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News Releases
TT - Pandemic Puppies - GRAPHIC
TT - Pandemic Puppies - GRAPHIC
Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense When Buying a Pandemic Puppy (Photo) - 02/23/21

Welcome to the Oregon FBI's Tech Tuesday segment. Today: Building a digital defense against getting taken to the dog house!

Pandemic puppies -- and, that matter, kittens -- are a real thing. More people are working at home, and the kids can't -- or won't -- leave the house. Your whole family is desperate for the unconditional love that a little fur ball will bring.

Wanting and finding, though, can be two different things. Some shelters are running low and breeders can have months-long waiting lists. To fraudsters, this presents a golden opportunity. According to the Better Business Bureau, it has received reports of about $3 million in losses to this scam in just the past year.

Here in Oregon, we are seeing a couple main versions of this scam. Almost all involve a fake website or ad selling a puppy or cat that is in another state. The victim sends money for the animal (usually by Zelle, PayPal, or CashApp). To make the deal more lucrative for himself, the scammer may also tell the victim he needs to purchase refundable insurance to ship the animal. In a new twist, some families are paying even more fees for a supposed special shipping crate to meet COVID restrictions or for a non-existent COVID vaccine for the pet.

Here's how to protect yourself:  

  • If possible, find your pet locally.

  • If you do purchase a pet online, make sure you find a reputable breeder or organization. Look for a long history of work, references, and certifications through breed-specific clubs or a national kennel club. Do not count on a fancy website as an indicator -- anyone can make a good looking site these days.

  • Do a reverse image search of any photo of your new pup to make sure the seller isn't using the same picture across multiple sites. 

  • If you can't meet the pup in person, ask for a video chat with the seller and the pup before paying.

  • Use a credit card or payment platform with good dispute resolution policies. Never pay with cash, wire transfer, or gift cards.

If you believe are a victim of an online scam, you should report the incident to the FBI's Internet Crime Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.

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Man Faces Federal Manslaughter Charges in Death on the Umatilla Indian Reservation - 02/19/21

Tom Redhawk Tias, age 21, faces federal charges in the death of Thomas James VanPelt, Jr. after an assault on the Umatilla Indian Reservation. VanPelt, Jr., age 46, died of injuries sustained during an altercation on January 26, 2021. On February 9, 2021, the FBI filed a sealed federal criminal complaint charging Tias with voluntary manslaughter. 

Tias was held in tribal custody from shortly after VanPelt, Jr.’s death until earlier this week. He has now been transferred to federal custody, and he made his initial appearance by phone from Umatilla County with a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Portland.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. 

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon is prosecuting this case.

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TT - Romance Frauds part 2- GRAPHIC - February 16, 2021
TT - Romance Frauds part 2- GRAPHIC - February 16, 2021
Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against Romance Frauds (part 2) (Photo) - 02/16/21

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. Today: Building a digital defense against love gone wrong. Last week we talked about traditional romance scams where your new life partner gets you to send money to him for some work, travel or medical emergency. He’s half a world away and will visit you any day – with promises to pay you back – but neither he nor the money will ever show up. 

Today we are going to talk about another version of this scheme which the scammer sends the victim money, usually in the form of a cashier’s check, money order, or wire transfer. The virtual love claims he is out of the country and unable to cash the instruments or receive the funds directly. He asks the victim to redirect the funds back to him or to an associate to whom he purportedly owes money. In this situation, the victim becomes a money mule.  

Acting as a money mule—allowing others to use your bank account or conducting financial transactions on behalf of others—not only jeopardizes your financial security and compromises your personally identifiable information, but it is also a crime. Protect yourself by refusing to send or receive money on behalf of individuals and businesses for which you are not personally and professionally responsible.  

The most important thing to remember is that you should never agree to move money through your bank account or any other bank account. That can be illegal and put you in legal jeopardy. 

One final warning on physical safety and romance scams: If you are planning to meet someone in person who you have met online, the FBI recommends using caution, especially if you plan to travel to a foreign country. Do not travel alone. Check the State Department’s Travel Advisories before arranging any travel (http://travel.state.gov/). Victims who have agreed to meet in person with an online love interest have been reported missing, injured, and, in one instance, deceased. 

If you believe are a victim of an online scam, you should report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office. 

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TT - Romance Frauds part - 1 - GRAPHIC - February 9, 2021
TT - Romance Frauds part - 1 - GRAPHIC - February 9, 2021
Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against Romance Fraud (part 1) (Photo) - 02/09/21

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. Today: Building a digital defense against broken hearts and empty wallets. 

Love in the time of COVID is harder than ever, and many people have moved online to find Mr. or Mrs. Right. But, while internet relationships are easier than in-person dates right now, it is also easier for scammers to target you and your bank account. In 2020, victims reported more than $600 million in romance fraud losses to the FBI. That’s up from $475 million in 2019… and only accounts for those who actually reported the crime. 

