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Posts Tagged ‘fraud’

FBI Warns Holiday Cyber Scammers

Posted by Bill on December 2, 2008

FBI alert

The FBI is reminding people this holiday season that cyber criminals continue to aggressively seek ways to steal money and personal information. Scammers are using several techniques to fool potential victims including sending unsolicited e-mails that contain attachments such as electronic greeting cards containing malware (malicious software), setting up spoofing websites that look like legitimate commercial sites, and unleashing phishing and vishing attacks where individuals receive e-mails asking for personal data.

“These cyber scammers will do whatever they can to steal your money and personal information this holiday season and are trying many different ways to commit these crimes. The best way to protect yourself is to report these scams to law enforcement or the Internet Crime Complaint Center, IC3,” said Shawn Henry, Assistant Director, FBI Cyber Division, Washington, D.C.  Read Story Here

Bill Lowrance

Attorney at Law
www.lowrancelaw.com

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Posted in crime, FBI, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, PI Chatter, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Fraud Criminals 1 FBI Fraud Investigators 0

Posted by Bill on October 21, 2008

NY Times reports that the FBI, our good friends, does not have the resources to investigate “criminal wrongdoings tied to the country’s economic crisis.”  Click Here Times Article

Notes from the article:

The bureau slashed its criminal investigative work force to expand its national security role after the Sept. 11 attacks, shifting more than 1,800 agents, or nearly one-third of all agents in criminal programs, to terrorism and intelligence duties. Current and former officials say the cutbacks have left the bureau seriously exposed in investigating areas like white-collar crime, which has taken on urgent importance in recent weeks because of the nation’s economic woes.

So depleted are the ranks of the F.B.I.’s white-collar investigators that executives in the private sector say they have had difficulty attracting the bureau’s attention in cases involving possible frauds of millions of dollars.

Since 2004, F.B.I. officials have warned that mortgage fraud posed a looming threat, and the bureau has repeatedly asked the Bush administration for more money to replenish the ranks of agents handling nonterrorism investigations, according to records and interviews. But each year, the requests have been denied, with no new agents approved for financial crimes, as policy makers focused on counterterrorism.

Bill Lowrance
www.lowrancelaw.com
Attorney & Private Investigator

Posted in crime, FBI, fraud, Investigations, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

ACFE Webinar On Social Engineering

Posted by Bill on June 6, 2008

AFCE, the premier certified fraud examiners site, is having a webinar on social engineering.  Social engineering is getting information from people through various manipulative schemes–pretexting, phishing etc.  This webinar sounds like it should excellent for the professional investigator.  See AFCE Webinar

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

 

Social Engineering – The Foundation of Today’s Fraud Schemes

June 19, 2008 at 12:00 PM EDT
Duration: 100 minutes

Many fraudsters are adept at utilizing social engineering to successfully execute their schemes. The art of manipulating people, whether through pretexting, phishing, or other information-collecting techniques, is based on exploiting human weaknesses and decision-making biases to the direct benefit of the fraudster. This presentation will detail the elements and indicators of social engineering, provide examples of current social engineering schemes, review the risks entailed by these schemes and provide best practices for risk mitigation.

Learning Objectives:
• Understanding social engineering principals
• Identifying the red flags of social engineering attempts
• Possessing best practices and resources for related risk mitigation

Who Should Attend:
• Certified Fraud Examiners and other anti-fraud specialists
• Law Enforcement
• Loss prevention and security professionals
• Forensic accountants
• Internal and independent auditors
• Business managers and professionals assuming fraud deterrence or investigation responsibilities

Speaker

Jon McDowall, CFE, PCI, CIFI

Chief Executive Officer
Fraud Resource Group

Prices listed below reflect the Early Bird Discount and will end on June 12:
Member $99
Non-member $149

 

Posted in crime, fraud, Investigations, PI Chatter, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigator, private investigators | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pretexting Couple Plead Guilty

Posted by Bill on May 26, 2008

    In December 2007 we wrote about the indictment and arrest of several private investigators and personal information researchers pretexting the IRS, medical offices, Social Security Administration and others for personal information.  Click Here to Read 

This month, May 2008, the two main pretexting individuals, Emilio Torrella, 36, and Brandy Torrella, 27, whose company BNT Investigations in Belfair, WA, sold the data for $30 to $300 a record to private investigators who used their services.  The Torrellas obtained the information through false representations.  This month the couple pled guilty.

The Torellas, who owned BNT Investigations in Belfair, sold the data for $30 to $300 a record to private investigators who used their services.

The couple face a mandatory minimum sentence of two years for aggravated identity theft, plus additional time for wire fraud and conspiracy.

The year-long investigation, dubbed “Operation Dialing for Dollars,” led to the couple’s indictment in December 2007, along with the indictment of seven private investigators and another Belfair man, BNT Investigations employee Steven Berwick. Cases against those eight are set for trial in September.  Read full news article Click Here Seattle PI. See Torrella Plea Agreement

BIll Lowrance

President PIAVA

 

Posted in Investigations, law enforcement, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Insurance Fraud Investigations–April 19

Posted by Bill on April 5, 2008

  PIAVA member and vice president, Ed Hruneni, vice president of Investigative Services, American Security Programs, is having a private investigator continuing education program on investigating insurance fraud.  PIAVA member, Ken Mitzkovitz of Detect Inc. in Alexandria, VA, will present a two hour program in his speciality–insurance fraud investigations.

Ken has over 22 years of investigative experience primarily related to insurance investigations.  Ken will also give great tips on conducting a surveillance in insurance investigations.  Attend this program and learn how to prepare a fraud investigation.

The program will be on Saturday, April 19, 2008, 10 a.m. until noon, at American Security Programs, 22900 Shaw Road, Dulles, VA 20166.  The cost is $35 per person.  To register call 703 834 8900 or email hr at securityprograms.com.

See   insurance-investigations flyer.

Also see “Red Flags” of Insurance Fraud Insurance Fraud–Red Flags

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc.,

McLean, VA

 

 

 

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Don’t Be A Money Mule

Posted by Bill on January 26, 2008

mules.jpg  The Washington Post ran an interesting story today about scammers that entice people to “work at home” for their company.  The story goes that you are solcited to “work from home” for a company.  They get your pay pal account, send you money, asking that you transfer to other accounts and keep your 10% fee or whatever.  Anyway, you lose.  Read Post Money Mules

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

Information Insights Inc.

Posted in crime, fraud, Investigations, PI Chatter, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Due Dilligence? See This

Posted by Bill on January 3, 2008

dilligence.jpg  Due Dilligence–what?  Hey it’s easy, read this article in The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel pub by Ken Yormark, Protiviti investigations firm, Protiviti.

Article Metropolitan Corporate Counsel 

Picked this up from Michael Thomas at Daily Caveat

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

Posted in crime, fraud, Investigations, lawyers, PI Chatter, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Research | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

FTC SSN Workshop–What’s It Mean?

Posted by Bill on December 13, 2007

  ftc-web.jpg     The FTC had a two day workshop “to explore the uses of Social Security numbers in the private sector and the role of SSNs in identity theft.”  The workshop is part of the work of the President’s Identity Theft Task Force to reduce “unnecessary uses of the SSN.”   Various groups and individuals attended the workshop representing government, private business and consumers.  The focus of discussions was how SSNs are used by business and the government and how limiting access to a person’s SSN will prevent identity theft.  There was a lot of discussion defining and distinguishing use of the SSN as an identifier and an authenticator, how the SSN is used as such, and what alternative means of using the SSN as an identifier/authencator is available. 

Some consumer groups and private groups believe that the SSN should not be used for an identifier/authenticator, and that a different of identifying identity should be implemented.  The business and industry groups talked about how they use the SSN as identifying people and their related accounts and information.  It is clear the SSN is used to match and identify different people with various amounts of information.  The SSN is tightly woven into use as a national, unique identifier for records matching and internal and external reports.  The government requires that the banking, insurance and credit industries report information utilizing  the SSN.  But, as one panelist said, “The SSN is out there. You can’t take it back.”  My conclusion is much the same.  Some businesses, institutions and government agencies need to retain use of the SSN as a unique identifier.  This simplifies matching matching information.  I am sure the IRS is not going to stop using SSNs as its taxpayer identification number.  Banks and other income generating businesses will probably be required to report income to the IRS and other government agencies using the SSN.

According to Consumers Union, there are three bills pending in Congress to limit the use, sales and purchase of SSNs.  See SSN BillSummary.  I do not believe the private investigation industry is concerned about whether the SSN continues to be used as an identifier or authenticator.  The industry is more concerned about the exceptions in the bills being considered restricting the industry’s access to SSNs for legitimate investigative purposes.  The bills provide exceptions to use, sale or purchase of SSNs to law enforcement, for purposes of national security, public health, complying with state or federal tax law and several other exceptions.  There is no exception for litigation matters, insurance investigations, fraud investigations, missing persons investigations or any other legitimate business investigation.  This means that private investigators could not properly identify persons who are subject to an investigation or identify witnesses needed in an investigation.

The Graham-Leach-Blilley Act and the Drivers Privacy Protection Act restrict certain personal and private information access, but both laws provide exceptions for litigation matters, fraud matters and other legitimate investigations.  The same exceptions should be provide for in any legislation restricting access to SSNs.  The Federal Trade Commission should consider recommending such exceptions in their report to the President’s Identity Theft Task Force.  Legitimate investigations, being litigation matters, fraud matters, criminal defense matters, missing persons matters or buisness matters, should be named as an exception to restricting access to SSNs.

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

Posted in attorneys, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Research, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Grifters? Bonnie/Clyde ID Thieves, ID Theft w/o Pretexting PI?

Posted by Bill on December 11, 2007

 Philadelphia college students, Jocelyn Kirsch and Edward Anderton, steal ID of neighbors.  State prosecuting for ID theft, burglary etc.   Ummmm, all this ID theft done without one pretext call by a Pretexting PI. 

I heard the federal government is thinking about investigation. 

See

You Tube

See also, Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Blog/

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

Posted in attorneys, crime, FBI, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

20 Ways To Protect From ID Theft

Posted by Bill on December 10, 2007

I ran across a Blog listing 20 ways to protect yourself from ID Theft.  Read good points:

20 Amazing-Ways

Posted in attorneys, crime, FBI, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PI Chatter, PIAVA, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NCISS–Investigators Respond To Pretext Indictment

Posted by Bill on December 8, 2007

The National Council of Investigation & Security Services (NCISS), a national organization representing the investigation industry, a very good group too, responded in a press release to the recent pretexting indictment of private investigators:

The National Council of Investigation and Security Services condemns the theft of private, protected personal information from government agencies.  An indictment was recently brought against a number of individuals who are alleged to have obtained records from the Social Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service without consent.  If the allegations are true, then strict enforcement is certainly appropriate.

The alleged actions of this small group of people are not representative of the many licensed private investigators who work every day to fight fraud, locate witnesses and support the US system of justice.

Licensed private investigators conduct lawful inquiries for attorneys, insurance companies and other legitimate clients using traditional investigative tools.  It is never acceptable for anyone to impersonate an actual individual to obtain that individual’s confidential information.

See Press Release

If you are in the investigation or security industry, join NCISS.  They represent your interests in Washington, DC.

I agree,

 Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

Posted in attorneys, crime, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Poor John–Anne, Why We Did It

Posted by Bill on December 8, 2007

You know the story–dead canoeist, insurance fraud and life in Panama, read the latest here: Mirror UK

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

Posted in crime, Investigations, law enforcement, PIAVA, police, private investigations, private investigators, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pretexting PIs–The Great Pretenders Or Not?

Posted by Bill on December 8, 2007

Remember The Platters?  They were popular in the 1950s, and they had this great song called “The Great Pretender.”  Keep in mind the lyrics “Oh yes, I am the great pretender, adrift in a world of my own.”  

Well, we heard about the Seattle U.S. Attorney indicting ten private investigators in a “pretexting” case.–see prior post dated December 7.  It is important to note here that in its press release about the case the U.S. Attorney’s office said “The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”  See  Press Release.  So, the persons named in the indictment are not guilty unless found so by a jury.  The facts and statements in the indictment are only allegations, yet to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt which is the standard of proof required by due process.

Indictment

Now, I read the indictment–see prior post.  The indictment says that the proposed defendants used pretexts, or false pretenses to obtain “employment histories, wage information, income and asset information from various State Unemployment Insurance Departments, the Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, banks and other financial institutions.”  In addition, information was collected, allegedly, from hospitals and pharmacies.  Apparently, the alleged defendants would telephone the, oh, let’s take the I.R.S., for example, and tell the person answering the telephone that they needed tax information because “they recently fired their bookkeeper because of suspicions of impropriety.  This was needed, of course, to verify accuracy of the filings made by the fired bookkeeper according to the indictment.  Another alleged false story given to the I.R.S. was that the individual was at the hospital awaiting surgery, but the hospital would not perform the operation until they received copies of tax returns for verification of income.  The indictment says the alleged defendants falsely claimed hardships or made embarrassing assertions for the “purpose of distracting” the I.R.S. person from asking more questions about why the information was needed.  The hardships claimed included “being a battered spouse who needed the information to avoid more beatings; having a child abducted; and experiencing bankruptcy, foreclosure or serious illness.”

Now, the callers apparently called the I.R.S. in Chamblee, GA, Philadelphia, PA, Memphis, TN and Holtsville, NY.  I believe these may be I.R.S. Service Centers.  But, the service representative answering the phone must have believed the stories in some instances because such is alleged in the indictment.  As I read the indictment and ingested these “stories,” I thought to myself:  Would I believe these stories if I answered the I.R.S. telephone?  Gee, I don’t know, would you? 

Neither I nor PIAVA condone illegal pretexting. 

Security Loopholes 

Recently, the Wired Blog, Wired had their own story on this case.  In a different article, Wired wrote about how to protect yourself from pretexting, see Pretext Protection.  They suggested that companies who were subjected to pretexting tighten up security so as not to give our personal information.  Another organization, Electronic Privacy Information Center, EPIC, EPIC, stated that security standards had been “insufficient to prevent unauthorized third parties from acquiring and exploiting such data (telephone records) for personal and financial gain.”  EPIC called the situation a significant security loophole. 

So, perhaps, the various agencies in this case, and perhaps private business, should tighten up security to prevent personal information, such as involved in this case, from being given out to a telephone caller.  Does the I.R.S. train its employees to guard against pretext calls?  Do other agencies? Do private businesses do so?  I do not know, but they should.  Banks, Credit Bureaus, government agencies, telephone companies and other businesses should review security and training policies concerning information access and distribution. 

After all, Terry K. Peacock, Special Agent in Charge of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) said in the U.S. Attorney’s press release:  “Citizens have the right to expect that their private information will be kept private, especially when it’s in the hands of the US Government.”   I agree, Terry. We can not all be “great pretenders, adrift in a world of our own.”

Bill Lowrance

President PIAVA

president@piava.org

Posted in attorneys, crime, fraud, Investigations, law enforcement, lawyers, PIAVA, police, private detective, private investigations, private investigators, Public Records, Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

O.K.–Google This! Solve crime

Posted by Bill on December 7, 2007

Okay.  You gotta love this one.

You know the story: John and Anne married for many years.  John goes canoeing–doesn’t return. Police find canoe overturned in river/ocean, but never find John.  Anne gets John declared dead–collects insurance.  Makes new home in Panama to grieve.  We are professional investigators.  We have heard all this before.  It is the same old story.

But how do you solve the mystery?  Well, you google “John, Anne, Panama” and you get a picutre of dead John and his wife Anne in Panama–whoa, John is alive, the police say? 

Yeah, read about it Telegraph UK

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