Imagine being a 21-year-old part-time Target employee, making $11 an hour, and being told that you can make $25,000 robbing banks for the Defense Intelligence Agency. Well, that’s exactly what happened to Herson Torres of Fairfax, Virginia.
In a white-walled interrogation room in a small Virginia police station last June, two detectives were trying to get Herson Torres to crack. Surveillance video tied him to two attempted bank robberies in the area during the past week. The skinny 21-year-old didn’t have a criminal record and seemed nervous, but he wasn’t talking. The detectives showed him pictures of his brother and father. They told Torres he could be sent to prison for as many as 25 years.
“If I tell you, you’re not going to believe me,” Torres said. He was crying as he told them an incredible story about being recruited by the Defense Intelligence Agency to participate in a secret operation testing the security of Washington-area banks. He said he’d been assigned to rob a half-dozen banks over four days. And he told them about Theo, the man who hired him and gave all the orders—even though Torres had never met him.
Angry, his interrogators accused him of making up a ridiculous story. Still, Torres persuaded them to look at the text and e-mail messages on his cell phone; he also gave them the password to his Facebook (FB) account and urged them to retrieve a copy of the Defense Intelligence Agency immunity letter from his glove compartment. The police locked up Torres on a charge of attempted robbery and examined the evidence. By the end of the night, they weren’t sure what was going on, but they suspected Torres might be telling the truth.
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