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Quirky cross-border investigation leads cops to Club Penguin office

Thursday, February 11th, 2010 | 8:33 am

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In Club Penguin, players take the form of penguins and interact in a virtual world. (Screenshot)

By Joe Fries

An international criminal investigation involving police agencies in two countries stretched all the way to the Kelowna offices of… Club Penguin?

The caper centred on a desktop computer that fell off a moving truck when a railroad workers’ union office was relocated from Humble, Texas, to a new site in Tennessee back in September 2009. The prime suspect was the person who loaded the truck.

Luckily, the computer had built-in tracking software, which showed it had logged on to the Club Penguin website, a popular online game for kids that was developed right here in Kelowna and is now owned by Disney Online Studios Canada.

Det. David Scott of the Humble Police Department learned that the person signed in to Club Penguin under the name of Julio412. He tried to obtain the e-mail address attached to that account but was rebuffed by Disney and told a search warrant would be required from a local jurisdiction.

That’s where the second police agency comes into the picture.

A member of the Kelowna RCMP’s property crimes unit was contacted by Scott and agreed to help out on this end. The officer obtained a search warrant last month, which granted him access to the e-mail address used by Julio412. That information was then sent back to the detective in Humble (the H is silent, so it’s pronounced ‘umble’), a town of about 15,000 people roughly 20 miles northeast of Houston.

Seems like a lot of work for a missing computer.

“It is for our agency. We’re a relatively small department, but we try to stay on top of things,” Scott told Kelowna.com in a telephone interview.

He criticized Disney for giving him the runaround.

“I understand they need to protect their clients’ privacy, but most major corporations have law-enforcement liaison people where we contact them and say, ‘Hey, what do we need to get this information,’ and then they tell us exactly what they need.”

“(Disney) kind of threw their hands up in the air and said, ‘Well, we don’t know. You’ll have to figure it out.’”

Karen Mason, corporate communications manager for Club Penguin, believes this to be the first time the company was legally compelled to provide information. She said protecting the privacy and safety of its young players is one of Disney’s “key priorities.”

Mason pointed out that Club Penguin is certified by an independent privacy agency, and the only information it collects from a player using a free account is his or her parent’s e-mail address, to which a message is sent in order to obtain parental permission and activate the account.

However, “If there were a situation where a law-enforcement agency came to us and the safety or well-being of a child was clearly at risk, obviously we’re going to co-operate,” Mason added.

Scott did have kind words for police here.

“A lot places wouldn’t take the time – especially for something kind of minor like a stolen computer – to help out officers that are out of the country.”

Kelowna RCMP spokesman Const. Steve Holmes said it’s not uncommon for his detachment to assist in this manner, “as long as it relates to the lawful exercise of our duties,” and noted that police here generally receive the same courtesy.

Unfortunately, all that cross-border co-operation seemed to be in vain as the Julio412 investigation eventually came to a “screeching halt,” Scott explained.

The e-mail address he obtained was comprised of a first and last name – both uncommon and both hispanic – which he was able to match to two physical addresses in the Houston area. The computer was not found at the first home, and at the second, the residents didn’t open the door – “most likely illegal immigrants and would not answer the door for police anyway,” Scott said.

Because there was only a single documented use of the computer for a few hours in October, the detective couldn’t get a search warrant for that second address. With that, the trail went cold and “basically the case became deactivated.”

joe@kelowna.com
250-575-4303

Quirky cross-border investigation leads cops to Club Penguin office4.3529

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21 Responses to “Quirky cross-border investigation leads cops to Club Penguin office”

  1. Kelliya says:
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    Club penguin rocks my socks off

  2. snoop pen1 says:
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    wow…….this is stupid.but yet intresting

  3. Cammie says:
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    Dude I <3 CP! Cool to know, but when I saw the title I thought it was going to be about some weirdo internet perv. I just wanted to know cause I get on it all the time and I didn't want to be talking to some weirdo!

  4. lol man 77 says:
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    club penguin is the best thing that has ever happend to me!!!

    CLUB PENGUIN IS THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Lucy hamann says:
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    Lol club penguin rockes theres kingdoms and free chat. can dance clubs get any better. i am to young to go to a club. this is perfect for any kid. i play it when ever i can. right now as i type these word my penguin is loging in to club penguin. if u see me come over to my iggy or tent.
    CLUB PENGUIN ROCKS

  6. ashley says:
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    club penguin is the best i hope it never leaves. mabey someday i will become a member and buy alot of things .
    i want to buy almost all clube penguin

  7. ashley says:
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    i have been making alot of club penguins and they love just as much as i do every time they see me they lets go and play on club penguin and they can never stop taking about it if they see me playing then they will start to bug me so they can borrow they computer and start to play its alot of fun and i know how they always want to be on there and they never have time for me (well sometimes they do but not always)im still happy that i made one for them someday they want to become a member just like me so they can buy almost everything just like me i bet they r getting one right about now and i asked them to get me one so i hope they come back preety soon so i can start to play in a new world of fun bye see u guys all preety soon -ashley

  8. Liv says:
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    I luv club penguin & i hpoe it neva leaves.i am a member so i hope i don’t loose any of my stuff!!!!!!To all the Club penguin luvers out there!!!!”WE LUV CLUB PENGUIN!!!!!”

  9. kass says:
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    guys this is no time for fun this is a real crimnal and most likely to be a pedafile i cant belive it no now guess what club penguin could be in danger because what if he comes back

  10. kass says:
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    people can get a friend request from him? well u dont except him u know why hes a crimnal and thats why i dont except anyone thats suspicious to me im not even allowed to have a facebook account

  11. kass says:
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    for our safety we will all have to stay away from him if he comes to club penguin then we all log off it doesnt matter if u have a friend beside u tell them to log off to then u will be safe if u excepted him for a friend request well thats the most worst thing u could of ever done

  12. Bandana says:
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    Club penguin could be in trouble we all better watch out if we see this guy we should try stop him but the thing is how would we know?Club penguin rules but we have to keep it safe.

  13. Marshall Jones says:
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    Hey guys,

    You don’t have too much to worry about. This is just a story some adults might find interesting but doesn’t mean anything has changed for Club Penguin or its players. Keep on having fun and use all the same rules and precautions you usually do when playing or doing anything on the internet.
    We all know Club Penguin is awesome.

    Marshall Jones
    Editor, Kelowna.com

  14. mh8176 says:
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    nice i like it

  15. şevval says:
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    I cant read a centens. Because I am from turkey and I am speak turkhis.Please writing a turkhis

  16. Horatio says:
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    me love club pingi it me favorete computer ever…me love rockhoper lol :)

  17. soz79 says:
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    oh come on a criminal thats soooooooooooo stupid!

  18. potter4563 says:
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    lol that is SO funny. i am banned forev on cp though.

  19. BURD says:
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    Woah. Umm, anyways, this is weird. I love Club Penguin and I logged into my account, right? simsima700. When I logged in it said BANNED YOU ARE BANNED FOREVER.. I was in shock, I sent Disney a e-mail saying I didn’t do anything and they sent me one saying I did. Apparently, someone had hacked my account and started cursing on it. Disney is strict and they said you are banned forever. I sent them another letter asking what it was that was said that was so bad. I wait for my results…

  20. Lisa says:
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    According to Det. David Scott: “(Disney) kind of threw their hands up in the air and said, ‘Well, we don’t know. You’ll have to figure it out.’” What a lier Det. Scott is. They specifically told him to get a search warrant. Why should things be made easy for the police. They make lots of money–let them earn their money for a change.

  21. Taddle says:
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    Club Penguin rocks! I play it everyday, I’m actually suprised that a computer fell out of a lorry and was logged in to the best website ever.

    Please continue discussion on the forum: link

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