Saturday, October 01, 2005

Jury Duty Telephone Scam

On Wednesday, the FBI issued a warning about a new identity theft scheme. Fraudsters identifying themselves as employees of a court call telling people they have been selected for jury duty and ask them to verify their names, date of birth and social security numbers. In another version of this scam, they call and will claim you didn't show up for jury duty. Again, they try to get your personal information and sometimes credit card numbers, also. They are alleged to be very convincing and even threaten their intended victim(s) with fines and legal action for not complying.

I did a search of the news and noted local stories in Arizona and Virginia about this scam, also.

According to the FBI, "The judicial system does not contact people telephonically and ask for personal information such as your Social Security number, date of birth or credit card numbers. If you receive one of these phone calls, do not provide any personal or confidential information to these individuals."

"This is an attempt to steal or to use your identity by obtaining your name, Social Security number and potentially to apply for credit or credit cards or other loans in your name. It is an attempt to defraud you."

If you are approached with this sort of activity, please report it to your local FBI field office, which can be found at

Identity Theft is a crime costing the U.S. (alone) 53 billion dollars a year and claims roughly 9 million victims. Here are some tips from the FBI on how to avoid identity theft:

  1. Never throw away ATM receipts, credit statements, credit cards, or bank statements in a usable form.
  2. Never give your credit card number over the telephone unless you make the call.
  3. Reconcile your bank account monthly and notify your bank of discrepancies immediately.
  4. Keep a list of telephone numbers to call to report the loss or theft of your wallet, credit cards, etc.
  5. Report unauthorized financial transactions to your bank, credit card company, and the police as soon as you detect them.
  6. Review a copy of your credit report at least once each year. Notify the credit bureau in writing of any questionable entries and follow through until they are explained or removed.
  7. If your identity has been assumed, ask the credit bureau to print a statement to that effect in your credit report.
  8. If you know of anyone who receives mail from credit card companies or banks in the names of others, report it to local or federal law enforcement authorities.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Once a Fraudster Always a Fraudster

David Alan Smith represented himself a reformed criminal and was able to speak out to prison officials and politicians on alternatives to traditional prison in Texas. You know those "socially correct" programs like home detention and spending the taxpayer's money educating our criminal population.

Before becoming a poster boy for rehabilitation, Smith had been convicted of mail fraud, wire fraud and filing false claims.

Apparently, he was conning us with his rehabilitation crusade!

On Thursday "Smith plead guilty to mail fraud, making a false claim against the United States, unlawful use of a means of identification, interstate transportation of stolen property and money laundering." He did this by advertising for jobs and using the information from resumes in several fraud schemes, all related to identity theft.

I wrote a post on Internet Resume Posting and Fraud sometime ago.

According to Steven Kreystak's article, "It is unclear how much time he has served in prison, but before the Austin conference in 2000 he told the Austin American-Statesman that he had served 18 years once for bank fraud. Another ex-con who helped Smith with the conference, Barry Keenan, told the American-Statesman in 2001 that Smith twice escaped the Terminal Island federal prison near San Pedro, Calif."

"We're working diligently to get more programs in prisons," Smith told the American-Statesman in 2000. "The mentality now is that programs don't work, inmates won't change, and the only solution is to lock 'em up and throw away the key. None of those things are true."

As a mere spectator in this, I must surmise that since Smith was obviously making a false statement (above), the logical conclusion is to lock him up and throw the key away.

For the full article by the American Statesman, click on the title of this post.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Consolidation of Organized Criminal Activity

I read an interesting story from the Associated Press about organized crime in Japan. Japanese Gangs are consolidating their ranks, which gives them more leverage and power. According to the article Japanese gangs bring in "billions of dollars a year from extortion, gambling, prostitution, Internet pornography, guns, drugs, and real-estate and construction kickbacks."

"Consolidation makes good business sense in Japanese gangland. They are tightly organized in a pyramid style, with gangsters paying cuts to their bosses, and their bosses paying increasingly large fees to their overlords. In exchange, members get protection and help in fending off rivals and can use their affiliation with a major syndicate to pressure extortion victims."

In the West, there have also been trends noted on organized gangs consolidating and often joining forces to commit crimes. Quite often different parts of the same criminal activity are done by different gangs working in collusion with each other. This makes it more difficult for the authorities to investigate.

I have written several posts on this:

Rumor of a Partnership Between Organized Fraud Gangs and Terrorists?
McAfee Study on Organized Crime and the Internet
Organized Fraud Gangs
Fraud Gangs Plant Insiders

Although, it hasn't been substantiated yet, I'm guessing that a portion of the fraudulent websites related to the Katrina Disaster were set up by some of these gangs. The FBI estimated that 60 percent of them were being hosted outside the United States. Thousands of these sites have popped up in the aftermath of Katrina.

These criminals count on working in numerous law enforcement jurisdictions to confuse investigative and prosecution efforts. In the end, to be successful, perhaps law enforcement should learn from this and look at breaking down the barriers that "jurisdictions" create?

For the full story (recommended) by the AP, click on the title of this post.