The feds say it doesn’t matter if you don’t use your real name — they’ll find you if you’re making threats online.
“Let me be clear: Those that believe the internet allows them the ability to operate anonymously are utterly mistaken,” Boston Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Peter Fitzhugh said yesterday.
Brandon Ziobrowski, who the feds say tweeted a $500 bounty for the killing of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, was spotted by analysts who scour the internet for threatening messages.
“I am broke but I will scrounge and literally give $500 to anyone who kills an ice agent. @me seriously who else can pledge get in on this let’s make it work,” read a tweet authorities say came from the 33-year-old Cambridge man.
But his name wasn’t on the tweets — the feds say Ziobrowski was using the handle @Vine_II and name adobe_flash_player.dmg to broadcast his threats out to his 400 followers and whoever else was listening in the Twitter void. The feds say it didn’t gain much traction, with a couple people “liking” it and no one appearing to respond.
“It all started when one of the Ziobrowski tweets caught the attention of a unit within the Department of Homeland Security,” said Boston FBI Special Agent in Charge Harold Shaw, who didn’t provide details on the team’s exact methodology.
That unit put together a report and kicked it over to a Homeland Security “fusion center” — a place where law enforcement works with private contractors.
“That analyst figured out who was behind the tweets and where he was possibly located,” Shaw said.
The analyst contacted the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which looked further at Ziobrowski’s social media accounts and determined that he was ramping up violent rhetoric against cops, and ICE in particular, authorities said.
Yesterday morning, they grabbed him in New York City, where he was visiting a friend, arresting him on a federal charge of making a threat.