Digital Forensics Dispatch

Digital Forensics Blog
by Sensei Enterprises, Inc.

FBI Leverages Criminal Messaging APP in Worldwide Sting Operation

June 10, 2021

Law enforcement agencies from all over the world recently reported on an enormous ongoing sting operation assembled with evidence gleaned from a messaging application the FBI claims to have been running all along. The app, called ANOM, was marketed as an encrypted chat application “designed by criminals for criminals” according to a recent CBS news report.

The operation, dubbed Trojan Shield, was led by the FBI but also involved Europol and other agencies in countries across around the globe. The ANOM app was distributed throughout criminal organizations for close to two years already installed on specially prepared devices that purposely excluded features like microphones and cameras. The lack of these features and the endorsement of some high profile criminal organizations added an air of security to the devices.

However, all of the messages sent using the ANOM application were subject to monitoring by law enforcement. As the application gained popularity among organized crime networks around the world digital evidence apparently started to pile up with reports of murder and drug shipments/manufacturing being discussed openly on the app. This week the operation came to a head with a surge of arrests in places such as Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Sweden and Belgium. U.S. officials have reported that over 500 individuals have been arrested along with the seizure of millions of dollars and more than 30 tons of drugs and over 50 illegal drug labs.

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