Monday, July 27, 2015

CYBERCRIME: Chrysler Recalls Vehicles Due to Hackers

Last week's revelations about the ability of hackers to take control of a Jeep Cherokee demonstrates the vulnerability that we face in the new cyber-crime world. If you do not follow the news and own a Fiat Chrysler product that is on their list of recalled vehicles, you should read this WIRED article about the successful hacking,, and then contact your local Chrysler dealership to arrange for the fix. If you do not own a Chrysler vehicle, you still need to be aware of the potential for hackers to control the next new car that you buy.

Warnings of hackers taking control of new, internet connected vehicles are not new. In 2011, a team of University of Washington and University of California at San Diego researchers demonstrated the ability to hack into a sedan. Cyber security specialists have long given warnings of the mayhem that hackers could cause through Wi-Fi signals connected to new cars and trucks. It’s with last week's revelations though that makes the threat seem more real.

Andy Greenberg, a reporter for WIRED magazine drove a Jeep Cherokee down a freeway while two hackers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, hacked into the SUV from Miller's house 10 miles away. In this prearranged demonstration, Miller and Valasek blasted cold air through the air conditioning system. Then they blasted music from a local hip hop station through the stereo system. Greenberg's efforts to turn down the music failed. Then a picture of the two hackers showed up on the SUV's digital display. Finally, the hackers put the SUV into neutral, slowing it down to a crawl.

Aside from a disgruntled employee in Austin, Texas who shut down a number of vehicles with technology meant to remind those with car loans that they need to pay, no vehicle has been hacked as yet by criminals in real life. The only hackers so far have been those who on looking for vulnerabilities have revealed their findings to the car manufacturers so that fixes can be made. An added twist to the latest hack has been that the hackers promise to talk about their research at the upcoming Black Hat conference in Las Vegas on August 1 through 6. The fixes have been developed and Fiat Chrysler has announced its recall before the world knows how to hack into its vehicles.

 Other vulnerabilities have been reported that include the ability to detect the signal from your keyless remote allowing car prowlers to open your car doors and take whatever is inside. To date, this capability has not been documented by local law enforcement in Snohomish County. But the potential for anyone other than the driver opening their doors, starting their cars, controlling the heater or the entertainment system no doubt gives a chill down anyone's spine that thinks about the possibility.

The issue comes to how can this capability be prevented? Often prevention is in our hands. We can lock doors, close windows, and not keep anything visible to attract car prowlers. But sometimes we need help to prevent crime. In this case, car manufacturers need to build in the capability to block intruders from taking control of our cars.

Car manufacturers have done a good job in the past to protect cars and some of their components from theft. During the 1970's and early 1980's many cars were broken into for their stereo systems. That led to the innovation of the removable faceplate by car stereo manufacturers that discouraged theft. And eventually car manufacturers developed a system that when the stereo loses electricity, a password needs to been entered to regain its functionality. Also, car thefts have been deterred with modern key systems that emit a code to the car when placed in the ignition proving that the key belongs to the car.

If car manufacturers are going to provide capabilities that they think drivers will use or want, they need to ensure that those capabilities will not increase the vulnerability of the cars for theft or high jacking. And in the age of cybercrime, this will be a constant, day to day battle.

Awareness is always important to preventing crime. Educating yourself on the benefits as well as the vulnerabilities of new capabilities inside your new car is becoming as important as knowing about the burglary down the street. Some may say that they will only buy used cars. But those cars may not have the safety features of modern vehicles and if you buy a car of a certain age, 1990's Honda or Toyota, you may find that it is a prime candidate for theft. So keeping up with the times is not only trendy, it is essential to making decisions that help you protect yourself from crime.

One last thing, if you bought a new Chrysler product since 2013, take look that the recall list. If your car or truck is on that list, contact your Chrysler dealer for the security upgrade. It should help with your peace of mind, at least for a while.







Saturday, July 25, 2015

EVERETT: Police Looking for Information on Cash Thefts

The Everett Police Department would like your help in an investigation of thefts of cash from in front of financial institutions. Everett has seen 15 of these incidents with 22 incidents reported throughout the region. Losses amount to over $110,000 in the region.

Typically, the victims made financial transactions inside of a financial institution and then left cash in their car while they did errands in the area. Everett PD believes that the suspects followed the victims from the banks/credit unions then broke into the victim’s vehicles and stole the money. In most of the thefts, the vehicles were unoccupied. But, two female victims were told that they had flat tires. In other cases, money was stolen from a man as he helped push a vehicle that was blocking a roadway, while a female was robbed at gunpoint.

The Everett PD and the Snohomish Regional Drug and Gang Task Force apprehended two suspects, Giovanny Ramirez-Pedraza from Renton and Javier Rojas-Diaz from Kent in a joint undercover operation. They believe that there may be at least one other male suspect involved with the two suspects. The suspects primarily used vans and SUV’s as part of their operations.

If you know anything about these incidents or you have been victimized by these individuals, please call the Everett Police Department Tip Line at (425) 257-8450 or Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound at 1-800-222-TIPS.  

Everett PD recommends that you:

  • Keep money and bank envelopes out of sight when you exit a financial institution.
  • Count money inside the bank, not as you walk to or sit in your vehicle.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Never leave valuables or cash in your vehicle.



The Herald:




Thursday, July 23, 2015

SNOHOMISH COUNTY: Property Crimes Unit Looking for Prolific Burglar

The North Snohomish County Property Crimes Unit is looking for Jason Mora who is wanted for burglary. He was seen recently in a pawn shop in Arlington pawning a tanzanite and diamond ring valued at $22,000 that possibly was stolen in Mercer Island. He also is wanted for a burglary in Arlington. Mora has eight previous convictions for home burglary.

Mora is 5ft 6in tall and weighs 130 pounds. He has scars on his left calf and left forearm as well as several tattoos including a naked woman, cartoon characters on his arm and letters on his neck.

Mora has been seen in casinos in Tulalip wearing a blond wig. He has a new $150,000 warrant for Attempting to Elude.

If you know where the Property Crimes Unit can find Mr. Mora, call 911. Crime Stoppers is also offering a $1,000 reward for information about Mora’s whereabouts. To have a chance at the reward, call 1-800-222-TIPS with your tip.

Washington’s Most Wanted:



SNOHOMISH COUNTY: Danger of Brush Fires Remains High

While temperatures have cooled off, to the 70’s, the dry continues. Weather forecasters predict some showers, but, the rain that any showers provide at this time of year will not soak the ground or vegetation enough to take us out of danger of wildfires.

Fire officials have shown concern about our dry conditions for some time now. The most recent statement coming from the Seattle Fire Department who held a press conference yesterday that needed to be delayed due to a brush fire. In a report published in the “News of Mill Creek” Fire District 7 pointed out that it responded to 37 brush/bark fires between July 1st and July 15th.

Snohomish County has a wide variety of terrain including urban, suburban and rural landscapes. The dry conditions provide excellent fuel in parks, many walking trails, and forest areas where we live. How we protect our homes may differ slightly depending on if we are in a city, a housing development or in the country.

Here are some basic suggestions for preventing brush fires from the Seattle Fire Department:

         Clear leaves and debris from the roof, gutters, porches and decks.

         Remove dead vegetation from under the deck and porch and within 10 feet of a house.

         Remove flammable wood piles, propane tanks away from homes and garage structures.

         Prune trees away from homes.

         For homes adjacent to large areas of greenbelt, consider defensible space between home and landscaping.

         Either keep lawn hydrated or cut it if it’s dry.

         Practice an evacuation plan out of your home and out of your neighborhood.

The Seattle Times:

Here is what homeowners are doing east of the mountains to protect their homes:


If you live near the forest or greenbelt, take a look at this web site on Firewise Communities:


The News of Mill Creek:


The Herald, some brush fires that have occurred in Snohomish County:

Previous posting on fire safety:





Wednesday, July 22, 2015

SNOHOMISH COUNTY: Task Force Looking for Suspect

The Snohomish County Auto Theft Task Force is looking for Clayton Deming. The task force wants Deming for thefts of $192,000 in heavy equipment, trucks and campers all stolen during this month.

Clayton is homeless and drives a red Ford pickup truck.

If you see him or know where he is, call 911.



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

CYBERCRIME: The Crime of the Future

Criminals change with the times. They might find an unlocked door to go through, then take whatever is on the other side. If they come back a few weeks later and find the door locked, they will move on to another, easier target. If everyone on the block makes it harder to steal, the criminals will move on to another neighborhood.

We all worry about our stuff being stolen from our homes; and our cars, trucks, or SUV's. Not only does theft result in the loss of our personal possessions it results in a loss of our security. Often victims may not have lost much in monetary value, but they have a strong feeling of violation.

Securing our homes, securing our cars and our workplaces are first on our minds. After all, we live, work and travel in these physical spaces. Our homes, workplaces and vehicles are tangible to our senses. We should work hard to secure the places around us.

But, criminals are flexible. They go where they think the money is. And they go where they think that there is little risk of being caught.

Over the last 30 or more years we have migrated more and more of our lives to computer technology. We started with PC's at our desks at work, then at our homes. The convenience of taking our work with us (and sometimes our games) drove us to use laptops, then tablets. Now, we can be completely mobile with smartphones in our pockets and purses. And criminals are following the new technology.

In our wondrous new world of communications and information at our fingertips, a dark side is developing alongside the new capabilities that we have as individuals, companies, and organizations. The future of crime is online. And the criminals who steal online are just as bad as the burglars and car thieves who break into our homes our cars. If we are savvy about preventing crime in our home, then we need to be equally as savvy online.

I have come to this conclusion after reading two books. "Spam Nation" by Brian Krebs (     documents the Russian and East European gangs who try to invade our PC's and to invade the databases of major companies for identity theft and other crimes. The other book is "Future Crime" by Marc Goodman ( who shows the vulnerabilities that we face on our PC's, laptops, tablets, mobile phones. Mr. Goodman projects that  as more of our lives become connected, for example in our cars, our appliances and our security systems, we will open ourselves to seemingly unlimited opportunities for criminal mischief.

One problem with this new age of crime is that the cyber criminals can be anywhere. And they often are far away from your local jurisdiction. With a burglary or a car prowl, you can at least call 911 and have some expectation of an investigation. But who do you call if someone has scammed you out of your hard earned money, or stolen your ID. Often these criminals are on the other side of the world, away from even the FBI or other national law enforcement agencies.

The new reality of cybercrime adds complications and insecurity to our lives. Now we have to think about locking our doors at home and blocking access to our computers and a myriad of new devices that we will rely on in the future.

With the new reality of cybercrime comes new nomenclature; spam, scams, ID theft, malware, spoofing, middle man attack, phishing. New defenses include firewalls, anti-virus software, two factor authentication. Cybercrime and the defenses against it are dynamic subjects that will be developing over the near future.

Police always preach awareness of your surroundings. Just as we should be aware of our surroundings at home or at work, now we need to be aware of potential online crimes. Educate yourself about the online security measures that you can take with your PC and mobile devices. Implement those measures. And keep up to date to new threats and new prevention measures as they develop. It may seem like the best strategy might be to go off line. But we have past the point of no return. There is enough of our information that is already on computers that the best thing we can do is to be engaged and do what we can as individuals to protect ourselves.

For a summary of some things that you can do to protect yourself take a look at this link:

Ask Leo:



FTC: Needs Your Help with Indicted Scammers

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) wants your help with an indictment of six Nigerian nationals who have been extradited to Mississippi to face a nine-count federal indictment for various internet frauds including conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, identity theft, and money laundering.

The frauds were committed by romance and work-at-home scam operations against U.S. citizens. For example, the scammers would carry out so-called romantic relationships in which they would try to get their victims to re-ship merchandise bought with stolen credit cards, deposit counterfeit checks, and send money to the defendants via wiring money or sending prepaid debit cards.

The FTC has a list of aliases and email addresses that the defendants allegedly used to carry out their scams. The FTC would like the help of anyone who have potentially been victimized by the scammers to look over the list. If they recognize names or email addresses, the FTC requests that they contact the Department of Justice. Their evidence/testimony can help greatly in the prosecution of the defendants.

If you believe that you may have been a victim of criminal fraud committed by any of the defendants, please go to and complete the questionnaire using the password “scams.”

Note: We frequently see appeals from local law enforcement for information about suspects. We rarely hear about national law enforcement agencies looking for help with scam prosecutions. If you have been a victim of a romance or work-at-home scam, or know of someone who was a victim, you can help the Department of Justice bring these alleged scammers to justice.

Federal Trade Commission: