Scammers are low-life people looking to make money on people’s fears and anxieties. Take for instance scammers who promise fraudulent loans. Many people today are faced with high interest rates and decreased home values. As a result, scammers are more than happy to take your money and give you nothing in return.
They advertise these fake loans, especially in a smaller market and community newspapers and offer mortgage, small business, debt consolidation or other types of loans. They use financial institution’s logos to give themselves some type of “credibility.” However, they are not credible. They call themselves a “third-party consultant” who promise to work with your lender to get you financing and of course, they claim that you are “approved” right away. They ask for your social security number, bank account number, driver’s licensee and always an upfront fee. Any reputable mortgage lender will never ask for money up front as well as ask for your private information over the phone. You run the risk of identity theft with these scammers.
Here are some of the signs of a loan scam – if you received an unsolicited call, email or letter offering you a loan or if money is requested up front to cover “processing,” “application,” “insurance,” or the “first month’s payment” these are definitely a red flag of loan scams. Legitimate lenders ask for this only at the time the loan is disbursed. Finally, if they ask for more money and requesting that you “wire” or “send” money to a large U.S. city or to another country such as Canada, England or Nigeria by Western Union or Moneygram, call your state’s attorney general. Do not send them money.
Recently, an alert has been issued for a swine flu scam. This one is despicable because it plays on our fears of what is happening right now. The scammers send out emails with subject lines such as “Madonna caught swine flu!” and then send you to online pharmacies that claim they have a “Swine Flu Survival Guide” for $19.95. They also claim they have a vaccine for the swine flu. There is no vaccine for the swine flu. Don’t be caught in their scam!
The Star Tribune recently reported that a high volume cocaine pipeline into Minnesota was busted in early morning raids by Federal agents. The agents arrested traffickers connected to Mexico’s Gulf Cartel, one of the most violent crime syndicates in Mexico.
Federal indictments were issued for 26 for people in Minnesota and south Texas. This was a year long investigation into an organization that was run by a mother and her three sons from McAllen, Texas. Maria I. Aleman and her sons, Roberto, Daniel and Juan, lived near the Hidalgo area on the Rio Grande River border with Mexico. Over the last four years, they were selling five to 15 kilos of uncut cocaine per month in Minnesota. East kilo was selling for between $25,000 and $35,000. In Minnesota, at least 10 people in Minnesota were part of this drug crime.
The Federal agents gathered their information from wiretapped conversations and informants. They learned the Aleman’s were directly supplied by the Gulf Cartel which traffics heavily in cocaine, marijuana, heroin and methamphetamines. The Gulf Cartel is a chief rival of the Sinaloa Cartel and has recruited former members of the Mexican Army’s special forces to keep its Mexican drug routes intact. They are considered an extremely violent paramilitary gang.
Federal agents first made an arrest at a bus station in Burnsville, a south suburban landing point used by the Aleman’s ring. There they confiscated two kilos of cocaine. Agents also raided a Bloomington home and a trailer court neighborhood southwest of St. Cloud. The trailer court was considered the main distribution center.
Recently, America’s Most Wanted announced the nations’ Most Wanted Gang Members list. This list is in cooperation with The National Gang Targeting, Enforcement & Coordination Center (GangTECC). Gang TECC began operations in summer 2006 as the national anti-gang task force created by the Attorney General.
GangTECC is a multi-agency center that was designed to serve as a critical catalyst in unifying federal efforts to help disrupt and dismantle the most significant and violent gangs in the United States. The senior investigators at GangTECC come from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Marshals Service (USMS) and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Department of Homeland Security. These federal agents work in close collaboration with the Gang Squad prosecutors in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, and with analysts and others at the National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC).
Street gangs such as the Bloods, Crips, MS-13 and Latin Kings are probably the largest group and control the most geographic area. However, from the 11 known national gangs, most are small and have limited influence. As national gangs move from the southwest to urban areas, law enforcement needs to be more aware of their violent crimes and drug markets.
