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CRS — The U.S. Secret Service: History and Missions (updated)

July 8, 2014 Comments off

The U.S. Secret Service: History and Missions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The U.S. Secret Service has two missions—criminal investigations and protection. Criminal investigation activities have expanded since the inception of the Service from a small anticounterfeiting operation at the end of the Civil War, to now encompassing financial crimes, identity theft, counterfeiting, computer fraud, and computer-based attacks on the nation’s financial, banking, and telecommunications infrastructure, among other areas. Protection activities, which have expanded and evolved since the 1890s, include ensuring the safety and security of the President, Vice President, their families, and other identified individuals and locations.

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How to Lie with Rape Statistics: America’s Hidden Rape Crisis

July 7, 2014 Comments off

How to Lie with Rape Statistics: America’s Hidden Rape Crisis (PDF)
Source: Iowa Law Review

During the last two decades, many police departments substantially undercounted reported rapes creating “paper” reductions in crime. Media investigations in Baltimore, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and St. Louis found that police eliminated rape complaints from official counts because of cultural hostility to rape complaints and to create the illusion of success in fighting violent crime. The undercounting cities used three difficult-to-detect methods to remove rape complaints from official records: designating a complaint as “unfounded” with little or no investigation; classifying an incident as a lesser offense; and, failing to create a written report that a victim made a rape complaint.

This study addresses how widespread the practice of undercounting rape is in police departments across the country. Because identifying fraudulent and incorrect data is essentially the task of distinguishing highly unusual data patterns, I apply a statistical outlier detection technique to determine which jurisdictions have substantial anomalies in their data. Using this novel method to determine if other municipalities likely failed to report the true number of rape complaints made, I find significant undercounting of rape incidents by police departments across the country. The results indicate that approximately 22% of the 210 studied police departments responsible for populations of at least 100,000 persons have substantial statistical irregularities in their rape data indicating considerable undercounting from 1995 to 2012. Notably, the number of undercounting jurisdictions has increased by over 61% during the eighteen years studied.

Motorcycle Thefts in the United States for 2013

July 7, 2014 Comments off

Motorcycle Thefts in the United States for 2013
Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) today released a report on motorcycle thefts in the United States for 2013. A total of 45,367 motorcycles were reported stolen in 2013 compared with 46,601 reported stolen in 2012—a decrease of 1.5 percent.

Vital Signs: Variation Among States in Prescribing of Opioid Pain Relievers and Benzodiazepines — United States, 2012

July 3, 2014 Comments off

Vital Signs: Variation Among States in Prescribing of Opioid Pain Relievers and Benzodiazepines — United States, 2012
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Background:
Overprescribing of opioid pain relievers (OPR) can result in multiple adverse health outcomes, including fatal overdoses. Interstate variation in rates of prescribing OPR and other prescription drugs prone to abuse, such as benzodiazepines, might indicate areas where prescribing patterns need further evaluation.

Methods:
CDC analyzed a commercial database (IMS Health) to assess the potential for improved prescribing of OPR and other drugs. CDC calculated state rates and measures of variation for OPR, long-acting/extended-release (LA/ER) OPR, high-dose OPR, and benzodiazepines.
Results: In 2012, prescribers wrote 82.5 OPR and 37.6 benzodiazepine prescriptions per 100 persons in the United States. State rates varied 2.7-fold for OPR and 3.7-fold for benzodiazepines. For both OPR and benzodiazepines, rates were higher in the South census region, and three Southern states were two or more standard deviations above the mean. Rates for LA/ER and high-dose OPR were highest in the Northeast. Rates varied 22-fold for one type of OPR, oxymorphone.

Conclusions:
Factors accounting for the regional variation are unknown. Such wide variations are unlikely to be attributable to underlying differences in the health status of the population. High rates indicate the need to identify prescribing practices that might not appropriately balance pain relief and patient safety.

Implications for Public Health:
State policy makers might reduce the harms associated with abuse of prescription drugs by implementing changes that will make the prescribing of these drugs more cautious and more consistent with clinical recommendations.

UN Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict Documents Continued Child Suffering in 23 Conflict Situations

July 2, 2014 Comments off

Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict Documents Continued Child Suffering in 23 Conflict Situations
Source: United Nations (Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict)

In 2013, children were recruited and used, killed and maimed, victims of sexual violence and other grave violations in 23 conflict situations around the world. These are some of the findings unveiled today in the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict.

“We have documented the cases of children recruited and used by 7 national armies and 50 armed groups fighting wars in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria, and in 11 other countries.” said Leila Zerrougui, UN Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict. “But there is also progress to report. No violations were recorded in Chad in 2013 and the country’s National Army has fulfilled all the requirements of its action plan. They are no longer on the list for recruitment and use of children.”

Canada — Police-reported hate crimes, 2012

July 2, 2014 Comments off

Police-reported hate crimes, 2012
Source: Statistics Canada

In 2012, police reported 1,414 criminal incidents motivated by hate in Canada, 82 more incidents than in 2011. These hate crimes represented 4.1 incidents per 100,000 population.

In 2012, about half of all hate crimes (704 incidents, or 51%) were motivated by hatred toward a race or ethnicity such as Black, Asian, Arab or Aboriginal populations. Another 419 incidents, or 30%, were motivated by hatred towards a particular religion, including hate crimes targeting Jewish, Muslim, Catholic and other religions.

An additional 13% (185 incidents) were motivated by sexual orientation, while the remaining 6% of hate crimes were motivated by language, mental or physical disability, sex, age or some other characteristic (such as occupation or political beliefs).

UN World Drug Report 2014

July 2, 2014 Comments off

World Drug Report 2014
Source: United Nations
From press release (PDF):

Drug use prevalence is stable around the world, according to the 2014 World Drug Report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with around 243 million individuals, or 5 per cent of the world’s population aged 15- 64 having used an illicit drug in 2012. Problem drug users meanwhile numbered about 27 million, roughly 0.6 per cent of the world’s adult population, or 1 in every 200 people.

Violence Against Women: Effective Interventions and Practices with Perpetrators –- A Literature Review

July 2, 2014 Comments off

Violence Against Women: Effective Interventions and Practices with Perpetrators — A Literature Review
Source: Scottish Centre for Crime & Justice Research

The key focus of the report is on reviewing evidence about reducing re-offending in crimes of violence against women. The research evidence available provides a number of valuable insights into what works to reduce reoffending in the area of violence against women.

FTC Alleges T-Mobile Crammed Bogus Charges onto Customers’ Phone Bills

July 1, 2014 Comments off

FTC Alleges T-Mobile Crammed Bogus Charges onto Customers’ Phone Bills
Source: Federal Trade Commission

In a complaint filed today, the Federal Trade Commission is charging mobile phone service provider T-Mobile USA, Inc., with making hundreds of millions of dollars by placing charges on mobile phone bills for purported “premium” SMS subscriptions that, in many cases, were bogus charges that were never authorized by its customers.

The FTC alleges that T-Mobile received anywhere from 35 to 40 percent of the total amount charged to consumers for subscriptions for content such as flirting tips, horoscope information or celebrity gossip that typically cost $9.99 per month. According to the FTC’s complaint, T-Mobile in some cases continued to bill its customers for these services offered by scammers years after becoming aware of signs that the charges were fraudulent.

In a process known as “third-party billing,” a phone company places charges on a consumer’s bill for services offered by another company, often receiving a substantial percentage of the amount charged. When the charges are placed on the bill without the consumer’s authorization, it is known as “cramming.”

The FTC’s complaint alleges that in some cases, T-Mobile was charging consumers for services that had refund rates of up to 40 percent in a single month. The FTC has alleged that because such a large number of people were seeking refunds, it was an obvious sign to T-Mobile that the charges were never authorized by its customers. As the complaint notes, the refund rate likely significantly understates the percentage of consumers who were crammed. The complaint also states that internal company documents show that T-Mobile had received a high number of consumer complaints at least as early as 2012.

