Friday, April 29, 2016

U.S. Navy Captain Select Sentenced To Over Six Years In Prison For Accepting Cash And Prostitutes In International Bribery Scheme


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

A U.S. Navy Captain Select was sentenced today to 78 months in prison for bribery charges, admitting that he accepted cash, gifts, travel expenses, entertainment and the services of prostitutes from foreign defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) in exchange for classified U.S. Navy information, including ship schedules that contained information related to the U.S. Navy’s ballistic missile defense operations in the Pacific.  In addition, he was ordered to pay a fine in the amount of $100,000 and to forfeit $95,000 in proceeds for the scheme.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy of the Southern District of California, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations James B. Burch of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and Director Andrew Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) made the announcement.
Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 49, of San Diego, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino of the Southern District of California for one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery.

According to admissions in his plea agreement, from January 2011 until September 2013, Misiewicz provided classified U.S. Navy ship schedules and other sensitive U.S. Navy information to the defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, CEO and owner of Singapore-based GDMA.  GDMA provided port services to U.S. Navy ships and submarines when they arrived at ports throughout the Pacific.

Misiewicz admitted that when he was stationed in Japan, on the USS Mustin and in Colorado Springs, Colorado, he used his position and influence within the U.S. Navy to advance the interests of GDMA, including by providing Francis with classified ship schedules and other proprietary U.S. Navy information.  In return, Misiewicz admitted that Francis gave him cash, paid for luxury travel on at least eight occasions for Misiewicz and his family, provided his wife with a designer handbag and provided Misiewicz with the services of prostitutes on multiple occasions.  Throughout the conspiracy, Misiewicz admitted that he and his conspirators took steps to avoid detection by law enforcement by, among other means, using clandestine email accounts, which they periodically deleted.

To date, 10 individuals have been charged in connection with this scheme; of those, nine have pleaded guilty, including Misiewicz, U.S. Navy Capt. Daniel Dusek, Lieutenant Commander Todd Malaki, NCIS Special Agent John Beliveau, Commander Jose Luis Sanchez and U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug.  Former Department of Defense civilian employee Paul Simpkins awaits trial.  On Jan. 21, 2016, Layug was sentenced to 27 months in prison and a $15,000 fine; on Jan. 29, 2016, Malaki was sentenced to 40 months in prison and to pay $15,000 in restitution to the Navy and a $15,000 fine; on March 18, 2016, Alex Wisidagama, a former GDMA employee, was sentenced to 63 months and $34.8 million in restitution to the Navy; and on March 25, 2016, Dusek was sentenced to 46 months in prison and to pay $30,000 in restitution to the Navy and a $70,000 fine; the others await sentencing.

NCIS, DCIS and the Defense Contract Audit Agency are conducting the ongoing investigation.  Assistant Chief Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark W. Pletcher of the Southern District of California are prosecuting the case.        

Those with information relating to fraud, corruption or waste in government contracting should contact the NCIS anonymous tip line at www.ncis.navy.mil or the DoD Hotline at www.dodig.mil/hotline, or call (800) 424-9098.

Ransomware: Latest Cyber Extortion Tool


The FBI released the below information:

