Back in 2013 when I was bombarded with vile, harassing comments sent to my other blog through proxy IP addresses, I learned that those sites are hosted by companies that provide server computers.
I also learned that although some promise that those using the proxy IP address service will not be traceable, that is not true. Users enter the site through an IP address that is generally the one provided by their internet service provider. Law enforcement has authority to obtain the logs that provide online fingerprints.
This case is similar where a man assumed that his use of VPN’s would hide him online as he went about violating laws.
Ryan Lin of Massachusetts used VPN services, an encrypted email service and Tor to conceal his identity. He hacked into his targeted victim’s email account and sent emails to others, which is called “spoofing”. Through spoofing email, he also made bomb threats to local schools.
Documents by authorities use the name “Smith” in reference to the target victim to keep her identity anonymous. For over a year, local police investigated Smith’s crimes. Then they called in the FBI for assistance. The trail of evidence led to Ryan Lin.
Ryan Lin rented a room in a house with Smith and her roommates. Subsequently, he gained access to Smith’s personal devices. Smith did not have a lock on her door and did not password protect her computer. According to Smith, Lin was such a bad roommate that she moved out two months after Lin moved in.
The FBI got a hold of Lin’s old work computer. Google Chrome artifacts detailed that it was Lin who sent bomb threats against local schools and that Lin was using VPN’s on his work computer.
According to an FBI criminal complaint and accompanying affidavit published by the U.S. Department of Justice, 24 year-old Ryan Lin is accused of harassing and cyber-stalking Smith. He carried out his dirty work between April 2016 and his arrest on October 5, 2017. Continue reading