Sexual Assault Aboard Aircraft

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the FBI is taking that opportunity to alert the public about a serious federal crime that is on the rise: sexual assault aboard aircraft.

Compared to the tens of millions of U.S. citizens who fly each year, the number of in-flight sexual assault victims is relatively small, “but even one victim is unacceptable,” said FBI Special Agent David Gates, who is based at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and regularly investigates these cases. “We are seeing more reports of in-flight sexual assault than ever before,” he said.

Sexual assault aboard aircraft—which usually takes the form of unwanted touching—is a felony that can land offenders in prison. Typically, men are the perpetrators, and women and unaccompanied minors are the victims. “But at LAX,” Gates said, “we have seen every combination of victim and perpetrator.”

In fiscal year 2014, 38 cases of in-flight sexual assault were reported to the FBI. In the last fiscal year, that number increased to 63 reported cases. “It’s safe to say that many incidents occur that are not reported,” said Gates, one of the FBI’s many airport liaison agents assigned to the nearly 450 U.S. aviation facilities that have passenger screening operations regulated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). In larger airports such as LAX, multi-agency task forces are on location to investigate a variety of criminal and national security matters, from sexual assaults to terrorism and espionage.

 Crimes aboard aircraft fall within the FBI’s jurisdiction, and in the case of in-flight sexual assaults, agents describe elements of these crimes as being strikingly similar. The attacks generally occur on long-haul flights when the cabin is dark. The victims are usually in middle or window seats, sleeping, and covered with a blanket or jacket. They report waking up to their seatmate’s hands inside their clothing or underwear.

Read More

Des Plaines woman charged in murder-for-hire plot

DES PLAINES, Ill. (WLS) — A Des Plaines woman was charged after allegedly contracting a “dark-web” company to murder the wife of a man with whom she had an affair, according to the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Tina Jones, 31, was charged with one felony count of solicitation of murder. Judge George Bakalis ordered her held in lieu of $250,000 bond on Wednesday.

On April 12, the Woodridge Police Department received a tip that a woman in Woodridge was the subject of an alleged murder-for-hire plot. In January, Jones paid a dark-web company more than $10,000 via bitcoin to have the woman murdered, according to investigators.

“In January of this year, Tina Jones had gone on this website, Cosa Nostra International,” said DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin.

Jones, investigators said, had been jilted by a married coworker-turned-lover. They worked together at Loyola Medical Center.

“She went on this website which apparently bills itself as a murder-for-hire type website, and she paid the money assuming that this was going to happen, and had paid over $10,000 to have this woman killed,” Berlin said.

Prosecutors said Jones spelled out very specific orders.

“This woman not only paid over $10,000, but she left specific instructions on the website as to when the woman’s husband would be at work, so they would know when this woman would be alone,” Berlin said. “She left instructions not to hurt the husband and also to make it look like it was an accident.”

Read More

Multi-Million-Dollar Investment Fraud Scheme

In May 2013, the FBI’s Atlanta Division received an allegation of fraud against an Atlanta-area businessman and the woman he had hired to manage his business finances. An investor who partnered with the pair claimed that the millions of dollars he had contributed to their business ventures was never properly invested, and he suspected that some of it had ended up in the pockets of his two associates.

The FBI, joining forces with investigators from the Internal Revenue Service, opened a case and began looking into the allegation against businessman Franklin Trell and his financial manager, Cynthia Vinson.

According to Atlanta FBI case agent William Cromer, Trell had quite an interesting history in the business world. “This wasn’t the first time he had been accused of fraud—Trell had been named in several previous lawsuits alleging fraud and other sorts of financial misconduct in his business dealings,” Cromer explained. “And the stories behind the lawsuits were strikingly similar to the current allegation—wealthy investors solicited by Trell to serve as silent partners in his business ventures ended up losing everything.”

Cromer said that Trell always blamed the failures of his businesses—and his inability to pay back his investors—on a variety of circumstances beyond his control. “But in reality,” he added, “investors lost their money mostly because Trell wasn’t investing his share of the funding needed for the new business ventures, and because some of the ‘businesses’ he claimed to be creating were only shells.”

Shell companies are often used by fraudsters to help themselves to money that isn’t theirs. These companies aren’t real—they have no assets and no viable business activities. They exist only on paper and are often a front for criminal activity like tax evasion and money laundering.

FBI and IRS investigators learned that from 2006 to 2013, Trell’s most recent scheme worked like this:

Trell entered into an agreement with a wealthy investor to develop medical software and medical imaging businesses, with the understanding that he and the investor would each contribute a significant amount of capital to these ventures. The only problem was that Trell had no intention of investing any of his own money—so the legitimate businesses failed, and, of course, the shell companies never even got off the ground.

Read More

Oakbrook mall security using license plate readers technology

Oak Brook IL April 24 2018 If you park at Oakbrook Center, your car may be part of a candid camera scenario, as security cars drive up and down aisles in lots and garages, using license plate reading technology to check the plate numbers on vehicles.

The license plate recognition system, which has been used since late 2016, helps Oakbrook Center monitor and enforce that shopping center employees are parking in designated areas and leaving the best parking for guests, explained Marissa Ellenby, senior manager of communications for General Growth Properties, the owner/operator of Oakbrook Center.

“Our research has shown us that parking is a top pain point of our shoppers,” Ellenby stated.

But a senior investigative researcher for an organization that defends civil liberties in the digital world says the use of license plate recognition systems raise privacy questions.

“It’s important that businesses respect their customers,” said Dave Maass of the 28-year-old Electronic Frontier Foundation. “People do care when they find out about this; privacy is a major issue.”

Maass said potential privacy concerns over the type of system being used at Oakbrook Center include whether the system is being checked for cyber security, possible use of a third-party server for collected data, whether any stored photos taken may include more than a license plate, how long data is retained, whether notice of system use is posted and who is authorized to access data, including police.

He said that photos taken of license plates could include bumper stickers.

“Sometimes, a bumper sticker indicates someone’s political views, for example,” he said. “Anyone who sees the vehicle could see a bumper sticker, but if you don’t know for sure who might have access to a photo taken of it with a license plate scanner, that could be an issue.”

The issues Maass raised, including the use of third-party servers, how long data is saved, whether data is used for marketing purposes and if the system is audited, were asked of Ellenby via email, but were not answered.

Read More

Williamsburg police arrest 10 people

Ten people — including eight College of William & Mary students and a professor — were arrested this week on narcotics distribution charges following a monthslong investigation, Williamsburg police said.

Police said the operation, a joint investigation by Williamsburg authorities and the Tri-Rivers Drug Task Force, seized LSD, cocaine, psilocybin (mushrooms), opioids, amphetamines, steroids, hashish and marijuana. Roughly $14,000 in cash was also recovered, authorities said.

Williamsburg police Maj. Greg Riley said the drugs were being sold on or around the William & Mary campus.

“We have no indication that these individuals were working together,” Riley said.

The criminal investigation began after authorities were told that there were unreported sexual assaults occurring because of increased drug activity on or around the William & Mary campus, Williamsburg police said.

“We were told the assaults were occurring because of increased drug use,” Riley said.

Police looked into the drug activity, which led to this week’s arrests, he said.

Police identified the professor arrested as Gi Sang Yoon, 40, who is facing two felony marijuana distribution charges and one count of possessing hashish. The other nonstudent charged was Timothy Tyrone Pryor, 27 — an employee at William & Mary who is facing a felony marijuana distribution charge.

Yoon is a visiting biology professor and Pryor works in dining services, said Suzanne Seurattan, a William & Mary spokeswoman.

In addition to facing drug distribution charges, the eight students are facing charges of selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.

Police identified the students charged as Alexander Patrick Foley, 20; Biloliddin Tulamirza, 18; Daniel Jacob McBride, 20; Devin Moore, 20; Jacob Selmonosky, 18; Keegan Paugh, 22; Nicolas George Manuel, 22; and Shannon Cannaday, 20.

Riley could not provide where the students lived before attending the college. Seurattan said William & Mary has the following mailing addresses on file for the students: Foley, Bel Air, Md.; Tulamirza, Falls Church; McBride, Williamsburg; Moore, Springfield; Selmonosky, Falls Church; Paugh, Rapid City, S.D.; Manuel, Arlington; and Cannaday, Leesburg.

Read More

Sarasota County Florida will create internal school security force

Sarasota County FL April 19 2018 The Sarasota County School Board decided Tuesday to create and manage an internal school security department over the next two years, dramatically shifting course from earlier discussions about continuing and expanding a program employing sheriff’s deputies and police officers from elementary through high schools.

Under the plan — a direct response to demands for increased security because of school shootings — the program would be phased in beginning this fall and completely implemented by the end of the 2019-20 school year, and will cost the district a total of about $3.1 million over those two years. The district plans to hire about 30 employees in the first year and 26 the following year, staffing their elementary schools with the trained and sworn law enforcement officers first and then adding them to middle and high schools.

For the 2018-19 year, Bowden will try to negotiate with local law enforcement agencies to retain the school resource officers in middle and high schools for that year while the district attempts to integrate their new, district-managed police officers at the elementary level. That will cost the district anywhere from an additional $1.4 to $2.5 million.

Three of the board’s five members, Caroline Zucker, Jane Goodwin and Shirley Brown, spoke highly during the meeting of the idea of an internal police department. The concept was compared to the college police forces that staff many higher education campuses.

They will buy into the district and buy into the kids and keep those kids safer because they are responsible and they don’t report to anybody else but the school system,” Zucker said. “I like your plan for two years, because this gives you ample time to be able to put everything in place.”

Goodwin echoed that point, adding that the school police department employees could work with students after school and have a positive impact on their lives.

But School Board members Bridget Ziegler, the chairwoman, and Eric Robinson, were reluctant to quickly sign on to the new program, noting that it was a big task to undertake with only four months before the next school year.

Zucker, reflecting on previous criticism by Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight that the board was moving too slowly on security after the Parkland school shooting in February, countered one of Ziegler’s comments by saying, “We were told we’re moving too slow, and now we’re moving too fast?”

Read More

Cyber attackers target state of Indiana, 144 universities

Nine Iranians were accused Friday of orchestrating years of cyberattacks on U.S. government agencies, the state of Indiana and hundreds of universities and businesses here and abroad in one of the largest state-sponsored hacking cases ever charged by the Justice Department.

A series of federal indictments and financial sanctions against Iranian individuals were announced by Deputy US Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, charging cyber activity against the United States. Federal prosecutors say the Iranians and an Iranian hacker network called the Mabna Institute illegally accessed Indiana state government computers and the computer systems of 144 U.S. universities.

Rosenstein and Justice Dept. officials would not name the 144 universities targeted by hackers in Iran, but numerous Midwestern universities are popular U.S. college destinations for Iranian students, including University of Illinois. At U of I, Iranian enrollment has jumped in recent years.

Federal agents said the hackers gained access to university databases and college library systems by using stolen login credentials belonging to university professors.

A spokesperson for U of I told the I-Team that as far as she knows, Illinois’ flagship university was not among those hacked.

American government officials said they’ve determined that the nine Iranians, in cooperation with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, were behind the hacking effort.

Investigators found 320 universities around the world were attacked along with several U.S. government entities, including the Department of Labor, United Nations, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, they said. The Iranians allegedly targeted more than 100,000 email accounts of professors around the world. About half of the 8000 compromised accounts belonged to professors at U.S. universities.

Read More

US and UK blame Russia for ‘malicious’ cyber-offensive

The cyberwar between the west and Russia has escalated after the UK and the US issued a joint alert accusing Moscow of mounting a “malicious” internet offensive that appeared to be aimed at espionage, stealing intellectual property and laying the foundation for an attack on infrastructure.

Senior security officials in the US and UK held a rare joint conference call to directly blame the Kremlin for targeting government institutions, private sector organisations and infrastructure, and internet providers supporting these sectors.

Rob Joyce, the White House cybersecurity coordinator, set out a range of actions the US could take such as fresh sanctions and indictments as well as retaliating with its own cyber-offensive capabilities. “We are pushing back and we are pushing back hard,” he said.

