Category Archives: Local News

U.S. & Russian Spy Rings Mimic Hollywood

If you’ve been reading or watching the news lately, you undoubtedly know that the United States and Russia are in the midst of a so-called spy swap.  On June 27, the FBI arrested 10 people on charges that they were deep-cover spies working for the Russian government but living for years in the United States. Their job, according to the DOJ, was to determine U.S. “secrets by making connections to think tanks and government officials.” Continue reading

Bugnets: More Than Backyard Pests

Meetings with friends or clients. Private phone conversations. New business presentations. Financial transactions. Personal/family interactions. All items that we, as citizens of the United States, assume are private interactions, protected, and respected, by others. Continue reading

GPS and Video Surveillance in School Buses

In Richmond County, Georgia, the  Board of Education wants to install GPS tracking devices and video cameras in the county’s school buses in an effort to make the bus routes safe–or safer–for children.

If installed, parents will be provided with accurate times for pick-up and drop-off, which will enable families to keep better track of their children. Some parents, however, feel that GPS trackers and video cameras may result in stalking and spying. While many parents feel that this new technology is a good idea, some parents feel that video cameras and  may lead to stalking and spying. The parents’ concern is two-fold; it’s unethical to “spy” on children, and they (parents) fear that others may be able to track their children in order to abduct them.

The school district takes a different point-of-view: The buses are state property, and according to Georgia law, schools are allowed to monitor their assets.

The cost of installing a system for the district will run in the range of $40,000; money that the district will have to raise if they wish to install two video cameras and one GPS unit on every bus, and will ask the Richmond County Board of Education to purchase the equipment for 128 buses.

According to WJBF-TV in Augusta, the district’s intent is to install a camera in the aisle and one in the front of the bus, monitoring activity on the bus on a consistent basis.

GPS trackers and cameras will operate when the bus is running, and drivers won’t be able access either piece of equipment,  “but school authorities will be able to view any recorded information at their discretion. The school has attempted to reassure parents by stating that the new equipment is being installed to increase efficiency, and that the school board is not interested in spying on students.”

The umbrella benefit is that bus drivers, responsible for keeping children safe, fall under the scrutiny of the district, ensuring that bus drivers “…are conducting themselves in a professional manner.” Corporations, like UPS, have used GPS trackers to ensure employees stay within company guidelines while using corporate assets.

Is Your Cell Phone Safe from Prying Eyes?

It’s a given that your computer’s been exposed to Spyware or Malware, attacks that have hopefully been thwarted by anti-virus software. However, what about your cell phone?

According to police detectives, cell phones are infected with both spy- and mal- ware.  Aware of the danger of computer viruses, most users, for the most part, are not familiar with similar threats that can infect cell phones. Detective Ernest Ward (Jonesboro Police Department) stated that cell phones are “infected with spyware and malware and they [users] don’t even know about it.”

Searching the Internet will reveal numerous websites that offer downloads that will track and record text messages, phone numbers, pictures, and call logs. The general assumption–and manufacturer’s sales information–is that these applications are to be used for practical purposes. Parents tracking their children, or corporations ensuring the proper use of company resources.

However, many such programs can replicate themselves and are difficult to detect to those not familiar with cell phone operating systems. The spyware programs often run “below” areas where users operate their smart phones.

Some of the applications send reports in real-time, displaying information on a parent’s phone as a child  receives the call, allowing the parent to record the number and listen to the call.

Since many smart phones have the same capabilities as laptops, the risk is heightened because phones don’t have in-depth defense programs. Some of the viruses on cell phones can activate micro-phones or cameras, allowing other parties to eavesdrop on conversations or view areas captured by the phone’s camera.

Recently, spying via technology was boosted into the national spotlight when it was reported that a Pennsylvania school district school that provided students from two high schools with free Macbooks was sued in federal court. A theft-tracking program on the laptops, allegedly used to track missing units, was deemed to be invasive because of a feature that activated computer webcams on the laptops.

Users were never informed of the software, and district officials concede that their monitoring of students had gone too far. The original intent of the software was to capture images of the “desktop and whatever is in front of the screen for law enforcement to help track down a missing computer.”

Twin Cities Teacher Snagged By FBI for Child Porn

Gregg Alan Larsen, a former St. Paul Central High high school teacher in the Twin cities has been indicted on child pornography charges. Federal agents snagged Larsen, age 49, with over 100,000 child-pornography images and videos on his home computer.

The indictment stemmed from a raid of the man’s Minneapolis home last year. A former special-needs teacher, Larsen allegedly used a hidden camera to film children in the bathroom of the foster home he ran. He was accused Wednesday under a sealed indictment that became public record yesterday afternoon after he appeared before a judge. Larsen taught special education at the Minneapolis high school when school administrators found out he was under Federal investigation. This information comes to us courtesy of the online version of the Pioneer Press.

