Science and Technology News

Friday, August 26, 2016

Russian Cyber-Criminal Convicted of 38 Counts Related to Hacking Businesses and Stealing More Than Two Million Credit Card Numbers



Hacking Scheme Defrauded Banks of More Than $169 Million

A federal jury today convicted a Vladivostok, Russia, man of 38 counts related to his scheme to hack into point-of-sale computers to steal and sell credit card numbers to the criminal underworld, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes of the Western District of Washington. 

Roman Valerevich Seleznev, aka Track2, 32, was convicted after an eight-day trial of 10 counts of wire fraud, eight counts of intentional damage to a protected computer, nine counts of obtaining information from a protected computer, nine counts of possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices and two counts of aggravated identity theft.  U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones of the Western District of Washington scheduled sentencing for Dec. 2, 2016.

According to testimony at trial and court documents, between October 2009 and October 2013, Seleznev hacked into retail point-of-sale systems and installed malicious software (malware) to steal credit card numbers from various businesses from a server he operated in Russia.  Many of the businesses were small businesses, some of which were restaurants in Western Washington, including the Broadway Grill in Seattle, which was forced into bankruptcy following the cyber assault.

Evidence presented at trial demonstrated that the malware would steal the credit card data from the point-of-sale systems and send it to other servers that Seleznev controlled in Russia, the Ukraine or in McLean, Virginia.  Seleznev then bundled the credit card information into groups called “bases” and sold the information on various “carding” websites to buyers who would then use the credit card numbers for fraudulent purchases, according to the trial evidence.  Testimony at trial revealed that Seleznev’s scheme caused 3,700 financial institutions more than $169 million in losses.

When Seleznev was taken into custody in July 2014 in the Maldives, his laptop contained more than 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers, some of which were stolen from businesses in Western Washington.  The laptop also contained additional evidence linking Seleznev to the servers, email accounts and financial transactions involved in the scheme.

Seleznev is charged in a separate indictment in the District of Nevada with participating in a racketeer influenced corrupt organization (RICO) and conspiracy to engage in a RICO, as well as two counts of possession of 15 or more counterfeit and unauthorized access devices.  Seleznev is also charged in the Northern District of Georgia with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, one count of bank fraud and four counts of wire fraud.  An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The U.S. Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force investigated the case.  The task force includes detectives from the Seattle Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service Cyber Intelligence Section in Washington, D.C.   Trial Attorney Harold Chun of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Norman M. Barbosa and Seth Wilkinson of the Western District of Washington are prosecuting the case.   The CCIPS Cyber Crime Lab and its Director, Ovie Carroll, provided substantial support for the prosecution.  The Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Guam also provided assistance in this case.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News



More Cameras on Outside of School Buses Due to Vehicles Passing Them Illegally
Your4State.com, (08/19/2016), Mitti Hicks

The Montgomery County (Md.) Police Department is in the process of mounting some 1,200 school bus cameras, one on each vehicle in the district. The rollout will take a total of four years; surveys have shown that approximately 1,200 drivers pass buses illegally in the county every school day.
Link to Article


FWPD Tries New Crime-mapping Tool to Get Ahead of Trends
WFAA, (08/19/2016), Lauren Zakalik

The Omega Crime View Dashboard, a crime mapping tool updated twice daily, is helping officers from the Dallas-Ft. Worth Police Department access information on crime trends that previously could take up to two weeks to reach the field. Using information from this new database is allowing the department to adjust staffing as needed.
Link to Article


LPD Officers Undergo Simulation Firearms Training
Sentinel-Echo, (08/22/2016), Kelly McKinney

Using a "shoot/don't shoot" training simulator on loan from the Kentucky League of Cities, the London Police Department has put all of its officers through simulated firearms training over a period of several weeks. The department requires its officers to take a similar training course annually, but conducted the training on its own for the first time in 2016 thanks to the loaner equipment.
Link to Article


Corrections News
"It's Like a Baptismal": Prison Tattoo Removal Gives Ex-offenders a Chance at a New Life
Quartz, (08/20/2016), Renuka Rayasam

