With nearly 40 countries represented, the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force aims to identify and bring to justice anyone involved in violent child sexual exploitation ...
Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force Celebrates 10 Years
Ten years ago this month, the FBI stood up the Innocent Images International Task Force. Its mission: to investigate commercial websites—at that time mostly based in Eastern Europe—involved in the worldwide distribution of child pornography. A big task for a small but dedicated group of expert investigators from the U.S. and five other participating nations.
Fast forward to October 2014, and this group of investigators has grown from about a half dozen individuals to around 60 officers from nearly 40 countries. And the group’s changed name—the Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force—represents its expanded mission today: to identify and bring to justice anyone involved in violent child sexual exploitation activities, whether online or in person, and to identify and rescue the victims of these crimes no matter where in the world they may be.
On October 27, 2014, FBI Director James Comey spoke at The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) annual conference, briefing participants on some of the FBI’s current priorities and ...
Director Addresses Law Enforcement Partners at IACP Conference
On October 27, 2014, FBI Director James Comey spoke at The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) annual conference, briefing participants on some of the FBI’s current priorities and discussing several major issues facing the law enforcement community as a whole.
The Bureau’s top investigative priority, according to Comey, continues to be the evolving terrorism threat—in particular, offshoot groups of al Qaeda, like ISIL, along with the influence of the Internet and the rise of homegrown violent extremists. He noted the “irreplaceable role” that local law enforcement plays in the FBI’s counterterrorism efforts, particularly on our Joint Terrorism Task Forces and in intelligence fusion centers. Comey also discussed ongoing efforts to better integrate FBI intelligence and operations and an even more effective exchange of information with our partners.
In terms of major issues facing law enforcement, Comey mentioned the technical Going Dark challenge—which makes it difficult to access electronic devices to pull evidence needed to prosecute crime and prevent terrorism—and said he’d like to start a “national conversation” about it. He also highlighted the growing number of shootings and ambush-style attacks against law enforcement officers, and noted that the FBI and the Department of Justice are doing everything they can to offer tools and training to help keep officers safe and bring to justice the offenders.
What began as a scheme to defraud office supply stores has evolved into more ambitious crimes that have cost retailers around the country millions of dollars—and the Nigerian cyber criminals behind ...
Cyber Crime: Purchase Order Scam Leaves a Trail of Victims
What began as a scheme to defraud office supply stores has evolved into more ambitious crimes that have cost retailers around the country millions of dollars—and the Nigerian cyber criminals behind the fraud have also turned at-home Internet users into unsuspecting accomplices.
FBI investigators are calling it purchase order fraud, and the perpetrators are extremely skillful. Through online and telephone social engineering techniques, the fraudsters trick retailers into believing they are from legitimate businesses and academic institutions and want to order merchandise. The retailers believe they are filling requests for established customers, but the goods end up being shipped elsewhere—often to the unsuspecting at-home Internet users, who are then duped into re-shipping the merchandise to Nigeria.
Botnets—nefarious networks of computers infected by automated malware programs—are on the rise, and as we come to the end of this year’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’d like to call ...
The Battle Against Botnets
Botnets—nefarious networks of computers infected by automated malware programs—are on the rise, and as we come to the end of this year’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’d like to call your attention to what the FBI—along with our public and private sector partners—is doing about them and how you can minimize your chances of unknowingly becoming part of one.
Botnets can be used in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, proxy and spam services, malware distribution, and other criminal organized activity. They can also be used for covert intelligence collection, and terrorists or state-sponsored actors could use a botnet to attack Internet-based critical infrastructure. And they can be used as weapons in ideology campaigns against their target to instigate fear, intimidation, or public embarrassment.
The impact of botnets has been significant—they are estimated to have caused more than $113 billion in losses globally, with approximately 375 million computers infected each year. Botnets have attacked financial institutions and other major U.S. businesses along with universities, hospitals, defense contractors, and law enforcement and government agencies.
To address the most significant botnets threatening the U.S. economy and our national security, the FBI launched the Operation Clean Slate initiative. Operation Clean Slate, spearheaded by the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF), is a comprehensive public/private effort that targets the criminal coders who create these botnets. The 2-year-old initiative—which incorporates all facets of the U.S. government, international partners, major Internet service providers, the U.S. financial sector, and other private sector cyber stakeholders—has already seen successes, including actions against the Blackshades, GameOver Zeus, and Citadel botnets.
How can you protect your own computer from becoming part of a botnet? Here are a few tips:
- Make sure you have updated antivirus software installed.
- Enable automated patches for your operating system.
- Use strong passwords, and don’t use the same one or two passwords for everything.
- Don’t open attachments in unsolicited e-mails, and never click on URLs contained in unsolicited e-mails.
- Download free software only from sites you know and trust.
Interagency cooperation resulted in a 30-year prison sentence for a Michigan man convicted on multiple counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a child, attempted coercion of a child, and receipt ...
Agency Cooperation Leads to 30-Year Sentence in Child Exploitation Case
According to the federal judge who heard the case, the defendant’s conduct was “about as serious as it gets,” and that on a scale of one to 10, she believed the case was “way past 10.” Then she sentenced the defendant—James Alfred Beckman, Jr. of Grand Rapids, Michigan—to 30 years in prison.
What crimes moved the judge in this case to hand down such a substantial prison term? Multiple counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a child, attempted coercion of a child, and receipt and distribution of child pornography. And in addition to the lengthy prison stay, the judge also imposed a lifetime term of supervised release on the defendant once he gets out, ordering that he register as a sex offender.
The success of this case, as with many investigations involving the FBI, can be attributed to the close working relationship between Bureau investigators and our partners—in this instance, troopers from the Michigan State Police and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan. The agencies’ seamless interactions resulted in the incarceration of an individual who posed a very dangerous threat to children.
