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News Releases
TT - QR Code Scams - GRAPHIC - October 19, 2021
TT - QR Code Scams - GRAPHIC - October 19, 2021
Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against QR Code Scams (Photo) - 10/19/21

October is #CybersecurityAwareness Month. During this time, the FBI reminds everyone to #BeCyberAware! In honor of this recognition, today's Tech Tuesday report will focus on a new scam that is cropping up at restaurants, at stores, and in ads across the country.

***

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

Let’s start with basics. “QR” stands for “quick response.” The QR code is a square image that you can scan with your phone – usually by just pointing your camera at it. The image itself is filled with data that can do lots of helpful things, such as send you to a particular website or payment portal.

QR codes have become much more common in these COVID times. They allow restaurants to use virtual menus and vendors to accept cashless payments easily. You may find codes physically pasted about or virtually embedded into ads, emails, or online. They are easy to create and, unfortunately, easy to hack.

The FBI is starting to get reports of people who are falling victim to QR code scams, including some who are losing money. One area of particular concern – frauds involving cryptocurrency. Crypto transactions are often made through QR codes associated with crypto accounts… making these transactions easy marks.

If you happen to scan a scammer’s bad code, you could end up giving him access to your device. He can access your contacts, download malware, or send you to a fake payment portal. Once there, you can inadvertently give him access to your banking and credit card accounts. If you make a payment through a bad QR code, it’s difficult if not impossible to get those funds back. Here’s how to protect yourself:

  • Do not scan a randomly found QR code.
  • Be suspicious if, after scanning a QR code, the site asks for password or login info.
  • Do not scan QR codes received in emails unless you know they are legitimate. Call the sender to confirm.
  • Some scammers are physically pasting bogus codes over legitimate ones. If it looks as though a code has been tampered with at your local bar or restaurant, don’t use it. Same thing with legitimate ads you pick up or get in the mail.

Finally, consider using antivirus software that offers QR readers with added security that can check the safety of a code before you open the link.

If you are the victim of any other online fraud, you should report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.  

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#BeCyberSmart - Cybersecurity Awareness Month & The ABC's of Cryptocurrency - 10/15/21

During Cybersecurity Awareness Month, observed each October, the FBI and its partner agencies remind you to do your part and #BeCyberSmart all year long.

As the premier cyber investigative agency, the FBI works to keep you safe online, but there are many simple steps you can take to help protect yourself and your family. If you do become a victim, contact us at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov) to report online crime.

This week's focus is on cryptocurrency - what it is, how to use it and how to stay safe.

Q & A - Cryptocurrencies

Q: What is cryptocurrency? 

A: Cryptocurrency is a type of digital currency that you can use to buy goods or services, or invest. You use regular currency – such as the U.S. dollar – to buy these cryptocurrencies, some of which are called tokens, and then you can spend with vendors that accept them. There are thousands of different kinds of cryptocurrencies traded publicly. They are not yet fully regulated and are unsecured unlike the money in your traditional bank account. 

 

Q: What is the “blockchain” ? 

A: Blockchain is a digital ledger that tracks cryptocurrency transactions. Cryptocurrency transactions are processed in blocks, which are then added to the chain, hence the term blockchain. That ledger is maintained across many different computers around the world, which means the ledger is decentralized. This is one of the ways the blockchain works to keep the transactions secure.

 

Q: What is a digital wallet and key?

A: A “digital wallet” is the app or device where you can store your cryptocurrency. There is a “public key” – basically the address you can give to someone to send you a payment. The “private key” is a very long string of letters and numbers.  It acts as your password because you need it to access a wallet and remove currency.

 

Q: Is cryptocurrency legal?

A: Currently, cryptocurrency itself is perfectly legal to buy and use in the U.S. In fact, many mainstream companies are now accepting cryptocurrency for goods and services. What we are seeing, though, is an increase in bad actors who are using old style scams to steal this new-style virtual asset.  

 

Q: What kinds of scams are connected to cryptocurrency?

A: Any kind of traditional scam can take on a cryptocurrency twist. For instance, an extortionist contacts you to threaten you with the release of compromising photos. He demands that you send cryptocurrency. Same old scam, new way to pay. 

