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FBI

Feds Bust U.S.-Egyptian ID Theft Ring

Identity theft

International cooperation is good. But not in this case. The FBI has busted up a U.S. and Egyptian crime ring.

By Thomas Watkins
Associated Press
LOS ANGELES –– Authorities said Wednesday they have arrested 33 people in breaking up a crime ring in the U.S. and Egypt in which an elaborate “phishing” scam bilked bank customers out of at least $1 million.

Federal authorities said a total of 53 people were named in an indictment, while authorities in Egypt have charged 47 others in connection with the scheme. The 33 arrests so far in the U.S. were mostly in Southern California but also in Nevada and North Carolina.

All the U.S. suspects were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, which potentially carry up to 20 years in federal prison, Assistant U.S. Attorney Wes Hsu said.

For Full Story

FBI Reports Rapes at 20 Year Low

Here’s good news. It’s good to see law enforcement taking advantage of science.

istock_000009069522xsmall

By Donna Leinwand
USA TODAY
WASHINGTON –– Reported rapes have fallen to the lowest level in 20 years as DNA evidence helps send more rapists to prison and victims are more willing to work with police and prosecutors, victims advocates and crime researchers say.

The FBI estimates 89,000 women reported being raped in 2008 – 29 women for every 100,000 people. That’s down from a high of 109,062 reported rapes in 1992 – 43 women for every 100,000 people. Data for 2009 are not yet available.

For Full Story

Joint Terrorism Task Force Lost Terror Suspect on NY Subway During Surveillance

With most investigations, there’s always that ooops moment investigators hope doesn’t amount to much. The question is: Did this one amount to much? Unclear.

subway-photo-istock

By Mark Hosenball
Newsweek
WASHINGTON — In the tense final days before the FBI arrested Afghan-American Najibullah Zazi on terror-conspiracy charges, the Feds had a major scare: NEWSWEEK has learned that Zazi managed to shake off the posse of Joint Terrorism Task Force investigators who were tailing him and disappeared for anywhere between 40 and 90 minutes.

Now the Feds worry that during the time he was missing, Zazi could have ordered associates to get rid of a suspected cache of bombmaking materials that they believe the suspects had amassed.

Two knowledgeable sources, who asked for anonymity when speaking about an ongoing inquiry, say that on Sept. 10, investigators pulled over Zazi for what they claimed was a random drug stop on the George Washington Bridge to New York City. It’s unclear why they stopped him, or what, if anything, Zazi told them.

But he may have grown suspicious, they say, because the next day he slipped the surveillance team during a ride on the New York subway. As one official put it: the investigators “freaked out,” in part because it was the anniversary of 9/11 and they feared Zazi’s plan might have been to launch his attack on the New York transit system that day.

The surveillance team eventually found Zazi. But investigators now want to know if, during the missing minutes, he somehow arranged for evidence of the alleged plot to be hidden or destroyed.

For Full Story

Serious FBI Dir. Robert Mueller Delivers a Little Humor From Time to Time

Robert Mueller III in Denver/fbi photo
Robert Mueller III in Denver/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
DENVER — In the halls of FBI headquarters, FBI Director Robert Mueller III isn’t exactly known as a kidder.

The words “stoic” and “serious” often come to mind. Let’s face it: the guy is always under a lot of pressure, particularly when it comes to preventing a domestic terrorism attack. Guess who’s going to get blamed if something happens?

But on occasion, while delivering a speech around the country, he sprinkles in a little humor. That happened Monday when he delivered a speech here to the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference, emphasizing cooperation between the feds and locals.

He started out his speech by saying:

“Year after year, I look out at all of you, and I ask myself the same question. Could I handle the challenges you face, day after day? Could I do the jobs you do with the same success? And the answer is no, for one simple reason: I could never bring myself to wear anything but a white shirt.”

“Your former president, Ron Ruecker, is now serving as our Director of Law Enforcement, and he is doing a great job. Several weeks ago, I asked Ron if he knew any good jokes to warm up the crowd. He suggested self-deprecating humor. And I said, ‘Sounds great. What are my weak points?’ And Ron said, ‘Well, sir, you’re only speaking for 15 minutes…so let’s just hit the highlights.’ I am sure that Ron will enjoy his new post in Yemen.”

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The Man Who Helped Develop Bio-Sniffing System After Anthrax Attacks

The anthrax attacks came as the second punch after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The postal service has taken steps to address the threat and so have some major cities. The question now is: What else needs to be done?

Anthrax letter sent to Sen. Daschle/fbi photo

Anthrax letter sent to Sen. Daschle/fbi photo

Steve Sternberg
USA Today

A ringing telephone startled Tom Slezak from a sound sleep. It was 1 a.m. on Oct. 6, 2001. The caller gave Slezak three hours to pack for a chilling, top-secret mission: to protect Washington, D.C., and other U.S. cities from a major bioterror attack.

For all Slezak knew, an attack had begun. Hours earlier, a Florida photo editor named Bob Stevens had died after inhaling anthrax powder sent by mail, jolting a nation that was still reeling from the 9/11 hijackings. At the time, the scope of the anthrax attacks that eventually killed five people and sickened 17 others wasn’t clear.

Slezak got the call because he helped pioneer the genetic analysis of biological agents at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Today, eight years after the anthrax attacks, the system Slezak’s research team started, known as BioWatch, is quietly operating in more than 30 cities.

For Full Story

FBI Probing Whether Tex Gov’s Campaign Website Was Hacked

Tex. Gov. Rick Perry/official photo

Tex. Gov. Rick Perry/official photo

To be honest, as dirty as politics is, I’m surprised there hasn’t been more of this type of activity.

By JAY ROOT
Associated Press

The FBI confirmed Monday it is investigating whether hackers disrupted a live webcast on Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign Web site last week during a re-election announcement.

“The FBI confirms that it is conducting a preliminary inquiry into the possibility that an intentional intrusion was conducted on the governor’s computer from out of state,” said Erik Vasys, a spokesman for the FBI in San Antonio. “The FBI considers this a hacking event with unknown origin at this time.”

The webcast was to have been streamed from a closed event at the San Antonio headquarters of Holt Caterpillar last Tuesday.

For Full Story

Like Plot out of “24”, FBI Agent Says Suspected Teen Terrorist Made Video and Researched Detonating Bomb With Cell Phone

dallas-map1By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Down in Dallas, the story behind the Jordanian teenager who wanted to blow up a skyscraper is beginning to sound more and more like a plot out of the popular Fox Tv show “24”.

The Dallas Morning News reports that an FBI agent testified that the teen had researched how to detonate a bomb with a cell phone and made a 7-minute video, which he thought would end up in the hands of Osama bin Laden.

To read more about this wild plot, click here.

Big 3 in Law Enforcement Send Message to Police Chief Convention in Denver: “We’ve Got Your Back”

police-chief-logo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
DENVER— The Big Three of Federal Law Enforcement — Attorney Gen. Eric Holder, FBI Dir. Robert Mueller III and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano– rolled into this western town and delivered speeches Monday morning to a roomful of receptive police chiefs who gave them standing ovations.

There wasn’t anything particularly breathtaking or moving about the speeches. But there was a message the Washington honchos  wanted to send, and perhaps Atty.  Gen. Holder summed it up it best when he told the group at the 116th Annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference: “We’ve got your back.”

FBI Dir. Mueller echoed similar sentiments while serving up some self-deprecating humor about the himself as well as the FBI and its image as being hogs of the limelight.

He said he hoped he’d had some success over the years addressing that issue on the limelight. (Though truth be told, there are still plenty complaints from other agencies like ATF and DEA that the FBI doesn’t always want to share the ball, so to speak, during the game.)

And he said of cooperation:

“Regardless of the threat, whether criminal or terrorist, we face the same challenges you do. We need to know where any given threat is moving, and we need to get there first.”

Read more »