One of my first posts on Twitter was that I am not here for drama, and I plan to stick to that the best that I can.
That was before the drama came for him.
So said Higinio Ochoa, formerly better known as w0rmer of swashbuckling hacktivist crew CabinCr3w, in a drama-decrying Twitlonger message October 22. The convicted hacker had regained internet access as of September 30th as a part of his parole conditions, having served his 27-month sentence for hacking into police websites and an FBI database, seeking to expose institutional bigotry and corruption.
Hes just posted another Twitlonger message. And hes not thrilled about it, either.
Humiliating as it may be, I need your help.
It is now the 29th of October and this month has been a long one. I have applied to over 100+ positions and so far I have only one company which seems to be willing to hire me.
The problem I face is simply that I am a felon.
Having the unique mix of skills that I do wont help me get where I need to be since all of the companies I have applied for want that big government money check. That means I have to get a security clearance which is hard if not impossible to get with a felony. Not to mention the time and expense needed to acquire one.
Kylie and I have made it so far with the love and support of friends and family plus a little bit of luck thanks to our last drive. With Kylie now working we have the money to buy the little things like diapers, wipes, formula, and basic food but until I am hired on or this contract goes through we are still very much walking a thin line. We managed to pay our electricity and keep our phones on, but have had to let the restitution and other bills pile up since moving forward depends strongly on them being active.
I know many of you are facing the very same hardships we are, and while the scenario may be different its undoubtedly just as scary. If all you can do is re-tweet this plea for help then please do that, any and all help will be greatly appreciated. The goal on the page is simply there so the limit wont be effected, in total $2000 is all we need to keep up our rent and pay the back bills just enough to not drown us. This is a last ditch effort to keep us in our home so that the company interested in hiring me has the time to do the paperwork and have the meetings that will lead to my employment. If there are any questions please feel free to DM, call, or msg me in anyway you feel and I will be happy to answer them for you.
Much love and Thanks,
Higinio, Kylie, and Brody Ochoa
Welcomed back to the internet only a month ago, released from prison just over a year ago, Ochoa has already been through the proverbial wringer. As his wife Kylie detailed in her extensive interview with The Cryptosphere, the prison system made several last-minute and unexpected changes to his release conditions. Among other things, these changes forced the family to move from living rent-free in the Ochoa family home to Austin, Texas, where they knew no-one and had limited time to nail down a secure housing situation that would pass muster with the parole officer. At that time a fundraiser helped them meet the moving and rental expenses. Will the internet put out for them once again?
You bet it will.
After Ochoa posted the above Twitlonger, it was picked up by @YourAnonNews, one of the most powerful activist Twitter accounts in the world. After an hour and a handful of tweets that were picked up by followers and retweeted, the YouCaring fundraiser had almost doubled its donations, and now stands at $979; it had previously almost stalled at $500 for several weeks.
We spoke to Ochoa about his return to the internet and the events in his life which had led to the impassioned call for help.
Because felon is a lifelong label, convicted felons must disclose their status to potential employers, and if they are subsequently arrested for hacking crimes, the employers electronics may be subject to seizure as evidence, if the FBI considers them to have been involved in the case. Naturally, this has a chilling effect on the employment landscape for retired hacktivists.
Ochoa was fortunate enough to secure a software development gig that he was able to perform from home, although he had to put the code on a USB stick so his wife could then email it to his boss. September 29 he was laid off from his job. September 30, he was given official permission to get back online.
One of the first things he got to see was the fundraiser his wife had put up the very day before, scrambling to find money to pay their rent in the inflated Austin real estate market.
Kylie Ochoa is what is popularly termed a firecracker, previously had a successful career as a trainer in the Australian government, and it didnt take her long to find a job. She was hired October 21 at a minimum wage gig that the family prefers not to specify to avoid harassment.
Ironically, her first paycheque will come to her on November 5.
Higinio has also found work, although he hasnt started yet and because theres an NDA involved, he cannot speak specifically about the job itself. Its still in the field of software development, though, and the pay rate is encouraging, particularly compared to his previous gig.
The Cryptosphere: Can you give us some background on your former job?
Higinio Ochoa: The last company I worked for was a repo company, a PI company, and a car license plate reading company all in one.
[ed note: The ironic aspects of a former CabinCr3w member working in the surveillance industry threatened to shatter this reporters monitor for a moment, but we held it together]
I was Lead Programmer and Head of Research amp; Development. They did fail to pay me my last weeks pay, but overall they treated me well. I worked mostly developing software that interacted with the camera systems and coming up with platforms for the agents to work through.
Is the new job paid at the same rate or better? Is it full time? Are you comfortable giving me the name of the company? Whats the job, what kind of software?
I cant release the companys name because the NDA has NOT been signed. Doing so would almost guarantee that I not get the job. I will be making at least what I did [before]. I will now be working primarily with PHP, Python, and Objective C.
How much is your monthly rent? How much for food for everyone? Do you guys have a car, or are you reliant on the bus system?
My rent is $1,400+ , I have restitution [$14,062.17], heath insurance, internet, monitoring, phone, and of course, food. We decided to take foodstamps for me and Brody [the Ochoas son, 2] since Kylie (an Australian) isnt eligible for them. We do not have a car. We dont yet have a bus system in our part of town.
Ive been told theres some sort of government insurance or guarantee when hiring a felon.
I believe its actually $50k. And yes, when hiring a felon youre given a special coverage that if I, say, hack your system, steal your data, or whatever may be, that you would be covered for $50k. As you know, however, most threats would cost more than that, and in my case it has more to do with [having the skills where I could be] working for the government and not being able to.
Have you considered getting a job outside your field? Kylies already done so. What are your thoughts on that?