Drive-by shooting suspect remotely wipes iPhone X, catches extra charges

Posted:
in iPhone
A woman from Schenectady, N.Y. accused of being the driver in a shooting used Apple's remote wipe feature to destroy evidence on her iPhone X that might have been related to the event.




Police suspect Juelle Grant as the driver in the Oct. 23 shooting, which had no injuries, according to the Daily Gazette. Grant is also accused of hiding the shooter's identity, and removing the gun used.

The iPhone was seized as evidence in the case, but police say that shortly after she triggered the remote wipe, an option available via Find My iPhone in iCloud. Normally the tool is intended for people with lost or stolen devices.

Grant was arrested on Nov. 2 -- the only person known to have been arrested in the case so far -- and charged with two counts of tampering with physical evidence, and one count of hindering prosecution. Only one of the tampering counts is connected to the iPhone.

"The defendant was aware of the intentions of the police department at the conclusion of the interview with her," court documents claim.

The Gazette noted that police could have avoided the situation if they'd put the iPhone in a Faraday bag, which would have blocked any wireless signals. It's not clear however if the city actually has any such bags.

Recent iPhones have proven a challenge to law enforcement, though not usually because of remote wipes. Full-disk iOS encryption and end-to-end encryption in apps like Messages can make it difficult or impossible to intercept data, at least without hardware from forensics companies like Cellebrite or Grayshift. It may actually be easier to force a person to unlock an iPhone via Touch ID or Face ID -- in the U.S., criminal suspects can legally refuse to hand over their passcodes.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,433member
    I can definitely see how she can be charged with impeding an investigation (assuming it can be reasonably proven that she did the remote wipe), but I wonder if there is legal precedence that this would also be tampering with police evidence since it's digital data and there was no direct contact with the device. It is 2018 so I'd expect there is by now, but I've never read about it.

    The Gazette is right about the police not properly protecting their evidence. If the courts ultimately throw out the iPhone as evidence it's on them and I hope they learn from their mistakes so that future criminals can be charged and convicted accordingly.
    SpamSandwicholswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 35
    There was is another possibility. iPhones can be set to automatically remote wipe after 10 failed attempts to open it. That may or may not include Face ID attempts. 

    DAalsethwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 35
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,433member
    genovelle said:
    There was is another possibility. iPhones can be set to automatically remote wipe after 10 failed attempts to open it. That may or may not include Face ID attempts. 
    They could be lying and their other lack of modern protocols does lean toward them triggering the wipe themselves as a possibility, but the article seems very clear that the police are claiming "that she triggered a remote wipe,' which would be easy for her lawyer to prove.
    edited November 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 35
    Deviant DeveloperDeviant Developer Posts: 2unconfirmed, member
    On one level the cops did exactly the right thing, probably by accident. The cops almost certainly would never be able to get into the phone. So now she's wiped it they have an extra stick to beat her with "evidence tampering". Using a Faraday bag is therefore against what they might be trying to achieve (putting the chick in jail). If they'd used such a bag they'd have a phone they can't get into and no tampering charge. The only question is - are they playing 4D chess, or are they Keystone Cops. You decide.
    neo-techmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 35
    payecopayeco Posts: 230member
    They’re having drive by shootings in Schenectady now?
  • Reply 6 of 35
    I have no idea about this case in particular, but I could see myself being clever enough to get myself in trouble.  Suppose the police confiscate your phone believing you did something that you didn't do.  I can imagine being irked enough by this to remote wipe my phone--and thereby subject myself to criminal charges for impeding a police investigation.  You know what they say, oftentimes the cover up is worse than the crime.
    Solidws-2arlomediawatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 35
    I have no idea about this case in particular, but I could see myself being clever enough to get myself in trouble.  Suppose the police confiscate your phone believing you did something that you didn't do.  I can imagine being irked enough by this to remote wipe my phone--and thereby subject myself to criminal charges for impeding a police investigation.  You know what they say, oftentimes the cover up is worse than the crime.
    The question is more like: Do you hide anything that might be illegal? If not then why do you even consider options on hiding anything? Everynody seems t o be so diligent about use of technology and nobody even thinks what really people might be hiding. There are other ways to get to these who did something illegal and smartphone is not the only way.
  • Reply 8 of 35
    I thought you had the legal right not to incriminate yourself, where does the line between this and tampering with evidence lie?
    randominternetpersonarlomediawatto_cobraargonautjony0
  • Reply 9 of 35
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,949member
    It's her phone. She can do anything she wants with it. How can this be evidence tampering when the 5th amendment protects you? I don't condone illegal things but she has every right to protect her personal things. When a criminal wipes their fingerprints from a crime scene is that tampering with evidence?

