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True Crime

True Crime

Guard Your Pockets: U.S. Smartphone Thefts Doubled Last Year

Thieves want this. (Getty)

Thieves must be catching on about the addictive wonders of Candy Crush, because U.S. smartphone theft doubled from 2012 to 2013, Consumer Reports says.

Based on a survey of adult Internet users in the U.S., Consumer Reports estimates that about 3.1 million Americans were victims of smartphone theft in 2013 — nearly double the number they projected in 2012 (1.6 million). They also estimate that 1.4 million smartphones were lost and never recovered in 2013. Read More

True Crime

NYPD: Your Shiny New iPhone 5 is a Crime Magnet

Sorry, Russia! (Photo: twitter.com/DiarioLaPrensa)

The New York Police Department has good reason to be concerned about consumers’ Apple products: theft of Apple hardware has risen 40 percent in the last year. Compare that to an overall four percent rise in crime and you have what almost sounds like a crime wave focused on iPods, iPhones and iPads.

Plenty of iThefts occur in the street, but NBC New York reports your beloved cuddle phone is in even more danger on the subway: Read More

True Crime

Crime Blog Asks if Social Media Could Have Stopped Charles Manson

Detail from photo of Charles Manson

True Crime Diary is a great true crime blog run by writer Michelle McNamara. Ms. McNamara doesn’t update her blog daily, but when she does, the product is often an insightful and thought-provoking long read. That’s true of this entry posted yesterday, “#bloodbath: how social media might have changed one of history’s most infamous crime sprees.

The crime spree in question: the horrific murders committed by the followers of maniac Charles Manson during the Summer of ’69. Using facts from the case, Ms. McNamara posits an alternate timeline in which smartphones and Twitter were as ubiquitous then as they are now. She paints a brief portrait of how tech might have altered the course of the Manson Family’s rampage, beginning the night Manson followers slaughtered actress Sharon Tate and several guests at Ms. Tate’s secluded Hollywood home: Read More

True Crime

Romanian Men Cheat Fresh, Admit to Epic Two-Year Subway Sandwich Scam

Hackers never look this cool.

Romanians Iulian Dolan and Cezar Iulian Butu have confessed in the U.S. District Court in New Hampshire to multiple counts related to credit card fraud via hacking.

Under the leadership of another Romanian, Adrian-Tiberiu Opera, the men trawled the Internet for vulnerable point-of-sale programs, which apparently included applications linked to credit card payments at 150 Subway restaurants. The scam lasted two years and vacuumed up more than $10 million in profits. Citing court documents,  Read More

True Crime

Spate of Attempted Robberies Hits NYC Startup Offices Onswipe and Shelby.TV

Onswipe's office. (Photo: Michelle Young, Untapped Cities)

A few weeks ago, Betabeat caught wind of a handful of attempted robberies that had taken place at startup offices around the Flatiron area. On a visit to his office, Onswipe CEO Jason Baptiste told us that a few men who looked to be in their early 20s had come to Onswipe claiming to be soliciting money for a sports team. Instead, they attempted to steal some of the company’s iPads. Read More

True Crime

Empire State Building Shooting: There’s No ‘Crime Scene Filter’ on Instagram

Don't do this.

Around 9 a.m. Friday 53-year-old Jeffrey Johnson, a former accessories designer with Hazan Imports, shot and killed a 41-year-old former co-worker. Reports from the scene indicate the shooter was confronted by police outside the Empire State Building and was killed when he opened fire. At least nine others were injured during the shootout.

Every smartphone owner in the vicinity began tweeting about the drama, many uploading photos taken on the fly–to Twitter and, perhaps more strangely, Instagram. Read More

True Crime

Tip for Budding Burglars: Don’t Accept Friend Requests From Cops

(flickr.com/smemon)

Every savvy Facebooker knows that bragging about your misdeeds on the mostly-public social networking site is a huge no-no, but perhaps a lesser-known adage is this one: Don’t accept friend requests from strangers, especially if they look like they might spend their days fighting crime for a living.

The New York Daily News reported yesterday that a cluster of NYPD cops nailed one of the city’s worst burgling crews by friending them on Facebook and tracking their status updates for details about potential robberies. Read More

True Crime

Corrupt Chase Bank Tellers Charged With Helping Thieves Steal Customers’ Identities

(flickr.com/consumerist)

As police commissioner Ray Kelly said after the bust of an international identity theft ring in October in which more than 100 people were suspected to be involved: “The schemes and the imagination that is developing these days are really mind-boggling.” That global scam, in which U.S.-based gangs were skimming credit cards and buying high-end computer equipment, came to light following a two year investigation—”Operation Swiper.” So we were momentarily confused when we saw an indictment for an identity fraud ring involving dozens of people. Perhaps it was the same case?

It was unclear based on the details released, so Betabeat called the Attorney’s office to ask. Were these identity theft rings the same? Nope, it turns out. New York City has just been experiencing an insane uptick in cybercrime rings, especially those involving identity theft.

The DA’s office has been slinging indictments left and right: there have been at least four indictments of criminals involved in identity theft rings in New York City in which the case involved a conspiracy of dozens of defendants since Operation Swiper came to a head just over two months ago. Read More