Archive for July, 2015

Have you ever thought about the carbon footprint of your money?

Everything we use has to be transported from place to place, including the cash in our wallets.

And the big, hulking diesel armored trucks that move money around are hardly the most fuel-efficient vehicles.

Hoping to temper the all-important emphasis on security with some green thinking, three companies have just unveiled a cleaner alternative to the traditional armored truck.

The 26,000-pound vehicle is a plug-in hybrid with a natural-gas internal-combustion engine, according to Autoblog.

Six trucks were converted by Efficient Drivetrains Inc. and North American Repower, and will begin hauling valuables around the Los Angeles area with Sectran Security next year.

Efficient Drivetrains has already tried to market a plug-in hybrid SUV in Asia, while North American Repower specializes in natural-gas conversions.

An armored truck seemed like a good platform for the joint project because these vehicles most of their time in urban traffic, making many stops for deliveries.

During stops, a standard truck’s diesel engine is typically left idling for security purposes.

However, California regulations limit idling to 5 minutes, the partners say.

The powertrain’s electric component offers a way around that issue, while the natural gas power helps to reduce emissions while running the engine.

The demonstration fleet of six trucks will conserve 31,000 gallons of diesel per year, and cut emissions by 99.9 percent, the companies claim.

Natural gas has proven to be more acceptable as a fuel for fleets than individual passenger cars.

The lack of public fueling stations makes owning a natural-gas car somewhat inconvenient, but fleet operators can secure supplies of the fuel to distribute to their vehicles.

After 15 years of selling a natural-gas powered Civic sedan, Honda has withdrawn that model for 2016 after concluding that prospects for natural gas-fueled passenger vehicles remained dim.

Since most fleet vehicles operate within confined service areas, operators count on them not straying too far from a centralized fueling source, often “back at base” every night.

The armored-truck project received a $3 million grant from the California Energy Commission, along with a matching amount of private funds.

While this project will only demonstrate these unusual vehicles, perhaps more will be built if security companies show interest.

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Sexual Predator Sentenced to 29 Years

Targeted Young Victims Through Social Media

Social media is a great vehicle for keeping up with friends and family, networking with colleagues, and sharing common interests with others—and it’s an especially popular way for young people to communicate with one another. But, like a car that’s stolen by a bank robber to be used as a getaway vehicle, social media accounts can be hijacked by criminals and others for nefarious purposes. And it’s often a young victim at the other end of the computer.

Which is why parents need to be aware of what could happen if their child unknowingly comes across someone on social media who poses a threat—and should talk to their kids about it.

Help Protect Your Kids from Online Sexual Predators

In addition to talking to your kids about the dangers of being sexually exploited online and offline, here are some concrete ways you can help them protect themselves on social media:

- Make sure the privacy settings on your kids’ social media accounts are high, but also keep in mind that information can inadvertently be leaked by friends and family, so remind kids they should still be careful about posting certain information about themselves—like street address, phone number, Social Security number, etc.

- Remind your kids they should post only what they’re comfortable with others seeing. Encourage them to think about the language they use online and to think before posting pictures and videos. And remind them that once they post something, they can’t take it back.

- Be aware of who your kids’ online friends are, and advise them to accept friend requests only from people they know personally.

- Encourage your kids to tell you if they feel threatened by someone or uncomfortable because of something online.

- Report inappropriate activity to the website or to law enforcement.

- Know that teens are not always honest about what they are doing online. Some will let their parents “friend” them, for example, but will then establish another space online that is hidden from their parents.

Case in point: a 23-year-old California man who was recently sentenced to 29 years in federal prison for attempting to produce child pornography and enticing a minor. Jordan James Kirby used Facebook to solicit juvenile girls (as well as women) for sexually explicit photos, which he would then use to extort the victims for additional pictures and/or for sex acts with him.