Many innocent people are caught in gang wars and some communities have found that 80 percent of their crime is gang related. These communities have found an increase in shoplifting, drugs and even murder. No longer do the gangs operate with stereotypical hand signs, colors and tattoos. They try to keep a low profile to do their crimes.
Gang membership is increasing in the U.S. At last count NGIC knew of at least 20,000 named gangs with more than 1 million members.
When Rafael Cedeno, the leader of “The Family” drug cartel in western state of Michoacan was arrested, he told the police he had trained several thousand-cartel members with courses in ethics and personal improvement. The courses he taught his criminal gang were in personal improvement, values, ethical and moral principles. He told them to avoid drugs, hard drinking and maintain family unity.
For those of you who have seen the “God Father” movies, these seem to be the same principles. You may be a criminal engaged in criminal activity but you have to look and act like a law-abiding citizen.
Cedeno said that the point of training was to have better motivational and emotional control over the members. “The Family” has previously portrayed itself as a local organization protecting Michoacan residents from outside drug smugglers, many of whom frequently indulge in drugs or drink. However, this “ethical and moral” drug group is a splinter group from “The Gulf” cartel. They are fighting its former allies for control of territory in Michoacan. This group often leaves gruesome messages next to decapitated heads.
Ironically, Rafael Cedeno was arrested while attending a family baptism.
Today, the FBI’s Most Wanted Domestic Terrorists list grew by one more name. Daniel Andreas San Diego, a 31-year-old computer specialist from Berkeley, CA was added to the FBI’s list. He is wanted for the 2003 bombings of two corporate offices in California. San Diego is the 24th person on the bureau’s wanted terrorist list, and the only domestic terror suspect.
He has tattoos with one on his abdomen showing a burning field and declaring, “It only takes a spark.” San Diego is a strict vegan who also carries a 9mm handgun. The search for San Diego has taken the FBI to Germany, The United Kingdom, Costa Rica, France, Spain, Denmark, Austria, the Philippines and Chile. San Diego has ties to Germany and the FBI believes that he may be living in Costa Rica.
The FBI claims that he may be part of a group calling itself “Revolutionary Cells.” This group has taken responsibility for planting bombs at a research company conducting drug and chemical experiments on animals. This animal rights and environmental extremists have been responsible for over 1,800 criminal acts and more than $110 million in damages. Currently, the bureau is investigating 170 animal rights or environmental extremism incidents.
There is a $250,000 reward for information leading to his capture. This is five times the reward amount offered for other eco-terrorists wanted in the U.S. If you have information, contact the FBI.
The GAO (Government Accounting Office) released a report on behalf of the Homeland Security Department regarding cyber attacks. GAO report has made about 30 recommendations to ensure cyber security. Cyber attacks are criminal activity that delivers viruses or “bugs” to computers. In today’s electronic age, everything from electrical grids, stock markets, tax data, airline flight systems and even nuclear launch codes may be affected. With the White House looking to put medical records on line, keeping cyber technology free from attacks needs to be a priority.
As a result, General Dynamics Information Technology is looking for computer hackers who can think like the bad guys to help the Homeland Security Department. Applicants must understand hackers’ tools and tactics and be able to analyze Internet traffic and identify vulnerabilities in the federal system. While there are detailed plans for floods, fires and even protection of U.S. airspace, there is no similar response for a major computer attack.
For several years, U.S. computer networks, including those at the Pentagon and other federal agencies, have been under persistent attack from hackers within the U.S. and possibly from other nations, such as China. Industry leaders told Congress during a recent hearing that law enforcement and other protections are too outdated to fend off threats from criminals, terrorists and unfriendly foreign nations. Recently, a former government official revealed that spies had hacked into the U.S. electric grid and left behind computer programs that would let them disrupt service. The intrusions were discovered after electric companies gave the government permission to audit their systems.
Individuals who commit cyber attacks are criminals. Their attacks cost millions of dollars to U.S. businesses as well as government agencies. Being proactive as well as vigilant is the best solution to stop these criminal activities.
The Sun Newspaper reported that Charles “Chuck” E. Hays a Rosemount, Minnesota man plead guilty to one count each of mail fraud, wire fraud and structuring transactions to avoid financial reporting requirements.
Mr. Hays’ operated his investment company, Crossfire Trading LLC, from January 2001 to February 2009. He told investors he was a day trader in stock index and crude oil futures contracts. He also claimed he pooled investments in commodities trading account and that investors could earn 3 percent per month.
Of course, this didn’t happen. He didn’t invest funds to trade in equities, instead he diverted funds to his personal use and other unauthorized purposes. He actually took new investors’ payments and gave it to earlier investors. Then Hays bought a $3 million yacht with investor funds, and his bank accounts contained approximately $1 million obtained through this Ponzi scheme.
This $20M Ponzi scheme may not have been as large as Bernie Madoff’s $50billion Ponzi Scheme. However, Hays does face maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the mail fraud count, 20 years on the wire fraud count and 10 years on the structuring count. He also faces a maximum fine of $250,000 or the greater of twice the gross gain or loss for both the mail and wire fraud counts and a maximum fine of $500,000 on the structuring count. In addition, he also faces a civil enforcement action against him and his company, Crossfire, for fraud and misappropriation
Recently, a team of organized criminals have been caught in L.A. and NYC for installing equipment on legitimate bank ATMS. This equipment steals both the ATM card number and the PIN number. In Texas, the police have put out an alert about this operation.
Here’s how it is being done in Texas. A team sits nearby in a car receiving the information transmitted wirelessly. This is done usually over weekends and evenings. These criminals install a “skimmer” that is mounted to the front of the ATM card slot. The skimmer reads the ATM card number and transmits the information to the criminals. A wireless camera disguised to look like a leaflet holder is mounted in a position to view ATM PIN entries. You can see the pictures of the fake skimmers and camera at this web site .
The thieves copy the cards and use the PIN numbers to withdraw thousands of dollars from accounts quickly and directly from the bank ATM.
If you should find one of these skimmers on your bank’s ATM machine, contact the bank immediately and don’t use the ATM. The police can’t do anything until the bank files a criminal complaint.
If you believe in the code of “no snitching,” think again about the innocent victims’ families that you are hurting from solving murder cases. Take for example, the murder of an eighteen-year-old, St. Paul woman, Jaques Dortch who was in a parked vehicle near her home chatting with friends, when a lone gunman approached and fired shots into the car killing her instantly.
Or Eric Woulard who was shot to death by an unidentified person while he sat in his vehicle in front of a friend’s house. Or the triple murders of a family of three whose home was robbed in the early morning hours of March 23, 2007. The suspects in this case may be in jail, but the police have no proof that these were the murderers/robbers of this family. An additional award of $15,000 plus Crime Stoppers award of $1,000 for information is available for information on this crime.
To see more information about these unsolved crimes go to Crime Stoppers of Minnesota.
If you have any information about these crimes or any person(s) involved, please contact Crime Stoppers. You can remain anonymous and Crime Stoppers do pay a cash reward of up to $1,000. Help the families of these victims to gain closure on these unsolved murders.
In order to reach teens in the way they communicate, the Douglas County Sheriffs Office in Colorado has teamed up with the Douglas County Schools for a pilot program called “Text-A-Tip”. This program involves high school student talking to their school administrators and police in the form of texting. High school students can anonymously report anything from a fight, a suspicious person on school property, to a friend in trouble.
Police believe that using texting is a great way for teens directly and instantly provide tips in an emergency situation. Authorities will text back and forth with the teens to get more information and to help then instantly. In this way, kids can feel comfortable communicating with school administrators and police while staying anonymous.
However, some teens say they may not want to do that because it is another form of snitching on their peers and believe that they can handle the situation themselves. What teens need to understand is that sometimes they can’t handle the situation and need an adult or police intervention. How do you stop a friend who may be doing drugs? How do you help a friend who is depressed or suicidal? This is where adults need to intervene. Through texting offers another avenue to help their friends.
Parents should encourage their teens to work with school administrators as well as police by using the Text-A-Tip program. It just may save a life.