Ransomware has become a significant threat to U.S. businesses and individuals. In 2014, over 1,800 complaints were filed regarding ransomware, resulting in a loss of more than $23 million. In 2015, that number grew to more than 2,400 complaints with a reported loss of more than $24 million.
Perpetrators use ransomware to encrypt a user’s important files and documents, making them unreadable, until a ransom is paid. Ransomware victims are not only at risk of losing their files but may also experience financial loss due to paying the ransom, loss of productivity, IT services, legal fees, network countermeasures, and/or the purchase of credit monitoring services for employees or customers if their information was referenced in the encrypted files. Everyone is at risk from this threat; there is no indication at this time that any particular sector or type of business or individual is specifically targeted.
Prevention is the most effective defense against ransomware, and it is critical to take precautionary measures for protection. These measures include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Implement a robust data back-up and recovery plan. Maintain copies of your files, particularly sensitive or proprietary data, in a separate secure location. Back-up copies of sensitive data should not be readily accessible from local networks.
  • Never open attachments included in unsolicited e-mails. Be very vigilant about links contained in e-mails, even if the link appears to be from someone you know.
  • Keep your anti-virus software up to date.
  • Enable automated patches for your operating system and web browser.
  • Only download software, especially free software, from sites you know and trust.
If you believe you are a victim of an extortion attempt, we strongly encourage you to contact your local FBI field office, which may be able to provide guidance or assistance. Contacting your local FBI field office may also assist in identifying the perpetrator and the malware used, which could help prevent future victimizations. In addition, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), including as much information as possible in your complaint.
While the FBI recognizes that ransomware victims may feel they have few viable options if they do not have a data backup or if they cannot sustain a release of confidential or proprietary information, the FBI does not condone payment of ransoms. Payment of extortion monies may encourage continued criminal activity and lead to other victimizations, and the funds may be used by criminals to facilitate other serious crimes. In addition, in some cases, even if payment is made, the decryption key provided by the perpetrator to unlock files may not work due to the system configuration issues.
Any questions regarding this news release can be directed to SA Vicki D Anderson at the Cleveland Office of the FBI, 216-522-1400 or Vicki.Anderson@ic.fbi.gov.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Estonian Cybercriminal Sentenced For Infecting 4 Million Computers In 100 Countries With Malware In Multimillion-Dollar Fraud Scheme


The U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York released the below information:

