HI-TECH CRIMINALS ...Gangsters using iPhone, WhatsApp to plot attacks
Fearful that their phones have been tapped, criminals are said to be staying away from making phone calls to their cronies, relying instead on new applications such as WhatsApp.
A voice note recently obtained by THE WEEKEND STAR indicates that the gangsters are using WhatsApp to navigate the security forces’ operations to carry out brazen attacks.
“Di police bwoy dem just leave the block kill everything” an accomplice said in a message that was sent via Whatsapp.
In response, a suspected criminal said, via WhatsApp voice note, “Mi ago duppy up round deh ... Jus watch di bowy dem.”
Residents in some inner-city communities have told our news team that criminals have been using the smartphone application to communicate with each other.
favourite among criminals
The use of Whatsapp by criminals to communicate is believed to be a favourite among criminals, especially because the application now has end-to-end encryption.
This means that data such as messages, videos, and photos sent over WhatsApp can’t be read by anyone else, including law-enforcement agencies.
Glenmore Hinds, the country’s crime chief, told THE WEEKEND STAR yesterday that while he is aware that criminals are using the technology, he had no reports of it being a major impediment to law enforcement.
“It has not been brought to my attention that people are using these social media platforms to thwart the police effort, but the fact that it exists, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that persons will use it,” Hinds, a deputy commissioner of police, said.
In June, police personnel from the St Catherine South Police Division involved in the seizure of five firearms, cash, and drugs in the Old Harbour Bay area of St Catherine, discovered that criminals were using WhatsApp to send out information about the identities of cops and places they frequent.
A police source told THE WEEKEND STAR that a cell phone taken from a suspect in the matter revealed WhatsApp communication indicating that the affected gang is gathering information on police personnel involved in the ongoing operation, their identities, and how they can be best targeted.
Yesterday, Senior Superintendent of Police Clifford Chambers, who heads the Counter-Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Division (C-TOC), acknowledged that criminals tend to use technology a lot to facilitate their crimes.
“They are becoming smarter to use those apps that would give them support which are hard to crack. WhatsApp is one of them, but I can advise that there is established protocols where information can be had with the requisite affidavit to the controller of such a software,” Chambers said.
“We are also seeing persons using other forms like iPhones, which does have a higher level of privacy,” Chambers said.
certain phone numbers
Under Jamaican laws, a judge of the Supreme Court can authorise that wiretaps be placed on certain phone numbers if it is suspected that the users are involved in criminal activities. There are also cybercrime laws which allow for data communication such as voice and other messages to be intercepted and used by law enforcement officials.
The senior cop said that there is no doubt that criminals are using technology to assist them in their deviant practises, but said that the police are equal to the task.
“They are using technologies that would facilitate the ease of encryption to make investigations more difficult but the law enforcement support does give help to give us what we want,” Chambers said.
The lawman said that police have been using technological support such as the blockage of cell site towers to impact transmission of messages between criminals.
“WhatsApp is just a software so once you know the number to and from, there are other methods that can be used to impact the transmission or the receival of that information ... We can’t say all of them... But what I can say is that once the numbers are known, there are techniques that can be utilised to impact the traffic of information, irrespective of the software and technology that is being used,” the C-TOC boss added.