Friday, January 18, 2019

Social Security Administration: Beware Of Scammers Pretending To Be Social Security

Jim Boland, the Social Security Administration's acting deputy commissioner for communications, offers the below warning.
In the digital age, frauds and scams are an unfortunate part of doing business online. During the holiday season, Social Security has traditionally seen a spike in phishing scams, and we want to protect you as best we can.
We urge you to always be cautious and to avoid providing sensitive information such as your Social Security Number (SSN) or bank account information to unknown individuals over the phone or internet. If you receive a call and aren’t expecting one, you must be extra careful. You can always get the caller’s information, hang up, and — if you do need more clarification — contact the official phone number of the business or agency that the caller claims to represent. Never reveal personal data to a stranger who called you.
Please take note; there’s a scam going around right now. You might receive a call from someone claiming to be from Social Security or another agency. Calls can even display the 1-800-772-1213, Social Security’s national customer service number, as the incoming number on your caller ID. In some cases, the caller states that Social Security does not have all of your personal information, such as your Social Security number (SSN), on file. Other callers claim Social Security needs additional information so the agency can increase your benefit payment, or that Social Security will terminate your benefits if they do not confirm your information. This appears to be a widespread issue, as reports have come from people across the country. These calls are not from Social Security.
Callers sometimes state that your Social Security number is at risk of being deactivated or deleted. The caller then asks you to provide a phone number to resolve the issue. People should be aware the scheme’s details may vary; however, you should avoid engaging with the caller or calling the number provided, as the caller might attempt to acquire personal information.
Social Security employees occasionally contact people by telephone for customer-service purposes. In only a few special situations, such as when you have business pending with us, a Social Security employee may request the person confirm personal information over the phone.
Social Security employees will never threaten you or promise a Social Security benefit approval or increase in exchange for information. In those cases, the call is fraudulent, and you should just hang up. If you receive these calls, please report the information to the Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-269-0271 or online.
Remember, only call official phone numbers and use secured websites of the agencies and businesses you know are correct. Protecting your information is an important part of Social Security’s mission to secure today and tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Chinese Spies, Thieves And Hackers: My Piece On Two Cases That Expose China's Campaign To Steal America's Trade Secrets

Counterterrorism magazine published my piece on two cases that expose and illustrate China’s campaign to steal America’s trade secrets.

One case involves the arrest of a Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) intelligence officer named Yanjun Xu (seen in the above photo). He was charged with economic espionage and the theft of trade secrets.

The second case involves Chinese intelligence officers and hackers intrusions into American companies’ computer systems in order to steal trade secrets.   

You can read the piece below:

Homeland Security Investigation's MS-13 Takedown In San Francisco: My Q&A With Christopher Merendino

Counterterrorism magazine published my Q&A with Christopher Merendino, currently the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Miami Office, but from 2004 to 2008, he was the case agent of Operation Devil Horns. 

This law enforcement operation took down an MS-13 clique in San Francisco.

You can read the interview below:

Monday, January 14, 2019

My Washington Times Review Of 'Handsome Johnny: The Life And Death Of Johnny Rosselli: Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, CIA Assassin'

The Washington Times published my review of Handsome Johnny: The Life and Death of Johnny Rosselli: Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, CIA Assassin.

From the Prohibition era to the mid-1970s, Johnny Rosselli traveled first class through the nexus of Hollywood movies, Las Vegas gambling, shady business deals, secret government assassination plots and organized crime.

He always had money and tipped generously. He was always groomed perfectly. He was always with a beautiful actress. He was always seated at the best spot in a nightclub or restaurant. He was always in the company of wealthy and powerful men on the golf course and tennis court and at a card table. He was the intimate friend of movie studio bosses, casino bosses, major entertainers and notorious mobsters. He was called “Gentleman Johnny” or “Handsome Johnny.”

Johnny Rosselli lived a charmed life right up until he ended up dead in a 55-gallon oil drum floating in the Atlantic. 

Lee Server’s “Handsome Johnny: The Life and Death of Johnny Rosselli: Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, CIA Assassin” offers a complete picture of a smooth operator who began life as Filippo Sacco in Frosinone, Italy, on July 4, 1905. Raised in Boston, his early travels took him across the country to Chicago, where he changed his name and then changed his life.

In the 1950s, the FBI noticed that Rosselli spelled his name differently at times. Sometimes with double “s” and sometimes with only one “s.” The FBI thought that when a man spells his name differently in different years, something is definitely wrong.

“He covered his tracks well — his origins, his early years. The FBI was sure he was not who he said he was. But who was he? What was he hiding?” Mr. Server writes. “For a guy whom everybody in law enforcement knew about for decades — one of Al Capone’s boy wonders, the Mob’s man in Hollywood, big wheel in Las Vegas, the hundreds of pages of police reports in which he figured, numerous arrests and trials, headline convictions — he was a mystery.”

You can read the rest of my review via the below link:

Friday, January 11, 2019

Great Scot: James Bond – The World’s Favourite Scottish Spy

As regular readers of my website are aware, I’m an Ian Fleming aficionado and I love the early James Bond films starring Sean Connery.
Being part Scot on my father’s side, and having spent two years in Scotland while serving on a U.S. Navy tugboat at the American nuclear submarine base in Holy Loch, Scotland, I’m interested in Scotland and all things Scottish. 
So, I was interested in reading Kenny Smith’s piece on Ian Fleming and James Bond’s links in Scottish Field.  
Since first appearing on the big screen in 1961’s Dr No – and before that in Ian Fleming’s novels, beginning with Casino Royale in 1953 – 007 has been at the forefront of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, with a gadget, a knowing wink and a wry quip.
Over the years, we’ve learned several things about Bond – not ideal for a secret agent – including his Scots ancestry.
Here, we present 10 fantastic Scottish facts about James Bond.
1. 007’s creator Ian Fleming (seen in below photo with Sean Connery on set of Dr. No) was of Scots descent. His father, Valentine, was born in Newport-on-Tay in north-east Fife in 1882, the son of successful banker Robert Fleming, who moved his family to London. Given that Fleming borrowed so many of Bond’s personality traits from himself, it’s no wonder that he chose to make his famous creation Scottish. 
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Border Patrol Agents Overwhelmingly Support Trump's Wall In New Survey

Stephen Dinan at the Washington Times offers a piece on Border Patrol agents who support the need for a wall on the border.

Border Patrol agents say they can’t be much clearer: They want more walls along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a survey conducted by the National Border Patrol Council, the agents’ union, they overwhelmingly supported adding a “wall system” in strategic locations, embracing President Trump’s argument that it will boost their ability to nab or deter would-be illegal immigrants. 

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: 

Stephen Dinan also offers a piece in the Washington Times on why Border Patrol agents think a steel fence may not be impenetrable, but still is needed. 

You can read the piece via the below link:

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Look Back At The Classic TV Crime Series 'The Sopranos'

Although I think The Sopranos perhaps should have ended a season or two earlier, and I disliked the finale, I was a huge fan of the classic crime series. 
Michael Starr at the New York Post offers a piece on The Sopranos.
On Jan. 10, 1999, a little-publicized drama series called “The Sopranos” premiered on HBO, chronicling the domestic and professional life of a ruthless North Jersey mob boss living in suburbia with his wife and two teenage kids — and seeing a shrink for his anxiety.
Its large ensemble cast, including James Gandolfini as titular mob boss Tony Soprano and Edie Falco as his wife, Carmela, was largely unknown — as was series creator David Chase, whose TV résumé included “The Rockford Files,” “I’ll Fly Away” and “Northern Exposure.”
“The Sopranos” changed the landscape of cable television and won a slew of Emmys (including three apiece for Gandolfini and Falco) during its six-season run. It ended with an ambiguous, WTF? cut-to-black series finale in June 2007 — panicking 12 million viewers who thought their cable crapped out and leaving Tony Soprano’s fate forever open to interpretation.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: