Computer Crime Research Center

1 arrest in local burglaries

Date: November 18, 2004
Source: Winston County Journal

Louisville police have made one arrest in the recent rash of burglaries, authorities say.

According to Gerald Hayes, and investigator with the Louisville Police Department, police expect to make more arrests soon.

The suspect - a minor whose name cannot be released - was arrested after cameras recorded a recent break-in at Louisville Elementary School. Area residents helped to identify the suspect, who has also been linked to Eiland Elementary School break-in, Hayes said.

The arrest is due in part to cooperation from citizens of the community, Hayes said, adding that a neighborhood watch program should be in place in early 2005. "We want people to feel like they can call the Louisville Police Department or Winston County Sheriff's Office and cooperate with us," he explained.
Hayes said the holiday season often brings about an increased number of burglaries and scam artists, and area residents should remain alert for these activities. Experts note that homes become more vulnerable during the holiday season because residents are out shopping or at social gatherings and celebrations. Would-be thieves can be deterred by taking a few precautions, including:

€ Not placing any gifts or valuables where they can be seen from the window - especially small, portable items;

€ Not leaving garage doors open while a home is not occupied - this announces to thieves that nobody is home;

€ Not keeping large amounts of cash or expensive jewelry around the house;

€ Not hiding a spare key in obvious places, such as under the doormat or above the doorframe;

€ Asking for identification from deliverymen - criminals often pose as deliverymen with gifts, in order to gain access to a home during the holidays;
€ Not letting a stranger come in to use the phone - making the call for the stranger can deter a theft.

Additional safety measures that can decrease the chance of a holiday burglary include:

€ Using a timer to turn interior lights on and off during extended absences;

€ Having a neighbor or friend watch the home and pick up the mail and newspaper during extended absences;
€ Investing in a quality security system;

€ Installing motion detectors;

€ Putting up "beware of dog" signs to ward off potential burglars, even if you don't own a dog;

€ Engraving all valuable equipment, stereos, television sets, VCRs, video cameras and so forth with the owner's driver's license number;

€ Videotaping the contents of a home and keeping the video, along with a list of valuable possessions, in a safe deposit box; and

€ Remembering to include those gifts that are under the tree when engraving and videotaping.

In addition to a rise in burglaries, the holiday season also brings along an increase in internet-based scams, according to the Computer Crime Research Center.

Most vulnerable are the less educated, poor speakers of English who might not look askance at a badly worded e-mail offer, Internet newcomers, kids and seniors, said Audri Lanford, founder of Internet ScamBusters, a public service Web site based in Boone, N.C.

Here are some of the most common holiday scams, their latest variations and how to protect yourself:

Spam e-mail deal

How it works: An e-mail offers 50 percent off a computer system. You've never heard of the company, but you're intrigued. You click on the link and see a normal-looking Web site. You enter your credit card information to buy the product. The computer never arrives - but you discover weeks later that your credit card has been charged without authorization.

Latest variation: Scamsters have started using the names of well-known retailers such as Best Buy, eBay and Bank of America to lull you into a false sense of security, Lanford said. When you click on the link they provide, it takes you to a fake Web site that mimics that of a major retailer.

Scam prevention: Major retailers won't ask for your Social Security number for purchases, so be skeptical of anyone that asks for it. Also, if you get an e-mail purportedly from a well-known store, find the Web site on your own to check if the promotion is real.

Identity theft

How it works: Your personal information - name, birth date, Social Security number, other data - is stolen online. Using your name, scamsters go on a shopping spree, withdraw money from your bank and generally wreak havoc. It takes an average of 600 hours to fix the damage done to your credit, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Latest variation: Scamsters send e-mail pretending to be from your bank or a major retailer. The message says a fraud has been detected and your account has been frozen. To fix it, the e-mail instructs you to click on a link and enter your personal information, perhaps as "verification."

Scam prevention: To help minimize the risk, shop at secure Web sites, which begin with "https://" instead of the usual "http://". Check for third-party support of the site, such as verification by Verisign, eTrust, Visa and others.

Online auction fraud

How it works: After winning a bid for an item online, the seller never ships the product and disappears. The goods tend to be high-priced items, such as computers.

Latest variation: Sometimes scamsters set up a fake online escrow company to give a false sense of security. For a fee, you send your money to them and the seller ships the goods to you. Once you receive the product, the online escrow firm sends your money to the seller. Some scamsters set up fake escrow companies and steer buyers there.

Scam prevention: Buy only from reputable companies approved by eBay and other major auction sites. Check out the company's Web site. If there's no contact information or address, be wary.

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2004-11-20 13:22:54 - Ebay does not "approve" any of its sellers. anon
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