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Early Bitcoin User Interviewed By Federal Officers

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the just-wasting-electricity-officer dept.

Bitcoin 92

MrBingoBoingo (3481277) writes Recently a Bitcoin user reports being interviewed over their past use of a now defunct exchange service by agents from the FBI and Treasury Department. This encounter raises concerns that earlier Bitcoin users who entered the space inocuously and without ties to Dark Markets or The Silk Road might need to prepare for Law Enforcement questioning about their early Bitcoin related activities.

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Libertarians (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47754545)

deserve what's coming to them for using a currency for pedophiles and criminals. Hopefully every last one of them is tossed in jail.

Re:Libertarians (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47754567)

lawl. i buy my children with crack loser.

Re:Libertarians (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47759483)

Even if he had half a brain; what sort of libertarian would agree to an interview with the FBI & Treasury department?

You sir, are a fascist ! (2, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 4 months ago | (#47754911)

America used to be a country which respects the Rule of Law

No more !

Nowadays the government of the United States of America can lie to the congress, can trample the rights of the citizens, can haul up people without any valid reason, in fact, it can do anything it likes --- and we have you, Sir, and your fellow fascists, to thank !

Re:You sir, are a fascist ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47754957)

But all you mention is lawful. There is still respect for the rule of law(tm).
Stupid and unjust laws and lack of good, just laws, that's the real problem.

Re:You sir, are a fascist ! (4, Insightful)

Moral Judgement (2865819) | about 4 months ago | (#47756491)

I don't think the rule of law is merely following the rules, whatever they may be. I think rather that the rule of law requires several features; equality, generality and certainty and the procedural features that facilitate these, as well as maybe a few others if you human believe rights are a necessary feature (I don't but whatever). I think there is an equivocation going on, similar to what happens with due process. I don't think you can say, "Sure my policy for the execution of American's without trial follows due process. I'm the President and I decide- that's the process." (well unfortunately you can, but that's another matter). Similarly I don't think you can say "Sure the power for NSA to get secret warrants from secret courts follows the rule of law; the law says they can."
While I agree that there are many laws which are unjust, I also think that there is a worrying departure from the rule of law in the US. Most obvious examples are Richard Nixon's "It's not a crime when the president does it.", secret courts, calls to have Julian Assange executed or arrested under the espionage act (despite the fact that as a non US citizen it doesn't apply to him), warrant-less wiretapping, the NSA's wholesale data collection policies... I would contrast these with for example, Drug Laws, which certainly cause much harm and unnecessary suffering and expenditure. These are unjust, but wholly within the remit of the rule of law.

Re:You sir, are a fascist ! (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 4 months ago | (#47758113)

Without equal protection, the "rule of law" is bogus and deserves no respect, as it is just the rule of men.

Re:You sir, are a fascist ! (1)

MobSwatter (2884921) | about 4 months ago | (#47758603)

It is apparently illegal to avoid bank fees or undermine the power of the banks now or you will be targeted for "questions". Me thinks they are getting worried because there are a couple of innovative crypto currencies that are now being backed with something other than hot air like our corrupt bank peddled, fiat paper dollars... There is one that is promising to back their currency with precious metals and is based outside the USA's reach, others are offering to back it with livestock manure. Banks are getting worried because this will ultimately feature wise, out perform their paper, and with uber lower fees.

Re:Libertarians (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#47755829)

And you're talking about the U.S. dollar, of course.

Re:Libertarians (2)

WorBlux (1751716) | about 4 months ago | (#47757819)

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all. H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

23rd USENIX Security Symposium - 8/2014 - Full Pro (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47754553)

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Bitcoin users didn't all start exchange services (5, Informative)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | about 4 months ago | (#47754609)

Both the summary and headline (on slashdot - it's different on TFA) are a bunch of horseshit. Here's what the headline looks like on TFA:

A Law Enforcement Encounter: If you ran a Bitcoin related service before the thing hit $100 you prolly ought to be somewhat concerned and/or prepared

The rest of the article suggests he was only interviewed because of that service as well. So unless every single early user of bitcoin started up an exchange service, the part we have on slashdot is almost entirely fictional.

Re:Bitcoin users didn't all start exchange service (5, Informative)

Nyder (754090) | about 4 months ago | (#47754637)

Both the summary and headline (on slashdot - it's different on TFA) are a bunch of horseshit. Here's what the headline looks like on TFA:

A Law Enforcement Encounter: If you ran a Bitcoin related service before the thing hit $100 you prolly ought to be somewhat concerned and/or prepared

The rest of the article suggests he was only interviewed because of that service as well. So unless every single early user of bitcoin started up an exchange service, the part we have on slashdot is almost entirely fictional.

Yep, my take on the article was what you said, and that they have crappy records for that service, so they were on a fishing expedition to see if they could find anything good/relating to the silk road stuff. In all honesty, it sounded like due diligence to me, in other words, the Feds were doing the detective work they needed to be doing.

Re:Bitcoin users didn't all start exchange service (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47755569)

so they were on a fishing expedition to see if they could find anything good/relating to the silk road stuff. In all honesty, it sounded like due diligence to me

No, as you say, it's a fishing expedition.

Sorry, officer, do you have some evidence of wrong doing on my behalf, or are you just asking around to see if you can find out anything you can use?

The answer, in both cases, is talk to my lawyer and come back with a warrant. Because when the police are on a fishing expedition, the last place you want to be is innocently answering questions they'll twist against you.

With parallel construction and every other dirty trick law enforcement is using, you have to start from the premise they're either lying to you, or hoping you'll slip up. Because, quite frankly, they probably are.

Even if there's no evidence you committed a crime or otherwise broke the law, you're still quite likely to get screwed over. Answering open ended questions is a terrible idea, because they're just as likely to use it to fabricate something about you.

Law enforcement is no longer trustworthy. Stop treating them like they are. Even if they're smiling at you, they're probably hostile to your best interests.

Re:Bitcoin users didn't all start exchange service (3, Interesting)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#47755877)

If you listen closely enough, most people will reveal their intentions.

You have the right to remain silent.

Anything you say or do may be held against you.

Re:Bitcoin users didn't all start exchange service (4, Informative)

TheCarp (96830) | about 4 months ago | (#47756501)

AND its worth noting.....should anything ever go to court....

NOTHING you said can be used to help you. While anything you say can be considered a confession and used against you, anything you say that is not used against you is hearsay.

So you have nothing to gain by speaking if it ever does go to court.

Re:Bitcoin users didn't all start exchange service (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 4 months ago | (#47758175)

Anything you don't say may also be held against you. Once you become a target, all you can do is enjoy the ride.

Re:Bitcoin users didn't all start exchange service (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#47760963)

Why won't you help us with the investigation if you have nothing to hide?

This line of questioning is especially effective if the suspect is guilty. Oh shit, I better go in and talk to them or they'll think I did it. The thing is, they are interrogating you, often for hours on end, because they already believe you could be the guy they're looking for.

It seems likely it is better to close your mouth and let them think you're guilty, rather than open it and remove all doubt.

Re:Bitcoin users didn't all start exchange service (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 4 months ago | (#47762833)

It seems likely it is better to close your mouth and let them think you're guilty, rather than open it and remove all doubt.

No, it really makes no difference one way or the other. If they want you, you are fucked ,the written law means squat.

Re:Bitcoin users didn't all start exchange service (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about 4 months ago | (#47767049)

What you don't say can't be used against you in court. There's a lot of unpleasant things the criminal justice system can do to somebody without an actual conviction (and there's really no way around that). When the authorities want to question you, get a lawyer.

Re:Bitcoin users didn't all start exchange service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47757085)

Paranoid delusions .. spoken like a true pothead. Of course, The Man is out to get you, right?

Re:Bitcoin users didn't all start exchange service (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 4 months ago | (#47757139)

Yes.

Never talk to the [youtube.com] police.

Re:Bitcoin users didn't all start exchange service (2)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 4 months ago | (#47757127)

We must all remember this [youtube.com] . A thousand times. Never talk to the police. Ever.

Ever!

Re:Bitcoin users didn't all start exchange service (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47759401)

Both the summary and headline (on slashdot - it's different on TFA) are a bunch of horseshit. Here's what the headline looks like on TFA:

A Law Enforcement Encounter: If you ran a Bitcoin related service before the thing hit $100 you prolly ought to be somewhat concerned and/or prepared

The rest of the article suggests he was only interviewed because of that service as well. So unless every single early user of bitcoin started up an exchange service, the part we have on slashdot is almost entirely fictional.

Yep, my take on the article was what you said, and that they have crappy records for that service, so they were on a fishing expedition to see if they could find anything good/relating to the silk road stuff. In all honesty, it sounded like due diligence to me, in other words, the Feds were doing the detective work they needed to be doing.

Because the Feds have a weal case against Silk Road's founder. This is something that they do all the time to save face, when in reality you have moron juries that will falsely convict someone anyway. So it makes little to no sense to waste millions in tax payer money to go after this guy, and to keep investigating no-where leads.

Re:Bitcoin users didn't all start exchange service (3, Funny)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 4 months ago | (#47755285)

If you werent aware, Slashdot is a game whereby you figure out WHICH pieces of the headline and summary are BS.

Congrats on your first win!

NEWS: Law enforcement officers doing actual job! (3, Interesting)

mvdwege (243851) | about 4 months ago | (#47754633)

Let's not overstate this. The account given by Bingo is a good one, and on the facts it shows two law enforcement officers just doing their job: gathering background information, and they're doing it in a way to minimise the hassle for the ordinary member of public they're interviewing. Bingo mentions no powerplays beyond them identifying themselves as LEOs.

And doing the research how Silk Road grew out of the early BitCoin scene (or if it even did) is a legitimate avenue of inquiry.

I am not a fan of the bullies that populate far too many police forces, so this is a welcome change of pace.

Re:NEWS: Law enforcement officers doing actual job (0)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#47754663)

Let's not overstate this. The account given by Bingo is a good one, and on the facts it shows two law enforcement officers just doing their job: gathering background information, and they're doing it in a way to minimise the hassle for the ordinary member of public they're interviewing. Bingo mentions no powerplays beyond them identifying themselves as LEOs.

Yeah. And if I were just a small-time user of some bitcoin service, my "preparing" for questioning by law enforcement would be to get ready to tell them to get stuffed if they got pushy.

Re: NEWS: Law enforcement officers doing actual jo (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47754703)

"tell them to get stuffed if they got pushy."
Yes, of course... LOL!

