Justice Department Prosecutors have charged Russian Based accountant, Elena Khusyaynova with a scheme to defraud the United States. According to the charges, she spent over $10 million in 2018 alone for the sole purpose of “to sow division and discord in the US Political System.”
Khusyaynova works for a Russia-based firm that special counsel Robert Mueller’s office indicted in February for alleged interference in the 2016 election. This Russian intelligence effort, code-named “Project Lakhta,” was conducted from 2014 to 2016 and is an example of old-school Russian active measures (a covert action) brought forward to the 21st century.
From WaPo: The charges against Khusyaynova came just as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence warned that it was concerned about “ongoing campaigns” by Russia, China and Iran to interfere with the upcoming Midterm elections and even the 2020 race — an ominous warning that comes just weeks before voters head to the polls.
Project Lakhta has several purposes according to experts:
1 – Shape the U.S. election discourse and feed divisiveness into the United States. The efforts in the creation of thousands of online accounts to create, publish and repeat divisive messages, creating slightly nuanced content and otherwise pushing themes that would be most inflammatory has now been documented in the indictment. The DoJ shared an example: “The Russians organized one rally in support of the President-elect and another rally to oppose him, both in New York, and on the same day.”
2 – Framing the dialogue via ads and fictitious persons. This is where the Russians invested heavily—not only millions in funds which they funneled to social media accounts including Twitter and Facebook, but also in online search ads with Google and Bing. Additionally, their use of email and assuming the identities of real U.S. citizens to infiltrate and provide direct support to various political entities is now well-documented.
Among the topics that the russian trolls pushed were gun control, gay rights, the women’s march, and the NFL anthem debate. They also keyed off specific events, including the Las Vegas shooting and the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville
Tekashi 6ix9ine Arrested by Feds for RICO
Daniel Hernandez, the Brooklyn rapper known as Tekashi 6ix9ine, was arrested in New York City on federal crime charges last night. 6ix9ine’s ex-manager Shottie, real name Kifano Jordan, and their associates Faheem Walter (aka Crippy) and Jensel Butler (aka Ish) were also arrested. They all face racketeering and firearms charges. 6ix9ine said last week that he had fired Shottie and the rest of his management team.
The investigation that led to 6ix9ine’s arrest was conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s office with the NYPD, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Homeland Security Investigations. Pitchfork has emailed a representative for 6ix9ine for comment.
Earlier this month, police apprehended Jordan in connection with an incident in which Walter, in his capacity as 6ix9ine’s bodyguard, was shot and later charged with gang assault.
Hernandez is currently on probation, stemming from an October 2015 guilty plea to the use of a child in a sexual performance. Sentencing in the case dragged on for years until, last month, a New York judge gave Hernandez four years of probation and required him to complete community service, refrain from gang affiliation, and avoid future arrests.
Daniel Hernandez also has a pending legal case in Texas. This past January, Hernandez allegedly choked a 16-year-old at the Galleria Mall in Houston, Texas. Hernandez and his security demanded that the teenager erase video footage of the incident from his phone, according to a police report. In May, he was charged with misdemeanor assault, and he was arrested on the Texas warrant in July.
AG Whitaker Alleged to Have Served on Board of WPM
The FBI is reportedly conducting a criminal investigation related to World Patent Marketing, a company that was shut down in 2017 after the Federal Trade Commission alleged that it operating “an invention-promotion scam” that tricked “thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars.” According to recent reports, new acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker served on its advisory board.
Alleged WPM Conduct
In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission charged the operators of an invention-promotion scam, World Patent Marketing, with deceiving consumers and suppressing complaints about the company by using threats of criminal prosecution against dissatisfied customers. At the FTC’s request, a federal court temporarily halted the Florida-based scheme and froze its assets pending litigation.
“This case is about protecting innovators, the engine of a thriving economy,” said then Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen. “The defendants promised to promote people’s inventions and took thousands of dollars, but provided almost no service in return. Then they added insult to injury by threatening people who complained.”
According to the FTC, consumers paid an individual and various corporate entities thousands of dollars to patent and market their inventions based on bogus “success stories” and testimonials promoted by the defendants. But after they allegedly strung consumers along for months or even years, the defendants purportedly failed to deliver what they promised. Instead, many customers allegedly ended up in debt or lost their life savings with nothing to show for it.
WPM Threats of Legal Action
The FTC also alleged that the defendants used various unfair tactics, including threats of legal action, to discourage consumers from publishing truthful or non-defamatory negative reviews about the defendants and their services. According to FTC attorney Richard B. Newman, the agency reported that one customer who sought a refund and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau allegedly received a letter from the defendants’ lawyer. According to the FTC, the letter stated that seeking a refund was extortion under Florida law and, “since you used email to make your threats, you would be subject to a federal extortion charge, which carries a term of imprisonment of up to two years and potential criminal fines.”
WPM Settlement Order
In 2018, the defendants agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that bans them from the invention promotion business. Under the settlement order, the defendants are also banned from misrepresenting any good or service, and suppressing the availability of truthful negative comments or reviews by consumers. They are also prohibited from profiting from consumers’ personal information collected as part of the challenged practices, and failing to dispose of it properly.
A $25,987,192 judgment was imposed, which was partially suspended when $78,670 in frozen funds were transferred to the Commission and the individual defendant Cooper paid $976,330.
Whitaker’s Alleged Involvement
According to media reports, court filings indicate that Whitaker received regular payments of $1,875 from the company while serving as a member of its advisory board. It has also been reported that Whitaker sent a strongly worded email to a former customer in 2015 that had complained about the company. Whitaker is not a named as a defendant in the case against the company.
In a statement, a Justice Department spokeswoman said, “Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker has said he was not aware of any fraudulent activity. Any stories suggesting otherwise are false.” In fact, FTC investigators did not obtain evidence or internal communications showing Whitaker knew about the company’s alleged bogus promises, according to those with firsthand knowledge of the matter. The receiver that oversaw the settlement confirmed, recently stating to The Washington Post that he has “no reason to believe that [Whitaker] knew of any of the wrongdoing.”
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Bar Shooting Survivors Also Survived Vegas Route 91 Shooting
One group of people at a Southern California bar where a gunman killed 12 people Wednesday night revealed it was their second narrow escape from a mass shooting. One man said he and others inside the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks also survived the shooting that killed 58 people and injured nearly 500 others at a country music concert in Las Vegas last October.
Nicholas Champion said he and many others in the bar were also at the Las Vegas Route 91 shooting.
“It’s the second time in about a year and a month that this has happened,” he said. “It’s a big thing for us. We’re all a big family and unfortunately this family got hit twice.”
More than 100 people were inside the bar during the shooting, including many college students who were there to celebrate “College Country Night.”
Police said they found the shooter dead inside, possibly from a self-inflicted wound. Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told reporters early Thursday, “It’s a horrific scene in there. There’s blood everywhere.”
Among the victims is 29-year veteran deputy Ron Helus. Helus was among the first responders and was shot while entering the building where the shooting was taking place. He died at the hospital Thursday morning.
So far, there is no known motive for the attack.
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