Jeremy Hammond was a computer hacker who attacked Stratfor firm. Once FBI was able to pinpoint the real identity of the person behind one of the nicknames who claimed they hacked Startfor, they started extensive investigation on Hammond.


While sup_g may indeed have been a "credible threat," he was in the end no match for the overwhelming federal resources of the FBI agents hunting him down. Over the last month, federal agents staked out his home in Chicago constantly, dug up old police surveillance records, tapped his Internet connection, used directional wireless finders to locate and identify his wireless router, and relied on Sabu back in his New York City apartment to let them know when sup_g went on or offline. "sup_g" was one of Hammond's nicknames.

Why would FBI go to such great lengths if they already revealed the identity of the perpetrator? Why FBI considered it not enough to correlate an Internet nickname to a physical person? If they required evidence, why did they just not search Hammond's computers after making sure one of aliases that claimed to have hacked Startfor is indeed Jeremy Hammond?

1 Answer 1


The cited Wikipedia article explains why the FBI took the case so seriously, and in a serious case, the FBI is meticulous about being able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt on all possible charges. It also didn't know what other crimes or conspiracies might be involved and needed to be able to prosecute any newly discovered offenses. The Wikipedia article notes, in the pertinent part:

On March 5, 2012, Hammond was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago for his involvement in the December 2011 cyberattack on Stratfor, a private intelligence firm. The intrusion compromised 60,000 credit card numbers, $700,000 in fraudulent charges, and involved the download of 5 million emails, some of which were subsequently published by WikiLeaks. . . . He was one of six individuals from the United States, England and Ireland indicted.

The FBI was led to Hammond through information given by computer hacker Hector Xavier Monsegur ("Sabu"), who became a government informant immediately after his arrest in early 2011, and subsequently pleaded guilty in August 2011 to twelve counts of hacking, fraud, and identity theft. . . . Information from Monsegur helped lead the authorities to at least eight co-conspirators, including Hammond, and helped to disrupt at least 300 cyberattacks. . . .

Sabu was detained pending trial; in denying bail, Judge Loretta A. Preska described Hammond as "a very substantial danger to the community." . . .

In May 2013, Hammond pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Upon his guilty plea, Hammond issued a statement saying, "I did work with Anonymous to hack Stratfor, among other websites" . . . Hammond was sentenced on November 15, 2013, to the maximum of ten years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

  • Do you imply that in any case involving a crime with "small" damage, for example stealing funds from a bank account of only one person, the investigator would get satisfied only with evidence from the suspect's computer once he or she is identified? And in such hypothetical case, the damage involved would be far less than cumulative $700,000
    – lllliquid
    Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 22:24
  • @Illiquid All cases are investigated on a budget without having access to infinite resources. The resources that can be devoted to a case with a huge impact are greater than those that can be devoted to those with a small impact. The investigator would probably have used a less expensive method to try to prove that the individual was the person associated with the user ID if this was a theft of a much smaller amount of funds from one person (and the FBi has policy of usually leaving cases with less than $75,000 of economic harm to state and local agencies to handle).
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 23:35

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