How do they identify potential victims? They actively search dating websites, apps, chat rooms, and social networking sites. They use well-rehearsed scripts that have been used repeatedly and successfully, and some even keep journals on their victims’ likes and needs to be able to better manipulate them. Amazingly, the scammer likes what you like - whether that’s books, music, yard gnomes, or whatever. 

To avoid meeting in person, romance scammers often claim to live or work in other parts of the country or world. Eventually, when they feel they have gained their victim’s trust, they request money, oftentimes for a medical emergency, unexpected legal fee, travel expense, or some other seemingly believable situation.

Here are some warning signs that your new love may be a bad bet: The individual -  

  • Presses you to leave the dating website where you met to communicate solely through email or instant messaging.

  • Sends you a photo that looks like a glamour shot out of a magazine.

  • Professes love quickly.

  • Tries to isolate you from friends and family.

  • Claims to be working and living far away. 

  • Makes plans to visit you, but always cancels because of some emergency.

  • Asks you to send compromising photos or videos of yourself or asks for your financial information. 

  • And, the big one, asks you for money. 

Here’s how to protect yourself: 

  • Only use dating websites with national reputations but assume that con artists are trolling even the most reputable dating and social media sites.

  • Go slow and ask questions.

  • Research the individual’s pictures and profile to make sure your new love isn’t spoofing someone else’s account or using the same pitch on multiple victims at once. 

  • Never send money to someone you met online and have not met in person. 

This last one is hard because the scammer will always couple an urgent need with a promise to pay you back… a promise that almost always goes unfulfilled. 

If you believe are a victim of an online scam, you should report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office. 

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TT - Crypto Scams - February 2, 2021
TT - Crypto Scams - February 2, 2021
Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against Cryptocurrency Scams (Photo) - 02/02/21

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. Today: Building a digital defense against virtual currency scams.

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has reported several tips coming in recently from Oregonians who are receiving threatening messages from people demanding digital currency. To date, we don’t know of anyone who has lost money in this fraud, but we want to make sure that everyone is on the watch for this particular scam.

The targeted victim receives an email from a person or group alleging that the victim committed some crime that involved the theft of virtual funds from the scammer. The bad actor makes a series of threats demanding the victim pay him back. The scammer provides a cryptocurrency address for the victim to use.

The bad actor says he will show up at the victim’s home if payment isn’t made. He says he has photos to prove the victim is a criminal, and he threatens that there are multiple members of his group, so trying to block him won’t work.

The message includes language such as “You have no chance” and “we will increase the pressure on you day by day.”

Here are some ways to protect yourself:

  • Don’t respond to such messages or engage with the scammer.
  • Check your most important accounts – such as email, bank, and credit card accounts – to ensure there is no unauthorized activity.
  • Update all passwords, making them complex and unique for each account.
  • If you feel physically threatened, make a report to your local police department.

If you believe are a victim of an online scam, you should report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.  

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Jane Doe 43 photo c
Jane Doe 43 photo c
FBI Launches National Effort to Find Person Who May Have Information Regarding the Identity of a Child Sexual Assault Victim (Photo) - 01/28/21

Update 1/28/21

Jane Doe 43 has been identified and located in another state. Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, no further informaiton can be released. The FBI would like to thank those who helped share the information!

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The FBI is sending out a national alert, seeking the public’s assistance to identify an unknown woman who may have critical information pertaining to the identity of a child victim in an ongoing sexual exploitation investigation. Photographs and an informational poster depicting the unknown individual, known only as Jane Doe 43, are attached and can be found online at the FBI website at http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/ecap

Video of the unidentified female, Jane Doe 43, shown with a child was first seen and likely created in October of 2019.

Jane Doe 43 is described as a White female with dark hair between 20 and 30 years of age. She is heard speaking English in the video.

There is no specific indication that Jane Doe 43 has ties to Oregon. However, given the nature of the investigation, the FBI is releasing this information and these images nationally in hopes of locating her.

Anyone with information to provide should submit a tip online at https://tips.fbi.gov/, or call the FBI’s toll-free tip line at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324). The public is reminded no charges have been filed in this case, and the pictured individual is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

This individual is being sought as part of the FBI’s Operation Rescue Me and Endangered Child Alert Program (ECAP) initiatives, both of which represent strategic partnerships between the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Operation Rescue Me focuses on utilizing clues obtained through in-depth image analysis to identify the child victims depicted in child exploitation material, while ECAP seeks national and international media exposure of unknown adults (referred to as John/Jane Does) who visibly display their faces and/or other distinguishing characteristics in association with child pornography images.

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