Being a Secret Service agent hunting down the worst of criminals all other the world that is scamming and hacking American citizens hard-earned cash does require an extreme amount of bravery. Agents face extreme situations daily to keep The United States of America safe, but sometimes it also means flirting with a Romanian hacker just to get what they need.
You see, many hackers and scammers are based out of Romania, due to Romania not having any extradition treaties with anyone – so they feel relatively safe. In 2008, Secret Service Agent Matt O’Neill embarked on a three-year-long surveillance program that ended up with him flirting with the Romanian hacker to ensure he could arrest him. What had happened was a point-of-sale hacking at a Subway sandwich franchise and other retailers which had caused the loss of millions in USD.
He first told the story in 2014 when presenting a joint Secret Service and FBI session about cybersecurity. O’Neill was able to dupe the suspected hacker by contacting him as a female casino employee. The plan was to entice the hacker to come over to the United States with the idea that the hacker would not be able to resist a night of gambling. This would allow the Secret Service to arrest him on U.S soil instead of trying to go through all the hoops of extraditing him from Romania.
They even went so far as to onboard an American hotel and casino to ensure the fictitious employee by the name of Sarah had the correct credentials. There were an email address and a direct line at the hotel in her name, and her name appeared on the hotel’s online directory also. Even if the hacker checked her story, it would all appear legit. Agents even went so far as sending a photograph of a young undercover female agent who was holding up a sign saying “hi!” while being inside the hotel’s lobby.
It took over four months to form a quasi-romantic relationship with the hacker, with O’Neill chatting to the hacker online constantly – even at 3 AM. The suspect Iulian Dolan finally flew into Boston to meet the fake Sarah, he arrived with gifts and three boxes of grape-flavored condoms. Of course, he was promptly arrested on arrival and now is serving a seven-year sentence in federal prison.