FBI swoop at US hacker convention

Agents of the FBI arrested a speaker at the Hackers on Planet Earth, or HOPE, conference held in New York last week.

Steven Rombom, chief executive of PallTech, billed as the largest privately held online investigative support service in the U.S by the organisers, was arrestd by FBI agents shortly before he was due to give a presentation entitled 'Privacy Is Dead - Get Over It.'

"If you know Steve then you know he's very flamboyant, and at first I thought it was just PR, you know?" said Kelly Riddle, a private investigator from San Antonio who was to speak alongside Rombom told the Washington Post.

"So, they asked him to step out in the hallway, placed the handcuffs on him and started to lead him off."

He has since been charged with obstruction of justice, witness tampering and impersonating a federal officer. It is claimed he interviewed a witness in a $100,000 money laundering case filed against a former Brooklyn assistant district attorney by flashing false FBI identification.

"Rombom told (the witnesses mother in law) in substance that (the witness) was a very bad and dangerous person and that there were many things about the (the witness) that (the witnesses mother in law) did not know, including that (the witness) had been in jail many times," according to a subsequent court filing.

Rombom claims he was conducting a legitimate investigation and was released until the next hearing on August 7th. He has been a private investigator for 25 years and in the 1980s identified seven Nazi war criminals living in Canada.