New Sanford docs detail data used in alleged account hacking attempts

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 12:09 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Information in newly-obtained affidavits in the child pornography investigation into T. Denny Sanford appears to support claims that accounts tied to the billionaire philanthropist were the focus of multiple hacking and phishing attempts. However, the court documents also suggest that a pornographic image included in the investigation is linked to a home that was listed to Sanford.

The documents were released last week, one month after the search warrants were released to the public, showing that child pornography images were found in email account linked to Sanford. You can read the documents below.

The newly released information includes details on part of the investigation into six images that were sent on June 27, 2019.

According to the affidavit, one IP address was connected to Midco, with a geolocation possibly in Sioux Falls. Several other IP addresses included possible geolocations in Oregon, Arizona, and California. At the time, Sanford owned homes in Sioux Falls, Scottsdale, Ariz., and La Jolla, Calif.

That same day, a cell phone number connected with Sanford pinged two cell phone towers in Lincoln, Neb. and Oglala, Neb. -- 250 miles apart -- that morning, and then in California that afternoon. A member of the Verizon Wireless Security Assistance Team later told investigators that the cell tower indexes for that account were attached manually, adding that one piece of tower data was missing. That data showed the device was in Sioux Falls.

The documents also include exhibits filed by his legal time at the time showing examples that Sanford’s email account was the subject of phishing attempts. The emails from 2016, 2018 and 2019 include requests for money transfers and allege a robbery in Manila, Philippines.

The affidavits also provide new information on one of the images of child pornography.

According to an agent with the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, a GPS tag in the meta data from one of the images shows that the photo was taken at the address of a California home in Sanford’s name at the time. Investigators also noted that the photo had “several lines of deviation visible making the image appear to be a picture taken off another screen.”

South Dakota authorities have previously said that Sanford will not face child pornography charges in the state based on the evidence provided in the investigation. It’s unclear whether Sanford is under investigation or could face charges in other states or jurisdictions, however, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office told Dakota News Now last month that it does not have an open or closed case on Sanford.

In a statement to Dakota News Now, a representative from Sanford’s legal team said, “While these documents contain the same preliminary allegations that initiated the investigation and acknowledge the hacking and spoofing of the email addresses involved, the documents also show the thorough and extensive investigation the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office undertook prior to finding no offense.”