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800 criminals who used FBI-operated messaging app arrested in massive sting operation

US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in coordination with Australian Federal Police (AFP), ran a string operation by secretly operating an encrypted messaging app called Anom used by organized crime, leading to the arrest of around 800 suspects, a press release by Europol stated. The operation was revealed this week in a series of news conferences by law enforcement authorities in the US, Australia, Europe, and New Zealand. This "is one of the largest and most sophisticated law enforcement operations to date in the fight against encrypted criminal activities," Europol stated. Origins of the operation The seeds for this operation, known as Operation Ironside/Greenlight/Trojan Shield, were planted in 2018 when the FBI cracked down on Phantom Secure, a company that provided encrypted messaging devices to organized criminals. These devices are secure smartphones that are configured to run only an encrypted messaging app and nothing else. Following this crackdown, an unnamed informant who previously sold Phantom devices and was developing another encrypted device called Anom (Anøm) offered the device to the FBI to use in ongoing and new investigations in return for a reduced prison sentence, Vice reported based on court documents. Criminals leaving Phantom started using other encrypted devices include Anom phones, the report added. "Encrypted criminal communications platforms have traditionally been a tool to evade law enforcement and facilitate transnational organized crime. The FBI and our international partners continue to push the envelope and develop innovative ways to overcome these challenges and bring criminals to justice." - Calvin Shivers, Assistant Director, Criminal…

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