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Author Topic: Are you smarter than the FBI ?  (Read 4193 times)

Offline RD

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Are you smarter than the FBI ?
« on: 07/01/2012 13:23:56 »
« Last Edit: 07/01/2012 13:52:31 by RD »


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Are you smarter than the FBI ?
« Reply #1 on: 08/01/2012 06:55:11 »
According to the accompanying text, the code appears to be something that the victim, Ricky McCormick developed himself, with apparently nobody in his family familiar with it.  It says he may have began developing it in school, so I would track down all his old school friends, girlfriends, instructors, acquaintances, yearbooks, and etc, and see if anybody else knows it.  Also, find anything and everything that he has written in his life.  Any "doodles"?  Did he ever study any foreign languages?  Have an interest in foreign languages?  Favorite historical period?  Did he have a computer?  What was his occupation?

My guess is that what he developed was a simple encrypted shorthand. 

A computer will do well with general letter substitutions.  But, it won't do well with letter substitutions if it can't run most of the words through a spell checker.

So, consider dropping every vowel, or whatever the preferred shorthand method is.  Scatter in a few abbreviations and word substitutions.  Then apply a simple letter substitution.  It isn't necessary to apply a constant shift, but one could have a unique letter substitution for every letter.  And, train oneself to read it.  Create an uncrackable code (for ordinary purposes), and there would not be a need to ever change it, other than slowly improving techniques.  A computer would have problems deciphering it.

A couple of notes that I see when looking at the codes.  A better copy (high resolution photograph, and perhaps some kind of depth analysis) would be nice, as some features are ambiguous.
  • (P1) appears to indicate the first page, marked in the top right   :D
  • Numbers always seem to have 2+ digits, and often at beginning or near end of lines.  I am assuming they are actually numbers.  Noting that (P1) seems to indicate the first page.  Anyway, I'm assuming the numbers are unencrypted.  However, if one is using a letter substitution, one could also use number substitution.  I read the numbers:
    P1
    71 NCBE
    74 NCBE
    75 NCBE
    194 WLD'S NCBE
    ------------
    2
    36 MLSE 74 SPRKSE 29 .. 173 RTRSE
    35...
    651?
    99.84.?
    3 XORL
    1/2
    D-W-M-4 MPE XDRLX
  • The Letter "E" seems to have a special significance in the code.  The frequency seems to be higher than one might expect in normal writing.  It also seems to occur quite frequently at the end of the lines, and perhaps at the end of words.  I'm considering it to be at least in part a delimiter.
  • I'm going to say that the stuff on the first page within the parentheses is some kind of a list or procedure.  Directions?  It has unusual repetition.
    (NOPFSE NLSRE NCBE)
    (TENE TFRNE NCBRTSE NCBE ING)
    (FLRSE PRSE ONDE 71 NCBE)
    (CDNSE PRSE ONSE 74 NCBE)
    (PRTSE PRSE ONREDE 75 NCBE)
    ...
    (194 WLD'S NCBE)
 

Offline RD

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Re: Are you smarter than the FBI ?
« Reply #2 on: 08/01/2012 08:51:46 »
As the author is described as "a high school dropout"  it may be a simple code like a pig-latin, which would explain the repeated sequences of  characters, (in the same way "ay" is repeatedly used in pig-latin, and similar codes). 

"SE" (or "5E") appears very frequently in the second note ...



[assuming theses are actually a coded messages, not gibberish]
« Last Edit: 08/01/2012 09:33:06 by RD »
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Are you smarter than the FBI ?
« Reply #3 on: 08/01/2012 12:09:02 »


http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2011/march/cryptanalysis_032911/cryptanalysis_032911


[ no reward money if you solve it though :(  ]



2 Pints of milk
1 chicken (pre cooked)
Cornflakes
Cheese (Emmental but could be Limburger)
Ketchup
Tea (possibly green)
Coffee
Eggs (I think free range)
Flour (self raising )
Lamb chops
loo paper
cat litter
Lottery ticket
Bread (sliced wholemeal(
Olive oil (I think extra virgin)


Glad I could help !
 

Offline Geezer

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Re: Are you smarter than the FBI ?
« Reply #4 on: 09/01/2012 23:11:07 »
You missed the last line. It says;
 
"And anything else you fancy."
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: Are you smarter than the FBI ?
« Reply #5 on: 11/01/2012 14:24:31 »

2 Pints of milk
1 chicken (pre cooked)
Cornflakes
Cheese (Emmental but could be Limburger)
Ketchup
Tea (possibly green)
Coffee
Eggs (I think free range)
Flour (self raising )
Lamb chops
loo paper
cat litter
Lottery ticket
Bread (sliced wholemeal(
Olive oil (I think extra virgin)


Glad I could help !



Well done Sheepy! You've cracked it. I have no doubt you will soon be contacted by a shady looking character who will whisk you off to GCHQ.
 

Offline RD

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Re: Are you smarter than the FBI ?
« Reply #6 on: 11/01/2012 17:49:33 »
... you will soon be contacted by a shady looking character who will whisk you off to GCHQ.

Apparently they are hiring ... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15968878
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Are you smarter than the FBI ?
« Reply #7 on: 11/01/2012 19:02:06 »
"Are you smarter than the FBI ?"
Well, they haven't caught me yet.


BTW, for the benefit of the FBI- I'm kidding and outside your jurisdiction.
 

Offline tangoblue

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Re: Are you smarter than the FBI ?
« Reply #8 on: 11/01/2012 19:39:53 »
no i'm not.  If you say you are they get chuck norris to KILL you! 

and they kill you if you look like this --->  O8)

I'M JOKING!
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Are you smarter than the FBI ?
« Reply #9 on: 11/01/2012 19:47:54 »
If you type in some of the bits of the code, you can find some more serious attempts on the web to crack it. 

However, if the FBI was serious about both cracking the code, and involving public scrutiny, they would track down more bits of code and doodles by Ricky McCormick, as well as uploading the full case file, including an entire background on Ricky, his occupations, hobbies, interests, and etc.  They should also do higher quality scans of the code pages.  A typed copy would also be nice, but perhaps best to allow people to make their own guesses about ambiguous letters.

It is a sobering thought that a HS dropout can stump the country's best cytologists.  But, it is also clear the importance of encrypting something other than "plaintext".

The numbers don't appear to be VIN numbers, but could there be serial numbers in the list?
 

Offline RD

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Re: Are you smarter than the FBI ?
« Reply #10 on: 12/01/2012 05:36:02 »
The numbers don't appear to be VIN numbers, but could there be serial numbers in the list?

My first though was Gambling:  bets made, or a betting “system”, (maybe it was “on red” and “tote” on "P1").
Gambling with money borrowed from Geezers with broken noses could get you murdered: if the enforcer gets too enthusiastic about beating the money out of the borrower. 
« Last Edit: 12/01/2012 05:44:58 by RD »
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: Are you smarter than the FBI ?
« Reply #11 on: 12/01/2012 15:14:45 »
Yes, I'm smarter than the FBI, I haven't wasted my time trying to decode it.

Who said its a code anyway???

Maybe Ricky McCormick was dislex disleks dyslequ couldn't spell.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Are you smarter than the FBI ?
« Reply #12 on: 12/01/2012 16:00:00 »
Yes, I'm smarter than the FBI, I haven't wasted my time trying to decode it.
Who said its a code anyway???
Maybe Ricky McCormick was dislex disleks dyslequ couldn't spell.
It could also be just complete gibberish...  if one knows one is going to die...  what better way to go out than stuff your pockets with an enigma that will puzzle the world for generations?

However, notes about an illegal drug deal, or directions to a house could be vital for solving the murder mystery.

My guess is that part of the FBI's interest has nothing to do with the "cold case".  Rather, they are looking at new and improved encryption schemes, as well as better understanding decryption techniques for when something really important comes up.

Part of the difference in WWII was that the Allied Forces were better at cracking the uncrackable German codes than the Germans were at cracking marginally encrypted Allied codes.
 

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Re: Are you smarter than the FBI ?
« Reply #12 on: 12/01/2012 16:00:00 »

 

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