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NYPD detective charged with hacking fellow officers

Det. Edwin Vargas has been arrested under the same law as Aaron Swartz and Andrew “weev” Auernheimer.


Kevin Collier

Internet Culture

A New York City cop has been charged with going rogue and paying others to hack the email accounts of dozens of people, many of them his colleagues.

The FBI announced Tuesday that it had arrested NYPD detective Edwin Vargas, 42, for acquiring the email passwords of dozens of friends and coworkers, violating a section of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

That’s the same controversial hacking law—accused of being maddeningly broad and disproportionately harsh—that sent Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer to prison and helped drive Reddit cofounder Aaron Swartz to suicide.

Vargas allegedly paid more than $4,000 over a year and a half for 43 people’s email login credentials, 19 of whom are current NYPD officers. He’s also accused of using his status as a police officer to look up other cops in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.

Part of the FBI’s proof against Vargas, according to their complaint filed in court, is a batch of receipts from a hacking service under his name and email address, with an Internet protocol (IP) address that identifies his personal email account. The PayPal account used to purchase some of these login credentials also uses Vargas’s name and home address.

Vargas faces up to two years in prison, which is one fewer than Weev is currently serving and 48 fewer than the maximum Swartz was facing.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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