Kirby, who lived in Paradise, California, created several bogus Facebook profiles through which he contacted hundreds of victims, many of whom were minor females. He would sometimes claim to be an agent for a modeling company and, after complimenting them on their looks, would offer the girls thousands of dollars for photos of themselves in various stages of undress. To tempt them, he posted pictures of himself holding large amounts of cash and photos of money spread out on top of his computer. Unfortunately, some of the girls he contacted were either duped by Kirby or enticed by the money and ultimately sent him the photos he requested.

Of course, once Kirby got the photos, he never sent the money. Instead, he would up the ante—threatening to send the photos to the girls’ parents or release them on the Internet unless they sent him yet more pictures, or, in some cases, met up with him for sex acts.

Kirby’s illicit activities became known when the parents of one of his victims—after discovering information on a home computer—contacted the FBI’s Chico Resident Agency out of our Sacramento Field Office. Our case agent then contacted a detective with the Paradise Police Department for assistance with identifying local suspects. After the execution of several search warrants on Internet service providers, investigators identified and arrested Kirby in May 2014 on state criminal charges. In the meantime, the federal case was being built against him.

This joint investigation made good use of an FBI child forensic interviewer, the FBI’s Computer Analysis Response Team, and the Paradise Police Department’s familiarity with the town’s young people.

Earlier this year, Kirby pled guilty in federal court to six criminal counts involving victims between the ages of 10 and 15. And this past May, he was sentenced to 29 years in prison.

A key aspect of the case, according to the FBI agent who worked it, was the willingness of that one victim’s parents to immediately come forward to the FBI with their concerns—and computer devices, potentially containing evidence—when they suspected their daughter may have been victimized. Their action not only led to the eventual identification of Kirby, which protected their daughter from further contact with him, but also protected an unknown number of young girls who could have been victimized by him in the future.

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Eighty years ago today, on July 29, 1935, the FBI opened its training facilities and expertise to law enforcement officers across the U.S., and the National Academy was born.

The idea of a national training academy was first raised in late 1934 as part of U.S. Attorney General Homer Cummings’ “war on crime.”

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover then fleshed out an idea for professional education for law enforcement officers at the annual meeting of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) held in early July 1935.

An IACP committee on police training had urged Director Hoover, who spoke at the conference on the value of professional police training, to consider offering such training under FBI auspices.

Hoover returned to Washington, and later that month, the first class of 23 officers from across the country began training with the FBI.

They took a wide array of classes detailing the latest research and experience on police procedure, forensic science applications, the law, and other important issues. This first class graduated from this 12-week training course on October 19, 1935.

Within two years, these classes were accepting foreign law enforcement officers as well.

Since then, the FBI’s National Academy program has offered training to thousands of law enforcement professionals conducted by experts in law enforcement, legal matters, and scientific applications, and it has graduates spread across the globe. The next National Academy class—number 261—will graduate on September 18, 2015.

FBI press release on the first National Academy session (pdf)

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TALLAHASSEE – Florida, which already has the most concealed-weapon licenses in the nation, is now fast-tracking the process for active-duty military members and honorably discharged veterans.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam announced Monday that active and retired service members will immediately begin to get top priority when applying for the licenses.

The expedited process is part of the state’s reaction to a shooting rampage in Tennessee in which four Marines and a sailor were killed on July 16.

“The men and women who serve and have served our country deserve all of the support we can provide,” Putnam said in a prepared statement.

The announcement expands upon an executive order issued July 18 by Gov. Rick Scott. The executive order included a requirement that preference be given to members of the Florida National Guard when applying for concealed-weapon licenses.

The order also directed Adjutant Gen. Michael Calhoun to temporarily move National Guard members from six “storefront” recruitment centers to armories and to work with local law-enforcement agencies to arrange regular security checks of armories.

Putnam expanded the license fast-tracking to include all military members.

Active members of the military are advised to include copies of their Common Access Cards or other forms of official military identification with their applications. Veterans have to file copies of their DD 214 long forms with their applications to get fast-tracked.

The state agency hasn’t estimated how many members of the military and veterans will take advantage of the expedited process, said Putnam spokeswoman Jennifer Meale.

Currently, there are more than 1.41 million concealed-weapon licenses issued in Florida, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which administers the program.

The state went over the 1 million mark in December 2012, becoming the first state in the nation to surpass that figure.

Pennsylvania, which does not post its concealed-weapon numbers, has reportedly joined Florida in surpassing the 1 million mark.

According to a 2014 study from the Pennsylvania-based Crime Prevention Research Center, Texas has issued the third most concealed-carry permits among the states.

There were 825,957 concealed-carry permits in Texas as of Dec. 31, 2014, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Meanwhile, Florida lawmakers in 2014 made it more convenient to apply for a concealed-carry licenses by allowing county tax collectors’ offices to accept applications.

So far, 13 offices — Brevard, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lee, Marion, Martin, Nassau, Okaloosa, Pasco, Pinellas, St. Johns and Walton — accept the applications.

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International Parental Kidnapping Case

Partnerships, Publicity Key to 9-Year-Old’s Rescue

When 9-year-old Billy Hanson didn’t return to Pennsylvania after spending the summer with his father in Seattle, the boy’s mother called her local police department, setting in motion an international kidnapping investigation that led FBI agents halfway around the world to a tiny island in the South Pacific.

What would eventually bring the case to a successful conclusion was the extraordinary collaboration between local, federal, and international law enforcement and other agencies. But on that September day in 2014 when Billy was not on the flight he was supposed to be on, his mother “was obviously very concerned,” said Special Agent Carolyn Woodbury, who led the investigation from the FBI’s Seattle Division.

Johanna Hanson had agreed to let her son spend that July and August living with his father, Jeff Hanson, aboard a 30-foot sailboat named the Draco. But after Billy arrived in Washington, she began receiving text messages from her estranged husband suggesting that Billy would not be returning in the fall—a clear violation of their court-approved custody agreement.

Johanna called the Hazelton Pennsylvania Police Department, who, in turn, contacted the Port of Seattle Police Department. In August, a welfare check was conducted, which showed that Billy and his father were on the boat in Seattle, and all seemed to be well. A week later, however, the airplane ticket Billy’s grandfather had purchased for his return to the East Coast was never used—and the Draco was nowhere to be found.

The FBI-led Seattle Safe Streets Task Force, which includes the Seattle Police Department and other law enforcement agencies, was called for assistance. Task force members who went to the marina and elsewhere to conduct interviews learned that 46-year-old Jeff Hanson had given away some of his personal belongings, that he had previously sailed the Draco around the world, and—most significantly—that he had a six-day head start on investigators. In other words, he was likely on the open sea and could be headed anywhere. Investigators also learned another troubling fact, Woodbury said: “We were told that Billy didn’t know how to swim.”

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Gun Control Group Would Endanger Military

As if misguided anti-gun policies that leave our fighting men and women defenseless stateside weren’t enough, some gun control advocates are intent on reviving a Clinton-era gun control tactic that would pose a danger to our military in the field.

In an opinion piece for the Saturday edition of the New York Times, several representatives of the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, described as a group “aimed at building power for social change,” encouraged President Obama to inject gun control politics into federal firearms acquisition procedure.

More specifically, Metro-IAF wants the president to exercise the federal government’s purchasing power to reward firearms manufacturers that acquiesce to “voluntary” gun control measures in its dealings with civilian gun owners, and punish those that refuse to curb the rights of American gun owners.

According to the group, “For the government to keep buying guns from these companies — purchases meant to ensure public safety — without making demands for change is to squander its leverage.”

The first organization Metro-IAF would like to foist their gun control experiment on is the U.S. Army.

The group states, “The Pentagon is in the process of selecting the provider of handguns for the United States Army. It should require all bidders to provide detailed information about their gun safety technologies and distribution practices in the civilian market. No response, no contract.”

Another target specifically mentioned by Metro-IAF is the FBI. However, it appears the group would like to extend this strategy to all of federal law enforcement.

Under the group’s plan, in order to compete for federal contracts, manufacturers would be required to fund unprofitable “smart gun” technology, only sell through dealers that will not complete a sale following a delayed NICS check that extends past the three-day safety-valve provision (a potential gun ban for the significant number of persons wrongfully delayed each year), and “distribute their guns exclusively through dealers that sell guns responsibly.”

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In the jewelry world, the name of Doris Payne commands, if not respect, at least concern.

Police said Payne, who’s 84, is a world renowned thief who’s been stealing high-end jewelry for more than 50 years.

Her crimes have been traced to Greece, Britain, France, Switzerland, Monte Carlo, and the United States.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department believes that on July 11, Payne took a $33,000 diamond engagement ring from David Yurman jewelers at South Park Mall.

They would not confirm that with Channel 9, but we obtained a copy of an email sent from police to several local jewelers following the heist.

“We’re talking about Doris Payne, and her reputation walks far ahead of her,” said Dovy Klarberg, co-owner of Diamonds Direct SouthPark. After receiving an email from CMPD naming Payne as the suspect in the theft at the mall, Klarberg alerted his staff to be on the lookout for her.

Payne is known to use slight of hand. She will ask to see a piece of jewelry, then slip it on her finger while a store employee is distracted. Klarberg even watched a documentary made about her life, and called her a clever person.

“It’s a difficult level of sophistication, or I guess from her end, a level of professionalism,” he said.

Some jewelry shoppers were stunned to think such a person could be in Charlotte, and still committing crimes.

“I guess she’s had lots of time to practice,” said Myra Southwell. “Still, it’s sad that she’s had to resort to that her whole life.”

Payne has served prison time, and was apparently released within the last year. USA Today has reported that actress Halle Berry was considering playing her in a movie about her life story.

“That’s just unreal. I can’t imagine that happening,” said Kellis Wiseman, also out shopping for jewelry Monday. “I can’t believe she’s gotten away with it for so many years.”

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police will not discuss suspects in the heist at SouthPark Mall, and have not released any surveillance video of the crime. The email to local jewelers states that a Tiffany & Co. employee saw Payne and tried to alert another employee at David Yurman, but it was too late.

So far there have been no arrests. Employees at David Yurman would not comment when reached Monday afternoon.

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — Security guards who work at colleges and universities across Connecticut participated in specialized training Wednesday, learning about detecting bombs.

Instructors show how to recognize different types of bombs, many made from things found around the home, and teach life-saving skills.

“Time, action, command initiation to give first-responders a heads up on what to look for, identifying key features and functions,” said Arthur Dererian, whose worked with explosives for more than two decades.

He says this training is crucial nowadays. Just recently, a Massachusetts man was arrested after allegedly plotting to set off bombs in college cafeterias.

“The threat is here in the United States, and this training will help public safety officials throughout universities identify these items, deem them suspicious, and follow proper protocols,” said Dererian.

The public safety officers in attendance were hand-picked to take part in the week-long bomb recognition training at Fairfield University.

“Scared in a small manner with the bombing idea, but if you don’t know about it, that’s the worst thing that can happen,” said Sacred Heart University public safety officer Candace Kinlaw.

“Knowledge is power,” said another Sacred Heart officer, Nicholas Pulaski. “The more you know, the better you will be at doing anything. This only helps us and preps us more to be much better and more safe at our jobs.”

Fairfield University has now held this training for seven years.

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Financial Fraud

The Hair Show That Never Was
Two criminals were sentenced for a scheme that involved enlisting young women at shopping malls and other places to participate in a “hair show,” gaining access to their bank accounts, depositing phony checks in the accounts, and withdrawing funds before the banks realized the fraud.

Tamira Fonville’s job might be described as “recruiter.” For a time, she profited substantially by enlisting college-age women to participate in a hair show. The problem was, there never was any show, and everything about Fonville’s line of work was a fraud.

She and her partner—both of whom are now in prison—regularly traveled the Interstate 95 corridor from New York to Washington, D.C., visiting shopping malls and other places where young women were known to spend time.

Using a series of phony names, Fonville would interest the women in the hair show, offering to pay for their services. But to pay them, she said, she needed their debit card numbers and access to their accounts.

With that access, she would not simply clean out their accounts. Instead, her partner and mastermind of the scam, Ricardo Falana, would deposit bogus checks into the legitimate accounts, and then immediately begin withdrawing funds before the bank realized the fraud.

“It was a crazy, hit or miss scheme,” said Special Agent Sean Norman, who investigated the case from the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “But they did it at such a high volume that they made a lot of money for several years. There was approximately $600,000 in actual losses to banks and other financial institutions.”

On a typical recruiting trip, Fonville might talk with 20 or 30 women and would follow up with text messages using disposable phones whose numbers could not be traced. If she ended up with three or four willing participants, that was enough.

“Some took the hair show bait and handed over their debit cards and PINs,” Norman said. “Others who were skeptical got a different pitch,” he explained. “They were told: ‘I can make money appear in your account. You will get some money, I will get some money, and the bank won’t lose anything.’”

With access to legitimate accounts not tied to him, Falana deposited forged checks of up to $10,000 and then withdrew money before the bank realized the checks were bad. Many of the victims were coached to tell bank investigators that their debit cards had been stolen and their PINs were written on the cards.

“The majority of the account holders knew they were doing something fraudulent,” Norman said. “They thought they were going to get something out of it, but they got nothing.”

For a time, the money rolled in, and Fonville “got addicted to the lifestyle,” Norman said. According to court documents, between 2008 and 2013, Fonville personally benefited from the scheme to the tune of more than $230,000. She used some of the proceeds to pay for plastic surgery, the car loan on her $30,000 Chevrolet Camaro, and the $2,100 monthly rent on her New York apartment. She would later tell investigators she viewed the scam as a career.

Fonville also fraudulently obtained food stamps, Medicaid, and benefits from a New York child care program, and she received deferments on almost $100,000 in student loans because she claimed she had no income. But then she lied on her car loan application, stating she was an employee of Mesa Airlines and had a salary of $65,000 per year.

Eventually, some of the women whose accounts had been used came forward and told the truth. Norman was able to trace withdrawn funds to Fonville and Falana, and Falana was identified on surveillance video depositing what turned out to be bogus checks. Norman also used E-ZPass toll receipts to link the pair’s recruiting trips to account holders and subsequent fraudulent transactions on their accounts.

“After the pieces all fit together,” said Norman, who is a certified public account and specializes in financial fraud investigations, “their actions were highly predictable.”

Fonville was arrested in August 2014. She pled guilty the following month to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and three counts of bank fraud and was sentenced in April to 15 months in prison. Falana pled guilty to similar bank fraud charges in October 2014 and in February received an 80-month sentence.

In the end, Norman said, “they blew all the money and had nothing to show for it.”

- Press release

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Sextortion is a serious crime that occurs when someone threatens to distribute your private and sensitive material if you don’t provide them images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money.

The FBI currently has open sextortion investigations across the country that involve both subjects and victims from around the world. To discuss the crime and highlight a recent case, the FBI is hosting a live Twitter chat Tuesday, July 21, at 2 p.m. EDT. Assistant Director Joseph Campbell of the Bureau’s Criminal Investigative Division will field questions on the FBI’s Twitter account at

You can follow the conversation and submit questions using the hashtag #AskFBI.

Chats are open to the public, and everyone is encouraged to participate.

- FBI on Twitter
- Submit questions and follow chat
- More information on sextortion

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