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FBI warns public: Virtual kidnapping scams

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FBI warns public in regards Virtual kidnapping scams that have scared people into paying thousands of dollars in ransom money..

FBI warns public in regards Virtual kidnapping scams that have scared people into paying thousands of dollars in ransom money.

The FBI and LAPD announcement, they have seen an increase in the crimes “Virtual Kidnapping Scams” for the past couple of years, which involve criminals calling people over the phone and telling them that they are holding a family member of theirs hostage. Usually, the calls are random, but in some cases, the criminals have researched their victims through social media, NBC news reported.

Between 2015 to 2017, Los Angeles Police have reported 252 incidents and victims have paid ransom more than $114,000 only to find out later that their relatives were never in danger. Frequently criminals pick any area code and make random calls, and when someone answers they claim they have a family member of theirs, often a child, and that they will kill them if they don’t send them money immediately. If the victim does not believe and hangs up, the criminals just move on to the next number until they find somebody who believes them.

“They might have someone in the background screaming to imitate their child,” said LAPD Capt. William Hayes at the conference at Los Angeles Police Department headquarters. “Then they would talk about taking fingers, killing them. That’s not so important if you’re a parent to know that you’ll want to do anything to protect your child.”

Authorities believe many of the criminals involved in the calls are making from Mexico and  FBI warns public if anyone receives a similar call should hang up and attempt to reach the missing family member before calling the police.

Last week the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a Houston woman, Yanette Rodriguez Acosta in Texas and indicted on ten counts in relation to some alleged virtual kidnappings in Minnesota, California, Texas, and Idaho.

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Crime

Actress Allison Mack charged with sex trafficking

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A television actress Allison Mack best known for playing a young Superman's close friend was charged with sex trafficking

A television actress Allison Mack best known for playing a young Superman’s close friend was charged with sex trafficking.

After federal prosecutors said, she worked like a slave “master,” recruiting unsuspecting women to a cult-like group led by a man who sold himself as a self-improvement guru to the stars.

Allison Mack was charged with sex trafficking in an indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn New York. ABC7 reported.

Mack, 35, starred in The CW network’s “Smallville,” ending in 2015, but has played only minor roles since then. Prosecutors said she helped recruit women for leader Keith Raniere and his cult-like organization called NXIVM. Mack told the women they were joining what was purported to be a female mentorship group, prosecutors said.

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But “the victims were then exploited, both sexually and for their labor,” according to prosecutors.

“Allison Mack and other masters recruited slaves by telling them that they were joining a women-only organization that would empower them and eradicates purported weaknesses the NVIVM curriculum taught were common in women,” federal prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said she required women she recruited to engage in sexual activity with Raniere, who paid Mack in return.

In March, federal authorities raided an upstate New York residence near Albany where NXIVM was headquartered. The organization also ran programs in Mexico.

Raniere, 57, was arrested in Mexico, brought to the U.S. on March 26 and is being held without bail in Brooklyn.

The FBI has filed sex trafficking charges against him, saying that with the help of mostly female assistants, he blackmailed and coerced women into unwanted sex. Prosecutors hinted in earlier papers that Allison Mack was one of the co-conspirators; it’s not clear who else may be charged.



Raniere’s attorney has said the facts would show Raniere did not compel or pressure anyone to do anything. He says everyone was acting by his or her free will at every instant.

Raniere sold himself as a self-improvement guru to the stars and his core disciples who include actresses, wealthy heiresses and a son of the ex-president of Mexico.

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Mack’s “Smallville” co-star Kristin Kreuk says she was involved with one of the group’s self-help programs but left about 5 years ago. She wrote on Twitter that she didn’t experience any “nefarious activity” and was “horrified and disgusted” by the allegations.

Founded in 1998, NXIVM promoted Raniere’s teachings as a kind of mystical, executive coaching designed to help people get the most out of life. Enrollees in its Executive Success Programs paid handsomely for his advice. The NXIVM organization also drew criticism from people who likened it to a cult.

Last year, the accusations took a new twist, with women who were part of an NXIVM subgroup coming forward to say that they had been physically branded with a surgical tool against their will.

Federal prosecutors said in court papers that Raniere created a society within NXIVM called “DOS” an acronym based on a Latin phrase that loosely translates to “Lord-Master of obedient female companions.” Women were required to provide damaging material about their friends and family, naked photos and even sign over their assets as a condition for joining. Many were branded with his initials, they said.

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Identity Theft

Virginia woman sentenced to 10 years for stealing inmate identities

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A Virginia woman has been sentenced to 10 years and nine months in federal prison for fraud schemes including one that stole inmate identities.

A Virginia woman has been sentenced to 10 years and nine months in federal prison for fraud schemes including one that stole inmate identities.

Teresa Gallop, 50, just one month after she was released from federal prison for another fraud scheme, she orchestrated two new fraud schemes. The Virginian-Pilot reported.

In the first fraud, Gallop created a legal services company. Court documents state she used the fake company to obtain identifying information from inmates and persuade them to release their personal property to her. Gallop used her son, Delanio Vick, 32, who was then serving multiple state sentences for theft, to identify and reach inmate victims.

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According to court documents, once Virginia woman had an inmate’s information and property, she forged powers of attorney naming Vick and another conspirator, Gloria Vick, 50, as attorneys in fact for the inmates. Gallop used these documents to access and open inmate bank accounts, which they used to cash checks.



In the second fraud, Gallop, Jessie Davis, 21, and Aarren Ivey, 22, opened bank accounts at Sun Trust Bank, BBVA Compass Bank, Navy Federal Credit Union, State Employees’ Credit Union, Wells Fargo Bank, Chartway Federal Credit Union, Langley Federal Credit Union and Fulton Bank. Court documents showed that Gallop used these accounts to cash stolen checks and money orders that she, Davis or Ivey had altered or forged.

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Court documents show that Gallop and her conspirators received more than $130,000 through both schemes of stolen inmate identities.

Delanio Vick, Gloria Vick, Davis, and Ivey are awaiting sentencing, according to a new release.

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Homicide

Burbank police found 3 dead bodies inside parked car

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Burbank police discovered three dead bodies inside a parked car on Tuesday, according to authorities.

Burbank police discovered three dead bodies inside a parked car on Tuesday, according to authorities.

Burbank police received a call at 7:10 early in the morning regarding a vehicle violating a parking code. Responding officers said they found three bodies inside the car.

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Detectives said there were three dead bodies inside the red Jeep, which had Tennessee license plates. The deceased were all adults, and at least one of them was a man, ABC7 reported.

The homicide discovery was made along the 1300 block of Varney Street.



Burbank police believe this might be a situation in which the deaths happen elsewhere, and the bodies were dumped in Burbank area. And it was not immediately clear how long the Jeep had been parked at the location.

An area business may have captured some activity on its surveillance cameras. Detectives are reviewing the footage.

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Authorities are looking into whether the three people found are the same three individuals listed on a missing flyer from the Bakersfield area, a town about 120 miles north of Los Angeles. The family said two brothers were traveling with a friend to Riverside.

That flyer says three missing men were last seen driving in a red Jeep Patriot with Tennessee plates.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office is working to determine the identities of the three people and their approximate times of death.

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