We also see cryptocurrency frequently used in romance scams. For instance, the victim is persuaded by the suspect to take cash from their bank account and put it into a cryptocurrency ATM kiosk. Once cryptocurrency is purchased from the cash it is sent to the suspect. It is a fast and easy way to send cryptocurrency across international borders.

From the investment side we often see victims promised fast and high returns on their investments. If an opportunity sounds too good to be true, it very likely is too good to be true. If someone is promising you fast returns on your investment, it is most often a scam.

 

Q: If I want to invest or use cryptocurrencies, how can I do so safely?

A: First, recognize that a cryptocurrency investment is like any other investment – it can go up or down. Buyer beware!

When it comes to fraudsters, though, there are some specific steps you can take: 

  • Do your research. Look for reputable sources to explain how to buy it, how to trade it, and how to use it.
  • Don’t respond to unsolicited offers or click on links you may receive through email, texts, or social media; and
  • Never share your private key or seed phrase with anyone. That private key or seed phrase is all that is standing between you and someone trying to take your money.

Cryptocurrencies experienced an enormous growth over the last five years.  A lot of that growth has plateaued, but it appears the general public is trying to recreate that price boom so individuals can get rich with enormous and fast returns on investment.   

 

Q: What should I do if I become a cryptocurrency scam victim?
A: If you are the victim of a cryptocurrency or other type of cyber scam, make sure you report it to the FBI right away through our Internet Crime Complaint Center. Go to www.ic3.gov to submit that information.

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Note to media: a video version of this Q & A is available for your use. It will be sent separately.

FBI Portland Brings Child Sex Abuse Suspect Back from Portugal - 10/14/21

FBI agents have returned Leland Patrick Harper, age 60, to Portland to face multiple sex abuse charges in Multnomah County Circuit Court. The agents flew to Portugal over the weekend and returned with Harper late on Wednesday, October 13th.

This case, investigated by a Portland Police Detective on the FBI's Child Exploitation Task Force, is being prosecuted at the state level. A Multnomah County grand jury indicted Harper in January 2021 on the following charges:

  *   Using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct - 16 counts
  *   Sex abuse (first degree) - 23 counts
  *   Unlawful sexual penetration (first degree) - 3 counts
  *   Sodomy (first degree) - 2 counts
  *   Luring a minor - 14 counts
  *   Encouraging child sex abuse (first degree) - 1 count

The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided invaluable assistance in securing the arrest and extradition of Harper to the United States. With DOJ's assistance, the FBI's Legal Attaché Office in Madrid coordinated with FBI Portland, the Department of State's U.S. Embassy in Lisbon, the Portuguese Policia Juidiciaria, and the Portuguese Polícia de Segurança Pública to facilitate Harper's extradition. Portuguese officials arrested Harper on a provisional arrest warrant on August 25, 2021. Following extradition proceedings, the local authorities released Harper to the FBI this week for transport back to Portland.

Harper was arraigned in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Thursday, October 14, 2021. He remains in jail on bail set at more than $11 million.

An indictment is only an accusation of a crime, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

For further details on this case, please contact the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office.

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Note to media: U.S. Department of Justice regulations do not generally permit the FBI to release mug shots.

Statement by Mother of a Victim Injured at the July 17, 2021 Shooting Incident in Portland - 10/14/21

This statement is by a mother of one of the six survivors of the July 17, 2021, shooting that resulted in the death of Makayla Harris. Today, the FBI offered a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible in this mass shooting. (See previous press release at https://flashalert.net/id/FBIOregon/149288).

July 17, 2021, has forever changed me and my life and the lives of my daughter and her friends, and their families will never be the same. This is the day that took my daughter’s innocence away. Her life was violated when she was only doing what many young people do – hang out with friends. Out of the four young ladies that were hanging out that night together, three were shot and one of them lost their life. 

What my daughter and her friends had to go through that day I would never wish on my worst enemy. This was the day that her and her friends had to endure pain that, as a mother, I’ll `never be able to take away or mend the physical wounds that they will forever have.

This is the day that Makayla’s life was taken. I’ll never understand the intentions this individual or individuals had or why my baby girl and her friends had to be affected by such senseless actions, but one thing I do know is that it was not fair. They did not deserve any of this, and Makayla did not deserve to lose her life like this behind some stupidness.

