Heart attacks a rising deadly weapon among cops

Fatal heart attacks among law enforcement officers have been quietly mounting through the first half of this year, and most strike victims younger than 50, according to fatality data compiled by two police groups.

So far this year, nine of the 58 officer deaths have been attributed to heart attacks, drawing new attention away from the most volatile and traditional causes — guns and vehicle accidents.

Overall, officer deaths are down slightly — 2% — this year; firearm deaths are down 14%, and fatal traffic incidents are down 21%, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and Officer Down, the groups that most closely track police fatalities.

The nine aheart attack victims so far this year, however, represent three more than in all of last year combined, according to the NLEOMF.

From year to year, the causes of line-of-duty deaths can swing indiscriminately, but authorities are expressing serious concern about the string of heart attack deaths so far this year.

“The number does look dramatic,” said Bart Johnson, executive director of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. “This has been on our radar screen for a while now.”

Johnson said the IACP, the largest association of police chiefs, has been meeting in recent months with representatives of health care company Johnson & Johnson. The meetings, he said, are aimed at developing a more strategic approach to officer wellness as part of the association’s Center for Officer Safety and Wellness, which was created last year.

“We’re looking at the full spectrum of a police officer’s life cycle,” he said.

The effort comes as medical and occupational health journals have been publishing research on the heightened risk factors associated with law enforcement jobs. Last year, an article in the medical journal Cardiology in Review concluded that the common risk factors — hypertension, obesity, smoking, sedentary lifestyles and sudden physical stress — for officers “often (exceed) that found in the civilian population.”

In March, the National Occupational Research Agenda, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, listed cardiovascular disease and its relationship to officer disability and death among its top priorities.

By 2016, according to NORA, federal health authorities hope to assess more fully the disease’s prevalence in the public safety workforce.

“Americans aren’t as fit as they should be, and we, as a profession, are no exception,” said Arlington County, Va., police Capt. Adrienne Quigley, who has researched the issue. “It’s a problem… but it’s not the cool thing to talk about.”

Although many law enforcement agencies require officers to meet certain fitness standards prior to employment, Johnson and Quigley said few departments require officers to maintain those standards as conditions of their continuing employment.

“There really is no follow-up,” Johnson said.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the recent deaths, authorities said, is that at least five of the nine victims were younger than 50 at the time they died.

The youngest, 26-year-old federal corrections officer Brandon Kountz, died while responding to an alarm inside a Beaumont, Texas, prison.

At least eight of the nine victims were engaged in some physical activity, either training or a police operation, when they were stricken.

Two, including St. Paul, Minn., police Officer Josh Lynbaugh, 30, were pursuing suspects on foot.

The victims’ physical conditions prior to death were not included in the fatality data, but at least one — Anthony Barfield — had complained of feeling ill just before his April 9 collapse as he responded to a domestic disturbance call in Barwick, Ga.

Barfield’s death at age 47 was especially tragic for the tiny southwest Georgia town where he served as the police chief and the community’s only full-time officer.

Barwick City Councilman Dale Hicks described the chief as a “beloved” figure in the community where “everybody not only knows everybody else’s name but we even know the name of your cat.”

“He was probably a little overweight, but he appeared to be in reasonably good shape,” Hicks said.

He complained of feeling ill when the disturbance call came in, but “it’s something you wouldn’t generally associate with a heart condition.”

“He was urged to go home,” Hicks said. “But he said, ‘No, I’ll stick it out.’ ”

The councilman said Barfield asked local sheriff’s deputies, who responded to the call as back-up officers, to transport the suspect for booking.

He collapsed at the scene soon after.

“It’s only been a couple months, but he’s sorely missed around here,” Hicks said.

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Three-day FBI raid rescues 105 children from prostitution as 150 arrested

FBI agents have rescued more than 100 children forced into prostitution by sex traffickers, during a three-day sweep across the US.

As part of Operation Cross Country, 150 people were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the sexual exploitation of children.

The raids took place in 76 cities, representing the largest such enforcement action to date, according to an FBI release.

Announcing the arrests, Ron Hosko, assistant director of the bureau’s Criminal Investigative Division, said: “Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America.

“This operation serves as a reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen anywhere and that the FBI remains committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and holding the criminals who profit from this exploitation accountable.”

The sweep, the seventh such nationwide operation, was conducted as part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which seeks to bring together state and federal level bodies to crackdown on child prostitution. Agents recovered 105 sexually exploited children in the course of the operation.

Since its creation in 2003, the programme has identified and rescued 2,700 children who have been forced into prostitution. Arrests made during the raids have resulted in prison sentences of up to 50 years for child sex traffickers.

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Cannes Jewel Heist Nets Bling Worth $53 Million

A jewelry exhibit at the posh Carlton Hotel in Cannes was held up on Sunday and an estimated $53 million worth of goods was swiped. It was the third such heist in the French Riviera resort in as many months.

A police spokesman, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, says one or more thieves took the jewels around noon on Sunday, but it wasn’t immediately clear if they were armed.

The robber or robbers reportedly made off with the jewels in a briefcase, but there were no other details immediately available.

The heist follows two such thefts in Cannes in May – one that nabbed $1 million worth of jewels from the hotel room of an employee of an exclusive Swiss jeweler and another that got away with a Swiss-designed necklace worth $2.5 million at a celebrity party at another five-star hotel in the city.

It could be pure coincidence, but as we reported last week, Bosnian jewel thief Milan Poparic broke out of a Swiss prison on Friday in a daring escape that involved all the elements of a Hollywood thriller, including a van ramming the gate. Poparic was the third member of the so-called ‘Pink Panther’ gang to escape since May.

Update at 3:15 p.m. EDT:

NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley says French media is reporting that it was a single, masked gunman who pulled off the heist.

She says the hotel was hosting a temporary jewelry exhibit of the prestigious Leviev diamond house, owned by Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev.

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Mobile Identity Theft: Statistics and Prevention Tips

Mobile identity theft is one of the fastest growing types of identity theft due to the prevalence of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. With over one billion smartphones being used globally and research predicting this number will double by 2015, the soaring sales of mobile devices come at a time when identity theft is at an all-time high.

There was one victim of identity theft every three seconds in the U.S. in 2012, totaling 12.6 million consumers—an increase of over one million victims compared to the previous year and accounting for more than $21 billion, according to Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2013 Identity Fraud Report. These numbers are expected to rise, especially as our use of mobile devices continues to increase.

Preventing Mobile Identity Theft

Whether it’s for email, instant messaging, surfing the web, shopping online, paying bills, or even banking, we store and share an immense amount of personal data on our mobile devices. Unless steps are taken to protect it, this data is vulnerable to identity thieves who want to use it to create fake identities and steal money.

Other than being convenient to use everywhere we go, it’s important to remember that smartphones are no different than desktops or laptop computers when it comes to hackers, viruses, malware, and spyware. Their apps and mobile browsers enable us to store personal information such as passwords, credit card numbers, and bank account data in addition to our contacts and other sensitive information. When this data is breached, however, the resulting identity theft can have severe and long-lasting consequences.

Tip:

Make sure you are shopping on secure websites by verifying that the “s” is in the “https://” in the address bar. Websites using “http://” at the beginning of the website address are unsecure.

Fortunately, there are many actions you can take to secure your hand-held devices and avoid mobile identity theft. Here are a few tips:

-Create a strong password that is required to unlock your phone and access data. Make sure to set up the phone to automatically lock when it has not been used for a specified period of time.
-Never share sensitive data such as passwords or credit card numbers over an unsecured Wi-Fi connection. Even something as simple as purchasing movie tickets on an iPhone using a public Wi-Fi network can give a nearby hacker the opportunity to steal your data and use it to create a fake identity.
-Carefully review your phone bills for sudden increases in data usage. You also want to be on the lookout for charges from third-party content providers for services and apps you haven’t authorized. These can be signs that your phone has been hacked and puts you at risk for mobile identity theft.
-Keep your operating system and apps up-to-date. These updates are important for keeping your smartphone or tablet current with all of the latest security enhancements.
-Make sure you are shopping on secure websites by verifying that the “s” is in the “https://” in the address bar. Websites using “http://” at the beginning of the website address are unsecure.

When trusted professionals or businesses use mobile devices to share information with clients, the same types of mobile identity theft are possible. Take, for example, healthcare professionals. Over 80 percent of physicians polled in an ABA Health survey revealed that they have used personal mobile devices to access the protected health information of their patients. This puts their patients at risk for mobile medical identity theft even when patients haven’t done anything to put their own identity in jeopardy.

Healthcare professionals can help secure medical records on mobile devices by creating passwords to authenticate access to patient information, and never sharing data over an unsecured Wi-Fi connection.

Mobile Identity Theft Protection Services

In spite of all the safeguards you put in place, hackers will always try to stay one step ahead of you and the available technology. Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” your identity will be compromised. When it happens to you, don’t be caught without a mobile identity theft prevention plan.

There are a number of free mobile identity theft services, such as AVG, that offer anti-virus plans for mobile devices. Phones can be locked and located remotely, suspicious calls or text messages can be blocked, and widgets can detect questionable website activity.

The best identity theft protection service on the market is ID Theft Solutions. Managed by law enforcement professionals, ID Theft Solutions is the most comprehensive way to ensure your identity is recovered when it is stolen.

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Evidence of Torture Found in Chicago Cases

It was almost 30 years ago when five Chicago police detectives working under disgraced former Cmdr. Jon Burge burst into Jerry Mahaffey’s South Side apartment to question him in the home invasion, rape and slaying of a Rogers Park couple and near-fatal beating of their son.

When Mahaffey denied knowledge of the attack, one detective punched him in the nose and another threw him into a wall and put a gun to his head, according to a court records. The detectives allegedly pummeled Mahaffey, nearly suffocated him with a plastic garbage bag and threatened to put his children in an orphanage. Mahaffey eventually confessed, was convicted and is serving life in prison.

On Thursday, the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission found credible evidence that Chicago detectives had tortured Mahaffey — as well as four others sentenced to lengthy prison terms — into confessing to murder. Each of the five cases will now be assigned to a Cook County Criminal Court judge to decide whether a new trial is warranted.

The commission has found 17 credible instances of torture since it began inquiries in 2011, and investigations into more than 100 additional claims continue, said David Thomas, the commission’s executive director. New claims continue to come in “at a fairly steady trickle,” he said Thursday.

Four of the five cases filed Thursday involved Burge or detectives who worked on his infamous “midnight crew.” Burge is serving a 41/2-year sentence in federal prison for lying under oath about his knowledge of the torture.

Among the alleged torture victims is Anthony Jakes, who was 15 when Detectives Michael Kill and Ken Boudreau allegedly punched and kicked him and threatened to throw him out a window during a 16-hour interrogation for a 1991 armed robbery and slaying, according to the commission’s report.

Finally, in the early morning hours and without a parent or lawyer present, Jakes signed a four-page confession to the murder. He was convicted at trial and sentenced to 40 years in prison. Records show he was paroled last month.

By the time Scott Mitchell was allegedly beaten and threatened into confessing to a murder in 1996, Burge had been forced out of the Police Department because of mounting evidence of torture, according to the commission’s court filing.

But one of the detectives on the case, Joseph Danzl, had worked under Burge, and the interrogation of Mitchell — who had been in psychiatric treatment since he was a toddler and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia — bore many of Burge’s hallmarks, according to the torture commission.

“One characteristic of the Burge cases … is the coercion of confessions from the mentally handicapped and psychologically vulnerable,” said the court filing in Mitchell’s case. Another notable Burge pattern was that detectives threatened to lock up Mitchell’s mother and have state welfare workers take away his siblings, according to the filing.

Other cases filed Thursday include that of Robert Smith, who allegedly was beaten by Burge subordinates and confessed to a 1987 double murder, and Kevin Murray, who claimed that two West Side detectives slapped him and punched him in the ribs during an interrogation into another double homicide that same year.

The crime for which Mahaffey was convicted was by far the most notorious, a double murder that shocked Chicago in 1983 not only because of its brutality but because the victims appeared to have been chosen randomly.

According to his confession, Mahaffey and his younger brother, Reginald, had driven to the North Side to burglarize a clothing shop. But when their borrowed van broke down, they started walking until they saw an open window and crawled into the West Rogers Park apartment of Dean Pueschel and his wife, Jo Ellen.

Prosecutors alleged at trial that the Mahaffeys beat the couple’s sleeping 12-year-old son, Ricky, with his own Little League bats and stabbed him in the back with a kitchen knife. Jo Ellen Pueschel, 30, was raped before being pistol-whipped and clubbed to death with a baseball bat in the living room. Her 26-year-old husband was beaten to death in his bedroom.