HHS OIG — Performance Data for the Senior Medicare Patrol Projects: June 2014 Performance Report

June 26, 2014 Comments off

Performance Data for the Senior Medicare Patrol Projects: June 2014 Performance Report
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General

WHY WE DID THIS STUDY
This memorandum report presents performance data for the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) projects, which receive grants from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to recruit and train retired professionals and other senior citizens to recognize and report instances or patterns of health care fraud. (ACL was established in 2012, bringing together the Administration on Aging (AoA) and two other offices.) In July 2010, AoA requested that OIG continue to collect and report performance data for the projects to support its efforts to evaluate and improve their performance. OIG currently reports this performance data on an annual basis.

HOW WE DID THIS STUDY
We based this review on data reported by the SMP projects. In addition, we requested and reviewed documentation from the projects for expected recoveries of funds for the Medicare and Medicaid programs. We also requested and reviewed documentation for actual savings to beneficiaries and others that were attributable to the projects, as well as for cost avoidance. We did not review documentation for the other performance measures.

WHAT WE FOUND
In 2013, the 54 SMP projects had 5,406 active volunteers, a 5-percent increase from 2012. These volunteers conducted 148,235 one-on-one counseling sessions, a 31-percent increase from 2012. They also conducted 14,924 group education sessions in 2013, compared to 14,748 in 2012.

In 2013, expected Medicare and Medicaid recoveries that were attributable to the projects were 9.1 million, a 50-percent increase from 2012. However, total savings to beneficiaries and others decreased from $133,971 in 2012 to $41,718 in 2013. Finally, cost avoidance on behalf of Medicare, Medicaid, beneficiaries, and others increased by 26 percent, from $113,692 in 2012 to $143,282 in 2013.

We continue to emphasize that it is not always possible to track referrals to Medicare contractors or law enforcement from beneficiaries who have learned to detect fraud, waste, and abuse from the projects. Therefore, the projects may not be receiving full credit for savings attributable to their work. In addition, the projects are unable to track the substantial savings derived from a sentinel effect whereby fraud and errors are reduced by Medicare beneficiaries’ scrutiny of their bills.
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New From the GAO

June 25, 2014 Comments off

New From the GAO
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Information Security: Additional Oversight Needed to Improve Programs at Small Agencies. GAO-14-344, June 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-344
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664420.pdf

2. Aviation Safety: Additional Oversight Planning by FAA Could Enhance Safety Risk Management. GAO-14-516, June 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-516
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664401.pdf

3. Traffic Safety: Alcohol Ignition Interlocks Are Effective While Installed; Less Is Known about How to Increase Installation Rates. GAO-14-559, June 20.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-559
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664282.pdf

4. Diplomatic Security: Overseas Facilities May Face Greater Risks Due to Gaps in Security-Related Activities, Standards, and Policies. GAO-14-655, June 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-655
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664423.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/664325

Testimonies

1. Export-Import Bank: Status of GAO Recommendations on Risk Management, Exposure Forecasting, and Workload Issues, by Mathew J. Scirè, director, financial markets and community investment, before the House Committee on Financial Services. GAO-14-708T, June 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-708T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664379.pdf

2. Medicare Fraud: Further Actions Needed to Address Fraud, Waste, and Abuse, by Kathleen M. King, director, health care, before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House Committee on Energy and Commerce. GAO-14-712T, June 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-712T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664382.pdf

Hackers Wanted: An Examination of the Cybersecurity Labor Market

June 24, 2014 Comments off

Hackers Wanted: An Examination of the Cybersecurity Labor Market
Source: RAND Corporation

There is a general perception that there is a shortage of cybersecurity professionals within the United States, and a particular shortage of these professionals within the federal government, working on national security as well as intelligence. Shortages of this nature complicate securing the nation’s networks and may leave the United States ill-prepared to carry out conflict in cyberspace.

RAND examined the current status of the labor market for cybersecurity professionals — with an emphasis on their being employed to defend the United States. This effort was in three parts: first, a review of the literature; second, interviews with managers and educators of cybersecurity professionals, supplemented by reportage; and third, an examination of the economic literature about labor markets. RAND also disaggregated the broad definition of “cybersecurity professionals” to unearth skills differentiation as relevant to this study.

In general, we support the use of market forces (and preexisting government programs) to address the strong demand for cybersecurity professionals in the longer run. Increases in educational opportunities and compensation packages will draw more workers into the profession over time. Cybersecurity professionals take time to reach their potential; drastic steps taken today to increase their quantity and quality would not bear fruit for another five to ten years. By then, the current concern over cybersecurity could easily abate, driven by new technology and more secure architectures. Pushing too many people into the profession now could leave an overabundance of highly trained and narrowly skilled individuals who could better be serving national needs in other vocations.

Seasonal Patterns In Criminal Victimization Trends

June 23, 2014 Comments off

Seasonal Patterns In Criminal Victimization Trends
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Uses data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) to examine the seasonal patterns in violent and property crime victimization in the United States from 1993 to 2010. Seasonal patterns are periodic fluctuations in the victimization rates that tend to occur at the same time each year. The report describes seasonal patterns in property crime (burglary, motor vehicle theft, and other household theft) and violent victimization (rape and sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault). It also presents seasonal trends in other forms of violence, including intimate partner violence, victimizations involving a weapon, and violence resulting in injury.

Highlights:

  • Seasonal patterns existed in household larceny and burglary victimization rates. Rates of these household crimes tended to be higher in the summer than during other seasons of the year.
  • When seasonal variations in household property victimization were found, the differences between the highest and lowest seasonal rates were less than 11%.
  • Though rates of motor vehicle theft tended to be lower in the spring than in the summer, there were few regular differences between summer, fall, and winter rates.
  • Aggravated assault rates were higher during the summer than during the winter, spring, and fall. In comparison, simple assault rates were higher during the fall than during other seasons of the year.
  • When seasonal variations were found for violent victimization, the differences between the rates of the highest and lowest seasons were less than 12%.

We’re helping long-term care facilities protect older Americans from financial exploitation

June 20, 2014 Comments off

We’re helping long-term care facilities protect older Americans from financial exploitation
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

We’ve heard a lot of stories about vulnerable adults falling prey to con artists, family members, fiduciaries, and professional advisers who steal their nest eggs and threaten their financial security.

A son steals $315,000 from his elderly mother’s retirement accounts and frequents casinos. When he doesn’t pay his mother’s rent, she’s evicted from her assisted living facility.

The pastor of a 77-year-old man with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases makes 130 withdrawals from the man’s bank account but fails to make nursing home payments on his behalf for nine months. The man was nearly discharged from his nursing home.

These stories are all too common. We’d like to equip assisted living and nursing facility staff with the know-how to prevent and spot the warning signs of abuse, so we’re releasing a guide to protecting residents from financial exploitation.

Our action-oriented guide gives staff the tools to:

  • Prevent financial exploitation and scams by educating staff, residents, and family members about warning signs and precautions
  • Recognize, record, and report financial abuse as early as possible using a model protocol and a team approach
  • Get help from first responders in the community

Just Released — Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2013

June 10, 2014 Comments off

Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2013
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

A joint effort by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Center for Education Statistics, this annual report examines crime occurring in schools and colleges. This report presents data on crime at school from the perspectives of students, teachers, principals, and the general population from an array of sources–the National Crime Victimization Survey, the School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the School Survey on Crime and Safety, the School and Staffing Survey and the Campus Safety and Security Survey.

Net Losses: Estimating the Global Cost of Cybercrime

June 10, 2014 Comments off

Net Losses: Estimating the Global Cost of Cybercrime (PDF)
Source: McAfee and Center for Strategic & International Studies
From Report Summary (PDF):

Cybercrime is a growth industry. The returns are great, and the risks are low. We estimate that the likely annual cost to the global economy from cybercrime is more than $445 billion, including both the gains to criminals and the costs to companies for recovery and defense. A conservative estimate would be $375 billion in losses, while the maximum could be as much as $575 billion.

