FBI News – IC3 2011 Internet Crime Report Released

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More Than 300,000 Complaints of Online Criminal Activity Reported in 2011

Washington, D.C.May 10, 2012
  • FBI National Press Office(202) 324-3691

FAIRMONT, WV—The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) today released the 2011 Internet Crime Report—an overview of the latest data and trends of online criminal activity. According to the report, 2011 marked the third year in a row that the IC3 received more than 300,000 complaints. The 314,246 complaints represent a 3.4 percent increase over 2010. The reported dollar loss was $485.3 million. As more Internet crimes are reported, IC3 can better assist law enforcement in the apprehension and prosecution of those responsible for perpetrating Internet crime.

In 2011, IC3 received and processed, on average, more than 26,000 complaints per month. The most common complaints received in 2011 included FBI-related scams—schemes in which a criminal poses as the FBI to defraud victims—identity theft, and advance-fee fraud. The report also lists states with the top complaints, and provides loss and complaint statistics organized by state. It describes complaints by type, demographics, and state.

“This report is a testament to the work we do every day at IC3, which is ensuring our system is used to alert authorities of suspected criminal and civil violations,” said National White Collar Crime (NWC3) Center Director Don Brackman. “Each year we work to provide information that can link individuals and groups to these crimes for better outcomes and prosecution of cases.”

Acting Assistant Director of the FBI’s Cyber Division Michael Welch said, “Internet crime is a growing problem that affects computer users around the world and causes significant financial losses. The IC3 is an efficient mechanism for the public to report suspicious e-mail activity, fraudulent websites, and Internet crimes. These reports help law enforcement make connections between cases and identify criminals.”

IC3 is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the NW3C, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Since its start in 2000, IC3 has become a mainstay for victims reporting Internet crime and a way for law enforcement to be alerted of such crimes. IC3’s service to the law enforcement community includes federal, state, tribal, local, and international agencies that are combating Internet crime.

***

About IC3

IC3 receives, develops, and refers criminal complaints of cybercrime. IC3 gives victims a convenient and easy-to-use reporting mechanism that alerts authorities of suspected criminal or civil violations. For law enforcement and regulatory agencies at the local, state, federal, and international levels, IC3 provides a central referral mechanism for complaints involving online crime.

– 2011 Internet Crime Report (pdf)

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FBI breaking news – MALWARE INSTALLED ON TRAVELERS’ LAPTOPS!

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Intelligence Note
Prepared by the
Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
May 8, 2012

MALWARE INSTALLED ON TRAVELERS’ LAPTOPS THROUGH SOFTWARE UPDATES ON HOTEL INTERNET CONNECTIONS

Recent analysis from the FBI and other government agencies demonstrates that malicious actors are targeting travelers abroad through pop-up windows while establishing an Internet connection in their hotel rooms.

Recently, there have been instances of travelers’ laptops being infected with malicious software while using hotel Internet connections. In these instances, the traveler was attempting to setup the hotel room Internet connection and was presented with a pop-up window notifying the user to update a widely-used software product. If the user clicked to accept and install the update, malicious software was installed on the laptop. The pop-up window appeared to be offering a routine update to a legitimate software product for which updates are frequently available.

The FBI recommends that all government, private industry, and academic personnel who travel abroad take extra caution before updating software products on their hotel Internet connection. Checking the author or digital certificate of any prompted update to see if it corresponds to the software vendor may reveal an attempted attack. The FBI also recommends that travelers perform software updates on laptops immediately before traveling, and that they download software updates directly from the software vendor’s Web site if updates are necessary while abroad.

Anyone who believes they have been a target of this type of attack should immediately contact their local FBI office, and promptly report it to the IC3’s website at www.IC3.gov. The IC3’s complaint database links complaints together to refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration. The complaint information is also used to identify emerging trends and patterns.

FBI News read more…

Urgent Press Release from US Department of Justice on Disaster Fraud Hotline

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The United States Department of Justice

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Justice Department Officials Raise Awareness of Disaster Fraud Hotline

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice, the FBI and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) remind the public there is a potential for disaster fraud in the aftermath of a natural disaster.  Suspected fraudulent activity pertaining to relief efforts associated with the recent series of tornadoes in the Midwest and South should be reported to the NCDF hotline at 866-720-5721.  The hotline is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the purpose of reporting suspected scams being perpetrated by criminals in the aftermath of disasters.

NCDF was originally established in 2005 by the Department of Justice to investigate, prosecute and deter fraud associated with federal disaster relief programs following Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.  Its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud related to any natural or man-made disaster.  More than 20 federal agencies, including the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the FBI, participate in the NCDF, allowing the center to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to disaster relief fraud.

In the wake of natural disasters, many individuals feel compelled to contribute to victim assistance programs and organizations across the country.  The Department of Justice and the FBI remind the public to apply a critical eye and do its due diligence before giving to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of tornado victims.  Solicitations can originate from e-mails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings and telephone calls, and similar methods.

Before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, including the following:

Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming emails, including clicking links contained within those messages, because they may contain computer viruses.

Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials asking for donations via email or social networking sites.

Beware of organizations with copycat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.

Rather than following a purported link to a website, verify the existence and legitimacy of non-profit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources.

Be cautious of emails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files, because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.

To ensure that contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make donations directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.

Do not be pressured into making contributions; reputable charities do not use coercive tactics.

Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions. Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.

Avoid cash donations if possible.  Pay by debit or credit card, or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.

Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services.

Most legitimate charities maintain websites ending in .org rather than .com.

In addition to raising public awareness, the NCDF is the intake center for all disaster relief fraud.  Therefore, if you observe that someone has submitted a fraudulent claim for disaster relief, or any other suspected fraudulent activities pertaining to the receipt of government funds as part of disaster relief or clean up, please contact the NCDF.

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud by a person or organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of tornado victims, or if you discover fraudulent disaster relief claims submitted by a person or organization, contact the NCDF by phone at (866) 720-5721, fax at (225) 334-4707 or email at disaster@leo.gov.

You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center awww.ic3.gov.

END OF REPORT

FBI Breaking News – Cyber Alerts for Parents & Kids Tip #2: Beware of ‘Sextortion’

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Girl at computer

 02/10/12

At the beginning of her summer break in June 2005, a 15-year-old Florida girl logged onto her computer and received a startling instant message. The sender, whom the girl didn’t know, said he had seen her photo online and that he wanted her to send him pictures—of her in the shower. When the girl didn’t comply, the sender showed he knew where she lived and threatened to hurt the girl’s sister if she didn’t agree to his demands.

Worried and hoping to avoid alarming her parents, the girl sent 10 black-and-white images. When her harasser said they weren’t good enough, she sent 10 more, nude and in color. Then he wanted more.

Shadow of a hand on a keyboard
Listen: Special Agent Nickolas Savage discusses “sextortion” and the dangers kids face online. 

– Full transcript | Download (5.3MB)


Don’t Let It Happen to You
Here are a few precautions that can keep you from being victimized by “sextortion”:

– Don’t take for granted that your computer’s anti-virus software is a guarantee against intrusions.

– Turn off your computer when you aren’t using it.

– Cover your webcam when not in use.

– Don’t open attachments without independently verifying that they were sent from someone you know.

– It’s okay to be suspicious. If you receive a message with an attachment from your mother at 3 a.m., maybe the message is not really from your mother.

– If your computer has been compromised and you are receiving extortion threats, don’t be afraid to talk to your parents or to call law enforcement.

“Once these individuals have pictures, they want more,” said Special Agent Nickolas B. Savage,who interviewed the girl after she and her mother contacted authorities. “They are then able to say, ‘I want you to do x, y, and z. And if you don’t, I’m going to take these photographs, and I’m going to send them to people in your school. I’ll send them to your family.’”

Savage, who at the time managed the Innocent Images National Initiative Task Force in the FBI’s Orlando office, spent the better part of the next four years chasing the phantoms that had hacked the 15-year-old’s computer. The winding path eventually led to two assailants—Patrick Connolly and Ivory Dickerson—who jointly terrorized adolescent girls by compromising their computers, demanding sexual photos or videos, and scouring their social networks. The pair also reached out to the girls’ friends—who were duped into downloading malicious software because the e-mails and messages appeared to come from trusted sources.

Connolly and Dickerson, both in prison now, victimized more than 3,800 kids through this “sextortion” technique that duly preyed on kids’ innocence about the Internet and their fear of being exposed to their friends and family.

“Oftentimes children are embarrassed, especially thinking they have somehow contributed to their victimization,” said Savage, who now helps lead the Strategic Outreach and Initiaitve Section in the Cyber Division. “So fearing they will get in trouble if they report it, they will continue with the victimization and send individuals what they are requesting. What often happens is the victimization never stops.”

In this case, some girls were terrorized over a span of as many as seven years. Some attempted suicide. One dropped out of high school because she was always looking over her shoulder.

To uncover the scheme, the FBI cloned one of the victim’s computers and carried on a two-year undercover correspondence with the hacker, who turned out to be Connolly—a British citizen who was at times in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, where he worked as a military contractor and evidently carried out parts of his extortion scheme. The trail also led to North Carolina, where Dickerson was amassing a huge portfolio of pictures and video and secretly recording the webcams of compromised computers. Dickerson was found to have about 230 gigabytes of material, and Connolly had four times that. Dickerson was sentenced in 2007 to 110 years in prison. Three years later, Connolly was sentenced to 30 years.

Have Information on the Case?
Hacker Patrick Connoly used a variety of screen names and e-mail addresses, which are listed below. If you have information regarding the case—there may be other victims—please contact your nearest FBI office or submit a tip online.
Screen Names:
– casperlovesya
– cucumbersn
– 1-1Geo-1-1
– Bigbucks
– billie_wiz
– busted633
– CT Chris CT
– GBreathe
– kamberto3
– kambert0e
– meme816
– Mrfrost20005
– Mythbuster
– Nowammies
– o0ompalo0mpaz
– Onehotguy_101
– only_a_bad_dream_2002
– Quewhiffle
– Stealthisalbum
– xlxl_chris_xlx
– xlxlx_paddy_xlxlx
– yummy_yummy45
E-mail Addresses:
– mervthemerovingian@yahoo.com
– for.facebook1@hotmail.com
– adj00133@yahoo.com
– hweigfuog@hotmail.com
– xcuse_me_miss@hotmail.com
– yesyes@hotmail.com
– marky@aol.net1

Savage says locking up the hackers was one of the most rewarding moments in his career. But he knows there are more victims, some who may not know their tormentors are off the streets.

“The thing was, a lot of these kids are just some folder somewhere,” Savage said, illustrating the cold nature of the crimes and punctuating that once material is posted online it’s out there for all. “No name. Just pictures and videos in a folder. I know that there are so many more victims out there that are wondering, ‘What ever happened to those guys?’ or, ‘Do I still need to be afraid?’”

This story is the second in an occasional series aimed at providing practical web advice and tips for parents and their kids.

Resources:

– Cyber Alerts for Parents & Kids Tip #1: Be Prudent When Posting Images Online
– Innocent Images
– Crimes Against Children

FBI Warning – Internet Crime Complaint Centre

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IC3 Logo

Intelligence Note

Prepared by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

January 25, 2012

TIMESHARE MARKETING SCAMS

Timeshare owners across the country are being scammed out of millions of dollars by unscrupulous companies that promise to sell or rent the unsuspecting victims’ timeshares. In the typical scam, timeshare owners receive unexpected or uninvited telephone calls or e-mails from criminals posing as sales representatives for a timeshare resale company. The representative promises a quick sale, often within 60-90 days. The sales representatives often use high-pressure sales tactics to add a sense of urgency to the deal. Some victims have reported that sales representatives pressured them by claiming there was a buyer waiting in the wings, either on the other line or even present in the office.

Timeshare owners who agree to sell are told that they must pay an upfront fee to cover anything from listing and advertising fees to closing costs. Many victims have provided credit cards to pay the fees ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Once the fee is paid, timeshare owners report that the company becomes evasive – calls go unanswered, numbers are disconnected, and websites are inaccessible.

In some cases, timeshare owners who have been defrauded by a timeshare sales scheme have been subsequently contacted by an unscrupulous timeshare fraud recovery company as well. The representative from the recovery company promises assistance in recovering money lost in the sales scam. Some recovery companies require an up-front fee for services rendered while others promise no fees will be paid unless a refund is obtained for the timeshare owner. The IC3 has identified some instances where people involved with the recovery company also have a connection to the resale company, raising the possibility that timeshare owners are being scammed twice by the same people.

If you are contacted by someone offering to sell or rent your timeshare, the IC3 recommends using caution. Listed below are tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of a timeshare scheme:

  • Be wary if a company asks you for up-front fees to sell or rent your timeshare.
  • Read the fine print of any sales contract or rental agreement provided.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure the company is reputable.

To obtain more information on Internet schemes, visit www.LooksTooGoodToBeTrue.com.

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of this type of scam should promptly report it to the IC3’s website at www.IC3.gov. The IC3’s complaint database links complaints together to refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration.

FBI – National Cyber Security Awareness Month – protecting children

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Man at computer silhouette

Protecting our Children
Technology, Partnerships Work Hand in Hand

10/03/11

Investigators dedicated to rescuing child victims of sexual abuse and arresting those who traffic in child pornography are often faced with the difficult and time-consuming task of analyzing hundreds of thousands of illicit images traded online.

Cyber month banner 

For the eighth year in a row, October has been designated National Cyber Security Awareness Month. The goal: to reinforce the importance of protecting the cyber networks that are so much a part of our daily lives. The theme of the observance, which is sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security, is “Our Shared Responsibility.” Over the course of the month we will be posting additional stories and information about cyber crimes and security. Read more

That painstaking work is critical to identifying victims and their abusers, however, and members of our Digital Analysis and Research Center (DARC)—part of the FBI’s Innocent Images National Initiative—use a mix of sophisticated computer tools and domestic and international partnerships to get the job done.

DARC personnel, who analyze digital evidence in the most significant online child exploitation cases, are currently testing a software tool called the Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS). The CETS program—already in use in several locations around the world—is designed to streamline investigations and integrate with other CETS operations so that law enforcement agencies can enhance their cooperation and efficiently move their cases forward.

“CETS has tremendous potential for the FBI,” said Special Agent Barbara Cordero, a veteran cyber investigator who manages research, development, and training for the Innocent Images National Initiative. “Eventually, when everyone is plugged into CETS, it will allow law enforcement everywhere to share key information.”

“If I’m in a small police department in Iowa, I might not know that another department in Maryland is investigating the same subject I am investigating,” Cordero explained. “CETS will tell me that, along with other important information.”

Innocent Images
 

The FBI established the Innocent Images National Initiative in 1995 to address the proliferation of child pornography and child exploitation facilitated by the Internet. A component of the Bureau’s cyber crimes program, the Innocent Images initiative takes a proactive, multi-agency, investigative approach that relies on strong domestic and international law enforcement partnerships.

The initiative prioritizes several investigative areas, including:

– Online organizations and enterprises that exploit children for profit or personal gain;

– Major distributors and producers of child pornography;

– Individuals who travel—or are willing to travel—for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a minor; and

– Possessors of child pornography.

Learn more

Essentially, CETS is a repository that can be filled with records pertaining to child pornography and child exploitation cases. The system can contain images, case information, identities of known offenders along with information about their Internet addresses, and other related material. The program can analyze millions of pornographic images, helping law enforcement personnel avoid duplication of effort. The program can also perform in-depth analyses, establishing links in cases that investigators might not have seen by themselves.

“CETS has the ability to put the same information in one place and make it available in a unified standard for everyone,” said Special Agent Charles Wilder, who heads DARC. “That’s important because the Internet has removed all geographic boundaries in these types of crimes.”

The CETS program was created by Microsoft at the request of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police National Child Exploitation Coordination Center—investigators there wanted a system designed specifically for child exploitation cases. The program is now being used in Canada and Australia—and Interpol, the international police organization, is working with several of its member countries to integrate CETS into its existing systems.

The ultimate goal is to expand the number of CETS users and to one day integrate all the operations so investigators can share information in a truly global way. “Right now,” Cordero said, “the immediate benefit for the FBI is that CETS saves us a tremendous amount of time in the image review process. Bad guys who trade pornographic images have massive collections,” she said. “We regularly seize hundreds of thousands of images. CETS makes the review process extremely efficient.”

She added, “The FBI has terrific partnerships with cyber investigators in the U.S. and around the world. As we move forward, CETS will allow us to strengthen those partnerships by sharing more and more critical information. This type of technology is a model for the future.”

Resources:
– Innocent Images National Initiative
– National Cyber Security Awareness Month