Connected To The Case

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Here’s some good  information about online scams from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) run by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. Under Top Scams I’ve selected some of the more frequent scams from the 2012 report. The full report is available HERE.

In 2012, the IC3 received 289,874 consumer complaints with an adjusted dollar loss of $525,441,101, which is an 8.3% increase in reported losses since 2011. Here’s how to recognize these scams and tips on not becoming the next victim. For each scam/fraud, I’ve included the phone number from the 2012 report linked above. When in doubt, search for information using your favorite Internet search engine. You’ll be surprised what pops up.

Top Scams and How To Not Be A Victim

The Scam: Auto Fraud - Page 8

In fraudulent vehicle sales, criminals attempt to sell vehicles they do not own. An attractive deal is created by advertising vehicles for sale on various online platforms at prices below market value. Often the fraudsters claim they must sell the vehicles quickly because they are relocating for work, being deployed by the military, or have a tragic family circumstance and are in need of money.

  • The TIP: Never ever buy a vehicle sight unseen. The fraudsters tempt you with a very attractive deal and create a sense of urgency with an incredible short deadline to decide. Never wire money - that makes it virtually untraceable and difficult for law enforcement to track. Make sure you SEE the car, SEE the title, SEE the owner. Ask for proof of identity from the seller and compare it against the title. If ti’s too good to be true - it’s probably a fraud.

FBI Impersonation - Page 9

The names of various government agencies and high-ranking government officials have been used in spam attacks in an attempt to defraud consumers. Complaints that directly spoof the name of FBI Director Robert Mueller continue to make up a large part of the government impersonation e-mail scams. Those complaints include elements of Nigerian scam letters (also known as 419 scams) incorporating get-rich inheritance scenarios, bogus lottery winning notifications and occasional extortion threats.

  • The TIP: These are ALWAYS fraudulent. Do not reply to the email as this verifies your email address to the criminals and will usually generate more contact. No one has ever got rich from an email like this.

Intimidation/Extortion Scams - Page 10

  1. Telephone Calls: False calls about malware being detected on their computers. Offer to get rid of it for fees ranging from $49 - $450.
  2. Payday Loan: Victim receives calls from individuals purporting to be from federal government agency. Claims there are warrants, etc.
  3. Process Server: Threaten victim with showing up at work, etc. To serve papers for a court date. Asks for credit/debit card to avoid court.
  4. Grandparent Scam: Fraudsters pretend to be grandchild in distress and needing money right away.

  • The TIP: 

  1. Never divulge personally identifiable information to any caller. No reputable software company will call you as it is too costly. Real software companies use online tools, so make sure you’re visiting a real site and not clicking on a link from an email.
  2. No matter how convincing the caller sounds, only you know if you’ve ever taken out a payday loan. If you have, call the company yourself and check your account. Always ask for a number to call them back. Most criminals won’t provide a number as they try to complete the scam while on the call.
  3. Always ask for identification and call the court yourself. If you really owe money, make arrangements with the court directly - not through someone who shows up at work or your residence.
  4. Never volunteer the name of the purported grandchild. Always call and check. Do not believe the sense of urgency created by the caller or the admonition not to tell the parents. This is always a clue that this is a scam.

Hit Man Scam - Page 12

The scam originated as a person sending an e-mail portraying himself as a hit man hired to kill the victim. The e-mail instructed the recipient to pay an amount of money to ensure the hit man did not carry out the death contract.

  • The TIP: Although these sound scary, there are no documented cases of loss of life or money. Always report these to law enforcement. 

Scareware/Ransomware - Page 13

Extorting money from consumers by intimidating them with false claims pretending to be the federal government watching their Internet use and other intimidation tactics have evolved over the years to include some of the below highlighted scams.

  1. Pop-up Scareware Scheme: Multiple pop-up screens would appear on the computer of the victim, and are nearly impossible to close. An offer to remove the ‘virus’ directed users to a bogus site where a credit card was required to purchase the ‘fix’.
  2. Citadel Malware: This malware attempts to intimidate the user by using official government sounding names of graphics and claiming you visited child pornography sites. If you pay a fine to the US Department of Justice. Your computer will be unlocked. If you don’t, you’ll face prosecution.
  3. IC3 Ransomware: This scam uses the name of the Internet Crime Complaint Center to scare the victim in a similar matter to the Citadel Malware.

  • The TIP:

  1. Always use anti-virus software and keep it up to date, especially on Windows-based computers. Never pay to ‘unlock’ a computer as this is always a scam. If you need to, take your computer to a reputable computer repair shop and have the virus removed.
  2. This is always a fraud. Take the same steps above. You can’t pay a fine to the US Department of Justice to avoid prosecution for possessing child pornography.
  3. Same and 1 and 2 above.

Real Estate Fraud - Page 14

  1. Rental: Criminals search websites that list homes for sale and take information from legitimate ads and post it with their own e-mail addresses on Craigslist® (without Craigslist’s consent or knowledge) under the housing rentals category.
  2. Timeshare: Timeshare owners across the country are being scammed out of millions of dollars by unscrupulous companies that promise to sell or rent the properties. 
  3. Loan Modification: A loan modification scam often starts when a bogus loan company contacts a distraught homeowner and offers a loan modification plan via phone call, e-mail or mailing.

  • The TIP: 

  1. Never wire money. It’s virtually untraceable and is most likely going overseas. Always SEE the house, SEE the owner/agent, SEE identification before signing the dotted line. Always get it in writing.
  2. Never provide your information or credit/debit card information to a stranger on an unsolicited call. Get a call back number and don’t fall for the sense or urgency.
  3. Always do your due diligence and check the company offering refinancing. A sure sign of a scam is the instruction to stop making payments. This affects your credit rating and is obviously not a sound practice.

Romance Scams - Page 16

Perpetrators use the promise of love and romance to entice and manipulate online victims. A perpetrator scouts the Internet for victims, often finding them in chat rooms, on dating sites and even within social media networks. These individuals seduce

victims with small gifts, poetry, claims of common interest or the promise of constant companionship.

  • The TIP: These are one of the most cruel scams as they play on the emotions of the victim. Never send money to someone you know only through email, no matter what the sob story is. These crooks are experts at playing on your vulnerabilities.  

Overall Statistics

For 2012, the IC3 put together these overall statistics, which really tell the story of how much this kind of crime really costs.

Total complaints received:  289,874 

Complaints reporting loss:  114,908 

Total Loss:  $525,441,110 

Median dollar loss for those reporting a loss:  $600.00 

Average dollar loss overall:  $1,813.00 

Average dollar loss for those reporting loss:  $4,573.00

While others sit and Monday-morning quarterback what the FBI and Cleveland Police did and did not do, let’s not lose sight of some valuable lessons for current and future cases involving the use of social media. DNA testing provides this lesson for us.

Many current and past cases are being solved as DNA testing becomes more sophisticated. New types of testing provides greater accuracy in identifying those responsible - testing that wasn’t available many times when the original crime occurred. Law enforcement agencies are resubmitting DNA samples, especially on cold cases where DNA can now be extracted from smaller samples. Over time, there is a greater chance that the suspect with the matching profile has been otherwise arrested elsewhere for an offense where DNA was collected, or that a family member has been identified who cooperates. Once a match is made, investigators can begin building the case.

In the case of Michelle knight, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, DNA wasn’t a factor in solving the horrific crime. However, DNA has been used to confirm Ariel Castro, currently in custody for the kidnapping and rape of all three victims, is the father of Amanda’s daughter. So what was available that could have been used to help shed new light, create more leads and raise awareness of the kidnappings? Let’s look at the knowns:

  • Michelle Knight: August 22, 2002 - W. 106th and Lorain Ave
  • Amanda Berry: April 21, 2003 - W. 110th and Lorain Ave
  • Gina DeJesus: April 2, 2004 - W. 110th and Parkhurst 

All three victims disappeared within 3-4 blocks of each other.

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The picture says it all…please share :)

On Monday, April 15, I wrote a blog entry called “How Social Media Will Help Solve The Boston Marathon Bombing”. In this post I laid out reasons I believed that, in this modern digital age, social media would play a critical role in solving the bombing. This was almost 48 hours before the FBI released photos of Suspect 1 and Suspect 2. At that point both suspects became radioactive and social media shrank the world around them - a point I made on February 7, 2013 when I was interviewed by Jenna Lee on the Small Business Spotlight.

Social media may not have directly captured the suspects, but it played a critical role in creating awareness, providing tips and inducing panic in the brothers. This panic led to their capture. I personally have no doubt that more attacks were planned. There were additional pressure cooker bombs already made, homemade hand grenades and weapons and ammunition. This was the beginning of a terror campaign. As the role of social becomes more important in addressing terrorism, how it is used is critical. I go into more detail on how Connected To The Case works during an interview with Jonathan Hunt on FoxNews.com.

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Nothing is ever a silver bullet. However, in this day and age the prevalence of social media will provide a rich source of investigative leads and material - a social media surveillance system. Here’s an example on a social media app called Vine:

While there is a lot of television and mass media available, over the day there will be untold amounts of video, pictures and social media posts that may have captured the bombs being planted. This will be a tough job for the federal, state and local authorities. But it’s one that will be helped by the use of social media.

Social media will also be used to help create awareness, reach, scope and frequency as the suspects are identified, tracked and eventually captured. The facts and circumstances of this event are not well known yet. More information will be coming out in the following days. There are early indications that there are even more devices that have been discovered. How long ago those devices were planted is an issue of date, time and location. Almost 80% of date according to an ESRI survey has a data component to it. Social media thrives on location-based data.

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First-of-Its-Kind Resource Helps Police Solve Crime, Return the Missing and Protect Children, Fills the Void Left After Cancellation of America’s Most Wanted

 

Washington, DC April 8, 2013 – Criminals aren’t going to get a rest if Crowd Sourced Investigations, LLC (CSI, LLC) has anything to say about it. Owners of the crime solving Connected To The Case (www.c2case.com) website are expanding the first-of-its-kind capability nationally to any law enforcement agency for free (c2case.com/register).

Connected To The Case uses a variety of social media platforms to create the awareness, scope and reach needed to generate tips for law enforcement including Facebook, Twitter, Storify, YouTube, foursquare, Ustream, Tumblr and Pinterest. Each platform offers a unique way to connect users to cases, and each platform operates as a spoke to the main hub, which is the active case. This approach is so unique that it’s been featured on Fox News, FoxNews.com and Mashable.

 “This is Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon meets America’s Most Wanted meets Facebook,” said Morgan Wright, CEO and Chief Crime Fighter of CSI, LLC. “I’m proud to have many of the former producers and correspondents from AMW working on our team. This will be the first true intersection of mass media and social media.”

 “With the cancellation of AMW, law enforcement needs cutting edge technology to help us reach out to those with information about crimes,” said Todd A. Miller, Director of the Mankato, MN Department of Public Safety and internationally recognized expert on community policing.  Connected To The Case does this through popular social media channels. Now more than ever we need the public’s help to make our communities safer. Crime isn’t just a police problem…it’s a community problem.”

 CSI, LLC is currently in discussions with online production company Human Not Hollywood to establish a joint venture and produce a next generation television show that tightly integrates social media with second screen and cross-platform mobile applications (iPhone, iPad and Android) with the viewer.

 "With over 40 years of combined experience in technology, television and marketing, we believe Connected To The Case is a true revolution in crime fighting, crowdsourcing, online content and brand evolution,” said Tony Bash, CEO of Human Not Hollywood. “A popular genre in media is crime.  This is an untapped synthesis of content, social interactivity and crime with the benefit of protecting each other.”    

Connected To The Case has been designed by law enforcement professionals and former producers of TV’s America’s Most Wanted. While mass media can only profile a handful of the country’s biggest cases, Connected To The Case can cover them all – not just the select few that make it on TV, printed media or other outlets. If you have a tip, call 855 TIPS C2C (855-847-7222), use the web-based tip form or Direct Message on Twitter: @c2case. You can remain anonymous.

 Associated social media sites:

 Website

Facebook

Twitter

Ustream

Pinterest

YouTube

Storify

Tumblr

foursquare

 

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Media Contacts:

Morgan Wright                                                                      

+1.703.574.2434                                                                    

morgan@c2case.com

@c2case 

Connected To The Case - Episode 2 - April 4, 2013 (by ConnectedToTheCase)

I’ve provided security consulting services to educational institutions of all kinds and I’ve learned something about how they function when it comes to security.  Colleges and universities generally have a campus police force of some kind and occasionally they are even sworn law enforcement officers. Ever since the “Lehigh Law” (I’m a Lehigh alumnus), although not necessarily only because of it, security in higher education is usually taken very serious and sometimes done well.  The same can’t be said about elementary and high schools.

Colleges and universities have significant advantages.  Aside from often being large (virtually small towns), they often have the resources to support both good security technology (like “blue light stations”) and campus police departments.  On the other hand, elementary and high schools are usually strapped for funds and staff.  This is all the more reason why it concerns me so much when I see them wasting money on ineffective systems and programs.

This begs the question, should lower tier schools that don’t have an adequately staffed security department—and more often than not, no security department—and not enough operating funds be spending money for CCTV systems. And…the answer is…it depends!  If it is clearly stated to parents, students, and faculty that the primary purpose is to aid post-incident investigations, then it could be a very good thing to do.

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Update to our C2C Messaging Center. This is really coming along nicely. Look for even more good things over the next few weeks!