Monday, March 31, 2008

The 419 from the 603

You've heard this scenario before. Someone who is selling an item on the internet gets a buyer who sends them to much money. "Take your part and wire me the rest." After that, the check is returned but the seller already wired the overage. A typical Nigerian 419 scam right? So the money is going to Nigeria and there is no hope of getting it back or stopping this from happening again, right?

Well, that isn't exactly true. The State Police in Concord, N.H. arrested two (yet to be named) suspects in this same international scam. The estimated take is between $5 and $10 million.

The two men were sent monthly shipments of pre-printed checks along with instructions on where to mail them and who they were to be made payable to. Craigslist and eBay sellers were the main targets.

Police do believe the core of the scam was operated out of Nigeria, but a big part was originating right here in the U.S.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Credit Card Ring - Broken

In the "one for the good guys" category the NYPD arrested 38 people last week who were involved in a phony credit card ring. The ring was producing 3,000 fake credit cards a month, in addition to fake driver's licenses from New York, Illinois and Washington.

The Organized Theft and Identity Theft Task Force recovered a credit card embossing machine, credit card coding machine, metal plates, gold and silver foil and 95 counterfeit credit cards. A hacker in China stole the card numbers.

New York based shoppers would fly to Chicago, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Miami to purchase expensive items and then sell them on the internet. The total amount of dollars stolen could be in the millions, police said. This capped a 14-month investigation that started when one retailer became suspicious when a fake New York driver's license was used to buy a computer. Police linked that arrest to a similar one and thus began extensive surveillance and wiretapping investigation of thousands of calls, many in Chinese.

The perpetrators are facing up to 25 years in prison.

"Super Dollar" Sniffer

You should have heard once or twice about the so called Super Dollar. These are counterfeit $100 bills allegedly produced in North Korea. These are excellent counterfeits and very hard to detect. One company has the answer.

AccuBanker USA is offering the D500 Super Dollar Authenticator. This box is three inches tall, by five inches wide, and six inches long. It sells for $199. The D500 recognizes not only that magnetic ink is used on our currency, but that it is distributed in a consistent and measurable pattern. Many counterfeits use magnetic ink, but the magnetic resonance patter is often wrong. The D500 also compares map patterns containing ultraviolet, infrared and other measurements taken from legitimate bills.

Information on the D500 is found here.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

This Itty-Bitty Gun Can Kill You

You shouldn't see this 2.2 inch, 2.34mm revolver in the US, but that doesn't mean you won't. Looking like a key fob or toy, this is a real gun, and it can kill you. The link below will show you photos of a Swiss made mini-gun, now in the Guinness book of world records as the smallest working revolver. It is too small to be imported and sold in the US. But it can be purchased in Canada. And we know that it could be brought into the US. How much of a marksman the shooter would be is anyone's guess. But this is still both amazing, and serious. At $6,300 the basic model isn't cheap, and a fashionable 18-kt gold with diamond handgrips model is also available.

Photos are on

FTC Settlement of Student Loan Data Breach

Between 2005 and 2006 Goal Financial, LLC, a San Diego based student loan lender, allowed two employees to have access to the personal information of 7,000 customers and that information was taken to a competitor. In 2006 they allowed an employee to sell a hard drive which had unencrypted personal information on 34,000 customers. The data included Social Security numbers, income and employment information.

The FTC accused Goal Financial of violating the FTC's Safeguards Rule "by failing to: adequately assess the risks to consumers' personal information, adequately restrict access to this information to authorized employees, implement a comprehensive information security program, provide adequate employee training, and, in some instances, contractually require third-party service providers to protect the information." In addition, the Privacy Policy that was provided to customers contained false or misleading statements.

Goal Financial directed customers to where they could access free credit reports. As terms of the settlement, they must implement a new comprehensive information security program and have it audited by an independent authority biennially, for ten years. They must also make accurate Privacy Policy disclosures.

The press release is at the FTC site.

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