    I'm sure this will be used by government officials to demand that Apple disable this privacy and security feature. 
    watto_cobraargonautmacsince1988
  • Reply 10 of 35
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,433member
    I have no idea about this case in particular, but I could see myself being clever enough to get myself in trouble.  Suppose the police confiscate your phone believing you did something that you didn't do.  I can imagine being irked enough by this to remote wipe my phone--and thereby subject myself to criminal charges for impeding a police investigation.  You know what they say, oftentimes the cover up is worse than the crime.
    The question is more like: Do you hide anything that might be illegal? If not then why do you even consider options on hiding anything? Everynody seems t o be so diligent about use of technology and nobody even thinks what really people might be hiding. There are other ways to get to these who did something illegal and smartphone is not the only way.
     "It's not that I have something to hide. I have nothing I want you to see." — Anon
    StrangeDaysgatorguypujones1randominternetpersonbonobobarlomediamobirdlarryjwargonaut
  • Reply 11 of 35
    payeco said:
    They’re having drive by shootings in Schenectady now?
    Incident. Unlike Oakland, California (and few others in California) where it is norm I guess.
  • Reply 12 of 35
    rob53 said:
    It's her phone. She can do anything she wants with it. How can this be evidence tampering when the 5th amendment protects you? I don't condone illegal things but she has every right to protect her personal things. When a criminal wipes their fingerprints from a crime scene is that tampering with evidence?

    I'm sure this will be used by government officials to demand that Apple disable this privacy and security feature. 
    It’s her phone, but in the custody of the police, that are using it as evidence in an ongoing investigation; which in layman’s terms can best be described as it being the Police’s phone.

    You can’t just demand that the police stop using your stuff as evidence, or demand access to it to wipe your fingerprints off it.

    Deleting data currently being used by the police as evidence in an ongoing investigation is a no-no.
    gatorguyStrangeDaysapres587randominternetpersonarlomediawatto_cobraargonaut
  • Reply 13 of 35
    rob53 said:
    It's her phone. She can do anything she wants with it. How can this be evidence tampering when the 5th amendment protects you? I don't condone illegal things but she has every right to protect her personal things. When a criminal wipes their fingerprints from a crime scene is that tampering with evidence?

    I'm sure this will be used by government officials to demand that Apple disable this privacy and security feature. 
    So if she had a self-destruct button to trigger a device to burn her papers (collected as evidence) she should be able to burn them after they’re collected? Her property, right?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 35
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 893member
    "police could have avoided the situation if they'd put the iPhone in a Faraday bag"

     That was my immediate question, too. It seems like that would be standard protocol.
    Soli said:
    genovelle said:
    There was is another possibility. iPhones can be set to automatically remote wipe after 10 failed attempts to open it. That may or may not include Face ID attempts. 
    They could be lying and their other lack of modern protocols does lean toward them triggering the wipe themselves as a possibility, but the article seems very clear that the police are claiming "that she triggered a remote wipe,' which would be easy for her lawyer to prove.
    IIRC, when you do a remote wipe, a message comes up on the screen stating as such. It doesn't take long for the wipe signal to go though so  it's also possible that they had it in such a bag and took it out to investigate and it was in contact with servers just long enough to trigger the wipe. 

    There was a court ruling recently that like fingerprints, your face is not 'protected' by the 5th amendment, and police can compel someone to unlock their phone with FaceID. The problem for police departments is that technology and the legal aspects around it are moving quite quickly. I wouldn't be surprised if department policies haven't kept up. 

    I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding is that in situations where there is reasonable suspicion and a risk that evidence may be lost by the delay police are allowed to search without a warrant. Given the fact that FaceID times out in a couple hours, I would see courts allowing police to open and search a phone without a warrant. In this case, even a contact, call log or iMessage would be relevant and significant to the investigation. 


    gatorguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 35
    She had to wipe the phone because there was a video of the drive by that would prove she was the one /S. It is quite a jump to automatically assume that there would be something on the phone that would incriminate her. If you are talking about text messages or phone calls he NSA already has those so what is the problem.  :p
    watto_cobraargonaut
  • Reply 16 of 35
    payecopayeco Posts: 230member
    rob53 said:
    It's her phone. She can do anything she wants with it. How can this be evidence tampering when the 5th amendment protects you? I don't condone illegal things but she has every right to protect her personal things. When a criminal wipes their fingerprints from a crime scene is that tampering with evidence?

    I'm sure this will be used by government officials to demand that Apple disable this privacy and security feature. 
    This not the same thing. The user wiped the phone when it was already in custody. It wouldn’t be like wiping your fingerprints off at a crime scene. This would be like breaking into the evidence locker at the police station and destroying the fingerprints they took at the scene.
    Solihodarapres587arlomediawatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 35
    dws-2dws-2 Posts: 211member
    crogers said:
    I thought you had the legal right not to incriminate yourself, where does the line between this and tampering with evidence lie?
    I think the point of this right is a person cannot be forcibly made to confess. I don't think it was intended for a person to be able to hide evidence by destroying it.
    edited November 2018 randominternetperson
  • Reply 18 of 35
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,433member
    MplsP said:
    "police could have avoided the situation if they'd put the iPhone in a Faraday bag"

     That was my immediate question, too. It seems like that would be standard protocol.
    Soli said:
    genovelle said:
    There was is another possibility. iPhones can be set to automatically remote wipe after 10 failed attempts to open it. That may or may not include Face ID attempts. 
    They could be lying and their other lack of modern protocols does lean toward them triggering the wipe themselves as a possibility, but the article seems very clear that the police are claiming "that she triggered a remote wipe,' which would be easy for her lawyer to prove.
    IIRC, when you do a remote wipe, a message comes up on the screen stating as such. It doesn't take long for the wipe signal to go though so  it's also possible that they had it in such a bag and took it out to investigate and it was in contact with servers just long enough to trigger the wipe. 

    There was a court ruling recently that like fingerprints, your face is not 'protected' by the 5th amendment, and police can compel someone to unlock their phone with FaceID. The problem for police departments is that technology and the legal aspects around it are moving quite quickly. I wouldn't be surprised if department policies haven't kept up. 

    I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding is that in situations where there is reasonable suspicion and a risk that evidence may be lost by the delay police are allowed to search without a warrant. Given the fact that FaceID times out in a couple hours, I would see courts allowing police to open and search a phone without a warrant. In this case, even a contact, call log or iMessage would be relevant and significant to the investigation. 
    If they took it out of a Faraday bag it should've only been worked on within a Faraday cage, at least until they can put it into Airplane Mode.
    JFC_PA
  • Reply 19 of 35
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,433member
    I have yet to use a roll-on product, but this seems very low cost compared to retrofitting an evidence room or CE evidence locker.


    I even wonder if this might preferable for a home where you have an excessive amount of RF affecting the WiFi in your home. Of course, would be to then be on cellular if you were in your yard unless you install a extender past the barrier. Now, windows would allow RF in, but if you severely reduced the RF traffic I'd think your home WiFI would be better off. Note I say this as a hypothetical as I don't encounter this much anymore now that we're well beyond 802.11a/b/g @ 2.4 GHz.
  • Reply 20 of 35
    The police really need to protect their evidence with automation the way it is. I can see there being ways of wiping the iPhone without direct intervention. 

    Personally I don’t care since I’m backed up to the cloud and would count on the judicial system to force any access to that but I do want a way to prevent just anyone that gets my iPhone to be able to access my personal data. 
Sign In or Register to comment.