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back to article Cuckold computer tech faces ID theft charges over Gmail 'hack'

A husband accused of hacking into his wife's webmail account in order to discover evidence of an affair has been charged with identity theft. Leon Walker, 33, from Rochester Hills, Michigan, suspected his wife Clara was having an affair with her former husband. Consumed with jealousy after his wife failed to return home one …

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FAIL

The best part is "Prosecutor" Jessica Cooper's "statement".

"The guy is a hacker. It was password protected, he had wonderful skills, and was highly trained. Then he downloaded them and used them in a very contentious way."

I've yet to see a single analysis of the charges that agrees with the way in which she has chosen to interpret that specific Michigan law. In fact, numerous law professors have brought up the fact that if this case goes through and he is successfully prosecuted then parents could be criminally charged for monitoring their children's e-mail or Facebook.

Thankfully, I highly doubt any jury in the world would convict this guy. Every guy on the jury's going to be privately thinking that he, too, would have done the same damn thing and every woman is going to think the "victim" is nothing more than common gutter trash. The prosecutor's merely justifying her existence by pushing this ridiculous case into court.

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FAIL

Lose-lose situation

Bryce's post - "Thankfully, I highly doubt any jury in the world would convict this guy. Every guy on the jury's going to be privately thinking that he, too, would have done the same damn thing and every woman is going to think the "victim" is nothing more than common gutter trash."

A tenner says every jury woman sees a conviction as punishment for the beating, the adultery will taint her divorce proceedings, and the prosecution (and precedent) will see this as a win against hackers.

Walker sounds like trash, but a good prosecutor is going to bring up his past and it will sway people.

Everybody could lose here...

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@Craig Foster

"A tenner says every jury woman sees a conviction as punishment for the beating"

What beating? It was her previous husband that she was having the affair with who was also the one whom she left for beating her. I didn't see any suggestion that the "hacker husband" had beaten her.

The precedent set if the woman wins this case is a frightening thought.

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Silver badge

Unlikely to get a conviction

"It was her previous husband that she was having the affair with who was also the one whom she left for beating her."

Indeed. In fact, according to the Lansing [Michigan] _State News_, the sequence was something like this:

- Leon (hubby #3) suspects Clara is getting some on the side.

- Leon gets Clara's gmail password from the list of passwords she keeps on paper by her computer. (This constitutes the sum of the "wonderful" "hacker" "skills" that Jessica Cooper, the Oakland County Idiot, accuses Leon of using.)

- L. discovers evidence in the emails that C. is in fact seeing hubby #2, who had been arrested in the past for beating her in front of her son.[1]

- L. forwards the emails to the boy's father (hubby #1).

So this is the picture the defense paints for the jury: L is concerned about his wife and stepson; he uses a computer that his wife keeps in their home (he's calling it a "family computer", but that's disputed) and a paper record that she keeps in their home to discover she's putting herself and the boy in danger; he notifies the boy's father.

Cooper's out of her frickin' mind if she thinks she's going to win this one.

Unfortunately, this is a perfect example of what's wrong with the US adversarial judicial system. A junior prosecutor's best chance for advancement is to take on crazy, high-profile cases - even if that means constructing them out of bullshit and pixie dust, like this one - regardless of whether "justice" is going to be furthered. And there's precious little accountability in most districts.

[1] Now, anyone with an ounce of intelligence knows that abuse victims often have vexed relationships with their abusers and make poor choices regarding them, so this is not surprising, nor evidence that Clara is an idiot. But she clearly needs help - a lot of help, since she's playing along with these absurd criminal charges. My guess is that she's taking a strong tack on legal advice, trying to stave off a custody battle from her son's father.

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Paris Hilton

What I want to know is...

... was she out with the ex-husband or not?

Paris because she might be able to 'comfort' Mr Walker in these hard times.

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Bronze badge

Clara -- just say no

She sure knows how to pick 'em.

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Bronze badge

"broke into"

Do you mean typed in the password, or that the PC he used remembered the password?

Personally I can't see any good coming of the law getting involved in this kind of dispute.

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Welcome

Exactly

It's not "breaking in" if you enter a house by using a key to get through the front door, nor if you use the readily available password to enter an account. That's called "logging in", not "breaking in".

This is America, afflicted by Short Attention Span Syndrome. Give this a few weeks and people will have forgotten about it, long before the courts ever come to a decision. I sincerely doubt that, even with the other things we're doing to march toward a police state, that this will become precedent for crying "identity theft" for parents monitoring their childrens' online behavior.

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Selective prosecution

He hardly "hacked" into her account... they kept track of their secure passwords the same way I do... writing them down in a note book kept next to the computer (theirs was a laptop HE bought and they both used, by the way).

Anyway, to get around to my Subject/Title... check out these links:

http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?mcl-750-29

http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?mcl-750-30

The female prosecutor has refused to charge the wayward wife with the felony count of adultery. How convenient.

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WTF?

sorry, but...

felony count of adultery? What the hell is this, 1563?

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This post has been deleted by its author

WTF?

Marriage vows?

Don't the marriage vows still contain a clause along the lines 'and all my worldly goods I thee share' ??

How can you steal something you have been given rights to?

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Silver badge
Coat

because it's IP, not physical...

just the same as you can be sold the right to watch that film, but not the right to pass it on to your friends... Oh you downloaded from a torrent, forget I said anything.

mine's the one with the "backup" disc in the pocket, Ta!

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Bronze badge

but who's counting?

"Twice married" should read "twice previously married", else one infers that Mr. Walker is doing the beating & the cheating.

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Big Brother

Lessons to be learned

Never use a computer your 'partner` has access to, to carry on an adulterous affair ..

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and they say love is dead?

Or as I always used to say: A restraining order is just another way of saying I love you just a little too much...

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Anonymous Coward

Identity Theft????

Using someone elses password is Identity theft?????? What.....The.....Fuck.

Can of worms being opened, hope the court has the sense to nail the lid down.

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Silver badge
WTF?

I need a diagram

So she divorced her 1st husband, left her 2nd after he beat her... Is Leon her 2nd or 3rd? And whose kid is whose?

This reads like one of those math problems... Sally is billy's brother and has blonde hair. Jenny is Sally's friend and has a red sweater <etc><etc> then the question "When will Sally get arrested for prostitution?"

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WTF?

hacking?

" She kept very simple passwords and she left them in notes and books throughout the house."

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Bronze badge
WTF?

Errata

"Twice married Clara had a son by his first husband and left her second spouse after he was arrested for beating her in front of the child."

Shouldn't that read:

"Twice married Clara had a son by HER first husband and left her second spouse after he was arrested for beating her in front of the child."

Also, if this was a "shared family computer", is there really an expectation of privacy? It's claimed that he "hacked" her Gmail account, but how exactly? Non-experts usually have a pretty broad definition of the word "hack". Was she already logged in on a shared Windows account?

If he logged in with Administrator access & copied over her cookies because she didn't log out, could it be argued that, since she knew he had administrator access, that she had no expectation of privacy if she didn't log out?

How many times do you see a checkbox for "Keep me logged in", with the warning "Don't check this box if this is a shared computer"?

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Silver badge

Ducking stool mentality

When I first read about this what really pissed my off was the idea that because this guy works in IT he must have used some magical hocus pocus to get his wifes password instead of her just leaving it around or being auto-filled in. Even if she'd written the password in permanent marker pen on the edge of the screen he must have "hacked" it because he works in IT, no other explanation. In a sort of ironic way it's the same black magic mysticism IT people have themselves created to make their jobs more secure.

It now seems that working in IT one is automatically assumed guilty and able to do all sorts of wonderful things that ordinary people can't do. We have to prove we can't do certain things, like encrypt folders, hide things within things or even undelete files. Possibly worst of all prove that a pile of junk on a disk is not an encrypted file for which a password doesn't exist.

To paraphrase the El Reg slogan, the hand that feeds IT is biting back.

The ducking stool is back, you are guilty if you can and guilty if you can't.

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IT Angle

To Hack or not to Hack

ASSUMPTION: saved password or browser auto-complete is enabled

If you use a shared computer and the password is saved can you consider it a hack?

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Bronze badge

The Real Gap

The problem is basically that, when a married woman gives birth to a child, and her husband is responsible for that child's support, the law doesn't clearly state that this responsibility is predicated on an implied representation on the part of the woman that the child is his biological child (excepting cases of artificial insemination with prior consent).

So, if a woman commits adultery, and becomes pregnant therefrom, her husband should not be any more responsible for the support of the resulting child than he would be for any random starving child in India or Africa. And if he did support the child, not realizing it wasn't his child, that should constitute fraud on the part of his wife, with all the usual criminal penalties and a requirement that she make full restitution.

Adultery on the part of either spouse should be a criminal offence, because in either case it exposes the partner to a risk of sexually transmitted disease. If the law omits to make an act that may cause an injury to another a crime, or at least a tort, that makes it impossible for the victim to obtain redress.

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Silver badge
Stop

Did you ever consider the meaning of the words

"For better or for worse?"

I'm afraid that if you sign on the dotted line, you may be held responsible for any bastards of your wife. They are even, legally, YOUR children by default.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Are you going to make "walking down the street in a flu epidemic" a criminal offence too?

It's the same as your example of adultery: doing something that you know has a risk of you catching a disease that might be passed on to another person. The only difference is the social acceptability of the disease.

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Thumb Down

If you want to argue "for better or for worse"

And talk about breach of the contract (signing on the line), then the prior beach by adultory would make the contract voidable, but then marage is not a contract, so what your saying is BS.

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FAIL

its turning out to be like a episode of the jerry springer show.

its turning out to be like a episode of the jerry springer show.

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WTF?

ID theft? Really?

I'm by no means a lawyer, but wouldn't identity theft imply that he assumed her identity? Even though it's Google's end goal to tie a gmail account to a specific person, I highly doubt that email is considered a dimension of one's identity. Now if he were to communicate with others using her account there'd be more of a point to argue, but I haven't read anywhere that he impersonated her.

On the other hand, if he is convicted, then all of my friends who've screwed with my facebook account had better look out.

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Unhappy

The retarded thing

...is that by recent precedent (I think covered here - employee had setup a forward rule with his boss' Outlook to snoop on her e-mail) I think the case could be made for federal wiretapping charges

Speciously applying criminal charges in a civil matter like this is horrible. I have a friend who does a pretty healthy side business in forensics for situations similar to this case. This type of stuff is status quo for squabbling couples and up until now, it had to be a very serious and clear violation of the law before this moved into a criminal matter.

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Anonymous Coward

Not really any way this can end well...

Hey, that guy who guessed Palin's email password was investigated by the FBI. Wasn't he brought up on felony charges?

Granted, there is a big big difference because those two aren't married, among other reasons, but there's already a bunch of heavy handed precedents set in these kinds of cases, and it'll probably get worse before it gets better.

Computer ignorance in the courts is very dangerous. This guy is being portrayed as a "hacker" because he works in IT. How many people will believe it?

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Encrypted = Expected Privacy

As many have pointed out, there doesn't seem to be an expectation of privacy for so many reasons. However, had she encrypted her email (via TrulyMail, PGP, or some other software) I believe she would have had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

You can't leave your diary on the kitchen table and then cry spying when someone else reads it. If you want it to be private, do something to actually make it private. Otherwise, it's just information laying around.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Sue you, sue me!

He said, she said...

Lawyers making more money....

The earth rotates as normal.....

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Profiting...

....on language. If they just used normal verbage instead of the crap in most contracts, then we would have no need for lawyers. Ahhhh....Utopia.

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Headmaster

Re: Profiting

You do know that verbage isn't a real world? and given verbiage means overabundance of words, I'm not sure you really mean "normal verbiage", it's an oxymoron.

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This post has been deleted by its author

WTF?

OMG does this mean.....

While my wife is overseas....until March!!

I am unable to access her email and ebay account!

WTF. guilty on both counts then as she needs her email reading too her (no internet access)

I might need to buy things and her ebay account is first on the list!

I also need to reply to emails on her behalf!!! sh1t

Should I just hand myself in to the police now?

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FAIL

A little catch up to do, eh?

The law and common sense needs to catch up with technology. Period.

These people are using laws and applying them to

A) Things that did not exist when the laws were written. and...

B) Things they don't understand

Case in point: the Supreme Court is filled with people that haven't a clue (about anything for that matter).

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Anonymous Coward

All he had to say ...

...was that she had given him the password, end of argument. That he chose to pass the emails to the husband it clearly what the woman is angry about.

I like to know how he hacked her account, was it that he guessed her password because the onus should be on the account holder to make a password that is not easy to guess. I am guessing the password was "1c4ntK3ptM1L3g5Cr0553d"

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Troll

Michigan No Fault Divorce

In Michigan it doesn't matter who diddled around first. Do not have to prove an offense to get a divorce. Where the crap matters is in custody battles. Will someone think of the children?</sarc>

That is why the alleged "hacker" turned the evidence over to the first ex-husband, the biological father of the child, to use in the custody battle to keep his child from a woman who has bad taste in men.

I am not bitter, but I was screwed more by my ex-wife in the divorce than in the marriage.

icon - the STBX

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