During a Financial Services Roundtable event held October 20 in Washington, D.C. as part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, members of the FBI and U.S. Secret Service discussed a number of ...
FBI and Secret Service Team Up to Educate Private Sector on Cyber Crime
|FBI Executive Assistant Director Robert Anderson speaks on cyber security during a joint FBI/U.S. Secret Service presentation before the Financial Services Roundtable on October 20 in Washington, D.C.
“Partnership is the key to any type of [long-lasting] cyber investigation and cyber team work,” said Executive Assistant Director Robert Anderson during a joint FBI/U.S. Secret Service presentation in Washington, D.C. on October 20, 2014 before the Financial Services Roundtable (FSR), an advocacy organization for the U.S. financial services industry. The event was held as part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month.
And Anderson wasn’t just talking about our growing partnership with the Secret Service—with whom the Bureau works collaboratively on cyber crime matters. He was also referring to the importance of collaborating with private sector companies, many of whom were represented in the audience.
During the event, joint teams of FBI and Secret Service agents discussed a number of various cyber-related topics to educate and raise awareness of the cyber threat. Those topics included the extent of the problem (more than 500 million personal records stolen over the past 12 months, according to public sources), various stages of a hack (from reconnaissance efforts to the actual data theft), our outreach efforts to the private sector (e.g., InfraGard, National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance), and Operation Clean Slate (the Bureau’s innovative and collaborative approach against the most serious botnet threats).
Also discussed were several significant cyber investigations—including operations Trident Breach, Coreflood, Ghost Click, and GameOver Zeus—that owed much of their success to the assistance provided by our private sector partners.
Other key players in these investigations—and in many of our cyber investigations overall—are our international law enforcement partners. Their support is vital because many of the cyber criminals that victimize American financial institutions, other businesses, and the American public operate outside of the U.S. Said FBI Assistant Director Joseph Demarest, Jr., “Wherever these actors sit in the world, we’re going after them.”
Demarest also warned financial industry representatives that a cyber intrusion “is going to happen” to their company at some point and he advised them to “have a plan” before it happens. That plan should include an internal response team and an already-established cyber point of contact with the U.S. government.
In today’s virtual world, it is well known that cyber crime can jeopardize our privacy, our economy, and even our national security. Less well known is an organization—the National Cyber ...
Cyber Security: Task Force Takes ‘Whole Government’ Approach
Hackers compromising banking and retail networks to steal consumers’ personal information. Foreign actors virtually accessing our trade secrets. Criminal groups lining their pockets by exploiting any online vulnerability they can find.
In today’s virtual world, it is well known that cyber crime can jeopardize our privacy, our economy, and even our national security. Less well known is an organization—the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force—that is working around the clock to fight the threat.
There was never any dispute that Rocrast Mack, a 24-year-old serving time on drug charges in a state prison in Alabama, died at the hands of corrections officers in 2010. What wasn’t immediately ...
Color of Law: Agent Exposes Civil Rights Crimes in Alabama Prison
|A view of the prison yard at the Ventress Correctional Facility in Alabama. The image was part of a display in court to show the perspectives of witnesses to the fatal 2010 assault of an inmate by corrections officers.|
There was never any dispute that Rocrast Mack, a 24-year-old serving time on drug charges in a state prison in Alabama, died at the hands of corrections officers in 2010. What wasn’t immediately clear was how and why the inmate sustained a lethal beating.
What was known was this: On August 4, 2010, a female corrections officer confronted Mack in his bunk, accused him of inappropriate behavior, and struck him. Mack retaliated, the officer radioed for help, more officers arrived, and Mack was beaten in three separate prison locations over a 40-minute period. He died the next day from his injuries. Guards claimed Mack was fighting them throughout the ordeal and sustained his fatal injuries in a fall.
An investigator from Alabama’s State Bureau of Investigation thought the stories didn’t add up and called the FBI, which investigates cases of abuse of authority—or color of law—and other civil rights violations. When Special Agent Susan Hanson opened her case at the Ventress Correctional Facility, it was evident her biggest challenge would be getting to the truth.
James Comey, speaking today at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., talked about the challenges that law enforcement face as we carry out our duty to keep Americans safe while addressing the ...
Director Comey Discusses Impact of Emerging Technology on Public Safety
|“The law hasn’t kept pace with technology, and this disconnect has created a significant public safety problem,” Director Comey said in a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.|
James Comey, speaking today at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., talked about the challenges that law enforcement face as we carry out our duty to keep Americans safe while addressing the issue of “Going Dark.” He explained that while technology has become the tool of choice for some very dangerous people, the law hasn’t kept pace with technology and the resulting disconnect has created a significant public safety issue. Said Comey, “Those charged with protecting people aren’t always able to access the evidence we need to prosecute crime and prevent terrorism. We have the legal authority to intercept and access communications and information pursuant to court order, but we often lack the technical ability to do so.”
Comey cited a number of investigative examples where critical evidence came from smartphones, hard drives, and online communication, and he stressed the importance of assistance and cooperation from private sector partners in these matters. He also said that Bureau employees are sworn to protect both security and liberty. “It isn’t a question of conflict,” according to Comey. “We must care deeply about protecting liberty through due process of law, while also safeguarding the citizens we serve—in every investigation.”
It is yet another example of how social media can be dangerous for young people. Recently, a Houston man was sentenced to 40 years in prison on child sex trafficking charges after identifying and ...
Sex Trafficker Receives 40-Year Sentence
It is yet another example of how social media can be dangerous for young people. Recently, a Houston man was sentenced to 40 years in prison on child sex trafficking charges after identifying and contacting young girls through social media platforms and then luring them into prostitution.