Search Warrants Executed – Cyber Investigation

Search Warrants Executed in the United States as Part of Ongoing Cyber Investigation

Washington, D.C.
January 27, 2011 FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

FBI agents today executed more than 40 search warrants throughout the United States as part of an ongoing investigation into recent coordinated cyber attacks against major companies and organizations. Also today, the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police Service executed additional search warrants and arrested five people for their alleged role in the attacks.

These distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) are facilitated by software tools designed to damage a computer network’s ability to function by flooding it with useless commands and information, thus denying service to legitimate users. A group calling itself “Anonymous” has claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they conducted them in protest of the companies’ and organizations’ actions. The attacks were facilitated by the software tools the group makes available for free download on the Internet. The victims included major U.S. companies across several industries.

The FBI also is reminding the public that facilitating or conducting a DDoS attack is illegal, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, as well as exposing participants to significant civil liability.

The FBI is working closely with its international law enforcement partners and others to mitigate these threats. Authorities in the Netherlands, Germany, and France have also taken their own investigative and enforcement actions. The National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA) also is providing assistance. The NCFTA is a public-private partnership that works to identify, mitigate, and neutralize cyber crime. The NCFTA has advised that software from any untrustworthy source represents a potential threat and should be removed. Major Internet security (anti-virus) software providers have instituted updates so they will detect the so-called “Low Orbit Ion Canon” tools used in these attacks.

Medicare Fraud

It is always good to hear about a case where the “bad guys” are busted!

http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel10/medicarefraud_071610.htm

WASHINGTON—Ninety-four people have been charged for their alleged participation in schemes to collectively submit more than $251 million in false claims to the Medicare program in the continuing operation of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force in Miami; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Brooklyn, New York; Detroit; and Houston, announced Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General of HHS. The operation announced today is the largest federal health care fraud takedown since Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations began in 2007.

The joint DOJ-HHS Medicare Fraud Strike Force is a multi-agency team of federal, state, and local investigators designed to combat Medicare fraud through the use of Medicare data analysis techniques and an increased focus on community policing. More than 360 law enforcement agents from the FBI, HHS-Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), multiple Medicaid Fraud Control Units, and other state and local law enforcement agencies participated in today’s operation.

“Our continued Strike Force operations reflect the unprecedented commitment that inspired the creation of the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team in May 2009,” said Attorney General Holder. “With today’s arrests, we’re putting would-be criminals on notice: Health care fraud is no longer a safe bet. The federal government is working aggressively—and collaboratively—to pursue health care criminals around the country and to bring these offenders to justice.”

“Today’s arrests send a strong message that attempts to defraud Medicare will not be tolerated,” said Secretary Sebelius. “With the help of new tools in the Affordable Care Act, including stiffer penalties and better information sharing, we will continue to work with our federal, state, and local partners to stamp out Medicare fraud and protect beneficiaries and the American taxpayer.”

Charges were unsealed today against 94 individuals who are accused of various Medicare fraud-related offenses, including conspiracy to defraud the Medicare program, criminal false claims, violations of the anti-kickback statutes and money laundering. The charges are based on a variety of fraud schemes, including physical therapy and occupational therapy schemes, home health care schemes, HIV infusion fraud schemes, and durable medical equipment (DME) schemes. Thirty-six defendants charged in these schemes have been arrested in Miami, New York, Baton Rouge, and Detroit, and additional arrests are expected throughout the day.

According to the court documents, the defendants charged today participated in schemes to submit claims to Medicare for treatments that were medically unnecessary and oftentimes, never provided. In many cases, indictments and complaints allege that beneficiaries accepted cash kickbacks in return for allowing providers to submit forms saying they had received the treatments that, in reality, were unnecessary or never provided. Collectively, the doctors, health care company owners, executives and others charged in the indictments and complaints are accused of conspiring to submit more than $251 million in false claims to the Medicare program.

In Miami, 24 defendants were charged for allegedly participating in various fraud schemes that led to approximately $103 million in false billings. According to court documents, the fraud schemes involved fraudulent billing for HIV infusion services, home health care and physical therapy services, DME and pharmaceutical medications. The defendants include owners and operators of companies, doctors, nurses, and patient recruiters, as well as a medical biller who is alleged to have billed approximately $49 million for fraudulent services.

Thirty-one defendants were charged in Baton Rouge for various schemes allegedly involving fraudulent claims for DME totaling approximately $32 million. The defendants include the owners and operators of nine different purported medical services companies and four doctors, 14 patient recruiters, and other individuals who allegedly worked at the medical services companies.

Twenty-two defendants were charged in Brooklyn for their alleged participation in schemes to submit fraudulent claims totaling approximately $78 million. These fraud schemes involved false billing for physical and occupational therapy and DME. The defendants include the owners and operators, patient recruiters and employees at three different purported medical clinics and a medical equipment company, as well as three doctors. According to court documents, six of the defendants charged are serial Medicare beneficiaries, who purported to seek medical treatment from numerous providers, causing the submission of multiple claims to Medicare for purported medical treatments.

In Detroit, 11 defendants were charged for their alleged roles in schemes to submit fraudulent claims to Medicare for home health services, nerve conduction tests, and injection and infusion therapy sessions. The schemes involved a total alleged fraud of approximately $35 million and five different purported medical services companies.

Four defendants were also charged in Houston for their alleged roles in a $3 million scheme to submit fraudulent claims for DME.

In addition to making arrests around the country, law enforcement agents are executing search warrants in connection with ongoing health care fraud investigations.

“Today’s charges allege attempts by individuals to defraud the Medicare program of $251 million,” said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, III. “Countless Americans rely on Medicare for their well-being, and the FBI, working in conjunction with our federal agency partners, is resolute in its commitment to stop those who would illegally manipulate the system.”

“Today’s arrests illustrate how health care fraud schemes can replicate virally and migrate rapidly across communities,” said Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General of HHS. “To combat this fraud, the government’s response must also be swift, agile, and organized—a HEAT initiative goal which is well illustrated by today’s Strike Force actions.”

The Strike Force operations in Miami, Baton Rouge, Brooklyn, Detroit and Houston are part of the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), a joint initiative announced in May 2009 between the Department of Justice and HHS to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country. The HEAT task force, co-chaired by Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary G. Grindler and Deputy Secretary Bill Corr, is made up of top-level law enforcement agents, prosecutors and staff from both departments and their operating divisions. In the May 2009 announcement, Attorney General Holder and Secretary Sebelius announced the expansion of the Strike Force into Detroit and Houston to build upon existing partnerships between the agencies in a heightened effort to reduce fraud and recover taxpayer dollars. In December 2009, Strike Force operations were expanded to Brooklyn, Baton Rouge and Tampa.

Since its inception in March 2007 with Phase One in South Florida and continuing through its most recent expansion into Tampa, Fla., the Strike Force has obtained indictments of more than 810 individuals and organizations that collectively have billed the Medicare program for more than $1.85 billion. In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG, are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

The cases announced today are being prosecuted and investigated by Strike Force teams comprised of attorneys from the Fraud Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and from the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Southern District of Florida, the Eastern District of New York, the Middle District of Louisiana, the Eastern District of Michigan and the Southern District of Texas; and agents from the FBI and HHS-OIG.

The Railroad Retirement Board Office of Inspector General and the Office of Personnel Management-Office of Inspector General also participated in today’s operation.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

To learn more about the HEAT team, go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.

National Center for Disaster Fraud

It is a sad fact that natural disasters bring out the con-artists and scammers.  Why?  Because they prey on people’s feelings and wanting to help those in need.

The National Center for Disaster Fraud established a hotline in January where you can report suspected fraud.  The number is (866) 720-5721, or you can email them at disaster@leo.gov.

To read the FBI press release on the National Center for Disater Fraud go to http://www.fbi.gov/pressrel/pressrel10/fraud_031110.htm

Nigerian National Charged with Attempting to Destroy Northwest Airlines Aircraft

http://detroit.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/pressrel09/de122609.htm

WASHINGTON—A 23-year-old Nigerian man was charged in a federal criminal complaint today with attempting to destroy a Northwest Airlines aircraft on its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Christmas Day and with placing a destructive device on the aircraft.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, a Nigerian national, boarded Northwest Flight 253 in Amsterdam, Netherlands on December 24, 2009 and had a device attached to his body. As the flight was approaching Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Abdulmutallab set off the device, which resulted in a fire and what appears to have been an explosion. Abdulmutallab was then subdued and restrained by the passengers and flight crew. The airplane landed shortly thereafter, and he was taken into custody by Customs and Border Patrol officers.

A preliminary FBI analysis found that the device contained PETN, also known as pentaerythritol, a high explosive. Further analysis is ongoing. In addition, FBI agents recovered what appear to be the remnants of the syringe from the vicinity of Abdulmutallab’s seat, believed to have been part of the device.

“This alleged attack on a U.S. airplane on Christmas Day shows that we must remain vigilant in the fight against terrorism at all times,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “Had this alleged plot to destroy an airplane been successful, scores of innocent people would have been killed or injured. We will continue to investigate this matter vigorously, and we will use all measures available to our government to ensure that anyone responsible for this attempted attack is brought to justice

Abdulmutallab required medical treatment and was transported to the University of Michigan Medical Center after the plane landed. He will make his initial court appearance later today.

Interviews of all of the passengers and crew of Flight 253 revealed that prior to the incident, Abdulmutallab went to the bathroom for approximately 20 minutes, according to the affidavit. Upon returning to his seat, Abdulmutallab stated that his stomach was upset, and he pulled a blanket over himself. Passengers then heard popping noises similar to firecrackers, smelled an odor, and some observed Abdulmutallab’s pants leg and the wall of the airplane on fire. Passengers and crew then subdued Abdulmutallab and used blankets and fire extinguishers to put out the flames. Passengers reported that Abdulmutallab was calm and lucid throughout. One flight attendant asked him what he had had in his pocket, and he replied “explosive device.”

These prosecutions are being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. The public is reminded that criminal complaints contain mere allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Pop-Up Security Warnings Pose Threats

Pop-Up Security Warnings Pose Threats

The FBI warned consumers today about an ongoing threat involving pop-up security messages that appear while they are on the Internet. The messages may contain a virus that could harm your computer, cause costly repairs or, even worse, lead to identity theft. The messages contain scareware, fake or rogue anti-virus software that looks authentic.

The message may display what appears to be a real-time, anti-virus scan of your hard drive. The scareware will show a list of reputable software icons; however, you can’t click a link to go to the real site to review or see recommendations. Cyber criminals use botnets—collections of compromised computers—to push the software, and advertisements on websites deliver it. This is known as malicious advertising or “malvertising.”

Once the pop-up warning appears, it can’t be easily closed by clicking the “close” or “X” buttons. If you click the pop-up to purchase the software, a form to collect payment information for the bogus product launches. In some instances, the scareware can install malicious code onto your computer, whether you click the warning or not. This is more likely to happen if your computer has an account that has rights to install software.

Downloading the software could result in viruses, malicious software called Trojans, and/or keyloggers—hardware that records passwords and sensitive data—being installed on your computer. Malicious software can cause costly damages for individual users and financial institutions. The FBI estimates scareware has cost victims more than $150 million.

Cyber criminals use easy-to-remember names and associate them with known applications. Beware of pop-up warnings that are a variation of recognized security software. You should research the exact name of the software being offered. Take precautions to ensure operating systems are updated and security software is current. If you receive these anti-virus pop-ups, close the browser or shut down your computer system. You should run a full anti-virus scan whenever the computer is turned back on.

If you have experienced the anti-virus pop-ups or a similar scam, notify the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) by filing a complaint at http://www.ic3.gov.

Rothstein Investment

This press release can be found at http://miami.fbi.gov/pressrel/2009/mm111209.htm

FBI and IRS Seeking to Identify Victims and Individuals with Information in Rothstein Investigation

The Miami Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Miami Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are seeking information from individuals who have invested in the Rothstein Structured Settlement Investment (RSSI) or from individuals who have information that would be helpful to the investigation. To facilitate information gathering, the FBI has established a dedicated e-mail address and an informational telephone line 1-800-CALL-FBI, “Rothstein Option.”

