A Metropolitan Police team came up with a new way around phone security encryption in order to get access to data on suspects’ phones- by mugging them on the streets.
The entirely legal concept was thought up by detectives from Metropolitan Police’s Operation Falcon, a team that deals with major fraud crimes.
A Clever Arrest
Investigators used the tactic on Gabriel Yew, a suspect thought to have been running a fake credit card operation that has seen gang members purchasing luxury items throughout Europe.
Detectives suspected that Yew used his iPhone to conduct his business transaction, which he previously refused to unlock for police.
After considering forcing the suspect’s thumb upon the device’s fingerprint reader but realizing the move would be illegal, they opted for a different method of obtaining the information.
Undercover officers surveyed Yew as he went about his day, waiting for a moment when the suspect would unlock his phone to make a call.
They then ambushed him in what appears to be a “street-style mugging”, snatching his phone and keeping it unlocked by swiping the screen.
Difficulty with Technology
Detective Ch Insp Andrew Gould, leader of the operation, said, “The challenges of pin code access and encryption on some phones make it harder to access evidence in a timely fashion than ever before.”
Officials discovered a vast collection of information connecting him to unravel Yew’s operation, including a factory where blank cards sat waiting to be programmed.
Yew pleaded guilty on counts of fraud and weapons offenses, leading investigators to five more convictions and over 100 other suspects.
He was sentenced to five years in jail