The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

FBI: Young People Tricked Into Gaining Addresses of Police Officers for ‘Sovereign’ Group

By Bill Morlin on September 12, 2013 - 2:49 pm, Posted in Extremist Crime, Sovereign Citizens

The FBI believes an antigovernment “sovereign citizens” group may be behind an effort in Austin, Texas, to find out the addresses of police officers and other first responders through a scam in which young people canvass neighborhoods posing as fundraisers for charity.

Early last month, the FBI issued a “Situational Information Report” warning Texas law enforcement agencies about the activity.

In June, the FBI report says, groups of young people were transported by bus throughout the Austin area and possibly to other states. In teams of at least two, they would knock on doors, saying they worked for a “fund-raising organization” that helped young people with public speaking. They would then ask residents about their occupation.

The young people were told that the information they collected counted as “points” and that the team with the most points would win a college scholarship and a large sum of money. Team members carried a yellow card listing approximately 15 professions with a point value ranging from 500 to 2,000 points. “Some of the professions on the card were firefighters, nurses, doctors, military and police officers. The police officer profession had the highest point value of 2000.”

The individuals collecting the information carried another card saying “what they were doing was allowed … under constitutional law and they were not required to show any identification or be restricted from their duties by state or local officials.”

The FBI report says the activities “were consistent with that of a Sovereign Citizens organization … interested in the addresses of police and first responders.”

The young people participating in the apparent scam “did not understand they were working for a Sovereign Citizen organization and that they were told lies of prize and money to gain addresses of vital individuals,” the report said.

Michelle Lee, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s San Antonio Division, told Hatewatch today that the report was “raw, unvetted intelligence” shared with law enforcement agencies “in an effort to quickly and proactively identify potential emerging national security and criminal threats”

The FBI “is aware of reporting which suggests variations of this activity may be taking place in other locations in the United States,” the spokeswoman said. “The FBI has not developed information which links this activity to any group involved in domestic terrorism but will continue to monitor reporting we receive from our law enforcement partners.”

Sovereign citizens, described by the FBI as comprising a “domestic terrorist movement,” have been a deadly problem for police in recent years. Numerous encounters have escalated into shoot-outs after sovereigns, who believe the government has no authority over them, are stopped for traffic violations.

At least seven law enforcement officers in the United States have been killed by sovereigns since 2000. In 2010, after a father-son team of sovereigns killed two officers during a traffic stop in West Memphis, Ark., the Southern Poverty Law Center (publisher of Hatewatch) produced a training video to help officers recognize the signs when they encounter sovereigns.

Last month in Las Vegas, police arrested a pair of sovereigns who are accused of plotting to kidnap, torture and kill police officers.

  • aadila

    “I am infuriated by how the far right is targeting police officers and their families for slaughter.”

    Full agreement, Kiwi. This is the logical end of individualistic, half-baked and egocentric militarism, a philosophy ever popular among the right wing.

    Republican blowhards have turned public cynicism into such a cult, that it’s no wonder the extremists actually start doing what the mainstream right has been preaching all along on the airwaves. Curious how the political wing most obsessed with menace becomes the greatest menace to America, when the people start to believe the diatribe.

  • concernedcitizen

    Mary Jane I have no idea what you are getting at but there is nothing God inspired by people using their positions to stab COPS in the back and go shooting up the Naval Personnel.

    It’s a cowards war.

  • Kiwiwriter

    This is very ugly stuff, and I want to hear more about this.

    I am infuriated by how the far right is targeting police officers and their families for slaughter.

  • Mary Jane Stone

    Remember Acorn, and how it was hanged by a deceitful man? Could this be the ugly, conservative opposite of that group? And they’re out to stab COPS in the back? Observe the right in all of its ethical inspiration. Translation: It’s God inspired when WE do it.

  • Reynardine

    I have to wonder about the naval shipyard shooting.

  • Reynardine
  • concernedcitizen

    Dan, I would think it’s reasonable if there was any type of undercover investigation going on and they wanted to sit on the information…food for thought.

    In any case the information is out there and I don’t find it all that surprising because it’s a common practice in America today for organized crime and factions of homegrown terrorists to use children to do their bidding. Children are naive and easily conned into doing things that appear completely harmless on the surface, only to be actions that are serving to fuel some dangerous factions agenda.

  • CM

    “The young people were told that the information they collected counted as ‘points’ and that the team with the most points would win a college scholarship and a large sum of money.”

    This sounds like a version of the tale spun by door-to-door magazine subscription sellers, who tell potential buyers that they’re collecting points toward a scholarship. Many years ago, I followed one such sales team for a couple of days and found, of course, that there were no scholarships; it was a straight commission deal, not that anyone ever earned anything except the team leaders.

    What this suggests is that whoever is behind this current activity is an experienced scammer, which seems to be the main requirement for becoming a sovereign citizen leader.

  • Reynardine

    I suspect this will prove creepier than it appears at first blush.

  • Dan Zabetakis

    There’s something bogus here.

    The activity is said to have happened in June. This report is dated August 5. It is now 12 September.

    Yet this is still referred to as “raw, unvetted intelligence”. How can that be?

    If they really thought there was a group seeking the addresses of police officers, and that that group might be associated with others accused of “plotting to kidnap, torture and kill police officers”, is a three-month delay in analysis reasonable?