Security News

GPS Tracking Device Found on New York City Bus Leads to Cyberstalking Arrest of Mobster

Eleven members of the Colombo crime family are among 20 people arrested on charges that include cyberstalking, after the discovery of a GPS tracking device on an MTA bus in New York City in November 2016.

The tracking device, however, wasn't meant for the bus. It had been bought by an alleged captain in the Colombo crime family, Joseph Amato, and hidden on the car of his then-girlfriend, herein known as Jane Doe, because he wanted to keep track of her and maintain control over her. He had even boasted in an email to her: "This is my island. Not yours. I have the eyes all over."

According to a Department of Justice document, Amato's surveillance of Jane Doe, which continued for several months, involved having to retrieve the device, charge it and reposition it on her car. At some point, the device had been discovered and placed on the bus in an attempt to confuse Amato, which it did, as he stopped the surveillance.

When Amato couldn't find the tracking device, he reported it as missing to the electronic service provider administering it. This alerted law enforcement, who were investigating the discovery of the device on the bus, and led to a larger investigation into Amato and, in turn, the others named in the DoJ document.

Amato's desire to track Jane Doe didn't end with the loss of the first tracking device and, in May 2017, he bought a second device and tried placing it on her vehicle. However, this didn't last long, after law enforcement agencies searched Amato’s residence and discovered he'd bought the second device.

On October 2, 2019, a grand jury returned a sealed 31-count indictment against the defendants. As well as the cyberstalking charges, Amato and the others named in the DoJ document have been charged with crimes including racketeering, extortion, loansharking, and threatening to commit a crime of violence.

. . .

If you want to stay notified of vulnerabilities that affect you, register for a weekly security report customised to your stack.

Receive alerts for vulnerabilities, zero-days, security news and more

Try our FREE 14-day trial. See an example email

Example email for SecAlerts