A California businessman who ran a Ponzi scheme for more than a decade was ordered to pay millions in restitution to his victims. And he’ll be doing that from his jail cell, where he’ll be serving ...
Justice in Decade-Long Ponzi Scheme
For more than decade, up until February 2014, Sacramento businessman (and Ponzi scammer extraordinaire) Deepal Wannakuwatte fooled his investors and his lenders into believing that he and his companies were worthy of their trust and their money. During that time frame, he fraudulently obtained in excess of $230 million from more than 150 victims, including individuals, businesses, government agencies, and financial institutions. Wannakuwatte used this to fund other business ventures, make adequate payments to his investors and lenders to keep the scam going, and line his own pockets.
But on the heels of a joint investigation with the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation and the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, Wannakuwatte—who pled guilty last year—got his comeuppance: He was ordered by a federal judge last month to pay millions in restitution to his victims. And he’ll be doing that from his jail cell, where he’ll be serving out his 20-year sentence.
Every year at this time, the U.S. observes National Crime Victims’ Rights week—promoting victims’ rights and honoring crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf.
2015 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
Every year at this time, the U.S. observes National Crime Victims’ Rights week—promoting victims’ rights and honoring crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf. Millions of Americans each year are victimized by crime—acts of terrorism, violent crime, human trafficking, hate crimes, financial fraud, child abuse, cyber crime, kidnapping, bank robbery...the list goes on. And the FBI’s Office for Victim Assistance (OVA) is responsible for ensuring that victims of crimes investigated by the Bureau are afforded the opportunity to receive the services and notifications they are entitled to and the assistance they need to cope.
The OVA manages the day-to-day operational aspects of our victim assistance program in each of our 56 field offices, where our victim specialists work with those who have suffered physical, emotional, and/or financial harm as a result of a federal crime. In addition, OVA is also responsible for providing training and information that equips FBI agents and other Bureau personnel to work effectively with victims.
Individuals impacted by crime face the daunting task of rebuilding and healing from loss while navigating the criminal justice system—treating them with fairness and respect greatly benefits these victims and allows us to build better cases.
Director speaks at memorial service marking 20th anniversary of bombing.
Director Comey Speaks at Oklahoma City Bombing Anniversary Event
|Director Comey speaks at a memorial service marking the 20th anniversary of the bombing.|
Speaking this morning at a remembrance ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City, FBI Director James Comey noted that as the nation looked on in shock at the senseless act of homegrown terrorism on April 19, 1995, it also witnessed Oklahomans responding with tremendous unity and resolve.
“You were strong,” Comey said. “You were fearless. You understood—even in the face of such terrible hatred—that courage is stronger than fear, love is stronger than hatred, and hope is stronger than grief.”
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The ceremony was held at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum in Oklahoma City and attended by survivors, families of victims, first responders, and dignitaries, including former President Bill Clinton. Comey applauded the outpouring of generosity and spirit by the state’s residents after the bombing, which became known as the Oklahoma Standard.
“We’ve had these dark and damaging moments before, as individuals, as Americans, and as citizens of the world,” Comey said, speaking of the attack on the Murrah building that killed 168 people. “But it is not the moment that defines us. It is not the act itself that shapes our destiny. It is what comes next.”
He told Oklahomans that the bombing has “opened a hole in your heart that will never heal.” And yet, he added, “You have learned much from sorrow. You have learned that life is precious and time is short. You have learned courage and compassion and charity.”
In closing, Comey acknowledged, “There is evil in this world. You know that to be true. You have lived that truth. But know this: We in the FBI will do all that we can—all that we must—to find and stop that evil, so that you never again need to endure such darkness. We will do all that we can to ensure that justice and the rule of law trump savagery and hatred. We will do all that we can to keep you safe,” he said. “That is our standard.”
As Oklahoma City and the country prepare to mark the 20th anniversary of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing on April 19, 1995, FBI.gov looks back at the deadliest act of homegrown ...
The Oklahoma City Bombing: 20 Years Later
As Oklahoma City and the country prepare to mark the 20th anniversary of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing on April 19, 1995, FBI.gov looks back at the deadliest act of homegrown terrorism in the nation’s history through the eyes of special agents who were there and a survivor who continues to honor the victims by sharing her remarkable story.
Calling the Holocaust “the most horrific display in world history of inhumanity,” FBI Director James Comey explained to an audience last night at a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum event why ...
Director Comey Speaks at Holocaust Museum Event
|Director James Comey delivers remarks at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s annual National Tribute Dinner on April 15, 2015. (U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo) ||
Calling the Holocaust “the most horrific display in world history of inhumanity,” FBI Director James Comey explained to an audience last night at a United States Holocaust Memorial Museum event why the Bureau’s partnership with the museum “matters so very much.”
“Our obligation is to refuse to let bad win,” Comey said during remarks at the Washington, D.C. museum’s 2015 National Tribute Dinner—one of the events commemorating the annual weeklong Days of Remembrance. “There are so many ways to fight evil to ensure it doesn’t hold the field,” Comey said. “This room is full of people who have made that fight their life’s work.”
Comey explained that he requires every new special agent and intelligence analyst to go to the museum as part of their training. “Naturally, I want them to learn about abuse of authority on a breathtaking scale,” he said. “But I want them to confront something more painful and more dangerous—I want them to see humanity and what we are capable of.”
New agents and analysts need to understand “our capacity for moral surrender,” he said. The sick, evil Nazi leaders responsible for the slaughter of millions of Jews “were joined by, and followed by, people who loved their families, took soup to a sick neighbor, went to church, and gave to charity.”