Larsen faces a possible 90-year sentence for two charges of child pornography production, one charge each for child porn distributionand possession. Larsen was licensed in April 2000 as foster care provider, using his Minneapolis home as a childcare facility. Child protection and privacy laws prevent state officials from announcing whether any children are being cared for in the foster home, but the state indicated that endangered children would be immediately removed.

The FBI caught Larsen during a Maryland child pornography investigation in May 2009. Agents linked Larsen to 20 images/ movies of child pornography that were recovered from a network user’s folder. The images mainly involved boys who had not yet reached puberty. Five images involved victims of child exploitation.

On July 1, 2009, FBI agents raided the man’s home. According to the FBI, the charges that Larsen produced child pornography resulted from two incidents in 2006; the events took place in April, June, and July. Larsen knowingly persuaded two minors to commit explicit sexual acts so that he could record them. The Press does not mention why the indictment took place a year after Larsen was caught.

Surveillance cameras, whether small enough to be a key chain, or a full-sized video camera mounted as part of a home security for  video surveillance purposes, provide documentation on video for private investigators, large and small businesses, and also home security systems. U-Spy Store strives to sell high-quality products to reputable people. If you suspect that some one is using a hidden surveillance camera, please do not hesitate to notify us either by phone or email.

Shoplifter Pays With His Life

Saturday morning came and went, mostly quiet. Mostly. However, in Chicago’s Little Village, a man stole tubes of toothpaste at a CVS Pharmacy and was caught. He paid the ultimate price for his theft; he died after the struggle.

The death, resulting from a CVS employee who chased the shoplifter and held him in a choke-hold, has been ruled an accident. A medical examiner ruled the man’s death death a homicide, stating the shoplifter had been strangled. Chicago police, however, are not charging the employee.

“Why would you kill someone over toothpaste?” exclaimed the man’s ex-wife, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The shoplifter, who had served prison time for drug convictions, was still battling substance abuse according to sources. The man’s family requested a full investigation into the incident, including statements made by witnesses that an off-duty police officer was on the scene.

Chicago Police deny claims that an off-duty officer was identified in witness statements. Other witnesses, asking to remain anonymous, stated that an officer identified themselves and drew a sidearm, pointing it at the downed man, warning him to stop resisting the CVS employee and other men who were holding the struggling shoplifter.

Chicago Police spokesperson stated that by the time officers arrived, the man was unconscious and that there was no evidence of officer involvement. However, surveillance video from a recorder is being reviewed to identify the participants to identify any actions that may have led to the man’s death. The CPD also asked for any other witnesses to step forward and contact detectives.

Initially described as being in serious condition, the shoplifter was declared dead 45-minutes after police arrived.

A CVS spokesman stated that the company was also reviewing video footage.

While security is a problem for many stores in Chicago, causing them to raise the price on various items, toothpaste doesn’t seem to warrant the harsh outcome of this tragic situation. Retailers, outfitted with surveillance equipment and DVRs, still aren’t able to identify, and catch, those that feel the need to steal from the stores.

Facebook Glitch Allows Eavesdropping

Facebook admitted yesterday that reports of a bug in its software, allowing users to electronically eavesdrop on others by allowing users to view their friend’s chats and messages was true.

Although Facebook announced that they had discovered, then repaired, the problem, it was actually discovered by TechCrunch’s European offices.

Once reported, Facebook shutdown their chat service and repaired the security hole within hours. The statement from Facebook reads:
“For a limited period of time, a bug permitted some users’ chat messages and pending friend requests to be made visible to their friends by manipulating the “preview my profile” feature of Facebook privacy settings…”

Notice that Facebook didn’t define the amount of time that  constituted a “limited period.”  Thus, the eavesdropping could have taken place since the beginning of the year. However, users began complaining on Wednesday morning, so it is assumed the problem is a recent one.

Safety and security have plagued Facebook, and it was reported that the CEO of the social site “did not believe privacy.” Unless, of course, it has to do with the company he founded.  Unfortunately, there are no electronic countermeasures; users should, however, lock down their privacy settings.


Facebook’s security-related mistakes weren’t over. Once again, TechCrunch Europe reported a second security breach, this time concerned with the Prime Minister elections in England. TechCrunch EU noticed that a poll asking users who they wanted as Prime Minister – set to end Tuesday – was still up today. Voting rules in England state that both intention and exit polls are illegal on election day. Facebook’s position was that the poll did not ask how people voted, but who’d they like to see as Prime Minister.  Although Facebook denies wrongdoing, the poll disappeared from the site.  Again, no countermeasures on that one.

If you believe that you’re being monitored without your knowledge, send us an email or give us a call at U-Spy Store. We’ll provide you with the advice, and equipment, you need to flush out privacy invaders.

