FBI warns about cyber crime

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Michelle Ernst, spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said that proximity doesn't matter when it comes to cyber crime and cyber criminals respect no boundaries.

In this age of high-tech, it’s not just friends that your phone has brought you closer to, but potentially those who may want your information. Are you protecting yourself from becoming a victim of cyber crime?

Guam is often depicted as a small speck on maps but our seemingly tiny island is as much a target for cyber criminals as anywhere in the United States or the rest of the world.

Michelle Ernst, spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said that proximity doesn’t matter when it comes to cyber crime and cyber criminals respect no boundaries.

“Someone here on Guam is as vulnerable as someone in New York, Hawaii … you name it … anywhere in the world. If you are connected to the Internet then cyber criminals or malicious actors have reason or have a capability to try to steal your information,” Ernst said.

In this day and age, a large number of people’s lives play out online on various social media platforms. People share pictures, routines, likes and dislikes and while this may seem harmless, many even share personal information or identifiers making it fairly easy for cyber criminals to gain access to information which may not have been accessible previously.

“We really want to urge everyone to be cautious when it comes to giving out your personal information because as you have mentioned our lives are online. We have our banking information, our personal information with all of our personal identifiers, we have our health information, our families, our photos … so much of our lives are right there on the Internet. And so, if bad actors are able to get a hold of that information they can do great damage,” Ernst said.

Protecting yourself means knowing the different steps and taking the initiative to be suspicious about any kind of emails, or anyone trying to solicit you for information, even your phone numbers. People need to be aware of who has access to their information and access to their devices. Prevention is key, next is detection because according to Ernst if you are in the recovery mode, then you’re probably on the losing end, and by then its hard to claw back to be whole again.

Ernst said “It’s important to be wary of any unsolicited email, or unsolicited communication with someone. Don’t ever give out your personal information, especially if they are the ones contacting you first. If you do find yourself in some type of transaction where you do want to provide your personal information and you are legitimately interested, try to ensure that you are able to contact them.”

As technology evolves, criminals evolve too, Ernst says, and cyber criminals are getting very good at learning what tips people off and so they’re very motivated to get a hold of people’s information and their money.

“Cybercrime runs the gamut. There are so many scams out there and people are getting more and more creative everyday. And that is why at FBI-DHS, we work with all the partners to try to stay ahead of this threat, because it is so fast moving and widespread,” Ernst concluded.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.