where the landlord lived. I reach the door just as the neighbor’s door closes. I compose myself to deal with whatever is behind the door, and open it.

Immediately there’s a flashlight in my eyes. “Are you Chris Toshok?” “Uh, yes” “Mr. Toshok, we’re with the FBI. We have a warrant to search the premises.” I looked down out of the glare of the flashlight and saw the FBI badge of the long haired blonde woman standing in front of me. I also saw two people behind her, bodies turned sideways so as to present less of a target. Guns drawn? It was too hard to tell really with the glare of the flashlight, but I’m assuming yes.

I mumbled something about turning on the light so I could see the warrant (pages 1 2 3 4 5)they’d thrust into my hands and turned and groped on the wall for the switch. They all tensed. The light came on, and I looked over the warrant for a second.

“Please come out here Mr. Toshok,” and a hand on my arm pulling me onto the porch. Once I was out on the porch several agents started up the stairs. I said that my roommate was still asleep in bed. They asked his name, I said “Peter”. They continued up the steps, yelling his name. “Peter, this is the FBI.” “PETER” “PETER, are you awake? this is the FBI”

I didn’t watch it happen but apparently Peter awoke, naked, to a doorway full of FBI agents with guns out, yelling at him to get up. He asked if he could get some clothes on. They said yes. He asked if they could turn on the light so he could see. So Peter got to get dressed under the watchful gaze of government employees. Must have been fun.

They took Peter to the back of the house, and took me back upstairs to the front of the house, and proceeded to start going through everything in my room and the office.

I was questioned by the FBI agent in charge and a Secret Service agent at length about the Hungry Programmers, people I used to live with, whether particular people had the capacity/knowledge to do what they were investigating, etc. During the questioning she says “Now we’re going to take all your computers.” She sees the look on my face and says “Yeah, this is going to be hard for you.” I said “uh, when will I get them back?” She said it depends, that they’d try to have them all back as soon as possible, but it depends on if they find anything suspicious on them. If they found contraband (kiddie porn, talk of drugs, or stuff they were actually looking for), that particular computer would never be coming home.

After the questioning I basically sat in the front room on a folded futon mattress, with at least one agent with me at all times. Sometimes two. At one point I said I really needed to brush my teeth and the SS agent assigned to me at the time walked with me back to the bathroom and stood behind me watching me in the mirror as I brushed my teeth. On my way back down the hall I looked into my room and saw 3 FBI agents rifling through my belongings. One looking at the condoms and stickers in my nightstand, one going through my underwear/sock drawer, and one looking through my books.

After a lot more sitting in silence in that room, interspersed with tidbits of conversation (an fbi agent asking me about the guitars, talking about the piano lessons in his youth, and how he was kicked in the chest by a horse.) I must say, the SS agents were a lot nicer than the FBI agents. One in particular was pretty cool - we joked a lot about just how absurd the whole thing was… He asked how I was doing, I said I’d had better mornings, to which he responded “well you’ll definitely have one unique experience more than most people.” I definitely have to agree. I know of very few others that have been through something like this. The blonde FBI agent was nice (and annoying) enough to tell me repeatedly that the judge would go easier on me (and they could all go home earlier) if I would just tell them where the stuff was. If I had it, of course. But if I denied having it, they’d really throw the book at me when they found it.

After more waiting, the FBI agent in charge comes into the room and explains that they aren’t actually pressing charges against me, so I’m not being detained. I can leave if I want, or walk around the house, etc. This is a relief. I go grab my shoes and socks (my feet were freezing by this time). After a few more minutes of listening to the bumbling idiots in the next room arguing over how to turn off my machines, I decide a walk might be nice. I say I’m leaving to go walk around, that I’ll be back to look over the list of equipment they’re seizing. I ask if they’ll let me take my cell phone so they can call me if I need to be back, etc… They said no. I wasn’t to take any property off the premises. Luckily, I still had my car keys. I walked over to my car and drove off.