Research has indicated that inmates with tattoos have more rapid recidivism rates than those without, perhaps an indication that potential employers judge individuals based on their gang-related and other tattoos. Several jurisdictions have started programs to offer free tattoo removal to ex-inmates and soon-to-be ex-inmates in an attempt to cut down on reoffending. There are more than 200 free and low-cost tattoo removal programs in 37 states.
Link to Article


British Police Intercept Drones Flying Drugs, Cell Phones Into London Prison
Business Standard, (08/23/2016)

A drone crashed and another was intercepted by an officer as they attempted to fly contraband cell phones and illegal drugs into a prison north of London. Metropolitan Police are looking for anyone with information about the events, which took place on August 12 and 14 near London's Pentonville Jail.
Link to Article


The Bexar County Jail Will Soon Only Do Video Visitation
San Antonio Current, (08/16/2016), Mark Reagan

In Bexar County, N.M., a new policy of video-only visitation at the Bexar County Jail goes into effect September 1. The program, at an annual cost of $760,000, will allow individuals to speak to persons in the jail via a live link connected to housing pods. Requests for face-to-face visitation will be considered on a per-case basis.
Link to Article


Task Force Calls for 'Significantly Smaller' Youth Correctional Facilities
ABC8News, (08/5/2016), Kerri O'Brien

Juvenile offenders should be detained in smaller facilities closer to their homes, where their parents can be involved in their lives, according to recommendations from a Virginia state task force. A just-released interim report states that juvenile facilities should provide a therapeutic environment rather than simply confining individuals.
Link to Article


Probable Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in a Sample of Urban Jail Detainees
Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, (08/11/2016), Dawn Ruzich et al.

This article looks at the occurrence and prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder in urban jail settings, and presents the results of a study undertaken to fill the gap in knowledge and understanding of probable PTSD among jail detainees. Participants in this study were clients in the Integrated Multistage Program of Assessment and Comprehensive Treatment (IMPACT), a short-term, jail-based program that provides intensive substance abuse treatment and other services to male detainees.
Link to Article


Georgia Prisons: Gangs, Rising Violence, Thousands of Cellphones
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, (08/22/2016), Rhonda Cook

Facilities without air conditioning, contraband cell phones and gang prevalence all have contributed to recent violent incidents in Georgia correctional facilities, where two inmates have been killed in the past two weeks. This article explores the situation, which is chronic and ongoing, in depth.
Link to Article


Advancing Tech Keeps Inmates, Officers Safe
McPherson Sentinel, (08/22/2016), Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder

This article profiles the McPherson County Jail, the services it offers to its inmates, steps it takes to keep the facility safe and how technological innovations play a role in those efforts. Administrators note the facility can keep up with the times due to strong support from county government.
Link to Article


No Way to Call Home: Incarcerated Deaf People Are Locked in a Prison Inside a Prison
Truthout, (08/22/2016), Mike Ludwig

This article explores the circumstances affecting deaf and hard-of-hearing prisoners' ability to communicate, including looking at successful programs established in some facilities and the barriers that others put in place to block existing programs and services. It highlights that the needs of this community are little understood and often ignored.
Link to Article


Probation Now Handles Post-release Supervision
Ashland Gazette, (08/18/2016), Sam Farmer

The Nebraska State Legislature has adopted LB605, which implements the use of probation for people convicted of low-level offenses and ensures post-release supervision focusing on transitioning ex-offenders back into the community. This includes assistance with living arrangements, job placement and substance abuse treatment. This article examines the potential impact at the local level.
Link to Article


In U.S. Jails, a Constitutional Clash Over Air Conditioning
New York Times, (08/15/2016), Alan Blinder

Judges across the country have ruled that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution forbids incarceration in decidedly hot or cold temperatures, but corrections reform activists continue to encounter resistance to implementing air conditioning in facilities. Many facilities in the South lack air conditioning, but some state officials have stated it amounts to coddling prisoners or refuse to comment on why facilities remain uncooled.
Link to Article


The Justice Department Says It's Unconstitutional to Jail People Who Can't Afford Bail
Business Insider, (08/22/2016), Marie Solis

