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Army Captain Willian Pina Botelho is said to have created numerous undercover accounts on social media networks, including Tinder, where he told women he was trying to connect with “leftist” activists. A woman he met on Tinder eventually led him to a group planning a demonstration against Interim President Michel Temer in São Paulo.
Temer succeeded former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff following impeachment amid the country’s greatest economic downturn in decades and a sweeping bribery and kickback scandal known as “Operation Carwash.”
Motherboard reports that 21 “young people” were jailed after meeting with Bothelo, who went by the name Balta. The arrestees were detained because they “looked suspicious” and police claimed they intended to commit vandalism. A member of the group also alleges police planted an iron bar on one of the activists, ostensibly to further the appearance the group was up to no good.
The use of undercover social media accounts is not limited to Brazil, of course. The Daily Dot reported last month that U.S. surveillance companies had aided police departments through the use of undercover social media accounts.
Dell Cameron was a reporter at the Daily Dot who covered security and politics. In 2015, he revealed the existence of an American hacker on the U.S. government's terrorist watchlist. He is a co-author of the Sabu Files, an award-nominated investigation into the FBI's use of cyber-informants. He became a staff writer at Gizmodo in 2017.