At the start of this week’s episode, a teenage boy is playing video games. Then someone named VIPER75 messages him in the game, telling him it’s time. The boy goes outside, opens a package containing a cordless drill, and then rides his bike to a mysterious set of suburban coordinates. Once there, he gets shot in the chest somehow?
Does that all makes sense? Good. Okay. Moving on.
What happened here, Agent Ryan? “Yesterday, 15-year-old Spencer Chapman was shot to death with a gun hidden in a hollowed-out 18-volt cordless drill.” In case that makes literally zero sense, here’s what it looks like.
It looks like “TR1GG3R is back in business.” TR1GG3R is a deep web arms dealer that the gang’s been chasing for years. He is No. 7 on the Cyber Most-Wanted List.
(Here are the other members of the Cyber Most-Wanted List: W4RP4TH, 4N4L0G, dzd_cnf, P0W3R, N1GHTM4R3, xxLow01, 5W1TCH, S4LV4G3, and D15TR1CT.)
It turns out that Spencer was definitely hiding stuff. As Nelson points out, he doesn’t even have a Kik. That’s impossible. All teenage boys have Kiks.
But before they can figure out what’s going on, another call comes in. Ramsey Scott, who discovered Spencer’s body, has also been found dead. He is found lying next to another drill gun.
Maybe Spencer was sent to kill Ramsey? That’s tough to prove. “These two don’t even have an app in common,” Krumitz notes. No apps in common! Not a single app. What key tech thing are they missing?
Raven knows: It’s the video-game console. Video-game consoles are practically computers, one computer expert tells two other computer experts.
Spencer had spent a lot of time playing video games. Here’s an activity log of the games he played. It is bonkers. These numbers are insane.
Just a few math things for you:
- Destiny was released last September, 245 days ago. That’s 5,880 hours. Spencer has spent 972 hours — one sixth of that entire time period — playing Destiny.
- Spencer, age 15, has spent a cumulative 21 days playing Doom — a game that was released seven years before he was born.
- BioShock has no multiplayer mode. Based on average completion time, Spencer played through the game’s one story mode at least 44 times.
- Portal also has no multiplayer mode. An initial run-through the game takes maybe three or four hours. Subsequent runs can be done in about an hour. Spencer has played Portal for 491 hours.
Anyway, the game console also has messages detailing Spencer’s mission to Ramsey Scott’s house, as ordered by VIPER75.
Krumitz also does some hacker stuff and manages to isolate a recording of VIPER75’s voice.
It’s crazy. Online gaming is nutso. Agent Ryan sums it up: “The online gaming world is a haven for predators, pedophiles, sex offenders, and radicalizers.”
Great and very true! Now bring it on home with an imperfect analogy. “No parent would allow their child to go outside and play with a 45-year-old stranger. With this [game console], it happens every day.”
Next, we’re treated to some product placement for Blacklight: Retribution, a real game, and the game in which all of this predatory manipulation took place. A company paid real money (possibly a lot of it!) to have its game featured on TV as an unsecured haven for deviants. Capitalism is cool.
They track down another player who was manipulated by VIPER75, a gamer by the name of AC3. Finally, Agent Ryan gets to use the stone-cold zinger she’s had in the chamber this entire time:
“It’s time for AC3 … to hit pause.”
VIPER75 has been stealing from gamers to reward other gamers and get them to do his bidding. It’s one big drill/gun/battle armor/katana sword pyramid scheme.
They visit another hacked gamer. His girlfriend, Mad Men’s Stephanie Drake, answers the door.
Yet another Mundo criminal chase scene ensues, and this idiot gamer tries to jump off a roof. It does not go well.
To make things worse, he’s the wrong suspect. They were really looking for Mad Men’s Stephanie Drake, who disappeared. Oops.
Nelson proposes that they track VIPER75 with a supercookie. “How do you attached this supercookie to a criminal on the deep web?” asks Sifter with a straight face.
“What if we put out a news article on the internet about young Spencer being killed by a deep web gun hidden in a power drill?” Krumitz suggest, also with a straight face.
Here’s the plan:
Ramirez makes this face.
The supercookie leads them to TR1GG3R’s deep web marketplace, and then, in a fundamental misunderstanding of how networks like Tor work, they find his IP address. He’s at the library, as all nerds usually are.
They arrest him. Another angry nerd arrested, another case closed.
The episode ends with Patricia Arquette playing a video game very convincingly.