The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute

The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute The National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute

Cybercrime Newsletter October 2018

The following is a compendium of news reports, case law and legislative actions over the latest bi-monthly period that may be of interest to our AG offices that are dealing with cyber-related issues. Neither the National Association of Attorneys General nor the National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute expresses a view as to the accuracy of news accounts, nor as to the position expounded by the authors of the hyperlinked articles.

Notable Developments

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled that the State can continue to use its touchscreen voting machines in the midterm elections despite security concerns raised by security advocates. However, the court noted that the State needed to move quickly to address these concerns.

The FBI issued a psa warning about potential cyberthreats associated with education technology that could be used to target children for social engineering schemes. The Bureau offered recommendations for vetting such technology, including learning how such technology is used in schools.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts ruled that cryptocurrencies categorically meet the definition of a “commodity” and thus fall within the jurisdiction of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The ruling allows the Commission to pursue fraud charges against My Big Coin and its founder.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission v. My Big Coin Pay, Inc.

DOT published Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0 which provides a framework for the safe development, testing and integration of automated vehicle technology.

The Office of Management and Budget published its 2018 cloud computing strategy, Cloud Smart, the first cloud policy update in seven years. The public comment period on the draft document is open until October 24, 2018 and comments may be posted on https://cloud.cio.gov/.

Pleas and Sentencing in Federal Courts

Irish national Gary Davis, a/k/a "Libertas," pled guilty to conspiracy as a staff member of the "Silk Road" website in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Silk Road was used by thousands of drug dealers to distribute illegal drugs and other illicit goods.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York sentenced Nigerian national Onyekachi Opara to five years in prison for participating in an email scam targeting businesses worldwide. Opara, who was arrested in South Africa, pled guilty to the charges.

Russian national Peter Levashov pleaded guilty to computer crimes stemming from his operation of the Kelihos botnet in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. Levashov used the botnet to distribute thousands of spam emails, harvest login credentials and install malicious software on computers worldwide.

Latvian national Peteris Sahurovs was sentenced to 33 months in prison for participating in a "scareware" hacking scheme targeting the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s website in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. Sahurovs will be extradicted to Latvia following his prison sentence.

Billy Anderson, a/k/a “Anderson Albuquerque,” a/k/a “Alfabeto Virtual,” pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to two felony counts of computer fraud for hacking into and defacing the websites of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point and the Office of the New York City Comptroller. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Vincent Ramos, CEO of Canadian encrypted communication service Phantom Secure, pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to leading an enterprise that facilitated the importation and distribution of narcotics through the sale and service of encrypted communications devices.

State Cases of Interest

An Arkansas court of appeals found that a substantial basis for probable cause existed because the affidavit contained allegations by the 11-year-old that defendant had slid a phone that was recording under the door while she was changing. AAG Michael Mylden represented the State. Johnson v. State.

A Florida court of appeals ruled that the cell site location information order was supported by probable cause because the application established that the cell phone’s location would lead to evidence related to the robbery. Senior AAG Melynda Melear represented the State. State v. Sylvestre.

Another Florida court of appeals found that even if the officers’ initial viewing of the video was a Fourth Amendment search, it was lawful because the officers reasonably relied on the person’s apparent authority to consent to the search of the USB drives. AAG Jason Rodriguez represented the State. Duke v. State.

A North Carolina court of appeals vacated the order mandating that the defendant enroll in lifetime satellite-based monitoring pursuant to his guilty pleas to statutory rape and other charges because the State could not establish that it would constitute a reasonable Fourth Amendment search upon his release. Special DAG Joseph Finarelli represented the State. State v. Gordon.

A Texas court of appeals upheld a lower court finding that the defendant willingly abandoned the cell phone and thus did not have a greater right to possess it, as she left the cell phone with the husband for a considerable period of time and did not ask for its return. Kelso v. State.

Legislative Update

California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1355 into law, which bans the operation of a drone on or above the grounds of a correctional facility. It is chaptered as Chapter 333. Governor Brown also signed AB 748 into law, which allows a video or audio recording that relates to a critical accident to be withheld for 45 days if disclosure would substantially interfere with an active investigation. It is chaptered as Chapter 960.

The U.S. House passed H.R. 6430, which would authorize DHS to restrict procurement of information technology and telecommunications equipment if it determines that a vendor poses a risk to the DGS supply chain by limiting the disclosure of information to such vendor.

Cybercrime Initiatives in the Attorney General Community

Fourteen Attorneys General met with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other members of his department to discuss ways they can most effectively protect consumers using digital online platforms.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the arrest and indictment of 32 members of two street gangs known as the BullyBoys and the CoCo Boys who defrauded victims by hacking the credit card terminals and merchant accounts of dozens of medical and dental practices.

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s ICAC Unit investigators charged Andrew Molick with online sexual exploitation of a child following a multi-agency investigation.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced that Televand Inc. and six individuals have been indicted for a scheme involving illegal gambling devices and money laundering pursuant to an investigation by her office and the State Police. AAG John Dawley, Jr. and Gaming Division Chief Patrick Hanley are prosecuting the case.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt’s Technological Crime Advisory Board, in partnership with BRAINTRUST Marketing & Communications, unveiled a series of videos and brochures to raise awareness of crimes involving technology.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced an agreement with online legal directory Avvo in which the company will reform its attorney rating system and improve its disclosures to consumers after an investigation revealed its rating content and limits were not clearly disclosed. The case was handled by AAG Mark Ladov, Deputy Bureau Chief Laura Levine and Bureau Chief Jane Azia.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel’s Division of Criminal Investigation used a drone to locate a missing person after a Silver Alert was issued. The drone was used to search a field near the missing man’s home, and agents located the man through the resulting film footage.


Hedda Litwin is the Editor of the Cybercrime Newsletter and may be reached at 202-326-6022. The Cybercrime Newsletter is a publication of the National Association of Attorneys General. Any use and/or copies of this newsletter in whole or part must include the customary bibliographic citation. NAAG retains copyright and all other intellectual property rights in the material. For content submissions or to contact the editor directly, please e-mail hlitwin@naag.org.

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