World-Renowned CyberCrime Special Agent based in Birmingham

Today’s Internet Professional Society of Alabama presentation was made by Supervisory Special Agent Dale Miskell. The following is the description lifted off the <ipsa> website:

    The FBI takes cyber crime and fraud seriously, creating a Cyber Division in 2002 and making cyber crime its number three priority behind counter terrorism and counter intelligence. Meet FBI Cyber Crime Agent Dale Miskell, who took the lead in fighting internet scams while working at the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3, a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.
    Dale’s crime-fighting efforts have even led him to Nigeria, where he helped arrest and prosecute Nigerian con artists. In April, the Merchant Risk Council, a non-profit group devoted to fighting cyber fraud, named Dale its first “Law Enforcement Officer of the Year” for his efforts. Dale will share the latest scams his office is investigating and some tips to protect yourself and your family from becoming victims of a cyber crime.

Special Agent Miskell talked about CyberTerrorism. He talked about the cyber connection of the September 11 attack. The terrorists had bought their tickets online, using a Kinko’s cybercafe. The FBI was able to track IP addresses and history files on the computers used and determined that there was a connection to laptops in Afghanistan. Once we invaded the country they secured the laptops found with satellite hookups to the internet, noting the GPS coordinates and date/time the computers were found in case they need them in court. The computers were run with solar panel battery packs that can be folded up and carried in the size of a laptop.

Through these computers, they found specific websites… many of which were hosted back here in the USA. One thing they noted is that these websites would serve up a different set of pages if the requesting IP address was based in the United States. So, the FBI office here has proxy servers set up to spoof a foreign IP address and see the sites as they are viewed from abroad.

On a lighter subject (as far as that goes), Agent Miskell interfaces with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. We know about Phishing, but something new is the “reshipping.” The bad guys hang out in certain chat rooms or bulletin boards. They befriend someone and establish a relationship with what amounts to a very lonely person. They also attract people who are unemployed. To “apply” you are asked for identification including SSN.

The story goes that in Nigeria they can’t receive items from companies, but they can get items from friends. They ask you to reship items that arrive with a label to send it overseas. The items are purchased with fraudulent credit cards and eventually the companies sending the items come knocking on your door for their money/product. When it comes time to be paid for your services they send a forged cashiers check and ask you to wire part of the money back to them. You deposit the check and send out the money by wire only to find out later that the bank has seized your account and made YOU liable for the debt. This is also costing the major shippers millions of dollars due to fraudulent shipping labels.

He was assigned as the Program Manager for the reshipping problem. All roads led to Nigeria. It turns out that the country created the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. The entity was created because the country was losing a lot of its direct foreign investment. He spent 30 days to train the shippers and government how to handle the problem on their side of the ocean. They identify fraudulent packages and a police officer dresses as a shipper to make the delivery. Once the recipient pays the duty on the package they can make the arrest. They follow behind the in the “war wagon” (bullet-proof Suburban). Of 17 controlled deliveries they were successful at nabbing 14… all of which involved fighting, some of which involved gunfire. At the first arrest they found a fax machine with a history of international transactions.

See this MSN article and this USATODAY article for some additional details.

The next big thing is Pharming. Also, IP Relay is growing as a transport mechanism for making fraudulent transactions.

So what’s next?!? There are 7 agents in the squad in Birmingham and they will be adding more next year. An important organization, InfraGard, was started several years ago to consolidate the eyes and ears of corporate America with law enforcement — Birmingham has its own chapter. Bottom line, if it’s too good to be true it’s a scam!


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