Sunday, April 23, 2017

On This Day In History William Shakespeare Was Born

As notes, on this day in 1564 William Shakespeare was born.

According to tradition, the great English dramatist and poet William Shakespeare is born in Stratford-on-Avon on April 23, 1564. It is impossible to be certain the exact day on which he was born, but church records show that he was baptized on April 26, and three days was a customary amount of time to wait before baptizing a newborn. Shakespeare’s date of death is conclusively known, however: it was April 23, 1616. He was 52 years old and had retired to Stratford three years before.

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

Russian Cyber-Criminal Sentenced To 27 Years In Prison For Hacking And Credit Card Fraud Scheme

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

A 32-year-old Vladivostok, Russia, man was sentenced today to 27 years in prison for his computer hacking crimes that caused more than $169 million in damage to small businesses and financial institutions, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington.

Roman Valeryevich Seleznev, aka Track2, was convicted in August 2016, of 38 counts related to his scheme to hack into point-of-sale computers to steal credit card numbers and sell them on dark market websites.  U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones of the Western District of Washington imposed the sentence.

“This investigation, conviction and sentence demonstrates that the United States will bring the full force of the American justice system upon cybercriminals like Seleznev who victimize U.S. citizens and companies from afar,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco.  “And we will not tolerate the existence of safe havens for these crimes – we will identify cybercriminals from the dark corners of the Internet and bring them to justice.”

“Today is a bad day for hackers around the world,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “The notion that the Internet is a Wild West where anything goes is a thing of the past.  As Mr. Seleznev has now learned, and others should take note – we are working closely with our law enforcement partners around the world to find, apprehend, and bring to justice those who use the internet to steal and destroy our peace of mind.  Whether the victims are multi-national banks or small pizza joints, we are all victims when our day-to-day transactions result in millions of dollars ending up in the wrong hands.”

According to evidence presented at trial, between October 2009 and October 2013, Seleznev hacked into retail point-of-sale systems and installed malicious software (malware) that allowed him to steal millions of credit card numbers from more than 500 U.S. businesses and send the data to servers that he controlled in Russia, the Ukraine and McLean, Virginia.  Seleznev then bundled the credit card information into groups called “bases” and sold the information on various criminal “carding” websites to buyers who used them for fraudulent purchases, according to evidence introduced during the trial of this case.
Many of the businesses targeted by Seleznev were small businesses, and included restaurants and pizza parlors in Western Washington, including Broadway Grill in Seattle, which was forced into bankruptcy following the cyber assault.  Testimony at trial revealed that Seleznev’s scheme caused approximately 3,700 financial institutions more than $169 million in losses.

Seleznev was taken into custody in July 2014 in the Maldives, and the laptop in his custody at that time contained more than 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers, including some 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.  Evidence presented at trial showed that Seleznev earned tens of millions of dollars from his criminal activity.

Seleznev was convicted on Aug. 25, 2016, 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. 

“Mr. Seleznev’s criminal enterprise was both sophisticated and expansive, with transnational implications.  This investigation exemplifies the ability of the U.S. Secret Service and our law enforcement partners to hold accountable those who perpetrate such crimes,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert L. Kierstead of the U.S. Secret Service.  “The ultimate success of this case is the result of an extraordinary collaborative effort by the Secret Service, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Washington, the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and the Seattle Police Department.”

“Crime has no borders,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.  “This individual is responsible for defrauding victims out of millions of dollars in Seattle alone, and we are proud to work with our federal partners to bring him to justice.”

Seleznev is also 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 racketeer influenced corrupt organization, as well as two counts of possession of 15 or more counterfeit and unauthorized access devices.  Additionally, Seleznev is 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.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Norman M. Barbosa and Seth Wilkinson of the Western District of Washington and Trial Attorneys Harold Chun and Ethan Arenson of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) prosecuted 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 for the District of Guam also provided assistance in this case.

Authorities Believe CIA Employee Or Contractor Supplied Documents To WikiLeaks

Guy Taylor and Andrew Blake at the the Washington Times report that a CIA employee or contractor supplied WikiLeaks with classified documents.

Federal law enforcement authorities believe it was a vetted member of the U.S. intelligence community — either an official CIA employee or a contractor — who supplied WikiLeaks with a trove of documents that the anti-secrecy group published last month purporting to expose the agency’s vast clandestine cyberoperations.

While the CIA has refused to comment on an investigation into the matter, intelligence sources who spoke anonymously with The Washington Times on Thursday did not push back against the veracity of news reports that the agency and the FBI are engaged in a manhunt for the suspected leaker within the U.S. government.

CNN reported Thursday night that federal prosecutors are separately weighing whether to bring criminal charges against members of the WikiLeaks organization, taking a second look at a 2010 leak of diplomatic cables and military documents as well as last month’s CIA leak.

