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Cyber
5 Deadly Sins
5 Deadly Sins
Season 2
Number 16
Writer Matt Whitney
Director Rob Bailey
Original Airdate March 6, 2016
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5 Deadly Sins is the sixteenth episode in Season Two of CSI: Cyber.

Synopsis[]

The team trails a vigilante killing the biggest offenders of objectionable posts on social media.

Plot[]

QR (quick response) code - a pattern of black-and-white squares that can be scanned by the camera on a smartphone to download information.

A pastor is duct taped to a chair and forced to watch a video sermon he made. He struggles to move and shout out for help, as his mouth is also duct taped shut.

At Cyber headquarters, several employees receive an alert on their phones from the social media site PicThread. They're notified that someone with the username "HomesteadHarrison" posted a photo, and Raven realizes that the notification was sent to everyone with a PicThread account. The photo is of a dead body, believed to be the pastor the viewer just saw. Russell immediately determines that this is no hoax; lividity suggests they're looking at an actual dead body. The photo, uploaded by an Aiden Harrison, is geo-tagged, something Aiden could've only done himself. His location is tracked to a church in Boston, Massachusetts.

Aiden was reported missing a week ago, and his body is found in the church. Russell estimates that he's been dead at least a few days. Based on the time of death, it's determined that the killer hijacked Aiden's PicThread account and posted the picture online at a specific time. Russell examines the body and sees that Aiden's tongue was cut out. He also has a sticker on his neck of a QR code, possibly a clue from the killer. The laptop in his possession is brought back to headquarters for processing.

Raven finds that every PicThread user was following Aiden. In one week, he went from 80,000 followers to over 200 million, an occurrence likely caused by a hack. Aiden's recent activity shows that he was posting opinions about controversial topics, such as gay marriage and abortion. It's possible his posts are what got him killed.

Nelson scans the QR code and is led to a website with a Swedish domain. His assumption is that this is either a phishing site or something that will dump malware onto the device that clicks the link. He gets Avery's approval to set up an isolated connection and scan the code; the phone in his possession will be the only accessing the site.

Aiden's fingerprint is the only one found on the laptop. The laptop itself is brand new, and there's only one user-generated file on the hard drive. When opened, the text file reads "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" over and over. Evidence shows that the lines were typed manually, and Krumitz estimates that the 10,000 lines of text would've taken days to type. The time stamp places Aiden at the keyboard after he was reported missing; someone wanted to teach him a lesson.

Every PicThread user soon gets another notification about a post from someone with the username "nhogan22." The photo is of another staged murder, and a man is shown in bed with a dead female next to him. Nelson admits that as soon as they clicked the link in the QR code, they received a message: "Some things are better kept behind closed doors." This then trigged the alert on everyone's phone. Both photos come with the hashtag #GraphicWarning. Avery alerts the team that they're now looking for a serial killer who's taunting them on social media.

Avery informs Director Silver that both photos were geo-tagged; law enforcement is on their way to the second location. She confirms that Cyber was responsible for the second photo being released, as a script automatically posted it to PicThread when the link was clicked. The target wanted the FBI to be responsible for sending the photo out, and Avery ensures Director Silver that this won't happen again.

The victim in the second photo is identified as 24-year-old Nicole Hogan; the man beside her, 25-year-old Greg Roberts, is now dead, as well. Nicole's PicThread account was used to upload the photo, while Greg doesn't have an account. Initial body temperatures estimate that the victims have only been dead for approximately ten hours. Russell finds that the selfie stick Greg is holding was actually glued to his hand. Blood pool evidence suggests that Nicole was shot in her sleep first from point-blank range. Greg was then held at gunpoint and forced to take a selfie; he was then rewarded with a shot to the head, as well. Both murders have been staged, but it's unknown how the victims in both cases are related to each other. Russell finds another QR code on Nicole's shoulder, which could be pointing the team towards another victim.

In a funeral home, a visitor gives his condolences to a deceased man's parents. When alone in the room, he takes a few photos of the body in the casket. Back at home, he digitally adds flames around the photo and posts a speech bubble coming from the victim's mouth: "Help, I'm in Hell." The man smiles at his accomplishment.

