Virtual private network provider PureVPN helped the FBI track down an Internet stalker, by combing its logs to reveal his IP address.
The Department of Justice announced on Friday the arrest of Ryan Lin, a 24-year-old from Newtown, Massachusetts, on charges that he cyber-stalked a former room-mate.
According to the complaint [PDF] against Lin in the Massachusetts District Court, his alleged campaign against Jennifer Smith included doxxing (including posting passwords to her online accounts), posting intimate photos with the suggestion they were of Smith (though without her face), rifling her personal journal and emailing private information to her contacts, posting fake profiles of her to sites “dedicated to prostitution, sexual fetishes, and other sexual encounters”, bomb threats, tricking a friend of Smith's into calling the police to her house, death and rape threats, and sending “images that likely constitute child pornography” to her family and friends.
The Feds allege Lin used various privacy services: logging in via Tor, to conceal his IP address; VPN services; anonymised international texting services; and offshore private email providers.
However, the complaint revealed, he made a fundamental error by using a work computer for some of his campaign, and even though he'd been terminated and the OS reinstalled on the machine, there were footprints left behind for investigators to associate Lin with the 16-month campaign against Smith.
Key details turned up by investigators included: