Online fraud crimes soaring

first_img“The future is grim for innocent people,” Cooley said. “Electronic crime is the new thing that is out there. We are getting more and more crimes committed essentially over the Internet – people stealing money from someone else over the Internet.” In one of those cases, a Nigerian man was sentenced last year to 10 years in prison in connection with the largest case in county history. Oluwatunji Oluwatosin of North Hollywood, along with several co-conspirators, gained access to personal data stored in the national ChoicePoint consumer data network, prosecutors said. The conspirators opened more than 40 fraudulent ChoicePoint accounts and conducted 189,000 searches to obtain personal identifying information. In turn, they used that information to establish fraudulent credit-card accounts. The theft resulted in losses exceeding $6.5million. In another case, two people allegedly planted encoded card-number skimming devices in Arco am/pm gas stations to record customers’ debit card numbers and PINs, Cooley said. The information was then used to make counterfeit debit cards that allowed them to make unauthorized withdrawals from victims’ bank accounts, Cooley said. More than 7,600 ATM transactions were attempted, amounting to a loss of $1.4million, Cooley said. Sheriff’s Lt. Rocky Costa, project director of the Southern California High-Tech Task Force, said the cases can be difficult and time-consuming to investigate. “We usually don’t catch the really smart computer criminals,” Costa said. “We usually catch the dumb ones because the really smart computer crooks know how to hide their footprints, will take advantage of host Web sites, wireless networks and Internet cafes.” And Andy Bechtle, assistant to the special agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service in Los Angeles and a member of the Electronic Crimes Task Force, said the schemes’ sophistication is increasing. “You’ve got everything from phishing scams to people using Internet chat rooms and message boards buying and selling credit-card information – which have been stolen from unsecured databases – to just your run-of-the-mill credit card and other types of electronic fraud,” Bechtle said. One common scheme involves cyber-criminals who send “spoofed” e-mails to lead people to counterfeit Web sites designed to trick them into divulging financial data, account-user names and passwords. “Be leery of the sites you are going to,” Bechtle said. “From what I’ve seen and the cases we’ve worked, putting your credit card online is a risky venture because you don’t know how all those private companies set up the security features on their databases.” One way to combat Internet or electronic-fraud schemes is to make sure computers run anti-virus software that is constantly updated. And users of wireless computers also need to be careful. “I don’t think the public knows how bad things have gotten,” said Kathryn Showers, head deputy district attorney of the High Technology Crimes Division. “For example, there is a practice called `war ganging’ where if someone has a wireless laptop, they can come and park outside your home, and if you don’t have a router on the system to protect transmissions, they can monitor what you are doing and use your IP address to commit crimes.” And Costa said the Valley retirement fund scheme is similar to a growing number of scams across the country. “What we’re seeing now is thieves who are able to tap into database computers, bank accounts, retirement accounts and stock-trading accounts,” Costa said. “We are starting to see thieves being able to cash our shares, move money into trade accounts and liquidate the accounts. We are starting to see those cases dot up here and there. “Apparently, they are figuring this out, little by little.” [email protected] (213) 974-8985160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Employees at a small company in the San Fernando Valley thought their retirement funds were safely secured by a brokerage that managed the money. But in a sophisticated electronic-fraud scheme known as “pump and dump,” hackers got into the brokerage firm’s computer system and stole the employees’ nest eggs – hundreds of thousands of dollars worth. “They transferred all of the retirement funds from this liquid account to purchase stock,” District Attorney Steve Cooley said. “They apparently jumped the price of the stock through this huge purchase, sold it, made their profit and moved on.” The case is just one of thousands under investigation as officials say electronic fraud is skyrocketing nationwide. The number of electronic-fraud complaints tracked by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has more than quadrupled since 2001, rising from 49,711 to 207,492 last year. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.And the losses associated with those crimes have soared 1,000 percent – from $18million to $198million last year. The average loss per victim today? $724. But experts say that’s just the tip of the iceberg because many incidents are not reported. The FBI estimates businesses are losing $67billion annually to electronic fraud. “High-tech crime is the tsunami that is coming,” Cooley said. “And it’s going to get bigger before it gets smaller.” Identity theft also is soaring as criminals committing electronic fraud gain access to other personal identification in government and business databases. Nearly 9million people were victims of identity theft nationwide last year. Cooley, who recently added several investigators and prosecutors to his High Technology Crime Division, said he plans to ask the county Board of Supervisors to triple the size of the office to help combat the problem. last_img

New Ecumenical Commission set up in Gozo

first_imgGozo Bishop Mario Grech announced the setting up of an Ecumenical Commission on Gozo. He delivered the announcement last Monday, at ta’ Pinu Sanctuary, on the occasion of a Marian year.The representatives for the Commission are  Mgr. Ġużepp Attard, Ecumenical Vicar for Laity, and Canon John Muscat.In his message, Mgr. Grech stated that he had a deep yearning to meet other non-Catholic Christians living in Gozo. He stressed that it has become essential, in this day and age, that Christians seek each other for sustenance and to be witnesses to the world around them.With this in mind, he explained that the commission is to prove a forum for Christians to help each other while facing existential crises. He stressed that it is his wish that the Commission incorporates representatives from all Christian denominations present on the island.Bishop Grech recalled the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, due to the scene’s resonance; he said that in it, God’s promise to his chosen people is finally happening, even, if, at this stage, the waiting is still hidden in a process of gestation. The two women, Mary and Elizabeth, represent two periods of the history with God – two periods in the history of the Church. Between them, there is no confrontation, disparagement or discord but on the other hand, there is a harmonious sentiment of intent listening, collaboration and growth.In this, one can appreciate the gift of ecumenism as the movement that brings the various Christian churches closer to each other to share their respective theological, liturgical and spiritual legacies.The message, in fullMARY, MOTHER OF UNITYI had a deep yearning that during this Marian year I meet other non-Catholic Christians living in Gozo. I believe that in today’s age, it is essential that we Christians seek each other to firstly sustain ourselves as we follow Christ and also to be as witnesses to the world around us. I am convinced that many in our midst are seeking that which can fill their hearts and in this quest they ask both philosophical and theological questions. As neighbours living on the same island, I believe, that albeit our limitations, we Christians have a significant proposition that we can offer them.With this in mind, recently I have set up an ecumenical commission in Gozo. Even though I took this initiative in my role as Catholic bishop, I do not have any claim of authority on the work of this commission. It is my wish that we create a forum where we Christian brothers and sisters help each other when facing the existential crises that surround us. It is my ardent desire that this Commission incorporates representatives from all Christian denominations present on the island.On this occasion, I suggest that we meditate the icon of the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth. This scene is resonant with profound meaning because in it we can see that God’s promise to his chosen people is finally happening, even, if, at this stage, the waiting is still hidden in a process of gestation. The two women, Mary and Elizabeth, represent two periods of the history with God – two periods in the history of the Church. Between them, there is no confrontation, disparagement or discord but on the other hand, there is a harmonious sentiment of intent listening, collaboration and growth. These two women bless and help each other.The story of the visitation thus helps us to appreciate the gift of ecumenism as the movement that brings the various Christian churches closer to each other to share their respective theological, liturgical and spiritual legacies. For example, I have a longing that we understand the Anglican and Orthodox Mariology. Whilst it is true that this can be easily done by going through books, I am convinced that no book can compare to the real-life experience of faith and love that you live. “It is the very aim of the “dialogues” to enable one to discern the differences in them that could separate them out from those which are acceptable or which even constitute an enrichment for every Church. In this encounter there could be a divine surprise! As between Elizabeth and Mary, the Churches have experienced in ecumenical dialogue the help offered by the Holy Spirit who makes it possible to recognize the faith that leads to the heart of Jesus as Christ and Lord in the other Church too, a true and just faith, expressed with different words and coherences” (Elisabeth Parmentier, An image of Ecumenism”, L’Osservatore Romano 2, May, 2016).We ceaselessly pray that Mary helps us in this fresh ecumenical experience that we are launching in Gozo. One crucial insight that the Catholic Church acquired during Vatican Council II was that Mary is not only the Mother of God, but she is also a disciple of Christ. Her life was a pilgrimage of faith and thus she is our sister in our discipleship as we follow Jesus. The motto that we have chosen for this Marian year – Let us not be afraid to welcome Mary into our lives – aptly fits our ecumenical course. She, who is the Mother of unity amongst Christians, will lead us to stronger relations amongst ourselves. “Just as Mary’s presence in the early community fostered oneness of heart, which prayer strengthened and made visible (cf. Acts 1:14), so the most intense communion with her whom Augustine called the ‘Mother of unity’ (Sermo 192, 2; PL 38, 1013) will be able to bring Christians to the point of enjoying the long-awaited gift of ecumenical unity” (John Paul II, 12th Nov., 1997).WhatsApp <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> SharePrintlast_img read more