El Chapo’s Encryption Defeated by Turning His IT Consultant

Impressive police work: In a daring move that placed his life in danger, the I.T. consultant eventually gave the F.B.I. his system’s secret encryption keys in 2011 after he had moved the network’s servers from Canada to the Netherlands during what he told the cartel’s leaders was a routine upgrade. A Dutch article says that it’s a BlackBerry system. Hacker…

Impressive police work:

In a daring move that placed his life in danger, the I.T. consultant eventually gave the F.B.I. his system's secret encryption keys in 2011 after he had moved the network's servers from Canada to the Netherlands during what he told the cartel's leaders was a routine upgrade.

A Dutch article says that it's a BlackBerry system.

Hacker News thread.

Slashdot thread.

from https://www.schneier.com/blog/

‘I Never Worked for Russia,’ Trump Says on FBI Report

President Trump lashed out after the New York Times reported that the FBI opened an inquiry into the commander in chief after he fired FBI director James Comey that centered on whether Trump was a national security threat to his own country. The White House calls the reported investigation “absurd.”

President Trump lashed out after the New York Times reported that the FBI opened an inquiry into the commander in chief after he fired FBI Director James Comey that centered on whether Trump was a national security threat to his own country, Politico reports. Trump tweeted that the “corrupt former leaders of the FBI, almost all fired or forced to leave the agency for some very bad reasons, opened up an investigation on me, for no reason & with no proof, after I fired Lyin’ James Comey, a total sleaze!” The FBI’s investigation was related to whether Trump had obstructed justice by firing Comey and included a counterintelligence component on whether Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had fallen under the Kremlin’s influence . “This is absurd,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “James Comey was fired because he’s a disgraced partisan hack, and his Deputy Andrew McCabe, who was in charge at the time, is a known liar fired by the FBI.” On Monday, Trump declared, “I never worked for Russia,” Axios reports.

The Times’ report was based on the accounts of unnamed former law enforcement officials, “others familiar with the investigation” and former FBI general counsel James. A Baker’s private congressional testimony. The bureau’s investigation was taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller. The president told NBC’s Lester Holt that he fired Comey over the investigation into Russian collusion. Trump also tweeted that Comey “is being totally protected by his best friend, Bob Mueller.” Although Comey and Mueller are acquaintances, Mueller is a good friend of Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, William Barr.

from https://thecrimereport.org

The FBI Indexing System

     One of the most important aspects of an FBI field office is not actually in the office: indexes. At one time, these were little more than 3 by 5 cards, maintained in scores, if not hundreds, of file cabinets in every FBI field offic…

     One of the most important aspects of an FBI field office is not actually in the office: indexes. At one time, these were little more than 3 by 5 cards, maintained in scores, if not hundreds, of file cabinets in every FBI field office. For example, the New York Office of the FBI had over 7 million such cards before the system was automated. The FBI has long prided itself on information management, and under Director J. Edgar Hoover, the development of the index system was a notable first for the FBI. The Bureau had many complex rules about indexing, and laborious though it may be, it is one of the most important things an agent does. If, for example, an agent conducts an interview of a witness to a bank robbery, the person's name, address, and phone number are indexed. So, too, are the names and information developed during the course of the interview.

     This indexing is now done on a computer system, so that all FBI field offices share the same information. If, years later, only the phone number came up in another investigation, it could be traced back to the original interview. Indeed, many cases have been made or advanced over the years through the ability of the FBI to retrieve information from its own files. [When I was in the bureau, each criminal complaint that came across an agent's desk had been "indexed." That is, all names, vehicles, and addresses mentioned in the complaint that were in the index file were noted. Quite often this cross referencing provided an agent with his first lead in the case.]

Joseph W. Koletar, The FBI Career Guide, 2006 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Categories: FBI

Comey: Trump Tries ‘To Burn Down the Entire FBI’

After his second closed-door appearance before two House committees this month, ex-FBI director James Comey chides Republicans for not challenging President Trump’s criticism of the FBI.

Former FBI director James Comey accused President Trump on Monday of trying “to burn down the entire FBI” and charged that congressional Republicans were willing accomplices for failing to challenge him, reports the Washington Post. “The FBI’s reputation has taken a big hit because the president with his acolytes has lied about it constantly,” Comey said after his second closed-door interview this month with House lawmakers running a politically divisive investigation into how federal law enforcement  handled probes of the Trump campaign’s alleged Russia ties and Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Comey directed his vitriol not just at members of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees, but at all Republicans — including retiring GOP lawmakers, such as Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who have openly criticized Trump but aren’t seeking reelection. “At some point, someone has to stand up and face the fear of Fox News, fear of their base, fear of mean tweets, stand up for the values of this country and not slink away into retirement but stand up and speak the truth,” Comey said, without naming names. Comey testified for nearly six hours Monday. During the earlier session he defended his decisions as FBI director — such as superseding then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch to declare the Clinton probe closed and then informing congressional leaders days before the 2016 election that it had been reopened. On Monday, Comey refused to take any personal responsibility for the reputation of the FBI having suffered under his stewardship. He blamed Trump for “lying about the FBI, attacking the FBI and attacking the rule of law in this country” and the “silence from people in this building” — meaning Capitol Hill — for allowing him to do it.

from https://thecrimereport.org

FBI Takes Down a Massive Advertising Fraud Ring

The FBI announced that it dismantled a large Internet advertising fraud network, and arrested eight people: A 13-count indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Aleksandr Zhukov, Boris Timokhin, Mikhail Andreev, Denis Avdeev, Dmitry Novikov, Sergey Ovsyannikov, Aleksandr Isaev and Yevgeniy Timchenko with criminal violations for their involvement in perpetrating widespread digital advertising fraud. The charges include…

The FBI announced that it dismantled a large Internet advertising fraud network, and arrested eight people:

A 13-count indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Aleksandr Zhukov, Boris Timokhin, Mikhail Andreev, Denis Avdeev, Dmitry Novikov, Sergey Ovsyannikov, Aleksandr Isaev and Yevgeniy Timchenko with criminal violations for their involvement in perpetrating widespread digital advertising fraud. The charges include wire fraud, computer intrusion, aggravated identity theft and money laundering. Ovsyannikov was arrested last month in Malaysia; Zhukov was arrested earlier this month in Bulgaria; and Timchenko was arrested earlier this month in Estonia, all pursuant to provisional arrest warrants issued at the request of the United States. They await extradition. The remaining defendants are at large.

It looks like an impressive piece of police work.

Details of the forensics that led to the arrests.

from https://www.schneier.com/blog/

Robert Lustyik: Rogue FBI Agent

     Special Agent Robert Lustyik, a 48-year-old assigned to the FBI resident agency in White Plains, New York, was under investigation by various federal agencies for soliciting bribes from a native of Bangladesh named Rizve Ahmed. Agent Lustyik and his lifelong friend, Johannes Thaler, a ladies shoe salesman from Tarrytown, Connecticut, were suspected of selling FBI data to Ahmed. The information pertained to a political opponent of Ahmed’s in Bangladesh, material Ahmed could use to harm his rival. Federal authorities believed agent Lustyik’s and his accomplice’s scheme unfolded between September 2011 through March 2012.

     Federal investigators had acquired a series of text messages between Lustyik and Thaler discussing how to pressure Ahmed, a resident of Danbury, Connecticut, into paying them the maximum amount of money for the information taken from confidential FBI files. In one such message, Lustyik wrote: “We need to push Ahmed for this meeting and get that $40,000 quick…I will talk us into getting the cash…I will work my magic. We are so close.” 
    In a text message to his FBI friend, Thaler replied: “I know. It’s all right there in front of us. Pretty soon we’ll be having lunch in our oceanfront restaurant.” 
     The FBI agent’s scheme threatened to unravel in January 2012 when Lustyik learned that Ahmed was considering using another source for the information he wanted. In a text message to Thaler, Lustyik wrote: “I want to kill him [Ahmed]…I’m pissed…I will put a wire on and get Ahmed and his associates to admit they want a Bangladeshi political figure offed [murdered]…We’ll sell that information to him [Ahmed].” 
     According to their scheme, the FBI agent and his accomplice hoped to secure, from Ahmed, a $40,000 “retainer”and monthly payments of $30,000. Only $1,000 in bribe money had actually exchanged hands. 
     Besides the Bangladesh scheme, the criminally industrious FBI agent and his co-conspirator had another illegal iron in the fire. In a separate, parallel case, Lustyik and Thaler stood accused of using the agent’s access to FBI data to thwart a federal investigation into military contract fraud involving a Utah-based company formed by former U.S. soldiers. The company’s head, Michael Taylor, was charged in 2011 with using inside information to win inflated government contracts worth $54 million. The contracts were intended to supply weapons to Afghan troops. 
     Agent Lustyik, in exchange for millions of dollars, offered to make Michael Taylor look like a valuable counterintelligence source by creating a dossier of fake interviews with former agents and prosecutors. In a text message to Taylor, Lustyik wrote: “I will not stop in my attempt to sway this [investigation] your way.” Johannes Thaler’s role in the scene involved acting as a messenger between Lustyyik and Taylor. 
     Unfortunately for Special Agent Lustyik, Taylor and two of his employees pleaded guilty to the defense contract scheme in late 2011. A few months later, when he turned 50, Lustyik retired from the FBI. 
     FBI agents, on August 2, 2013, arrested Lustyik and Thaler for their roles in the Bangladesh bribery case. They were charged with conspiracy to bribe a public official and soliciting and receiving bribes. Lustyik was also charged with disclosing the contents of a FBI Suspicious Activity Report. Lustyik and Thaler posted their bonds and were released from custody to await their trials. If convicted, they faced up to 25 years in prison. 
     Michael Taylor, in December 2013, after spending 14 months in federal custody in Utah, gained his freedom by cutting a deal with federal prosecutors in the cases against Lustyik and Thaler. At this point the focus of the federal investigators was on the ex-FBI agent and his friend. 
     On September 30, 2014, the former FBI agent pleaded guilty in a Salt Lake City federal courtroom to attempting to derail the investigation into Michael Taylor’s defense contract case. Lustyik’s lawyer, in speaking to reporters, said that his client would not make a deal to cooperate with federal prosecutors. He would not testify against his friend, Johannes Thaler. 
     Johannes Thaler, 51, and Rizve Ahmed, 35, on October 17, 2014, pleaded guilty in a White Plains, New York federal court to bribery and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the Bangladesh case. Lustyik’s trial on these bribery charges was scheduled for November 2014. Both men were sentenced to 3 and a half years in prison.

     In September 2015, U. S. District Court Judge Vincent Briccetti sentenced Lustyik to five years in prison and two years of supervised release. The sentence ran consecutively to the ten year sentence he received in Utah following his 2014 guilty plea to conspiracy to engage in a bribery scheme. 

     Special Agent Robert Lustyik, a 48-year-old assigned to the FBI resident agency in White Plains, New York, was under investigation by various federal agencies for soliciting bribes from a native of Bangladesh named Rizve Ahmed. Agent Lustyik and his lifelong friend, Johannes Thaler, a ladies shoe salesman from Tarrytown, Connecticut, were suspected of selling FBI data to Ahmed. The information pertained to a political opponent of Ahmed's in Bangladesh, material Ahmed could use to harm his rival. Federal authorities believed agent Lustyik's and his accomplice's scheme unfolded between September 2011 through March 2012.

     Federal investigators had acquired a series of text messages between Lustyik and Thaler discussing how to pressure Ahmed, a resident of Danbury, Connecticut, into paying them the maximum amount of money for the information taken from confidential FBI files. In one such message, Lustyik wrote: "We need to push Ahmed for this meeting and get that $40,000 quick…I will talk us into getting the cash…I will work my magic. We are so close." 
    In a text message to his FBI friend, Thaler replied: "I know. It's all right there in front of us. Pretty soon we'll be having lunch in our oceanfront restaurant." 
     The FBI agent's scheme threatened to unravel in January 2012 when Lustyik learned that Ahmed was considering using another source for the information he wanted. In a text message to Thaler, Lustyik wrote: "I want to kill him [Ahmed]…I'm pissed…I will put a wire on and get Ahmed and his associates to admit they want a Bangladeshi political figure offed [murdered]…We'll sell that information to him [Ahmed]." 
     According to their scheme, the FBI agent and his accomplice hoped to secure, from Ahmed, a $40,000 "retainer"and monthly payments of $30,000. Only $1,000 in bribe money had actually exchanged hands. 
     Besides the Bangladesh scheme, the criminally industrious FBI agent and his co-conspirator had another illegal iron in the fire. In a separate, parallel case, Lustyik and Thaler stood accused of using the agent's access to FBI data to thwart a federal investigation into military contract fraud involving a Utah-based company formed by former U.S. soldiers. The company's head, Michael Taylor, was charged in 2011 with using inside information to win inflated government contracts worth $54 million. The contracts were intended to supply weapons to Afghan troops. 
     Agent Lustyik, in exchange for millions of dollars, offered to make Michael Taylor look like a valuable counterintelligence source by creating a dossier of fake interviews with former agents and prosecutors. In a text message to Taylor, Lustyik wrote: "I will not stop in my attempt to sway this [investigation] your way." Johannes Thaler's role in the scene involved acting as a messenger between Lustyyik and Taylor. 
     Unfortunately for Special Agent Lustyik, Taylor and two of his employees pleaded guilty to the defense contract scheme in late 2011. A few months later, when he turned 50, Lustyik retired from the FBI. 
     FBI agents, on August 2, 2013, arrested Lustyik and Thaler for their roles in the Bangladesh bribery case. They were charged with conspiracy to bribe a public official and soliciting and receiving bribes. Lustyik was also charged with disclosing the contents of a FBI Suspicious Activity Report. Lustyik and Thaler posted their bonds and were released from custody to await their trials. If convicted, they faced up to 25 years in prison. 
     Michael Taylor, in December 2013, after spending 14 months in federal custody in Utah, gained his freedom by cutting a deal with federal prosecutors in the cases against Lustyik and Thaler. At this point the focus of the federal investigators was on the ex-FBI agent and his friend. 
     On September 30, 2014, the former FBI agent pleaded guilty in a Salt Lake City federal courtroom to attempting to derail the investigation into Michael Taylor's defense contract case. Lustyik's lawyer, in speaking to reporters, said that his client would not make a deal to cooperate with federal prosecutors. He would not testify against his friend, Johannes Thaler. 
     Johannes Thaler, 51, and Rizve Ahmed, 35, on October 17, 2014, pleaded guilty in a White Plains, New York federal court to bribery and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in the Bangladesh case. Lustyik's trial on these bribery charges was scheduled for November 2014. Both men were sentenced to 3 and a half years in prison.

     In September 2015, U. S. District Court Judge Vincent Briccetti sentenced Lustyik to five years in prison and two years of supervised release. The sentence ran consecutively to the ten year sentence he received in Utah following his 2014 guilty plea to conspiracy to engage in a bribery scheme. 

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

FBI To Collect National Data on Police Use of Force

The FBI says its new National Use-of-Force Data Collection project’s goal is not to investigate specific cases, but “to offer a comprehensive view of the circumstances, subjects, and officers involved in such incidents nationwide.”

The FBI announced that it will start a National Use-of-Force Data Collection project on January 1.

While some law enforcement agencies and states have developed their own use-of-force data collections, “there has been no mechanism for collecting nationwide statistics related to use-of-force incidents,” the bureau says.

The FBI said the project was begun “at the request of major law enforcement organizations … in an effort to promote more informed conversations regarding law enforcement use of force in the United States.”

In 2016, then-FBI Director James  Comey told police chiefs that despite a wave of protests prompted by fatal police shootings of black people, “Americans actually have no idea” about how often police use force because nobody has collected enough data.

The goal is not to investigate specific cases, but “to offer a comprehensive view of the circumstances, subjects, and officers involved in such incidents nationwide,” the FBI said. It hopes that collection and dissemination of the data will inform the public and ultimately strengthen the nation’s confidence in law enforcement.”

As with all Uniform Crime Reporting programs, participation by local police is voluntary.

The FBI said the project is supported by a number of groups, including the Criminal Justice Information Services Advisory Policy Board, the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies, Association of State UCR Programs, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Major County Sheriffs of America, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and the Police Executive Research Forum.

from https://thecrimereport.org

J. Edgar Hoover: Devil With the Blue Dress

     If the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1924 to 1972 thought much about his legacy, he probably hoped to be remembered as the man who professionalized criminal investigation, and elevated the image of t…

     If the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1924 to 1972 thought much about his legacy, he probably hoped to be remembered as the man who professionalized criminal investigation, and elevated the image of the FBI agent. As the man responsible for the FBI fingerprint bureau, crime laboratory, National Police Academy, and the "FBI Bulletin," one could argue that Mr. Hoover played a positive role in the history of 20th Century American law enforcement.

    Hoover's critics, and there were many of them, portrayed him as a power-hungry phony who, over four decades, abused his power. Although a dozen or so books have been published about J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI under his directorship, he probably would not be remembered at all by the general public had there not been a book published in 1993 by the Irish journalist (some would say tabloid journalist) Anthony Summers.

     In "Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover," Summers, relying on information from the embittered wife of a Hoover crony, paints Hoover as a cross-dressing homosexual. Ronald Kessler, a former FBI agent and author of "The Secrets of the FBI," considers the cross-dressing story a fabrication by a vengeful woman who later served time for perjury. While most FBI historians agree with Mr. Kessler on this, the image of Hoover wearing a dress and high-heels has stuck. This is how he is remembered, or at least referred to, by people influenced by supermarket celebrity rags, and late-night TV.

     Clint Eastwood's 2011 movie, "J. Edgar," had it not focused so much on the Lindbergh kidnapping case and Hoover's strange relationship with his mother and his right-hand man, Clyde Tolson, may have triggered a public debate over Hoover's place in the history of American law enforcement. Instead, the discussion mainly featured the film itself.

     Agents who worked under Hoover, many of whom belong to the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI, were outraged by the film. As an agent who worked in Hoover's FBI and is not a member of the organization, I remember being surprised that agents who complained bitterly about working conditions under the director suddenly became Hoover fans after they retired and joined the group.

     On the other side of the debate, critics of the film accuse Clint Eastwood of glossing over Hoover's abuse of power and the corrupting influence he had on the agency. It seemed that in making this film, Eastwood managed to offend everyone, including regular moviegoers who thought the flick was too long, and worse, boring and off-putting.

     As for J. Edgar Hoover and the memory of him, it looks like he was not getting out of that dress any time soon.   

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Categories: FBI

FBI Agent Gets Four-Year Term for Leaking

Terry Albury, 39, of Minneapolis, admitted leaking national defense material because he was unhappy about the FBI’s treatment of minorities. He is the second to be sentenced in a Trump administration crackdown on leaks.

Confronted with what he saw as the FBI’s mistreatment of minorities, former Minneapolis special agent Terry Albury felt the need to act. What he did led to a four-year prison sentence, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Albury, 39, who joined the bureau in 2000 and was most recently assigned as an airport liaison, was sentenced Thursday. He had pleaded guilty to making an unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and unlawful retention of national defense information. Prosecutors say Albury shared documents — some considered classified — on evaluating potential informants, along with a document “relating to threats posed by certain individuals from a particular Middle Eastern country.”

He is the second person sentenced as part of the Trump administration’s crackdown on government employee leaks to the media. The other, Reality Winner, a former National Security Agency contractor, got a five-year prison term for disclosing a top-secret report on how Russian operatives gained access to U.S. election databases. In delivering Albury’s sentence, U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright said that while his motivations may have been pure, he didn’t have the right to break the law. “You put the United States at risk,” she said. “In your mind, a noble cause and a just action; in the minds of those who understand national security, a fool’s errand.” Albury admitted last spring to leaking the documents to an unnamed reporter. While never identified in court filings, it’s widely believed that the information ended up in the hands of The Intercept, which used them in its “FBI’s Secret Rules” series on how the bureau assesses potential informants. The case has worried press freedom advocates, who see it as fulfillment of Attorney General Jeff  Sessions’ pledge to crack down on government leakers.

from https://thecrimereport.org

FBI Agent Gets Four-Year Term for Leaking

Terry Albury, 39, of Minneapolis, admitted leaking national defense material because he was unhappy about the FBI’s treatment of minorities. He is the second to be sentenced in a Trump administration crackdown on leaks.

Confronted with what he saw as the FBI’s mistreatment of minorities, former Minneapolis special agent Terry Albury felt the need to act. What he did led to a four-year prison sentence, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Albury, 39, who joined the bureau in 2000 and was most recently assigned as an airport liaison, was sentenced Thursday. He had pleaded guilty to making an unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and unlawful retention of national defense information. Prosecutors say Albury shared documents — some considered classified — on evaluating potential informants, along with a document “relating to threats posed by certain individuals from a particular Middle Eastern country.”

He is the second person sentenced as part of the Trump administration’s crackdown on government employee leaks to the media. The other, Reality Winner, a former National Security Agency contractor, got a five-year prison term for disclosing a top-secret report on how Russian operatives gained access to U.S. election databases. In delivering Albury’s sentence, U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright said that while his motivations may have been pure, he didn’t have the right to break the law. “You put the United States at risk,” she said. “In your mind, a noble cause and a just action; in the minds of those who understand national security, a fool’s errand.” Albury admitted last spring to leaking the documents to an unnamed reporter. While never identified in court filings, it’s widely believed that the information ended up in the hands of The Intercept, which used them in its “FBI’s Secret Rules” series on how the bureau assesses potential informants. The case has worried press freedom advocates, who see it as fulfillment of Attorney General Jeff  Sessions’ pledge to crack down on government leakers.

from https://thecrimereport.org