Krumitz discovers that there was a force-follow bug attached to Aiden's profile on his PicThread account. This forced anyone who visited the page to follow Aiden automatically. The same code would then be copied to someone else's profile and spread to their followers, explaining how everyone on PicThread was following Aiden. Nicole's profile had the same bug attached to it, while the QR code on her shoulder leads to another website with a Swedish domain. This time, the team will refrain from clicking the link and sending out another gruesome photo to every PicThread user.

Raven finds that Nicole had recently been taking naked photos of herself in bed with various men, also known as "sex selfies." She notes that if the photos were posted on PicThread, they would've been immediately removed for violating the site's content abuse policy. Avery realizes that this is the connection—Aiden was being punished for saying something that offended the target, while Nicole was punished for posting sex selfies. These are two of the five main categories of abuse on social media. Hate speech, porn, violence, drugs, and trolling make up the "Five Deadly Sins of Social Media," and the target is punishing those that have sinned.

The team fears that they could be looking at three more killings; worse yet, their target might disappear after all three are carried out. A search of the PicThread activity log shows that Aiden had posts removed for hate content, while Nicole had some removed for violating the site's sex and nudity clause. Since the target knows about the posts despite their removals, Nelson wonders if the target has a back door into PicThread's system, as the deleted posts would still be on the servers. Avery has another theory: the target works for PicThread, meaning he wouldn't even need to hack their system.

PicThread employee Sasha Boyd informs Avery and Krumitz that the company employs over 600 content moderators worldwide, 80 of them in the Boston office; their only job is to remove posts that violate the site's abuse standards. Seeing the graphic posts takes a mental toll on the employees, and they're required to undergo psychometric testing to evaluate their mental health before they're hired. Each employee also attends a mandatory monthly review with a counselor on call. Avery goes through some of those reviews and tries to get a behavioral read on some of the employees.

Raven combs through the posts from the Boston area flagged for relating to drugs, violence, and trolling; amazingly, there are thousands of them in just the last 24 hours. Meanwhile, Avery was able to get the Swedish hosting company to send the HTML code of the target's site. Nelson tells Russell that the site is unregistered, but he's able to find the next message from Nicole's QR code hidden in the other lines of code: "Your next dose could be lethal." The next sin the target is going after is "drugs."

Despite the knowledge that the killer's site was created by a PicThread employee, Krumitz has a hard time identifying the device used to post the files. While he knows the MAC address of the device, he finds that it's not on the list of devices assigned to employees; the target spoofed the MAC address to stay hidden. Per Nelson's advice, he sends an audio file to the device along with a script that will play a noise over the speakers; this should lead them to the device responsible. The device is found, and logs show that it belongs to Sasha Boyd.

Nelson shows Russell that the "drugs" photo Sasha embedded into the HTML was geo-tagged; he can pull the data from the photo without viewing it, getting them a location of the next victim without Sasha knowing. The coordinates are sent to Elijah, and he and SWAT team storm the apartment of Ryan Kilmer, a 32-year-old heroin addict. Ryan is found with a needle sticking out of his arm and another QR code on his wrist. Elijah informs the team that Ryan was injected with a lethal dose of heroin that caused him to overdose an hour before the SWAT team arrived. Luckily, Ryan is still alive.

Raven discovers that Ryan was part of an online trend called the "Junkies of PicThread," where users posted photos glamorizing their drug use. Avery believes that Sasha has chronic PTSD from her time as a content moderator and is under the delusion that she's actually making the Internet safer. At that moment, Sasha is sitting in an abandoned movie theater with the man seen taking a photo at the funeral home earlier; she shows him a series of photos and tazes him after each one.

Every PicThread user soon gets another message about a post uploaded by a user with the handle "theREALrycat"; the photo is of Ryan, and it was posted to his account. Since the QR code was never scanned, Sasha must've posted it herself. Nelson examines the HTML code and is able to find the next message: "Don't feed the trolls." However, unlike the other posts, there's no photo attached to the message.

Since there's no photo, the thought is that Sasha could be staging her next murder at the moment. Russell believes that this is how they're going to find her, noting that PicThread uses a proximity-based algorithm to suggest people you may know. It's determined that Sasha was physically near each one of her victims as she was staging their murders. The team access her account and cross-references her "people you may know" section with those in the Boston area who were flagged for trolling. This leads to them identifying the next victim as Toby Allen; his phone is tracked to the abandoned movie theater.

In the theater, Sasha tapes Toby's eyes open and forces him to watch a gruesome series of pictures as punishment. Upon returning an hour later, she's horrified to find that Toby has escaped. Avery and Elijah surround her with their guns drawn. When told that she won't harm another innocent person, Sasha rants that every one of her victims was deserving. Toby was the worst of all, as he bullied teens into committing suicide, then posted doctored photos mocking them on their memorial sites. Sasha believes that the solution isn't removing what gets posted, it's removing the people responsible for the posts. Avery orders Sasha to drop the gun she's waving around, but Sasha wants her "message to get heard." She sticks the gun in her mouth and pulls the trigger.

Upon examining Sasha's body, Elijah finds a QR code on the back of her neck. Her plan was to kill Toby, then kill herself; she was "violence," and her own death was the fifth and final message. However, if there are no more bodies, what's the QR code for? Back at headquarters, it's found that the QR code is a link to Sasha's own PicThread account; the last photo uploaded is of Sasha standing in front of a list of abuse standards. The caption reads: "I died for your sins. KEEP SOCIAL MEDIA CLEAN." Comments are flooding in supporting Sasha's movement, and Avery sets out to remove the profile and prevent any copycats from emerging.


In a separate storyline, Elijah gets a visit from this father, Calvin. Calvin questions his son's relationship with his wife Devon and brings up the fact that his granddaughter (Elijah's daughter) mentioned Nina's name. Elijah swears that he isn't having an affair and that Nina Moore is the bartender at a bar he occasionally goes to. He then recalls the fact that Nina became friends with Devon, was able to get into her spin class, and was even invited over for dinner. Nina hasn't stopped, as she also recently texted Elijah, which led to a fight between he and Devon. Elijah calls Nina "delusional" before ensuring his father that everything is fine.

Calvin goes to the bar where Nina works and demands that she leave Elijah and Devon alone. As he's about to leave, he collapses to the floor. When Elijah goes to the hospital, he's shocked to find Nina by Calvin's beside. She admits that she passed herself off as Elijah's wife so she could stay with Calvin. Much to Elijah's horror, Nina says that she's the one who saved Calvin's life by administering CPR after he had stopped by the bar to have a "friendly chat." Elijah pushes Nina up against the wall and angrily tells her that he's filing a restraining order against her.

Despite the warnings, Nina is soon seen standing by Calvin's bedside. She thanks the unresponsive Calvin for bringing Elijah into her life once more. When Elijah arrives in the room, Nina is nowhere to be found; however, he finds a note attached to a bouquet of flowers. The note simply reads: "Get better soon, Nina."

Cast[]

Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Gregg Henry as Calvin Mundo
  • Sean Blakemore as Director Silver
  • Molly Burnett as Nina Moore
  • Neil Hopkins as Jared Atchley
  • Jamie-Lynn Sigler as Sasha Boyd
  • Hannah Barefoot as Marla Harrison
  • Cassidy Barnes as Toby Allen
  • Aubrey Cleland as College Student
  • Georgie Guinane as Goth Girl
  • Julia Parker as Mourning Mother
  • Tim True as Balding Man
  • Ryan David Tsang as Greg
  • Winter as Pastor Harrison
  • Anna Borchert as Sorority Girl

Music[]

  • Can U Feel That by Stranger

Trivia[]

  • Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who played Sasha Boyd, is most famous for playing Meadow Soprano in the HBO show The Sopranos.

See Also[]

CSI:Cyber Season 2
Why-FiHeart MeBrown Eyes, Blue EyesRed CroneHack E.R.Gone in 6 SecondsCorrupted MemoryPythoniWitnessShades of Grey404: Flight Not FoundGoing ViralThe Walking DeadFit-and-RunPython's Revenge5 Deadly SinsFlash SquadLegacy


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