Ricky miraculously survived the attack and identified the Mahaffeys as the assailants in court, though he had failed to pick them out of a police lineup shortly after the arrests.

Jerry and Reginald Mahaffey were convicted and are serving terms of life without parole.

According to the torture commission’s report, Jerry Mahaffey was treated at the Cook County Jail hospital for bruises and scrapes after he was charged. As part of an effort by his lawyers to have his confession thrown out before trial, Mahaffey’s wife testified that she had witnessed the beating at their home. A neighbor, Charles Patterson, gave a sworn statement that he heard Mahaffey getting “the (expletive) beat out of him” for five minutes after police had surrounded the apartment with guns drawn.

“I asked a white plainclothes officer what was going on and he told me that they had just arrested the ‘(expletive)’ who had killed the North Side couple,” Patterson said in his statement.

Mahaffey’s confession was allowed in after all five detectives denied any misconduct, according to the commission’s finding.

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Five charged as Feds bust largest credit-card hack in history

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey say they’ve busted what could be the biggest credit card hacking fraud in US history, with companies such as NASDAQ, 7-Eleven, and Dow Jones falling prey to an Eastern European criminal gang.

According to the indictment, the gang stole data on up to 160 million credit cards and then sold them on in underground forums so that they could be written onto blank cards and be used to withdraw funds. The losses for just three of the many companies they targeted came to over $300m, according to the authorities.

“This type of crime is the cutting edge. Those who have the expertise and the inclination to break into our computer networks threaten our economic well-being, our privacy, and our national security,” said US Attorney Paul Fishman in a statement.

“This case shows there is a real practical cost because these types of frauds increase the costs of doing business for every American consumer, every day. We cannot be too vigilant and we cannot be too careful.”

The five men – four Russians and a Ukrainian national – were charged with conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to computers and wire fraud, with additional charges that could see four of the five each facing an extra 120 years in prison.

The government alleges that two of the Russians, Vladimir Drinkman, 32, and Alexandr Kalinin, 26, were the group’s hacking team who carried out the penetration of target firms, usually exploiting SQL attacks and then installing trojan software to harvest credit card and personal information from corporate servers.

The two are well known to prosecutors as former associates of cybercrime-kingpin-turned-US-Secret-Service-snitch-turned-recidivist-cyberblagger Albert Gonzalez and are thought to have been the duo behind the successful 2009 hacking of Heartland Payment Systems.

Once the data had been slurped it was passed over to the team’s Russian analyst Roman Kotov, 32, who identified the most valuable credit cards and the ancillary information needed to use the numbers for fraudulent traffic, the government claims.

This was then passed on to Muscovite Dmitriy Smilianets, 29, for resale on undergrounds message boards, with the Ukrainian Mikhail Rytikov, 26, providing the anonymous ISP services to enable the sale.

The gang sold US credit-card data ready to be slapped onto a blank card for around $10 per number, while Canadian cards went for $15, and European cards for $50 per user. The gang sold only to credentialed underground buyers, and offered volume discounts for larger buyers.

Drinkman and Smilianets were arrested in the Netherlands in June 2012 after the Dutch police were tipped off by the US authorities and are currently being extradited to the US for trial. Kalinin, Kotov, and Rytikov are still at large.

“As is evident by this indictment, the Secret Service will continue to apply innovative techniques to successfully investigate and arrest transnational cyber criminals,” said Special Agent in Charge Mottola of the Newark, New Jersey, Field Office.

“While the global nature of cyber-crime continues to have a profound impact on our financial institutions, this case demonstrates the global investigative steps that U.S. Secret Service Special Agents are taking to ensure that criminals will be pursued and prosecuted no matter where they reside.”

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US Charges Hackers Over 160 Million Bank Card Numbers

NEW YORK CITY – US authorities indicted five men on Thursday on charges of running a global hacking operation that enabled them to steal the bank card numbers of more than 160 million people.

Prosecutors in Newark, New Jersey described the scheme as the largest hacking and data breach case ever prosecuted in the United States.

According to the indictment, the men — four Russians and a Ukrainian — targeted major payment processors, retailers and financial institutions around the world over the course of seven years, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.

The defendants were charged with attacks on, among others, NASDAQ, Visa Jordan, the Belgian bank Dexia, and Diners Singapore. Just three of the corporate victims have reported combined losses in excess of $300 million.

