11 arrested at Grand Falls Casino during undercover operation

LARCHWOOD, IOWA - People go to the casino to win big, but over the weekend several people won a ticket to the county jail during an undercover operation at the Grand Falls Casino.

Deputies from the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office arrested 11 people on drug charges Saturday night while Cheech and Chong performed at the venue.

The Lyon County Sheriff says these types of patrols aren’t routine, but the office will do them when they think they need to show their presence.

“We thought we need to nip it in the bud now before it gets way out of whack,” Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep said.

He says deputies have responded to an increase in calls to the Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort parking lot over the course of the last few weeks.

“We had break-ins in the cars, in fact one involved a stolen gun out of a vehicle, and we had a fight,” he said.

Deputies patrolled the parking lot Saturday night.

“It was just officers walking by cars, and just looking in cars with people in there, and they’d be smoking marijuana or paraphernalia right out there in the open,” he said.

They arrested 11 people on misdemeanor drug charges.

“It did surprise me that there were that many that were doing it,” he said.

The casino’s managers say they didn’t know the sheriff’s office was conducting a sting while Cheech and Chong performed to an audience of more than 1,100 people.

“I think that was probably very much a very isolated incident for Saturday night,” General Manager Sharon Haselhoff said.

“I would like to think that, that was the case. That it was just more isolated, but again it was more just to be a presence out there to the other crimes and issues that have been going on,” Stoep said.

Grand Falls Casino General Manager Sharon Haselhoff says they take security seriously and all you need to do is simply look up and you can find several cameras.

“Whether you get caught right away or later on, you’re going to get caught. So, really it’s the last place you ever want to do criminal activity,” she said. “Obviously we want a safe, fun environment for our guests, and so we have a great working relationship with Lyon County. So, you know, whatever they can do to help us out with that, we are you know in favor of that,” Haselhof said.

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Commodities Fraud Sentencing

Self-professed investment professional Pedro Jaramillo was a pro at promoting himself and his financial prowess. Through a slickly produced online video, phony office space on Wall Street, and promises of unrealistic financial returns, this Peruvian national living in New York managed to convince more than two dozen investors to trust him with more than $1.2 million of their hard-earned money.

Jaramillo, however, never invested a dime of their money—instead, he used it to line his own pockets and keep his Ponzi scheme going. Even his claim to be an investment professional was false—he wasn’t licensed to do anything remotely connected to financial advising and/or investing.

But, as with most Ponzi scheme operators, Jaramillo eventually ran out of funds to keep his fraud scheme afloat, and two unhappy investors reported their concerns to the FBI. After an intensive investigation by the FBI’s New York Field Office—in close coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York—Jaramillo was arrested and charged with commodities fraud in December 2016, pleaded guilty in April 2017, and was sentenced last month to 12 years in federal prison.

Investigators determined that, beginning at least in January 2014 until his arrest, Jaramillo—using his Latin American heritage as a common bond—had been soliciting potential victims mostly from Latin American immigrant communities in the U.S. to invest in commodity futures contracts. He told would-be investors that their money would be invested in short-term commodities contracts with a guaranteed (and unrealistically high) rate of return.

And he established his financial bona fides with potential clients using various methods.

His online video, done in Spanish, opened with flashy depictions of Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. Then, Jaramillo himself made his pitch to potential investors, telling them, “Money is being earned on every transaction. All you have to do is work with a proven winner.” He delivered all sorts of promises about how client investments would be handled—including being set up in individually managed and federally protected accounts. Unfortunately for his investors, none of what Jaramillo said in the video was true.

To further impress potential investors, Jaramillo met with many of them in rented office space on Wall Street, where he touted his prior financial successes and his relationship with a well-known global investment bank. Again, this “relationship” with the bank proved to be non-existent, and he had no prior Wall Street investment successes.

Jaramillo also created and handed out documents with simple charts and graphs that purported to illustrate past successes and his high rates of return. This were yet more false facts he fed to his victims.

The FBI investigation included numerous interviews with the victims of Jaramillo’s scheme. Many of these people—including retirees, working professionals, and manual laborers—lost their life savings, retirement money, or homes.

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TSA Pre ✓® expands to include 5 additional airlines

WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration today announced the expansion of its TSA Pre✓® expedited screening program to five additional domestic and international carriers. Now in operation, the five new partnering airlines are All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Contour Aviation, Finnair and Korean Air. Today’s announcement brings the number of airlines participating in TSA Pre✓® to 42 domestic and international carriers.

TSA Pre✓® is an expedited screening program that enables low-risk travelers to enjoy a smart and efficient screening experience at 200 U.S. airports. For TSA Pre✓® travelers, there is no need to remove shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts or light jackets.

TSA Pre✓® is available when departing from a U.S. airport to a foreign country, and for domestic, connecting flights after returning to the U.S. Travelers who are U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals and lawful permanent residents of the U.S. can apply for TSA Pre✓® for a cost of $85 for five years, or $17 per year through the TSA Pre✓® application program. Once approved, travelers will receive a “Known Traveler Number” and will have the opportunity to utilize TSA Pre✓® lanes at select security checkpoints when traveling on any of the 42 participating airlines.

Other passengers who are eligible for TSA Pre✓® include: U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler programs, Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI. TSA Pre✓® is also available for U.S. Armed Forces service members, including those serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, Reserves and National Guard. To find the program that best suits your travel needs, use the Department of Homeland Security trusted traveler comparison tool.

As always, TSA continues to incorporate unpredictable security measures, both seen and unseen, throughout the airport. All travelers will be screened, and no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening.

For more information, visit tsa.gov or read the frequently asked questions.

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Clarion Security company founder named “Women Business Owner of the Year’

“The founder of a Memphis security guard firm has been named the “Women Business Owner of the Year” by the National Association of Women Business Owners.

Kim Heathcott was honored at the association’s four-day meeting in Minneapolis this week for growing her 8-year-old company, Clarion Security, into a $10 million business.

She founded the firm with one employee and no clients in 2009, and now it’s the largest woman-owned business in Memphis with 450 employees.

The national association was founded 42 years ago and has 26 chapters across the nation.

Before founding Clarion, Heathcott worked in financial services, with an emphasis in fraud auditing and control investigations. She served as president in 2013 of the Memphis Chapter of the National Association of Woman Owned Businesses.

She holds an undergraduate degree in economics from Vanderbilt University, with a minor in business administration, and received an MBA from Southern Methodist University.

Clarion has made a mark in part for the way it treats its employees. For example, concerned that Clarion’s security officers were eating most of their work-time meals out of vending machines, she and her husband, Larry, started providing a free meal to each employee every shift, the Heathcotts told The Commercial Appeal in 2011.

The couple even started attending the earlier Sunday morning church service so employees would not have to wait as long for the lunches, often delivered by the Heathcotts themselves.

Clarion contracted with a nursing company to provide monthly wellness clinics for employees.

For the security guard industry, Clarion has experienced a much lower-than-average turnover rate among employees.”

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City banning anyone who’s not a licensed security guard

“Hamilton city councilors, eager to discourage militaristic white supremacists, are banning anyone who’s not a licensed security guard from flexing muscle on city property.

But some worry that’ll make it harder for volunteer groups who provide their own security at small rallies and festivals.

City council’s general issues committee voted Wednesday to make a new rule that anyone acting as a security guard at functions on city property needs a provincial license.

This comes after the self-professed “patriot group” Canadian Three Percenters did security detail at city hall on July 29, when the Canadian Combat Coalition rallied against federal anti-

Islamophobia Motion 103. Local anti-fascists counter protested.

Council is being “bravely naive” if it thinks these tense events won’t happen again, said Matthew Green, the Ward 3 councillor who moved the motion. And one day, someone will get hurt.

City looks at banning white nationalist groups from flexing muscle on city property

“It’s not a one-off event,” he said.

With the new rule, Green said, when militaristic white supremacists show up for security detail, the city can charge them with trespassing.

Councillors voted in favour of this. But some worried it would unfairly penalize volunteer groups.

“I worry about the unintended consequences,” said Terry Whitehead, Ward 8 councillor, while Judi Partridge of Ward 15 said she needed more information.

Green said later that he can’t think of any group that fits that category.

Larger events hire their own licensed security guards or police, Green said.

Events on outdoor city property, or in the city hall forecourt, are booked through the city’s special events advisory team (SEAT). Security typically isn’t required when the event doesn’t

require opening a city building, says a staff report.

City council will cast a final vote on Oct. 25th.”

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Virtual Kidnapping A New Twist on a Frightening Scam

“Law enforcement agencies have been aware of virtual kidnapping fraud for at least two decades, but a recent FBI case illustrates how this frightening scam—once limited to Mexico and Southwest border states—has evolved so that U.S. residents anywhere could be potential victims.

Although virtual kidnapping takes on many forms, it is always an extortion scheme—one that tricks victims into paying a ransom to free a loved one they believe is being threatened with violence or death. Unlike traditional abductions, virtual kidnappers have not actually kidnapped anyone. Instead, through deceptions and threats, they coerce victims to pay a quick ransom before the scheme falls apart.

Between 2013 and 2015, investigators in the FBI’s Los Angeles Division were tracking virtual kidnapping calls from Mexico—almost all of these schemes originate from within Mexican prisons. The calls targeted specific individuals who were Spanish speakers. A majority of the victims were from the Los Angeles and Houston areas.

“In 2015, the calls started coming in English,” said FBI Los Angeles Special Agent Erik Arbuthnot, “and something else happened: The criminals were no longer targeting specific individuals, such as doctors or just Spanish speakers. Now they were choosing various cities and cold-calling hundreds of numbers until innocent people fell for the scheme.”

This was significant, Arbuthnot said, because the new tactic vastly increased the potential number of victims. In the case he was investigating, which became known as Operation Hotel Tango, more than 80 victims were identified in California, Minnesota, Idaho, and Texas. Collective losses were more than $87,000.

The incarcerated fraudsters—who typically bribe guards to acquire cell phones—would choose an affluent area such as Beverly Hills, California. They would search the Internet to learn the correct area code and telephone dialing prefix. Then, with nothing but time on their hands, they would start dialing numbers in sequence, trolling for victims.

When an unsuspecting person answered the phone, they would hear a female screaming, “Help me!” The screamer’s voice was likely a recording. Instinctively, the victim might blurt out his or her child’s name: “Mary, are you okay?” And then a man’s voice would say something like, “We have Mary. She’s in a truck. We are holding her hostage. You need to pay a ransom and you need to do it now or we are going to cut off her fingers.”

Most of the time, Arbuthnot said, “the intended victims quickly learned that ‘Mary’ was at home or at school, or they sensed the scam and hung up. This fraud only worked when people picked up the phone, they had a daughter, and she was not home,” he explained. “But if you are making hundreds of calls, the crime will eventually work.”

“The scammers attempt to keep victims on the phone so they can’t verify their loved ones’ whereabouts or contact law enforcement. The callers are always in a hurry, and the ransom demand is usually a wire payment to Mexico of $2,000 or less, because there are legal restrictions for wiring larger amounts across the border.

Although victims were typically instructed to wire ransom payments, two individuals in Houston were coerced into paying larger amounts—totaling approximately $28,000—that could not be wired. The victims were directed to make money drops, and they believed they were being watched as they were directed to the assigned location. When the drops were made—in specified trash cans—a Houston woman, 34-year-old Yanette Rodriguez Acosta, was waiting to pick up the ransom money. After taking her portion of the payment, Acosta wired the rest in small amounts to several individuals in Mexico to transfer to the Mexican prisoner believed to be running the virtual kidnapping scheme.

Acosta was taken into custody for her involvement in the scam, and in July 2017, a federal grand jury in Houston returned a 10-count indictment against her. Among the charges were wire fraud and money laundering.

Arbuthnot noted that the Mexican prisoners who carry out virtual kidnappings use the ransom money to pay bribes and to make their lives behind bars easier. “And sometimes they use the money to buy their way out of jail. That’s the ultimate goal.”

He added that virtual kidnapping cases are difficult to investigate and prosecute because almost all of the subjects are in Mexico, and the money is wired out of the country and can be difficult to trace. The charges against Acosta represent the first federal indictment in a virtual kidnapping case. In addition, many victims do not report the crime, either because they are embarrassed, afraid, or because they don’t consider the financial loss to be significant.

Regardless, Arbuthnot said, “victims of virtual kidnapping scams are traumatized by these events, because at the time, they believe that a loved one has been kidnapped and is in real danger.”

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Securitas Mobile Officer Marcus Johnson receives Ralph Day Security of the Year award

“On September 24 at the 63rd ASIS International Annual Seminar and Exhibits in Dallas, TX, Securitas Mobile Officer Marcus Johnson was the honored recipient of Ralph Day Security of the Year award.

In his nine years with Securitas, Johnson has been recognized for consistent superior performance and exceeding expectations in increasingly responsible positions.

Now a Mobile Guarding Supervisor in the Washington D.C. Metro Area, Johnson continues to be an outstanding example of Securitas’ core values of Integrity, Vigilance and Helpfulness.

Johnson was selected for the Ralph Day Award in recognition of his heroic actions while on patrol in Alexandria, VA on July 22, 2016. He came to the aid of a police officer who was being assaulted and jeopardized his own safety to intervene. As a result of his actions, the police officer was saved from grievous bodily harm and possibly death, but Johnson was seriously injured.

As part of the award, Johnson and his spouse were invited to attend the 2017 ASIS Seminar as guests of the Security Services Council. During the award ceremony, he was presented a plaque and a monetary award. His selfless response to this incident also earned him a letter of commendation from the Alexandria, VA Chief of Police and the 2016 Private Security Officer of the Year award from his local ASIS chapter.

“We sincerely appreciate the ASIS International Security Services Council for recognizing the outstanding acts of officers in our industry. We would also like to thank the Alexandria Police Department for its recognition and support of Marcus since the incident,” said Securitas Mobile Guarding Division President Tim Keller, CPP. “All of us at Securitas are extremely proud and appreciative of Marcus, not only for his bravery and the selfless actions that are believed to have saved a police officer’s life, but also for the outstanding dedication and professionalism he demonstrates every day.”

ASIS International is the leading organization for security professionals worldwide. It is dedicated to increasing the effectiveness and productivity of security professionals by developing educational programs and materials that address broad security interests. The ASIS International Security Services Council seeks to facilitate the exchange of best practices to raise the standards and increase productivity of professional security services, as well as to increase awareness of its role in protecting people, property and information. Each year it honors one security officer in the United States with the Ralph Day Security Officer of the Year Award.”

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Ranger Guard app lets businesses order security guards like Uber

“You can order just about anything from your phone these days, and that now includes security guards.

Ranger Guard works a lot like a ride sharing app, and users say it’s changed the way they protect their businesses.

During Harvey’s flooding, many business owners had to close up shop due to flood damage. That left many businesses with no one to watch out for them.

“Definitely don’t recommend that,” says Jonah Nathan, owner of Ranger Guard and Investigations.

His company offers the app, which works like a ride sharing service except instead of cars, you’re summoning security guards.

“Just ordering your security service just like you do your Uber. Just for the amount of time you need it,” Nathan said.

It doesn’t require a contract and businesses can request armed or unarmed guards to perform specific tasks– like confronting a specious person.

Nathan says many of the calls his guards are sent to involve businesses dealing with homeless people.

“Most homeless people are nonviolent,” Nathan said. “They just want to sit there in peace.”

But he says during Harvey’s flooding, the demand shifted. Many businesses used the app to protect the properties they had to flee.

He hopes once those businesses are back up and running, they’ll continue with the service.

The app is intended for businesses and it not available for residential use.”

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Woman arrested on suspicion of battery, hate crime against security officer

“Davis police arrested a 24-year-old woman Thursday night following an alleged assault that initially has been classified as a hate crime.
Lt. Paul Doroshov said officers responded shortly before midnight to Red 88 Noodle Bar, 223 G St., to investigate a report of an intoxicated woman assaulting a security employee.

“Security personnel told officers the suspect made comments directed toward the officer’s race,” which is African-American, Doroshov said. “The suspect grabbed the victim by the face, and attempted to strike her. The suspect was overpowered by security staff and subsequently arrested.”

Jessica Garza-Herrera was booked into the Yolo County Jail on battery and hate-crime charges, though Doroshov said detectives will conduct further investigation into whether race was a motivating factor in the incident.”

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Fake FEMA inspectors spotted in Houston neighborhoods

HOUSTON - Fake FEMA inspectors have been spotted in a couple of Houston neighborhoods. But they didn’t do their research very well.

The neighborhoods they’ve hit did not even flood. That was the first red flag when a man knocked on Kathy Horner’s front door.

“And he identified himself as a FEMA inspector,” said Horner.

She said the man even looked the part.

“He did have a very official looking badge,” said Horner.

But she knew her family never filed a claim for flood damage.Therefore, she never opened the door.

She also took a photo of the man’s white sedan before he left the neighborhood.

“I set the alarm and called the constable,” said Horner.

Horner posted a warning on the NextDoor app under the heading “FEMA Inspector Impersonator.”

Her story mirrors a post from a homeowner on 24th Street titled “Beware of supposed FEMA inspector.” The man in that case bolted when confronted with a camera.

“These are real bottom feeders,” said neighbor Michael Silverman.

He hates to think people would fall for such a scam, especially in areas unaffected by the flood.

“So any FEMA workers that would come around here would be very suspicious,” said Silverman. “And I would think they would be looking to take advantage of some people.”

According to FEMA, you should always ask to see an inspector’s badge up close. A FEMA shirt or jacket does not make them legitimate.

Another very important reminder is that inspectors never show up unannounced. They have no reason to be at a home if the owner did not file a claim or register for disaster assistance.

“Just be careful about who you talk to,” said Horner. “Don’t let anybody in your home.”

And be watchful of warnings from people who’ve encountered potential imposters.

Here’s a template of a federal ID that official inspectors will have. They may also say “contractor” on the bottom.


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