Feds Drop a Child Porn Case Rather Than Give Up a Hack


FBI Headquarters

❝ The Department of Justice filed a motion in Washington State federal court…to dismiss its indictment against a child porn site. It wasn’t for lack of evidence; it was because the FBI didn’t want to disclose details of a hacking tool to the defense as part of discovery. Evidence in United States v. Jay Michaud hinged at least in part on information federal investigators had gathered by exploiting a vulnerability in the Tor anonymity network.

In other words, the feds are letting an alleged child pornographer free so that officials can potentially catch other dark-web using criminals in the future…

❝ For years now, federal investigators have used hacking tools to undermine the Tor anonymity network and identify suspects attempting to conceal their identities and actions. These Tor exploits help federal law enforcement agencies investigate serious crimes, particularly child porn rings on the dark web, that would otherwise be difficult to prosecute. But the DOJ will apparently go to extreme lengths to protect the disclosure of those exploits, raising new questions about the boundaries of investigative hacking…

❝ All that’s certain is that the feds have dropped a case against an alleged child pornographer, with some unknowable trade-off down the road.

Actually a tough question for law enforcement. Beyond the boundaries of the usual prosecutor. Interesting to see where this leads. If anywhere.

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Mentally-Disturbed Copper Sheds Light On His Problem

An NYPD detective was arrested Sunday for fondling himself in front of the windows of Long Island homes…

Detective Robert Francis was arrested after one homeowner in Rockville Centre called 911 to report that a man was standing in the back yard masturbating…

Francis allegedly entered the back yards of more than one home and shined a flashlight inside until he got someone’s attention. Then, as the person was looking at him, Francis shined the light on himself to show he was fondling himself…

Police arrested Francis around 2:30 a.m. and charged him with public lewdness, endangering the welfare of a child and trespassing. It was not clear how many homes he allegedly targeted.

Whatever Detective Francis’ problem may be – hopefully he gets some treatment now. But, yes, I admit that – especially since no one was injured – it makes for a weird news item.

A couple of big [unnamed] US tech companies were scammed out of $100 million

The Department of Justice just unsealed an indictment against a Lithuanian scammer who managed to trick two American tech companies into wiring him $100 million. The scammer, 48-year-old Evaldas Rimasauskas, did so by masquerading as a prominent Asian hardware manufacturer, according to court documents, and tricking employees into depositing tens of millions of dollars into bank accounts in Latvia, Cyprus, and numerous other countries. Rimasauskas was first indicted back in December, but the DOJ only unsealed the documents after arresting the man last week.

What makes this remarkable is not Rimasauskas’ particular phishing scam, which sounds rather standard in the grand scheme of wire fraud and cybersecurity exploits. Rather, it’s the amount of money he managed to score and the industry from which he stole it.

The indictment specifically describes the companies in vague terms. The first company is “multinational technology company, specializing in internet-related services and products, with headquarters in the United States,” the documents read. The second company is a “multinational corporation providing online social media and networking services.” Both apparently worked with the same “Asia-based manufacturer of computer hardware,” a supplier that the documents indicate was founded some time in the late ‘80s…

What’s more important is that representatives at both companies with the power to wire vast sums of money were still tricked by fraudulent email accounts. Rimasauskas even went so far as to create fake contracts on forged company letterhead, fake bank invoices, and various other official-looking documents to convince employees of the two companies to send him money.

Rimasauskas has been charged with one count of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, and aggravated identity theft…

I can’t believe someone as detail-oriented as this dude appears to be didn’t plan on leaving home and establishing another identity on a planet in a galaxy far, far away. Did he think no one would come looking for the $100 million? At least move someplace without an extradition agreement with the USofA.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

The risk of a single 5-day opioid prescription


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❝ Now that it’s clear opioid painkillers have helped cause the worst drug epidemic in history, health experts are scrambling to figure out when dependency on these powerful prescription drugs starts — and how to prevent it.

❝ A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at the relationship between the number of days of someone’s first opioid prescription and their long-term use. It found that that number has a huge impact: Patients face an increased risk of opioid dependency in as few as four days of taking the drugs.

As you can see in the chart…opioid prescriptions longer than five days in length significantly increased the likelihood of continued opioid use both one and three years later…

❝ “There’s nothing magical about five days versus six days, but with each day your risk of dependency increases fairly dramatically,” said Bradley Martin of the CDC, one of the study authors.

❝ The study, which analyzed 1.3 million non-cancer patients, also found that only 6 percent of patients prescribed a one-day supply of opioids were still taking the drugs a year later, but that number doubled to 12 percent if patients were prescribed a six-day supply and quadrupled to 24 percent if patients were given a 12-day supply.

Pretty solid warning, I’d say.

Former head of Colorado Republican Party charged with voter fraud

❝ A Colorado talk radio host who once chaired the state Republican Party and has accused Democrats of widespread voter fraud has been charged with forging his ex-wife’s signature on a mail-in ballot in the 2016 election…

Steven Curtis, 57, who served as state GOP boss from 1997 until 1999, is charged with one felony count of forgery and one misdemeanor count of tampering with a mail-in ballot, according to a criminal complaint filed in Weld County District Court.

❝ The case stems from an inquiry lodged with the Weld County Clerk and Recorder’s Office by Curtis’s former spouse, Kelly Ireland, who contacted the agency in October to check on the status of her voter registration after the couple split.

Ireland was informed then that a signed mail-in ballot bearing her name and voter information had already been submitted, according to Carly Koppes, an elected Republican who serves as the county clerk.

“At that point, my office researched the situation further, and the signature was questionable, so we then contacted the District Attorney’s Office to start an investigation,” Koppes told Reuters.

❝ If convicted, Curtis faces a maximum three years in prison for forgery and up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine for ballot-tampering, said Tyler Hill, a spokesman for the district attorney.

❝ The former Republican Party boss hosts a morning political talk show on conservative Denver radio station KLZ-AM called “Wake Up With Steve Curtis.”

Curtis spoke about election tampering in a segment titled “Voter Fraud and Other Democratic Misbehaviors” on his Oct. 6, 2016 broadcast.

“It seems to me, and correct me if I’m wrong, but virtually every case of voter fraud I can remember in my lifetime was committed by Democrats,” Curtis said…

The Republican Party really should check and see if anyone holds the trademark for hypocrisy. They should register it as their own. Modern history bears out their ownership.

Tanker hijacked off Somalia freed — no ransom paid


Aris 13Kevin Finnigan/Tropic Maritime Images

❝ Somali pirates who hijacked an oil tanker have released it without condition, according to officials.

The announcement came hours after the pirates and naval forces exchanged gunfire over a boat believed to be carrying supplies to the hijackers.

❝ The tanker, which was en route from Djibouti to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, was seized on Monday with eight Sri Lankan crew members on board.

It is the first hijack off Somalia’s coast since 2012…

❝ The Sri Lankan foreign ministry said the crew members were released “unharmed, without the payment of a ransom”.

A pirate confirmed the release was made without a ransom payment, according to Reuters…

❝ Mr Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan earlier said that “pirates” on board the tanker had opened fire on Thursday after authorities tried to intercept a boat believed to be carrying essential supplies, such as food.

Four people were wounded in the exchange of fire on Thursday…

The vessel was carrying oil and was owned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), despite conflicting reports over the flag it was sailing under, he added.

❝ On Wednesday, the authorities were then still trying to determine whether the gunmen, who have not given any details about the size of the ransom, were organised pirates or fishermen whose equipment was destroyed by illegal fishing vessels, as they had claimed to be.

Piracy off the coast of Somalia, usually for ransom, has reduced significantly in recent years, in part because of extensive international military patrols as well as support for local fishing communities…

Some Somali fishermen turned to piracy after their livelihoods were destroyed by illegal fishing from foreign trawlers, which benefited from the lack of a functioning coastguard in the country following years of conflict.

The little guy doesn’t even get noticed in coverage of so-called important stuff. Like Saudi oil.

Most powerful sheriff in the country now faces 20 years in prison

❝ Once the most powerful sheriff in the United States, Lee Baca is now headed to prison.

A jury convicted the former Los Angeles County sheriff Wednesday on conspiracy charges stemming from his role in a cover-up of extensive civil rights abuses inside the county’s vast jail system.

❝ The scope of Baca’s actual conviction is much narrower than the departmental scandal that eventually chased him out of office in 2014, as dozens of his officers faced criminal charges.

❝ Baca’s own convictions tie back to one specific incident within a much longer saga of abusive and corrupt practices in the county jail system. Human rights lawyers had documented allegations of brutality and corruption inside Baca’s jails for years before federal investigators got involved. When Baca’s team discovered the investigators had an inmate informant, they hid the inmate from the FBI agents who were working with him and sent two people to confront the lead investigator at her home.

