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Nov 05, 2015 02:30 PM

Navy Engineer Sentenced for Attempted Espionage

A civilian engineer was sentenced to 11 years in prison for providing schematics of the U.S. Navy’s newest nuclear aircraft carrier to an individual he thought was an Egyptian intelligence officer.

Navy Engineer Sentenced for Attempted Espionage

In the fall of 2014, civilian engineer Mostafa Ahmed Awwad provided schematics of the U.S. Navy’s newest nuclear aircraft carrier—the USS Gerald R. Ford—to an individual he thought was an Egyptian intelligence officer. At the time, Awwad was an employee of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, and had access to naval nuclear propulsion information.

His actions could have potentially compromised the safety of some 4,000 American sailors who will be serving on the USS Gerald R. Ford after it joins the fleet of Navy vessels sometime next year—and the security of our nation in general. Fortunately, Awwad’s Egyptian contact turned out to be an undercover FBI agent. And last month, Awwad was sentenced to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty earlier this year to attempted espionage.

Full story

Nov 02, 2015 05:00 PM

Public Corruption Fugitive Extradited to U.S.

Public corruption is the FBI’s top criminal priority, and the recent return of a convicted public official who had fled overseas demonstrates the lengths the Bureau will go to ensure that those who ...

Public Corruption Fugitive Extradited to U.S.

Businessman Holding Contract (Stock Image)


Public corruption is the FBI’s top criminal priority, and the recent return of a convicted public official who had fled overseas demonstrates the lengths the Bureau will go to ensure that those who betray the public trust are brought to justice.

The investigation into Amer Ahmad, former deputy treasurer for the state of Ohio, began with allegations of corruption involving that office’s awarding of lucrative contracts to manage state-owned securities. It ended with guilty pleas and subsequent federal prison sentences for Ahmad and his three co-conspirators, but Ahmad was sentenced in absentia because he had fled to Pakistan, the birthplace of his parents.

Full story

Oct 29, 2015 05:00 PM

Financial Fraud

A man who brazenly sought to gain control of numerous condominium homeowners associations to secure lucrative contracts will be spending nearly 16 years in prison for his role in the $58 million ...

Financial Fraud

When a federal judge sentenced former Las Vegas construction boss Leon Benzer to nearly 16 years in prison in August, it marked a final chapter in a $58 million fraud scheme that took investigators nearly a decade to unravel.

Over a period of many years, Benzer brazenly sought to gain control of numerous condominium homeowners associations in the Las Vegas area to secure lucrative construction and other contracts for himself and additional conspirators. To date, 44 individuals, including numerous state officials, have been convicted of crimes in connection with the fraud—which has been described as one of the largest public corruption cases in Nevada history.

Full story

Oct 28, 2015 04:30 PM

FBI Seeking Information on 2006 Murder of Illinois Police Officer

The FBI continues to seek information on the nine-year-old murder of Maywood, Illinois police officer Thomas T. Wood, who was shot by an unknown subject while sitting in his police vehicle on October ...

FBI Seeking Information on 2006 Murder of Illinois Police Officer

The FBI continues to seek information on the nine-year-old murder of Maywood, Illinois police officer Thomas T. Wood, who was shot by an unknown subject while sitting in his police vehicle on October 23, 2006.

Wood, a nine-year veteran of the Maywood Police Department, was on duty in his marked patrol sports utility vehicle, with his K-9 partner in the back seat, when he was shot at approximately 10:30 p.m. at the intersection of 6th Avenue and Erie Street in Maywood. The K-9 was not injured. During its investigation, the Maywood Police Department requested the assistance of the FBI. Agents from the Chicago Field Office’s West Resident Agency began conducting interviews and have since followed leads generated over the past nine years.

The slain officer was 37 years old at the time of his death and left behind a wife and five children.

If you believe you have may information about the shooting, please contact your local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.

Related information:
- Seeking Information poster: Thomas T. Wood
- Press release

Oct 27, 2015 02:00 PM

Cyber Tip: Social Media and the Use of Personal Information

As part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the FBI is providing weekly cyber tips. This week’s tip is on the risks of posting personal information to social networking sites and how users ...

Cyber Tip: Social Media and the Use of Personal Information
National Cyber Security Awareness Month

National Cyber Security Awareness Month GraphicThe myriad of social networking websites currently available have hundreds of millions of registered users. But just like any kind of cyberspace communication, using social media can involve some risk.

Once a user posts information to a social networking site, that information can no longer be considered private and can be used for criminal purposes. Even if you use the highest security settings on your account, others may—intentionally or not—leak your information. And once in the hands of criminals, this personal information can be used to conduct all kinds of cyber attacks against you or your family members, friends, or business associates in an effort to obtain additional and even more sensitive personal information.

For example, cyber criminals often craft very convincing spear phishing campaigns leveraging information found on social media to obtain more sensitive personal information. Spear phishers target select groups of people with something in common—i.e., they work at the same company, bank at the same financial institution, attend the same college, or order merchandise from the same website. Authentic-looking e-mails are sent to potential victims—ostensibly from organizations or individuals they would normally get e-mails from—asking the recipients to click on embedded links in the e-mail. These links lead to official-looking websites, where victims are asked, for a variety of urgent and legitimate-sounding reasons, to input personal information like passwords, account numbers, user IDs, and PINs. The result? Criminals can get hold of your banking credentials and credit cards numbers, download malware onto your computer, gain access to sensitive company data, and/or hijack your computer for other nefarious purposes.

Criminals who troll social networking sites looking for information or people to target for exploitation run the gamut—from sexual predators, hackers, and financial fraudsters to business competitors and foreign state actors.

There are several ways you can minimize the risks associated with posting information on social networking sites and the subsequent theft of more sensitive data, from using two-factor authentication and monitoring your children’s use of the Internet to never clicking on a link embedded in a social media message or e-mail. View additional tips and information.

Related information:
- FBI.gov story: National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015
- FBI, This Week podcast: Social Media Safety

Oct 27, 2015 01:00 PM

HIG Symposium Facilitates Exchange of Research on Lawful Interrogations

Director Comey addressed the fifth annual High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) research symposium last week, where scientists from the U.S. and abroad who work with the HIG had the ...

HIG Symposium Facilitates Exchange of Research on Lawful Interrogations

“The rule of law in the Constitution is our spine, it’s who we are, it’s part of our fiber ... and we want humane, effective, lawful encounters with every human being.”

Those words were spoken last week by FBI Director James Comey as he was discussing the efforts of the U.S. government’s High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) during the HIG’s fifth annual research symposium, held October 23 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C.

Comey, who briefed symposium participants on the evolving terror threat, also said that the HIG’s work “is valuable beyond national security cases” and that the group’s research and training efforts benefit law enforcement interviewers as well.

The HIG, established in 2009, brings together personnel from the U.S. Intelligence Community to conduct interrogations that strengthen national security and that are consistent with the rule of law. But in addition to its operational role in eliciting accurate and actionable intelligence from high-value terrorism subjects, the HIG plays another vital role as well—serving as the government’s focal point for interrogation best practices, training, and scientific research. And during its yearly research symposium—coordinated by the Center for Law & Human Behavior at the University of Texas at El Paso—scientists from the U.S. and abroad who work with the HIG have the opportunity to share with policy makers and intelligence professionals ground-breaking research that can impact the effectiveness of interview and interrogation methods.

Full story

Oct 23, 2015 04:30 PM

Race and Law Enforcement: FBI Director Furthers the Discussion

Continuing his efforts to move forward the discussion of race and law enforcement, FBI Director James Comey met earlier today with law students, faculty members, and others at the University of ...

Race and Law Enforcement: FBI Director Furthers the Discussion

Continuing his efforts to move forward the discussion of race and law enforcement, FBI Director James Comey met earlier today with law students, faculty members, and others at the University of Chicago Law School to talk about that issue and the broader “crisis of violent crime”—in particular homicides and shootings—taking place in some of the country’s most vulnerable communities over the past year. He reflected on possible factors fueling the crisis and the collective challenge faced by law enforcement and communities to address it effectively.

Discussing rising violent crime rates in many major U.S. cities so far in 2015, Comey said that he’s heard a lot of theories about what’s causing the increase. But the one explanation that makes the most sense to him is a possible change in policing behavior over the past year.

He asked, “In today’s YouTube world, are officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do that work that controls violent crime? Are officers answering 911 calls but avoiding the informal contact that keeps bad guys from standing around, especially with guns?” Comey believes that part of the behavior change should be welcome as “we continue to have important discussions about police conduct and de-escalation and the use of deadly force” and that “law enforcement will get better as a result.” But, he added, “we can’t lose sight of the fact that there really are people standing on the street with guns,” and that “lives are saved when those potential killers are confronted by a strong police presence and actual, honest-to-goodness, up close ‘What are you guys doing on this corner at one o’clock in the morning?’ policing.”

Comey also talked about the need for better data to gain a better understanding of what’s happening in communities—data related to violent crime and homicides, officer-involved shootings, altercations with citizens, and attacks against law enforcement officers. He continued to advocate for all law enforcement agencies to report this type of data to the FBI through its National Incident-Based Reporting System.

In an effort to get a handle on the violence threatening many communities around the country this year, Comey told participants that law enforcement and the public they serve must talk and listen to each other about “the state of our communities, the state of policing, and the state of our relationships.” His advice to the students he was speaking to? “We have to resist stereotypes. We have to look for information beyond anecdotes. And we must understand that we need each other.”

Resources:

Oct 23, 2015 02:00 PM

Operation Northern Spotlight

The FBI joined law enforcement officials from across Canada in Toronto yesterday to announce the results of Operation Northern Spotlight, a human trafficking investigation that led to the recovery of ...

Operation Northern Spotlight

The FBI joined law enforcement officials from across Canada in Toronto yesterday to announce the results of Operation Northern Spotlight, a human trafficking investigation that led to the recovery of 20 sexually exploited juveniles and the arrests of numerous individuals.

