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The FBI Worked with Sony to Help Uncover a PlayStation Cocaine Trafficker
news  |  Dec 4, 2019

The FBI Worked with Sony to Help Uncover a PlayStation Cocaine Trafficker

A man who thought that the PlayStation Network was a safe space to sell drugs is about to learn a hard lesson in online privacy.

A man who thought that the PlayStation Network was a safe space to sell drugs is about to learn a hard lesson in online privacy.

A Missouri man's brazen attempt to sell massive quantities of coke over Sony's PlayStation Network (PSN) may well land him in federal prison, if the FBI gets its way. 

On October 22nd, the FBI filed a search warrant in the Western District of Missouri ordering Sony to provide information on Curtis Alexander, a PlayStation 4 user. The warrant alleges that Alexander, under the PlayStation username “Speedola20,” was using the company's online messaging service to sell cocaine for $34,000 per kilogram.

The warrant application explains that Alexander contacted an FBI informant via the PlayStation’s audio communication feature while playing an online multiplayer game. "Investigators believe that ALEXANDER likely believes that audio communication during the course of his participation in an online game is secure,” the warrant reads, according to Motherboard. “As such, ALEXANDER likely believes that he can use audio communication during game play on the PlayStation to arrange the details of a drug transaction."

Of course, a simple Google search could have dispelled the myth that Sony would protect its users’ confidentiality. Shortly before the PS4 was released in 2013, Sony updated their terms of service to clarify that they “reserve the right in our sole discretion to monitor and record any or all of your PSN activity... Any information collected in this way, [including] the content of your voice and text communications, video of your gameplay, the time and location of your activities, and your real name, your PSN Online ID and IP address, may be used by us or our affiliated companies to... comply with the law.”

In the warrant, the FBI describes a sting operation in which their informant agreed to buy coke from Alexander. The agency surveilled the informant as he purchased 100 grams of powder for $4,400, and then agreed to talk again via the game. The document notes that Alexander planned this deal with the informant using the PSN messaging service, which allows users to send text messages and voice memos to one another.

The warrant asked Sony to supply all data associated with Alexander's account, "including stored or preserved copies of emails, chats, or other messages sent to and from the Account, drafts of such, and the source destination addresses associated with each, the date and time at which each was sent, and the size and length of each," Motherboard reports.

The FBI also asked for information regarding what games Alexander was playing, as well as his home address, telephone numbers, IP address, security questions, passwords, and other account information. It is not known at this time whether Sony complied with any or all of these requests.

Alexander may well join a list of amateur drug dealers who got busted due to their appalling lack of discretion. Earlier this year, a New York man got caught trying to sell a pound of weed on Facebook, and a college student just got jailed trying to advertise his dorm room weed business with paper flyers.

chrismoore

Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.

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