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Practical World True News Magazine

#TrueNews,#HumanRights : The FBI Paid Best Buy’s ‘Geek Squad’ To Spy On Americans

Recently unsealed documents reveal the FBI has allegedly been paying Geek Squad technicians to search customers' computers for illegal material, allowing the FBI to conduct searches without a warrant.

In January, the FBI testified against Dr. Mark Albert Rettenmaier, 62, a gynecological oncologist, facing child pornography charges after Geek Squad technicians supposedly located an image of a young naked girl on his computer in 2011. The image was discovered in a section of Rettenmaier’s hard drive where deleted files are stored when he brought it to a Best Buy store for repairs.
Rettenmaier has pleaded not guilty and his lawyers are arguing that the case should be thrown out, because the image was obtained through an illegal search. His lawyers claim that the FBI used technicians at Best Buy’s Geek Squad, one of the most popular computer repair services in the US, to search his computer without obtaining a warrant.

James Riddet, Rettenmaier’s defense lawyer, claims "the FBI was dealing with a paid agent inside the Geek Squad who was used for the specific purpose of searching clients' computers for child pornography and other contraband or evidence of crimes," according to a court filing obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Riddet accuses the FBI of paying at least eight employees at Geek Squad to be “confidential human sources.”

As early as 2010, FBI agent Tracey Riley allegedly wrote to her supervisor, reporting on a “source” at Geek Squad. 

Source reported all has been quiet for about the last 5-6 months, however source agreed that once school started again, they may see an influx of CP [child pornography],” Riley wrote, according to internal FBI communications obtained by the Washington Post


If you’ve ever taken your computer in for service at the GEEK Squad inside your local Best Buy, then you know when you hand over your laptop to the technician, he/she has your entire life in his/her hands. Your search history, your financial accounts, your private emails, and your photo album can all be accessed, copied, deleted, or shared. When you give them your computer, you trust that no one will see your most private matters. However, you’d be wrong.
Several Best Buy employees have now been revealed to be working with the FBI to prosecute pedophiles. And while busting pedophiles is most certainly in everyone’s interests, wholesale invasion of privacy and corporate spying is certainly not.
According to the LA Times, Dr. Mark Albert Rettenmaier, a gynecological oncologist who practiced at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, CA, was indicted on two felony counts of possession of child pornography after he took his hard drive to Best Buy for repair. The drive was then sent to a GEEK Squad repair facility located in Kentucky. There, Justin Meade, a supervisor at the Geek Squad center, found suspicious photos of nude underage girls on the hard drive and contacted the FBI. Meade was then paid $500, but the FBI agent working the case did not indicate for what purpose he was compensated. Tracey Riley, the FBI agent Meade contacted wrote in a statement, “I never asked or ordered Mr. Meade or any Best Buy employee to search for child pornography or gather information on child pornography or any other crimes on my behalf or on behalf of the FBI.” But Rettenmaier’s attorney is calling that statement into question after learning Meade received compensation for his work with the FBI, dating back to 2009.
“The doctor’s attorney (James Riddet) says the FBI essentially used the employee to perform warrantless searches on electronics that passed through the massive maintenance facility outside Louisville, Ky.,” wrote the LA Times. According to Riddet, since 2009, “the FBI was dealing with a paid agent inside the Geek Squad who was used for the specific purpose of searching clients’ computers for child pornography and other contraband or evidence of crimes.” But those searches are illegal, according to Riddet, because no search warrant was obtained to peruse Rettenmaier’s hard drive. And it’s against Best Buy’s policies to receive compensation from authorities for reporting crimes. It is, however, company policy to report such crimes as the employee deems necessary.
“Meade showed an FBI agent photos on Rettenmaier’s hard drive, and the agent recognized them as child pornography, according to court records. The Geek Squad had to use specialized technical tools to recover the photos because they were either damaged or had been deleted, according to court papers,” the Times states, a fact which is crucial to the defense’s case. If the files were deleted, then they were not being used for nefarious purposes. Also, as the Times writes, “Riddet contends it is impossible to tell when the files were placed on the hard drive or who accessed them,” a fact which does not incriminate his client. But the FBI used the deleted photos, nonetheless, to obtain a “search warrant for Rettenmaier’s Laguna Hills home, which it raided in February 2012, court documents state,” writes the Times.

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That source was later identified as Justin Meade, a supervisor at the Geek Squad maintenance center in Kentucky, who contacted the FBI after he discovered the illegal material on Rettenmaier’s computer. Meade was reportedly paid $500 for providing evidence to the FBI, according to an informant file obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Meade denies that he was ever paid, and Riley has denied that he was ever directed to search for any illegal materials by the FBI.

"I never asked or ordered Mr. Meade or any Best Buy employee to search for child pornography or gather information on child pornography or any other crimes on my behalf or on behalf of the FBI," Riley wrote in a declaration, according to the LA Times.

Riddet claims that the FBI has been using Geek Squad technicians as informants since 2007, and said, “There was always at least one supervisor who was an active informant," OC Weekly reported.

Riddet will be able to question Meade during a hearing scheduled in August about any Fourth Amendment privacy rights that may have been violated by the FBI.

The prosecution argued that when Rettenmaier signed his computer over to the Geek Squad, he “waived any right to raise a Fourth Amendment claim,” because the service order he signed contained the admonition: “I am on notice that any product containing child pornography will be turned over to the authorities,” according to the Washington Post.

Best Buy released a statement in January, denying any relationship with the FBI. They also say their policies “prohibit agents from doing anything other than what is necessary to solve the customer’s problem.”

From time to time, our repair agents discover material that may be child pornography, and we have a legal and moral obligation to turn that material over to law enforcement. We are proud of our policy and share it with our customers before we begin any repair,” the statement reads.
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