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The Informant - Blogging the High Tech and Economic Crime Landscape

The NW3C (National White Collar Crime Center) Blog is now active.  Blogging is a great way to communicate and share ideas. 

Click on the link below to view topics and join the discussion on electronic crime and what's being done to combat the problem.

Excerpts from "The Informant" and examples of topics of interest are shown below:

Spam and the Census - Joined at the Hip

It's a busy time of year for the U.S. government. The IRS is processing tax returns and the US Census Bureau is preparing to distribute millions of census forms. All this activity creates the "perfect storm" of opportunity for Internet thieves.

If you receive an email notification asking you to download a census form, National White Collar Crime Center computer crimes expert Nick Newman says don't do it! "These files aren't actually from the census bureau, they're from criminals abroad and the form they download is actually malware." It's also important to keep in mind that the Census Bureau will never initiate correspondence via email. Newman says your best bet is to simply stay out of the spam box!

Phishing schemes and malware tied to IRS forms are nothing new... criminals have been working on new and improved versions of that scam every year for more than a decade. During that time however, consumer awareness of the potential dangers has increased significantly. Consequently, the vast pool of potential victims has shrunk considerably. But the potential hazards linked to the census have received very little media attention and as a result, many Americans could wind up playing right into the hands of cyber crooks.

Paying Attention to Your Teen's Secret Text Messages

Teenagers have always had their own lingo while communicating amongst themselves.  Considering that teens are more apt to text one another than have an actual conversation, it's no surprise that yet another "language" has surfaced.  "Leetspeak" (or "Leet" for short) as known among the tech-savvy crowd is a heavily abbreviated form of messaging.  It has thrived in the Short Message Service (SMS) texting environment where messages are limited to less than 200 characters.

"Leetspeak" has inadvertently become yet another possible communication barrier between parent and child.  Parents who take their responsibility seriously and keep up with their youth may feel disadvantaged to browse through their teen's SMS messages only to see something resembling Egyptian hieroglyphics.  Here are some current codes and their meanings: 









Parents Are Watching



I love you



I hate you



Keeping Parents Clueless



Lets Meet In Real Life













A couple of techniques for decoding are relatively simple.  For instance, most messages, like acronyms, are represented by the first letter of each word in the phrase. Those characters are in turn represented by the numbers associated with them on a telephonic keypad.

  • Example: The common shorthand for "I love you" is "ily" using the first letter of each word.  Teens then further "code" it by using the associated numbers.  So ‘i'=4, ‘l'=5, and ‘y'=9 which makes ‘459'.  Alternatively, they can also simply use the first letter of each word like an acronym. 

Parents now have a great free tool at their disposal.  Click on for more information and to try out your own online decoder.

  • Hold the Phone... Do You Really Want To Give Up Your Landline? 
  • Scammers Targeting New Census Forms
  • FBI in Charlotte Warns of E-mail Scam
  • Facebook: Popularity Breeds Opportunity
  • Texting While Driving: Controversial Video Sends "Real" Message
  • Increasing Number of Americans Falling Prey to Disguised Work-At-Home Scams
Posted in: Police News
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