That fact, Comey said, “is the most frightening lesson of all—that our very humanity made us capable—even susceptible—of surrendering our individual moral authority to the group, where it can be hijacked by evil.”
The FBI is seeking the public’s help in identifying an unknown male who may have information about the identity and whereabouts of a young girl depicted in a series of photos being sexually abused. ...
Endangered Child Alert: Help Us Identify John Doe 29
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The FBI is seeking the public’s help in identifying an unknown male who may have information about the identity and whereabouts of a young girl depicted in a series of photos being sexually abused. The abuse may be ongoing.
The man, dubbed John Doe 29, is not being accused of abusing the girl, but investigators are hoping to interview him about the location of the victim—the ultimate goal is to rescue the child.
John Doe 29 is described as a male with a tan complexion, likely between the ages of 30 and 45, with dark hair. Anyone with information to provide should submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov or call the FBI’s toll-free tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI.
The Dominican street gang in Lawrence, Massachusetts must have thought they had the perfect illegal enterprise: kidnap drug dealers, bookmakers, and money launderers, steal their cash and drugs, and ...
Violent Gangs: Kidnapping Crew Targeted Criminal Community
The Dominican street gang in Lawrence, Massachusetts must have thought they had the perfect illegal enterprise: kidnap drug dealers, bookmakers, and money launderers, steal their cash and drugs, and then hold them for ransom—knowing that since the victims were themselves criminals, they and their families would likely never report the abductions. But an FBI task force investigation showed them otherwise.
FBI Director James Comey joined Bureau employees, government officials, community leaders, law enforcement partners, and others in Florida today for the formal naming and dedication of the Benjamin ...
Director Comey Attends Dedication of FBI Miami Office, Named in Honor of Fallen Agents
|(Left to right) On April 10, 2015, FBI Director James Comey, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, Acting GSA Administrator Denise Roth, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, City of Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam, and FBI Miami Special Agent in Charge George Piro cut the ribbon to officially open the FBI Miami Division’s new headquarters—the Benjamin P. Grogan and Jerry L. Dove Federal Building—named in honor of two FBI agents killed 29 years ago. | High res photo
FBI Director James Comey joined Bureau employees, government officials, community leaders, law enforcement partners, and others in Florida today for the formal naming and dedication of the Benjamin P. Grogan and Jerry L. Dove Federal Building, home of the FBI’s Miami Division.
The building was named in honor of Miami FBI Special Agents Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove, who were killed nearly three decades ago—on April 11, 1986—during a gunfight with two violent bank robbers in one of the deadliest shootouts in FBI history.
The new facility houses nearly 1,000 FBI employees in a centralized, collaborative, and secure workplace; is LEED Gold certified and incorporates several sustainability features, including an extensive water consumption reduction system and solar panels; preserves a pristine natural habitat; and saves taxpayer dollars. The project, managed by the General Services Administration (GSA), serves as a model of collaboration between the GSA and the Bureau in developing workplace design guidelines for future FBI facilities.
A coordinated international law enforcement and private-sector cyber effort has resulted in the takedown of a botnet known as Beebone—a “downloader” that allowed other forms of malicious software to ...
FBI, Foreign Partners Target Botnet Affecting Victims Worldwide
A coordinated international law enforcement and private-sector cyber effort has resulted in the takedown of a botnet known as Beebone—a “downloader” that allowed other forms of malicious software to be installed on victims’ computers without their consent or knowledge.
The secondary infections installed by Beebone—also known as AAEH—include software that steals banking logins and passwords as well as fraudulent anti-virus software and ransomware. This botnet has impacted users around the world.
The international coalition working against Beebone includes the FBI, the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce, the Dutch National High Tech Crime Unit, and private-sector partners.
Working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section within the Department of Justice, the FBI seized approximately 100 domain names used by the botnet. As a result of those domain seizures, computers infected with Beebone will no longer report to the criminals responsible for the infection. Instead, infected computers will be redirected to a secure server operated by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, which will facilitate victim identification and remediation.
“Botnets like Beebone have victimized users worldwide, which is why a global law enforcement team approach working with the private sector is so important,” said FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director Joseph Demarest, Jr.
Computer users can check mitigation options at the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) website: https://www.us-cert.gov/aaeh
It is recommended that computer users:
- Use and maintain anti-virus software, which recognizes and protects computers against most known viruses.
- Change passwords. Current passwords may have been compromised during a Beebone infection.
- Keep your operating system and application software up-to-date. Enable automatic updates if the option is available.
- Use legitimate anti-malware tools to identify and removes malware.
When Special Agent Jeff Youngblood helped convict Jason Merida—a corrupt public official from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma who was demanding bribes and kickbacks from contractors bidding on tribal ...
Public Corruption in Indian Country: Agent Helps Protect His Community
|FBI Agent Jeff Youngblood works Indian Country matters in Oklahoma—including cases involving the Choctaw Nation, of which he is an enrolled member.
When Special Agent Jeff Youngblood helped convict Jason Merida—a corrupt public official from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma who was demanding bribes and kickbacks from contractors bidding on tribal construction projects—he felt more satisfaction than usual bringing a criminal to justice. That’s because Youngblood is Native American and a member of the Choctaw tribe.
“There aren’t many Native Americans who are special agents,” he said, “and I have yet to meet any that are working in Indian Country and are enrolled members of the tribe where they work. I think mine is a unique situation.”