phone connecting to nearby AirTag

Husband stalked ex-wife with seven AirTags, indictment says

Following their divorce, a husband carried out a campaign of stalking and abuse against his ex-wife—referred to only as “S.K.”—by allegedly hiding seven separate Apple AirTags on or near her car, according to documents filed by US prosecutors for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The documents, unearthed by 404 Media in collaboration with Court Watch, reveal how everyday consumer tools, like Bluetooth trackers, are sometimes leveraged for abuse against spouses and romantic partners.

 “The Defendant continued to adapt and use increasingly sophisticated efforts to hide the AirTags he placed on S.K.’s car,” US attorneys said. “It is clear from the timing of the placement of the AirTags and corroborating cell-site data, that he was monitoring S.K.’s movements.”

On May 8, the US government filed an indictment against the defendant, Ibodullo Muhiddinov Numanovich, with one alleged count of stalking against his ex-wife, S.K.

The stalking at the center of the government’s indictment allegedly began around March 27, when the FBI first learned about S.K. finding and removing an AirTag from her car. Less than a month later, on April 18, the FBI found a second AirTag that “was taped underneath the front bumper of S.K.’s vehicle with white duct tape.”

The very next day, the FBI found a third AirTag. This time, it was “wrapped in a blue medical mask and secured under the vehicle near the rear passenger side wheel well.”

This pattern of finding an AirTag, removing it, and then finding another was punctuated by physical and verbal intimidation, the government wrote. After a fourth AirTag was removed, the government said that Numanovich called S.K., followed her to a car wash, and “banged on her windows, and demanded to know why S.K. was not answering his calls.” Less than one week later, during a period of just 10 minutes, the government said that Numanovich left five threatening voice mails on S.K.’s phone, calling her “disgusting” and “worse than an animal.”

During the investigation, the FBI retrieved seven AirTags in total. Here is where those AirTags were found:

  1. Found by S.K. with no detail on specific location
  2. Duct-taped underneath the front bumper of S.K.’s car
  3. Underneath S.K.’s car, near the passenger-side wheel well, wrapped in a blue medical mask
  4. Within the frame of SK’s driver-side mirror, wedged between the mirror itself and the casing around it
  5. “An opening within the vehicle’s frame” which, documents say, was previously sealed by a rubber plug that was removed
  6. Underneath the license plate on S.K.’s car
  7. Undisclosed

For two of the retrieved AirTags, the FBI deactivated the trackers and then, away from S.K., placed the AirTags at separate locations. At an undisclosed location in Philadelphia where the FBI placed one AirTag, FBI agents later saw Numanovich “exit his vehicle with his phone in his hand, and begin searching for the AirTag.” At a convenience store where the FBI placed a second AirTag, agents said they again saw Numanovich.

The FBI also received information about attempted pairings and successful unpairings with Numanovich’s Apple account for three of the Apple AirTags.

In addition to the alleged pattern of stalking, the government also accused Numanovich of abusing SK both physically and emotionally, threatening her in person and over the phone, and recording sexually explicit videos of her to use as extortion. After a search warrant was authorized on May 13, agents found “approximately 140 sexually explicit photographs and videos of S.K.” stored on Numanovich’s phone, along with records for “numerous” financial accounts that transferred more than $4 million between 2022 and 2023.

In a follow-on request from the government to detain Numanovich before his trial begins, prosecutors also revealed that S.K. may have been brought into the US through a “Russian-based human smuggling network”—a network of which Numanovich might be a member.

According to 404 Media, a jury trial for Numanovich is scheduled to start on June 8.

Improving AirTag safety

Just last month, Apple and Google announced an industry specification for Bluetooth tracking devices such as AirTags to help alert users to unwanted tracking. The specification will make it possible to alert users across both iOS and Android if a device is unknowingly being used to track them. We applaud this development.

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David Ruiz

Pro-privacy, pro-security writer. Former journalist turned advocate turned cybersecurity defender. Still a little bit of each. Failing book club member.