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Scam Watch: FTC offers Wi-Fi safety tips

New hacking tools, available free on the Internet, make it easy for people with limited technical expertise to eavesdrop on people using Wi-Fi hot spots in public places.

February 14, 2011|By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times

Public wireless networks are convenient but they're not secure, the Federal Trade Commission cautioned in a recent bulletin. New hacking tools, available free on the Internet, make it easy for people with limited technical expertise to eavesdrop on people using Wi-Fi hot spots in coffee shops, airports and other places. For a safer Wi-Fi experience, the FTC recommends that users send personal information only to websites that are fully encrypted (look for "https" at the beginning of the address); log out from sites after visiting them; and do not use the same passwords on multiple accounts because that could allow someone who learns a password to access multiple accounts.

Ponzi scheme

The bookkeeper for an Irvine investment firm has pleaded guilty to charges related to her role in a Ponzi scheme that collected more than $8 million from about 60 victims, most of them Korean Americans, the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles said. Sang Yi, 40, a citizen of South Korea, and her boyfriend, Euirang Hwang, promised high returns to investors in their company, Pinupito Inc., saying they would invest the money in Korean companies. Instead, the couple used investor money on personal expenses and to pay returns to early investors. Yi and Hwang, who had already pleaded guilty, face maximum sentences of 20 years in prison.

Identity theft

A Maryland man has been convicted of a felony charge for using the personal information of 25 people to drain their accounts of more than $300,000, federal prosecutors said. Oladayo Oladokun pleaded guilty Feb. 3 in federal court in Washington to aggravated identity theft. Sentencing is set for April 1, and he faces a mandatory minimum of two years in federal prison, the U.S. attorney's office for the District of Columbia said.

Investment fraud

The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a civil lawsuit against two people who ran a Pasadena company that promised returns as high as 1,000% per month but allegedly used the money on personal expenses and other unauthorized items. Curtis Peterson and Eric Maher were accused in the lawsuit of defrauding investors of $3 million by promising to achieve the astronomical returns through "international bank instruments." They sent some money to a bank in Hungary but diverted most of the money to themselves, the SEC alleged.

stuart.pfeifer@latimes.com

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