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Entries in FBI (9)

Thursday
Jun212012

New Mexico Ex-FBI Employee Says Co-Workers Were 'Jealous' of Her, Sues Employer

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Erika Bonilla, a professional singer and former FBI employee in New Mexico, is suing the FBI for harassment and discrimination, saying several co-workers were "jealous of her appearance and Latin singing career."

Bonilla, 38, began working at the FBI field office in Albuquerque, N.M., in December 2002. In the summer of 2007, Bonilla was promoted to an Administrative Specialist, "which entailed human resources management, language testing, applicant testing and recruiting matters," according to the lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court in New Mexico.

Bonilla's suit, filed on June 18, names Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice, which oversees the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The suit states she "was targeted, harassed and retaliated against because she is an attractive Hispanic female with a career in Latin music."

Bonilla is a professional Latin music singer, has released an album and signed a recording contract for a second album.

"She has performed at various FBIHQ functions," which the "FBI is well aware of, and allows her to work as a singer," the suit states.

The lawsuit was brought "to prevent [the FBI] from maintaining a policy" of discriminating against Bonilla, who now lives in California. She is requesting unspecified damages, back pay, "and other equitable relief" for discrimination on the basis of race and gender. She says she should be protected from retaliation for protected activity under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment and referred ABC News to the Justice Department. Charles Miller, a spokesman for the Department of Justice declined to comment on ongoing litigation.

"Ms. Bonilla indicated this harassment included maliciously false rumors, disparate treatment and frivolous complaints that caused her anguish and lost pay," said Monnica Garcia, Bonilla's attorney. "This lawsuit was brought because, despite her repeated complaints to management, the agency failed to address the hostile work environment. Ms. Bonilla hopes this lawsuit will not only compensate her for her damages, but also prevent future acts of discrimination and retaliation."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb272012

FBI and Michael Douglas Turn Up the Heat on Insider Trading

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI has enlisted Michael Douglas, best known for his role as the ruthless Wall Street executive Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street, in the bureau’s efforts to crack down on the rising number of insider trading cases. While Gekko lived by the mantra that “greed, for lack of a better word, is good,” Douglas is now asking corporate employees and financial traders to report insider trading and securities fraud to the FBI.

Appearing in a public service announcement that begins with a scene from Wall Street, Douglas says, “In the movie Wall Street I play Gordon Gekko, a greedy corporate executive who cheated to profit while innocent investors lost their savings. The movie was fiction, but the problem is real.

“Our economy is increasingly dependent on the success and the integrity of the financial markets,” Douglas says in the video produced by the FBI.  “If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. For more information on how you can identify securities fraud, or to report insider training, contact your local FBI office. Or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.”

A report released by the FBI on Monday on financial crimes noted that there has been an increase in the number of insider trading cases.

“While the number of cases involving the falsification of financial information remains relatively stable, the FBI has observed an increase in the number of insider trading cases. Insider trading has been a continuous threat to the fair and orderly operation of the U.S. financial markets and has robbed the investing public of some degree of trust that markets operate fairly,” the report noted, which looked at financial crimes from Oct. 1, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2011.

“We couldn’t be more excited about Mr. Douglas.  The antagonist role that he played as Gordon Gekko suggested to us there would be no better voice to put this message out insider trading and securities fraud,” said FBI Special Agent David Chaves from the FBI’s New York field office, where he is the supervisor of the corporate and securities fraud unit.

“Greed is a factor that we always have to consider.  Our hope is that we continue to be proactive and aggressive in this area,” Chaves said.

Insider trading has been prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in a number of high-profile cases with 66 individuals being charged since August 2009. The district successfully prosecuted hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, who operated an elaborate insider trading operation. Rajaratnam and others indicted in the case netted over $60 million in profits.

The case was also unique because the FBI and prosecutors used court-authorized wiretaps to build the case, something that the FBI and Justice Department have been doing more frequently in other corporate fraud cases.

In January the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department charged seven individuals from hedge funds Diamondback Capital Management LLC and Level Global Investors LP for illegally trading on inside information about Dell and Nvidia and allegedly netting $78 million in profits.

The FBI on Monday also released video from an insider trading case involving Walt Disney, the parent company of ABC, where Bonnie Hoxie, a former assistant to a top executive at Disney, passed information to her boyfriend Yonni Sebbag, a.k.a "Jonathan Cyrus." Sebbag sent multiple inquires to hedge funds and tried to peddle the inside information he was getting from Hoxie. The FBI intervened and posed as a hedge fund interested in buying the inside information.

On the FBI video Sebbag bragged that he had top information, telling an FBI undercover agent, “Any information that comes through my executives, like CEO, any information.”

“What motivates me is money.” Sebbag said on the FBI video.

Sebbag asked the undercover agent “You’re not FBI or SEC, right?... we’re OK, right?”

[VIEW THE TRANSCRIPT HERE]

“Well, I’m the CIA,” the undercover agent responded -- the men sharing a laugh as they proceeded with the deal.

Both Bonnie Hoxie and Yonni Sebbag pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud. Hoxie only received a sentence of four months home confinement after a judge agreed she was manipulated by Sebbag, who was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison.

The FBI report released Monday noted that in 2011 the FBI had 726 pending corporate fraud cases and noted that the Bureau secured $2.4 billion in restitution and over $16 million in fines from corporate criminal defendants.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb092012

Steve Jobs’ FBI File: Bomb Threat, Drug Use Noted in Background Check

David Paul Morris/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder who transformed personal computing, communications and other fields with such products as the iPhone and iPad, also had a 191-page FBI file that detailed a federal background check, a bomb threat on his home and second-hand reports of drug use.

Released Thursday under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the FBI file shows that Jobs’ background was checked in 1991 for an appointment to the White House Export Council under President George H.W. Bush; and that he and other Apple employees were targets of a bomb threat in 1985.

The file reveals no felony convictions and dryly lists lawsuits in which Jobs was involved, but also cites unnamed associates who mentioned Jobs’ drug use and questioned his “honesty.”

[CLICK HERE TO READ THE FBI FILE ON STEVE JOBS]

In the 1991 FBI background investigation, an agent wrote, “Several Individuals commented concerning past drug use on the part of Mr. Jobs.”

The file adds, “Mr. Jobs also commented concerning his past drug use.”

On the same page, it notes, “Several individuals questioned Mr. Jobs’ honesty, stating that Mr. Jobs will twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals.  [Name redacted] also advised that he was aware that Mr. Jobs used illegal drugs, including marijuana and LSD while they were attending college.”

The file also notes that “based on the background information furnished by Mr. Jobs, he has no close relatives residing in communist-controlled countries.”  Former associates at Apple said they “recommended him for a position of trust with the Government.”

The file was posted on the FBI's website Thursday morning.  Most of it was compiled at the request of the White House in 1991, when Jobs was president of NeXT computers and owner of the then-struggling Pixar software company, which would later make such films as Toy Story.  Jobs, ousted from Apple in a 1985 power struggle, returned in 1996 and became its CEO in 1997.

The 1985 bomb threat concerns someone who was demanding $1 million and claimed to have placed explosives in Jobs’ home along with those of three other Apple employees.  The threat was traced to a hotel near the San Francisco Airport Hilton.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct262011

Former Goldman Exec. Surrenders to FBI, Faces Insider Trading Charges

Umesh Goswami/The India Today Group/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The federal government's biggest insider trading case has ensnared its most prominent executive yet. Rajat Gupta, formerly a board member at Goldman Sachs and Proctor & Gamble, surrendered to the FBI on Wednesday to face criminal charges.

The 62-year-old executive, who visited the White House in 2009 for the state dinner honoring India, faces one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and five counts of securities fraud, according to the indictment filed Wednesday in the Southern District of New York.

Gupta, who has an MBA from Harvard Business School and lives in Westport, Conn., has previously been accused of tipping convicted hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam with inside information about the quarterly earnings of both firms. Additionally, when Warren Buffett readied his $5 billion investment in Goldman Sachs in 2008 the SEC said Gupta called Rajaratnam before it was publicly announced.

"The conduct alleged is not an inadvertent slip of the tongue by Mr. Gupta," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Janice Fedarcyk said in a statement. "His eagerness to pass along inside information to Rajaratnam is nowhere more starkly evident than in the two instances where a total of 39 seconds elapsed between his learning of crucial Goldman Sachs information and lavishing it on his good friend. That information (captured by the FBI) was conveyed by phone so quickly it could be termed instant messaging."

Gupta's lawyer, Gary Naftalis of the firm Kramer Levin, called the government's criminal case "flawed" and based on "unreliable evidence being used in an attempt to bring down a man of sterling reputation."

"The facts demonstrate that Mr. Gupta is an innocent man and that he has always acted with honesty and integrity," Naftalis said in a statement Wednesday.

"Rajat Gupta was entrusted by some of the premier institutions of American business to sit inside their boardrooms, among their executives and directors, and receive their confidential information so that he could give advice and counsel for the benefit of their shareholders," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "As alleged, he broke that trust and instead became the illegal eyes and ears in the boardroom for his friend and business associate, Raj Rajaratnam, who reaped enormous profits from Mr. Gupta's breach of duty."

Gupta played a starring role in Rajaratnam's trial that ended with the longest-ever sentence handed down for insider trading. Jurors saw transcripts of phone calls between the two men and heard Gupta's voice on wiretaps.

"Given the prominent role that Mr. Gupta played in the recent trial of Raj Rajaratnam, many people believed that these charges were all but inevitable," said Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice at McCarter & English in New Jersey. "It has been clear for some time now that federal prosecutors had Mr. Gupta in their crosshairs and that the real question was when, not if, they would pursue insider trading charges against him."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May012011

Sony: Some Playstation Network Services to Resume

Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures(TOKYO) -- Sony has some good news for Playstation gamers, as the company announced that some Playstation Network services will resume in the coming week.

Sony Computer Entertainment and Sony Network Entertainment International announced Sunday that some steps have been taken to enhance the network’s security and that Playstation Network and Qriocity services such as gaming, music and video services will soon be turned on.

Playstation gamers around the world have been unable to play using the online network since April 20, when the system was shut down following a criminal cyber-attack on Sony’s data-center located in San Diego, California.

The company says personal data of some 77 million customers was accessed by an unauthorized person between April 17 and April 19. Credit card information from some customers may have been accessed; however, the company was unable to confirm whether or not credit card data was taken.

Officials say the FBI is now conducting an investigation into the cyber-attack.

Sony says it also has plans to launch a “Welcome Back” program, which will provide customers around the world with “service options and premium content as an expression of the company’s appreciation for their patience, support and continued loyalty.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr132011

Fed's Disable Cyber-Crime Computer Network that Stole Millions 

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI and the Justice Department say they have disabled a "botnet" of more than two million computers infected with malicious code that Eastern European cyber criminals may have used to drain millions of dollars from bank accounts around the world.

The victims include a Tennessee defense contractor that had $241,000 stolen from a bank account, a Michigan real estate company that lost more than $115,000, a South Carolina law firm that had $78,000 taken from accounts and a North Carolina investment firm that lost $151,000 from fraudulent wire transfers, according to court documents.

U.S. authorities continue to combat the network of remotely controlled computers called the "Coreflood" botnet, which has secretly recorded computer users' keystrokes to compromise vast amounts of banking and financial data. Botnets are armies of so-called "zombie" computers, often ordinary people's machines, that have been hijacked by hackers and ordered to vacuum up private information from bank accounts, credit card data, email services and social media sites.

Coreflood is believed to have been operating since 2002 and has resulted in an unknown number of U.S. bank accounts being broken into with losses that could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to FBI officials.

The Justice Department and FBI filed a civil complaint against 13 "John Doe" defendants, charging them with wire fraud, bank fraud and illegal interception of electronic communications. Investigators will seek to identify the "John Does" as the investigation continues.

The FBI and Justice Department also have executed search warrants to seize Internet domain names believed tied to be the control servers for the Coreflood program.

The botnet has stolen vast amounts of funds from bank accounts in the United States, FBI officials said, and could have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide.

Investigators received a temporary restraining order from the district court allowing them to seize control of the infected computer servers to try to further dismantle and disable the Coreflood botnet. According to Justice Department officials, the server that will seek to counter Coreflood will be run by the Internet Systems Consortium, a non-profit group that works on Internet infrastructure and security issues.

FBI officials say that Coreflood program still will be present on victims' computers, but those victims can take action to remove the malicious software through proper security measures.

In a press release Wednesday, DOJ noted, "The public may go to the following sites operated by U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) and the Federal Trade Commission, respectively: us-cert.gov/nav/nt01 and onguardonline.gov/topics/malware.aspx."

Microsoft also has developed malicious software removal tools to remove botnets including Coreflood.

Although FBI officials declined to say where the Coreflood botnet originated, previous media reports and cyber-security experts have traced it to cyber criminal gangs in Russia. Researchers at Dell SecureWorks claim they were the first to trace Coreflood to a computer crime ring from Russia. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Gordon Snow, the assistant director of the FBI's Cyber Division, spelled out how Russia and Eastern Europe were a hotbed of computer crime.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Monday
Feb072011

FBI and DOJ Investigate NASDAQ Computer Hacking

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- NASDAQ released a statement Monday confirming the intrusions into their Director’s Desk program, which was reported by The Wall Street Journal over the weekend.  The investigation into who installed malware onto the system has been ongoing for over a year.

According to law enforcement officials, the investigation was initiated by the U.S. Secret Service but is now being headed by the FBI’s Cyber Division at FBI Headquarters. The Justice Department’s Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section is also involved in the ongoing investigation. 
 
Officials are unsure who installed the programs and what their intent was, but there is speculation the program allowed the designers of the software to see what items and messages were being shared via the Director Desk platform.

The NASDAQ’s stock trading computers were not breached and Director’s Desk is a relatively small system that is offered by NASDAQ with about 10,000 users worldwide.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec072010

Investment Fraud on the Rise, Federal Officials Say

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder and representatives from the FBI, Securities Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced the results of an operation that has been ongoing since August titled, “Operation Broken Trust,” which highlighted a series of arrests and cases targeting investment fraud. The cases announced Monday ranged from taking down Ponzi schemes and business opportunity fraud, to high-yield investment scams.
 
The round-up targeted 343 criminal defendants who scammed an estimated 120,000 victims.  The victims suffered approximately $8.38 billion in losses due to the fraud. One example cited in the press conference was Frank Castaldi, who targeted friends and people in his neighborhood in establishing a $77 million Ponzi scheme. One of the victims in the case, Frank Cesare, told local media at the time that he knew Castaldi and his family for 55 years, but lost his entire life savings to him.

FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry said, "The perpetrators of these crimes are those who you might trust -- hence the term Operation Broken Trust -- friends, colleagues, people you worship with, people in your workplace, people from your kid's soccer team. Criminals have always preyed on the trust of individuals, with offers too good to be true.”

Robert Khuzami, the SEC’s Director of Enforcement, said he feared these types of scams were on the rise: “I do think that we see situations, where as more and more people look to third parties to invest their money, through intermediaries, money managers and the like, you know, the frequency with which we might see these types of schemes arise, I think, is on the increase.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

Monday
Nov222010

FBI Raids Hedge Funds as Part of Insider-Trading Investigation

Image Courtesy - Federal Bureau of Investigation(NEW YORK) -- The FBI on Monday raided three hedge funds as part of an investigation into whether a number of hedge fund managers at major firms are guilty of insider-trading.

Search warrants were executed at Level Global Investors LP and Diamondback Capital Management LLC -- both located in Connecticut -- and also at Loch Capital Management LLC, in Boston. The raids involved confiscating records that investigators hope will help unravel what exactly took place.

"The FBI is executing court authorized search warrants in an ongoing investigation," said FBI spokesman Richard Kolko. "This matter is sealed and we have no additional comment."

According to the Wall Street Journal, both Connecticut hedge funds are run by former managers of Steven Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors. Loch is managed by brothers Timothy and Todd McSweeney, both of whom are known acquaintances of Steven Fortuna, the latter of whom pleaded guilty to insider-trading with Galleon.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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