Ex-Secret Service Agent Describes Undercover Cyber Operation - 8 News NOW

Ex-Secret Service Agent Describes Undercover Cyber Operation

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LAS VEGAS -- A former Secret Service agent told Las Vegas jurors Tuesday that he communicated online with members of an alleged cybercrime outfit by posing as a representative of a phony identification document vendor.

One individual who allegedly contacted Jonathan Spruill through an Internet forum linked to the Las Vegas-based organization Carder.su was defendant David Camez through the nickname Bad Man.

The 22-year-old Phoenix resident, on trial in federal court, is one of 55 individuals charged in a racketeering case that alleges members of the Russian-led Carder.su trafficked in fake credit cards and false IDs.

Spruill left the Secret Service last year to become a private investigator. But as a special agent, he assisted fellow agent Michael Adams in the undercover operation of phony ID vendor Celtic's Novelty ID Service.

Adams, the government's star witness, is expected to soon take the stand to explain how he infiltrated Carder.su as a trusted vendor. Spruill testified that he assisted Adams by helping to represent Celtic's in an online forum sponsored by Carder.su.

Dating to 2008, Spruill estimated that he communicated with 20 of the organization's members online. Spruill described the Carder.su hierarchy as so disciplined that it required the endorsement of two fellow members to join the organization. Spruill said he became a member -- albeit undercover -- by getting an endorsement from "Celtic" Adams and from another member who expressed interest in purchasing Celtic's products.

Celtic's gained such a good reputation for producing high quality fake IDs that it became the favored vendor of such products among Carder.su members, Spruill said. As that trust grew, so did the undercover operation's intelligence gathering efforts, he told the jury. As members began sending their photos to Celtic's to help make the phony IDs, Spruill said he and Adams began matching the photos with real names, cutting through the aliases members reputedly used.

One alleged prospective customer was Camez, who Spruill said used the Bad Man moniker.

"Bad Man contacted me at Celtic support about an Arizona ID," Spruill testified.

But Spruill said the proposed transaction ran into problems when Camez requested that they meet in person. Spruill said that was something he refused to do because he didn't want to compromise the undercover operation by revealing himself.

During cross examination, defense attorney Chris Rasmussen got Spruill to concede that he didn't know the identities of those who ran the Carder.su online forum, nor the number of IDs, if any, that Camez purchased.

Spruill also told Rasmussen that the undercover operation sold fake IDs to anyone who paid for them, leading the defense attorney to question how the Secret Service would deal with underage customers who wanted IDs to purchase alcohol. Spruill said the Secret Service would have followed certain protocols when purchase requests came from minors.

The jury also heard testimony from Secret Service Special Agent Zach Bullimer, who is now part of President Barack Obama's security detail but once served in the agency's cyber section. He testified that in his former role he participated in the arrest and conviction of Tony Perez for manufacturing and selling bogus credit cards.

Bullimer testified that a receipt found in a search of the Perez residence in Indiana represented a $765 purchase of 30 credit cards by Camez from Perez in June 2010. Bullimer said Camez used the nickname Bad Man to complete the transaction and had the cards delivered to an address in Tucson, Ariz. But during cross examination, Bullimer said he didn't know who was affiliated with that address.

The trial will continue next week.  

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