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a document to a federal appeals court in Georgia to argue that it is unconstitutional to incarcerate someone who cannot afford bail. The document states the practice goes against the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law.
Link to Article

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Criminal Justice Technology in the News



Law Enforcement News

Cincinnati Police Deploy First Officer Body Cameras
WLWT5, (08/10/2016)

Cincinnati has begun rollout of body-worn cameras for police officers. Officials expect to distribute 700 cameras by the end of the year. City officials have said officers don't have to tell citizens that they're being recorded. Officers will be required to activate the cameras in various emergency situations.
Link to Article


Eaton County Sheriff Deputies Now Using Mobile Fingerprint Scanners
WILX10, (08/10/2016)

A Michigan sheriff's office is using mobile fingerprint scanners to accelerate identification of wanted persons. The Eaton County Sheriff's Office is among the first law enforcement agencies in mid-Michigan to implement the scanners, which are linked to the police in-car computers that transmit a scanned fingerprint to the Michigan Automated Fingerprint Identification System and to the FBI National Fingerprint database. In minutes, deputies can know if there is a record on file that positively identifies the person.
Link to Article


Mo. Ambulance Agency to Purchase Body Armor
EMS1.com, (08/11/2016)

The Marion County Ambulance District in Missouri will outfit its paramedics and EMTs with body armor. The agency won't require its employees to wear the vests, but will give them the option to do so. The total cost for the gear is estimated at $18,000.
Link to Article


Corrections News

Prisons Chief Orders Sweeping Accuracy Check of Inmate Sentences
The Seattle Times, (08/10/2016), Joseph O'Sullivan

The Washington state Department of Corrections has directed staff to verify sentencing information before anyone is released from prison or community supervision to ensure offenders serve the correct amount of time. Staff are checking whether forms used by the courts are clear on whether sentences are consecutive or concurrent, according to a DOC spokesman. The review follows revelations of sentence-calculation problems. For example, in December it was announced that between 2002 and 2015, some offenders convicted of violent crimes had been mistakenly released early, an error that may have freed as many as 3,100 prisoners overall.
Link to Article


California Inmates Help Train Puppies to Become Service Dogs
ABC News, (08/11/2016), Avianne Tan

Inmates at two California prisons are helping train puppies to become service dogs for wounded veterans and people with autism. The Prisoners Overcoming Obstacles and Creating Hope (POOCH) program is in place at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego and the Mule Creek State Prison in the city of Ione.
Link to Article


Lawsuit Prompts California to Reduce Some Cellphone Prison Penalties
The Sacramento Bee, (08/12/2016), Jim Miller

A lawsuit filed by an inmate has prompted the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to change its interpretation of a 2011 law and take steps to roll back the penalty for inmates caught with cellphone accessories such as chargers. Under the planned change, inmates found with cellphone accessories will face the loss of up to 30 days of good time credit, one-third of the current maximum penalty. Officials concluded that lawmakers were unclear about who the maximum penalty in the law applied to: inmates with cellphones or those with any cellphone-related items. An inmate sued the department over the penalty.
Link to Article


Judge Rejects ACLU Challenge to Sex Offender GPS Monitoring
WMDT47abc, (08/12/2016)

A Delaware judge has rejected a challenge to a state law requiring GPS monitoring of certain convicted sex offenders who have been released from custody and are on probation. The lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of three high-risk sex offenders, who complained that wearing GPS monitors was embarrassing, sometimes painful and an invasion of privacy.
Link to Article


Adult Probation & Parole Making Changes to Enhance Parolee Monitoring, Keep Public Safe
KSL TV, (08/10/2016), Nicole Vowell

The Utah Department of Corrections is taking steps to keep better track of offenders. The Adult Probation and Parole Division has expanded its partnership with the Utah Division of the U.S. Marshals Service's Violent Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team to apprehend more than 50 high-priority fugitives. Other improvements include the implementation of a statewide broadcast system to law enforcement agencies to notify them of high-profile fugitives, and the authorization of enhanced GPS monitoring in all community correctional centers.
Link to Article