“This type of crime is the cutting edge,” New Jersey US Attorney Paul Fishman said.

“Those who have the expertise and the inclination to break into our computer networks threaten our economic well-being, our privacy and our national security.”

The defendants were named as Russians Vladimir Drinkman, Alexandr Kalinin, Roman Kotov and Dmitriy Smilianets, and Ukrainian Mikhail Rytikov.

Only Smilianets is currently in US custody. He was arrested in the Netherlands last year along with Drinkman and extradited. Drinkman is awaiting an extradition hearing in the Netherlands. The other three suspects are still at large.

US investigators have been on the trail of the hackers for at least four years with Kalinin and Drinkman having been identified as Hacker 1 and Hacker 2 in a 2009 indictment of Albert Gonzalez, who was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for accessing the confidential data of Heartland Payment Systems and other corporations in what was, until then, the biggest case of its kind.

The pair were described as specialists in penetrating network security and gaining access to the systems of major corporations. Moscow-based Kotov was said to be the expert in mining the networks his accomplices had opened up.

This involved installing malicious code, or malware, on compromised systems, enabling the harvesting of user names and passwords, means of identification and bank card numbers.

The US investigators regard the estimate of 160 million numbers obtained by the group as a conservative one.

The group was prepared to wait for months at a time for their efforts to break a particular company’s security.

Instant message chats between the defendants indicate they had malware implanted on some companies’ servers for over a year, according to investigators.

Rytikov, based in Odessa in the Ukraine, allegedly run the web-hosting services the hackers used to disguise their activities and Similianets, also a Muscovite, was said to be the person who sold on the information and shared the proceeds with the group.

A stolen American credit card number and the details needed to use it were said to be worth 10 dollars, a Canadian one $15 and a European one $50 to the identity theft wholesalers who bought the data.

They would then sell them on to individuals who could encode the data onto blank plastic cards and use them to buy goods or make cash withdrawals. Kalinin was named Thursday in a separate indictment in New York which accuses him of hacking into computer servers used by the New York technology market NASDAQ.

He is also charged by the New York authorities with a scheme to steal bank account information from US financial institutions in partnership with another Russian hacker, Nikolay Nasenkov.

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Cybercrime costing economy up to $500B a year

Cybercrimes cost the global economy up to $500 billion annually, and can potentially result in the loss of 500,000 jobs in the United States alone.

These findings were highlighted in a report released Tuesday by the Center of Strategic and International Studies and commissioned by McAfee. Aimed at measuring real-world losses from cyberattacks, the center enlisted economists, intellectual property experts, and security researchers to develop the report. The researchers also based their estimates on comparisons to real-world analogies such as losses in car crashes, piracy, pilferage and crime, and drugs.

The generally accepted range for cybercrime losses to the global economy was between $100 billion and $500 billion, the report noted.

The researchers also found it difficult to rely on methods such as surveys cybercrime victims because companies that revealed their cyber losses often were unable to estimate what had been taken, while intellectual property (IP) losses were difficult to quantify.

Malicious cyber activities involve more than the loss of financial assets or intellectual property, as there are costs from damage to brand and reputation, consumer losses from fraud, opportunity costs of service disruptions and “cleaning up” after breaches, and the cost of increased spending on cybersecurity.

It was also difficult to quantify the cost to national security because the theft of military technology could make nations less secure, by strengthening potential opponents or harming export markets in aerospace, advanced materials, or other high-end products.

“[When it comes to cybercrime], it is often the same actors pursuing a collection plan that targets both military and commercial sources,” the report said. “We cannot accurately assess the dollar value of the loss in military technology, but we can say that cyberespionage shifts the terms of engagement in favor of foreign competitors.”

The report further estimated a total of 508,000 jobs could potentially be lost in the U.S. alone, due to cyberespionage. The CSIS’ commerce department in 2011 estimated US$1 billion in export value was equal to 5,080 jobs, which meant the high end estimate of US$100 billion in losses would translate to 508,000 lost jobs, the report explained.

“If a good portion of these jobs were high-end manufacturing jobs that moved overseas because of intellectual property losses, the effects could be more wide ranging,” James Lewis, director and senior fellow of the technology and public policy program at CSIS, and a co-author of the report, said in a statement.

