Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Complete DHS Daily Report for December 20, 2011

Daily Report

Top Stories

• A powerful storm dumped heavy snow across the Southwest and Great Plains, stranding motorists in several states, and closing major highways, including at least 90 miles of roads in New Mexico. – Associated Press (See item 14)

14. December 19, Associated Press – (National) Snowstorm halts travel in New Mexico, moves east. A powerful storm dumped heavy snow across sections of the Southwest and Great Plains December 19, stranding motorists in New Mexico in whiteout conditions and wreaking havoc on holiday travel just 2 days before the start of winter. Blizzard warnings forecasting snowfalls of up to 18 inches stretched across the region as the storm barreled through New Mexico toward the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles and parts of Kansas and Colorado. In southern Colorado, blizzard conditions were expected to drop between 8 and 16 inches of snow. In northern New Mexico, all roads from Raton to the Texas and Oklahoma borders about 90 miles east were closed, and an unknown number of motorists were stuck in a blizzard along rural highways, a Clayton police dispatcher said. A portion of Interstate 25, the major route heading northeast of Santa Fe into Colorado, was among the roads closed, and even where highways remained open, some drivers were forced to pull off. Snow and strong winds also created blizzard-like conditions in far western Kansas and the Oklahoma Panhandle as the storm moved east. Source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hA-BjlvkPqgoFaQK_xEfO1wiZSYA?docId=2ddaf532fed44ff3acdd9ab607ab8f8c

• A Southern California Edison employee shot four people, killing two, at the firm’s office east of Los Angeles before turning the gun on himself, December 16. – Associated Press (See item 38)

38. December 17, Associated Press – (California) Employee, 48, shoots 4, self at LA-area office. A man who shot four people, killing two, at a utility office east of Los Angeles before turning the gun on himself was a company employee, authorities said December 17. Investigators ruled his death a suicide, a Los Angeles County coroner’s official said. Two men were killed in the December 16 shooting. Two other shooting victims were in critical condition at a hospital, the sheriff’s department said. All five people worked for Southern California Edison in the same area of the same building at an office park in Irwindale, authorities said. Employees barricaded themselves behind locked doors and hid under desks as the shooter walked through the office firing a semi-automatic handgun, authorities said. Four of the victims were Edison employees and one was a contract worker, authorities said. The office complex and nearby schools were locked down as the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s SWAT team responded. Source: http://www.newsday.com/news/nation/employee-48-shoots-4-self-at-la-area-office-1.3395050


Banking and Finance Sector

7. December 18, Detroit Free Press – (Michigan) Bomb squad blows up grenade at bank. The Detroit Police Bomb Squad detonated a grenade found outside a bank’s drive-through window December 17 on Detroit’s east side. A Detroit police sergeant said the grenade was found about 1 p.m. outside a Comerica Bank on the 20500 block of Mound Road. It was quickly contained and no one was injured, the sergeant said. Source: http://www.freep.com/article/20111218/NEWS05/112180462/Bomb-squad-blows-up-grenade-at-bank

8. December 17, Chicago Sun-Times – (Illinois) Streamwood bank back to normal after anthrax scare. A woman who went into a Streamwood, Illinois, bank December 16 and told an employee she had exposed people in the bank to anthrax set off a scare. At 11:05 a.m., the Streamwood Fire Department (SFD) responded to a hazardous materials incident at a Bank of America branch, according to a release from the SFD. A bank employee reported a woman entered and stated she had exposed the occupants to anthrax. The woman then walked out and drove away. SFD officials isolated the building and hazardous materials technicians wearing chemical protective clothing went in to obtain samples. As a precaution, an additional haz-mat unit from the South Elgin Fire Protection District, and a mobile decontamination unit from the Arlington Heights Fire Department were requested. A chemical test kit produced negative results for biological agents, and the building was returned to normal operation. Source: http://couriernews.suntimes.com/news/9486833-418/streamwood-bank-back-to-normal-after-anthrax-scare.html

9. December 16, Attleboro Sun Chronicle – (Massachusetts) Woman guilty in bank theft. A former assistant manager of the North Easton Savings Bank in Mansfield, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty December 15 in federal court to embezzling almost $175,000 from the bank through unauthorized withdrawals from customers’ accounts. The woman was an assistant bank manager when she began withdrawing funds in October 2010 and continued the scheme until January. She was employed by the bank from 2007 until February 2011 when the scheme was discovered. She pleaded guilty to embezzlement, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft, according to court records. Authorities said she used some funds to pay for a 2004 Cadillac CTS luxury sport sedan that the U.S. attorney’s Office isseeking to seize through forfeiture laws. She faces up to 27 months in prison and 3 years’ probation, according to a plea agreement filed with the court. Prosecutors are also seeking $174,515 in restitution. Bank auditors identified 126 fraudulent transactions linked to the assistant manager involving withdrawals of cash or bank checks, and withdrawals from customer CD accounts, according to federal authorities. She covered up the thefts by manipulating bank records, authorities said. In one transaction, she took $12,530 in cash from a customer for a bank check to pay the tuition of a customer’s daughter. But instead of depositing the cash she allegedly stole it and then balanced her ledger by electronically withdrawing funds from another customer’s account, federal authorities said. Source: http://www.thesunchronicle.com/articles/2011/12/16/news/10660777.txt

10. December 16, KUSI 18 San Diego – (California) Four plead guilty in loan modification scam. Four men pleaded guilty in federal court in San Diego December 16 to stealing more than $11 million in a loan modification scam that preyed on desperate homeowners trying to save their homes from foreclosure. The men pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. One of the men also admitted he failed to report about $489,308 in taxable income received in 2009 from 1st American Law Center. An employee of 1st American pleaded guilty a year ago and was sentenced in March to 21 months in custody for his involvement in the conspiracy. According to court documents, one of the men opened up the loan modification business in North County in 2008. The defendants used high-pressure sales tactics and outright lies to induce customers to purchase loan modification services — for payments of $1,995 to $4,495 — such as falsely claiming to have a team of attorneys who pre-screened clients and having a 98 percent success rate in obtaining loan modifications. The telemarketers even persuaded homeowners to pay the company’s fees instead of using their limited funds to stay current on mortgage payments, prosecutors said. They said 1st American fraudulently obtained more than $11 million in client payments between 2008 and 2010 from more than 4,000 homeowners across the country. Source: http://www.kusi.com/story/16344126/four-plead-guilty-in-loan-modification-scam

11. December 16, Huffington Post – (Nevada; Florida) Nevada sues lender processing services, mortgage giant, for foreclosure fraud. In a move likely to further Nevada’s growing reputation for rigorously pursuing mortgage fraudsters, the state’s attorney general is suing Lender Processing Services, a Florida-based company that allegedly foreclosed illegally on thousands of struggling borrowers, according to a press release. The company, which processes more than half of all foreclosures annually, faces a number of charges: fraudulently notarizing documents; intentionally disrupting communication between distressed borrowers and the attorneys attempting to help them; kickbacks concealed as “attorney’s fees,” and “robo-signing;” in which employees signed foreclosure documents without verifying the information. The state alleges Lender Processing Services “required employees to execute and/or notarize up to 4,000 foreclosure related documents every day.” Lender Processing Services “engaged in a pattern and practice of deceptive conduct that willfully misled consumers, courts and the public, resulting in countless foreclosures that were predicated upon false, deceptive and deficient documents that [the company] prepared and/or executed,” the attorney general said in the complaint. Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/16/lender-processing-services-nevada_n_1154437.html

12. December 16, Consumer Reports – (National) Defendants in fraudulent mortgage relief case settle with FTC. Six defendants have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges they participated in a fraudulent mortgage modification and foreclosure relief scheme. The settlement orders ban all six from selling mortgage assistance or debt relief products, and to pay back millions of dollars. According to the FTC, the defendants advertised a mortgage relief program that would reduce a homeowner’s payments as part of the “Obama Act” or the “federal stimulus program,” despite no government affiliation. Consumers were charged up to $4,250, and promised a reduction to their mortgage payments, interest rates, and sometimes even principal loan amounts. The FTC alleged the defendants also promised refunds if they were unsuccessful, but that once consumers paid the fee, they got nothing, and the defendants did not respond to consumer calls or e-mails. According to the complaint, the defendants disconnected their telephones and changed the name of their business while continuing to make promises and collect payment from other consumers. The settlement order against one defendant and New Life Solutions imposes a $3.9 million judgment. The order against another defendant, DLD Consulting, and D.G.C. Consulting, imposes a judgment of $2.1 million. The settlement order against a third defendant imposes a $3.6 million judgment that is suspended. Litigation continues against a fourth man, and defaulting corporate defendants U.S. Homeowners Relief, Waypoint Law Group, and American Lending Review. Source: http://news.consumerreports.org/money/2011/12/defendants-in-fraudulent-mortgage-relief-case-settle-with-ftc.html

13. December 16, Softpedia – (International) Influential Ukrainian general arrested for international cybercrimes. The FBI in collaboration with the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) apprehended a 54-year-old Ukrainian retired general and two of his accomplices while they were trying to withdraw $1 million from CEC Bank, money obtained as a result of cyberfraud. The former general, an Israeli business man, and a 37-year-old Moldavian were arrested December 16 in Iasi, Romania, while they were trying to obtain the money, reports local newspaper Adevarul. After they managed to obtain Internet banking account credentials belonging to business owners from Italy and the United States, the group transferred large sums of money into the accounts of companies they owned. “Later, to wash the money trail, fictitious commercial transactions were made, while in reality the funds were being transferred to other accounts or withdrawn in cash by the members of the criminal group,” reads a statement from Romanian anti-crime and terrorism unit DIICOT. A day before the operation was busted, the three men tried to withdraw from the same financial institution the sum of $450,000, which they obtained from the accounts of an Italian company. Since the men looked suspicious, the bank postponed the transaction and alerted authorities. The general, who has been living in Belgium for the past few years, claims the $1 million was given to him by a company that wanted to buy shares at the TV station he owned. Source: http://news.softpedia.com/news/Influential-Ukrainian-General-Arrested-for-International-Cybercrimes-241298.shtml

Information Technology

31. December 17, The Register – (International) Security mandates aim to shore up shattered SSL system. A consortium of companies published a set of security practices they want all Web authentication authorities to follow for their secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates to be trusted by browsers and other software. The baseline requirements, published the week of December 12 by the Certification Authority/Browser Forum, are designed to prevent security breaches that compromise the tangled Web of trust that forms the underpinning of the SSL certificate system. Its release follows years of mismanagement by individual certificate authorities permitted to issue credentials trusted by Web browsers. Most notable is this year’s breach of DigiNotar, which led to the issuance of a fraudulent certificate used to snoop on 300,000 Gmail users in Iran. Source: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/12/17/ssl_certificate_security_requirements/

For another story, see item 13 above in the Banking and Finance Sector

Communications Sector

32. December 19, Erie Times-News – (Pennsylvania) Police investigate theft of wire in McKean Township. Pennsylvania State Police at Lawrence Park Township are asking the public’s help in solving the theft of copper wire for a Verizon Wireless cell-phone tower. Police said someone removed the copper wire, which was used as ground wires for the tower, between November 16 at noon and 12:55 p.m December 16. The theft occurred in the 5000 block of California Road in McKean Township, police said. Source: http://www.goerie.com/article/20111219/NEWS02/312199954/Police-investigate-theft-of-wire-in-McKean-Township

For another story, see item 31 above in the Information Technology Sector

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