Re:NEWS: Law enforcement officers doing actual job (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47754711)

Yeah. And if I were just a small-time user of some bitcoin service, my "preparing" for questioning by law enforcement would be to get ready to tell them to get stuffed if they got pushy.

So says an armchair warrior on the internet. In reality at the first suggestion of an IRS audit you'll be copying every log file you have or can download from an exchange onto a memory stick for them. You know why law enforcement gets pushy, because it works.

Re:NEWS: Law enforcement officers doing actual job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47754767)

The right amount of preparation is probably somewhere in between having all of your records ready to hand over at a moment's notice and simply planning to tell the kind if insistent agents to stuff themselves.

Re:NEWS: Law enforcement officers doing actual job (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47754843)

The right amount of preparation is probably somewhere in between having all of your records ready to hand over at a moment's notice and simply planning to tell the kind if insistent agents to stuff themselves.

Its not about preparation, that's just armchair hypothesizing. When you find yourself in a situation where you are being pressured by law enforcement your actions will probably be nothing like what you anticipated or prepared for. Again, law enforcement pressures people because it usually works. You won't have the records prepared to hand over beforehand, but you will probably go do so after contemplating the alternative.

Re:NEWS: Law enforcement officers doing actual job (5, Insightful)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about 4 months ago | (#47755185)

If you had any sense, you'd understand that regardless of the reason(s) you've found yourself interacting with the police, the only sensible course of action would be to have all communications handled by your lawyer(s). Don't worry, you're far from alone in your lack of sense, and that is precisely why fairly rudimentary law enforcement pressure (rightly or wrongly) works as often as it does.

Re:NEWS: Law enforcement officers doing actual job (1)

ADRA (37398) | about 4 months ago | (#47757469)

You sir are a sad example of just how completely morally broken your society has become.

Re:NEWS: Law enforcement officers doing actual job (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47757589)

If you had any sense, you'd understand that regardless of the reason(s) you've found yourself interacting with the police, the only sensible course of action would be to have all communications handled by your lawyer(s). Don't worry, you're far from alone in your lack of sense, and that is precisely why fairly rudimentary law enforcement pressure (rightly or wrongly) works as often as it does.

Actually you are devoid of common sense. In nearly all cases your lawyer will tell you to cooperate. That the pressure is real and the consequences are not worth it. Then the lawyer will ask where the $2,000 is for their advice.

Re:NEWS: Law enforcement officers doing actual job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47761311)

While lawyers are expensive and can't necessarily help you as much as you'd like, I very much doubt that a lawyer would ever advise a client to cooperate by talking to police. Yes, cooperate as far as you are legally compelled to, but no lawyer is going to tell you that talking to the police will help you. Even if you were falsely accused, talking to the police is likely only able to harm you.

Re:NEWS: Law enforcement officers doing actual job (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about 4 months ago | (#47767071)

Under certain circumstances, cooperation in some things will be worth it. It won't help in court, but it may help in avoiding lots of other trouble. Your lawyer is likely to know which circumstances and what to cooperate in better than you.

Re:NEWS: Law enforcement officers doing actual job (2)

aminorex (141494) | about 4 months ago | (#47760315)

actually, if you were dealing in bitcoin in 2012, you're probably wealthy enough so that you should just bail out of the u.s. and go to a civilized country.

Re:NEWS: Law enforcement officers doing actual job (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#47766505)

You won't have the records prepared to hand over beforehand, but you will probably go do so after contemplating the alternative.

Just no.

The situation under discussion was one in which there was no probable cause, or even reasonable suspicion. Sorry, but I do not roll over for police "fishing expeditions". People who do are one of the primary things that has been wrong with this country. If you don't stand up for your rights, you are likely to lose them.

Recommending that people bend over and just take it is part of the problem. YOU can get stuffed, too.

Re:NEWS: Law enforcement officers doing actual job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47755405)

Yeah. And if I were just a small-time user of some bitcoin service, my "preparing" for questioning by law enforcement would be to get ready to tell them to get stuffed if they got pushy.

If you were smart, your preparing would instead include hiring a lawyer.

Every US based bitcoin user is going to ... (3, Interesting)

perpenso (1613749) | about 4 months ago | (#47754665)

Every US based bitcoin user is going to be asked about their bitcoin activities ... by the IRS since the IRS has figured out how to tax bitcoins, as an asset.

Seriously, this is no joke. As an asset you will be expected to declare a gain or loss on the coins you used to purchase that cup of coffee. The gain or loss with respect to the change of value between the day you received those coins and the day you used them in the purchase.

This is why it is incredibly important whether the IRS considers bitcoins to be a currency or an asset. As an asset the reporting requirements would seem to become similar to that of buying, selling and trading stocks. Its not at all like spending dollars.

Re:Every US based bitcoin user is going to ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47754879)

They really should make an exceptional middleground for them.

To the average consumer, they are quite literally both at the same time.

Re:Every US based bitcoin user is going to ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47754905)

They really should make an exceptional middleground for them. To the average consumer, they are quite literally both at the same time.

If only the IRS' mandate was to make things as simple and convenient as possible for the taxpayer. :-)

Re:Every US based bitcoin user is going to ... (1)

Enry (630) | about 4 months ago | (#47755331)

Well it could be if it were not for an unholy alliance between Intuit and Grover Norquist.

