How a man’ life was ruined due to a typo in IP address by Police

A tale of an innocent man who was wrongly arrested and labeled as Pedophile due to a typo in the IP address.

You probably remember Amazon’s engineer who’s typo messed up the entire AWS (Amazon Web Service). But what happened in the United Kingdom ruined a man’s life. The man in question is Mr. Nigel Lang, a UK resident who in 2011 got arrested at his home because, according to the police, he was a suspect for keeping child pornographic content on his electronic devices. That’s when his nightmare began. Even though he was innocent, his arrest was carried out as a result of a typo in an IP address.

This means the person who was involved in the crime was never arrested while Lang went through hell due to a police officer who didn’t even bother to double check the IP address and the address they were going to raid.

Furthermore, the police went on to search his devices for indecent images, but since the content never existed in the first place, the Police found nothing but embarrassment. But it was too late for Lang who was terminated from his job immediately as a counselor for troubled teenagers.

Mr. Nigel Lang Image Courtesy: BuzzFeed.

According to BuzzFeed “Lang was bailed but under strict and devastating conditions. Social services had visited his partner at home while he was being interviewed to conduct a “safeguarding assessment,” and it was decided he could not live at the family home, visit his son there, or have any unsupervised contact with his son anywhere.” 

It took police three weeks to search his device but failed to discover any evidence of criminality. Lang decided to find out what exactly happened on his own. He then filed a complaint against the police department accusing them of racially motivated arrest since his partner was white and the home Internet was registered in her name, but she was never questioned about the images whatsoever.

Lang’s request to file the complaint was denied, but a letter sent to him by the police revealed that the arrest order came from Hertfordshire Constabulary, a police force over 100 miles away from where Lang lives.

“South Yorkshire police’s DI Sean McMahon, who investigated the complaint, wrote that in May 2011, officers had received information from their colleagues in Hertfordshire that they had identified an IP address that had shared more than 100 images of children via peer-to-peer software in April that year. Hertfordshire police had established that the IP address belonged to the account in the name of Lang’s partner,” BuzzFeed was told.

Moreover, it took Hertfordshire Constabulary three years to accept their mistake. In a letter sent by Tracy Pemberton Hertfordshire Police Lang was told that:

“When police requested details about an IP address connected to the sharing of indecent images of children, one extra keystroke was made by mistake, sending police to entirely the wrong physical location.”

“Hertfordshire police were initially resistant, refusing to speak to Lang’s solicitor before they could talk to Lang himself. Over the phone, he was finally told the circumstances behind his arrest: While requesting details about an IP address linked to indecent images of children from an internet service provider, police had added an extra digit – a single keystroke – by mistake. When the ISP came back with a physical address for the IP address provided, it led police to Lang’s front door. The internet account set up by Lang’s partner just happened to have the wrong IP address at the wrong time.”

While Hertfordshire apologized for what happened Lang is still waiting for an apology from the officers who raided his house and arrested him in front of his son. The slight bit of a good news is that Lang received £60,000 ($75,000) in damages and is now gearing up to start a new life.

Whether his arrest was racially motivated or not the incident shows what happens when police force hires people who are incompetent but overestimate their competence. Also, earlier this year, UK’s Police chief constable Simon Bailey stated that “there are so many pedophiles, they will stop arresting them,” so we leave it to you to decide why there was such a sudden rush in arresting Lang?


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Written by Waqas

Waqas Amir is a Milan-based cybersecurity journalist with a passion for covering latest happenings in cyber security and tech world. In addition to being the founder of this website, Waqas is also into gaming, reading and investigative journalism.