DOJ indicts 80, many based in Nigeria, in business email scam and money laundering

The Justice Department today announced indictments for 80 individuals on charges they ran a massive business email and money laundering scam that operated in part out of Southern California.

DoJ's 145-page indictment was unsealed Thursday, and charges 80 named individuals with conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud, plus aggravated identity theft and money laundering.

More than a dozen individuals were arrested during raids on Thursday, most of which took place in the greater Los Angeles area.

News of the early-morning Southern California raids on Thursday were first reported by LA's ABC7 News.

Zack Whittaker at TechCrunch:

But it’s not immediately known if the Nigerian nationals will be extradited to the U.S., however a treaty exists between the two nations making extraditions possible.

U.S. Attorney Nicola Hanna said the case was part of an ongoing effort to protect citizens and businesses from email scams.

“Today, we have taken a major step to disrupt criminal networks that use [business email scam] schemes, romance scams and other frauds to fleece victims,” he said. “This indictment sends a message that we will identify perpetrators — no matter where they reside — and we will cut off the flow of ill-gotten gains.”

These business email compromise scams rely partly on deception and in some cases hacking. Scammers send specially crafted spearphishing emails to their targets in order to trick them into turning over sensitive information about the company, such as sending employee W-2 tax documents so scammers can generate fraudulent refunds, or tricking an employee into making wire transfers to bank accounts controlled by the scammers.

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The TSA strip searched a grandmother on Mother's Day and now says that she's overreacting because it's no different from a locker room

Last Mother's Day, grandmother Rhonda Mengert was subjected to a pat-down search at Tulsa airport, wherein a TSA agent felt a panty-liner in her underwear; she was then forced to strip down and show her panty-liner to a female TSA agent. Naturally, she filed suit against the TSA. Read the rest

Judge orders the State of Georgia to be prepared for pen-and-paper balloting by March 2020

Few states have voting machines that are simultaneously more obviously defective and more ardently defended by the state government than Georgia, where 16-year-old touchscreen systems are prone to reporting ballots cast by 243% of the eligible voters and where gross irregularities in election administration sends voters to the wrong polling places or sends co-habitating husbands and wives to polls in different cities to cast their votes. Read the rest

Lawyer son loses trademark fight with lawyer dad, can't use own name for firm

George Sink Sr. is well-known to South Carolina couch potatoes thanks to the endless rotation of ads pitching his personal injury firm. George Sink Jr. is his son, also a lawyer, and now forbidden from using his own name to market his own firm.

A federal judge on Friday issued a temporary restraining order banning the younger Sink from using the “George Sink” name on his firm’s website, social media accounts and email address. The ban will stay in place until the case is heard by an arbitrator. The elder Sink’s corporation — George Sink P.A. Personal Injury Lawyers — sued Sink Jr. in April to stop him from using his birth name professionally, saying it violates trademark laws and confuses consumers.

Sink the Younger used to work for his dad but was fired by him: first from the family firm, then from the family name. Read the rest

The Past and Future of The Internet: A Symposium for John Perry Barlow

The Duke Law and Technology Review has released a special edition dedicated to examining the legal and philosophical legacy of John Perry Barlow: co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation; junior lyricist for the Grateful Dead; biofuel entrepreneur; philosopher; poet; hacker Zelig; and driven, delightful weirdo. Read the rest

Billions on the line as Facebook loses appeal over violating Illinois facial recognition law

Facebook has lost a procedural appeal related to a 2015 Illinois class-action lawsuit over the company's use of facial recognition data, and now it could be on the hook for billions in damages. Read the rest

As New York State's shareholder suit against Big Oil for climate denial proceeds, Exxonmobil caught intimidating witnesses

In 2015, a deep investigative report from Inside Climate News revealed that as early as 1977, Exxonmobil knew that it was destroying the planet with CO2 emissions, and its response to that fact was to gin up a decades-long disinformation campaign aimed at sowing expensive doubt about the subject, even as it grew more certain of its facts. Read the rest

Science fiction and the law: beyond mere courtroom drama

Christopher Brown is a lawyer and science fiction writer; his debut, 2017's Tropic of Kansas, was an outstanding novel of authoritarianism and resistance, and his next book, Rule of Capture (out on Monday, watch for my review!) is a legal thriller about disaster capitalism, climate catastrophe, and hard-fought political change. Read the rest

Massachusetts says Purdue's profits from a single opioid addict were $200,000

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is not the first state to sue Purdue Pharma, members of the Sackler family (who own the company), and other board members for their role in deliberately seeking to addict people to their powerful opioid Oxycontin, but unlike other states, Massachusetts is conducting the suit in the public eye, targeting a court judgment rather than a quiet settlement with an accompanying gag-order. Read the rest

Elsevier sends copyright threat to site for linking to Sci-Hub

Sci-Hub (previously) is a scrappy, nonprofit site founded in memory of Aaron Swartz, dedicated to providing global access to the world's scholarship -- journal articles that generally report on publicly-funded research, which rapacious, giant corporations acquire for free, and then charge the very same institutions that paid for the research millions of dollars a year to access. Read the rest

Cisco's failure to heed whistleblower's warning about security defects in video surveillance software costs the company $8.6m in fines

In 2008, a security researcher named James Glenn warned Cisco that its video surveillance software had a defect that made it vulnerable to a trivial-to-exploit attack; for four years afterward, the company continued to sell this software to schools, airports, hospitals, state/local governments, the US military, FEMA, the Secret Service and police departments without mitigating the defect or warning their customers that internet-connected randos could undetectably peer through their security cameras, unlock their doors, disable their alarms, and delete footage. Read the rest

Affluent parents surrender custody of their kids to "scam" their way into needs-based college scholarships

Propublica Illinois has identified "dozens of suburban Chicago families" who surrendered custody of their children during the kids' junior and senior years of high-school, turning them over to aunts, grandparents, friends, and cousins, so that the kids claim to be independent and qualify for needs-based scholarships, crowding out the poor kids the scholarship was designed for. Read the rest

Academic used GDPR request to reveal they'd been secretly blacklisted

In The Independent, Dora B writes about experiencing a growing and disturbing awareness that they were being shunned and excluded from their field of specialism. Dora eventually used the GDPR—Europe's recent law providing access to the data held on you by companies and institutions—to expose what was going on. Dora was not only professionally blacklisted, the emails revealed, but privately the subject of insults, scorn and abuse from peers that Dora trusted and depended upon for references and appointments.

Firstly, my eminent and influential PhD supervisor had let it be widely known that they thought I was an unpleasant person, impossible to work with, fundamentally stupid, and that I definitely shouldn’t be doing a doctorate.

They complained vigorously about having such an awful student, but never mentioned the two hour-long interviews they conducted with me before agreeing to take me on. After that, one of my PhD examiners had been asked about me off the record, and had advised against me. They repeatedly used insults and demeaning adjectives to block me from several employment positions and speaking engagements.

I approached the individuals and the institutions concerned about the content of my Subject Access Request. They all refused to discuss the matter with me, so I can only speculate as to what was going on. If my conduct had been that awful, I would have received a warning or been subject to some kind of disciplinary procedure, but I wasn’t, so where my supervisor thought I was difficult, it is equally possible that, as a mature student, I merely had clear boundaries.

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Small but meaningful progress towards a federal Right to Repair rule

The Right to Repair movement has introduced dozens of state-level laws that would force companies to support independent repairs by making manuals, parts and diagnostic codes available, and by ending the illegal practice of voiding warranties for customers who use independent repair services, but these bills keep getting killed by overwhelming shows of lobbying force from members of the highly concentrated manufacturing sector, particularly Apple, whose CEO, Tim Cook, warned investors in January that the number one threat to Iphone sales is that customers are choosing to repair, rather than replace, their mobile devices. Read the rest

How to hide from the cops

Step 1: be small enough to fit in a trashcan.

(Protip: recycling cans smell better) Read the rest

Heirs' property: how southern states allow white land developers to steal reconstruction-era land from Black families

Back in 2017, The Nation ran a superb, in-depth story on "heirs' property," a legalized form of property theft that allows primarily rich white developers to expropriate land owned by the descendants of Black slaves. Read the rest

Cooperative porno copyright troll gets 5 years in prison, while his co-conspirator got 14 years

Last month, Paul Hansmeier was sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay $1.5m in restitution for the copyright trolling his firm, Prenda Law, engaged in: the firm used a mix of entrapment, blackmail, identity theft, intimidation and fraud to extort millions from its victims by threatening to drag them into court for alleged infringement of copyright in eye-watering pornography, thus forever associating their victims' name with lurid pornography in the public record. Read the rest

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