“Hola 4 c–s, you 4 are going to die shortly an[d] immediate and related family member of each of you is going to die. I have your identities,” the email allegedly said.
Mr Smith has also been accused of a campaign of online harassment against the prosecutor, who allegedly received “unsolicited internet activity”.
This allegedly included the woman receiving a receipt for funeral insurance containing her email and phone number, being signed up to a dating website and Narcotics Anonymous, and the posting through a fake Facebook account of derogatory comments about the four police officers recently killed in the Eastern Freeway incident.
Mr Smith – who runs the cyber investigation and consulting businesses Official Intelligence Pty Ltd and eVestigator Cyber Forensic IT & Expert Witness Services – claimed to have solved over 500 cases during his career and appeared as an expert witness in civil and criminal trials across the country.
Mr Smith told The Age that he was in no way involved in the threats and that he had been targeted for harassment by enemies in the police, prosecutors and cybersecurity industry.
“I’ve caught these hackers out – I’ve caught them in the middle of cyber crimes and reported them to the AFP, FBI and everywhere else and they couldn’t handle being named. They’ve publicly shamed, they’ve tried to attack [me],” he said.
“[Police and prosecutors] have an ulterior motive. They want to get me because I give evidence against them in court. They don’t like it. So it doesn’t matter whether there is any evidence (against me)”.
A Victoria Police spokesman said a 40-year-old Bayswater man had been arrested, interviewed and released “pending summons”. He has not been charged.
“Police seized a number of electronic items that are now subject to analysis by Victoria Police’s E-Crime Squad,” he said.
Mr Smith said the police investigators “guessed” he was involved from 4.8 billion people because he had been involved in previous “litigation” with the alleged victims.
“All the evidence they produced was the fact that I know these people. There is no forensic evidence, otherwise I would be charged by now … it’s been three months. I’m actually the victim in this.”
Mr Smith alleges police told him during his interview that they had no evidence against him.
The existence of the Victoria Police investigation came to light after Mr Smith filed an “urgent” application in the Supreme Court of Victoria seeking an injunction ordering police to cease their investigation and a “stay” against the search warrant.
Among other orders sought, he requested that his identity be anonymised by the court, and Victoria Police be ordered to turn over the items seized at his home to the court and produce an affidavit about the evidence used to secure the warrant.
Justice Rita Incerti dismissed the applications to halt the investigation, stay the warrant or provide a pseudonym order. The other matters were referred for consideration to a different court list.
Justice Incerti’s decision states the police investigation has allegedly established a link between Mr Smith and the two police officers, prosecutor and police lawyer.
“(All) are known to [Mr Smith] as either investigating informants or lawyers that have been involved independently in protracted litigation with [Mr Smith].”
Legal listings show Mr Smith is already facing a separate charge of using a carriage service to harass, menace or cause offence from a criminal proceeding dated back to 2019. He is set to stand trial in the County Court for that matter later in the year. Mr Smith denies that charge.
Smith was dubbed “Australia’s DIY Jack Ryan” in a marketing video shot by VICE for the launch of the Amazon Prime TV show in 2018, and was called “perhaps the world’s best investigator” by a US-based IT and cybersecurity podcaster.
Mr Smith said he routinely helped members of the public who had been victims of e-crime for free and at great personal cost.
“It would be good if you noted the good work I do that goes unrecognised, so many people have praised me for often helping where the police cannot,” he said.
Mr Smith lost his private security license in 2018 but said he was currently appealing the decision.
Chris Vedelago is an investigations reporter for The Age with a special interest in crime and justice.
Senior Crime Reporter