In March this year, HackRead reported how authorities in the US carried out one of the largest Fentanyl related busts, thanks to PlayStation serial numbers. Now, the FBI is busy trying to bust another large scale drug distribution network allegedly using PlayStation 4 online services as its primary communication and transaction platform.
In this regard, the Bureau performed sting operation on a suspect and now the court has issued a search warrant to deeply probe the issue. Reportedly, the FBI contacted Sony Inc. in October to provide information about a PlayStation4 user who, as per the bureau, is involved in the underground drug business and using the PS4 to sell cocaine.
The alleged drug dealer, Curtis Alexander aka Dola, is claimed to have been using the PS4’s online services such as live in-game voice chat and messaging application to sell large quantities of cocaine. The case is filed in the US State of Missouri and Dola is accused of selling cocaine at $34,000 per kg. The FBI officially filed the search warrant on October 22nd, 2019 implying that Dola is involved in selling multi-kilograms of cocaine.
According to details shared by the FBI via court documents, the bureau’s agent contacted Dola via the PS4’s messaging client and requested for 9ounces of cocaine. Dola responded positively and asked the agent to switch to the live in-game chat as he believed it was a safer place to conduct the deal.
The FBI believes that Dola is part of a larger network of cocaine distribution. The bureau was tipped about the probable association of Dola was cocaine distribution network by an informant who also participated in the sting operation to catch Dola.
“The phrase ‘during game’ is a reference to audio communication held during the CHS [Confidential Human Source] and ALEXANDER’s participation in an online multi-player game. Investigators believe that ALEXANDER likely believes that audio communication during the course of his participation in an online game is secure. As such, ALEXANDER likely believes that he can use audio communication during gameplay on the PlayStation to arrange the details of a drug transaction.”
The FBI now wants Sony to provide extensive information about the PS4 user including the games he played, all the communications associated with Dola’s PS4 account, stored emails, chats and messages sent from his account including the size, length, sending date and time of every message, and the source destination addresses.
Moreover, the bureau has asked for the name, phone number, physical address, security question and answer, IP address on which the account was registered and all the passwords associated with the account.
According to court records, Dola uses the username Speedola20 on PlayStation 4 but the game he used to conduct drug dealings hasn’t been named and the application used for in-game communication is also not described.
As of now, we have no knowledge regarding whether Sony provided the required information to the FBI or not. The court has, however, given a 14 days deadline to the company.
“The Provider is hereby ordered to disclose the above information to the Government within 14 days of service of this warrant,” reads the search warrant application.
If the FBI’s claims are true, it comes as a big shock to many that seemingly harmless gaming consoles can actually be used for many other activities apart from gaming, such as drug dealing.