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DOES THE NSA TAP THAT? WHAT WE STILL DON’T KNOW ABOUT INTERNET SURVEILLANCE

Among the snooping revelations of recent weeks, there have been tantalizing bits of evidence that the NSA is tapping fiber-optic cables that carry nearly all international phone and Internet data.

The idea that the NSA is sweeping up vast data streams via cables and other infrastructure — often described as the “backbone of the Internet” — is not new. In late 2005, the New York Times first described the tapping, which began after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. More details emerged in early 2006 when an AT&T whistleblower came forward.

But like other aspects of NSA surveillance, virtually everything about this kind of NSA surveillance is highly secret and we’re left with far from a full picture.

Is the NSA really sucking up everything?

It’s not clear.

The most detailed, though now dated, information on the topic comes from Mark Klein. He’s the former AT&T technician who went public in 2006 describing the installation in 2002-03 of a secret room in an AT&T building in San Francisco. The equipment, detailed in technical documents, allowed the NSA to conduct what Klein described as “vacuum-cleaner surveillance of all the data crossing the internet — whether that be peoples’ e-mail, web surfing or any other data.”

Klein said he was told there was similar equipment installed at AT&T facilities in San Diego, Seattle, and San Jose.

There is also evidence that the vacuuming has continued in some form right up to the present.

A draft NSA inspector’s general report from 2009, recently published by the Washington Post,refers to access via two companies “to large volumes of foreign-to-foreign communications transiting the United States through fiberoptic cables, gateway switches, and data networks.”

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The Secret Service Agent Who Collared Cybercrooks by Selling Them Fake IDs

From late 2007 until March 2011, if you were an identity thief or credit card fraud artist in need of a fake ID, your best bet was “Celtic’s Novelty I.D. Service.” From its base in Las Vegas, the online storefront manufactured driver’s licenses for 13 states and shipped them to buyers around the world. No questions asked.

With a reputation for quality and the fastest turnaround in the industry, Celtic was a no-nonsense player in a global underworld benighted by drama and infighting. On the Russian-led criminal forum Carder.su, his primary home, he accumulated scores of glowing reviews from satisfied customers. “You can trust him,” wrote Oink Oink. “This guy doesn’t fuck around. Great shit, great communication and bends over backwards to help you out.”

“I agree Celtic is great,” wrote XXXSimone. “I placed an order, instantly he sent the order out did not bullshit around.”

A customer named Temp agreed. “Strongly recommended! Fast shipment, and very good discounts!”

Today Billy “Oink-Oink” Steffey, Maceo “XXXSimone” Boozer III, and Alexander “Temp” Kostyukov might not be so generous with their praise, as they await a November trial in the largest identity theft prosecution in U.S. history. Their mistake? In addition to being a talented ID forger, Celtic was a Secret Service agent.

The government calls it “Operation Open Market,” a four-year investigation resulting, so far, in four federal grand jury indictments against 55 defendants in 10 countries, facing a cumulative millennium of prison time. What many of those alleged scammers, carders, thieves, and racketeers have in common is one simple mistake: They bought their high-quality fake IDs from a sophisticated driver’s license counterfeiting factory secretly established, owned, and operated by the United States Secret Service.

The Secret Service announced Operation Open Market in a press release in March of last year when the first set of indictments dropped. But the agency hasn’t publicly disclosed how it made the busts. That story is told in internal agency documents seen by WIRED, correlated with archival posts from Carder.su and court records. It’s the story of how the Secret Service, in an operation as ironic as it was bold, stole the identity of a low-ranking member of the underground in May 2007, and, with top-level Justice Department approval, used it for years afterward to produce and sell some of the best fake IDs available anywhere.

In the process, the agency built dossiers on identity thieves around the world and discovered the underground’s extensive use of the online payment service Liberty Reserve, which spawned a parallel Secret Service and Treasury Department investigation with its own round of arrests in May.

“By selling the counterfeit identifications, it allowed the UCA [undercover agent] potential to identify individuals operating on the carding portals and develop an understanding of the internal workings of the organization,” reads an August 2011 memorandum produced by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, which supported the Secret Service in the operation.

“The prosecutorial strategy centers on disrupting and dismantling the Carder.su organization while at the same time acting as a deterrent to similar organizations that may be operating under the belief that because they are outside U.S. territory they are safe from U.S. law enforcement,” the report continues, adding that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was personally briefed on the operation.

The Secret Service, DHS, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada declined to discuss the investigation.

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