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Early Gangsters of New York City. 1800-1919. : Criminal gangs offer large scale Malware-as-a-Serv...

Early Gangsters of New York City. 1800-1919. : Criminal gangs offer large scale Malware-as-a-Serv...: Brian Karlovsky (ARN) The arrest of masterhacker ‘Paunch’ has led to cybercriminals to revert to less sophisticated methods of Malwar...

Russian star Grigory Leps may appeal US sanctions – White House

MOSCOW, December 23 (RAPSI) – Russian singer Grigory Lepsveridze (better known as Grigory Leps) has the right to seek reconsideration of the sanctions imposed against him by the US, according to a statement released by the White House on Monday.
The US authorities released the statement after a petition to lift the economic sanctions against Leps surpassed the required 100,000 signatures on the White House Website.
After asserting that a “rigorous process” with “multiple levels of review” was carried out prior to Leps’ designation on the list, the official statement noted that: “At any time, Mr. Lepsveridze may seek reconsideration of his designation by filing a petition with OFAC for an administrative review pursuant to 31 C.F.R. § 501.807. OFAC will consider any arguments and evidence submitted in the administrative petition in determining whether to maintain or withdraw the designation of Mr. Lepsveridze.”
In November, the US Treasury released a statement on its website saying that it had blacklisted six individuals and four companies for alleged connection with the Brothers’ Circle crime syndicate whose two key members are Vladislav Leontyev and Gafur Rakhimov.
The White House statement explains that Leps was designated on October 30, and his name was added to a list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons, “because he acts for or on behalf of Vladislav Leontyev by transporting money on his behalf.”
Leontyev is described in the statement as a vory v zakone (thief in law) who was designated in February 2012 for acting for or on behalf of the Brothers’ Circle as one of its “key members.” The statement goes on to assert: “Mr. Leontyev has been involved in various criminal activities, including narcotics trafficking, and was also involved in a shooting in 2003 between regional factions within Russian organized criminal networks over an attempt to seize control of a precious metals business. At the time of OFAC's action, Mr. Leontyev was wanted by Russian authorities for illegal transactions involving precious metals and narcotics.”
According to information provided by the US Treasury Department, The Brothers’ Circle is one of five transnational criminal organizations sanctioned by the US, along with the Camorra, the Yakuza, Los Zetas, and MS-13.
The Brothers’ Circle comprises leaders and senior members of several Eurasian criminal groups that are “largely based in the countries of the former Soviet Union, but which also operate in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America,” the Department of the Treasury said.

Boston Bombers' family 'was on the run from Russian mob'

A new report on the family of the two accused Boston Marathon bombers reveals that Tsarnaevs claimed they came to America after the father was kidnapped and tortured by Russian mobsters who then cut off their dog's head and left it on their doorstep.
After struggling to find a place in America, the older brother Tamerlan turned to conspiracy theories and radical Islam while the younger brother, Dzhokhar started stealing marijuana - earning $1,000 a week and sometimes carrying a gun to protect his stash.
The Boston Globe claims that the Tsarneav brothers appear have been motivated less by Islamist ideology and more by their own personal failings and inner demons - making the April 15 bombings more like the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater than an al-Qaeda terrorist plot.
Family friends, including some who are medical professionals, believe that Tamerlan possibly suffered from schizophrenia - which could have driven him to extremism.
The report gives some insight about why the two brothers to allegedly plant a pair of homemade pressure cooker bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon this spring.
The blasts killed three and injured more than 260 people. The brothers then allegedly murdered an MIT campus police officer three days later as they engaged police in a running gun battle.
 Tamerlan was killed and Dzhokar was badly wounded by arrested after a daylong manhunt that shut down the city of Boston.
The Tsarnaev family moved to Boston from Kyrgastan after claiming that they were being persecuted because they were Chechen Muslims.
Tamerlan and Dzhokar's mother Zubeidat told friends and neighbors that she and her husband Anzor were lawyers in their native land and that Anzor worked as a prosecutor, according to the Globe.
Zubeidat claimed that when Anzor tried to prosecute a Russian mob boss, the gangster kidnapped Anzor and tortured him for a week.
Before they dropped him, barely alive at a hospital, the mobsters killed the family's German Shepherd and dumped its head on the family doorstep, according to this story.
'Zubeidat went to the hospital and when she saw how horribly beaten he was she said that she realized they had to get out of the country,' a family friend told the Globe.
The Globe posits that none of that story was likely true. Neither Zubeidat nor Anzor had law degrees, the newspaper reports.
It's likely that Anzor had been smuggling cigarettes and fell afoul of the local organized crime syndicate, friends say.
Alternatively - the family saw the glamorous life in America portrayed in Hollywood movies and decided they wanted a piece of it.
Anzor's brother was already in the United States - finding success as a lawyer.
The family submitted an application requesting asylum, claiming that they had been persecuted in their homeland for being Chechen Muslims.
'He made that up … so that the Americans would give him a visa,' Badrudi Tsokaev, a family friend say of claims that Anzor had been persecuted.
Mark Kramer, a Harvard University researcher who frequently testifies in asylum cases for family from post-Soviet states said he found 'no basis for being granted asylum at all' in the Tsarnaev case.
In America, the family fell apart - despite grand ambitions. Neither of the parents was able to find success.
In August 2011, Anzor and Zubeidat divorced. Anzor returned to Dagestan in Russia. Zubeidat soon moved back there, as well.
The Tsarnaev brothers struggled, too. Tamerlan, who was 26 when he was killed, had ambitions of becoming an Olympic boxer and found some success in the ring. But he eventually dropped out of training - just as he dropped out of school time and again.
He became increasingly focused on his Islamic faith and withdrew of society. He stayed home and took care of his daughter and surfed Islamist websites online while his American wife worked as a home care nurse and was responsible for the family income.
He mentioned to several people that he had begun hearing voices.
'He was torn between those two people,' Donald Larking, 67, who attended mosque with Tamerlan for two years, told the Globe.
'He said that several times. And he did not like it.'
Dzokhar, meanwhile, became obsessed with drugs. In high school, he had been captain of the wrestling team and a decent student.
He smoked a lot of marijuana in high school, friends said, but once he went away to college, he began selling it.
He flaunted his stash, weighing it out on the desk in his door open. At the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, he gained a reputation as having some of the best weed on campus, the Globe reports.
Friends said he often hauled in $1,000 a week in cash. He sometimes carried a handgun to protect the stash, too, friends told the newspaper.
But his fast lifestyle and focus on drugs meant his grades were sinking rapidly. He had a D average and was on the verge of being kicked out of school when he and his brother allegedly planted the bombs in April.

Former high-stakes poker game hostess hostess

s for high-stakes poker games pleads guilty in NY amid
NEW YORK — A former high-stakes poker game hostess to the stars has pleaded guilty in New York in a sprawling federal prosecution.
Molly Bloom pleaded guilty to illegal gambling Thursday in Manhattan.
Prosecutors allege two Russian-American organized crime enterprises laundered $100 million from illegal online sports betting.
Bloom moved her poker games from Los Angeles to New York to cater to Wall Street financiers. She returned to the West Coast in 2010. Her lawyer says she was giving up poker. She has since signed a book deal.
Media reports have linked Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck to the games. A spokesman for both film stars has declined to comment.
Playing poker isn't a crime, but it's illegal to profit by promoting it.

Roger Touhy, Gangster: The life and times of Terrible Tommy O'Connor

Roger Touhy, Gangster: The life and times of Terrible Tommy O'Connor:   THE LIFE AND TIMES OF TERRIBLE TOMMY O’CONNOR       Is it possible that Tommy O’Connor, the Irish mob boss from the V...

Spain Police Arrest Eight in Russian Mafia Probe

Spanish police said Wednesday they had arrested eight people on the holiday island of Majorca as part of an operation coordinated by Interpol against a Russian organized crime group.
The eight are suspected of laundering money for the Taganskaya criminal group, police said in a statement.
They are accused of tax fraud, document falsification, influence peddling and membership in a criminal organization.
"This is one of the largest criminal organizations in Moscow, which specializes in extortion from businesses that it pushes into bankruptcy and takes control of," the statement said.
"The searches carried out as part of the operation allowed investigators to confirm that Taganskaya used our country to launder money from its criminal activities in Russia," it added.
Spain's Mediterranean coast has become a top destination for Russian tourists, especially the Balearic Islands and the beach resorts near Barcelona in the northeast.
The influx of big-spending Russian tourists has been welcomed by hotel operators even as it raises fears that the region could become a magnet for criminal organizations.
In January police arrested five people in Lloret de Mar near Barcelona who are suspected of laundering large sums of money for Russian criminal gangs linked to Semion Mogilevich, one of the FBI's 10 most wanted fugitives.
Police said searches carried out as part of that investigation found evidence that the suspects had links with major Russian crime groups like Solntsevskaya and Solomonskaya.

NYPD Officer Accused of Helping Albanian Mob Shake Down Astoria Restaurant Owner

By Jonathan Dienst

An NYPD officer is accused of using his squad car to pull over the owner of a restaurant in Astoria and warning him to start paying the Albanian mob $4,000 cash a month or he and his family could be hurt, law enforcement officials say.
Prosecutors say police officer Bensik Llakatura is heard on tape during the July stop warning the restaurant owner that “these people, they run Astoria.” The officer allegedly told the owner he was “lucky” he survived a previous run-in with an armed associate who had tried to extort him.
The FBI said Llakatura, who is assigned to work on Staten Island, was heard on tape saying, “Make sure you don’t call the cops because if you do, you’re done.” He also allegedly told the owner if he “went into witness protection, they’d go after your family,” according to authorities familiar with the case.
The owner who was threatened, along with a co-owner, told the FBI about the confrontations, and the agency gave them marked cash to make the payoffs.
Llakatura, who allegedly collected $6,000 in "protection" money, was charged with extortion along with two alleged mobsters who are accused of collecting payments totaling $24,000 over a five-month period.
Investigators said there is evidence, including text messages, that the three men tried to extort other area business owners. Both alleged mobsters have previous arrests on extortion-related charges.
“The defendants told their victims they offered ‘protection’ but in reality they peddled fear and intimidation through the Albanian community – their community – in Queens,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement.
“Llakatura didn’t serve his community with honor; he instead abused his powers to the detriment of the public trust,” said FBI New York Director George Venizelos.

All three men pleaded not guilty in federal court in Brooklyn Tuesday afternoon. Attempts to reach their attorneys were not immediately successful. 

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Russia charges 'criminal organization' behind Blackhole malware kit

Banking fraud scheme funneled 70m rubles to crooks

By Neil McAllister, 6th December 2013 

The Russian government has charged a group of people with organized crime offenses related to the creation and use of the Blackhole malware kit.
Word first leaked out via Europol in October that a man going by the alias "Paunch", who was suspected of being the creator of the infamous crimeware tool, had been arrested in Russia. 
On Friday, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs Investigation Department posted a notice that a total of 13 individuals had been charged with crimes under Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which covers "creation of a criminal community (criminal organization) and participation therein."
According to the Ministry's press release, the group used Trojan horse programs and other malware to engage in "massive embezzlement of funds from the accounts of individuals and legal entities," to the tune of about 70m Russian rubles ($2.1m).
Russian banks throughout Moscow, Tyumen, Ulyanovsk, Krasnodar, Petrozavodsk, and the Kursk region were reportedly targeted in the scheme.
All of that seems to have come to an end now, however, as security researchers report that the Blackhole kit stopped being updated shortly after the suspects were arrested – aren't life's little coincidences funny sometimes? – and cybercriminals have reportedly begun moving on to other tools.
None of the accused were named in the Russian government's notice.
Under Russian law, anyone convicted under paragraph 1 of Article 210, "creation of a criminal community (criminal organization) for the purpose of committing one or several grave or especially grave crimes," faces imprisonment for 12-20 years and fines of up to 1m rubles ($30,600).
The accused have also been charged under paragraph 2 of Article 210, "participation in a criminal community (criminal organization) or in an association of organizers, leaders, or other representatives of organized groups," which carries an additional penalty of 5-10 years' imprisonment and fines up to 500,000 rubles ($15,300).
The accused are all currently being held under "pretrial restraints," although no date was given for when the case is expected to be brought before a judge

Russian Diplomats Charged With $1.5M In US Medicaid Fraud

By Lecia Bushak  

Forty-nine Russian diplomats were charged with massive health care fraud after attempting to garner health benefits meant for the poor by providing inaccurate information about their incomes.
Both former and current Russian diplomats, along with their families, received up to $1.5 million in benefits since 2004 from a Medicaid program that is meant to provide for a low-income demographic — families that are making $3,000 a month or less. However, only about eleven of the diplomats are still currently living in the U.S., and no arrests have been made yet due to diplomat immunity.
According to the AP, FBI agent Jeremy Robertson discovered a pattern of false Medicaid applications from these particular diplomats and undertook an investigation lasting over a year. He found that the diplomats and family members reported their household income lower than it actually was, while they simultaneously spent thousands on watches, jewelry, designer clothing, and vacations. Federal policy allows certain qualified immigrants, such as lawful permanent residents (LPRs), refugees, and other protected immigrants access to Medicaid.
“Diplomacy should be about extending hands, not picking pockets in the host country,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a news conference in NYC, according to the AP. “[W]e would be prosecuting and making arrests… [if it wasn’t for diplomat] immunity,” Bharara continued, meaning that diplomats are exempt from legal punishment. Typically, however, diplomats can be expelled from a country if they commit crimes. “Being a diplomat does not give you the right to commit health care fraud,” George Venizelos, head of the New York FBI office, said according to the AP. “The defendants selfishly took advantage of a health care system designed to help the unfortunate.”
Russian Health Care Fraud In The U.S.
This isn’t the first time the U.S. has charged Russians living on American soil with health care fraud. In 2012, a crime ring of Russian doctors and other medical professionals located in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, was charged with stealing over a quarter million dollars from insurance companies. They reportedly ran nine clinics throughout New York City — in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens — that provided excessive, costly medical treatments like physical therapy, acupuncture, X-Rays, pain management, and psychological services. “[The details of the case]…cast an unflattering spotlight on how immigrants from the former Soviet Union have often dominated such schemes in the city,” a New York Times report stated. The same report noted that Brighton Beach, which has a huge Russian immigrant community, has one of the highest rates of health care fraud in the nation, according to federal statistics.
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And Russia has, in turn, accused the U.S. of “politically motivated” prosecution of its citizens. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law that bars certain Americans from Russia, including a few U.S. Justice Department officials. Attorney Preet Bharara, who brought both the Brighton Beach health care charges as well as the diplomat charges, is one of the officials barred from Russia.
“Obviously, particularly in Soviet times, but even nowadays, Russia still has a large amount of red tape and bureaucratic systems that are parasitic and hostile, almost designed to make you pay bribes,” Professor Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian organized crime at New York University, told the Times. “So from cradle to grave, they have been used to that.”