Friday, May 22, 2015


The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office has issued its Annual Report for 2014. The report gives crime statistics for the unincorporated part of Snohomish County and the cities that contract with the Sheriff’s Office as well as a summary of major events that occurred in 2014 and descriptions of the major functions of the Sheriff’s Office.

To see the report go to this link:


Thursday, May 21, 2015

SNOHOMISH COUNTY- Property Crimes Unit Looking for Burglar

The North Snohomish County Property Crimes Unit is looking for Monique Weir.

Ms. Weir is wanted for multiple burglaries and trafficking cases. She apparently likes to break into people’s garages and sheds. She will steal what she can and then pawn what she takes.
Detectives believe that she may be in possession of a stolen firearm and she may be in Eastern Washington.

If you know where she is call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. You can also text tips to Crime Stoppers; for instructions go to this link:

Note: With summer weather on us, we often have projects around the house. Often we leave our garage doors open while we are doing our chores in the back yard. This is an open invitation for a burglar to walk into the garage and take what they want. And if your garage is connected to your house, that burglar can have easy access inside. Keep your garage doors closed and locked, even if you are around the house. And lock any storage sheds that you have on your property.

Washington’s Most Wanted:



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

CYBER SECURITY- Three Ways Criminals Can Get into your Computer

The AARP Fraud Watch Network and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office have begun a statewide educational campaign on cyber security. On May 12, AARP hosted a Cyber Security event at the Museum of Flight in Seattle where over 200 consumers listened to various experts talk about different aspects of cyber security.

During that event, the audience viewed three videos that demonstrated the capabilities of criminals to enter your PC, laptop, tablet or Smartphone. Three methods that criminals can use to break into your computerized device include:

  1. The Evil Twin Attack. A hacker will set up shop in or near a coffee shop, hotel, or airport where there is free Wi-Fi. The hacker will set up a fake access point and might use the same name as the coffee shop or hotel or it might be named “free airport Wi-Fi” or “free hotel Wi-Fi.” The fake access point will have a signal that may be stronger than the legitimate access point. The hacker can lurk in the background to collect id’s and passwords or he can have a message sent to your device telling you that you need to pay for access in an attempt to collect your bankcard information. So, if you are expecting free Wi-Fi and are asked to pay for it, get off of that access point. Watch this video for more information on the Evil Twin Attack:

  1. War Driving. A hacker will drive through a neighborhood with his portable computer or smartphone and special software that can detect the active Wi-Fi access points. The hacker is looking for access points that use older and weaker security protocols such as WEP. The newest protocol is WPA2. Check your router for the security protocol and make sure that it uses WPA2. If you cannot change the protocol in the router’s settings, purchase a new router. Watch this video for more information on War Driving:

  1. “Man-in-the-middle” Attack. A hacker inserts himself between your computer and any other computers that you are communicating with. By receiving your signal, the hacker can intercept any passwords or account numbers that you might be using. This attack can be used with free or unsecured Wi-Fi connections. For more information about the Man-in-the-middle Attack, take a look at this video:

Here are some recommendations to protect your from these attacks?

  • Treat all Wi-Fi signals with suspicion.
  • Consider using your cell phone. The data signal for your cell phone provider is considered safe from intruders. If you need to access a social networking, online shopping or banking site, use your cell phone’s data plan.
  • Protect you device against cyber-attacks. All of your devices should have up to date anti-malware and anti-virus software.
  • Conduct private business privately. Do not access your sensitive credit card or bank accounts from a free Wi-Fi access point. Do this business from your own secure network.
  • Change your settings. Change the settings of your device so that it does not automatically connect to any nearby Wi-Fi network. This way you will be more aware of what networks you are connected to.
  • Turn off your wireless network when you are not using it.
  • Use encryption. Encryption encodes transmitted data so that strangers cannot see what is transmitted. Currently, there are two encryption protocols available to Wi-Fi networks: Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) which is out of date and Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) with WPA2 being the newest version of this protocol. Be sure to use WPA2.

AARP Fraud Watch Network Shady Signals Report:



Monday, May 18, 2015

CYBER SECURITY- Protect Your Information from Theft

The AARP Fraud Watch Network and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office have begun a statewide educational campaign on cyber security. On May 12, AARP hosted a Cyber Security event at the Museum of Flight in Seattle where over 200 consumers listened to various experts talk about different aspects of cyber security.

Cyber security includes measures to protect computers (PC’s, laptops, tablets and smartphones), networks, software and data from unauthorized access.

AARP recently conducted a survey of Washington adults that shows that 73% access the internet every day. Clearly, the internet has become an integral part of our everyday life. In addition, of those users, at least 39% said that they use free Wi-Fi service at least once a month.

In other findings:

  • Of those who said that they use Wi-Fi once a month, one quarter (25%) said that they use free Wi-Fi for financial transactions and 22% use free Wi-Fi to make purchases that include their credit card information.
  • 25% do not use a passcode on their smartphone.
  • 61% have not set up online access to all of their credit card and bank accounts.
  • 41% have not changed the password to their online access to their credit card of bank accounts.
  • 43% receive mail in an unlocked mailbox. Of those, 60% receive paper statements.
  • 66% leave a personal item in sight in their car.
AARP interprets the results of the survey as a warning that consumers are not taking effective measures to protect the information that they have access to on their PC’s, tablets and smartphones. They point out that various criminals, both locally and internationally, have the capability to hack into your computer.

The AARP Fraud Watch Network recommends the following:

  • Do not access your credit card, bank account, or conduct online purchases using a free Wi-Fi network. Local hackers can eavesdrop on your device or even set up a fake Wi-Fi network to gather personal information and your ID’s and passwords.
  • Set up a password for your smartphone. Should you lose your phone or should it be stolen, a password will make it more difficult for a thief or someone who finds your phone to see sensitive information that you have on it.
  • Check your credit card and bank accounts online regularly. Online access is not only convenient it is secure. As long as your see the “https” in the address bar of your browser your link to your account is secure. Some security experts recommend that consumers check their accounts daily for suspicious transactions and report them promptly to your financial institution.
  • Change the passwords to your sensitive credit card, bank account and shopping online accounts regularly. Some experts recommend every 90 days. Also use strong passwords.
  • Use a locking mailbox for your mail. Even with more people receiving their statements via email, mail theft is a major source of personal information such as account numbers for identity thieves. It’s OK to receive a paper statement in the mail if you want, just be sure that it is delivered to your locking mailbox.
  • When you park your car, do not leave anything visible in it. Car prowlers are looking not only for items to sell for their drug habits, they are increasingly looking for account numbers that can be found in your wallet, purse, laptop or smartphone.

AARP Fraud Watch Network Shady Signals Report:




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

VACATION- Beware of Vacation Scams

We are rapidly approaching the summer vacation season. Regular readers know to hold their mail and newspapers, and ask a trusted friend or neighbor to watch their house. But here are some things to watch out for in preparation for your vacation and while you are enjoying your vacation.

  • “Free Vacation.” You may receive a notice via postcard, letter or phone message that you have won a “free” vacation to a luxury location. Some of these offers require you to sit through a high pressure sales pitch to join a vacation club. The sales people claim that members receive discounted travel deals. After you have gone through the pitch there are problems in receiving your promised free vacation. In a variation of this scam, a phony travel agency offers the free or discounted trip, but to receive it you need to pay a service charge or pay for a travel club membership. Once you pay with your credit card or by wiring money, the travel agency is long gone with your money and maybe with your credit card account number.
  • Social-Media. Scammers have migrated to social-media sites such as Facebook. The scammer will set up an account then encourage viewers to “like,” “follow” or “comment on” their site. In reality, this is a way to get to you click on a link that installs malware or take you to a web site that collects your Social Security Number, credit card account number or other personal information. Do not click on any of these links.
  • Fake vacation homes. Scammers will frequently advertise vacation homes or resorts on Craigslist. They will have enticing photos and require you to wire a deposit. Take this as a red flag if wiring money is the only way of payment. If you pay, and you arrive at the destination, it turns out that the address isn’t real, the property isn’t owned by the person who took the deposit, or the beautiful resort is rundown or closed. To avoid this trap, Google the address to confirm the property exists or isn’t out of business. If possible, call the hotel or resort’s 800 number to verify your reservation.
While you are on your vacation there are some things to watch out for:

·         Wake-up call. You receive a call in the middle of the night. The caller says that they are from the front desk of your hotel and they want to verify your credit card information. They are counting on you to give the information on reflex since you are groggy. Don’t give it to them! Tell them that you will call them back or go down to the front desk, and then hang up. Call the 800 number on the back of your credit card and check for fraudulent activity. Go down to the front desk and let them know that you have had this call.

·         Fake Wi-Fi. When you travel, it is perfectly natural to look for free Wi-Fi at an airport or at your hotel. Identity thieves however often set up their own fake Wi-Fi network sometimes with the same name as the airport or hotel uses. And, they will make sure that their signal is stronger that the legitimate network. You might be asked for your credit card number to pay a service fee. Most of the time Wi-Fi is a free service to their customers. At hotels, you may be asked for your name and room number, you may be a password when you check in at the front desk.  If the network wants your credit card number, get off of that network!

The Seattle Times:

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

SEATTLE- Malware that Takes Your Money

Last night, Jesse Jones on KIRO TV put out an alert about some malware that apparently is being tested in Europe and Japan by criminals before they introduce it to the US market.

Malware is software that often secretly gathers sensitive information on your computer or gains access to parts of your computer that holds private, personal information such as identification, passwords and bank or credit card account numbers. Malware is often introduced to your computer through uninvited emails that have attachments or links that promise deals or more information. Some illegitimate web sites might also introduce malware through links that they have. On clicking on those attachments or links, the malware will install itself onto your computer and do what its designers want it to do. That can range from spying on your daily activities to access your ID and passwords to sensitive accounts such as your credit card or bank account to making your computer part of a “botnet” or system of computers that spread spam at the behest of the criminal or spammer.

According to Jesse, the malware that is being tested will look for the logon information to your bank account, then save that information. Then, the criminal will take some money out of that account. He or she will not take all of your money. After the criminal has taken your money, the malware on your computer sticks around to cover his/her tracks by showing the original balance, to make you think that no money has been stolen out of your account.

If we do see this malware, this will increase the sophistication of cyber theft a few notches.

Jesse’s recommendation is to go back to paper statements and call the bank for your balances.

While this might be a tempting strategy, it does not take into account a complete picture of how we can protect ourselves from ID Theft and unauthorized access to our bank accounts. We are not going to the pre-1990’s to all paper statements. Computers have become an integral part of our lives. Our personal strategy to protect ourselves needs to be as timely and flexible as the criminals who are coming up with new ways to make, or maybe take, money from us. You can take steps to prevent yourself from becoming a victim by:

  1. Prevent malware from entering your computer in the first place.
    1. Have good anti-malware, anti-virus and anti-spam software on your computer. Keep it running in the background and run scans regularly.
    2. Keep your software up to date. Often there is a selection in settings to allow your anti-malware software to check for updates on a regular basis. Select that option, so that you do not have to remember to update it.
    3. DON’T click on any links or attachments from emails from people or businesses that you do not know. And sometimes you may want to be careful about some emails from people you do know. If in doubt, contact the originator separately via phone, email (do not reply), or look up their web site via Google or Bing.
  2. Monitor your bank and credit card accounts closely.
    1. Some experts recommend checking your accounts online daily. However often you check them, check them frequently. You have a better chance to detect irregularities in a timely manner. If you see irregularities, contact your financial institution right away.
    2. If you still want a monthly statement sent to you in the mail, be sure that you have a locking mailbox. ID thieves continue to troll unlocked mailboxes for bank statements that have account numbers that they can use in ID theft. Mail theft still occurs in the 21st century.
  3. Physically protect your bank and credit card statements.
    1. Consider storing your bank and credit card statements in a locking file cabinet.
    2. When you park your car at work, shopping, and at home, take your purse, wallet, cell phone, and laptop with you. Modern car prowlers are looking for credit cards and account numbers.
This report is chilling as far as its reported capability. The key to protecting yourself is to stop the malware from entering your computer in the first place and keeping close track on your accounts. You can protect yourself. By keeping your computer and your personal information secure you can keep your finances safe.






Monday, May 11, 2015

SEATTLE- An Inexpensive Car Alarm

For years now, police have recommended not keeping anything in your car, even when you park it overnight in your driveway. And, many people have placed cameras on the sides of their garages to look down on their vehicles to catch car prowlers in the act.

Now, a Ballard resident has figured out a way to use an inexpensive motion detector to deter car prowlers.

They use a 1Byone motion detector ( that is intended to detect motion in a driveway. Instead of placing the motion detector on the side of the garage, they placed it in a discrete place inside one of their vehicles.

And it worked. After their vehicle was broken into numerous times, they placed the motion detector in the vehicle and the alarm by their bed. The alarm went off, the husband and wife pressed the panic buttons on their key fobs and the budding car prowler left the area quickly.

This goes to show that security measures do not have to be expensive. On Amazon, you can purchase this system for around $14.

While this method may work only at home, it is an innovative way to prevent a crime to your property.