The Canadian operation—carried out by 40 police agencies and hundreds of law enforcement officers—was conducted as a parallel action with the FBI’s Operation Cross Country, the results of which were announced earlier this month.

Full story

Oct 22, 2015 01:00 PM

Director Briefs Congressional Oversight Committee on FBI’s Current Efforts

FBI Director James Comey, pledging to “be the best possible stewards of the authorities and the funding you have provided for us,” testified today before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary ...

Director Briefs Congressional Oversight Committee on FBI’s Current Efforts

FBI Director James Comey, pledging to “be the best possible stewards of the authorities and the funding you have provided for us,” testified today before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee on current Bureau efforts in a wide variety of priority investigative programs and initiatives.

Among the highlights:

  • Counterterrorism remains the FBI’s top priority, and the Bureau is working to address the evolving threat, including offshoots of al Qaeda, like ISIL, and the explosion of terrorist propaganda and training on the Internet.
  • In the counterintelligence realm, the Bureau continues to investigate traditional espionage—spies posing as diplomats or ordinary citizens—but we also remain focused on the growing insider threat: trusted employees and contractors who use their legitimate access to steal secrets to benefit another company or country.
  • In the cyber arena, an element of virtually every national security threat and crime problem the FBI faces is cyber-based or facilitated—cyber threats exist from those who want our state secrets, trade secrets, technology, and our ideas; those who maliciously steal or delete corporate data; and criminals on the so-called “dark web” who exchange information and tools that enable cyber crimes.
  • And on the criminal side, the FBI continues to place a premium on investigations involving public corruption, violations of civil rights, health care fraud, violent crime, transnational organized crime, crimes against children, and crimes in Indian Country, among others.

In his prepared statement, Comey also discussed the FBI’s commitment to countering the threat of nuclear smuggling and other weapons of mass destruction, his continued focus on the Going Dark communications technology gap, ongoing efforts to integrate intelligence and operations, the need for more and better Uniform Crime Reporting data related to officer-involved shootings, and the many state-of-the-art services provided by the FBI Laboratory to our law enforcement, intelligence, military, and forensic science partners.

Comey’s statement for the record

Oct 20, 2015 12:00 PM

Cyber Tip: Defense in Depth for the Everyday User

To protect systems and data in the corporate world, computer network defenders use the “Defense in Depth” principle, which focuses on implementing several layers of security to guard against cyber ...

Cyber Tip: Defense in Depth for the Everyday User
National Cyber Security Awareness Month

National Cyber Security Awareness Month GraphicTo protect systems and data in the corporate world, computer network defenders use the “Defense in Depth” principle, which focuses on implementing several layers of security to guard against cyber threats or, in the unfortunate case of a cyber compromise, to quickly detect and mitigate its effects. Fortunately, home users can apply some of the same methods to protect their own personal data.

For one, protect your mobile devices from cyber intruders in public places. If you login to a WiFi hotspot at your favorite coffee house, airport, or hotel, remember that not all hotspots have strong security protections. In many cases, it’s easy for the person sitting next to you, in the vehicle outside, or on the other side of the building to “sniff” traffic as it passes through the network and collect the content of your communications and your login information to sensitive sites. Avoid logging into sensitive accounts (such banking, social media, and e-mail), but if you have to, use a well-known personal virtual private network (VPN) service provider. A VPN encrypts your data and adds a layer of security to your communications, which makes it much more difficult for cyber snoops to steal.

Another technique is the out-of-band backup—which is backing up your data to a cloud environment or storing hard copies of your data at a different physical location. Many people back up their information to external hard drives connected to their computers on their home networks, But given recent trends in ransomware—a type of malware that infects computers and restricts users’ access to their files or threatens the destruction of their information unless a ransom is paid—cyber criminals can encrypt both your computer and any devices attached to it. Storing your backup out-of band is also useful in protecting data from natural disasters (fire, flood, etc.) that can destroy your physical devices.

Here are some other ways to defend your computer systems:

  • Ensure your operating system and software are up to date with the latest patches and versions and enable your firewall.
  • Install protective software (i.e., antivirus, antispyware), and run scans on a periodic basis.
  • Disable hidden file extensions (i.e., uncheck “hide extensions for known file types”) to ensure the file is what it purports to be.
  • Ignore unsolicited e-mails and be wary of attachments, links, and forms in e-mails that come from people you don’t know, which can contain malicious files or links.
  • Change the default administrator name and password on your wireless router, as well as the default SSID (service set identifier).
  • Use the built-in cover or tape over your webcam when not in use.
  • Disable guest accounts on your computer.
  • Use strong passwords for each computer account and disable automatic login.
  • Don’t read e-mail or browse the Internet using an administrator account.
  • Don’t leave your computer on 24/7—turn it off when you’re not using it.
  • Wipe your hard drive with disk wiping/cleaning software before you sell or recycle your old computer.

There is no one method or tool that will completely protect you from various cyber threats, but by using sound practices and implementing good security protections, you can raise the bar against the adversary and better protect your important data.

Related information:
- FBI.gov story: National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015
- FBI, This Week podcast: Out-of-Band Backups