The network cited unnamed sources behind the claim, but noted that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had said at a news conference Thursday that the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up inside the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012, is a “priority.”

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

U.S. Navy Bribery And Fraud Scandal: Admiral's Illicit History With 'Fat Leonard' Goes Back 20 years, Prosecutors say

Craig Whitlock at the Washington Post offers a piece on Admiral Robert Gilbeau (seen in the above U.S. Navy photo) who was convicted in the U.S. Navy’s “Fat Leonard” bribery and fraud scandal.

The highest-ranking officer convicted so far in a colossal Navy corruption scandal began accepting a cornucopia of gifts and prostitutes from an Asian defense contractor 20 years ago and later suffered a mental breakdown when he learned authorities were making arrests in the case, new court documents allege.

Robert Gilbeau became the first active-duty Navy admiral ever to be convicted of a felony when he pleaded guilty last year to lying to federal investigators. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month and likely faces up to 18 months in prison.

In a plea deal last June, Gilbeau admitted to making false statements about his contacts with Leonard Glenn Francis, also known as "Fat Leonard," a crooked defense contractor from Singapore who has pleaded guilty to bribing scores of Navy officials. At the time, Gilbeau and federal authorities revealed little about the nature and extent of his relationship with Francis.

But in documents filed last week in federal court in San Diego, prosecutors allege that Gilbeau, 56, was corrupted in 1997 when he and another Navy officer met Francis during a port visit to the Indonesian island of Bali and succumbed to the contractor's offer of free hotel rooms, lavish dinners and paid sex.

The relationship continued on a sporadic basis until 2012, according to prosecutors, who said Francis treated Gilbeau to numerous evenings at karaoke bars and luxury restaurants in Singapore, often capped off by assignations with prostitutes.

Prosecutors allege that Gilbeau also pocketed $40,000 in cash bribes from Francis as part of a kickback scheme to overcharge the Navy for pumping wastewater from its ships.

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

You can also read my Counterterrorism magazine piece on the Fat Leonard scandal via the below link:

Note: The above U.S. Navy shows Leonard with then-Chariman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen.

Smuggling By International Crime Syndicates Is What Keeps Homeland Security Chief Up At Night

David Sherfinski and Stephen Dinan at the Washington Times offer a piece on Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly (seen in the above official photo) and his concern over transnational criminal organizations.

Smuggling cartels are now a major threat to the fabric of American society, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly declared Tuesday, saying the international crime syndicates have shown an incredible ability to sneak drugs and people — and potentially terrorists and dirty bombs — into the U.S.

Mr. Kelly, a former Marine Corps general who is three months into his tenure as secretary, said among all the other dangers facing Americans, the threat from the cartels, known in the security world as “transnational criminal organizations” is what keeps him up at night.

He said the Trump administration has already notched some victories over the criminal networks, including cutting the level of illegal immigration across the southwestern border by a staggering 70 percent. But he said the amount of drugs has increased and that the smuggling cartels share ties with the terrorist networks that the U.S. is fighting overseas.

“We know, as an example, that the money-laundering of massive amounts of profit from the U.S. drug demand — there are terrorist organizations that make money from that money-laundering process,” he said. “It’s an incredibly lucrative way to raise money. They’re not doing it in huge amounts yet, I don’t believe. But to me, it would be a next step. So the nexus between criminal networks and terrorist networks is real, and, I would predict, will get more sophisticated.”

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

Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo: A Former Philadelphia-South Jersey Cosa Nostra Organized Crime Boss Who Was Just An Old Man Who Died Alone

Veteran organized crime reporter and author George Anastasia offers a piece on the life and death of Philly mob boss Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo (seen in the center of the above FBI surveillance photo) at 

He was, to borrow an over-used sports term, a game changer. And he, and all those around him, paid a significant price because of it.

Little Nicky Scarfo, the violent Philadelphia-South Jersey mob boss who died in prison earlier this year, played by his own set of rules. The result was chaos. His passing (he died in a federal prison on Jan. 13) attracted front page headlines, but there was little of the pomp and ceremony that used to be de rigueur when a mob boss died. No viewing at a South Broad Street funeral home with lines of mourners stretching out the door and down the block. No FBI agents in unmarked vans taking pictures of crime family members and their associates coming to pay their final respects. No church ceremony with pallbearers carrying an ornate coffin to a waiting black limousine.

There has been little mention of Scarfo’s “final arrangements.” One source said his passing was marked at a private family memorial service and his body was cremated. For all the noise he made while on the streets, Little Nicky went quietly.

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

You can also read Philip Leonetti's view of his uncle in my interview with Scarfo's nephew and former underboss via the below link: