‘Sovereign citizen’ group duped youngsters into collecting intel on local police
A “sovereign citizens” group used unwitting young people to gather information on first responders in Texas, according to an FBI alert recently obtained through a public records request.
The FBI alert, which was issued in August 2013 by the San Antonio Division, reported the unnamed group sent teams of youngsters throughout the Austin region and possibly other states to collect addresses of police and other first responders.
The volunteers knocked on doors and told residents they were raising money for an organization designed to help young people with public speaking by asking random strangers about their professions, authorities said.
The sovereign citizens group told volunteers they could earn points for the information collected, and the team with the most points would win a college scholarship and money.
Team members carried yellow reference cards that listed about 15 professions – such as firefighters, nurses, doctors, military personnel, and police officers — with corresponding point values ranging from 500 to 2,000 points.
Police officers carried the highest point value.
The volunteers, who carried no state-issued identification, carried cards that indicated they had a constitutional right to gather the information without any restrictions from local authorities.
The FBI said the volunteers did not understand they were working for a sovereign citizens group, and investigators said no prizes were actually awarded to any of the young people.
The volunteers told FBI agents they were working as part of a larger group that operated using similar methods.
The FBI alert was obtained and published last month by the nonprofit Public Intelligence website.
Sovereign citizens were recently named in a poll of law enforcement agencies as the top domestic terrorist threat.
While sovereign citizens are more likely to commit “paper terrorism” by filing bogus legal documents, some of them have enacted or been implicated in violent plots.
A sovereign citizen lured first responders in suburban Dallas to an ambush, where he opened fire on them with an AK-47 as part of an attempt to provoke a revolution.
No one was injured in that attack, and Douglas Leguin was arrested on a variety of charges.
It’s not clear whether the 60-year-old Leguin, who claimed he was protesting an “upside-down” legal system, was connected to the group that had collected information on first responders.
[Image: Woman answers questions at door Shutterstock]