As a mother, my heart bleeds for her family, and I don’t think a day will ever go by that I don’t ask “why?”  My family is forever scared, and my daughter has to live the rest of her life with these wounds.

As I try to make sense of it all, my head is at a loss, and my heart is heavy. I don’t think I’ll ever understand. Although finding who caused all this hurt won’t change the outcome. It will not bring Makayla back or remove the scars from these young ladies. 

Someone needs to be held accountable. Makayla will never be seen again on this earth because her life was taken too soon, and the other young women will never be the same because of that. Everyone has a conscience, and my prayer is that someone’s conscience will bring them to speak up for Makayla and the friends she was with that night whose lives have been forever affected by the events of this day.

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Statement by Felicia Martinez, Mother of Makayla Harris - 10/14/21

On July 17, 2021, what’s believed to be a gang-involved shooting downtown resulted in the death of 18-year-old Makayla Harris. Six others were hurt. Today, the FBI is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Makayla's death.

Below is a statement by Makayla's mother, Felicia Martinez:

"Makayla Harris was senselessly taken away from me and her family on July 17, 2021. I send love and comfort to all the victims and their families who were also affected by this tragic night.

Makayla was beautiful, happy and recently graduated from high school. To the Community, my family and I are asking for continued privacy as we are grieving the loss of our beautiful Makayla. I am also asking anyone with information to come forward and speak with the detectives to help solve this senseless tragedy. 

I know someone out there knows who did this, please do the right thing and help hold the person or persons accountable for their actions. We deserve closure and Makayla who had her innocent life taken deserves justice.

I will not stop seeking justice for my baby girl Makayla Maree Harris. To the coward that took my baby from me, you will pay for what you did because I will not lay down, and I will never stop fighting for my baby girl. Thank you, Felicia.”

 

FBI Offers up to $25,000 for Information in Mass Shooting Event: 18-year-old Makayla Maree Harris killed; Six others injured - 10/14/21

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the murder of Makayla Maree Harris. This is in addition to the previously offered reward of up to $2,500 from Crime Stoppers of Oregon.

At approximately 2:00 a.m., on July 17, 2021, Portland Police officers responded to reports of a mass shooting in the 300 block of SW Third Avenue between Harvey Milk and Washington streets in Portland. When they arrived, they found seven people wounded by gunfire. Ms. Harris, 18 years old, died after being transported to the hospital. It is believed that Makayla was an unintended target in a gang-related shooting. 

The shooters fired from a car in the street before it sped away. It is also believed that many potential witnesses ran off after the shooting and may not have provided information to investigators. 

“Innocent people pay a heavy price when violent criminal gangs battle on our streets. Those clashes – facilitated by the constant buying, selling, trading, and stealing of weapons – have helped to drive the homicide rate in Portland to record highs,” said Kieran L. Ramsey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. “Despite this, law enforcement often finds that those who have information about these cases are reluctant to come forward. Whether it is distrust of law enforcement or fear of retaliation, the result is the same - the killings continue. We need help to stop this cycle of violence, and we ask anyone with information to find the will to come forward.”

If anyone has information, witnessed any part of what happened, or has video of anything that happened prior to, during, or after the shooting, they are asked to contact PPB by emailing crimetips@portlandoregon.gov or contacting the FBI at 1 (800) CALL-FBI or at tips.fbi.gov.

The FBI “Seeking Information” and reward poster for the Makayla Harris case can be downloaded from here: https://www.fbi.gov/wanted/seeking-info/makayla-maree-harris

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Attached Media Files: FBI Makayla Harris Reward Poster
TT - Click Scams - GRAPHIC - October 12, 2021
TT - Click Scams - GRAPHIC - October 12, 2021
Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against Click Scams (Photo) - 10/12/21

October is #CybersecurityAwareness Month. During this time, the FBI reminds everyone to #BeCyberAware! In honor of this recognition, today's Tech Tuesday report will focus on one of the most important things people can do to stay safe: Avoid the Click!

***

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

You’ve heard it time and again – DON’T click on that link! Whether it came by text, email, or a social media post, that link could cause you endless grief.

That link is part of what’s called a phishing scam – phishing with a “ph”. Scam artists need you to click on the link so they can download malware onto your device or trick you into logging into what you think is a legitimate website. In seconds, you have now given them access to your phone or laptop AND the user ID and password to your bank account.

Why do you click? That part of the scam is called social engineering. The bad actor’s goal is to generate extreme fear or happiness in you – or maybe even just a strong sense of curiosity. He just needs you to act before you think.

For instance – you receive a text with a link claiming to be a video of you. It could be innocent enough (you were eating!) or distressing (you were caught naked or in an otherwise compromising act). You really, REALLY, want to see what that video shows. (See attached image.) Don’t fall for it and certainly don’t click!

Here are some helpful hints on how to stay safe, thanks to our partners at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC):

  • Don’t respond to calls or texts from unknown or suspicious numbers.
  • Never share your personal or financial information via email, by text message, or over the phone.
  • Be cautious if you're being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.
  • Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.
  • Most importantly – don’t click any links in a text message. If a friend sends you a text with a suspicious link that seems out of character, call them to make sure they weren't hacked.

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

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FBI in Oregon Marks Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Week 1 Q & A (Cybersecurity Basics) - 10/08/21

Each week, the FBI is working to help Oregonians #BeCyberAware as part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This week: Cybersecurity Basics.

What are the most common scams we are seeing in Oregon?” 

The most common cyber scams that we are seeing in Oregon, ranked by the number of complaints into the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, are: 

  1. online shopping
  2. phishing
  3. extortion
  4. hacking
  5. romance scams and
  6. business email compromise scams

By dollar losses – business email compromise scams top the list.  

“What are the most important things I should know about cyber scams?”

Here are three of the most important things to keep yourself safe from cyber scams: 

  1. Never click on links or attachments in emails, text messages, or social media posts. They can contain malware that will infect your device or lead you to a fraudulent (but real-looking) website to collect user ID and password info.
  2. Don’t share personal or sensitive info with people you meet online. You can never take back compromising pictures… and no one should contact you unsolicited to ask for your financial or health information.
  3. Trust your gut. As the old saying goes, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What are some easy steps you can take today to increase your safety online?”

There are a number of easy steps you can take to greatly increase your safety online: 

  1. Lock down all of your social media accounts with security and privacy in mind. Restrict your friend lists to include only those who you know and trust in real life.
  2. Set your devices, software, and apps to update automatically.
  3. Make sure every online account – whether it is your favorite shopping portal or your utility provider – has robust security. That means using strong passwords or passphrases and/or multi-factor authentication.

What is social engineering?

A scammer uses social engineering to generate an intense emotion in you to get you to act quickly without thinking. That emotion could be fear, anger, excitement, or even curiosity. 

Examples include scams where you are told you are in trouble with the law, have won a huge lottery, or need to immediately help a family member in danger. 

The fraudster will use your heightened emotion to get you to give them money or personal information. 

What should I do if I am the victim of a cyber scam?

If you are the victim of a cyber scam, the first thing you should do is to contact your bank, credit card company or other financial institution. Let them know you suspect fraud and ask them to lock down your accounts.   

In some cases, you may need a police report to file a fraud complaint. Contact your local law enforcement to do that. 

Check your credit report regularly for ongoing concerns. Everyone is entitled to at least one report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. During these COVID times, they are offering Americans even more frequent options. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to find out more.  

Finally, report fraud to the FBI through our Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov

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Note: Media will be provided with a video version of these cyber safety tips.

The FBI in Oregon Marks Cybersecurity Awareness Month with #BeCyberAware Campaign - 10/08/21

During Cybersecurity Awareness Month, observed each October, the FBI and its partner agencies remind you to do your part and #BeCyberSmart all year long.

Now in its 18th year, Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a government and private sector partnership that raises awareness about cybersecurity and stresses the collective effort required to stop cyber crimes, online thefts, and scams.

As the premier cyber investigative agency, the FBI works to keep you safe online, but there are many simple steps you can take to help protect yourself and your family. If you do become a victim, contact us at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov) to report online crime.

Each Friday, the FBI in Oregon will mark a different theme of Cybersecurity Awareness Month:

  • October 8, 2021 – The Basics of Cybersecurity
  • October 15, 2021 – ABC’s of Cryptocurrency
  • October 22, 2021 – Ransomware
  • October 29, 2021 – Protecting Your Home & Business

Each week, the FBI will release a series of questions and answers for each topic. 

More information is available from the FBI and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

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TT - LGBTQ+ Dating Scam - GRAPHIC - October 5, 2021
TT - LGBTQ+ Dating Scam - GRAPHIC - October 5, 2021
Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against Dating Scams Targeting the LGBTQ+ Community (Photo) - 10/05/21

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. Today: Building a digital defense against dating scams targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

Last week, we talked about romance scams where the bad actor tries to get online dates to invest in fake cryptocurrency opportunities.

This week, a warning from our partners at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about people being targeted on dating apps that cater to the LGBTQ+ community.

These aren’t your typical I-love-you, please-send-money romance scams. They are extortion scams.

They usually work something like this: a scammer poses as a potential romantic partner, chats with the victim, quickly sends explicit photos, and asks for similar photos in return. If the victim sends photos, the blackmail begins. 

The extortionist threatens to share your conversation and photos with your friends, family, or employer unless you pay — usually by gift card. To make their threats more credible, these scammers will tell you the names of exactly who they plan to contact if you don’t pay up. This is information scammers can easily find online by using your phone number or your social media profile.

Some of these bad actors threaten people who are not yet fully out as LGBTQ+. They may pressure you to pay up or be outed, claiming they’ll “ruin your life” by exposing explicit photos or conversations. 

Whatever their angle, they’re after one thing — your money.

If you’re looking for love on dating apps, here are some ways to avoid these scams:

  • Check out who you’re talking to. Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile picture to see if it’s associated with another name or with details that don’t match up. Those are signs of a scam.
  • Don’t share personal information with someone you just met on a dating app. That includes your cell phone number, email address, and social media profiles.
  • Don’t pay scammers to destroy photos or conversations. There’s no guarantee they’ll do it, and you will definitely lose your money.

In fact, the FBI advises against paying extortion demands, which could support criminal activity. Remember that, once you share photos, you can’t take them back.

Are you under 25 and looking to connect with a counselor at an LGBTQ+ organization about what happened? Reach out to The Trevor Project. They have free counselors, available 24/7, who can talk to you through their phone, chat, and text services.

As always, if you are the victim of this online extortion scam, you should also report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.  

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TT - Crypto Romance Scams - Sept 28, 2021
TT - Crypto Romance Scams - Sept 28, 2021
Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against Crypto Romance Scams (Photo) - 09/28/21

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

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center is seeing a rapid rise in the number of people who are falling victim to a new-style romance fraud. In just the first seven months of this year, more than 1,800 people have reported online romance scams resulting in losses of about $133 million.

Romance frauds have been around for a long time, and they usually start in the same way. The scammer's initial contact is typically made via dating apps or other social media sites. The scammer gains the confidence and trust of the victim – convincing the victim that their virtual love match is the real deal. 

The new twist comes when the bad actor claims to be an expert cryptocurrency investor. He offers to help the victim make big money, too. Once the victim invests, the scammer allows the victim to withdraw a small amount of profit from the alleged account.

After the successful withdrawal, the scammer instructs the victim to invest larger amounts of money, and he often pushes the victim to "act fast." When the victim is ready to withdraw funds again, the scammer creates reasons why this can’t happen. He tells the victim that there are additional taxes or fees that need to be paid, or the minimum account balance has not been met. This entices the victim to provide additional funds. Sometimes, a "customer service group" gets involved, which is also part of the scam. 

The harassment – and the “relationship” – usually end once the victim stops sending funds.

Here’s how to protect yourself:

  • Never send money, trade, or invest based on the advice of someone you have only met online.
  • Don’t talk about your current financial status to unknown and untrusted people.
  • Don’t provide your banking information, Social Security Number, copies of your identification or passport, or any other sensitive information to anyone online or to a site you do not know is legitimate.
  • If an online investment or trading site is promoting unbelievable profits, it is most likely that—unbelievable.
  • Be cautious of individuals who claim to have exclusive investment opportunities and urge you to act fast.

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

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FBI & OSP Work with Local Partners to Build Threat Assessment and Threat Management Teams in Oregon - 09/23/21

The FBI’s Portland Field Office and Oregon State Police – working with the FBI’s Behavioral Threat Assessment Center (BTAC) – are joining with law enforcement agencies, educators, mental health practitioners, and community organizations to form threat assessment teams designed to bolster Oregonians’ ability to identify and stop violent threats. 

This initiative has two parts: 1) a series of regional workshops throughout the state; and 2) one-on-one consultations with communities interested in FBI threat assessment research as they consider forming threat assessment teams.

The workshops – held in July – brought together more than 350 people from a variety of disciplines to learn how to identify those who are on a “pathway of violence” and to consider what options are available as they work disrupt a threat. (See list of workshop co-sponsors below.)

“It is very important that the FBI, working with OSP, give our partners the tools they need to identify and stop threatening behavior. While law enforcement has a role to play, these teams are really a community-led effort that draws on the strengths of educators, counselors, social service providers, and many others to be effective. When we have all of those partners at the table, research has shown that threat assessment teams are the most effective way to stop acts of mass violence,” said Kieran L. Ramsey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon.  

Years of experience and research by the FBI’s Behavioral Threat Assessment Center  show that, while the motivators and drivers for violence are highly individualized, those who commit violence travel an observable and discernible pathway from thought to action. In almost all situations, a “bystander”(such as family, friends, classmates, or co-workers) will have noticed changes in behavior. In many cases, a bystander reports that concerning behavior to non-law enforcement authority figures, such as a school counselor, a coach, a local religious leader. As such, community members need clear and sometimes multiple avenues for potential reporting. 

How to Assist

Community members interested in learning more about how to help identify and stop violent threats can find more information in the FBI’s Making Prevention a Reality: Identifying, Assessing, and Managing the Threat of Targeted Attacks. 

Anyone with information about a potential threat or act of violence should call 911 (in an emergency) or the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI. Information may also be submitted online at tips.fbi.gov. 

Any Oregon agency, educator, mental health organization or service-provider group interested in learning more about threat assessment teams should contact the FBI in Oregon at (503) 224-4181.

Workshop Co-Sponsors

The threat assessment workshops took place in Lincoln City (July 12-13, 2021); Canyonville (July 14-15, 2021); and La Grande (July 19-20, 2021). Co-sponsors of these events included: Cow Creek Tribal Gaming Commission, Seven Feathers Casino Resort, Eastern Oregon University, Northwest Chapter of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals, Oregon Department of Human Services, Oregon Department of Justice, Oregon Office of Emergency Management, Siletz Tribal Gaming Commission, Chinook Winds Casino Resort, and Oregon Peace Officers Association. 

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Additional resources:

TT - Coin Cons - GRAPHIC - September 21, 2021
TT - Coin Cons - GRAPHIC - September 21, 2021
Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against Coin Cons (Photo) - 09/21/21

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. Today: Building a digital defense against coin cons.

The FBI and the Department of Treasury have a warning today about fraudsters who are targeting coin collectors and investors through online auction, social media, and retail websites.

There are three types of counterfeit coins: transactional coins (quarters, dimes, etc.), numismatics (high value collectables), and bullion (precious metals). The scammers are using online ads, claiming the coins are authentic; however, consumers are receiving fake coins and precious metals.

Online estimates reveal that consumers spend millions of dollars buying valuable or rare coins, but most receive near-worthless foreign-made counterfeits. The U.S. government is seizing an increasing number of counterfeit coins at US ports-of-entry. For example, in April 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Chicago’s international mail facility seized 279 shipments from China containing counterfeit coins and currency. In 2020, CBP seized more $1.64 million in counterfeit cash and coins at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

Scammers capitalized on the financial uncertainty and nationwide coin shortage brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic to take advantage of amateur investors online. Many victims find purchasing online an easy method to make investments, as they can easily find what they are looking for, pay cheaper prices, and have their investments delivered right to their door. It’s a great option, if you find a legitimate vendor.

Here’s how to protect yourself:

  • Only make purchases from reputable, registered coin dealers. 
  • If you decide to purchase outside this venue, ensure that the coins are tested by a certified organization before making a purchase.
  • Research online sellers before buying coins and precious metals online. Check online reviews and Better Business Bureau complaints before making a purchase.
  • If you believe that you are the victim of a counterfeit coin scheme, immediately report the activity to the online payment provider or credit card company used for the transaction. 

If you end up with counterfeit coins involving U.S. currency, you should file a report with your local U.S. Secret Service office. You can also file a complaint with the U.S. Treasury Office of Inspector General. All non-currency coins and bullion should be reported to the Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force.

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

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