Re:Every US based bitcoin user is going to ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47755107)

From what I read on slashdot the average person doesn't treat them like the same thing.

We have updates about how much they are now worth compare to dollars and rubbing of hands as people see the value go up (and down) somewhat, that's the kind of stuff I see on the stock boards. It's for many a speculative investment.

We have those going out buying equipment in order to mine - last I could tell you can't do that with dollars, so again not the same.

Re:Every US based bitcoin user is going to ... (1)

pla (258480) | about 4 months ago | (#47755129)

Seriously, this is no joke. As an asset you will be expected to declare a gain or loss on the coins you used to purchase that cup of coffee. The gain or loss with respect to the change of value between the day you received those coins and the day you used them in the purchase.

Very true, no joke at all! That ruling makes Bitcoins far better from a tax standpoint than than USD, although slightly less convenient. Instead of paying your normal income tax rate on BTC, you pay your capital gains rate. Hold them for more than a year, and you have capped your tax rate at half-or-less of your normal income tax rate - 20% max, 15% for all but the 1%, and a whopping 0% for anyone making under $82k. Woo hoo, can I start getting paid in BTC today???

However, in their typical dickish fashion, the IRS has decide to only allow gains, not losses. So if their value goes down, TFB.

That said, you can expect that to change if ever more than a laughably small number of people start filing 400+ page schedule D1s. Make no mistake, the rules for gains on foreign currency (treated specially as something other than assets) exist more for the IRS's convenience than for yours.

Re:Every US based bitcoin user is going to ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47755603)

You are confused. If you were paid in bitcoin you still owe income tax on the value at the time of receipt. You would owe capital gains on any subsequent appreciation in value. In other words, you can get paid in USD, convert to bitcoin on payday and be in the exact same position. As being paid directly in bitcoin.

That is unless you mean you want to break the law and be paid "under the table" with bitcoin. You can do this with USD already too. It is illegal in both cases.

Re:Every US based bitcoin user is going to ... (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about 4 months ago | (#47758475)

... the IRS has decide to only allow gains, not losses ...

Realized net gains and net losses. I believe virtual coin losses can be applied against virtual coin gains, even the IRS would not be so insane as to not allow this. I expect the problem is applying net virtual coin losses against regular income. The issue also appears with stocks, only up to $3,000 of realized net losses can be applied against regular income if I remember correctly.

Re:Every US based bitcoin user is going to ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47755895)

Correct. If you mine an ounce of gold out of the ground on US soil, you owe income taxes when you sell that gold for profit, and often even if you barter it. Just like corn farmers pay taxes on the profit they make from raising their corn. It's a simple principle.

Sorry all you bitcoin miners, you owe taxes on those bitcoins you mined and then turned into money or goods just like if you mined some gold. If you were upfront and paid your taxes the same year, you're good to go. Otherwise say hello to the world of penalties, interest and forcible seizure of your assets, backed up by a prison term if you don't cooperate and repay.

TANSTAAFL, bitcoin miners.

Re:Every US based bitcoin user is going to ... (2)

WorBlux (1751716) | about 4 months ago | (#47758293)

Yes shame on them for not setting up trusts, foreign diviisions and holding companies to get out of paying income tax the legal way.

Resisting Change (1, Troll)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 4 months ago | (#47754719)

All systems fight against change. In this case concepts concerning money and wealth are somewhat challenged and one would expect governments to push back hard. I'm not saying it is right it is simply predictable. If you sit down and figure out a way to have people email each other in such a way that the messages can not be had by spies you will find out suddenly just how deeply governments reject privacy in communications. There will be a knock at your door and they won't be kidding one bit. Anything new has to fight to stay alive. If not much like the owner of Segway one will have a mysterious accident or sudden catastrophic medical event. In the US we have some sort of shadow government in play and vital issues are no longer mentioned in government. Find one politician willing to talk about birth control and over population in the US.

No Sweat (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47754737)

Preparing for Law Enforcement questioning is no big deal:

Be unfailingly polite, and DON'T ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS! You are not required to answer any questions.

Don't be Ein Dickus Maximus about it, don't stick a camera in their snouts, just don't answer.

Freedom in action.

Never talk to US law enforcement (4, Insightful)

bradley13 (1118935) | about 4 months ago | (#47754771)

This guy actually talked to the federal agents who came knocking on his door? Stupid, stupid...

Assuming these were probably FBI or Secret Service agents, my understanding is that the only record allowed of the interview consists of their handwritten notes. You are not allowed to make a recording. This means that, afterwards, they can put any spin on the interview that they want. If you disagree, they can and will throw you in jail for lying to a federal officer.

The only possible reply to these officers should be "I have nothing to say to you".

Re:Never talk to US law enforcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47754801)

What is this? Soviet Russia?

Re:Never talk to US law enforcement (3, Insightful)

aix tom (902140) | about 4 months ago | (#47754877)

No. Capitalist America. They must do everything in their power, that the government of the money, by the money, for the money shall not perish from the earth.

Never trust in absolute rules of what to do ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47754871)

You are not allowed to make a recording.

You are free to do exactly as they do, take notes, if you wish. A recording involves laws and regulations that handwritten notes do not, for example the consent of both parties in some jurisdictions. Write down their names and badge numbers and transcribe each question accurately before answering, asking them to repeat the question as necessary to get it right. If concerned fax these notes to your attorney immediately after they leave to document the time frame in which they were created.

This and many other options exist, if you so choose, and if you believe they will help your situation. You are misinformed to think you have no options.

The only possible reply to these officers should be "I have nothing to say to you".

Which only makes them more interested in you.

There is no right answer. You are just as misguided as the person who says tell them everything they want to know. Each and every situation will be unique and the proper response, the optimal amount of cooperation (anything from none to full) will be unique.

Never trust in absolute rules of what to do ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47755273)

As somebody who works with attorneys all day long and who has been questioned by law enforcement, you're an idiot.

You do not talk to the police, be it local, state, federal.

Here's somebody who might know just a bit more than you [youtube.com] about the subject.

Re:Never trust in absolute rules of what to do ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47757809)

As somebody who works with attorneys all day long and who has been questioned by law enforcement, you're an idiot.

You do not talk to the police, be it local, state, federal.

Here's somebody who might know just a bit more than you [youtube.com] about the subject.

Was "this and many other options exist" too confusing for you. Taking your own notes is not a universal course of action. Just an example of how you can record events without a tape recorder. One of many options is to tell law enforcement that we can continue this discussion at your lawyers office. Again, its an option, not necessarily the optimal option.

Of course lawyers tell you it is your one and only best option. However its not, its just an option. There is a cost/benefit analysis. The trouble law enforcement could make for you may or may not exceed the cost of the lawyer.

I'd be careful throwing around the word "idiot", you are not as bright as you seem to think. As are most people who believe there is an absolute always-the-right-coarse-of-action thing to do. Then again, maybe your just a legal industry shill.

True. When in doubt, shut your mouth (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 4 months ago | (#47755831)

Certainly there are times when talking to law enforcement makes sense. I'm about to write an email to the sheriff praising the deputies who came to my house the other day. That said, when police come to you with questions, keeping your mouth shut is NORMALLY the safer course of action. DON'T lie, just say you'd rather not discuss the matter without an attorney present. They'll say they want to hear your side of the story. Repeat that you'll talk to them only with your attorney present. If you call the cops, because you're a victim, sure talk to them. When in doubt, shut your mouth.

Re:Never talk to US law enforcement (4, Insightful)

qbast (1265706) | about 4 months ago | (#47755163)

Really? If as you suggest they are willing to lie in their notes, what exactly is stopping them from turning "I have nothing to say to you" into long and detailed confession?

Re:Never talk to US law enforcement (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47755657)

In an age of "parallel construction", you more or less have to assume that law enforcement has tools available to them to do exactly that -- or at least concoct enough evidence to make the confession irrelevant.

As soon as they started doing that, law enforcement became an entity which will lie and construct a new set of facts to match their story.

I would suggest that you more or less have to assume they're not trustworthy, and are willing to perjure themselves in court to say "why yes, your honor, that's how we found this information".

Parallel construction is basically a systematized way that law enforcement can illegally use information, and with no probably cause construct a scenario where it looks plausible on paper that they found it through legitimate means.

Trusting law enforcement at this point would be madness.

Re:Never talk to US law enforcement (2)

qbast (1265706) | about 4 months ago | (#47755885)

Ok, but how does it help me? Again, if they are willing to lie, then trusting or not trusting, talking or not talking does not matter any more - they can just write down whatever story they please without even bothering with question and you are fucked.

Re:Never talk to US law enforcement (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | about 4 months ago | (#47756827)

One presumes that while they may not be willing to commit outright perjury, they would have little problem with taking your words out of context. Subtle shifts in emphasis can make a huge difference sometimes, and there is nothing obligating them to write down the parts of your account which do not help their case. As unjust as it is, their notes from the meeting will be taken as fact, while your account would be considered mere hearsay.

There really should be a requirement to fully document (with audio & video) every single encounter between public officials and potential suspects or witnesses, or have it considered hearsay. Until then, don't give them any extra ammunition to use against you.

Re:Never talk to US law enforcement (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47760345)

Really? If as you suggest they are willing to lie in their notes, what exactly is stopping them from turning "I have nothing to say to you" into long and detailed confession?

Nothing, as such. You might limit the potential damage by sending a time stamped email to yourself or someone else, stating your version of the interview.

If it's done promptly at least it puts your version of the story on the record at an early stage. It would show that you didn't suddenly reverse course weeks or months after the initial incident, and could provide some reasonable doubt in the minds of a judge or jury.

Re:Never talk to US law enforcement (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 4 months ago | (#47755315)

Im pretty sure you can have whatever you want in the way of recording in your house without needing anyone's consent. In public the rules are different sometimes, but I suggest you read here:

http://www.aclupa.org/issues/p... [aclupa.org]

Maybe you know of some law I do not that singles out FBI, but AFAIK there is none, and when you are on your property and they come unsolicited, I would be amazed if you could find a judge who would even entertain a federal lawsuit for the recording. Your property-- your rules.

Re:Never talk to US law enforcement (2)

nbauman (624611) | about 4 months ago | (#47755649)

Assuming these were probably FBI or Secret Service agents, my understanding is that the only record allowed of the interview consists of their handwritten notes. You are not allowed to make a recording. This means that, afterwards, they can put any spin on the interview that they want. If you disagree, they can and will throw you in jail for lying to a federal officer.

I thought you were allowed to make a recording. If I decided I wanted to talk to them, I would say, "I'd like to record this conversation so we have an accurate record. Can I do that?" If they say no, I would say, "I'm sorry then, I have nothing to say."

But I don't think I would talk to them.

I'm not even sure it's illegal to secretly record a conversation. There were state laws, like one in Massachusetts, that made it illegal, but they may have been overturned. IANAL, I don't know.

I remember during the Vietnam war, the FBI came to interview an anti-war activist at his home. He secretly taped the conversation, led them on a long, interesting discussion about politics, and then broadcast the tape over Pacifica radio.

The only possible reply to these officers should be "I have nothing to say to you".

That's right. My line would be, "I've been told by many lawyers not to talk to the police without a lawyer present. Give me a card and I'll get back to you, when (and if) I get a lawyer. I prefer that you send me a list of questions in writing."

If I was ever tempted to be a good citizen and cooperate with the FBI, the Thomas Butler case showed me what happens to people who do that even when as far as they know they're innocent. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10... [nytimes.com]

If the FBI is going to act like dicks, then people aren't going to cooperate with them.

Re:Never talk to US law enforcement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47758663)

If there are a couple of agents at your door then you're basically already screwed.

For all we know they have video footage of you acknowledging that time someone said "Bless you" in Starbucks...yeah, that guy. That guy walks the dog of someone that used to be married to this girl 15 years ago that knew a guy that had a fitness trainer that once looked up how to make a IED with a sock and a microwave because he saw it in a movie.

YOU, SIR, ARE A TERRORIST. ARREST THIS MAN!

Only fair (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47754857)

When you participate in a pyramid scheme, expect to be questioned by law enforcement. And if you joined early you're probably more of a perpetrator than a victim, and the interesting question is how you lured other people into participating.

Re:Only fair (1, Flamebait)

pla (258480) | about 4 months ago | (#47755139)

When you participate in a pyramid scheme

Funny how you dumb fucks never get tired of showing off your ignorance regarding that term every time Bitcoin comes up.

You'd think after having your betters correct you a few hundred times over the past three years, you might have learned a bit.

Then again, that presumes an AC actually means to stand behind their post rather than just see who bites. Oh well.

/ Pull the hook out of his mouth.

Re:Only fair (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 4 months ago | (#47757171)

Wait, wut? The cops are coming after Social Security participants?

Hundreds of millions of hard-working contributors, SCREWED.

Like buying from a car thief (2)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 4 months ago | (#47755019)

If the police catches a car thief, they will likely visit anyone buying a car from him. They can't know that you bought his car that he purchased before he started his thieving career, or the car which he purchased himself with money he made from thieving (which would then be legally yours, unlike a stolen car that you bought off the thief), until they ask you.

That's the purpose of interviewing that man - to figure out if he had anything to do with illegal activities or not. Apparently he didn't. So what's the problem?

Re:Like buying from a car thief (5, Insightful)

nbauman (624611) | about 4 months ago | (#47755821)

If the police catches a car thief, they will likely visit anyone buying a car from him. They can't know that you bought his car that he purchased before he started his thieving career, or the car which he purchased himself with money he made from thieving (which would then be legally yours, unlike a stolen car that you bought off the thief), until they ask you.

That's the purpose of interviewing that man - to figure out if he had anything to do with illegal activities or not. Apparently he didn't. So what's the problem?

The problem is that very often someone who thinks he is (or is) completely innocent will talk to the cops, and as a result the cops decide he's committed a crime, prosecute him, and he goes to jail. Here's an example http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10... [nytimes.com] of the scientist Thomas Butler.

Notice that the cops can lie to you, but if you lie to them, you're committing a crime (and a lot of people went to jail for lying to cops, including the roommates of the Boston bomber).

On Youtube there's a lecture by a law professor about why you should never talk to the cops without a lawyer present, even if you're innocent (and certainly not if you're guilty). He gave many scenarios, based on real cases, about how that has gotten people convicted of crimes, even falsely.

For example, suppose you go to Pigtown, buy a bottle of milk in the grocery store, and go home. Somebody gets shot around that time in Pigtown. The cops ask you whether you were in Pigtown that day. You say yes.

Then the cops show your picture to Mary Misidentification, who honestly but wrongly thinks that she saw you shoot the guy. You go to court. The cops use your admission to prove that you were in Pigtown that day. They use Mary's testimony that she saw you shoot the guy. Put those together and they send you to jail.

In the Bitcoin case, you may have done something that you think was legal, but was actually a crime. (Or something that they could interpret as a crime.) If you kept your mouth shut, the FBI wouldn't even know about it. But if you admit to doing it, that's a confession, and it's an easy conviction for them. You won't even get a chance to plea bargain.

Unless a crime was committed against you or somebody you're concerned about, talking to the cops can't do you any good, and it can do you harm. So it's foolish to do it.

It's too bad, but the cops are acting like pigs, so you can't do it.

Re:Like buying from a car thief (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 4 months ago | (#47755997)

The problem is that very often someone who thinks he is (or is) completely innocent will talk to the cops, and as a result the cops decide he's committed a crime, prosecute him, and he goes to jail. Here's an example http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10 [nytimes.com] ... of the scientist Thomas Butler

For those who don't want to click on the link, it describes a situation wherea man was prosecuted for lying to the FBI, after he caused a major alert by pretending some vials of plague bacteria had been stolen that, in fact, he'd accidentally destroyed.

I'm kind of wondering if that's the example the parent poster actually planned to use, or if he cut and pasted the wrong link. I'd have thought Bulter would have been aware of the consequences of pretending someone had stolen such a thing, that it would result in a major investigation, with a lot of resources wasted.

Re:Like buying from a car thief (1)

nbauman (624611) | about 4 months ago | (#47756743)

For those who don't want to click on the link, it describes a situation wherea man was prosecuted for lying to the FBI, after he caused a major alert by pretending some vials of plague bacteria had been stolen that, in fact, he'd accidentally destroyed.

I'm kind of wondering if that's the example the parent poster actually planned to use, or if he cut and pasted the wrong link. I'd have thought Bulter would have been aware of the consequences of pretending someone had stolen such a thing, that it would result in a major investigation, with a lot of resources wasted.

This is a good example of how someone can take a statement, as the cops do, and misinterpret it. This story was covered in Science, Nature, and most of the science magazines, by people who actually understood how bacteriology labs worked. Peter Agre, the Nobel laureate, investigated the case, decided Butler was railroaded and innocent, and spent his Nobel prize on Butler's defense. A lot of scientists and professional associations supported Butler because they worked in labs and they thought that Butler was doing what they did -- following the best procedures -- and the FBI was misinterpreting it and calling it a crime.

The problem was that Butler couldn't account for 30 vials of plague in his inventory, which is something that happens in laboratories. Even Robert Gallow mixed up his AIDS virus samples. Labs don't have infinite money to track inventory and documents. Even the FBI loses documents. Plague bacteria wasn't all that dangerous. Butler was one of the world's leading experts on plague, and he knew how dangerous it was and how to handle it better than anybody else, including the FBI. The problem was paperwork, back in those pre-computer days. The vials were almost certainly destroyed, but he couldn't document it.

The FBI led him into making a statement that he signed, without realizing the significance of it. He thought he might have made a mistake in his first account, so he reversed himself and agreed to do it their way. He thought he was doing the right thing, and he was trying to be cooperative. (Which is what the lawyers warn you about.) This is the way cops manipulate people into false confessions.

As the NYT story says:

Dr. Butler said that the F.B.I. tricked him into a confession so the agency could close the case.

''I feel I was naive to have trusted them,'' Dr. Butler said in the interview,

He caused a "major alert" because the FBI saw, OMG plague! and some pig saw an opportunity to make a career for himself by prosecuting the first bioterrorism case -- without understanding what it was all about, according to the scientists who actually work on plague and other pathogens. They used stupid terrorism laws which had just been passed by congressmen who didn't understand what it was all about either.

Then they offered him a deal by which he would plead guilty and serve a 6-month sentence. Butler wouldn't take it, because he (and his supporters, who were most of the top infectious disease researchers in the country) didn't believe he was guilty. He went to trial, was convicted, and served 2 years. There have been lots of innocent people who were convicted by prosecutors and juries who didn't understand scientific evidence.

Don't believe me. When the friendly cops come to your door, and pal around with you, and ask you to help them out by answering a few questions, go ahead. Shoot your mouth off. They won't be so friendly any more after they put on the handcuffs and tell you you're under arrest.

The Butler case (1)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about 4 months ago | (#47756907)

The Butler case is not exactly what you claim. First of all, the scientist in question called in the FBI in a panic because he couldn't account for 30 missing vials of plague vaccine and assumed they were stolen. The FBI found no evidence of a break in and then Butler officially signed a document stating that he was in error and he destroyed the vials himself and he claimed they were missing to cover it up. That got him arrested. Then he said that he doesn't know what happened, whether he destroyed the vials or not. He claims that the FBI pressured him into signing the document admitting he destroyed them and he was probably led to believe that if he signed it they would close the case when it fact it was used against him as "proof" that he caused an FBI investigation for nothing. Let's not kid ourselves here - this is not at all a case as you suggest where the FBI came fishing out of nowhere. Had Butler not contacted them to begin with in a panic, they would not have bothered him at all. He was probably tricked into "confessing" and not told he'd be prosecuted for doing so and that's a valid complaint against the FBI, but they certainly didn't come to him out of the blue and invent a reason for going after him.

Re:The Butler case (2)

nbauman (624611) | about 4 months ago | (#47759563)

I was giving an example of someone who hadn't committed a crime, but talked to the FBI without a lawyer present, and as a result was convicted of a crime. He was tricked into confessing a crime, and possibly even tricked into committing a crime.

I read about it in Science, and some of the other publications that were following the case. I know that Peter Agre and several scientific societies investigated it and concluded that Butler hadn't committed a crime. They convinced me.

I also wasn't convinced that he lied -- that he knowingly told the FBI something false. He may have thought at first that they were stolen, or that they were possibly stolen. After talking it over with the FBI, they may have convinced him to change his mind and decide that they weren't stolen, and that he must have destroyed them. That's what it sounded like to me.

There was no underlying crime, and there was no crime at all until the FBI created one. So that's another reason for not talking to the cops without a lawyer: even if you're innocent when you start talking to them, they may trick you into committing a crime in talking to them.

The case was also complicated by a civil litigation that Butler was having with the university at the same time. The university didn't defend him, but instead elevated their civil case into criminal charges, and merged that into the FBI charges.

If there wasn't any recording of the conversations, then we'll never know with certainty what Butler and the FBI said. Lawyers who deal with false convictions, like The Innocence Project, say that all criminal interrogations should be recorded.

At any rate, I was arguing that you should never talk to the cops without a lawyer present (if at all). I think this proves my case.

The parent said, "So what's the problem?" That's the problem.

Re:Like buying from a car thief (2)

cherenkov (3790773) | about 4 months ago | (#47756347)

That's the purpose of interviewing that man - to figure out if he had anything to do with illegal activities or not. Apparently he didn't. So what's the problem?

Not really my obligation to make their fishing expedition easier, though, is it? The problem is that all there's this assumption that when the police (local, state, federal) come asking, there's some responsibility to answer them to demonstrate that your activities are legal. That's not how it's supposed to work.

Re:Like buying from a car thief (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 4 months ago | (#47757573)

That's the purpose of interviewing that man - to figure out if he had anything to do with illegal activities or not. Apparently he didn't. So what's the problem?

The problem is that there is a lot of very paranoid people absolutely (and groundlessly) convinced that if the police are talking to them, the police are coming after them. Personally. With malice aforethought. They've never heard of investigations, or due dilegence... or if they have heard of them, they discard them because the police are after them.

Re:Like buying from a car thief (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47760011)

That's the purpose of interviewing that man - to figure out if he had anything to do with illegal activities or not. Apparently he didn't. So what's the problem?

The problem is that there is a lot of very paranoid people absolutely (and groundlessly) convinced that if the police are talking to them, the police are coming after them. Personally. With malice aforethought. They've never heard of investigations, or due dilegence... or if they have heard of them, they discard them because the police are after them.

No, the problem is with the way law enforcement works. What you say can and will be used against you, but the reverse is not true. Police officers are not obliged to mention the bits that might help you, they don't have to mention the parts that make their own cases look weak.

Police culture has also gotten steadily more militant over the years, its no longer "serve and protect" its "find and punish the badguys". Police treat all non-LEO's as if were criminals just waiting for the right opportunity. So, when talking to the cops as an innocent person you have two outcomes. "nothing happens to you" and "cops decide your a badguy and use your statements against you.. When not talking to the cops, the same two things can happen, expect now they don't have any of your statements to use against you.

Not talking to the cops always leaves you in better position, regardless of circumstances.

The fact that this is the case doesn't say bad things about society, its says bad things about our law enforcement system. Law enforcement should be set up in such a way that helping the police, and wanting to help the police is encouraged.

Re:Like buying from a car thief (1)

WorBlux (1751716) | about 4 months ago | (#47766263)

The U.S. imprisons more people per capita than any other nation. Police and prosecutors careers are positively correlated with convictions. So yes there are cops out there who will smash thier boot into your face in an instant if they think it will help them get that next promotion.

Like buying from a car thief (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47758483)

In this case there doesn't seem to be any problem.

More generally the problem is that the US has managed to get to a very bad place where the cops are heavily militarized and have a primary mandate of "catching bad guys". (they' mandate should be "protecting citizens")

It gets worse in that they've managed to get the judiciary and legislature to become complacent in ignoring constitutional limits on their power, and there are a lot of laws that essentially no one thinks should be laws but they somehow remain and can be used to bring charges against large portions of the population.

No problem. (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 4 months ago | (#47755039)

Just don't talk to the police, ever!

big problem (2)

iggymanz (596061) | about 4 months ago | (#47757063)

That's not how it works. They will come to talk to you. They will make problems for you. And you will talk, or you will have HUGE problems.

Law enforcement investigates by asking questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47755385)

News at 11:00

Really have they charge them with early use of Bitcon. A capital offense.

A crime may actually have been committed. They will not tell you until the indictment.

"The onus on law enforcement" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47755507)

"The onus on law enforcement" would be the first words out of my mouth.

good luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47755539)

because it's A) none of their business
B) I plead the 5th
C) I don't recall

it was 20 minutes late (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47755675)

I am that dick head who bought a pizza.

Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47756551)

"I exercise my right to remain silent. If I an arrested or taken to a police station, I want to speak with a lawyer ASAP."

Unfortunately, most people will cower before the cops, answer their questions, and find themselves behind bars because they answered one of their trick questions incorrectly, condemning them in the process. Like Scooter Libby and Martha Stewart, they will learn the hard way to NEVER make any statements to cops.

Free speech but not trade (2)

troll -1 (956834) | about 4 months ago | (#47757045)

You think you are free because you can say what you want but you are not free. You cannot trade with anyone, anywhere, anytime. For some reason freedom to trade was never considered a basic human right. From a functionalist perspective trade is to the modern state what speech was to the church. Both affect revenue.

Too bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47759867)

Law enforcement has no say in the matter. Bitcoin exist outside their jurisdiction.

ah Bitcoin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47760667)

nothing like seeing 20 GB of the blockchain on my old 100 GB hard drive. I know, I should get a lite client and import the private keys. :D

I do like how bitcoin is relatively anonymous. I don't think that I have entered my email address anywhere. I haven't created an account on any bitcoin forums either.

or.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47766061)

perhaps Federal officers wanted to actually learn how Bitcoins really work, and went to find out how things really got started, to get past the zealots and the quasi-religious supporters of alt currency.

A little field research goes a long way.

Naw, couldn't be that. this is the Federal government after all.

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