Office Depot rigged malware scans to sell you tech support


OFFICE DEPOT’S PHONY WARNING

❝ Office Depot and a partner company tricked customers into buying unneeded tech support services by offering PC scans that gave fake results, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Consumers paid up to $300 each for unnecessary services.

❝ Office Depot and its software supplier, Support.com, have agreed to pay a total of $35 million in settlements with the agency. Office Depot agreed to pay $25 million while Support.com will pay the other $10 million. The FTC said it intends to use the money to provide refunds to wronged consumers…

❝ “Defendants bilked unsuspecting consumers out of tens of millions of dollars from their use of the PC Health Check program to sell costly diagnostic and repair services,” the FTC alleged in a complaint that accuses both companies of violating the FTC Act’s prohibition against deceptive practices. As part of the settlements, neither company admitted or denied the FTC’s allegations.

Office Depot is considered one of the best of their peers. Kinds makes you wonder what some of their competitors might be up to. Or not.

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

Navy Officer going to prison for his part in $30 million bribery scandal

daniel dusek
Billion$ floating around the world – why not take a taste?

A federal judge in San Diego has sentenced a U.S. Navy captain caught in a $30 million bribery scandal to 46 months in prison, bringing to a close the case against the highest-ranking officer in the fraud scheme.

Captain Daniel Dusek, 49, pleaded guilty last year to a charge of conspiracy to commit bribery after admitting he accepted services from prostitutes, luxury hotel stays, alcohol and other gifts in exchange for giving classified information to the Singapore-based company Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

The firm headed by Malaysian businessman Leonard Glenn Francis, who has been dubbed “Fat Leonard,” held over $200 million in contracts to clean, stock and maintain U.S. Pacific Fleet ships.

Francis has admitted to obtaining classified ship scheduling in exchange for bribes, which allowed him to make more money on his contracts by knowing when Navy ships would be available for servicing.

U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino in sentencing Dusek to 46 months in prison said his actions could have jeopardized national security…

Francis and Glenn Defense Marine Asia pleaded guilty in January 2015 to bribery and fraud charges. The company overcharged the Navy more than $25 million, according to his plea agreement.

So far, 10 people, including seven naval officers have been charged in the scheme, including a Naval Criminal Investigative Services agent and two commanders. All but one have entered a guilty plea.

Three admirals, who are now retired, were also censured for their improper relationships with Francis and his company.

President Eisenhower knew what he was talking about when he characterized the military-industrial complex as one of the greatest dangers in modern America. This is only one facet of corruption codified by Congress and the federal budget.

Judge approves $940 million settlement between Federal government and Native Americans


Oglala Sioux President John Yellow Bird Steele at the settlement announcement

A judge has approved a nearly $1 billion settlement between the Obama administration and Native American tribes over claims the government shorted tribes for decades on contract costs to manage education, law enforcement and other federal services.

Attorneys for the tribes learned Wednesday that a federal judge in Albuquerque approved the agreement, about five months after the Interior Department and tribal leaders announced they had reached a proposed $940 million settlement in the class-action lawsuit…

Nearly 700 tribes or tribal agencies are expected to claim compensation, with amounts ranging from an estimated $8,000 for some Alaska Native villages and communities elsewhere to $58 million for the Navajo Nation.

Some underfunded federal contracts in the case reportedly dated back to the 1970s, when a policy change allowed tribes to gain more oversight of federal programs meant to fulfill obligations established through treaties and other agreements.

Val Panteah, governor of Zuni Pueblo, described “a financial death spiral” that came as his government tried to offset losses from the contracts in New Mexico. Other tribal leaders described trying to stem losses from the underfunded contracts with painful budget cuts as they tried to meet critical needs in their communities.

The case was first filed in 1990 by the Ramah Navajo Chapter, a community of about 4,000 that became the case’s lead plaintiff, along with the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota and Zuni Pueblo.

In 2012, the case went before the U.S. Supreme Court, which sided with the tribes and sent the case back to the lower courts before the Interior Department announced a proposed settlement in September.

Since the Supreme Court ruling, Congress has appropriated hundreds of millions of dollars to fully fund contract support costs for tribes.

The American dream of equal opportunity always seems to look around first to see if there’s some minority segment of the population that can be screwed. Unfunded mandates, underfunded mandates were made for political ideologues in Congress. Nice to see one of them overturned.

Christian-owned businesses love [Christian] sharia as law

A few months before he took a toxic mix of drugs and died on a stranger’s couch, Nicklaus Ellison wrote a letter to his little sister.

He asked for Jolly Ranchers, Starburst and Silly Bandz bracelets, some of the treats permitted at the substance abuse program he attended in Florida. Then, almost as an aside, Mr. Ellison wrote about how the Christian-run program that was supposed to cure his drug and alcohol problem had instead “de-gayed” him…

But when his family sued Teen Challenge in 2012 hoping to uncover what had happened, they quickly hit a wall. When he was admitted to the program, at age 20, Mr. Ellison signed a contract that prevented him and his family from taking the Christian group to court.

Instead, his claim had to be resolved through a mediation or arbitration process that would be bound not by state or federal law, but by the Bible. “The Holy Scripture shall be the supreme authority,” the rules of the proceedings state.

For generations, religious tribunals have been used in the United States to settle family disputes and spiritual debates. But through arbitration, religion is being used to sort out secular problems like claims of financial fraud and wrongful death…

In legal circles, those cases, along with the Ellison suit, are considered seminal examples of how judges have consistently upheld religious arbitrations over secular objections…More than anything, the cases show the power of arbitration clauses. An investigation by The New York Times found that companies have used the clauses to create an alternate system of justice. Americans are being forced out of court and into arbitration for everything from botched home renovations to medical malpractice.

RTFA. It is long, detailed – and scary. For most Americans, this is a nation where secular law determined by legislation and judicial examination is the rule. For a small fundamentalist minority, religious arbitration not only provides a crutch centuries out of date – often it is an opportunity to screw the public at large who think they live in a modern nation.

Rupert Murdoch’s phony Wall Street Journal circulation numbers

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

One of Rupert Murdoch’s most senior European executives has resigned following Guardian inquiries about a circulation scam at News Corporation’s flagship newspaper, the Wall Street Journal.

The Guardian found evidence that the Journal had been channelling money through European companies in order to secretly buy thousands of copies of its own paper at a knock-down rate, misleading readers and advertisers about the Journal’s true circulation.

The bizarre scheme included a formal, written contract in which the Journal persuaded one company to co-operate by agreeing to publish articles that promoted its activities, a move which led some staff to accuse the paper’s management of violating journalistic ethics and jeopardising its treasured reputation for editorial quality.

Internal emails and documents suggest the scam was promoted by Andrew Langhoff, the European managing director of the Journal’s parent company, Dow Jones and Co, which was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation in July 2007. Langhoff resigned on Tuesday.

The highly controversial activities were organised in London and focused on the Journal’s European edition, which circulates in the EU, Russia, and Africa. Senior executives in New York, including Murdoch’s right-hand man, Les Hinton, were alerted to the problems last year by an internal whistleblower and apparently chose to take no action. The whistleblower was then made redundant

This stinks like someone digging up the bodies of Wall Street barons from the 19th Century and using them for reanimation experiments. Zombie subscribers and counterfeit editions of the Wall Street Journal indeed.

Former employees who fled before the paper was occupied by Scumbag Murdoch’s obedient lieutenants can pat themselves on the back for escaping the stain of association with this journalistic corruption. The complicity of bodies like the Audit Bureau of Circulation needs to be investigated as thoroughly as any of the other alleys reeking of deception and collaboration between Murdoch’s mafia and the businesses paid to participate.

RTFA for the details of the elaborate money-laundering, phony reconstruction of circulation numbers for a once-great newspaper.

Money from Pentagon trucking contracts funded Taliban

A U.S. military task force has discovered that part of a $2.16 billion transportation contract was diverted through a murky network of subcontractors and into the hands of a group of Afghan power-brokers, criminals and Taliban insurgents…Roughly $600 million of the contract had been spent before authorities were alerted to the scandal…

Only part of that money, however, is believed to have been diverted to “nefarious elements,” the source added…Well, that makes me feel better.

The official said it appears some of the payments were given for truckers to be assured of safe passage through insurgent areas of Afghanistan. As has happened in other instances, trucking contractors paid off local drivers who then turned around and paid local security forces, who in turn paid insurgents in their areas…

Actually, when I worked in traffic management, we did the same thing to get our shipments through Mafia checkpoints in Newark.

The contract program, called Host Nation Trucking — which expires in September — has since been replaced by a more stringent system that requires up to 40 different contractors — an effort to reduce overall reliance on a single firm.

The new program is also meant to tighten accounting measures of second and third party vendors, an area various groups had previously been able to exploit, the source said…

Government officials are currently pursuing corrective actions against the trucking firms, including suspensions and limits on work, though all eight companies still remain on the U.S. payroll.

If you’re functioning here at home within a Republican-devised system like “mark to market” accounting, why expect the Pentagon to deploy legitimate accounting and oversight in a war zone created by the same phonies?

How two phony Wyoming corporations duped the Pentagon


Wyoming house big enough to house 2000 corporations?

Two companies incorporated at a little house in Cheyenne, Wyoming, won Pentagon contracts after their owner took advantage of the state’s liberal incorporation laws to create the firms using an alias, and then represented them as minority-owned to win favorable treatment as a military supplier. The firms and their owner were later banned from doing business with the Pentagon for providing knock-off parts.

A Reuters investigation has found that more than 2,000 companies are registered at 2710 Thomes Avenue in Cheyenne, the headquarters for Wyoming Corporate Services, a business incorporation company that specializes in corporate anonymity.

Among the firms incorporated there is a small subset that make their money from government contracts.

A Reuters review of federal contracting databases found nine firms registered at 2710 Thomes Avenue have been awarded 93 contracts worth more than $1.6 million by a half dozen government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

More than 90 percent of the contracts were awarded by the Department of Defense…

Continue reading

Vietnam signs major nuclear power contracts


Dimitry Medvedev and Nguyen Minh Triet celebrate the contract signing
Daylife/AP PHoto used by permission

Russia and Vietnam on Sunday signed a deal worth an estimated 5.6 billion dollars for the energy-hungry Southeast Asian country’s first nuclear power plant…

An official with Russian state nuclear conglomerate Rosatom has told AFP the construction cost of a two-reactor plant is estimated at more than four billion euros…

Vietnam wants to build eight nuclear facilities in the next two decades. Initial government plans call for four reactors, with a total capacity of 4,000 megawatts and at least one of them operational in 10 years’ time.

Sergei Kiriyenko said a 2020 timeframe for the Russian plant was “absolutely realistic”.

Russian President Medvedev earlier held talks with Vietnamese officials centred on expanding his country’s presence in Vietnam, which he said is “actively developing” on various fronts.

On all these directions Russia will assist Vietnam, which is our close friend,” he said after paying his respects at the mausoleum of Vietnam’s revolutionary hero Ho Chi Minh…

Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan, also on a visit to Hanoi, announced with his Vietnamese counterpart that the two countries will join forces to build two other nuclear reactors.

Moscow is willing to provide a loan to help finance the Russian plant’s construction…The two sides signed additional agreements on construction of a hydro power station and cooperation in the oil sector.

If the United States government, U.S. industry had brains located anywhere near their heads instead of the nether portions of their anatomy, we could have been providing those services to developing nations in Asia and elsewhere.

Back in the day, when I worked for a vendor to the nuclear power industry, I became fed-up with the policy of treating nuclear power generation as a short-term cash cow to supplement welfare for American capital goods producers. I quit. Went on to other aspects of metallurgy. Literature, Philosophy. Politics. You understand how that works.

When a couple of world-class safety screw-ups made nuclear power unpopular – and we had plenty of wars serving up supplemental income – our nation walked away from the dance. Leaving us decades behind productive commerce on the world stage.

Add to that the political history of America’s imperial adventures in the 3rd World…and you understand why there’s no American participation in any signing ceremonies like this.

Biggest data breach in UK didn’t require a hacker


Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Staff at mobile phone company T-Mobile passed on millions of records from thousands of customers to third party brokers, the firm has confirmed. Details emerged after the firm alerted the information commissioner, who said his office was preparing a prosecution.

Christopher Graham said brokers had sold the data to other phone firms, who then cold-called the customers as their contracts were due to expire.

A T-Mobile spokesman said the data had been sold “without our knowledge”.

Mr Graham, who was appointed earlier this year as the watchdog responsible for safeguarding personal information, said the data breach was the biggest of its kind.

Initially Mr Graham had said he would not name the operator involved as it could prejudice a prosecution. But after phone firms 02, Vodafone, Orange, 3 and Virgin said they were not the subject of his investigation, T-Mobile confirmed it had been…

Mr Graham said investigators had been working with the company after it reported suspicions of an unlawful trade in customers’ data…

A spokesman for T-Mobile said the sale of the data had been “deeply regrettable” and that it had been asked to keep it secret to avoid any criminal prosecutions being prejudiced…

No doubt TV talking heads will be stretched to come up with a definition other than the perpetual “hacker”. You should look back into the history of white-collar crime and discover the term “thief” is still pretty sound.

The commodity may vary. The process of stealing – and selling stolen goods – remains the same.