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The Dragnet: How a Fraud Suspect Exposed a Secret Surveillance Device

The FBI, the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service were all after the mastermind.

Cam Floyd / The Verge

On May 6, 2008, a package containing $68,000 in cash arrived at a FedEx store in Palo Alto, Calif. The bills had been washed in lantern fuel, as per instruction, then double-vacuum-sealed and placed inside the cavity of a stuffed animal, which was then gift-wrapped. The store had been chosen carefully: It was open all night and located just 500 feet from a Caltrain station. The package was general delivery, to be picked up at the store by a man named Patrick Stout.

The money was being closely watched. The package had been prepared by a criminal informant, working in cooperation with a joint task force of agents from the FBI, IRS, and U.S. Postal Service, who were investigating a tax fraud scheme. The informant had been arrested and flipped months earlier, betrayed by yet another informant. Now they were after the mastermind.

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