Friday, August 26, 2016

New Hampshire Man Pleads Guilty To Computer Hacking And “Sextortion” Scheme Involving Multiple Female Victims

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

A New Hampshire man pleaded guilty today to remotely hacking into the online accounts of almost a dozen female victims and sending them threatening online communications, in some instances containing sexually explicit photos, in order to force the victims to send him sexually explicit photos of themselves. 
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Emily Rice of the District of New Hampshire and Resident Agent in Charge Holly Fraumeni of the U.S. Secret Service’s Manchester, New Hampshire, Field Office made the announcement. 
Ryan J. Vallee, 22, formerly of Belmont and Franklin, New Hampshire, pleaded guilty to a 31-count superseding indictment charging him with 13 counts of making interstate threats, one count of computer hacking to steal information, eight counts of computer hacking to extort, eight counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of cyberstalking.  On March 16, 2016, while Vallee was awaiting trial, he was re-arrested on new criminal charges and has remained in custody since then.  He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1, 2016, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire
According to admissions made in connection with his plea, from 2011 through March 2016, Vallee, using various aliases that included “Seth Williams” and “James McRow,” engaged in a computer hacking and “sextortion” campaign designed to force numerous victims to provide him with sexually explicit photographs of themselves and others.
Vallee admitted that he employed a variety of techniques to force his victims to cede to his “sextortionate” demands.  For example, according to the plea agreement, he repeatedly hacked into and took control over the victims’ online accounts, including their email, Facebook and Instagram accounts.  Once he had control of these accounts, Vallee locked the victims out of their own accounts and, in some cases, defaced the contents of the accounts, he admitted.  According to the plea, in at least one instance, Vallee hacked into a victim’s account, which stored her payment information and shipping address, then ordered items of a sexual nature and had them shipped to the victim’s home.  Vallee also admitted that in some instances, he obtained sexually explicit photos of the victims and their friends and distributed them to the victims, their friends and their family members.  With at least one victim, Vallee created a Facebook page using an account name that was virtually identical to the victim’s real Facebook account name, with one letter misspelled, he admitted.  He then posted sexually explicit photos of the victim on this fake Facebook page and issued “friend requests” to the victim, her friends and her family members, according to the plea agreement.
Vallee admitted that he repeatedly sent threatening electronic communications to his victims, usually by using spoofing or anonymizing text message services, in which he threatened his victims that unless they gave him sexually explicit photographs of themselves, he would continue with the above-described conduct.  According to the admissions in the plea agreement, when most of the victims refused to comply with Vallee’s demands and begged him to leave them alone, Vallee responded with threats to inflict additional harm.
The U.S. Secret Service investigated the case with substantial assistance from the Belmont Police Department.  Senior Trial Attorney Mona Sedky of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Arnold H. Huftalen of the District of New Hampshire are prosecuting the case.
Victims of “sextortion” schemes such as this often may be hesitant to come forward.  The Justice Department encourages individuals who may be the victims of similar schemes to contact their local law enforcement agencies to report this conduct. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Russian Cyber-Criminal Convicted Of 38 Counts Related To Hacking Businesses And Stealing More Than Two Million Credit Card Numbers

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

A federal jury today convicted a Vladivostok, Russia, man of 38 counts related to his scheme to hack into point-of-sale computers to steal and sell credit card numbers to the criminal underworld, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington.  
Roman Valerevich Seleznev, aka Track2, 32, was convicted after an eight-day trial of 10 counts of wire fraud, eight counts of intentional damage to a protected computer, nine counts of obtaining information from a protected computer, nine counts of possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices and two counts of aggravated identity theft.  U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones of the Western District of Washington scheduled sentencing for Dec. 2, 2016.
According to testimony at trial and court documents, between October 2009 and October 2013, Seleznev hacked into retail point-of-sale systems and installed malicious software (malware) to steal credit card numbers from various businesses from a server he operated in Russia.  Many of the businesses were small businesses, some of which were restaurants in Western Washington, including the Broadway Grill in Seattle, which was forced into bankruptcy following the cyber assault.
Evidence presented at trial demonstrated that the malware would steal the credit card data from the point-of-sale systems and send it to other servers that Seleznev controlled in Russia, the Ukraine or in McLean, Virginia.  Seleznev then bundled the credit card information into groups called “bases” and sold the information on various “carding” websites to buyers who would then use the credit card numbers for fraudulent purchases, according to the trial evidence.  Testimony at trial revealed that Seleznev’s scheme caused 3,700 financial institutions more than $169 million in losses.
When Seleznev was taken into custody in July 2014 in the Maldives, his laptop contained more than 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers, some of which were stolen from businesses in Western Washington.  The laptop also contained additional evidence linking Seleznev to the servers, email accounts and financial transactions involved in the scheme.
Seleznev is charged in a separate indictment in the District of Nevada with participating in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization (RICO) and conspiracy to engage in a RICO, as well as two counts of possession of 15 or more counterfeit and unauthorized access devices.  Seleznev is also charged in the Northern District of Georgia with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, one count of bank fraud and four counts of wire fraud.  An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force investigated the case.  The task force includes detectives from the Seattle Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service Cyber Intelligence Section in Washington, D.C.   Trial Attorney Harold Chun of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Norman M. Barbosa and Seth Wilkinson of the Western District of Washington are prosecuting the case.   The CCIPS Cyber Crime Lab and its Director, Ovie Carroll, provided substantial support for the prosecution.  The Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Guam also provided assistance in this case.

