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November 2016


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Archive for November, 2016

Deep Division inside the FBI Likely to Persist Long After the Election

By Steve Neavling

The infighting in the Justice Department and FBI over the handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation is creating deep divisions that could impact the agencies long after the presidential election.

The Washington Post reports that “internal dissension has exploded into public view” as FBI sources leak information to reporters about the Clinton Foundation.

And then there’s FBI Director James Comey, who has been criticized by President Obama, other high-ranking Democrats and the Justice Department for revealing information that may or may not be connected to the Clinton server probe.

“He’s got to get control of the ship again,” Robert Anderson, a former senior official in the FBI, said of Comey, a friend. “There’s a lot of tension in the organization, and there’s a lot of tension in Congress and the Senate right now, and all that counts toward how much people trust the FBI.”

The information coming out of the FBI appears to have helped Donald Trump gain in the polls.

Clinton declined to say whether she would fire Comey if she is elected.

“I’m not going to, you know, either get ahead of myself by assuming I’ll be fortunate enough to be elected,” Clinton said, responding to a question from SiriusXM’s Joe Madison. “That’s really up to you and your listeners. People have to turn out, or nothing that I’m going to be proposing will come into reality, but I also would never comment on any kind of, you know, personnel issue.”

FBI Reviewing Forged Documents Aimed at Undermining Clinton’s Presidential Campaign

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is reviewing what appears to be doctored documents aimed at undermining Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The review is part of a broader investigation into suspicions that Russia is trying to influence the presidential election, Reuters reports. 

In particular, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said one of the documents containing his name was forged.

It’s one of several documents that the FBI and Justice Department are reviewing to determine there authenticity.

The FBI is asking Democratic Party officials to provide any suspected fake documents.

The FBI confirmed it was “in receipt of a complaint about an alleged fake letter” related to the election but declined to elaborate.

Russian officials deny responsibility for the hacks.

FBI Investigating One of Its Own Twitter Accounts After Pro-Trump Activity

twitterBy Steve Neavling

The FBI is investigating one of its own Twitter accounts.

Dormant for more than a year, the account, @FBIRecordsVault, suddenly became active at 4 a.m. on Oct. 30 with the release of numerous documents, including one that paints Donald Trump’s father as a “philanthropist.”

Two days later, the account dumped documents related to Bill Clinton’s controversial pardon of Marc Rich.

The account has been inactive since that tweet.

Federal law and FBI policy bars employees from trying to influence elections.

Group Sues for Access to Information Related to Bill Clinton’s Meeting with AG Lynch

Attorney General Loretta Lynch

Attorney General Loretta Lynch

By Steve Neavling

A lot of questions have been raised about the meeting between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

To find out more about the June meeting, the American Center for Law and Justice filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday for access to more information, CBN News reports. 

The meeting happened just days before FBI Director James Comey opted not to recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton.

“The arrogance and inappropriate actions of the Obama administration cannot go unchallenged and that is why we have gone to federal court today and filed this critical lawsuit,” Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, said. “This administration has gone out of its way to hide information from the American public — information that is extremely troubling.”

“The stakes are high,” he continued. “The American people deserve a Justice Department with integrity. We must demand accountability for corruption. If we don’t, a constitutional crisis is imminent. The corruption must have consequences.”

Walls at U.S.-Mexico Border Have Proven to Be Ineffective, Waste of Money

Tunnel beneath a border fence.

Tunnel beneath a border fence.

By Steve Neavling

Concerned about drug smugglers and illegal immigrants coming into the U.S. from Mexico, the federal government built a fence to curb the traffic.

It didn’t work, Vice News reports.

“We came with this 18-foot wall, and the very next day they had 19-foot ladders,” Border Patrol Agent Chris Cabrera recalled recently. “It got to the point where we had so many ladders at the station that they told us to stop bringing the ladders in. It was just insane the number of ladders we had. Hundreds upon hundreds.”

The issue of a barrier at the border has picked up steam after Donald Trump promised to build an “impenetrable and beautiful” wall at the border.

Vice wrote:

But people who actually live along the border in the Rio Grande Valley are extremely skeptical. Border Patrol agents like Cabrera, local police, elected officials, and people who live with the existing wall in their backyards say it has been an epic boondoggle. Seemingly everyone in the area agrees that any plan to build a new wall or expand the existing fence is a bad idea.

“It’s a waste of money, period,” said Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio, whose jurisdiction sits opposite Matamoros, one of the most dangerous corners of Mexico. “It’s not going to work. I don’t care what [Trump] is saying.”

In Texas, the existing fence — or wall, depending on your definition of the term — mostly consists of rows of cube-shaped, rust-colored posts that stand about 20 feet tall. The columns are spaced about four inches apart, too narrow for even a child to squeeze through. But the fence abruptly ends in some places, leaving vast open stretches. In the most absurd cases, 30-foot sections of fence are surrounded on both sides by miles of wide open space.

Other Stories of Interest

A Detroit FBI Agent Talks About the Growing Menace of Ransomware

Jason Bilnoski: " These people are very sophisticated and very technical."

Jason Bilnoski: ” These people are very sophisticated and very technical.”

By Allan Lengel

DETROIT — Someone hacked into the computer system at the city-run Lansing Board of Water & Light last  April 25,, froze certain files and demanded that the utility pay a ransom to regain access.

Things are back to normal, but the city paid nearly $2 million to address the issue and upgrade its security system, according to the Lansing State Journal. A utility official indicated the hack came from Eastern Europe.

Stephen Serkaian, a spokesman for the utility, declined to comment to Deadline Detroit on Friday about rumors that the utility paid “thousands of dollars” in ransom to regain control of its corporate internal communication, emails and functions for billings. No utility services or customer-employee information was compromised, he said.

The utility was target of the growing problem called ransomware in which hackers encrypt files, freeze access to computers of private and public companies and individuals and then demand a ransom that can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Once paid, the hackers release the files, but not always. Sometimes they collect the money, but release just some, but not all.  Sometimes they take the money and don’t release any.

It’s growing problem in Michigan and elsewhere around the country. So far this year, there have been more than 1,300 incidents reported in Michigan alone, according to the FBI, which pegs the costs of ransom payouts, fixes and computer security upgrades in the state at about $2.6 million to date. Many of the culprits come from Eastern Europe.

In the case of the Lansing utility, the Detroit FBI, which covers Michigan, declined to comment on the case, only to say that no one to date has been charged. The utility says that the FBI and Michigan State Police are investigating the matter.

The FBI advises against paying ransoms, and urges companies and individuals to back up systems and implement proper security. (Guidance is here). recently sat down with FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jason F. Bilnoski, head of the bureau’s Detroit Cyber Squad. This interview was also published in Deadline Detroit.

The following interview was trimmed for brevity. The questions has been edited for clarity.

DD: When did ransomware first come on the scene?

Bilnoski: Ransomware has been around for years now, since the early 90s, but ransomware has become prevalent in the last few years. As with in any criminal scheme, when actors realize that It works, they pick up with their activities.

DD: Basically, how does someone hack into a system?

Bilnoski: Ransomware traditionally used to be a spear phishing campaign or phishing campaign. It used to be wide open. You’d send a company a spam email or spoofed email of sorts to everyone in the company. But over the past few years they’ve become very targeted and very precise. It’s extremely hard for those on the victim end of the side to understand: Is this a legitimate email with a legitimate file from, say, my CEO, my supervisor? Or is it a spoofed or a malicious file or malicious link?

DD: Is that primarily how hackers get in the system?

Bilnoski: Absolutely. No matter how we educate our employees within the private sector, the studies have shown that somebody within the organization is unfortunately going to click on that link.

DD: How does that work after that?

Bilnoski: That malware takes over the system usually without the user knowing initially, and at some point to where they no longer have access to their file or network. In some cases they have a message that pops up on their computer screen, saying basically “your system has been hacked, you need to pay a certain amount of money by a certain time or you will no longer get access to your system.”

DD: The money payment. How does that work?

Bilnoski: Over the years it has gotten more sophisticated and harder for law enforcement because of use of anonymizers. Specifically, Bitcoin is one of these electronic currencies that is very hard for law enforcement to follow and track due to the use of it being anonymized through the system. Bitcoin is the primary means of paying ransoms. And Bitcoin can fluctuate in value.


 DD: What is the value of a Bitcoin?

Bilnoski: It changes daily. I believe at last check it was somewhere around $200 to $250 a Bitcoin.

DD: What have you seen in Michigan so far this year:

Bilnoski: I think we’ve had over 1,300 cases reported in Michigan to date this year. 1308 to be exact. So far, the adjusted loss is a little over 2 ½ million dollars for corporations and organizations.

DD: When you say adjusted loss, is that ransom payments?

Bilnoski:  Adjusted loss is initial demands and also the financial losses of a company, certain mitigation efforts, whether or not the company is taken off line.

DD: What do you see in terms of actual payments? 

Bilnoski: I don’t want to get into specific payments for simple reasons: I don’t want to put fictitious numbers in an actor’s mind, but it could be a very small number. What we do advocate is that companies and organizations do not pay the ransom, just like we would advocate on any other type of extortion or ransom scheme. The problem paying is that it encourages additional actors, it encourages additional victims and there’s no way of guaranteeing that a victim organization will have their files released if they pay that ransom.

Read more »

Alleged Weiner Victim Lashes Out at FBI Director’s Politicization of the Case

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner

By Steve Neavling

The 15-year-old girl who accused former Congressman Anthony Weiner of sending sexually explicit messages criticized the FBI director’s handling of the case.

The teenager said she has been bombarded by reporters since James Comey sent a letter to Congressional Republicans about a possible connection between Weiner’s emails and the previously concluded Hillary Clinton investigation, BBC reports.

“Why couldn’t your letter have waited until after the election, so I would not have to be the center of attention the last week of the election cycle?” the teenager asked Comey in an open letter.

“Every media outlet from local to national has contacted me and my family to get my ‘story'”, she wrote.

The teenager said it was irresponsible of Comey to make the announcement since there was no evidence yet that any of the communications were connected to the Clinton probe.

President Obama Criticizes FBI for Peddling Innuendo in Clinton Probe

president obama- white house photoBy Steve Neavling

President Obama criticized FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation Wednesday, despite his insistence that he does not comment on federal investigations.

During a rally in Chapel Hill, N.C., Obama said the “fate of the world is teetering” on the presidential election, the New York Times reports. 

“We don’t operate on incomplete information,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with NowThis News. “We don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.”

Obama suggested the FBI violated its own guidelines by peddling innuendo in a letter to Congress last week.

Obama said he trusts Clinton.

“I know her. And I wouldn’t be supporting her if I didn’t have absolute confidence in her integrity.”