LATEST NEWS FROM THE FBI
FBI Washington, DC-Internet Crime Trends
The Latest Report
Non-delivery of payment or merchandise. Scams impersonating the FBI. Identity theft.
These were the top three most common complaints made to the joint FBI/National White Collar Crime Center’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) last year, according to its just-released 2010 Internet Crime Report. The report also includes a state-by-state breakdown of complaints.
In May 2010, the IC3 marked its 10th anniversary, and by November, it had received its two millionth complaint since opening for business.
Last year, the IC3 received more than 300,000 complaints, averaging just over 25,000 a month. About 170,000 complaints that met specific investigative criteria—such as certain financial thresholds—were referred to the appropriate local, state, or federal law enforcement agencies. But even the complaints not referred to law enforcement, including those where no financial losses had occurred, were valuable pieces of information analyzed and used for intelligence reports and to help identify emerging fraud trends.
So even if you think an Internet scammer was targeting you and you didn’t fall for it, file a complaint with the IC3. Whether or not it’s referred to law enforcement, your information is vital in helping the IC3 paint a fuller picture of Internet crime.
Additional highlights from the report:
Most victims filing complaints were from the U.S., male, between 40 and 59 years old, and residents of California, Florida, Texas, or New York. Most international complainants were from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, or India.
In cases where perpetrator information was available, nearly 75 percent were men and more than half resided in California, Florida, New York, Texas, the District of Columbia, or Washington state. The highest numbers of perpetrators outside this country were from the United Kingdom, Nigeria, and Canada.
After non-delivery of payment/merchandise, scams impersonating the FBI, and identity theft, rounding out the top 10 crime types were: computer crimes, miscellaneous fraud, advance fee fraud, spam, auction fraud, credit card fraud, and overpayment fraud.
The report also contained information on some of the alerts sent out by the IC3 during 2010 in response to new scams or to an increase in established scams, including those involving:
Telephone calls claiming victims are delinquent on payday loans. More
Online apartment and house rental and real estate scams used to swindle consumers out of thousands of dollars. More
Denial-of-service attacks on cell phones and landlines used as a ruse to access victims’ bank accounts. More
Fake e-mails seeking donations to disaster relief efforts after last year’s earthquake in Haiti. More
Over the past few years, the IC3 has enhanced the way it processes, analyzes, and refers victim complaints to law enforcement. Technology has automated the search process, so IC3 analysts as well as local, state, and federal analysts and investigators can look for similar complaints to build cases. Technology also allows law enforcement users who may be working on the same or similar cases to communicate and share information.
Because there are so many variations of Internet scams out there, we can’t possibly warn against every single one. But we do recommend this: practice good security—make sure your computer is outfitted with the latest security software, protect your personal identification information, and be highly suspicious if someone offers you an online deal that’s too good to be true.
- FBI IC3 website
Human Traffickers Indicted Massive Case Involves 600 Thai Victims
FBI-Washington D.CIt seemed pretty straightforward: labor recruiters in Thailand approached impoverished rural farm workers—who made around $1,000 (U.S.) annually—and offered jobs on American farms for higher pay.
Many, hoping to provide a better life for their families, accepted the offer, which was made through an American company called Global Horizons, in the business of recruiting foreign workers to work in the U.S. agricultural industry. But once in the U.S., the Thai workers soon discovered a harsh reality: they worked for little or no pay, and they were held in place with threats and intimidation.
Eventually, their plight became known to law enforcement, and earlier this month, after a multiagency investigation, two additional defendants—accused of being part of the scheme to hold 600 Thai nationals in forced agricultural labor—were indicted in federal court in Honolulu. They joined six individuals who had been indicted last fall.
Among those indicted? The CEO of Global Horizons, several Global employees, and two Thai labor recruiters.
The latest indictment alleges a conspiracy among those indicted that began in 2001 and ran until 2007.
How the scheme worked.
Thai recruiters allegedly met with rural farm workers, promising them good salaries, lots of hours, decent housing, and an employment contract that guaranteed work for up to three years. All the workers had to do was sign the contract…and pay a “recruitment fee.”
The recruitment fees were substantial…anywhere between $9,500 and $21,000. And even though they were given the option of paying a portion of the fee upfront and the rest while working in the U.S., the workers still had to borrow money to pay the smaller amount and up their family’s land as collateral.
Meanwhile, back in the U.S., Global Horizons was soliciting client growers—at various agricultural conferences and through mailings—with offers to supply foreign agricultural workers.
Conditions were tough.
According to the indictment, once in the U.S., workers found that the work was not as plentiful as they had been led to believe, the hours not as long, and the pay not as good (that is, when they were paid at all).
While working on farms in places like Hawaii and in several other parts of the country, they sometimes lived under brutal circumstances: at one place, workers were crammed into a large shipping container, with no indoor plumbing or air conditioning. Guards were sometimes hired to make sure no one escaped the living quarters. And workers sometimes witnessed threats of violence or experienced it first-hand.
They were made to feel as though they had no way out: workers’ passports had been confiscated upon their arrival and they were told if they escaped, they would be arrested and sent back to Thailand, with no way to repay their debts and possibly leaving their families destitute.
Human trafficking investigations like these are—and will continue to be—a priority under the FBI’s Civil Rights Program. During fiscal year 2010 alone, we opened 126 human trafficking investigations and made 115 arrests, with the assistance of our law enforcement partners often working together on task forces and working groups.
But perhaps more gratifying, we were able to completely dismantle 12 human trafficking organizations. And resulting prosecutions led to $2.7 million in fines and restitution for the victims of human trafficking.
- FBI Press release
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