A doctor in California claims that there are real secret agents in the Geek Squad, and that a paid FBI informant turned him in after finding suspicious material on his hard drive in 2012. While the FBI doesn’t deny that the Geek Squad employee did contact them about the contents of the defendant’s hard drive and that they did pay him, the Bureau insists that it didn’t employ informants working in the Geek Squad repair center to comb users’ computers for porn.
The LA Times reports that this case goes back to when the customer first brought his computer to the Geek Squad at the end of 2011. The hard drive was sent to Geek Squad’s repair center in Kentucky, where an employee found suspicious photos on the hard drive and called a local FBI office. Using this information to obtain a search warrant, the FBI searched the doctor’s house, seizing electronics, including the iPhone he was carrying when he came home during the search.
He was indicted in 2014 on allegations of possessing child pornography on multiple devices. However, his attorney claims that the case should be thrown out, if the Geek Squad employee was working as an agent of the government and searching customers’ devices without a warrant. The relevant files were damaged or had been deleted, and Geek Squad agents had to recover them.
The LA Times contacted a constitutional law scholar, who said that if the Geek Squad employee was working on the FBI’s behalf when he called the FBI, it could be a violation of the 4th Amendment. “If the government wants to look at somebody’s computer, they need to get a warrant,” he explained. Best Buy, the FBI, and the employee all claim that this was not the case.
The doctor’s attorney alleges that the Geek Squad employee was a paid FBI informant “who was used for the specific purpose of searching clients’ computers for child pornography and other contraband or evidence of crimes,” the doctor’s attorney wrote in a filing.
Both the FBI and the employee deny these allegations, saying that the employee regularly contacted FBI agents when any technicians discovered suspicious files. According to a Best Buy spokesperson, technicians only report items that they find “as they are opening files necessary to perform the services specified on the customer’s work order.”
The employee took a different job in 2012, and his duties no longer include calling the FBI.
In years past, Geek Squad employees were accused of searching customers’ hard drives for porn so they could swipe it, not so they could turn customers in.