Details of the investigation cannot be discussed at this time, as the investigation is ongoing. However, the FBI and IRS are seeking to identify victims and to obtain any information to determine the extent of any potential fraud.

In an effort to determine the scope of the matter and the amount of losses that may be involved, investigators are requesting that individuals provide:

Basic contact information (name, address, telephone numbers, e-mail address.)

Amount of investments/losses with the Rothstein Structured Settlement Investment.

Whether you can verify your investments by providing the most recent statements.

Any additional information that may be helpful.

Information may be provided via dedicated e-mail address Rothstein.Investment@ic.fbi.gov

 or to informational telephone line 1-800-CALL-FBI, “Rothstein Option” (1-800-225-5324.)

 If you have investigative information that may aid the criminal investigation, you may also submit it via email or telephone. For those who would like to return funds received from Rothstein please call the 1-800 number and someone will get back with you with specific instructions on how to return the funds.

 Hard copy documentation may be mailed to:

FBI Victim Assistance Program

Rothstein Investment

16320 NW 2nd Avenue

Miami, Florida 33169

If it is determined that you are a victim, the FBI will be in touch with you. Please note that due to the expected number of responses, it may be several days before you are contacted.

Mortgage Fraud

This press release can be found at http://tampa.fbi.gov/dojpressrel/2009/ta110409.htm

TAMPA—United States Attorney A. Brian Albritton today announced the results of a nine-month-long Mortgage Fraud Surge investigation that has resulted in charges against more than 100 defendants and involves allegations concerning more than $400 million in loans procured by fraud and more than 700 properties. U.S. Attorney Albritton is holding events throughout the district this week to highlight the announcement.

There are currently mortgage fraud-related charges pending against approximately 500 defendants in federal mortgage fraud cases around the nation. The cases concern both mortgage schemes designed to defraud mortgage lenders and “foreclosure rescue schemes” which prey on distressed homeowners.

“This initiative sends a clear message that mortgage fraud will not be tolerated. We must protect the integrity of the real estate market in our communities, which is a major contributor to the health of our economy, here and throughout the country,” said U.S. Attorney Albritton.

Florida’s Mortgage Fraud Surge was launched in late January 2009 in response to the epidemic of mortgage fraud throughout the state, which began during Florida’s real estate boom earlier this decade. To address this wide scale problem, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in both its Tampa and Jacksonville Divisions, began a nine-month intensive effort to identify, investigate, and prosecute mortgage fraud in all of its forms.

To accomplish the Surge, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida devoted significant additional personnel and resources to investigating and prosecuting mortgage fraud cases. All of the Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Ft. Myers, Orlando, and Jacksonville offices responsible for criminal matters handled mortgage fraud investigations, and in the District’s largest office, Tampa, over half of the Criminal Division Assistant U.S. Attorneys were assigned mortgage fraud matters. In addition, FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven E. Ibison of the Tampa Division and FBI Special Agent in Charge Jim Casey of the Jacksonville Division established mortgage fraud task forces in their respective jurisdictions. A number of state and federal law enforcement agencies joined these mortgage fraud task forces, and the agents, investigators, and other law enforcement personnel from these participating agencies conducted an intensive and wide-ranging investigation into hundreds of mortgage fraud leads during this Surge phase. Along with the FBI, the agencies that joined in the Surge and who participated in the mortgage fraud task forces are: the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Department of Financial Services/Division of Insurance Fraud, Florida Office of Financial Regulation, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Lee County Sheriff’s Office (Ft. Myers Division only), Collier County Sheriff’s Office (Ft. Myers Division only) and Brevard County Sheriff’s Office (Orlando Division only).

The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged mortgage fraud defendants throughout the Middle District of Florida. The number of defendants charged by office breaks down as follows: Ft. Myers-32; Tampa-30; Orlando-19; and Jacksonville-24. Of these defendants, 7 are related to cases under seal and not in the public record at this juncture.

An indictment or complaint is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

 The surge investigation completed on October 31, 2009, and announced today is the first phase of a continuing effort to investigate and prosecute not only mortgage fraud professionals and other individuals who have engaged in multiple fraudulent mortgage transactions, but also larger organizations and even financial institutions.