Slater accused of offering blog hack payment

  • Breaking
  • 05/06/2015

Police are investigating allegations that controversial WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater paid a hacker thousands of dollars to break into a rival blog.

It is online where IT consultant Ben Rachinger says he struck up a rapport and started digging dirt with Mr Slater, and where he alleges Mr Slater offered him $5000 to commit a cybercrime.

"He asked me, 'I want you to focus on this job of getting into The Standard. What's a good number for you? I've got $5000 available for it'," he says.

"Then we talked about what a work plan would be. He would not name the funder that was paying for the hack."

Mr Slater was eager to find out which left-wingers wrote the anonymous blogs on the politics site.

"His plan was to use the information to hit back at the Labour Party, and specifically Andrew Little, on the first day of Parliament in order to dampen the effects of the Dirty Politics book the year before," says Mr Rachinger.

Using encrypted texts, Mr Slater messaged Mr Rachinger in January.

"I want proof on admin of The Standard... I will destroy them," he says.

Police have confirmed to 3 News that detectives are investigating an allegation that Mr Slater offered money in a bid to procure the hacking of a computer system. They say the investigation is a complex one and they are still gathering all the necessary information and a decision on charges is some way off.

3 News has obtained transcripts of hundreds of messages between Mr Rachinger and Mr Slater.

"I think I can get you some scratch in a lump sum to concentrate on this… what's a good number that works for you," Mr Slater says in one text.

"There is $5000 available," he says in another.

Mr Rachinger replies: "Let's get it done."

There is more discussion before this text from Mr Slater: "Prep me a work plan and deliverables… I'll go to the funder."

Later that day Mr Rachinger sends Mr Slater the "work plan".

Headed up as "Assignment", it talks about clarifying contributors to "x website" in an "untraceable but usable way".

It notes to get hard information on targets requires "entry and exit to the network infrastructure" – meaning a hack, in plain English.

Mr Rachinger says he did not do the hack, which is something the owner of The Standard has confirmed.

Certified bank statements show Mr Slater's company, Social Media Co, paid Mr Rachinger $750 – a down payment Mr Rachinger claims for the hack.

In total, Mr Slater paid the IT consultant more than $9000 in a three-month period.

However a week later, cracks were showing, and Mr Rachinger texts: "It's no small thing that I'm doing an illegal activity for an unnamed client… and handing it off to you."

"It's no small thing I am doing this, I could be being set up in a sting from a media person or cops," Mr Slater replies.

3 News approached Mr Slater for comment, but he declined to give an interview or provide a statement.

However he did deny Mr Rachinger's claims that he commissioned the hack, calling him a liar and insisting he does not break the law.

3 News

source: newshub archive