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The Nigerian Letter Scam Has Finally Found Me on Facebook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The Nigerian letter scam has officially arrived — at least in my case — on Facebook, the most popular social network.

The other day I received a personal message on Facebook. This fella has a lot of money for me. Millions. He wants me to help him get the money out of the account.  How the scam usually works is: He’ll ask me to send some money for legal fees to free up the millions of dollars. And then he’ll ask for some more.

The Facebook message said this:

Attn: Allan Lengel,

Please reply via this email address
(barrjohnsonmorris@hotmail.com) or call me
Phone+228-9177735

I hope all is well?,indeed i am very sorry for distracting your attention .I am Barrister Johnson Morris personal attorney to Late Mr H.C Lengel,a national of your country, Who died and left some huge amount of money with a bank here in Africa, valued at US$ 20.5 million dollars. I have contacted you to assist me and get it transfered. Please Reply to My Private Email for More Details (barrjohnsonmorris@hotmail.com)

Regards
Barrister Johnson Morris.
(barrjohnsonmorris@hotmail.com)

First off, I wouldn’t know what to do with all that money. Secondly, who the hell is Mr. H.C. Lengel?

I used to get messages like that all the time via email when I was a reporter at the Washington Post. More often than not, I’d reply by saying something like: “this is fantastic, I’ve been waiting for a break like this. Please call me asap.” I would often then leave the person the FBI Washington Field Office number.

I usually never heard back from the person again. Except in one instance, someone wrote me back and said: “Mr. Lengel, how dare you give me the FBI number.”  I responded: “How dare you try to scam me.”

I never heard back from him again.

Read more »

al Qaeda’s Gift to the U.S.: Incompetence

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — Al Qaeda and its associates may not be known as benevolent organizations, but they do give gifts.

The failed “Underwear Bomber”. The failed “Times Square Bomber”. The failed “Shoe Bomber”. And now the failed attempt to deliver explosives on  planes. All gifts.

The U.S. should be grateful for these opportunities in which no one gets hurt, but we learn about the shortcomings in our system.  (Unfortunately, we now learn this latest bid was one of the more competent efforts that failed).

Too bad there’s not a better way to figure it out the flaws. And we can’t forever count on the al Qaeda B Team carrying out these incompetent missions.

So, let’s learn from the incidence, but let’s get more aggressive about  examining our transportation systems.  Obviously, there are plenty holes to plug.

Let’s not wait for al Qaeda to get lucky

President Obama’s Comments Unfortunately May Reflect Attitude Toward DEA

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — President Obama is a busy guy with a lot of worries. So he might be excused when he commits a little Washington faux pas as he did last week during a town hall meeting with young people.

While discussing  “federal drug enforcement”, he mentioned the Justice Department and FBI, but not the  DEA,the lead agency in the war on drugs.

“We have to figure out who is it we’re going after because we’ve got limited resources,” he said. “So decisions that are made by the Justice Department or FBI about prosecuting drug kingpins versus somebody with some small amount, those decisions are made based on how can we best enforce the laws that are on the books.”

In many ways, it was not a big deal. But the comment rubbed some folks at DEA the wrong way. Plus, agents felt it was reflective of the administration’s overall attitude toward the DEA.

“I don’t think he’s given any thought to the DEA,” one agent told me. “We’ve become an afterthought, the stepchild when it comes to the FBI and Justice Department.”

So frankly, you can’t be totally dismissive of those sentiments.

For one, Michele Leonhart, the acting head of the agency, was nominated by the president in February, but has yet to be confirmed. To boot, she’s been acting head of the agency since 2007.  The absence of a confirmation is unsettling for some in the agency.

With Mexico raging out of control, and  the cartels tentacles reaching far into the U.S., the DEA may not be   the agency the administration wants to short change — and that also means when it comes to giving a shoutout publicly about federal drug law enforcement.

Cheating Scandal Shows Human Side of FBI

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The FBI may be the nation’s premiere law enforcement agency — with a worldwide reputation — but in the end it’s made up of humans. And yes, humans do screw up.

Over the years, we saw a drunk agent shoot up a freezer at a Las Vegas hotel. We had an FBI agent arrested for shoplifting in suburban Washington. We had an off-duty agent in Texas shoot dead a neighbor’s Chihuahua. It happens. We don’t expect perfection. Individuals screw up.

But the latest scandal — cheating on an open book exam — is far more embarrassing than some individual screw up, than some agent gone rogue.  The bureau had training sessions on guidelines for conducting surveillances on Americans, and wanted to make sure everyone understood. So it gave open book exams on computers. Some took 20 minutes to finish the exam.  Those were the cheaters. Some agents who legitimately took the test took three or four hours.

There was widespread cheating, according to an Inspector General report. Some took the exam together, which was forbidden.  Many got hold of the answers. Cheat sheets circulated.

What ever the case, the big question is: How did this become so epidemic? Did the big guys at headquarters fall asleep at the switch or rely on managers who were part of the problem?  Or did they simply set up a test in which even some of the most honest folks felt it was ok to cheat on?

At the Washington Field Office, some of the top managers were part of the problem.  The head of the office, Joe Persichini Jr. and two of his special agents in charge got caught cheating.  Not a good sign of leadership. Persichini quit late last year before any discipline was meted out.  The other two are appealing their punishment — a 20 day unpaid suspension along with demotions.

The test has become a joke. And unfortunately, the laugh is on an agency that takes itself pretty darn seriously — as it should.

The bureau needs to be smarter next time around.

The 2nd Anniversary of ticklethewire.com

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON —  Sept. 19th marked the second anniversary of the website ticklethewire.com.

It’s been one interesting ride, starting up a new enterprise, trying to cover a subject I’ve had a fascination with since I started journalism.

In the past two years, we’ve seen the good, the bad and very ugly. We saw the changing of the guard at the Justice Department.  A new Attorney General.  New U.S. Attorneys.  We saw the public corruption conviction of ex-Rep. William Jefferson.  We witnessed the FBI, thankfully, unearth some scary terrorist plots.

We had the “Times Square Bomber”. We had the “Underwear bomber”. And financial terrorist Bernie Madoff.

We saw John Gotti Jr. walk free after four deadlocked trials. We saw the somewhat shocking outcome of the Rod Blagojevich case.  We saw a cheating scandal involving tests at the FBI. And we just saw some FBI agents busted for lying about taking steroids.

I suspect the next year will be just as exciting. I want to thank everyone for the reading the site and the many around the country who have provided feedback on the content.

I invite anyone who has any suggestions to write me and let me know what you like or don’t like. And I always invite anyone to comment on stories, particularly if you think the coverage has  been unfair.

Thanks again for taking time out to read the ticklethewire.com. And I look forward to another fascinating year.

All the Best,

Allan Lengel
editor, ticklethewire.com
lengela@ticklethewire.com