In its largest ever hiring spree since 9/11, the FBI is hiring 850 new special agents and 2,100 professional support personnel. Maybe they’ll catch all those shady mortgage crooksters before they Jenga the system! Oh wait, too late. Next time there’s a sub-prime meltdown, though, we’ll be ready! [FBIjobs.gov] [CNN]
The FBI has launched a fraud probe into Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and AIG. Sounds kinda like a move to placate the masses. “We’re on it.” No doubt in response to the seething outrage sweeping the nation over the size and audacity of the bailouts, however needed they might be. Sounds like an easy job. Sorta like dipping your hand in a barrel of ink and trying to pull up black stuff.
Google now helps catch criminals. The FBI identified a Citibank PIN thief by cross-referencing security camera footage with an ICQ handle and personal photos on ham radio enthusiasts sites. [Information Week]
Wired has been covering the ongoing investigation into recurring ATM pin thefts from Citibank accounts, and their latest article tracks how Ukrainian immigrants, a ringleader back in Russia, a hacked company named Fiserv that runs Citibank-branded ATMs in 7-Elevens, and an online payment service that also offers money laundering for a small fee all come together to steal your money. It’s an amazing look at how the U.S. tries to combat the threat of ATM-related theft.
The FBI has opened an investigation into Countrywide for suspected securities fraud, reports the New York Times. The Justice Department and FBI “are looking at whether officials at Countrywide, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, misrepresented its financial condition and the soundness of its loans in security filings.” So far everything is unofficial because nobody has been authorized to discuss the case, and a Countrywide spokeswoman says, “”We are not aware of any such investigation.”
20 Southwest Airlines and 2 U.S. Airways flights were delayed after a LAX terminal was evacuated for two hours due to a “suspicious comment” made by a passenger on SWA Flight 1182 from El Paso. We were unable to find out what exactly the “suspicious comment” was, but UPI suggests that it had something to do with explosives in his luggage. The LAPD bomb squad was called, but no explosives were found.
The New York Times says that the FBI has begun an investigation that includes almost the entire mortgage industry—from the lenders to the brokers to the Wall Street banks who packaged the loans as securities. They’re cooperating with the SEC and wouldn’t name which firms they’re targeting, but the Times said that it includes 14 companies.
Over at InfoWorld they have a story from a guy who was trying to sell something on Craigslist, and because he is savvy in the ways of the internet, did not fall for an obvious “overpayment scheme.”
A young man, his girlfriend, and his mother were arrested on Saturday for stealing $7.4 million from an armored car company last Monday in Cleveland, Ohio. They timed the robbery to occur after Black Friday and the ensuing weekend because they knew the company would be chock full of retailers’ profits. Then they loaded a newly bought getaway van with the cash and hid away in Pipestem, West Virginia. The FBI tracked them down using old shopping receipts found in the girlfriend’s abandoned pickup truck.
Two more individuals identifying themselves as former Geek Squad employees have stepped forward with allegations about the repair company’s employees unauthorized copying of personal information from customer’s hard-drives.
The FBI has tells us that they’ve found 1 million US computers that have been compromised and are being controlled and used for evil.
The FBI is training banks to be super-nice to robbers, as the unexpected friendliness can throw thieves off guard and have them walk away from a crime.
…The method is a sharp contrast to the traditional training for bank employees confronted with a suspicious person, which advises not approaching the person, and at most, activating an alarm or dropping an exploding dye pack into the cash.
It’s also possible to intercept unencrypted or poorly encrypted messages directly as they’re broadcast over cellular channels. (If the network uses sophisticated encryption, you might be out of luck.) To steal messages with your phone, you would need to upload illegal “firmware” onto your phone. This essentially turns your phone into a radio and allows it to pick up all the texts broadcast on a given channel–instead of limiting you to the ones addressed to you. You’d also need to know the network for the target phone–Verizon, Cingular, T-Mobile, etc.–and you’d have to make sure that both your phone and the target are within range of the same base station. This method isn’t too expensive since you don’t need much more than a computer, a phone, and some firmware that any serious techie could find online for free.
Hmm. We do not know anything about illegal firmware, so we’ll take Slate’s word on that.
Cnet is reporting that the creator of the fake NWA boarding pass generator has been freed and all charges dropped due to lack of criminal intent on his part. “They’ve given me back my passports, my computers, and I’ll be getting the rest of my stuff back shortly. Essentially, I’m a free man–with no charges filed,” Christopher Soghoian wrote on his blog Tuesday, talking about the investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana.
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