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Internet security firm warns computer users to be wary of file-sharing websites

Also, 10 people are indicted in Bakersfield mortgage fraud scheme, a judge prohibits the owner of an Upland tax service from preparing returns and three brokers plead guilty to charges that they defrauded investors.

February 07, 2011|By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times

??????Here is a roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for.

Super Bowl cyber attacks

For many people, Super Bowl Sunday was an opportunity to get together with friends, eat some good food and knock back a few cold ones. Computer security experts say it was also a big day for cyber criminals, who were targeting the millions of people using their home computers to keep up with the game, visit gambling websites and chat about the commercials. Internet security company PC Tools suggested in a news release that computer users be careful when visiting file-sharing websites that offer links to game or advertisement videos because these links can contain harmful malware. Users should also be sure that they change passwords frequently and use software to protect their computers from viruses and other threats.

Bakersfield real estate

Ten people have been indicted on charges that they participated in a mortgage fraud scheme that defrauded lenders out of more than $20 million from 2004 to 2007. The indictment focused on Bakersfield Realtors David Marshall Crisp and Carlyle Lee Cole, who owned and operated Crisp & Cole Real Estate. With the help of eight associates, Crisp and Cole allegedly obtained numerous real estate loans by making false statements about the borrowers' income, assets, employment and intent to occupy homes they were borrowing against, prosecutors said. The case was investigated by the FBI and Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Tax preparer

A federal judge has issued an order prohibiting the owner of an Upland tax service from preparing returns and other documents for clients. U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II issued the order against Guillermo B. Garcia at the request of federal prosecutors, who accused Garcia of making false statements on clients' returns to obtain larger returns than they expected. The U.S. attorney's office alleged that Garcia kept the extra money. Auditors with the Internal Revenue Service said Garcia filed at least 183 fraudulent returns in the last four years, understating the taxes his clients owed by $784,000.

Investment fraud

Three brokers have pleaded guilty to charges that they defrauded investors in private placements by making false statements about how their money would be invested. Arn Wilson, Michael Passaro and Robert Grabowski had been accused of using investor money to enrich themselves; pay excessive, undisclosed fees to brokers; and to repay some victims. They raised about $140 million from 1998 to 2006 through their companies, Sky Capital and Thornwater Co., prosecutors said.

stuart.pfeifer@latimes.com

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