An intelligent but introverted computer prodigy with impressive artistic skill but debilitating social anxiety and mental instability is accused of operating a complex and malicious hacking operation from his grandparents’ Opelousas trailer.
What seems like a stereotypical depiction of a misfit techno-genius is rather the unfolding story surrounding 28-year-old Rory Guidry, who’s been implicated in an array of cybercrimes following the global takedown last week of a forum authorities said hackers used to buy, sell and share the tools of their illicit trade.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna on Monday ordered Guidry to remain behind bars without bail, also demanding he undergo a mental health evaluation before the court reconsiders releasing him on house arrest in an Internet-free environment.
“The presence of cybercrime is evident (in Guidry’s case) but as dangerous as armed robbery, as far as this court is concerned,” Hanna said.
Among the allegations in Guidry’s July 14 arrest on a count of cyberfraud was his control over a botnet, in which a series of computers are compromised and controlled by a third party without the computer users’ knowledge, thus giving the controller access to the systems for malicious purposes — like spreading malware and stealing personal information.
Investigators also found evidence of at least 1,000 stolen credit card numbers on his seized computer hardware, along with logs listing at least 14,000 compromised user names and passwords spanning almost 7,000 IP addresses, according to testimony at the Monday hearing from FBI Special Agent Randy Jordan.
The FBI last Tuesday raided the home of Guidry’s grandparents — he had been staying there since May — and seized two hard drives, four laptops and two cellphones from the home, Jordan said.
The seizure was part of the global investigation into the forum called “Darkode,” an invite-only, password-protected forum accessible through the visible Internet — as opposed to the clandestine “dark web” — that provided a marketplace for its users to buy, sell and trade things like hacking tools, spamming services, and stolen credit card numbers and financial data, authorities have said.
Including Guidry, at least 70 of the forum’s users from 20 countries have been implicated in the investigation.
Guidry — a burly man clad in handcuffs, ankle shackles and the navy blue jumpsuit and orange sandals worn by inmates at St. Martin Parish Correctional Center, where federal inmates are often held — at times broke down in sobs during the Monday afternoon hearing, often shaking his head at the allegations lodged against him.
In a 21/2-hour interview after the raid, Guidry admitted to some of the criminal activity, including infiltrating computers, stealing credit card information and accepting about $200,000 in bitcoin, a digital form of currency, from another hacker, Jordan said.
Although the affidavit for Guidry’s arrest says systems tied to at least 168,000 unique IP addresses may have been compromised by the botnet operated by Guidry — including both private and military systems — Jordan on Monday said they have not confirmed how many of those systems were actually breached.
No evidence has yet been recovered that Guidry stole things through the botnet, and there’s no evidence at this point that he successfully sold access to the botnet, which is a high-priced commodity when U.S. computers with high purchasing power are involved, Jordan said.
A confidential FBI source is also the person who provided Guidry with login credentials to remotely access the server through which the botnet in question was operating, Jordan said.
Guidry had been in contact with at least two FBI agents over the past year and a half — one in New York and one in Texas — and although his Liberty Hill, Texas, home was raided in October, he was never arrested in the case, according to testimony at Monday’s hearing.
Guidry’s defense attorney, Kevin Stockstill, tried to assert Guidry may have been acting under the direction of one of the FBI agents with whom he had been in contact. But Jordan said one of the conditions of becoming an FBI informant is to stay away from criminal activity.
No information was provided to show what the conditions of his rapport with the FBI were beyond that raid, which was led by an Austin, Texas, police officer who serves on the FBI Task Force.
The Acadiana Advocate’s attempt to obtain records from the Austin Police Department on the encounter was denied because the investigation is ongoing, a Police Department spokesperson said.
Jordan, the FBI agent, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Myers Namie said during the hearing that Guidry is not only extremely intelligent but highly manipulative, having forged and soured relationships with FBI agents in past attempts to feed them information about criminal activity online — but instead trying to secure information for himself about their ongoing investigations.
Guidry’s mother, Susan Rimel, who lives and reared her son in Dallas, described him as extremely intelligent but afraid of the outside world, living at home until a girlfriend’s family in the Austin metropolitan area took him in three years ago.
Aside from a brief stint stocking shelves at a grocery store, he’s incapable of holding a job, Rimel said, and his mental illnesses have affected his functionality throughout his life.
Although he had no criminal history and no record of drug or alcohol abuse, his mother said, he’s visited a psychiatrist for “as long as he’s been alive.”
Guidry’s younger sister, Melissa Guidry, of Opelousas, offered to become a third-party custodian of her brother should he be released from jail on house arrest, but Hanna expressed concerns about keeping Rory Guidry off the Internet and taking away his one passion when he suffers from a handful of mental ailments: Asperger’s syndrome, bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression.
Melissa Guidry, who is one year younger than her brother, described him as “a very talented artist” with a skill for drawing. He likes to watch movies and “have long discussions,” she said, but beginning when he was 11, he had confined himself to his room and to his computer.
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