Friday, August 30, 2019

A Little Humor: Dinner Date

I was feeling grouchy that evening, but as I had arranged a dinner date with a fine woman, I met her outside of a upscale restaurant.

When we entered the restaurant, the host asked, “Good evening, sir. A table for how many?” 

I looked at my dinner date, looked down at my shoes, and then looked back at the host and said, “I don’t know. I can’t count this high either.”

We were seated at a table and feeling festive for my date’s sake, I yelled out, “Waiter! A bottle of Dom Perignon champagne!” 

“Very good, sir,” the waiter replied. “What year?”

“This year,” I said somewhat irritated. “Now!”

The service took a while, so when a waiter passed by, I said to him, "Excuse me, are you our waiter?

"Yes, Sir, I am."

"Funny," I replied. "You don't look a day older."

When after a period of time we had still not seen our waiter with our dinner, I said to my date, "Do you know why they are called waiters? It is because they make you wait and wait."

But when the meal finally came, it was good, and I dug in and cleaned my plate.

When we had finished eating, the waiter handed me the check and walked away. 

I took a couple of bucks out of my wallet and tossed them on the table. 

"You’re supposed to leave 15 per cent,” my date whispered to me.

“I’m sorry, but I was really hunger, so I eat it all!”

Then I looked at the check and handed it to my date.

“This bill is outrageous,” I told her. “I wouldn’t pay this if I were you…”

Note: The above photo is of Groucho Marx from A Night at the Opera.

My Washington Times Review Of 'If: The Untold Story of Kipling's American Years'

The Washington Times published my review of If: The Untold Story of Kipling’s American Years.

As a teenager in the 1960s I was caught up in the spy craze created by the James Bond films. In addition to Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, I read many other spy thrillers and I watched spy stories on TV and at the movies. But it was as a pre-teen in the 1950s that I read my first great spy story, which was Rudyard Kipling’s “Kim.”

I later met many military and civilian intelligence officers who also read and loved “Kim.”

In Kipling’s 1901 novel, the son of an Irish soldier in India named Kimball O’Hara, known as Kim, is a wayward street urchin living in Lahore. He meets Mahbub Ali, a horse trader and spy, who has Kim deliver a secret message to a British military intelligence officer. And so Kim’s adventures in espionage and what Rudyard Kipling coined “The Great Game” began.

Although “Kim” takes place in India, where Kipling was born and later worked as a newspaper reporter and short story writer, he wrote the first draft of “Kim” in America.

In Christopher Benfey’s “If: The Untold Story of Kipling’s American Years,” we learn of Rudyard Kipling’s affection for America and his life here.

Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay in 1865 and educated in England. Readers have always associated this towering writer with colonial India, where he spent his early childhood and his literary apprenticeship, and with England, where he lived, in relative isolation, during the final decades of his life. Few readers are familiar with his exuberant American years, however, during the heart of the American Gilded Age. 

And yet Kipling wrote “The Jungle Book,” “Captain Courageous,” the first draft of “Kim,” his first “just so stories,” and some of his greatest poems on the crest of a Vermont hillside overlooking the Connecticut River, with a view of Mount Monadnock “like a gigantic thumbnail pointing heavenward,” Christopher Benfey writes in his prologue. “A principal aim of this book is to introduce today’s readers to a largely unfamiliar writer: The American Kipling.”

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

Note: The top photo is of Rudyard Kipling and the above photo is of actor Christopher Plummer as Rudyard Kipling in John Huston’s fine film adaption of Kipling’s story, The Man Who Would Be King. Flanking Plummer are Michael Caine and Sean Connery.   

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Assange Is A Spy Not A Journalist: The Case Against WikiLeaks Founder Juilan Assange

Counterterrorism magazine published my piece on the case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

You can read the piece above and below:

My Q&A With Chief Inspector Daniel MacDonald, Chief Of The Philadelphia Police Department's Intelligence Bureau

Counterterrorism magazine published my Q&A with Chief Inspector Daniel P. MacDonald, the Chief of the Philadelphia Police Department's Intelligence Bureau.

You can read the piece below:

Why I Carry

You can watch actor William Shatner facing an armed robber from Boston Legal via the below link:

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

My Crime Beat Column: A Look Back At Mad Magazine

As one who grew up on Mad magazine, I was saddened by the news this past July that Mad would no longer sold on newsstands by the end of the year and future issues will no longer offer new content. I shall miss it.
In my January 3, 1997 Crime Beat column in the South Philadelphia American, I wrote about Mad. 

“Prison inmates are treated to cable TV, hot meals and a college education, while on the outside some people can only afford these things through a life of crime,” Alfred E. Neuman says in the latest issue of Mad.
Educating my nine-year-old daughter is one of my most important tasks in life. I try to compliment her Catholic school education by reading to her and passing on my views and values.
Although I am helping to build her self-worth, I am also advising that she should not take life, and herself, too seriously. In addition to telling her a lot of bad jokes, I have reinforced this notion by giving her a subscription to Mad magazine (which I also read).
Mad, founded in 1952 by William Gaines and Harvey Kurtzman, is a premier satirical magazine that influenced several generations of readers. Who could resist the self-depreciating advertisement that asked readers to “spread the holiday stupidity?” 
Despite a corporate takeover some years ago, the humor magazine’s contributing artists and writers (called “the usual gang of idiots”) can still pack a punch line. The magazine’s price, $2.50, is still listed as “cheap” and Alfred E. Neuman – “What me worry?” – remains the grinning, gap-toothed spokesperson.
I was about my daughter’s age when I began reading the satiric magazine and like many of my generation, I was influenced deeply by its irreverent humor.
I loved the movie and TV parodies, especially the crime films and TV shows, and the magazine’s look at the lighter side of life. I also liked the political humor, which perhaps initiated, and certainly slanted, my lifelong interest in politics.
And crime, in fact and fiction, was always a topic of satire, such as a look at the realistic police shows we’ll soon be seeing on TV in a piece called From Badge to Worst, and their classic parody of The Godfather. Mad also had a lot of fun satirizing the James Bond movies over the years. 

In their parody of Dr. No, called Dr. No-No, a man at a casino asked another man if the dark and dangerous man (Sean Connery) at the table was THE James Bomb?

"Yes..." the other man replied. "The famous secret agent with the incredible knowledge of women, food, and especially wine! I understand that he can not only tell you the vineyard and year - but also the name of the gal who stomped the grapes!"

"Waiter," James Bomb called out. "I'd like a Chateau Nov Ka Pop 1951, stomped by Fat Harriet La Clute!"  
The current issue offers the obituaries of comic strip characters, such as the U.S. Army’s oldest private, Beetle Bailey, and Charlie Brown, who died of a football injury after attempting to kick a football held by a neighbor, Lucy Van Pelt. Dilbert, 43, was found dead in a cubicle and Blondie, 71, died of toxic hair poisoning after years of blonde hair dye abuse.
Malcom Muggeridge, the British editor of another great humor magazine, Punch (which I was devoted to while serving in the Navy in Scotland), once said that the world was so ridiculous that it was difficult for a humorist to compete.
I believe our deep-rooted irreverence is an intrinsic part of the American character. Our inclination to ridicule our political leaders and others in the news is one of the reasons we will never lose our freedom.
Mark Twain explained the meaning of satire in a speech he gave in 1888. “Ours is a useful trade, a worthy calling,” Twain said. “With all its lightness and frivolity it has one serious purpose, one aim, one specialty, and it is constant to it – the deriding of shames, the exposure of pretentious falsities, the laughing of styled superstitions out of existence; and who so is by instinct engaged in this sort of warfare is the natural enemy of royalties, nobilities, privileges and kindred swindlers, and the natural friend of human rights and human liberties.”
In South Philly, with our earthy attitudes and lack of verbal restrain, we know something about using humor and sarcasm to deflate an overbearing ego.

A Little Humor: Fast Drivers On A Farmer's Rural Road

A farmer lived on a quiet rural road. 

But, as time went by, the traffic slowly built up at an alarming rate. The traffic was so heavy and so fast that his chickens were being run over at a rate of three to six a day. 

So the farmer called the sheriff’s office and said, “You’ve got to do something about all of these people driving so fast and killing all of my chickens.”

“What do you want me to do?” asked the sheriff.

“I don’t care, just do something about those crazy drivers!” 

So the next day the sheriff had the county workers go out and erected a sign that read: SLOW–SCHOOL CROSSING

Three days later the farmer called the sheriff and said, “You’ve got to do something about these drivers. The ‘school crossing’ sign seems to make them go even faster.”

Again, the sheriff sent out the county workers and they put up a new sign: SLOW: CHILDREN AT PLAY

That really sped them up. So the farmer called the sheriff every day for three weeks. 

Finally, he asked the sheriff, “Your signs are doing no good. Can I put up my own sign?” 

The sheriff told him, “Sure thing, put up your own sign.” 

The sheriff received no more calls from the farmer. 

Three weeks later, out of curiosity, the sheriff gave the farmer a call. “How’s the problem with those drivers. Did you put up your sign?”

“Oh, I sure did. And not one chicken has been killed since then. I’ve got to go. I’m very busy.”

The sheriff thought to himself, “I’d better go out there and take a look at that sign. It might be something that we could use to slow down drivers.” 

The sheriff drove out to the farmer’s and his jaw dropped the moment he saw the sign. 

It was spray-painted on a sheet of wood:


Note: The above photo is of Andy Griffith and Don Knots from The Andy Griffith Show. 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Social Media Security: Tips From An Army Special Agent

C. Todd Lopez at the U.S. Defense Department offers a piece on social media security tips:

Even the most innocuous data posted to a social media feed can be married up with other publicly available information to provide online criminals the tools they need to exploit members of the military or general public, an Army special agent said.

Special Agent Deric Palmer, program manager for the Digital Personal Protection Program, part of the Major Cybercrime Unit at the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, explained how those who aren't careful or aren't paying attention can unwittingly provide scammers and other online criminals all the information they need to exploit them.

Social media accounts, Palmer said, serve as fertile ground for digging up the kinds of information that can be used to impersonate someone, steal identities or break into other online accounts, such as banking or insurance.

Military crime experts continue to warn service members to be on the lookout for social media scams in which cybercriminals impersonate service members by using actual and fictitious information for romance scams and other impersonation crimes such as sales schemes and advance fee schemes. 

A Facebook page, for example, might contain current and past physical addresses where a person has lived, phone numbers, email addresses, names of pets, significant events such as birthdays and anniversaries, hobbies and other interests. Just browsing a Facebook page, Palmer said, he can figure out your favorite music, books, TV shows, political and religious leanings.

All that, he said, serves as "an attack vector" that an unscrupulous person can use to communicate with users further and gain their trust. Additional communications can bring out even more details that might later be used to break into online accounts or exploit users in other ways. Some social media users, Palmer added, even volunteer critical information that could be used to access their online financial accounts that they'd never divulge if they were asked by a stranger.

Some online memes, he noted, pose as games that get users to volunteer information that, coupled with other easily obtainable information, can be used to exploit them. A quick search online reveals a simple graphic meme that purportedly allows users to choose "your new cat name" and then post the results, along with the meme itself, on their own social media feed.

For the "cat name" meme, users would use the last digit of their phone number as a selector for any of nine name prefixes, their zodiac sign to choose from a list of 12 middle names, and their favorite color to choose from a list of eight potential last names.

A user might end up with "Count Sassy Pants" as a silly name for their cat. When they post that on their social media feed, along with the meme image itself, would-be criminals will know their phone number ends in 8, they were born in either August or September, and that their favorite color is yellow. Coupled with data already on their social media feed, and with data that can be obtained from data brokers, the information makes it easier to exploit users, Palmer explained.

Military personnel also are candidates to be impersonated online — malicious users might opt to use imagery of real-world service members available online to exploit other users. The U.S. military is one of the most trusted institutions in the nation, and online criminals, Palmer said, take advantage of that.

"The U.S. military is viewed as a prestigious club. ... It's an indicator of prestige," Palmer said. "It's instant respect. If I can pretend to be a U.S. general, unwitting people will respect me immediately."

With that respect, he said, a criminal can exploit other users while pretending to be a member of the U.S. military. Palmer's advice to service members: don't post your picture in uniform with the name tape visible. "It immediately makes you a target," the special agent said.

Palmer offered some tips to avoid being scammed: 

Immediate red flag! Be suspicious if you are asked for money or a wire transfer to pay for a purported service member's transportation, medical bills, communication fees or marriage-processing charges.

Be suspicious if the person with whom you are corresponding wants you to mail anything to a foreign country.

Be aware that military members at any duty location or in a combat zone have access to mail, cyber cafes, Skype and other means of communicating with their families, and they have access to medical and dental treatment.

The military will ensure that family members are notified should a service member is injured.

Insist on a "proof of life." The scammers will not video chat with you, because they know you will catch them in their lie. 

Trust your instincts! If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

The special agent also provided eight points for better security online, and to make users less likely to be victimized by online criminals:

Permanently close old, unused accounts.

Enable two-factor authentication on any platform that allows it.

Use strong passwords, and use different passwords for every account.

On social media, accept friend requests selectively.

Configure the strongest privacy settings for each social media account.

Think before you post.

Limit use of third-part applications on social media applications, read the license agreement, and be sure exactly what those applications want to be able to access.

Change answers to security questions, and use false answers so that online criminals can't use information they gather online to gain access to your accounts.

Happy Belated 81st Birthday To Journalist And Thriller Writer Frederick Forsyth

Happy belated 81st birthday to Frederick Forsyth, author of the classic thriller, The Day of the Jackal, and his memoir, The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue, who was born on August 25, 1938.

You can read my Washington Times piece on Frederick Forsyth via the below link: 

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Happy 89th Birthday To Sean Connery

Sean Connery has been one of my favorite actors since I first saw him in 1963 as James Bond in Dr. No. 

In addition to being the best Bond in my view, the "Great Scot" has also appeared in such fine films as The Man Who Would Be King, Robin and Marion, The Untouchables and The Wind and the Lion.

As notes, today is actor Sean Connery's birthday. He is 89.

Sean Connery was born on August 25, 1930, in Fountainbridge, Scotland.

In the 1950s, he was cast in numerous films and television programs. In the early 1960s, he landed the lead role of James Bond in Dr. No.

He continued to work regularly in film thereafter, and in 1987, won an Academy Award. Connery appeared in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1990. In 2003, he starred in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

You can watch read the rest of the piece and watch a film clip of Sean Connery's bio via the below link:

You can also watch a video of Sean Connery in his introduction as James Bond in Dr No via the below link:

And you can read an earlier post on Sean Connery's top ten films via the below link:

Note: The above photo shows the cover of Sean Connery's book On Being a Scot.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

A Little Humor: Who Wins The Prize?

The father of seven children had won a prize at a raffle. 

He called his kids together and asks which one should have the prize.

“Who is the most obedient?” he asked. And the kids pointed to the oldest one.

“Who never talks back to mother?” The kids pointed to the middle child.

“And who does everything mother says?”

All seven children said, “Okay daddy! You get the prize.”

Note: The photo above is of Bob Hope from The Seven Little Foys.

You can also watch Bob Hope and Jimmy Cagney dance for The Seven Little Foys via the below link: 

Friday, August 23, 2019

Philadelphia Police Shooting Suspect Worked As Federal Informant, Report Says

Greg Norman at reports that Maurice Hill, the man arrested after shooting six Philadelphia police officers during an hours-long standoff, had been a federal informant.

The Philadelphia man accused of shooting six police officers during a lengthy, chaotic standoff last week has spent time as a federal informant, providing information to the government “about a shooter that led to an arrest,” a report says, quoting one of his former attorneys.

Maurice Hill, who faces multiple counts of attempted murder, aggravated assault and other charges related to the Aug. 14 incident, is known to have a lengthy criminal record.

But during sentencing in one 2008 case – in which he entered a guilty plea for being a felon in possession of a firearm -- it was revealed he'd been a federal informant, according to documents obtained by the news website The Appeal

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

Five Fraudsters Indicted For Million Dollar Scheme Targeting Thousands Of U.S. Servicemembers And Veterans

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:
A 14-count indictment has been unsealed today in San Antonio, Texas, charging five individuals with coordinating an identify-theft and fraud scheme targeting servicemembers and veterans. The charged defendants, who were based both in the Philippines and the United States, are alleged to have used the stolen personal identifying information (PII) of thousands of military members to access Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs benefits sites and steal millions of dollars. 
The defendants, Robert Wayne Boling Jr., Fredrick Brown, Trorice Crawford, Allan Albert Kerr, and Jongmin Seok, were charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, and aggravated identify theft based on their alleged leading roles in the theft and exploitation of victim PII to conduct their fraud scheme. Boling (a U.S. citizen), Kerr (an Australian citizen), and Seok (a South Korean citizen) were arrested in the Philippines. Brown and Crawford, both U.S. citizens, were arrested in Las Vegas and San Diego respectively. Brown has been detained pending trial. Crawford is awaiting a detention hearing.
“The crimes charged today are reprehensible and will not be tolerated by the Department of Justice. These defendants are alleged to have illegally defrauded some of America’s most honorable citizens, our elderly and disabled veterans and servicemembers,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “Through today’s action, the Department is honoring our pledge to target elder fraud schemes, especially those committed by foreign actors using sophisticated means, and to protect the veterans of our great country. I am proud of the quick and effective work done on this case by our Consumer Protection Branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, with strong investigative support from the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs. We all will continue to work together to ensure that our veterans and servicemembers are protected from fraud.”
“Our message is pretty simple,” said U.S. Attorney Bash. “It doesn’t matter where on this planet you reside. If you target our veterans, we’re coming for you. Our veterans were willing to risk everything to protect this Nation from foreign threats. Now it’s our turn to seek justice for them.”
“The compromise of personally identifiable information can significantly harm our service members, veterans and their families and we will aggressively investigate such matters,” said Glenn A. Fine, Principal Deputy Inspector General, performing the duties of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General. “This indictment and the coordinated actions of our criminal investigative component, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, demonstrate our commitment to swift action against those who attempt to enrich themselves through identify theft, money laundering, and conspiracy. The DoD OIG, working in partnership with the Department of Justice, will continue to identify, disrupt, and bring to justice those who threaten military members, retirees, and veterans through fraud and corruption.” 
“VA is working with DoD to identify any instances of compromised VA benefits accounts,” said James Hutton, VA assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs. “Just as importantly, VA has taken steps to protect Veterans’ data and are instituting additional protective measures.”
According to the indictment, the defendants’ identity-theft and fraud scheme began in 2014 when Brown, then a civilian employee at a U.S. Army installation, stole thousands of military members’ PII, including names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and Department of Defense identification numbers. Brown is alleged to have then provided the stolen information to Boling, who exploited the information in various ways together with his Philippines-based co-defendants Kerr and Seok.
As asserted in the indictment, Boling, Kerr, and Seok specifically used the stolen information to compromise a Department of Defense portal designed to enable military members to access benefits information online. Once through the portal, the defendants are alleged to have accessed benefits information.  Access to these detailed records enabled the defendants to steal or attempt to steal millions of dollars from military members’ bank accounts. The defendants also stole veterans’ benefits payments. After the defendants had compromised military members’ bank accounts and veterans’ benefits payments, Boling allegedly worked with Crawford to recruit individuals who would accept the deposit of stolen funds into their bank accounts and then send the funds through international wire remittance services to the defendants and others. Evidence of the defendants’ scheme was detected earlier this year, advancing the investigation that led to the indictment.
The unsealed indictment was announced today in San Antonio by U.S. Attorney John Bash of the Western District of Texas, Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Morrell, and Director Gustav Eyler of the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch.
The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are coordinating with the Department of Justice to notify and provide resources to the thousands of identified victims. Announcements also will follow regarding steps taken to secure military members’ information and benefits from theft and fraud.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The United States is represented by Trial Attorneys Ehren Reynolds and Yolanda McCray Jones of the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Blackwell of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas. The matter was investigated by agents of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and counsel Matthew Freund, along with substantial investigative support from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, and the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Benefits Protection and Remediation Division. The U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, Philippine law enforcement partners, and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the District of Nevada, the Southern District of California, and the Eastern District of Virginia also provided assistance. Resources from the Department of Justice’s Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative and its Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force aided in the matter’s investigation and prosecution.
Since President Trump signed the bipartisan Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act (EAPPA) into law, the Department of Justice has participated in hundreds of enforcement actions in criminal and civil cases that targeted or disproportionately affected seniors. In particular, this past March, the Department announced the largest elder fraud enforcement action in American history, charging more than 260 defendants in a nationwide elder fraud sweep.  The Department has likewise conducted hundreds of trainings and outreach sessions across the country since the passage of the Act.   
Additional information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts can be found at  For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, visit its website at Information about the Department of Justice’s Elder Fraud Initiative is available at; information on the Servicemember and Veterans Initiative is at

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

My Washington Times Review Of 'Gotti's Boys: The Mafia Crew That Killed For John Gotti'

The Washington Times published my review of Gotti’s Boys: The Mafia Crew That Killed for John Gotti.

