Sunday, March 31, 2019

Georgia man pleads guilty to hacking apple accounts of professional athletes and musicians

ATLANTA - Kwamaine Jerell Ford has pleaded guilty to logging into Apple accounts belonging to high-profile professional athletes and musicians without authorization and stealing credit card information from several of those victims.

“Ford tricked his victims into providing their Apple account passwords and stole sensitive, personal information from the accounts,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “After stealing credit card numbers belonging to several professional athletes, he brazenly spent thousands of dollars on personal expenses charged to the athletes’ accounts.”

“The high profile victims in this case are an example that no matter who you are, hackers like Ford are trying to get your personal information,” said Chris Hacker Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “This case demonstrates the need to be careful in protecting personal information and passwords, especially in response to suspicious e-mails. Hopefully this is a lesson for everyone, not just the victims in this case.”

According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges and other information presented in court: Beginning in at least March 2015, Ford obtained login credentials for Apple accounts belonging to victims primarily through a phishing scheme, which is a scheme in which the perpetrator sends a message that purports to be from a legitimate source. Ford primarily targeted college and professional athletes, including NBA and NFL players, and rappers in his scheme. Ford sent thousands of phishing emails to his intended victims from email accounts he set up to spoof legitimate Apple customer service accounts. Ford, posing as an Apple customer support representative, requested that the victims send him their username and password or answers to security challenge questions, which Ford claimed was needed either to reset their Apple accounts or to access videos that individuals were purportedly trying to send the victims. Dozens of victims provided their login credentials based on the phishing scheme.

After obtaining the victims’ login credentials, Ford logged into their Apple accounts and attempted to take over the accounts. Specifically, he attempted to reset the account password, change the contact email account to an email address he controlled, and alter the security challenge questions. As a result, the victims could not log into their own accounts unless they contacted Apple by phone and proved their identity. Apple records showed hundreds of unauthorized logins to victim Apple accounts.

After gaining control of the victims’ accounts, Ford found credit card information belonging to several of the victims. Ford then used the stolen credit card numbers to pay for thousands of dollars in air travel, hotel stays, other travel expenses, furniture, and money transfers to online payment accounts under his control.

On April 17, 2018, Kwamaine Jerell Ford, 27, of Dacula, Georgia, was indicted on six counts each of wire fraud, computer fraud, access device fraud, and aggravated identity theft. He pleaded guilty to one count of computer fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.  Sentencing is scheduled for June 24, 2019, at 10:30 before U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan P. Kitchens, Deputy Chief of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section, is prosecuting the case. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Vivek Kothari investigated the case prior to the indictment.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Criminal Justice Technology in the News

Law Enforcement News

Body Cameras for Norwich Police ‘Good for Everybody'
The Bulletin, (03/19/2019), John Barry
The police department in Norwich, Conn., will be getting 80 body-worn cameras and 25 dashboard-mounted cameras for the department's cruisers. The move comes a few months before a state program offering a 50 percent reimbursement of the estimated $300,000 cost for the equipment expires on June 30.
Link to Article

911 Dispatch System to Shift to the Cloud in Lafayette, La.
Government Technology, (03/20/2019), Katie Gagliano for The Advocate/Baton Rouge
The Lafayette Parish Communication District, which handles emergency calls for the parish's first responders, says it is transitioning to a more flexible, cloud-based computer-aided dispatch system. The current system is server-based. The new system will be accessible anywhere there's Internet access.
Link to Article

New Tool Lets People Submit Anonymous Online Feedback for Austin Police
CBS Austin, (03/19/2019), Melanie Torre
The city of Austin is launching a mobile-friendly website for people to anonymously submit complaints and compliments concerning the Austin Police Department. All feedback will go directly to the Office of Police Oversight.
Link to Article

Casper Police Officers Begin Using Body Cameras
Casper Star-Tribune, (03/21/2019), Shane Sanderson
The Casper Police Department in Wyoming has begun implementation of a new integrated video camera system. The system includes body-worn cameras and new in-car and interview room cameras. The body cameras will be worn by all officers, including evidence technicians and Metro Animal Shelter and Community Service officers.
Link to Article

New Las Vegas Training Facility Will Become Hub for Law Enforcement in Western U.S.
KVVU-TV, (03/21/2019), Tiana Bohner
A police training center planned for Las Vegas will serve the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and become a training hub for the western half of the country. The center will include active shooter training, defensive tactics training, advanced officer training and reality-based training.
Link to Article

11 Michigan Cities Win $2.7M in Grants for Public Safety, Infrastructure
The Detroit News, (03/24/2019), Mark Hicks
Street lighting, cameras, emergency vehicles and a new court/police building are some of the ways Michigan communities are using $2.7 million in grants through a state effort targeting financially stressed areas. The Financially Distressed Cities, Villages and Townships Grant Program funds projects, services or strategies aimed at pushing a city, village or township toward financial stability.
Link to Article

St. Pete Police Unveil Headquarters Built for the Future
Catalyst, (03/22/2019), Margie Manning
The new St. Petersburg (Fla.) Police Department headquarters includes technology such as monitors and smart boards that allow for better information sharing. It also has 1,450 photovoltaic panels on the roof of the parking garage and a water cooling plant for high-efficiency air conditioning, sensor-controlled LED lighting, automated water controls and a type of concrete that reduces the impact of urban heat islands.
Link to Article

Illinois State Police to Launch New Online Sexual Assault Tracking System by End of 2019
WREX, (03/24/2019)
The Illinois State Police Division of Forensic Services plans to implement an online sexual assault tracking system by the end of the year. According to the ISP, the system will allow survivors of sexual assault to monitor their evidence online throughout the entire process, from the hospital, to the forensic lab, to the State's Attorney's office.
Link to Article

Calif. PD Gets FAA Authorization to Expand Geographical Reach of Drone
PoliceOne, (03/19/2019)
A California police department is the first public safety organization to be granted Federal Aviation Administration authorization for Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations, significantly increasing the area the agency's drones can cover. The new Certificate of Authorization will increase the Chula Vista Police Department's range of coverage for drone operations from a three to nearly 40-mile area.
Link to Article

Courts News

Montgomery County to Host Pilot Opioid Court Program
The Daily Gazette, (03/24/2019), Jason Subik
The New York State Unified Court System has begun establishing special Opioid Stabilization Courts to provide immediate intervention, treatment and supervision to high-risk defendants with severe opioid-use disorders. Montgomery County has been chosen to be the seat of the first pilot Opioid court for New York's 4th Judicial District.
Link to Article

Corrections News

Maine's Prison Leadership Makes Case That Former Inmates Can Help Fill the Workforce Shortage
Bangor Daily News, (03/21/2019), Lauren Abbate,
Maine Department of Corrections officials say employment of former inmates helps inmates' successful re-entry back into the community and also helps employers looking for skilled workers. Throughout their incarceration, inmates have access to a range of vocational, educational and substance abuse programs
Link to Article

4 Ways Tech Helps People Stay Sober, (03/25/2019), Munawar Gul
This article describes four ways that technology tools can help people stay sober: breathalyzers on a smartphone; online support group; sobriety-related apps; and medical assistance involving computer-assisted behavioral therapy and self-reporting programs, as well as biosensors and technology to monitor blood glucose, activity and nutrition.
Link to Article

Erie County Prison Introduces Mail Scanning System, (03/21/2019), Madeleine O'Neill
Personal mail for inmates at the Erie County Prison will now be scanned and provided to inmates electronically. The new program is aimed at keeping contraband from entering the prison through mail sent to inmates.
Link to Article

SC Prison Leaders Pledge Fixes After Accidental Release of 10 Inmates
The Post and Courier, (03/21/2019), T. Michael Boddie
Following the accidental release of 10 state inmates, South Carolina Department of Corrections officials went before state lawmakers in March to discuss ways to eliminate inaccuracies in coding that led to the error. Staff manually enter inmate data from a judge's sentencing sheet into a computer system, which then calculates how much of a sentence an inmate is required to serve.
Link to Article

11 Drone Sightings Threaten Michigan Prison Security
Michigan Advance, (03/20/2019), Michael Gerstein
This article discusses drone sightings over or near Michigan prisons between 2017 and 2018, and steps taken to address security concerns.
Link to Article

Missouri Supreme Court Rules Courts Cannot Threaten More Jail Time for Failure to Pay Jail Debt
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, (03/19/2019), Jack Suntrup
The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that courts cannot threaten defendants with additional jail time if a defendant fails to pay bills charged for any prior jail stays. The March ruling follows February arguments before the court in which two men challenged the process by which circuit courts in two Missouri counties had jailed them and then charged them money for their stays.
Link to Article

In Class-Action Settlement, Minnesota Prisoners Win Access to Pricey Hepatitis C Drugs
Star Tribune, (03/18/2019), Brandon Stahl
Minnesota prisoners with chronic hepatitis C infections must be provided with highly effective but costly antiviral drugs following a class-action lawsuit settlement. Under the terms of the settlement, which won preliminary approval in March, the DOC must screen all prisoners for hepatitis C. Antiviral drugs must be provided if the inmate has an advanced stage of the disease or has hepatitis along with other complications, such as another viral infection, diabetes or a liver transplant.
Link to Article

Forensic Technology Center of Excellence Webinars

Upcoming webinars from the National Institute of Justice Forensic Technology Center of Excellence include: