An ongoing investigation into a Bronx pastor’s purchase of a laptop computer from Amazon is having national security implications.
Tyrone Holmes did not know that when he bought a new shrink-wrapped Macbook from Amazon it had actually had a previous international owner who downloaded confidential software onto it.
Investigators are “stumbling, trying to come up with discovery,” Holmes said. “I guess they’re trying to hide whatever’s going on, they’re trying to keep it concealed.”
Holmes said an oil pump company, CheckPoint Fluidic Systems International, said that FedEx made an error in delivering that laptop to the wrong party, while Amazon blames Apple and Apple blames Amazon.
“Apple’s stand is that they had already sold it to Amazon,” Holmes said. “Amazon’s stand is that they got it from Apple at the time of purchase. Besides, they have an ‘as is’ clause, so ‘new’ really means ‘as is,’ although you pay ‘new’ price.”
Holmes, executive pastor at Samuel’s Temple Church, 476 E. Tremont Avenue, said he could not believe the defendant’s response in federal court.
“The oil company’s defense is even though (it) committed all kinds of crimes and broke all kinds of cyber laws, New York State has no jurisdiction over (them), so they’re trying to dismiss (the case) because of lack of jurisdiction,” said Holmes, whose parents are the senior pastors.
CheckPoint says it bought the laptop new and installed software on it and was shipping it to their company in Dubai.
Somehow it got inadvertently delivered to the Bronx minister.
“It was delivered to me the next day,” Holmes said. “The oil company bought their computer around June 6 and shipped it out June 7. I purchased my laptop from Amazon on June 22 with AppleCare.”
According to Apple’s website Apple hardware comes with a one-year limited warranty and up to 90 days of complimentary telephone technical support.
To extend coverage further, customers are told to purchase the AppleCare Protection Plan or AppleCare+.
But Apple was not helpful to Holmes in resolving this problem.
“I do not know the connection, but I do know there was national security information on the computer, all the refineries in the Arab gulf,” Holmes said. “So why am I in Federal Court fighting this alone? Where is anybody, the senators, the congressmen, Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the FBI?”
The laptop seizure occurred with no warrant or affidavit.
“They just came and bullied me and said ‘you find this computer or go to jail for four years!’”
After the purchase, Holmes had sent the laptop to his ex-wife and had encountered delays trying to get it back from her.
The pastor was further confused when a detective from the 47th Precinct got involved in the case.
“(The) NYPD should have had nothing to do with this. This should have been (handled by) Homeland Security, (or) the FBI.”
Holmes says his ordeal proves there are no oversight mechanisms in place to protect and offer redress to unwitting consumers who purchase a used computer containing national security information.
The pastor still needs a laptop.