Murder plots and cult exposure via iCloud in the Apple Crime Blotter

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An alleged looter gets looted himself, an iPhone photo is part of a public corruption probe, and more on the Apple crime blotter.

The latest in an occasional AppleInsider series, looking at the world of Apple-related crime.

iPhone and iCloud evidence used against a soldier accused of plotting murder with Satanic neo-Nazi cult

A 22-year-old member of the U.S. Army was charged in mid-June with joining up with the Order of the Nine Angles (O9A), described by prosecutors as "an occult-based neo-Nazi and racially motivated violent extremist group," in a plot to murder U.S. soldiers.

According to the indictment, filed in the Southern District of New York, the government seized both an iPhone and iCloud accounts belonging to the soldier, Ethan Phelan Melzer, and discovered evidence related to the plot.

Melzer has been charged with six counts, including conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals, attempted murder, and provision and attempted provision of material support to terrorists.

Facebook video showed officer stomping on protestor's iPhone

A woman arrested at a protest on June 1 in Worcester, Mass., shot footage that appeared to show a police officer stomping on her iPhone. Worcester Star-Telegram reports the woman was streaming video to Facebook Live at the moment she was rushed by officers, and the video appeared to show a boot stomping on her phone.

While the phone continued to record, the woman narrated, and her father even left a comment on the live video stating "a policeman just stepped on your phone."

State trooper accused of texting nude photos from woman's phone

A Minnesota state trooper is being investigated on allegations that, after he arrested a woman for drunk driving, he texted himself the woman's intimate photos from her iPhone. According to KSTP, the incident took place in March, and when the woman got her phone back, she noticed that photos had been texted to an unknown number.

The officer is being investigated by both the State Patrol and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), and the warrants say he admitted to texting himself the photos.

Man charged with identity theft made Apple Store purchases

A Massachusetts man was arrested on June 25 and charged by the U.S. Attorney with using stolen identities to make purchases. In addition to spending on Rolexes and two different rental cars that were never returned, the man's fraudulent expenditures included "large purchases at the Apple Store."

The man, who faces federal wire fraud charges, also made buys of over $100,000 from an unnamed office supply retail chain, "via an employee of the office retailer who was complicit in the scheme."

iPhone photo of wads of cash surfaces in Los Angeles politician's indictment

A photograph, taken from an iPhone, of a massive amount of Australian money has emerged as a piece of evidence in a widespread corruption probe that stretches from Australia to the Los Angeles City council. The Los Angeles Magazinewrites U.S. prosecutors released the photo in relation to the indictment of Councilman Jose Huizar, who has been brought up on racketeering charges.

The magazine reports Huizar "allegedly presided over a criminal enterprise that received more than $1.5 million in exchange for pushing forward certain real estate development projects," and that the cash was brought back from Australia, with the intention of converting it to dollars to avoid U.S. banking requirements. The iPhone photo, per the Sydney Morning Herald, was taken by a former aide who has pled guilty.

Caught on film: man carrying iMac during looting has it taken by thieves

A video clip has emerged from the early June looting in New York City in which a man, who had possibly looted an iMac from an unspecified local store had the computer taken from him, in turn, by another group of looters.

Footage posted by The Daily Mail shows two men attacking the man holding the iMac, punching him, and then taking the computer. The newspaper describes the computer as "allegedly stolen," but it's not established that the first man actually looted it.

Find My iPhone pings stolen AirPods in evidence bag

Three men in Tennessee were arrested in late June on charges that they stole cars, and police say they were charged in part thanks to Find My iPhone. According to The Cleveland Banner, the accused thieves also entered unlocked vehicles, and took several items, including a set of AirPods, from one of them.

The AirPods didn't lead to the arrest but did provide evidence. The owners of the AirPods "were able to send an audible alert from their Apple Find My iPhone App to their stolen AirPods, pinging the same set recovered from the scene by detectives," which was located in an evidence bag.

Find My iPhone locates stolen car and U-Haul

In another Find My iPhone case, the tool helped a woman use her iPad to find her stolen car, as well as an attached U-Haul trailer that she had used to move most of her possessions. CBS 12 reports the woman was moving from Minneapolis to Las Vegas when, after stopping at a hotel, she noticed the car and trailer were gone.

However, she soon activated Find My iPhone to search for her iPad, which was packed in the U-Haul, and the car and trailer were found about a mile away, although many of the items have still not been recovered.

George Nader, Mueller witness whose iPhone was seized, gets 10 years

George Nader, a minor figure in the Russiagate scandal who served as a witness in Robert Mueller's investigation, was sentenced on June 27 to 10 years in prison. Per CNN, Nader pled guilty earlier in the spring to two counts of sex crimes involving children, after the government had seized his iPhones.

In 2018, FBI agents had taken Nader's iPhones upon his return to the U.S. to search for Russia-related evidence, but when they searched them, they discovered child pornography.

South African entertainer offers reward for lost iPhone charger

The South African musical performer known as Mampintsha has offered a reward of R800 (about $46 in U.S. dollars) for the safe return of his lost iPhone charger. According to Briefly, the entertainer said on social media that he "would not buy a new charger because they are expensive but would rather get his original on back," and also "stirred the pot by saying that the theft of the charger could make people into enemies."

Woman's text from Apple Watch stopped attempted rape

A man broke into a woman's apartment intending to rape her, but the woman used her Apple Watch to text her boyfriend to summon help, which led to the man's arrest.

The Calgary Sunwrites prosecutors argued in court in late June for the defendant to receive a sentence of eight to 10 years.

Duo arrested for stealing iPhone, axe from disabled vehicle

Two men in Virginia were arrested for entering a broken-down vehicle on the side of a highway and taking several items, including an iPhone, an automotive diagnostic scanner, a camping axe and nearly $40 in loose change.

According to, when the owner of the vehicle returned to repair it, he noticed a van parked behind it, and someone in his car. The van fled, but the car owner took down the license plate, leading the men to be arrested at a nearby 7-Eleven.

Couple in Australia sought in iPhone fraud

A couple is accused of a scheme in which they allegedly used the information from a man's stolen wallet to set up a line of credit and buy 14 iPhones. The fraudulent purchases were made at the Booragoon mobile phone shop on March 4, reports Perth Now.

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