Police: Man charged with eavesdropping

Posted: Sunday, April 25, 2010 6:10 am

GLENS FALLS — A Granville man was charged with eavesdropping Saturday after his ex-girlfriend discovered a recording device hidden in a child’s backpack, police said.

Donald A. Connolly, 34, of Route 22, was charged with felony eavesdropping after someone in the ex-girlfriend’s home spotted a red light on a 4-year-old’s backpack, Glens Falls Police Sgt. Keith Knoop said.
Knoop described the incident as follows:

Connolly and the ex-girlfriend have a 4-year-old child in common. Connolly had dropped the child off at the woman’s Glens Falls home Saturday, and a short time later the light was spotted on the backpack.

They found what appeared to be a recording device sewn into the backpack, and brought it to the Police Department. Police confirmed it was an audiorecorder.

Connolly was called to the police station, and admitted he put the device on the backpack.
He did not explain why, but Knoop said it appeared to be related to a custody dispute.

He was charged with eavesdropping and released pending prosecution in City Court. Police Officer Dan Habshi made the arrest.

http://www.poststar.com/news/local/article_f1f9f436-5053-11df-974b-001cc4c03286.html

GPS’ Use Goes Past Directions

While most of us are familiar with GPS (Global Positioning System) units that provide directions – like the popular Garmin nüvi or the TomTom – GPS has uses than to tell us, “Turn Right at Intersection.”

For instance, shipping services use GPS to determine where their delivery trucks are at all times. Airlines, the military, and law enforcement use GPS to locate lost aircraft, search for vessels on the high seas, or track cell phone emergency calls.

GPS receivers are also installed in taxi cabs, as a Chicago man found out early Sunday morning.

Travis E. Conner III, aged 18, is being charged with one count robbery and aggravated vehicular hijacking after he carjacked man is charged with robbery and aggravated vehicular hijacking after police found him at a gas station through the GPS in a stolen taxi cab.

Conner stole the taxi at gunpoint around 3:30 AM on Sunday. Unfortunately for him, he made two crucial mistakes; the first was that the cab was equipped with a GPS tracking device. The second? He dropped his cell phone at the scene of the crime.

Not long after Conner’s bungled crime, Chicago police found him at a gas station near 6300 North Central Avenue. He was identified, and police confiscated a semi-automatic handgun during the arrest.

Clearly, Conner is not up-to-date on today’s GPS technology, as evidenced by his theft of a tracked vehicle. However, you can be ahead of the learning curve. Just check out U-Spy Stores GPS tracking devices. Our professionally installed units can be employed to track your teen driver’s travels, use of work vehicles by employees, or even to find out is your spouse is going to the places he/she said they were. The GPS can notify you when it has left the designated area. By placing the MT100 in a vehicle, users can have alerts sent to a cell phone or email address whenever the vehicle moves. The user’s cell can also remotely track the vehicle in real time, with text messages sent within seconds of the last known position of the vehicle. We also have units that have fleet tracking capabilities.

How to Avoid Being Followed Home

While we don’t want to think about the fact that criminals can follow us from a gas station or shopping mall to our homes, it happens more than one would think. Just last week a 58-year-old Chicagoland businessman was followed home and then severely beaten inside the home as his helpless family was forced to watch.

Abbas Darwish, a convenience store owner, is in fair condition at Good Samaritan Hospital following the April 15th attack. His injuries include broken ribs, a broken nose, and bruised lungs. His wife and two sons were also treated for injuries following the early morning attack.

The police have two men in custody and are looking for four more. While Mr. Darwish and his family are expected to recover, some aren’t as lucky. So, it is always best to be aware of your surroundings and anything that seems to be out of place, whether walking, driving, exercising, etc. as we move into the summer months.

If you think that you’re being followed, there are several precautions to take to keep yourself safe:

  • Frequently check the rearview mirror to see if you are being followed.  If you believe that you are, DO NOT drive home. Instead drive to the nearest police station, fire station or other place of safety such as a crowded parking lot.
  • If you believe you’re being followed but aren’t sure, make three consecutive left hand or right hand turns. If the car is still behind you, DO NOT drive home.
  • Remember it is important to know where you are so police officers can respond if needed. Know your direction of travel.
  • If you have a cellular phone, call 9-1-1. Try to get a good description of the vehicle that is following you including the vehicle’s make, color and license plate number if possible.
  • Don’t stop if the vehicle following bumps your car or otherwise tries to get you to pull over.
  • Do not try to be a hero. Don’t take any action that would jeopardize your own safety.
  • Carry a small camera, use your cell phone camera, or equip your car with a dash cam and record, or take pictures, of the followers.

While statistics show that women are more likely to be followed than men, as evidenced by the above story, it can happen to both men and women. The most important thing to remember is to remain calm, and avoid the instinct to stomp on the gas to get away. The more relaxed and controlled you stay, the greater the likelihood that your followers will grow bored with the “chase;” especially if it is a meandering path to nowhere.