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that VLADIMIR TSASTSIN was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to more than seven years in prison for perpetrating a massive internet fraud scheme by infecting more than four million computers in over 100 countries with malware.  The malware secretly altered the settings on infected computers, enabling TSASTSIN and his co-conspirators to digitally hijack users’ Internet searches and re-route their computers to certain websites and advertisements.  As a result, the defendants received millions of dollars in fees from advertisers who paid the defendants to bring customers to their websites or ads, but were unaware that the defendants did so by digitally hijacking victims’ computers.  The malware also prevented the installation of anti-virus software and operating system updates on millions of infected computers, leaving those computers and their users unable to detect or stop the malware, and exposing them to attacks by other malware.  On July 8, 2015, TSASTSIN pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.  U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan sentenced TSASTSIN earlier today.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Vladimir Tsastin was sentenced today to 87 months in prison for his role in a massive fraud scheme, which victimized more than four million Internet users in 100 countries.  By falsely collecting advertising fees for every ‘click’ their victims made, Tsastsin and his co-conspirators collected over $14 million. Together with our law enforcement partners all over the globe, this Office will continue to investigate and prosecute sophisticated cyber frauds.”
According to the Indictment and other court documents previously filed in the case and statements made in court proceedings:
From 2007 until October 2011, TSASTSIN and co-defendants Andrey Taame, Timur Gerassimenko, Dmitri Jegorov, Valeri Aleksejev, Konstantin Poltev, and Anton Ivanov controlled and operated various companies that masqueraded as legitimate publisher networks (the “Publisher Networks”) in the Internet advertising industry.  The Publisher Networks entered into agreements with ad brokers under which they were paid based on the number of times Internet users clicked on the links for certain websites or advertisements, or based on the number of times certain advertisements were displayed on certain websites.  Thus, the more traffic that went to the advertisers’ websites and display ads, the more money the defendants earned under their agreements with the ad brokers.  The defendants fraudulently increased the traffic to the websites and advertisements that would earn them money and made it appear to advertisers that the Internet traffic came from legitimate “clicks” and ad displays on the defendants’ Publisher Networks when, in actuality, it had not.
To carry out the scheme, the defendants and their co-conspirators used dozens of “rogue” Domain Name System (“DNS”) servers and malware (“the Malware”) designed to alter the DNS server settings on infected computers.  Victims’ computers became infected with the Malware when they visited certain websites or downloaded certain software to view videos online.  The Malware altered the DNS server settings on victims’ computers to route the infected computers to rogue DNS servers controlled and operated by the defendants and their co-conspirators.  The re-routing took two forms that are described below: “click hijacking” and “advertising replacement fraud” (together, “click fraud”).  The Malware also prevented the infected computers from receiving anti-virus software updates or operating system updates that otherwise might have detected the Malware and stopped it.  In addition, the infected computers were left vulnerable to infections by other malware.
Click Hijacking
When the user of an infected computer clicked on a search result link displayed through a search engine query, the Malware caused the computer to be re-routed to a different website.  Instead of being brought to the website to which the user asked to go, the user was brought to a website designated by the defendants.  Each “click” triggered payment to the defendants under their advertising agreements.  This click hijacking occurred for clicks by users on unpaid links that appeared in response to a user’s query as well as clicks on "sponsored” links or advertisements that appeared in response to a user’s query – often at the top of, or to the right of, the search results – thus causing the search engines to lose money.  For example, when the user of an infected computer clicked on the domain name link for the official website of Apple-iTunes, the user was instead taken to a website for a business unaffiliated with Apple Inc. that purported to sell Apple software.  The advertisers who paid for such Internet traffic to their websites were never told that the traffic consisted of hijacked clicks and that the visitors had not intended to visit their websites.
Advertising Replacement Fraud
In the advertisement replacement scheme, using their DNS Changer Malware and rogue DNS servers, the defendants replaced legitimate advertisements on websites, without the paying advertisers’ knowledge or consent, with substituted advertisements that triggered payments to themselves.  For example, when the user of an infected computer visited the home page of The Wall Street Journal, a featured advertisement for American Express had been fraudulently replaced with an ad for “Fashion Girl LA,” which triggered a payment to the defendants from another advertiser.
To acquire the online infrastructure for the fraudulent scheme, enter into contracts to sell Internet traffic, and launder the proceeds from the fraudulent scheme, Tsastsin and his co-defendants created and controlled over a dozen front companies located and/or registered in the United States, Estonia, Russia, Denmark, the Republic of Seychelles, England, and Cyprus.  At the time of his arrest, TSASTSIN, assisted by his co-defendants, operated approximately 50 rogue DNS servers located in New York City and additional ones at a data center in Chicago. Each of the rogue servers contained approximately two hard drives; the larger hard drives received as many as 3,000 fraudulent “clicks,” or DNS resolution requests, per second, while the smaller servers received several hundred requests per second.
*           *           *
In addition to the 87-month prison term, TSASTSIN, 35, of Tartu, Estonia, was sentenced to one year of supervised release and ordered to forfeit $2.5 million and pay a $200 special assessment.  In imposing sentence, Judge Kaplan described TSASTSIN’s crimes as “brazen, sophisticated, and outrageous.”
On July 27, 2015, Gerassimenko, Jegorov, and Poltev were sentenced to 48 months, 44 months, and 40 months in prison, respectively.  Aleksejev was sentenced on October 30, 2013, to 48 months in prison.  Ivanov was sentenced on July 25, 2014, to time served.  Judge Kaplan also entered orders against each defendant forfeiting his criminal proceeds and the electronic and online infrastructure used to perpetrate their fraudulent scheme.  The last defendant, Taame, who is a Russian national, remains at large.   
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration-Office of the Inspector General, and the Estonian Central Criminal Police.  He also thanked the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs for its assistance with the extraditions.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Lai is in charge of the prosecution.  Alexander Wilson, Deputy Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Unit, is in charge of the forfeiture aspects of the case. 

A Little Night Music: Chris Botti's 'Ever Since We Met'


I'm listening to Chris Botti's 'Ever Since We Met" as I'm working this evening.

You can hear Chris Botti's smooth sound via the below link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2o9Ai9ML4Vc

Narconomics: How To Run A Drug Cartel


Gary Anderson offers a good review in the Washington Times of Tom Wainwright's Narconomics: How To Run a Drug Cartel. 

”Narconomics” is the book that Sean Penn wanted to write. Tom Wainwright may not have interviewed Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, but he did talk to drug kingpins every bit as ruthless and intimidating in writing this book. Along the way, Mr. Wainwright also talked to cops, hitmen, national presidents and addicts. He is one of the luckiest journalists alive just to have survived his research. The work that he has produced argues his thesis that the drug industry is run on very similar lines to companies such as McDonald’s or Wal-Mart; he makes a convincing case. Mr. Wainwright is an investigative journalist who is an editor for the Economist magazine; he began this project while covering Mexico, Latin America and the U.S. border for that publication.
Mr. Wainwright argues that most successful drug cartels operate like Wal-Mart in that they have a virtual monopoly on the product at the source of supply. The farmers who produce the basic cocoa, poppies or marijuana have no choice but to sell to a single buyer in their respective areas. This helps to explain why drug prices remain relatively inelastic and why eradication efforts fail; there are always sellers someplace to sell at the buyer’s price.
Like Mc Donald’s, some cartels such as the Mexican Zetas have also found franchising to be an effective business model. This is a symbiotic relationship. The cartel finds a local criminal gang that wants to expand its business. That gang knows the local territory and has established relationships. The franchise gets the brand name of the major cartel and its protection against other cartels for a cut of the franchise profits. Like McDonald’s and Burger King, the cartel has to maintain quality control. The difference between quality control in the fast food franchise business and the drug trade is that a drug franchise that comes up short may find its members hanging from a highway overpass.
You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/apr/27/book-review-narconomics-how-to-run-a-drug-cartel/ 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Look Back At 9 British TV Shows That Made It To America In The 1960s


The MeTV channel's website offers a look back at 9 British TV imports to the USA in the 1960s

The British Invasion went beyond the Beatles and Herman's Hermits, beyond music in fact. Perhaps more so than any other time, the 1960s saw Americans devouring British pop culture, from Mary Quant's miniskirts to Mary Poppins. James Bond was the king of the big screen and MG advertised its cars in magazines.
Naturally, this carried over to television. The spy craze led to an influx of British television productions on American networks. Here were shows produced in the U.K. on the Big Three networks in prime time. Often, the imports were plugged in as summer replacements. Some of these shows were so massive, or used American actors, it's easy to forget they were English.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

http://metv.com/lists/9-british-tv-shows-that-made-it-to-america-in-the-1960s

Note: I was a teenager in the 1960s and I watched and enjoyed 4 of the 9 British imported TV shows listed by metv.com. I loved The Prisoner, Secret Agent, The Avengers and The Saint.

I now own DVDs of these classic British shows.

The above photo shows Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner.

Preliminary Report On Edward Lin Spy Case, Decision To Prosecute With Fleet Forces CO


Sam LaGrone at the USNI News offers a piece on the Navy officer accused of espionage and other charges.

Investigators with the Navy have submitted their preliminary report and recommendation for prosecution on accusations that a U.S. Navy officer passed secrets to China and Taiwan, service officials told USNI News on Wednesday.
The report will recommend to U.S. Fleet Forces commander Adm. Phil Davidson whether or not to begin court martial proceedings Lt. Cmdr. Edward Chieh-Liang Lin, 39, for alleged acts of espionage and other charges.
Now the recommendation from the investigating officer has been submitted, Davidson will make the ultimate decision – based on the report’s findings – on how to proceed with the case.
The ultimate recommendation from the investigating officer was not provided to USNI News, but several lawyers with experience in national security cases have said that the likelihood Davidson would elect to forgo a court martial for another method of non-judicial punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice is slim.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

https://news.usni.org/2016/04/27/preliminary-report-on-edward-lin-spy-case-decision-to-prosecute-with-fleet-forces-co