Real Name: Kevin Poulsen
Aliases: Dark Dante, John Anderson
Wanted For: Computer Piracy, Theft
Missing Since: October 1989
Details: In 1983, young computer hacker Kevin Poulsen found a telephone number for ARPANET, the computer network created by the Pentagon. He used this number to access ARPANET, while under the alias "Dark Dante." After connecting his modem to the ARPANET telephone number, he realized that he had access to military research being conducted at the University of California, Berkeley. He was able to accurately guess the password that protected sensitive documents in the Berkeley computer.
After going through the network for several weeks, Poulsen accidentally used his real name. On September 22, 1983, his computer was confiscated by the Los Angeles DA and a friend of his was arrested for hacking. However, because he was only seventeen, the DA decided to not arrest Poulsen. Instead, he was given a warning that apparently fell on deaf ears.
After moving out of his parent's home, Poulsen once again began hacking into various networks. He also bought a storage locker, which he soon got behind on payments for it. In February of 1988, the locker was opened, and hordes of computer and telephone equipment were discovered. Investigators also discovered the phone number for the Soviet embassy, and suspected that the person who owned the locker may have been involved in spying for the Soviet Union. Finally, they discovered several items in the locker bearing the name "Kevin Poulsen".
Authorities went to Poulsen's home and found that he had set up a complete wire tapping operation in a spare bedroom. This equipment allowed him to enter various computer databases and monitor telephone conversations. It was later discovered that he used this equipment to tap the phone lines of his friend, Sean Randol, and record her family's conversations.
Authorities also found photographs that Poulsen had taken of himself breaking into a television switching trailer, and using what was inside. The FBI soon became involved; they discovered that someone matching Poulsen's description had entered several Northern California telephone facilities using a false ID. Once inside the facilities, the intruder found phone numbers that he could use to get into the company's computer system. A test set was also stolen from one of the facilities; this was later found in Poulsen's apartment. He had also obtained information from various U.S. military agencies. FBI investigators suspected he may have been involved in espionage.
On October 19, 1989, Poulsen and two fellow hackers were indicted on nineteen charges involving computer piracy, hacking, and theft. The two other men were arrested, but Kevin Poulsen vanished.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the October 10, 1990 episode.
Results: Captured. Shortly after the broadcast, FBI investigators received information that Poulsen was living in the Los Angeles area. Authorities located several of Poulsen's acquaintances and one of them stated that they had seen Poulsen at "Hughes Market" and frequented that location.
Three weeks later, Poulsen returned to the market. Manager Brian Bridges recognized Poulsen when he entered the store and notified the FBI. However, Poulsen left before agents arrived. One of the investigators decided to do surveillance on the market and shortly before midnight Poulsen returned once again. Once he entered the market, the agent told Bridges that Poulsen was once again at the store. While checking him out, two store clerks tackled Poulsen to the ground and he was soon arrested by a security guard. FBI agents later came and took him into custody.
Poulsen pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud, and intercepting wire transmissions. He was sentenced to 54 months in prison. After he was released, he changed his life for the better by becoming a journalist and making a computer script that helped locate over 700 sex offenders on Myspace.
- Kevin Poulsen at Unsolved.com
- Kevin Poulsen at Wikipedia
- Kevin Poulsen's Website
- 3 Charged With Breaking Into Military Computer
- Hacker In Trouble: Loner Gone Astray?
- The Last Hacker : He Called Himself Dark Dante. His Compulsion Led Him to Secret Files and, Eventually, the Bar of Justice
- Kevin Poulsen by Appknox