FBI arrests Vincent Ramos, CEO of company alleged to have sold custom BlackBerry handsets to gangs

Posted: , by Alan Friedman

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Phantom Secure is a company known for selling customized BlackBerry models. To make the 'Berry even more secure than it is out of the box, the camera and microphones are removed and secure messages are sent only through private networks. While certain businesses and politicians might have an interest in such a device, it appears that a percentage of Phantom Secure's business is conducted with gangs, according to a report published on Saturday.

Partially redacted complaint filed by the feds against Vincent Ramos
Papers filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California last week, charge Phantom Secure's founder and CEO Vincent Ramos with racketeering, conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs, and allege that he took part in a conspiracy to distribute narcotics. Ramos was also charged with aiding and abetting. The complaint adds that the company was created to help hide criminal activity.

According to the report, besides the removal of the camera and microphone, the customized BlackBerry models each have their GPS system, internet browser, and normal messaging system removed. Added to these phones is the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) software for encryption, and messages are sent through overseas networks. And if one of these devices is confiscated by law enforcement, it can be remotely wiped by Phantom Secure.

Ramos was arrested last Thursday and the complaint, which was written by FBI Special Agent Nicholas Cheviron, includes some details about the use of Phantom Secure's customized BlackBerry phones by major drug cartels and multinational crime gangs. Over 20,000 units are said to be in use with half of those being used in Australia.

You can check out the entire complaint by clicking on the sourcelink below.

source: DocumentCloud via Motherboard

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