FBI blocked from searching pimp's phone by Android pattern lock

FBI blocked from searching pimp's phone by Android pattern lock
Sounding more like an episode of Law and Order, a pimp by the name of Dante Dears was allegedly using a Samsung branded Android phone for "telephone pimping". Dears had been ordered off the streets as the result of a previous arrest and was shackled to a GPS monitor. When first questioned by the FBI after a source saw him using a phone to arrange dates for his prostitutes, he said that he didn't have a cell phone and that the one he was using belonged to his sister. The Feds wanted to get whatever information was stored in the handset to use against Dears and the pimp finally turned over the phone to them. There was one little problem that on its face, wouldn't seem to be something that would baffle the FBI. It seems that Dears uses a pattern to unlock his Android handset, but you wouldn't expect that a pimp could foil the mighty FBI with such a crude locking method on a 3X3 grid.

Because of a waiver that the pimp signed as part of the terms of his parole, Dears had given up his fourth amendment rights which would have allowed the long arm of the law to search the phone as soon as it was discovered. But because the phone was locked (which was a violation of his parole) a warrant was required. The warrant was obtained by the good guys and the phone was shipped off to the famous FBI lab where a small pubic hair can be used to determine the identity of  bank robbers and determine what they ate for breakfast that morning (okay, that might be a slight exaggeration). The world famous FBI lab ran into a snag. They could not figure out the pattern needed to unlock the phone. Twenty combinations were tried and twenty times the FBI was shot down (pun not intended) until the infamous password prompt showed up on the screen.

Next stop was getting a subpoena to Google to get access to Dears’ Google account. The information that the FBI was looking for included the subscriber’s name, address, Social Security number, account login and password; email and personal contact lists on Dears' cell phone; times and duration for every website visited; text messages sent and received from the phone including video and picture messages; all email and IM accounts on the handset; verbal and written instructions for overriding the pattern lock on the phone; All search terms, Internet history, and GPS data that stored for the handset by Google.

If you're trying to keep prying eyes out of your Android handset, it seems that setting up a pattern lock might be the way to do it. If the FBI, with all of its crime solving abilities, can't figure out a simple pattern, we would imagine that the information stored in your phone would be safe from your spouse, kids, IRS, nosy friends, and the FBI.

source: ArsTechnica via Phandroid


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26 Comments

1. Pings

Posts: 304; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

Only his pimp hand can unlock it, biotch! If he was using an iPhone they would have it unlocked in less than a mintues pwn2own style...

7. MobileCaseReview

Posts: 242; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Pings, I was dying reading that. "Where my powder at?!?!"

9. cepcamba

Posts: 717; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

Seriously? I can't believe the FBI can be so stuuuuupid. Just go to a droid hacker and he'll make your droid do anything you want.

8. messiah

Posts: 438; Member since: Feb 19, 2010

Should have really surprised them and used the finger print scanner lock... would have freaked them out for sure....

80. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Android Iz Pimpin

2. _PHug_

Posts: 482; Member since: Oct 11, 2011

* Immediately activates pattern lock feature*

3. hobble

Posts: 130; Member since: Oct 11, 2011

Can they subpeona your face if you use face unlock?

4. theBankRobber

Posts: 682; Member since: Sep 22, 2011

Wow this is another reason why I love and faithfully use a Android phone. Google should just be like, my bad, we have no records of this person haha.

5. threeline

Posts: 311; Member since: Sep 11, 2011

Sorry F.B.Izzel, "We don't keep personal information. Hate da game, not the playa!"

10. marvellztune

Posts: 6; Member since: Nov 03, 2011

One of the reasons why i will by Android phone!!! Patern-unlock vs FBI = 1:0

35. CM_Punk

Posts: 173; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

nope. all it requires is a little mal and a pinch of ware. #bestintheworld

102. RORYREVOLUTION

Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

Oh hey Miz

103. atheisticemetic

Posts: 377; Member since: Dec 18, 2011

so theres malware on his phone that would exploit the unlock that even the FBI couldnt figure out.... your logic is priceless

11. Sniggly

Posts: 7305; Member since: Dec 05, 2009

Though i have no love for pimps, this is hilarious. :D

104. atheisticemetic

Posts: 377; Member since: Dec 18, 2011

i committed a bit of lolling today on this

18. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

this this s**t is hilarious they can't break em and with all the technology they have in their office they can't BREAK A ANDROID LOCK CODE how sad

85. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

To be fair the FBI is underneath the CIA and NSA for this kind of stuff. Especially the NSA.

87. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

wish I could edit my post....

24. dodo1234

Posts: 40; Member since: Nov 06, 2011

I think its no coincidence that "Idiot" starts with an "I," Apple invented their tech for them n uses the "I" so they can easily recognize it as for "Idiots" LOL :p

91. psycc

Posts: 12; Member since: Dec 08, 2010

Have you even WATCHED Law and Order!? I can't believe the audacity of this article to plant the idea that the FBI couldn't hack into a small time pimp's droid if they wanted to. It's called going through the proper channels to make sure no evidence obtained can be thrown out in a court case....

94. kemjus

Posts: 32; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Valid point psycc

99. psycc

Posts: 12; Member since: Dec 08, 2010

Makes me want to stop reading this website, ridiculous article to even post.

100. kemjus

Posts: 32; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Phone Arena has posted more bad articles than usual lately... I used to read most articles on the page, now it's about 1 in 5 articles. Although they still are top on my list for news... I check their site probably 5 times a day at least!

105. atheisticemetic

Posts: 377; Member since: Dec 18, 2011

do do do do do dooooo...bling (figured some theme music to law and order was appropriate to your comment) good call btw

106. u-suck-more

Posts: 529; Member since: Aug 26, 2011

i read this article when i woke up, and now its reaching midnight in my country, and im still trippin

107. heennddoo

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 12, 2012

pimpin ani't easy

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