US Navy Ship Fired Warning Shots At Iranian Ship; 4 Mideast Close Calls This Week reports that the USS Squall (seen above in the photo) fired warning shots at Iranian boats who were harassing U.S. Navy ships.

DEVELOPING: A U.S. Navy coastal patrol ship fired three warning shots at an Iranian ship that sailed within 200 yards in the Northern Persian Gulf Wednesday after one of four close calls this week involving U.S. and Iranian vessels, a U.S. official confirmed to Fox News on Thursday.
The USS Squall fired the shots, according to the official.
On Tuesday, four Iranian small boats "harassed" the USS Nitze, sailing near the guided missile destroyer in the narrow Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. Navy official told Fox News.

You can read the rest of the piece and watch a video clip via the below link:

A Look Back At The Gambino Crime Family Tree, From Their Early Roots To Serving As inspiration For ‘The Godfather’


Jessica Schladerbeck at the New York Daily News looks back at the Gambino crime family history.

Before he was the inspiration for the greatest fictional crime boss of all time, Carlo Gambino was an illegal immigrant trying to rise to power during the height of organized crime.

Gambino, born August 24, 1902, headed one of the most powerful families in New York and in part inspired the iconic character Don Corleone — the Godfather was also heavily based on Frank Costello. His journey to the top, not unlike those in the famous film series, is a tangled web of assassinations, power grabs and silent betrayal.

The Gambino Crime Family was founded by Salvatore “Toto” D’Aquila, who took over a gang of newly transplanted Mafiosi from Sicily after leaders Lupo Saietta and Giuseppe Morello were handed a 30 year prison sentence for counterfeiting in 1910.

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

Happy 86th Birthday To Sir Sean Connery

Happy 86th birthday to one of my favorite actors, Sir Sean Connery.

Lindsay Lowe at offers 10 of Sir Sean Connery's most famous quotes, including one from Dr. No, where he first introduced himself as "Bond. James Bond."

You can read the quotes via the below link:

And you can read an earlier post on Sir Sean Connery via the below link:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Iranian Vessels Make 'High-Speed Intercept' Of U.S. Ship

They don't call the USS Nitze a destroyer for nothing.

The ship is manned with multiple modern weapons systems and is quite capable of dispatching four Iranian boats, and much more, yet the risk-adverse civilian and military leadership at the helm in the Pentagon allowed this multi-million dollar warship to be harassed by the second-rate Iranian navy, just as the U.S. Navy allowed the Iranians to capture our boats and sailors a while back.

And, you may recall, Secretary of State John Kerry publicly thanked the Iranians for the humiliation.

Clearly, the Iranians - and the rest of the world - have no respect for the United States Navy.

You can read about the U.S.'s latest humiliation at the hands of the Iranians via the below link:

Note:  The USS Nitze appears in the above U.S. Navy photo.

FBI: Fugitive Apprehended - Alleged Child Abuser Was on the Run for 23 Years

The FBI released the below report:

In 1993, Boston-area resident John Hartin was 23 years old when he befriended two young boys—ages 6 and 9—and allegedly raped them.

One of the victims eventually told a family member about the abuse, which led to an investigation and Hartin being charged in Massachusetts with five counts of rape of a child. Rather than face the charges, Hartin fled, and was later charged federally with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

He was at large for more than two decades, and investigators followed numerous leads without success. “But the case never stopped being actively investigated,” said Special Agent Brooks Broadus, a member of the FBI’s Boston Division Child Exploitation Task Force. “We were always looking.”

At the time of his disappearance, Hartin, a lifelong resident of Dorchester, Massachusetts, was working as a security guard. He had also studied graphics and computer arts in college. His first alleged victim was related to an acquaintance of Hartin’s. The young boy’s close friend was Hartin’s second alleged victim.

In 2012, the FBI launched a multi-state media campaign and announced a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to Hartin’s arrest. The campaign generated thousands of tips—and many tantalizing leads—but no arrest.

More recently, explained Boston Police Department Det. Mike Sullivan, a member of the Child Exploitation Task Force, “we started looking at the case again with fresh eyes and went back to Day One. We sought out Hartin’s family and friends and began to conduct new interviews.”

In the end, Sullivan said, “it was old-fashioned detective work that led to Hartin’s capture.” Sullivan sought the assistance of various law enforcement agencies to assist in the search, including the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Department of State. Through these partnerships, investigators learned that Hartin was using the alias Jay Carter. The fugitive had a driver’s license in Carter’s name, and other fraudulent documents.

Leads were initially sent to the FBI Miami Division, FBI Long Beach Resident Agency and the FBI Greensboro Resident Agency. The fugitive was traced to Walkertown, North Carolina, and the FBI put his residence under surveillance. Intelligence revealed that he had weapons in the house. “We had information that he was armed and potentially dangerous,” Sullivan said. Although Hartin was taken into custody without incident at his home on June 15, 2016, he initially denied his true identify.

“We are still piecing together where he was for all the years he was on the run,” Broadus said. “He lived in Florida for a long period of time before he went to North Carolina. We also had information he may have lived in California. He apparently did freelance computer work to earn money and worked in a bar in Miami.” Broadus added that Hartin had roommates and “significant others who might have helped him financially. They all deny they knew his real identity.”

Hartin, now 46 years old, was on the run for 23 years. He waived extradition, and U.S. Marshals recently returned him to Massachusetts, where he will now have to answer for his actions in court.

Broadus commended the Boston Police Department and federal law enforcement partners for their efforts on the case. After Hartin’s arrest, Sullivan and Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Alissa Goldhaber contacted the victims to let them know Hartin had finally been captured. After learning the news, one victim said, “This is the best day of my life.”