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In the Media

article imageSecret Service/FBI now investigating hack of celebrity financials

Washington - The week began with the release by hackers of financial and other private information on certain big names in both Washington and Hollywood. Now the Secret Service and FBI are investigating, along with the LAPD. More names have been added to the list.
Digital Journal reported on Tuesday about the release on a website of private information, financial records and credit reports for various persons in the government including the First Lady Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Robert Mueller (FBI Director), Eric Holder (US Attorney General), along with many Hollywood celebrities.
The website displays an image of a young girl with blackened eyes along with a quote from the TV show "Dexter" - "If you believe that God makes miracles, you have to wonder if Satan has a few up his sleeve.”
The website revealing the information has a .su domain, which was a country code used for a short period in the USSR, just before the Soviet Union collapsed. However, apparently the website is not, in fact, Russian, as a Twitter account used by the hackers, which has since been suspended, used badly translated Russian.
Since then, the list of targeted people has grown substantially, to now include Kanye West, Kris Jenner, Stacia Hylton (US Marshals Director), Mitt Romney, Tiger Woods, R. Kelly, Jerry Sandusky, Chris Christie, Tom Cruise and even Microsoft's Bill Gates.
Once again humor is evident on the website, with Mitt Romney's web page on the hacker's site displaying a rather amusing meme of President Barack Obama saying, "Hey Mitt, you mad bro?"
The Los Angeles Police Department has been investigating the case, particularly as one of the hacking victims was their boss, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. Beck told reporters on Tuesday that "We'll take steps to find out who did this, and if they're within the boundaries of the United States, we'll prosecute them,”
And now the FBI and the Secret Service have begun investigations. With the FBI Director, Robert Mueller, being amongst the targeted individuals, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has confirmed that they have now opened a probe into the hack.
On top of this, the Secret Service, best known for protecting the president, are also involved in matters relating to financial institution, computer and telecommunications fraud, along with access device crimes and false identification document investigation. They are also running an investigation into the matter.
A spokesman for TransUnion, a credit agency, told Forbes that they “immediately launched an investigation” within moments of hearing about the leaked financial information.
Company spokesman, Clifton O'Neal said in an emailed statement to CNBC that the information was obtained by "sophisticated perpetrators" who had "considerable amounts of information about the victims, including Social Security numbers and other sensitive, personal identifying information."
O'Neal continued that those details, "enabled them to successfully impersonate the victims over the Internet in order to illegally and fraudulently access their credit reports."
Credit reporting agency, Equifax, has confirmed this week that hackers had gained "fraudulent and unauthorized access" to the financial files of four high-profile targets. However, they declined to comment further.
In a statement, Tim Klein, a spokesman for Equifax told the media, "We are aware of recent media reports pertaining to unauthorized access to files belonging to high-profile individuals. Equifax can confirm that fraudulent and unauthorized access to four consumer credit reports has occurred."
Cyber security analysts have said that the theft of such information can be very dangerous. Marc Swillinger, former federal prosecutor of the Justice Department Cybercrimes division, said, "If they have your credit report, that's all they need to take over your identity."
On Tuesday, ABC News filmed an interview with US President Barack Obama, who stated that he was aware of the incident and that the appropriate authorities were investigating the hacked file alleged to contain sensitive information pertaining to the First Lady.
While he did not confirm that the information on the First Lady was real, he told the media, "We should not be surprised that if we've got hackers who want to dig in and devote a lot of resources, that they can access peoples' private information."
"Again, not sure how accurate but ... you've got web sites out there that sell people's credit cards," he added.
On the Hollywood side of things, there has been no immediate response from the stars' representatives to media requests seeking confirmation that the hacked information was real. This left the possibility open that the website is a hoax, or possibly a partial hoax.
article:345640:5::0
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