Drove around for a while, then decided I’d stop by Seth’s house and tell him what was going on. Davel answered the door, bleary-eyed. I apologized for waking him up… I said “I would have called, but the FBI wouldn’t let me use my cell phone.” He said “what???”… I handed him the search warrant. He said “ohhh, god, come in.” and walked me up the stairs.

I broke the news to Seth and he looked as shocked as I felt when I opened the door at 6:30. Got on ICB and spread the word that the wolves were circling, and everyone pretty well freaked out.

I hung out with them for a while, then figured I’d better be getting back so I got back in the car and returned home. It was probably around 10am at this point. 3.5 hours into the raid. I got there as agents were walking laps up and down the outside steps, carrying full boxes of my possessions into their van. I was too late to go over the actual stuff they were confiscating. suck. I walked upstairs, and found the long haired blonde agent and the (admittedly very cute) asian evidence photographer still there, finishing up. Taking photos of the rooms in their condition post-raid, writing down which exposures corresponded to which room.

The blonde agent handed me the seizure receipt to look over and sign. It looked ok to me, but I really had no idea at the time that some items they’d taken weren’t on the list.

We joked with the agents some before they left. Asked them for their business cards, which they declined to give us, saying they would likely be plastered all over the web. Wise women. We asked if we could get a picture of them or their badges, which they also denied us. Too bad. Peter walked them to the steps, and I walked into the office to assess the emptiness.

There were a few times in college when the computer labs would be closed during the day, due to a bomb threat or a gas leak or whatever. When this happened all the geeks would wander around outside, eyes squinting in the unaccustomed glare of the mid-day sun, looking like zombies. You could always spot a geek on such a day by the way they walked with a certain slowness in their step. Not a leisure slowness, a dead slowness.

Today was like that for me. I’d lost upwards of 9 machines, and lots of misc equipment besides. Machines that, according to most people familiar with this stuff, I may as well write off as gone regardless of whether or not they ever find anything on them. Thankfully there were many people around that were willing and able to find the humor in such a preposterous day. I’ve been running on laughter all day, unwilling to think about the fact that this all might end with me in court, or even in jail. I mean, I did nothing illegal, how can I end up in jail? Leila forced me to at least acknowledge the gravity of what was going on, but thankfully didn’t force me to dwell on it. I’m hoping I can keep myself laughing about it all until I pass out. The drinking might start rather early tomorrow.

I don’t think the word “surreal” ever described a day better for me.


#2

good to hear that the FBI have greater fish to fry than the war on Terror. They must want to play Half-Life 2 bad.

:thumbsup: That’s unreal but the news is a step forward in the right direction


#3

I can’t see this being real. I mean, they pulled guns on them? Sounds like fiction to me.


#4

no thats not fiction… cops really do that when serving warrents (i’ve had my parents running complex’s for most of my life. And often saw glimpses at complex’s round my house that where being served.


#5

That’s the way things work. They have no idea what is on the otherside of the door, so they draw weapons. The guy might be armed, he might have a vicious dog , you never know how people will react to you pounding on their door at 6:30 AM. Same thing with the city police and state troopers. I’ve had police approach me with their guns drawn for moving violations.


#6

I read about the whole Valve thing, they were getting hacked for months and they knew it! I have to wonder, what the hell was Valve’s IT department doing the entire time? I mean, if they knew the system was comprimised, why did they wait until it was too late to do anything about it?


#7

why is it the name on the bottom of each of the afidavids odd to me? “marie gilliam” … hmmm anyways other then that it could be a good or bad thing.


#8

edit* - removed due to inconsistency with topic


#9

yeah this is all true… once in my old complex that I was living in, I saw some sherriffs issuing a warrant for a guy that I was told had simply broke is probation, well long story short… he pulled a knife on them… and they shot him dead.

Can’t we all just get along :slight_smile:


#10

…and the guy who mailed the Anthrax goes about his business…


#11

naww… I bet the antrax mailers been jailed already. They’d not wanna make THAT a public thing. They’d pass it through the system as quietly as possible (and knowing the government, it’d never even have “happend”).


#12

BENT, when I first started reading this, I was so shocked, I thought the FBI suspected you of stealing the HL2 code…

So is this guy suspected as being ‘the hacker’ who stole half-life 2, or is he just a guy with a copy of the code…

Seems pretty ridiculous to me…from what I hear the code was pretty useless anyway, and I know there a lot of people with copies of the software (even weird playable versions of it)…

I’d rather not spoil it for myself, just wait till it comes out for real.

Sounds a bit extreme to me, I’m glad the guy took it in stride.

-Kol.


#13

There was even speculation that it was an inside job. That the guy who’s email had been hacked knew about it. God knows his motive, but that’s the web… a big, international rumour mill…

Interesting read though :slight_smile:

Also, HL2 is for sale now… in Russia… Apparently they are selling the ripped code on the streets…
while we still have to wait


#14

I wonder how strong the FBI’s evidence was to grab up all of this guys stuff… I’m always the paranoid one, but I feel when I read such stories that the US resembles “1984”. How can anyone accept such events as normal? Also how could they just get a court order to take all of your stuff and then atop of all of it not charge you with any offense??? What?? “Then why are you taking all of my stuff?” Guy with gun and black suit–“shutup you’re one of them terrorist, aren’t you?” Can I get me one of them orders to walk into Pixar and get me some equipment? It’s really nuts. If this guy is innocent I hope that he is able to sue for damages, but I imagine he wouldn’t be able to. I suppose he is lucky that they didn’t strip him of his citizenship and send him off to Guantanamo Bay and not let him call anyone or read him his rights or notify anyone that they took him, but they wouldn’t do something like that now would they?


#15

The guy lived close to my friend here, crazy story. Glad my tax dollars went to that good lead. =\ too bad he’ll never see anything in his house that had a HD again. Suuuuuux.


#16

No one Stole the source…Valve gave it out…And said someone stole it…For one of the most elaborate free promotion schemes of all time…Cnn,FBI, makes some pretty good promotion…

Just at conspiracy theory…


#17

This is cute, everyone cried when Valve said they had to delay HL 2 due to this… and everyone shouted for blood. They follow up on a tip and everyone complains about the guys doing their job. :rolleyes:


#18

My personal take on the matter is that Valve did this as a way to get more time to actually finish HL2. I think they knew they’d never get it finished by their release date, so they staged a public “stealing” of their source, and then the flood the web with these stories, all the while their programmers are working to finish up HL2 before Doom 3 hits :slight_smile:

I mean seriously why would the FBI even be out chasing people down because of incomplete leaked source code. Isn’t this a complete waste of time and taxpayer money? Either that or it was just a totally slow day at the Department of National Security…I’ll wait to hear more but this story sounds more and more or a joke…:rolleyes:


#19

Originally posted by quid
I wonder how strong the FBI’s evidence was to grab up all of this guys stuff… I’m always the paranoid one, but I feel when I read such stories that the US resembles “1984”. How can anyone accept such events as normal? Also how could they just get a court order to take all of your stuff and then atop of all of it not charge you with any offense??? What?? “Then why are you taking all of my stuff?” Guy with gun and black suit–“shutup you’re one of them terrorist, aren’t you?” Can I get me one of them orders to walk into Pixar and get me some equipment? It’s really nuts. If this guy is innocent I hope that he is able to sue for damages, but I imagine he wouldn’t be able to. I suppose he is lucky that they didn’t strip him of his citizenship and send him off to Guantanamo Bay and not let him call anyone or read him his rights or notify anyone that they took him, but they wouldn’t do something like that now would they?

Ever Hear about kevin Mitnick?.. The fact that (if this post is real) they still do this scares the hell out of me. I feel so much safer with the new Homeland security :slight_smile:


#20

I don’t see the leak as something that Valve did purposely. Every time Vivendi would push the release date back, Valve apparently wouldn’t hear about it until a few days later every time… and if they thought that it was ready for their September release, why would they do this for more time that they don’t even think that they need?