Much has written about the late Cosa Nostra Gambino crime family boss John Gotti, and there have been several films made about him.

In Anthony M. DeStefano’s “Gotti’s Boys: The Mafia Crew that Killed for John Gotti,” the author recounts the well-known Gotti story, quoting liberally from other books on the mob boss, but he concentrates on the criminals who served under him.

“During the mid-1980s the big news in the world of organized crime was the rise of a once unknown gangster from Queens named John J. Gotti to head the Gambino crime family through the bloody elimination of the former boss, Paul Castellano. In a move that took much of the world of law enforcement by surprise, Gotti, a little-known hi-jacker and compulsive gambler, engineered the murder of ‘Big Paul,’ as Castellano was known, as much as a method of self-preservation than anything else,” Mr. DeStefano writes in his introduction to the book.

"With the rise of Gotti to leadership of Gambino family, one of the five Cosa Nostra groups in New York, the public was subjected to a barrage of superlatives about the man who had the daring to kill a major crime boss. ‘The Most Powerful Criminal in America,’ and ‘Al Capone in an $1, 800 Suit’ were just some of the ways Gotti was described. He was handsome, ambitious, ruthless, the journalists told us, all of which was true.”

Mr. DeStafano goes on to state that with so much already written about Gotti, what more could another book reveal? Plenty, he tells us. He notes that the FBI’s archives of public figures have become available since the 1990s. The once secret FBI files were made available to the author and he says that they proved most helpful in enabling him to see the interplay of events that brought about Gotti’s downfall.

“Reading through these materials, both old and new, it became clear that there was more to discover about the men who bonded with Gotti from the start of his career, killed for him and propelled him the top of the Gambino family,” Mr. DeStefano writes. “Without this band of criminals, Gotti would have never made it to the top of organized crime.”

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

Mark Twain On American Criminal Class

FBI: A Thief By Many Names: Atlanta Man Sentenced For Aggravated Identity Theft

The FBI released the below information:
The headquarters of a large national bank had detected fraud on an account and sent word to an Atlanta branch to be on alert: If an individual comes in to pick up the new debit card linked to that account, call the Atlanta Police Department.
An alert bank employee did just that when Khoi Nguyen, 43, came in to the branch to claim the debit card. Officers arrived quickly to ask Nguyen about his identity and the name on the bank account. Upon questioning, Nguyen produced a Department of Defense identification badge and claimed to be in law enforcement.
The police weren’t buying it, so they called the FBI to investigate Nguyen for impersonating a federal law enforcement officer. It was soon discovered that he was not only impersonating a government official but more than a dozen different people in a sophisticated identity theft scheme.
“In his bag at arrest were 20 cellular phones, 13 different identifications, a number of credit cards, and about $11,000 in cash,” said Special Agent Marcus Brackman, who worked the case out of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office.
Brackman said that Nguyen had some technical skills and likely purchased the stolen personal information he used to create fake documents and open fraudulent financial accounts off encrypted websites. “Criminals can buy identities for 50 cents on the dark web,” Brackman explained.
Nguyen pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft and was sentenced in October 2018 to two years in federal prison for his crime. He was also ordered to pay restitution to the financial institution and is facing additional state charges related to similar alleged activity in other areas of the country.
 “Identity theft is very prevalent,” said Brackman. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 26 million people age 16 or older in the United States experienced some form of identity theft in 2016—with many of those cases involving the misuse of a credit card or bank account. Brackman said that it was gratifying to hold someone responsible for a crime that affects so many people and creates such a headache for victims.
Beyond the financial losses, the impact of identity theft extends to the time, stress, and worry involved in cleaning up the harm done to credit scores and financial standing. “It is just painful to do your job and raise your family while trying to deal with the aftereffects of someone stealing your identity,” Brackman sympathized.
While it is difficult to protect against all the ways a criminal can find your personal data, Backman said consumers should monitor accounts and credit reports regularly and safeguard all personal information by being diligent about online safety and security and ensuring mail and documents don’t fall into the wrong hands.
The FBI website has more information about identity theft and the tools it uses to investigate and prosecute the crime. The Federal Trade Commission website offers additional prevention tips and resources