Everything must come to an end, and this story is no different. I would like to take the time again to thank Chris “loganWHD” Hadnagy for getting me to open up and tell this story and Jay Trinckes for putting a spit polish on my crude words. Now, on to the story…

After the frame job, I transferred to another bar at a nearby Post where the manager was a friend.  The new bar had a lot bigger slot machine section.  I again had the keys to the door, the combo to the safe (this time, with $180k in small non-sequential bills at all times), and access to the video surveillance system controls/hard drives.  While I was at this bar, we became the #1 grossing facility in the world for M.W.R.(Morale Welfare and Recreation).  Our annual budget was $15. 8 million in slot revenue and we had just expanded with an annex a month before I left.   I was mostly the one that counted, sorted, wrapped, and deposited all that money. Some slot drops (say, the ones after a holiday) were so large that I would be counting a quarter of a million dollars that day.  (You will never know that kind of temptation, my friends.)

EXPLOIT USED: Again, lack of background checks once you are in the system, unless you apply for a job with a Security Clearance, or child care.

VULNERABILITY EXPOSED:  Very weak security controls in place when dealing with ridiculously large sums of cash money. The actual in house rumor was that “the money was insured so who cares if someone steals it”. There was an actual case where a manager came up short $30k and everyone “knew” he went to a certain casino out on the German economy and blew it (he was a regular there and was seen multiple times during the time frame of the disappearance of the money). They just couldn’t prove it. So, he was demoted and sent to fold towels at the gym! This was by no means the only instance like this.  The only thing that stopped me from stealing it myself was that I knew if I did, I would never be able to come home without going to prison for sure. (Finally, a little forethought on my part)

PATCH:   Expedited background checks when dealing with large sums of money. Secondary feed of video to an offsite location.  Third party monitoring of video, increased surprise audits, and total revamp of all cash handling procedures including the Safe log In/Out process to be automated to include the employee’s Smart I.D. that is also used to get on the base itself. This might be a little expensive to implement the hardware required, but would drastically limit the ways for temptation to take hold.

During all this time, I made friends with several M.P.’s (they had to escort me to the bank for deposits and my original M.P. friend introduced me to his friends).  One of my good friends worked for AAFES (Wal-Mart of the Army/Air Force) as the head of Loss Prevention.  He would regularly come into the bar and tell me how he was busting employees stealing, interrogation techniques he used to get them to admit to the crimes, and how he broke into company offices to gather proof.  He left AAFES for a Federal Police job (in charge of the M.P.’s on base) and even wrote a hell-of-a-character letter to my Judge after I finally told him the truth when I decided to come back and turn myself in. He even tried to convince me, for a little while, to join him in a Private Investigation business in the German economy because of how good I was at getting people to open up.  Through the sources I developed, I also learned that the M.P. criminal database in Germany was going to be merged with the Federal NCIC database and I knew that my “goose would be cooked” if I stayed much longer. I thanked my lucky stars that NOTHING in government works fast.

EXPLOIT USED:  Trust in a friend to talk about “shop talk” while I was gathering information that would help me stay out of prison.

VULNERABILITY EXPOSED:  Inability to stop letting low priority information leak out from many different sources and to then be able to ’jigsaw’ together the pieces to see the larger picture.

PATCH:   I befriended these people over many years so a patch isn’t really applicable here. I just didn’t use them for information, I genuinely cared for them. I stood over them while they were passed out at the ‘love parade’ in Berlin.  I drove 40 miles to pick one up who was stranded in a snowstorm.  I ‘body guarded’ my friend’s girlfriend and whisked her away to safety during a small riot in Paris when the group got separated.  I even kept quiet about drug addicted spouses (because I had been there my own damn self).  As an Ops Assistant/bartender, I heard everyone’s bad luck story.  It was my job to make them forget their job, their problems, and try to make them smile.  Working in a small American community situated in the middle of a German city, we got to know each other well. I was good at keeping secrets (because I had my own) so everyone trusted me. I was also smart enough to realize that I didn’t want to know certain things for my own safety. I also never used what I knew or learned to blackmail or leverage anyone, EVER. I have manipulated situations and friends to help myself, but I never went that far.

So, I spent about 6 months to a year planning my return home to turn myself in.  I got all my ducks-in-a-row, contacted a lawyer, found out that the jail was over crowded back home, shipped stuff to family, sold my car, and finally, quit my job.  The week or two before I left, I had a civilian friend, who knew I was leaving and was doing contractor work in Afghanistan, offer me a job. I told him I needed to take care of some things back home, but I would get in touch… That offer saved my life, but it went up like smoke after I told him about the legal problems I had (this was after my court date)…

May 16th, 2009, I flew back to the States.  I was immediately picked up by police getting off the plane in Detroit (the system had gotten better while I was gone). I stuck to the story that “I was coming back to clear my name” so I could take the job in Afghanistan. I told anyone who would listen about how I had worked for the U.S. Army in Germany for the last (almost) 7 years. I waived extradition and was taken back to Texas.

Once in Texas, I told my lawyer about the offer and every jailhouse snitch as well. When I went to court, the judge tried to sneak a cop into the holding cell (pretending to be a criminal), who I ‘knocked off’ immediately.  He was too clean, had too good of a story about how he beat the cops on a charge (to give him “street cred”), and he was too articulate for a guy in jail, on a meth charge, which was supposed to have been in the game as long as he said.  I told the story again and again… The bailiff for my court had also spent time in Germany, while in the Army, and had married a German woman. He would slyly ask me questions about where I was over in Germany and even asked some questions in German to me, to which I told him the story (some parts in German).

My lawyer, who didn’t remember anything I told him, actually came over to me while I was cuffed in the jury box to write down the name of the company.  He then walked straight over to the prosecutor’s desk who agreed to drop all the charges as long as I paid off the rest of my old probation fees. I had technically retired from my job and the whole time I was sitting in jail (I think it was 31 days total including Detroit and extradition time) I was being paid my left over vacation time.

So I paid off the fees and they dropped the charges. They also had me give my thumb print on a blank court form while they worked out the details and waited for payment. I was released after the weekend without going back to court and never once went before the judge myself (I had my sister payoff the fine/fee and paid her back when I got out).  What really amazed me is that they NEVER asked for a contact number or even to see the email that had the job offer! The only evidence they had concerning the offer was what I had “handwritten” in court, while still being cuffed and in an orange jumpsuit! Unfortunately, I do still have the original burglary charge on my record.

EXPLOIT USED: The truth shall set you free. My story was so unbelievable and embarrassing to everyone involved that it was easier to let me go and send me on my way to Afghanistan than it was to make a big deal and possibly be publically embarrassed. Leverage, in this case, is your best friend. I was also able to spot their attempts at infiltration/surveillance (for lack of a better term) and use it against them.

VULNERABILITY EXPOSED:  I did all of this using my REAL name, Social Security #, and had NO aliases (except Myspace, but who uses their real name on that site?). I invite you to look me and my story up.  Fear of public embarrassment leads to backroom deals. The ability and effectiveness of undercover police in San Antonio’s jails/court holding cells is shoddy at best.

PATCH:   Make the undercover cop stay in jail for at least a week before inserting him into a cell. *Hint #1* You can’t shave that cleanly with jail house mirrors and razorblades. *Hint #2* Meth heads, who have been meth heads for years, never look that healthy, especially after a “month” in county.   *Hint #3* You don’t smell nice after any time in a jail, cause the showers suck and you never get enough time in them. You don’t get enough time to wash off the sheen on your skin from the jail diet.

A short time after I was released from jail, I noticed in the news that a few fugitives from the States (and even another one from San Antonio) had been caught over in Germany. So my belief is that someone got wise about the problem I exposed and fixed it, OR I really did squeak out just in the nick of time, before the two systems merged.  I did buy my plane ticket home from the travel agent on base (on purpose, so that I had yet another record of being on base).  It isn’t hard to fathom that someone called someone about that.

Before I wrap this up, I want to take this opportunity to openly thank all those that I met in the armed forces community, civilian, and active duty alike. I was proud to be a small cog in the wheel that helped keep you guys sane.  For those that have not been around these people, let me assure you, it is an insane world they live and work in. There are reasons for all those active duty suicides.

One kid, who I can’t get out of my head, came into the bar on his 21st birthday while his wife and friend went next door to do some birthday shopping for him.  This kid was 7ft plus, he had to duck to get in through the doorway. Well, he wasn’t that happy, for it being his 21st birthday and it turned out, he was from Oklahoma (in Germany that is like a next door neighbor).  I asked him when the last time he was at home. His reply was he was never going to go back home cause he couldn’t face his family. He then told me how he was forced to shoot a child who was running up to his checkpoint with a land mine held over his head. He said everyone was yelling for the child to stop including the “Terps” (interpreters). The kid just kept on running up with that damn landmine held over his head. He had to do it, game over, but it left him mentally scared… And it was my job to get him out of this mood and try to get him to enjoy his birthday. I don’t know how well I helped him in the bigger picture, but for those few minutes that he was in that bar talking to me, I made him laugh a few times. Maybe, just for a few seconds, he forgot.

Social Engineering can be used towards other good ends besides personal/professional gain. I am deeply in debt to this kid for giving me a chance to be a better person than I was before he told me the story.  There were thousands of stories, by too many people to count, and each one gave me the chance to be a better person by trying to help.  I am honored to have known each and every one. Well in all honesty there were a few “D-bags” along the way, but hey, who am I to judge.

That being said, I’ve been back in the U.S. now for a little over three years and have kept my life on the up-and-up.  I haven’t been arrested for a single crime (because I “play” on my computer all the time).  I have; however, talked my way out of three speeding tickets for going 20 over the speed limit (What can I say… Waaaaay tooo long spent on the Autobahn driving at speeds of 100 mph+ and still being passed by other cars like I was standing still). As I said earlier, the job offer in Afghanistan disappeared, so I now work for a production company setting up Concerts, TV shows, and Sporting Events.  Our company has set up the last two “Final 4” Tournaments in Houston and New Orleans and the Super Bowl in Dallas as well. I travel all over the State of Texas and can tell you how to get into every single venue without paying… but I won’t…  I have also taken some Computer Certification courses as I try to better my options. Back stage is cool, but it isn’t what it used to be.  Plus the travel gets old and the pay isn’t that good (it is work though and as someone with a felony on their record, I can’t complain too much). So, if you found this an interesting read and willing to give a gifted amateur, with a troubled past, a shot in the S.E. field, GET IN TOUCH WITH ME.   [email protected]

EXPLOIT USED: Curiosity, you now want to hire me (or rent for consults) just to see if my story is bull and when you find out it’s not, to grill me on all the cool crap I left out!

VULNERABILITY EXPOSED:  Humor and a fondness for the underdog.

PATCH: There is none. With the right motivation and enough time, I can’t be stopped.

The whole reason I decided to tell this story is that while I may not have had malicious intent towards my Country’s Armed Forces, what if someone who did have malicious intent, got or gets in the future, the same type of access that I have had?   What if I did nothing to help fix the problem? The legal problems I had with the State of Texas are fairly trivial in the context of the rest of the story.  I only included it to show how and why I ended up where I did.  The thought of someone else, with bad intentions, doing what I have done on an overseas base is what keeps me up at nights. It is not my intention to get anyone in trouble or embarrass any agencies involved; I just want to help make sure my friends, who are still in that world, stay safe. That, all joking aside, is why I agreed to tell this story openly and hope that you, the reader, will not judge me too harshly.

Thank you for your time.

Robert Gude

Edited by Jay Trinckes