Joyce stressed the offensive could not be linked to Friday’s raid on Syria. It was not retaliation for the US, UK and French attack as the US and UK had been investigating the cyber-offensive for months. Nor, he said, should the decision to make public the cyber-attack be seen as a response to events in Syria.

Joyce was joined in the call by representatives from the FBI, the US Department of Homeland Security and the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is part of the surveillance agency GCHQ.

The US and UK, in a joint statement, said the cyber-attack was aimed not just at the UK and US but globally. “Specifically, these cyber-exploits were directed at network infrastructure devices worldwide such as routers, switches, firewalls, network intrusion detection system,” it said.

“Russian state-sponsored actors are using compromised routers to conduct spoofing ‘man-in-the-middle’ attacks to support espionage, extract intellectual property, maintain persistent access to victim networks and potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations.

Read More

Nationwide Law Enforcement Action Targets Online Drug Trafficking

A nationwide law enforcement action aimed at shining a light on those who use the dark web to buy and sell illegal opiates has resulted in hundreds of interactions and arrests of individuals who may have considered their seemingly anonymous online transactions beyond the reach of authorities.

The FBI-led enforcement action last week, named Operation Disarray, is part of a recently launched Department of Justice initiative to disrupt the sale of opioids online and was the first operation of its kind to occur simultaneously in all 50 states.

“The point of Operation Disarray,” said Special Agent Chris Brest, who helped organize the effort from FBI Headquarters, “is to put drug traffickers on notice: Law enforcement is watching when people buy and sell drugs online. For those who think the Darknet provides anonymity,” he explained, “you are mistaken.”

Darknet marketplaces resemble legitimate e-commerce sites, complete with shopping carts, thousands of products, sales promotions, and customer reviews. But the Darknet sites’ drop-down menus direct customers to cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and other illegal drugs.

The marketplaces are accessed through a type of software that claims to make the buyer and seller anonymous. Drug users anywhere in the world can sit in front of a computer screen and, with a click of the mouse, buy narcotics without having to risk a face-to-face interaction. “Drug trafficking is changing,” Brest said. “The environment is moving from real-world to the virtual realm, and it’s on the rise.”

Such unfettered access to illegal drugs, said Special Agent Eric Yingling, who specializes in Darknet investigations from the FBI’s Pittsburgh Division, “can accelerate someone’s addiction because the drugs are so easy to obtain. It also facilitates a low barrier of entry to becoming a trafficker,” he explained. “We see a number of individuals go from consuming to becoming distributors because they’ve become comfortable using the marketplaces. Anyone who owns a computer could potentially be involved in this type of activity.”

Read More

Nurse accused of stealing nearly $2,600 from patient

WAUKESHA – A patient walked into Waukesha Memorial Hospital with a wallet containing $2,585 in cash, which is placed in a bag for storage in a security room.

When the patient is discharged six days later and the security bag is opened in his presence, the only items found inside are a white board eraser and a box of tissues, neither of which belonged to him. No cash.

According to a criminal complaint filed March 28, an investigation by hospital security officials pointed to Jay Reiners, a 33-year-old nurse from Hartland, who was reportedly seen on surveillance video entering an area where the security bag was temporarily placed before it was moved to more secure area.

As a result of an investigation conducted separately by hospital security and the Waukesha Police Department, Reiners was charged in Waukesha County Circuit Court with one count of theft of movable property worth between $2,500 and $5,000.

Reiners was one of four hospital staff members aware of the large sum of money the patient had brought to the hospital prior to an undisclosed medical treatment on Jan. 6, according to the complaint. Three of them — a nursing assistant and two nurses, including Reiners — were identified in surveillance video as the money was first being counted and placed in the security bag.

According to the complaint, that bag was moved to a “cubby area,” loosely described as a place where patients’ belongings are kept before they are turned over to security personnel. The area is in view, though apparently not fully, of a surveillance camera.

In video reportedly viewed by hospital security and Waukesha police, Reiners was seen entering the cubby area, where he appeared to grab some items off the counter there, though it isn’t clear what they were, the complaint said. About five minutes later, he returned to the area, but this time, as he was leaving, he appeared to be holding his left arm tightly against his body, then entered a bathroom down the hallway.

Read More