CA — Victims of Crime Research Digest (Issue 7, 2014)

June 7, 2014 Comments off

Victims of Crime Research Digest (Issue 7, 2014) (PDF)
Source: Justice Canada

This issue of the Digest begins with an article by Lisa Ha on cyberbullying in Canada, on what we know and what we do not know. In the second article, Melissa Lindsay provides a look at how technology is being used in all the jurisdictions to improve access to victim services. Next, Susan McDonald and Lara Rooney present the social science research on support animals, dogs in particular, and the role they could play in supporting victims of crime. This is followed by an article by Susan McDonald who examines third party records case law from 2003 to 2010, an update from previous case law reviews. And finally, in the last article, André Solecki and Katie Scrim take a look at the human cost of impaired driving by mapping and analyzing incidents of impaired driving causing death across Canada in 2012.

Casting Cultural Monsters: Representations of Serial Killers in U.S. and U.K. News Media

June 6, 2014 Comments off

Casting Cultural Monsters: Representations of Serial Killers in U.S. and U.K. News Media (PDF)
Source: At the Interface

Serial murder is deeply imbedded in Western cultures, and serial killers are the subject of widespread coverage in news and entertainment media. Despite ample differences among serial murder cases and serial killers, most mass media portrayals of these cases tend to present two images: the serial killer as monster and the serial killer as celebrity. Media representations reveal much about a culture, and the use of extreme images like monsters and celebrities speak especially loudly. Yet, few researchers have explored cultural meanings embedded in representations of serial killers. Informed by theoretical arguments within cultural sociology and drawing on a qualitative content analysis of news articles published in the United Sates and the United Kingdom, this study explores news media representations of serial killers and uncovers links to broader cultural meanings . Although there are several similarities in the ways U.S. and U.K. news sources represent serial murder, important differences are evident. In particular, U.K. articles include more monster imagery and U.S. articles include more celebrity imagery. Implications and meanings behind these representations are discussed, especially as they reveal cultural values and beliefs.

Not an ‘Ebay for Drugs': The Cryptomarket ‘Silk Road’ as a Paradigm Shifting Criminal Innovation

June 6, 2014 Comments off

Not an ‘Ebay for Drugs': The Cryptomarket ‘Silk Road’ as a Paradigm Shifting Criminal Innovation
Source: Social Science Research Network

The online cryptomarket Silk Road has been oft-characterised as an ‘eBay for drugs’ with customers drug consumers making personal use-sized purchases. Our research demonstrates that this was not the case. Using a bespoke web crawler, we downloaded all drugs listings on Silk Road in September 2013. We found that a substantial proportion of transactions on Silk Road are best characterised as ‘business-to-business’, with sales in quantities and at prices typical of purchases made by drug dealers sourcing stock. High price-quantity sales generated between 31-45% of revenue, making sales to drug dealers the key Silk Road drugs business. As such, Silk Road was what we refer to as a transformative, as opposed to incremental, criminal innovation. With the key Silk Road customers actually drug dealers sourcing stock for local street operations, we were witnessing a new breed of retail drug dealer, equipped with a technological subcultural capital skill set for sourcing stock. Sales on Silk Road increased from an estimate of $14.4 million in mid 2012 to $89.7 million by our calculations. This is a more than 600% increase in just over a year, demonstrating the demand for this kind of illicit online marketplace. With Silk Road functioning to considerable degree at the wholesale/broker market level, its virtual location should reduce violence, intimidation and territorialism. Results are discussed in terms of the opportunities cryptomarkets provide for criminologists, who have thus far been reluctant to step outside of social surveys and administrative data to access the world of ‘webometric’ and ‘big data’.

Alert — GameOver Zeus P2P Malware

June 5, 2014 Comments off

GameOver Zeus P2P Malware
Source: US-CERT

GameOver Zeus (GOZ), a peer-to-peer (P2P) variant of the Zeus family of bank credential-stealing malware identified in September 2011, [1] uses a decentralized network infrastructure of compromised personal computers and web servers to execute command-and-control. The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), is releasing this Technical Alert to provide further information about the GameOver Zeus botnet.

See also: GameOver Zeus Botnet Disrupted (FBI)

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