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Archive for November 9th, 2011

Cyber Ring that Infected Millions Taken Down

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Six Estonians operated a vast internet fraud that infected approximately 4 million computers in more than a hundred countries–500,000 of which were in the US–according to a federal indictment unsealed in New York Wednesday. Their arrests in Estonia on Tuesday were the culmination of a two-year FBI probe named Operation Ghost Click.

The cyber ring, beginning in 2007, used what is called a DNSChange to interfere with unsuspecting people’s web browsing.

DNS, which stands for Domain-Name-System, is the system by which website names and urls are converted into numbers, allowing computers to communicate over a network. The DNSChanger was able to manipulate Internet advertising by redirecting user’s browsers not to the sites they intended to go to, but related sites controlled by the group. They generated $14 million in illicit fees from the scheme, and deprived legitimate businesses and advertisers of potential revenue.

The DNSChanger disabled the anti-virus software of some victim’s computers, exposing them to further viruses.

“They were organized and operating as a traditional business but profiting illegally as the result of the malware,” said one cyber agents that worked the case. “There was a level of complexity here that we haven’t seen before.”

The six Estonians were arrested in their homeland by local authorities on Tuesday, and the U.S. will seek extradition.

Column: When it Comes to J. Edgar Hoover, What Journalism?

Schwarz is a retired FBI agent.

Gregg Schwarz/facebook

By Gregg Schwarz
for ticklethewire.com

For just one small moment, let’s take a look at this trade called journalism. I thought this was to be based on some facts. Possibly an interview or two. Maybe even some research that was based in fact.

That is not what I see about Mr. J. Edgar Hoover and his private life. The people who are out there making claims and attempting to ruin the good reputation of the father of law enforcement are doing all of this based on the desire to make headlines and money.

Plenty articles and books are being written. And now the latest: Hollywood’s dubious attempt at capturing history through the movie “J. Edgar.”

Unfortunately, they’re not based on fact, but rather speculation and conjecture.

It is a shame. They need to remember there is no larger rumor mill than the Special Agents of federal law enforcement. Law enforcement knows rumors. But hearing rumors and publishing them are two different things.  Sure, rumors know no bounds. That’s where journalists are supposed to come in; to separate the fact from the fiction, the rumor from the reality.

Interestingly, all those years and not one one rumor — at least not one published one — until more than ten years after the man died? Unfortunately, Mr. Hoover cannot respond.

What journalism?

Atty. Gen. Holder Says Misinformation in FBI Training About Muslims Can Undermine Efforts

Ex-U.S. Atty. Dennis Burke Fesses Up to Leaking Document About ATF Whistleblower


U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Ex-Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke has admitted that he leaked a sensitive document about an ATF agent, who was a whistleblower in the latest mess known as Operation Fast and Furious, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia).

In a press release, Grassley stated that the leaked document was “deemed so sensitive by the Justice Department that it was not provided to Congress, except in a secured room at department headquarters.”

The leak pertained to John Dodson, an ATF agent who testified before Congress about his failed attempts to try and get the agency to stop the gun walking practice of Operation Fast and Furious, which encouraged gun dealers in Arizona to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to Mexican cartels.

“Leaking sensitive documents to the press and retaliating against whistleblowers is not good faith cooperation with Congress,” Grassley said in a statement. “The Justice Department confirmed that the Inspector General continues to investigate the leak which means there are others who may be involved in drafting and distributing the talking points and document to the press.”

In a Nov. 8 letter to the Justice Department Inspector General’s Office,  and posted on Politico, Burke’s attorney Lee Stein of Phoenix stated:

“As Dennis told your office on August 16, 2011, he provided the memo to a reporter he had known for some time in response to the reporter’s request. The reporter, who initiated the contact with Dennis, was working on several stories involving Operation Fast and Furious.

“It was clear to Dennis from their conversation that the reporter had either seen the memo or had it read to him.

“Dennis’s intention was to give context to information that the reporter already had to explain that investigations similar to Operation Fast and Furious had been previously proposed by ATF.  The investigation proposed by Agent Dodson was closed, and the memo did not contain any Grand Jury or otherwise classified information.”

FBI Plans to Shut Down 3 Offices in Wisconsin

Sen. Kohl/gov photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s footprint in Wisconsin could be shrinking.

The agency plans to close three of its seven offices in the state, according to a press release by Sen. Herb Kohl’s office.

The Wisconsin Democrat raised the issue on Tuesday to Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr., who appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The offices that would be closed include:Wausau, Kenosha and La Crosse.

“If these closures go through, the Western District of Wisconsin will lose half of its FBI offices and may have to make do with fewer agents,” Kohl said at the hearing. “I have serious concerns about the ability of the remaining two offices to adequately support already underserved rural areas.”

 

Couple Sentenced in Pregnancy Scam

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

She was perhaps the only lady not carrying for whom you might ask, “how many months along are you?” without being slapped in the face.

Serena Carol Mathews, 42, and boyfriend Scott Thomas Smith, 34, of Oklahoma City, were sentenced to 27 months each on Tuesday in Oklahoma City after pleading guilty on Aug. 1 to conspiracy to defraud. Mathews falsely posed as pregnant and wanting to place her child up for adoption, after which the two sought to receive “birth mother” payments such as rent, utilities, food and personal items, according to an FBI press release.

The couple used the adoption providers to arrange meetings between Mathews and prospective adoptive couples who hoped to adopt a baby.

The two were indicted on June 22, 2010, after an investigation conducted by the FBI. Assistant US Attorneys Susan Dickerson Cox and Kerry Kelly prosecuted the case.

FBI Lends Hand to the Balkans

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

One lucky FBI agent has won a round trip visit to the Balkan nation of Bulgaria.

Announced on Tuesday during Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov’s U.S. visit, an FBI special agent will be sent to Bulgaria to assist the nation’s cyber crime fighting, reports the Sofia News Agency.

The agent will help with such cases involving child pornography, identity theft and financial crimes.

FBI Director Robert Mueller also made clear that in December he will visit Bulgaria, a nation he said the bureau’s relationship with is “better than ever.”

Tsventanov also met with US Attorney General Eric Holder and plans to meet with many others in the intelligence and federal law enforcement community.

To read more click here.

Relations Warm, But Bolivia’s President Still Says No to DEA

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Three years after expelling US Ambassador Phillip Goldberg and the DEA, Bolivia’s populist president Evo Morales has made moves to warm ties with the US.

But not so fast for the DEA, says a report from the Associated Press.

Morales kicked US diplomats and law enforcement officias out of the country in 2008, but a new pact calls for “the restoration of ambassadors as soon as possible and close cooperation in counter narcotics, trade and development” the Associated Press reported, citing an anonymous US source.

But US drug agents are not welcome back, as a matter of “dignity and sovereignty,” according to the AP.

Before his election in 2005, Morales led a union of coca growers, farmers of the plant that cocaine is derived from, but of which the leaves are traditionally chewed as a coffee-like stimulant in Bolivian culture. He says he was “personally a victim” of US agents controlled by Bolivian military and police.

“For the first time since Bolivia was founded, the United States will now respect Bolivia’s rules” and laws, Morales said.

Bolivia is the No. 3 producer of cocaine, and drug officials say the narcotic’s production has increased since the DEA was expelled.

To read more click here.