Lawsuit: FBI paid Best Buy's Geek Squad employees to turn over customer data

Published: Thursday, March 08, 2018 @ 4:00 AM

FBI Allegedly Paid Geek Squad Employees For Customer Data

Electronics retail giant Best Buy confirmed that four Geek Squad employees accepted payment from the FBI to turn over alleged child pornography, KPIX reported.

>> Read more trending news

The Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco sued the FBI to release nearly 200 pages of information about its relationship with Best Buy. Redacted documents showed the employees had turned over computer files to the FBI.

Best Buy officials said the employees used very poor judgment and the action was a violation of company policy. Three of those employees are no longer with the company, KPIX reported.

“We’re very concerned about the FBI using Geek Squad employees or any computer repair facility employees to potentially, you know, get a back door around our Fourth Amendment rights,” said Aaron Mackey, staff attorney with the EFF.

The EFF said it was most concerned about payment to Best Buy employees. Court documents revealed an FBI payment request for $500 to pay a Geek Squad employee, KPIX reported.

“When the FBI is actually rewarding employees of Best Buy for finding this information and potentially directing them and engaging in sort of an ongoing, multiyear relationship with managers and others at this facility, it raises the question as to how much are they now just employees and technicians at Best Buy doing their job and happening across this or are they actively searching for it in the hopes of obtaining future rewards,” Mackey told KPIX, saying that it was a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The FBI said it does not comment on its relationships with informants, KPIX reported.


Trending - Most Read Stories

Video shows family getting kicked off Southwest flight

Published: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 9:20 AM

Southwest Airlines decided to remove a family from a plane on Wednesday.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Southwest Airlines decided to remove a family from a plane on Wednesday.(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A video showing a family being escorted off a Southwest Airlines plane just before takeoff at Chicago’s Midway International Airport has has gone viral, WGN reported.

>> Read more trending news

Alexis Armstrong, 24, filmed part of the incident on her cellphone. The video showed attendants telling a couple and their 2-year-old daughter to leave after the child had insisted on sitting in her father’s lap, WGN reported. The father said the girl had calmed down and there was no need to leave, but one of the attendants said “The decision has been made."

Armstrong, who was sitting a row back and across the aisle from the family, told WGN she did not think the family should have been kicked off the plane.

In a statement, Southwest said the conversation “escalated” between the crew and the customer.

“We always aim for a welcoming and hospitable experience and regret the inconvenience to all involved,” Southwest said in the statement. “The traveling party was booked on the next flight to Atlanta after the original flight continued as planned.”


Trending - Most Read Stories

Cables tightened on FIU bridge before it collapsed, possible cracks reported

Published: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 7:11 AM

Miami Bridge Collapse: At Least Six Dead

Officials with The National Transportation Safety Board said construction workers were tightening cables on the newly constructed pedestrian bridge at Florida International University on Thursday before the structure collapsed, killing at least six people. And days before the collapse, a lead engineer reportedly noticed cracks in the bridge, according to the Florida Department of Transportation. 

>> Read more trending news

Friday night, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said their investigation is still in the early stages, but they know what workers were doing before the collapse. At this point, they don’t know if the work that was being done was the cause of the collapse. 

“Our mission is to find out not only what happened -- we know what happened, the bridge collapsed,” he said. “We want to find out why it happened.”

At about 1:30 p.m. Thursday, law enforcement responded to the intersection of Southwest Eighth Street and Southwest 109th Avenue west of Miami to the bridge collapse. Several people were taken to the hospital and six were confirmed dead as of Friday evening. Authorities said they expected to find other victims during their recovery efforts.

>> Miami bridge collapse: 6 confirmed dead, police say

On the day of the collapse, the main NTSB investigator for the said that there are 10 “diagonal members” that connect the walkway portion of the bridge to the canopy portion. He said on Thursday, construction workers were tightening cables within those diagonal supports. 

“Construction crews were applying post-tensioning force that is designed to strengthen the diagonal member,” he said.

During the news conference, officials were asked about possible cracks in the structure. They said at this time, they have not confirmed that on their own.

Friday night, the Florida Department of Transportation released the transcript of a voicemail left Tuesday by the lead engineer with FIGG, the firm that designed the bridge. The engineer, Denney Pate, said there were cracks in the concrete.

“Um, so, uh, we’ve taken a look at it and, uh, obviously some repairs or whatever will have to be done but from a safety perspective we don’t see that there’s any issue there so we’re not concerned about it from that perspective although obviously the cracking is not good and something’s going to have to be, ya know, done to repair that,” Pate said.

FDOT said in their release that no one in the office heard the voicemail until Friday, a day after the collapse. 

Additionally, FDOT said that neither FIU nor the engineering firm ever warned them of any “life-safety issue.”

NTSB investigators were also asked about the cables shown in the photo renderings of what the bridge would look like when complete. In those depictions, the cables spread across the upper portion of the bridge much like the sail of a boat. Investigators said from their understanding, those cables “were only cosmetic; they were not structural members.” They had not been installed at this point because the second part of the bridge had not been built or installed. 

Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Alejandro Camacho said that Southwest Eighth Street between Southwest 107th Avenue to Southwest 117th Avenue will remain closed indefinitely as the recovery efforts and investigation continue. 

Sumwalt said they expect NTSB investigators to spend between five and seven days at the scene. 

“That’s really just the beginning of our investigation because there’s a lot of work that goes into this,” he said. 

Trending - Most Read Stories

Little Caesars honoring bracket-busting win with free pizza

Published: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 1:52 AM

Little Caesars Offering Free Pizza for Bracket-Busting Win

If you’re crying in your beer after the University of Maryland-Baltimore County became the ultimate bracket buster in the NCAA Tournament on Friday night, take heart. There is a free pizza waiting to ease your sorrow.

Little Caesars is honoring UMBC’s 74-54 victory against Virginia -- the first time a No. 16 seed has defeated a No. 1 seed -- with a free lunch combo on Monday, April 2.

The $5 Hot-N-Ready Lunch Combo will include four slices of pepperoni pizza and one 20-ounce Pepsi product per family, the company said in its promotional release. Orders must be made between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. local time. An important point: the order must be placed by 1 p.m. The rules in the promotion state that even if you were in line at 1 p.m., if the order has not been placed it will not be honored. In other words, arrive early. 

Here are the details of the deal. You can read the full terms and conditions here.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe fired two days before retirement

Published: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 11:10 PM
Updated: Saturday, March 17, 2018 @ 1:12 PM

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13:  Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe listens during a news conference to announce significant law enforcement actions July 13, 2017 at the Justice Department in Washington, DC. Attorney General Jeff Sessions held the news conference to announce the 2017 health care fraud takedown.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe listens during a news conference to announce significant law enforcement actions July 13, 2017 at the Justice Department in Washington, DC. Attorney General Jeff Sessions held the news conference to announce the 2017 health care fraud takedown. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions has fired former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, two days before McCabe was set to retire, according to news reports.

>> Read more trending news 

Sessions said in a statement released Friday night that McCabe was less than truthful while under oath several times, according to The New York Times.

“The F.B.I. expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity and accountability,” he said. “I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately.”

In a statement Friday night, McCabe said his firing was politically motivated.

"This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement, and the intelligence professionals," McCabe said.

>> Related: Who is Andrew G. McCabe, former Deputy Director of the FBI?

The Associated Press reported Saturday that McCabe has kept memos regarding his interactions with President Trump. 

In an earlier interview, McCabe rejected the allegations that he was untruthful during internal hearings, the Times reported.

>> Rex Tillerson out as Secretary of State; Pompeo nominated as replacement

“The idea that I was dishonest is just wrong,” he said. 

“This is part of an effort to discredit me as a witness.”

McCabe is a potential witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign

Shortly after midnight, President Donald Trump tweeted about the firing, calling it “a great day for democracy.”

>> Related: Who are key players in the Russia/Trump saga?

John Dowd, President Trump’s personal attorney, told The Daily Beast on Saturday that he “prayed” that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein follows Sessions’ example and brings an end to the Mueller probe.

McCabe, who had been with the FBI for 22 years, resigned his position in late January, but stayed on at the agency until he was eligible to retire on Sunday.

Andrew McCabe Steps Down As FBI Deputy Director(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Trending - Most Read Stories