Former Miami Beach Cop Charged by FBI with Kidnapping, Extortion: IT’S THE SAME COP THAT KIDNAPPED A FEDERALJACK.COM REPORTER!

Richard Anastasi, who served as a Miami Beach Police officer until last December, kidnapped a Russian national last week, tortured him with threats of violence and tried to extort $100,000 from his family, federal prosecutors say.

Rick Anastasi

Richard Anastasi, a former Miami Beach cop, is charged in a bizarre kidnapping.

Anastasi, who is 47, and an accomplice, 42-year old Francisco Arias, were charged this afternoon with taking a hostage with the purpose of obtaining a ransom.

Both men have admitted to tormenting the victim, prosecutors say. Anastasi claimed he was trying to use “police techniques” to recoup money he’d lost to the man in an identity theft scheme.

The twisted case began just after midnight last Thursday, prosecutors say.

The victim, an unnamed Russian man, went to an apartment building on West Ave. where he believed a package was waiting for him.

Instead, Anastasi and Arias were outside. Anastasi had retired from the MBPD on Dec. 6, according to police records, after almost 14 years on the force.

They forced the victim into a Jeep and sped off — and thus began a nightmare of threatened castration, forced dentistry and gunshots, prosecutors say.

Anastasi and Arias drove the victim to a house on SW 198th St. Along the way, prosecutors allege, Anastasi passed a knife to his accomplice and told him to cut off the victim’s testicles. Arias ripped into his pants with the knife.

At the house, the pair allegedly pointed a semiautomatic rifle with a laser sight at his head, and “advised the victim he was going to kill the victim and use him as fertilizer,” the complaint says.

The victim “begged for his life,” according to the complaint, and promised the men money. They then forced him to call his mom in Russia and wire $1,000. Arias allegedly called the money “bond” and said they’d let the man go only to get $100,000 for the men.

Around 8:30 a.m. — eight hours after his abduction — Anastasi and Arias dropped the victim off back in Miami Beach.

The victim didn’t hear from the pair again until this Monday. Anastasi and Arias showed up at his house, the complaint says, and posed as cops to get entrance from his roommate. When the roommate asked for ID, Anastasi “lifted his shirt to reveal his firearm and asked if (the roommate) had any other questions.”

Twenty minutes later, the victim returned home. Both men beat him, the complaint says, and Arias twice choked him into unconsciousness.

They then kidnapped him again. Inside the car, Arias allegedly pulled out pliers. He put the tool to the man’s tooth, the feds say, and said “that for every tooth he extracted, he would reduce the amuont of money owed by $50.”

Feds started tapping the victims phone the next day, after he complained.

Yesterday, with the feds listening in, the victim told the men he had money and asked to meet at 14th and Collins Ave. around 4 p.m. When the pair rolled up in a black SUV, the FBI swooped in.

Inside the SUV, they found quite the kidnapper’s handbag: a shotgun, rifle, handgun, portable radios, duct tape, flex handcuffs, binoculars and Anastasi’s police ID badges.

Anastasi told federal agents that he’d had his identity stolen and “that he used his skills as a former police officer” to go after the men who’d stolen it. He admitted to posing as a cop and trying to scare the victim, though he denied trying to extort money from him.

Both men face potential life sentences if they’re convicted of the charges.




Rise of the Point-and-Click Botnet

A kit lets beginners craft sophisticated attacks.

By Robert Lemos

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

(Technology Report) – In 2005, a Russian hacker group known as UpLevel developed Zeus, a point-and-click program for creating and controlling a network of compromised computer systems, also known as a botnet. Five years of development later, the latest version of this software, which can be downloaded for free and requires very little technical skill to operate, is one of the most popular botnet platforms for spammers, fraudsters, and people who deal in stolen personal information.

Money grabbing: The Zeus software creates a password stealer that targets login credentials for Citibank, WebMoney, and Wells Fargo, among other financial companies.
Credit: Damballa

Last week, the security firm NetWitness, based in Herndon, VA, released a report highlighting the kind of havoc the software can wreak. It documents a Zeus botnet that controlled nearly 75,000 computers in more than 2,400 organizations, including the drug producer Merck, the network equipment maker Juniper Networks, and the Hollywood studio Paramount Pictures. Over four weeks, the software was used to steal more than 68,000 log-in credentials, including thousands of Facebook log-ins and Yahoo e-mail log-ins.

“They had compromised systems inside both companies and government agencies,” says Alex Cox, a principal analyst at NetWitness.

A survey conducted by another security firm–Atlanta-based Damballa–found Zeus-controlled programs to be the second most common inside corporate networks in 2009. Damballa tracked more than 200 Zeus-based botnets in enterprise networks. The largest single botnet controlled using the Zeus platform consisted of 600,000 compromised computers.

The Zeus software is less important for its conquests than for its high regard among cybercriminals. “Zeus is incredibly popular with people that want to tinker and start their own small business, if you will,” says Gunter Ollman, vice president of research for Damballa.

A group of four or five developers started working on Zeus in 2005. The following year they released the first version of the program, a basic Trojan designed to hide on an infected system and steal information. In 2007, the group came out with a more modular version, which allowed other underground developers to create plug-ins to add to its functionality.

The latest Zeus platform allows users to build custom malicious software to infect target systems, manage a far-flung network of compromised machines, and use the resulting botnet for illegal gain. The construction kit contains a program for building the bot software and Web scripts for creating and hosting a central command-and-control server.

Independent developers have created compatible “exploit packs” capable of infecting victims’ systems using vulnerabilities in the operating system or browser. Other developers focus on creating plug-in software to help would-be cybercriminals make money from a Zeus botnet. Some add-ons focus on phishing attacks–delivering the images and Web pages needed to create fraudulent banking sites, for example. Other add-ons give bot operators the tools to create spam campaigns. “There is a whole cottage industry around creating add-ons for Zeus,” says Don Jackson, a security researcher with the Counter Threat Unit at SecureWorks, a company based in Atlanta.

The availability of the source code for Zeus has attracted many developers, says Jackson. Online miscreants looking to control their own botnet start with Zeus, because it is simple to use, he says, while the add-ons and extensions satisfy more sophisticated users. “It’s very easy to use right out of the gate,” Jackson says. “But when you add the advanced functionality that costs thousands of dollars, then it becomes a tool for advanced operators.”

Even the basic Zeus kits include obfuscation techniques to help escape detection by antivirus software and other security measures. In one experiment, consultant Alex Heid of Internet Security Services found that only about half of antivirus software detected a known Zeus payload. After employing some simple techniques for masking the code, the detection rate dropped even further, to 10 percent. “The cybercrime technologies are advancing faster than the security technologies,” Heid says.

Once Zeus has compromised a system, it gives the user no sign that it’s there, according to Jackson. “What does Zeus look like when it infects your computer? Well, stare at your computer now, and that’s what it looks like,” Jackson says. “It’s designed to do its job and do it successfully and do it silently.”

While both Damballa and NetWitness sell technologies and services for detecting compromises on corporate networks, they do not provide software for end users.

“Most enterprises that we work with have a large number of users, so they basically give up on defending their computers,” Ollmann says. “You make the best attempt with antivirus and firewalls, but they accept that some percentage of their systems are going to be infected, so they focus on detecting and rebuilding the (compromised) systems rather than defending against all threats.”

Cox adds that focusing on the communications between infected systems and a command-and-control server is usually the best way to catch infections. “Understanding what normalcy looks like on your network so you can pinpoint abnormality is what is really important in the current threat environment,” he says. “Don’t trust only your existing security controls, and get eyes on your network.”


79-Year-Old Florida grandmother illegally jailed for 15 days over traffic ticket

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org5:00 p.m. EST, January 11, 2010

A 78-year-old Hallandale Beach grandmother ticketed for driving on a suspended driver’s license spent 15 days in jail before authorities announced her license wasn’t suspended and an outraged judge set her free.

County Court Judge Lee J. Seidman ordered Gabrielle Shaink Trudeau’s release in December at her arraignment.

“She’s handcuffed like Houdini, for the record. She’s got chains around her waist, and she’s got handcuffs in front around her hands as if she was some kind of a violent criminal,” said Seidman, according to a transcript. “I want her released. I think she’s suffered enough at our system’s mistakes.”
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Former Morgan Stanley Coder Gets 2 Years in Prison for TJX Hack

  • By Kim Zetter 
  • December 22, 2009  |
  • 6:44 pm  |

The two great friends talked every day and shared information about all of their exploits — sexual, narcotic and hacking — according to prosecutors. Now another thing they’ll have to share information about is their experience in federal prison.

swattStephen Watt
Photo courtesy Michael Farkas

While accused TJX hacker kingpin Albert Gonzalez awaits a possible sentence of 17 years or more in prison, one of his best friends and accomplices was sentenced on Tuesday in Boston to two years for his role in what the feds are calling “the largest identity theft in our nation’s history.”

Stephen Watt, a 25-year-old former Morgan Stanley software engineer, pleaded guilty last December to creating a custom sniffing program dubbed “blabla” that Gonzalez and other hackers used to siphon millions of credit and debit card numbers from TJX’s network. The breach cost TJX $200 million, according to its 2009 SEC filing.

Watt’s lawyer had sought a sentence of probation.

But instead the 7-foot-tall coder who once had a bright professional future got two years in federal prison and three years of probation. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts said the judge also ordered Watt to pay restitution to TJX in the amount of $171.5 million.

According to a source familiar with the case, U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner indicated that her sentence was based in part on the enormity of the harm that was caused to the public by the crime and Watt’s undeniable assistance in causing that harm.

“She believed in the end that a probation sentence would not be sufficient to satisfy the general deterrence to prevent harm to the public,” the source said.

His lawyer, Michael Farkas, declined to comment on the sentencing.

Farkas asserted in his court filings that Watt was a minor and peripheral player in the credit card theft ring that Gonzalez dubbed “Operation Get Rich or Die Tryin” that began in 2005 to breach numerous vulnerable national retailers and card processors.

Watt, who graduated from high school at 16 with a 4.37 grade point average, was driven by intellectual curiosity and friendship, not greed, his lawyer said, and had no idea his program would be put to criminal use.

Prosecutors never alleged that Watt received money for the software he wrote, or directly profited from the hacks. But they brandished more than 300 pages of chats the two friends exchanged that belied Watt’s stated ignorance.

“You have got to convince typedeaf to do some work for me,” Gonzalez wrote Watt in one of them, referencing the handle of another hacker. ”If he was able to hack some euro dumps we can make a fortune. I hacked a place and took ~30k euro dumps and this last week I made ~11k from only selling ~968 dumps.” (Dumps are the carding underground’s term for credit or debit card magstripe data, including account numbers.)

As Gonzalez and his accomplices hacked target after target, he sent Watt links to news stories describing a tidal wave of debit fraud spreading around the world.

Authorities found Watt’s customized code stored on a server Gonzalez leased in Latvia, as well as 16.3 million stolen card numbers. Another 27.5 million stolen numbers were found on a server in Ukraine.

They said Watt was a witness to the ill-gotten gains his code produced. He attended a $75,000 birthday party Gonzalez threw for himself, and discussed launching a nightclub with Gonzalez’s backing. Gonzalez worried that because his money was mostly in cash, it would draw suspicion to the club. He offered to produce a check for $300,000 for Watt to make the transaction appear more legitimate.

Watt and Gonzalez met online when Watt was still in high school and bonded over a shared fascination with computers. While still a teen, Farkas says, Watt worked for Florida software firm Identitech. He was hired by Morgan Stanley in New York 2004 earning $90,000 as a software engineer.

After he moved to New York, he began experimenting with drugs and frequenting clubs. He left Morgan Stanley in 2007 for a higher-paying job at Imagine Software, developing real-time trading programs for financial firms, earning about $130,000.

This is where he was working on Aug. 13, 2008, when authorities swooped in to search the premises. Watt, who is married, was fired and is now banned from working in the securities industry.

Currently unemployed, his lawyer says he’s been living in an apartment his mother paid off while awaiting sentencing.

“Watt will have to start over, and hope that his skills not only will land him on his feet,” Farkas wrote in a court filing earlier this year, “but that they will do so in a field that is at least somewhat as financially promising as the career that he has lost.”


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China Executes Securities Trading Executive

Yang Yanming, securities trading executive is executed in China for embezzlement of 100 million yuan. Nearly 65 million yuan ($9.52 million) remains unaccounted for as Yang refuses reveal where the money went …

Dec. 9 – BusinessMonday.com | By Dennis Lee, Staff Writer

Yang Yanming, 51, was executed yesterday in China for embezzlement. Yang Yanming is the former general manager of  the securities trading department at China Great Wall Trust and Investment Corp. from 1997 to 2003, the corporation later became China Galaxy Securities Co., Ltd.

According to the Beijing Evening News, Yang Yanming is the first person from the China securities sector to be executed.  Yang claims that the money he misappropriated had been used to pay bribes to public officials. He refused, however, to disclose their identities. Yang’s attorney, Qian Lieyang, said that his client’s execution would guarantee that those who took the money would go unpunished.

Prior to the execution, as he confronted his judges  for the last time, he said, “Someone must take responsibility. If  I hadn’t attempted to commit suicide, it might not have been discovered.” He  sat quietly while listening to the presiding judge read the entire verdict.

“Preserve your moral integrity and don’t set too much store by business results.” Yang told a newspaper just before his execution.

Yang’s world began to unravel when he attempted  suicide on  April 23, 2004. Having cut his wrists, Yang turned on the kitchen gas which subsequently exploded. He survived the ensuing fire, however, his suicide attempt prompted company officals to perform a financial audit.  Auditors discovered  a shortage of  approximately 100 million yuan from more than seventy sales accounts.  Of this amount, the location of  65 million yuan  ($9.52 million) is still unkown.

Yang  first death verdict was handed down in December 2005 by the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court. The appeal to the Beijing Higher People’s Court sent the case  back to the first court to be heard again in May of 2007. Upon a second sentence of death in July 2008, Yang’s final appeal to the higher court was refused and sentence was carried out.

On March 24, 2009, Amnesty International  issued its annual report.  It states that China leads the world in the numbers of executions.  According to the report, China executed over 70% of the worldwide total of all people executed in the year  2008.


Wikileaks Says It Has Half-a-Million 9/11 Pager Messages

pager(Wired.com Threat Level) – The document-leaking site Wikileaks says it’s preparing to release 500,000 intercepted wireless pager messages from a 24-hour period encompassing the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Site operators say they plan to start rolling out the texts beginning at 3:00 a.m. New York time, paced to display as they were broadcast at the corresponding time on September 11, 2001. American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower at 8:46 a.m., and United Airlines Flight 175 hit the South Tower 17 minutes later.

“Text pagers are mostly carried by persons operating in an official capacity,” reads the description on the site. “Messages in the archive range from Pentagon and New York Police Department exchanges, to computers reporting faults to their operators as the World Trade Center collapsed.”

A sample of the alphanumeric pages appeared on the site Tuesday night.

8:36:03 AM
8:51:31 AM
Andrew.Terzakis@pentagon.af.mil|Please call Pentagon Weather|UNCLASSIFIED Please call Pentagon Weather…….reference 1030 Meeting…..703-695-0406 ANDREW J. TERZAKIS, Lt Col, USAF D
8:53:44 AM
9:24:48 AM
9:24:59 AM
9:31:51 AM
9:32:52 AM
9:50:03 AM
it’s reported that a US military helicopter circled the building then crashed into or next to the Pentagon – it’s not clear to whether it was the White House or the Pentagon – they are being evacuated
7:05:57 AM
Please don’t leave the building. One of the towers just collapsed! PLease, please be careful. Repeat,
11:00:30 AM
11:13:04 AM
Lines to Washington & Saudi are blocked or jammed. Couldn’t get thru. Jim at the FBI had no info – he suggested we watch Fox or CNN. Chris.
11:20:52 AM
Eddie and Paul are okay. Paul is still trapped in his building which is next to the WTC.
11:29:13 AM
pewells|I’m OK. I saw the whole thing. Was on the roof looking at the first fire when I saw the second plane plow into the second tower. Unbelievable, literally…I was inside when they collapsed. Still in my apt, nowhere to go…This is the end of the world as we know it…
11:39:47 AM
jtamer|You are needed in the WAR room asap.
3:25:54 PM
im not dealing with this shit today….i will call johnston in early……ford shut down there plants and im not answering why we are still working….fuck this. FROM: RYDER LITTLEJOHN (x18914) (3
5:20:30 PM
Honey wanted to tell you how much i love you. I was alittle worried.I Don’t want to lose you now that I got you back. You mean everything to me. You have my whole heart and life. Ilove you so much,
6:05:05 PM
We are bombing Afganistan. Pene
6:58:58 PM
1) my nephew’s ok, 2) there’s a dead body at the main gate, 3) US denies responsibility for bombing in Afghanistan. Over and out.

Wikileaks didn’t identify the source of the messages, but the site has a solid track record for releasing authentic information.

Unencrypted pager traffic has been subject to interception by hackers and others for years — an easy video tutorial made the rounds just last May. But Wikileaks implies this data came from an organized collection effort. “While we are obligated by to protect our sources, it is clear that the information comes from an organization which has been intercepting and archiving national US telecommunications since prior to 9/11.”


Police Officer Attacks Unarmed Restrained Patron at Nightclub

By Steve Lyttle

McClatchy Tribune Wire Service

Published: September 3, 2009

Salisbury police have launched an investigation into the actions of off-duty officers during a brawl last weekend at a nightclub.

One officer has been placed on administrative leave, amid allegations that police punched two patrons during the fight.

A portion of the brawl was captured on videotape by a company that was recording the concert taking place last Friday night at the La Bamba Club, on Klumac Road in southwest Salisbury.

Police had been hired on an off-duty basis to provide security for the event. Three people were arrested as a result of the fight that broke out, but one of those arrested, Michael Fox, said he was beaten with a flashlight and a nightstick and started bleeding.

His brother, John, said he was punched by a police officer.

Salisbury police Chief Mark Wilhelm told NewsChannel 36, the Observer’s news partner, that his department is looking into the actions of police during the fight, but he added, “You only have a video of what they want you to see.”

Michael and John Fox told NewsChannel 36 that they plan to file charges against an officer.

Police said the officer on administrative leave with pay is Kareem Purando.

Groundbreaking Video Productions, a Rowan County-based company, was taping the show and provided the video that police are using in the investigation.


Lawyer: FBI Paid Right-Wing Blogger Charged With Threats

By David Kravets

picture-28(Wired Magazine) – A notorious New Jersey hate blogger charged in June with threatening to kill judges and lawmakers was secretly an FBI “agent provocateur” paid to disseminate right-wing rhetoric, his attorney said Wednesday.

Hal Turner, the blogger and radio personality, remains jailed pending charges over his recent online rants, which prosecutors claim amounted to an invitation for someone to kill Connecticut lawmakers and Chicago federal appeals court judges.

But behind the scenes the reformed white supremacist was holding clandestine meetings with FBI agents who taught him how to spew hate “without crossing the line,” according to his lawyer, Michael Orozco.

“Almost everything was at the behest of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” Orozco said in a 45-minute telephone interview from New Jersey. “Their job was to pick up information on the responses of what he was saying and see where that led them. It was an interesting dynamic on what he was being asked to do.”

“He’s a devoted American,” added the lawyer, who claims Turner was paid “tens of thousands of dollars” for his service.

Bill Carter, an FBI spokesman, said in a telephone interview the bureau’s policy is “to neither confirm nor deny whether an individual has an association with the FBI.”

Turner’s alleged 5-year-long bureau stint ended sometime in 2007, Orozco said, the year the mischievous online group, Anonymous, briefly shuttered his site — turnerradionetwork.blogspot.com — with a denial of service attack. At the time, hackers also posted what appeared to be private e-mails between Turner and the FBI.

The e-mails are legitimate, said Orozco. The FBI approached Turner, now 47, in 2002, and he spewed rhetoric about politics, white supremacy, immigration, abortion and other hot-button issues for years in exchange for government cash.

Turner was arrested in June at his apartment in suburban New Jersey.

According to court documents, (.pdf) after a three-judge panel of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit of Appeals upheld a Chicago handgun ban, he blogged that the judges should be “killed.”

“Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges deserve to be killed. Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty. A small price to pay to assure freedom for millions,” he wrote.

A day later he posted addresses, photos, maps and other identifying information about Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook and Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer, the authorities said. State charges are also pending in Hartford, Connecticut, where Turner is accused of inciting readers to “take up arms” against state lawmakers.

Though the alleged threats came after his FBI service ended, Orozco said Turner’s relationship with the FBI is relevant to his defense.

“It is not trivial that the very government that trained an individual where the line was is prosecuting him when he has not stepped over the line,” Orozco said.

In addition, he is banking (.pdf) on the First Amendment to save his client’s skin.

“It’s a protected political statement. He opined,” Orozco said. “He said they deserved to be killed. He did not say grab a gun and go out and do what is necessary.”


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