Love Bug suspect arrested, girlfriend to follow
Incredibly, no computer found in raid
Updated A Philippine couple, both bank workers, were identified on Monday as the chief suspects in the search for the Love Bug authors. Philippine Feds have finally got one body in custody, at least. They arrested 27-year-old Reomel Ramones after searching the house where, it is believed, the owner of the computer which launched the Love Bug virus resides. Ramones was led away in handcuffs by Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officers from a flat in the capital, Manila where he lives with his girlfriend. Authorities said his girlfriend, 23-year-old Irene de Guzman, is expected to turn herself in late Monday or early Tuesday. NBI chief Federico Opinion said his agents obtained a search warrant after a weekend of comic bureaucratic frustration. Virus authorship is not a crime in the Philippines, so authorities faced a considerable challenge in figuring out what to charge the suspects with. The NBI said they finally obtained a warrant under the Access Device Act, which addresses the illegal the use of account numbers and passwords. The Act provides for an incredible maximum penalty of 20 years in gaol. Ramones has thus far declined to make a statement, police sources said. Opinion said no charges have yet been brought but noted that the NBI has 36 hours in which to do so. However, with the computer in question conspicuously absent, it seems unlikely that there would be enough evidence to charge Ramones or Guzman lurking in the scraps of telephone wiring, peripherals and computer literature the Feds did manage to confiscate. Time is running out to find the box, crack any encrypted evidence, or try to recover deleted (easy) or properly wiped (nearly impossible) incriminating files. NBI sources also wisely aired the possibility that neither suspect is the virus author, but might simply be the victim of an infected computer. "The user here is invisible; it could be anybody. The person we have identified is the registered owner of [the suspect] computer," an NBI official noted. The NBI said the investigation might lead to more arrests, but would not give details except for one cryptic comment from Opinion, who told reporters to "expect more fireworks. We might still apply for more warrants." Whether this is meant to imply that the couple in question are merely victims of the virus, or were working with accomplices, Opinion would not say. The American FBI traced the virus to the Philippines through an 'obvious' electronic trail. Too obvious, perhaps. On Saturday, a Swedish computer security specialist cast doubt on the FBI theory, saying he believed that a German exchange student located in Australia is responsible for the bug. If so, it would hardly mark the first time the FBI was humiliated by a teenager. US National Infrastructure Protection Centre (NIPC) Director Michael Vatis was extremely cautious in early interviews Monday, noting repeatedly that it's impossible to nail down a perpetrator until the hard drive is recovered and read.
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