Posted: Dec 3, 2021 03:31 GMT
Vice magazine obtained internal videos, documents and files exposing the company’s bureaucracy and structure and revealing that its employees had no idea that the app was being monitored by the FBI and Australian Police.
Joseph Cox, a journalist for Vice magazine, shared a video on his Twitter account on Thursday that allows take a look inside Anom, an encrypted messaging company whose ‘app’ was used by members of hundreds of organized crime groups around the world, while actively helping the FBI and the Australian Police to track down some of their clients.
Among other images, you can see multiple mobiles connected by cables to two computers, while a company employee installs custom Anom ‘software’ on them, and then sends the devices by mail to their users, reports the media.
The journalist detailed in his Twitter account that he obtained videos, documents and internal files that expose the bureaucracy and the structure of the company and reveal that his employees had no idea that the app was being watched by the authorities.
New: I obtained videos, docs, files from inside Anom, the encrypted phone company the FBI secretly turned into a honeypot to wiretap hundreds of alleged crime groups around the world. Anom sources said they had no idea it was being used by FBI. One video: https://t.co/Rlbhnnhwrypic.twitter.com/QnZGU61UYj
– Joseph Cox (@josephfcox) December 2, 2021
“We were never told this project was going to be in the middle of that,” a developer working for Anom explained to Vice. He noted that the company’s management assured them that their clients were business. “Those are our clients. That’s what they told us,” he added, underlining that “I had no suspicions that it could be used by any organization like the FBI.”
According to court records, several years ago the creator of Anom, a convicted drug trafficker, offered his platform to the FBI so that that agency would have free access and use it for its investigations, an offer that would have been made during the early stages of the creation of the company. The authorities and the businessman later introduced a function to surreptitiously intercept messages from users.
How did Anom work?
Although the Australian Federal Police declared last June – after having arrested 224 criminals in every state on the mainland, in a joint operation with the FBI – that law enforcement had been “running” the company, Cox now pointed out that the found documents complicate this story and show that in reality the company seemed to operate somewhat autonomously.
A video obtained by the journalist revealed that Anom distributors could enter a panel that showed all devices sold, along with the IMEI number of each phone, the remaining subscription time, the user’s nickname, the country in which the person was located and the agent who dealt with that specific client. In addition, they could assign specific customers to agents and use the dashboard to generate a report of their work.
Another document discovered by the outlet showed the number of phones sent to different distributors of the company: 200 to a seller in Australia, 60 to another in Sweden, 10 to New Zealand, and so on. In addition, the file includes the username of the distributor on the Anom platform and the type of phone that was shipped, such as a Pixel 4a. Some documents revealed specific addresses the company sent the phones to, including locations in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Altogether, the new data obtained by Vice showed that Anom also functioned as its own entity, with systems to keep track of your sales, lists of resellers and the countries in which they operated, and support to help customers. That, apart from the secret that was hidden from its staff, that the FBI and the Australian Police used the system to monitor users.