Yesterday, Scotland Yard boasted that it had arrested a leader of the hacktivist group Lulz Security known as “Topiary.” The 19-year-old was apprehended in the Shetland Islands, which are located in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, between Scotland and Norway.
Problem is, evidence indicates that the police bagged the wrong guy, after being tricked by the real LulzSec hacker.
As Daily Tech journalist Jason Mick reports, the person authorities should have been arresting is allegedly one Daniel Ackerman Sandberg, a 23-year-old from Uppsala, Sweden, whose purported real identity was revealed by anti-LulzSec hacker “Th3J35t3r” (The Jester) and his group, Web Ninjas, on their website LulzSecExposed.com.
Chat logs indicate that Sandberg stole his “Topiary” name from UK resident Daniel Chatfield, a known “troll” in the hacker community, effectively setting him up to be targeted by authorities — which, it appears, is exactly what’s happened. Sandberg, who ran the now-defunct Twitter account @atopiary, is said to go by an increasing variety of other pseudonyms, which allegedly include Warpstonelord, Hombre de Mundo and Tomtenisse.
This theory that the Metropolitan Police apprehended the wrong hacker also has the support of the Web Ninjas crew. So far, Scotland Yard has not responded to the allegations that they arrested the wrong person.
Amazingly (or not, depending on your view of police ineptitude), Mick reports that this is not the first time police have arrested the wrong hacker. In June, the Federal Bureau of Investigation nabbed another LulzSec “member,” Robert Cavenaugh, a former Anonymous member who had made enemies with the hacker clan after he published private server logs from the group. Like Chatfield, Cavenaugh — who is also said to have had no part in LulzSec operations — had been set up to take the fall.
Another hacker enemy, Ryan Cleary (aka “Chippy1337”), was recently apprehended, as well. Cleary allegedly helped Cavenaugh release the Anonymous chat logs. Once again, he is said to have been merely a tangential player in LulzSec campaigns — not the “mastermind” some made him out to be — and a scapegoat in the group’s quest to stay out of jail.
From a safe distance, it’s becoming increasing difficult to decipher who is and is not part of LulzSec and/or Anonymous. Is it the police who are playing a game of disinformation? Or is it LulzSec? Either way, it’s certain that this cat and mouse charade is far from over. There will be more arrests, certainly. And, we’re also sure, more “lulz” by LulzSec and Anonymous, who appear to be nowhere close to throwing up a white flag.