❝ Baca’s role in crafting and approving efforts to stymie an investigation put him in a legal box. But that’s akin to catching Al Capone for cheating on his taxes, considering the years of detailed reports on the culture of extreme and routine violence deputies used to maintain their authority within Baca’s jails.

❝ Baca, now 74, had initially sought to avoid trial entirely, copping a plea on lesser charges in exchange for a six-month sentence. A judge decided that the sentence was too light and refused to approve the deal.

Which is why continued vigilance over judges, how they are elected and/or appointed is critical. One of the last defenses against corruption and crime in a nation that often rewards criminal behavior with elective office. Worshipping the strong man syndrome.

Baca now faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Creepy drug company dumped opioids into Washington state black market

❝ After spending millions to combat the opioid epidemic ravaging its citizens, the working-class city of Everett, Washington, is taking the maker of opioid painkiller OxyContin to federal court. The city claims that the drug maker, Purdue Pharma, knowingly sold to black markets out of pure greed, enabling the devastating epidemic hitting Everett and the rest of the country.

❝ …Everett accuses Purdue Pharma of “knowingly, recklessly, and/or negligently supplying OxyContin to obviously suspicious physicians and pharmacies and enabling the illegal diversion of OxyContin into the black market, including to drug rings, pill mills, and other dealers for dispersal of the highly addictive pills in Everett.” Purdue’s goal, Everett alleges, was to “generate enormous profits” at the expense of the people of Everett.

❝ …In 2007, the infamous drug maker and three of its executives pled guilty in federal court and paid out $634.5 million in fines for purposefully misleading regulators, doctors, and patients about the addictiveness of their opioid painkiller. Around the same time, Purdue was also sued by several states, including Washington, over similar allegations. Purdue agreed to a $19.5 million multi-state settlement. And in 2015, Purdue settled a case with Kentucky, agreeing to pay $24 million…

In other words, criminal behavior ain’t anything new for these creeps.

Claiming a social security number is the “Mark of the Beast” not a good defense – so saith the IRS

A Pennsylvania man has been convicted of failing to file his income tax returns for 21 years because he considered using a Social Security number akin to using the “mark of the beast” spelled out in the Bible.

James Schlosser, who lives in the town of Bird-in-Hand, was convicted in federal court in Allentown…

Prosecutors say by failing to file the returns from 1994 to 2014 he didn’t report $2.3 million in income he earned as a salesman of medical equipment. Prosecutors say he funneled the money through foreign business trusts and corporations he registered in Nevada.

An attorney for the 59-year-old Schlosser didn’t immediately comment…He’ll be sentenced June 10 when he faces a maximum of five years in prison and $450,000 in fines.

Wonder if he’ll ask Trump for a pardon?

Banksy opens hotel overlooking Bethlehem’s apartheid wall


Worst view in the worldQuique Kierszenbaum/Guardian

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❝ The Walled Off hotel may sound utilitarian, even bleak. Its owner says it has “the worst view of any hotel in the world”, while its 10 rooms get just 25 minutes of direct sunlight a day.

But, nestled against the controversial barrier wall separating Israel from the Palestinian territories, the West Bank’s answer to the Waldorf offers travellers something more elusive than any luxury destination.

The lodging in Bethlehem is a hotel, museum, protest and gallery all in one, packed with the artworks and angry brilliance of its owner, British street artist Banksy.

❝ From the disconcertingly lavish presidential suite where water splashes from a bullet-strafed watertank into the hot tub, to the bunk-beds in the budget room scavenged from an abandoned army barracks, the hotel is playful and strongly political.

All the rooms look out on to the concrete slabs of the wall and some have views over it to pill boxes and an Israeli settlement – illegal under international law – on the hillside beyond.

❝ Banksy’s reputation is likely to keep all rooms fully booked, but he wants guests to leave with more than just a selfie. “It’s a three-storey cure for fanaticism, with limited car parking,” he added in the statement.

The hotel opens to guests on 20 March, with bookings via the website. The team hope Israelis, who rarely see the barrier wall up close or visit Palestinian towns, will be among the guests, even though visiting means breaking the law…

Israelis are banned from visiting Bethlehem and its famous sites. And although Banksy has chosen a site officially under Israeli military control – meaning it is legal for Israelis to stay there – all the roads to reach it involve an illegal journey through Palestinian-controlled territory.

RTFA. Learn a little more about life in what American politicians uniformly call the leading middle East democracy.

Thanks, Honeyman –

– and just because you’re now certified for Level 1 Superbikes doesn’t mean you can double the speed limits in Tasmania! 🙂