As we told you last spring, lawyers for a California doctor accused of possessing child pornography claimed that the FBI had paid a Best Buy employee as an informant. Recently released court documents confirm that multiple Best Buy/Geek Squad staffers received money from the agency after telling the FBI about finding illegal content on customers’ devices.
Sworn declarations in this case from current and former Best Buy staffers and FBI agents show that money did in fact change hands between the law enforcement agency and employees at the electronics retailer.
“I was paid $500 in 2011 by Special Agent Tracey Riley,” reads one statement [PDF] from a former manager at Best Buy’s “Geek Squad City,” a large, centralized electronics service center for the retailer. “It made me uncomfortable to receive money and I contacted our legal department. I gave the money to charity.”
The former manager clarifies that it was not Best Buy policy to actively seek out illegal content on users’ devices, but if a tech were to come upon child pornography in the course of providing service, the tech was to stop work immediately and notify a manager who would then contact the FBI. As he understands it, the FBI never communicated directly with the service techs at Geek Squad City.
Even though the payment received by this staffer was apparently given in response to reporting illegal content found on a customers’ device, he says he did not take it as an encouragement to “find child pornography on behalf of the FBI,” and claims that the agency never actively pushed him to search devices for child porn.
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