Day: May 14, 2021

City of Trenton Stops Sophisticated Vendor Phishing Scam in Its Tracks

Trenton to Launch Updated Cyber Security Training for Employees

May 14, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor W. Reed Gusciora announced today that the City of Trenton will launch updated cybersecurity employee training over the next few weeks after the City successfully stopped a sophisticated phishing scheme that used fake email addresses and URLs to closely mimic official city accounts.

“We’ve heard of an uptick in fraudulent calls and emails against our residents throughout the pandemic,” said Mayor Gusciora. “Looks like City Hall is also a target, and this is just one of several cyber-attacks we’ve had to fend off over the last year. As such, we’re launching updated training modules for City employees to ensure those attacks continue to be unsuccessful in the future.”

The scam, which started targeting Trenton’s Request for Quote (RFQ) process in February, was uncovered by the City’s IT Department, under the direction of CTO Joseph Rivera.

Cyber criminals posing as the City Business Administrator – complete with phony emails and phone numbers – sent fraudulent RFQs to vendors for potentially millions in stolen goods. The CTO was able to track down that a spoof Website was created called “tren0nNJ.org” with an email acruz@trent0nnj.org on NameCheap.com.

After notifying vendors of the situation, the City reached out to the U.S. Secret Service Trenton Office, which worked with the City of Trenton IT and Law departments to convince NameCheap.com that fraud had occurred. After a cease-and-desist letter was issued from the City, NameCheap took the appropriate steps to shut down the URL and all affiliated emails. To date, efforts to prevent damage from the scam have been successful, and no losses have been incurred by the City.

Following the scam, the City of Trenton updated its training protocols regarding cybersecurity and will launch an online training module for all employees in the coming weeks.

This event follows another attempted cyberattack in the Spring of 2020, in which a hacker diverted upwards of $982,000 in funds from the City of Trenton in relation to Brit Global Insurance Company. Trenton’s IT Department worked with the company as part of an extensive forensic audit that proved the City was not at fault for the breach. As a result, Brit Global Insurance refunded the stolen funds to the City.

“All it takes is one mistake for a cybercriminal to breach a network and potentially cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars in phony costs,” said CTO Rivera. “That’s why we’re excited to finally roll out the same type of cybersecurity training that is now standard at both the local and state level so our employees don’t let their guard down in the future.”

Phishing attacks occur when scammers use email or text messages to trick unsuspecting individuals into giving them their personal information. They may try to steal their passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick someone into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. They may say they have noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts, claim there is a problem with an account or payment information, or even tell an individual they are eligible to register for a government refund.

Phishing attacks can be prevented by downloading the latest computer and mobile phone security software, using multi-factor authentication, and changing passwords every 60 days.

Eight arrests made by Internet Crimes Against Children Unit

May 14, 2021

Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone announced today that six County residents have been arrested for their possession of material depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of children.

          On May 13, 2021, officers of the East Brunswick, Edison, Highland Park, Monroe, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Perth Amboy, and Sayreville Police Departments along with detectives of the New Jersey State Police and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office executed search warrants at six residences across the County. 

          The investigation resulted in the following arrests:

  • Edison was arrested and charged for  second-degree Using a File-sharing Program to Store Items Depicting the Sexual Exploitation or Abuse of Children, second-degree Possession with the Intent to Distribute Child Pornography, and first-degree Possession of Child Pornography after having been found to be in possession of 100,000 items of material depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of children.
  • Hongpeng Zheng, 24, of New Brunswick was arrested and charged for  second-degree Distribution of Child Pornography, third-degree Possession of Child Pornography, and second-degree Using a File-sharing Program to Store Items Depicting the Sexual Exploitation or Abuse of Children. 
  • Ali Armas-Iriarte, 58, of Highland Park was arrested and charged for third-degree Possession of Child Pornography, second-degree Possession with the Intent to Distribute Child Pornography, and second-degree Using a File-sharing Program to Store Items Depicting the Sexual Exploitation or Abuse of Children. 
  • Jeff Caramella, 21, of the Parlin section of Sayreville was arrested and charged for third-degree Possession of Child Pornography.
  • James Walden, 50, of North Brunswick was arrested and charged for third-degree Possession of Child Pornography. 
  • A juvenile, 17, of Monroe was charged for third-degree Possession of Child Pornography. 

          Additionally, on May 6, 2021, Kenneth Godfrey, 41, of Woodbridge Township was also arrested and charged with third-degree Possession of Child Pornography. 

          On May 10, 2021, a juvenile, 14, of Edison was also charged for second-degree Possession of Child Pornography.     

          All of the aforementioned individuals were arrested and charged following separate investigations by Detective Daniel Lojek and Detective Stephanie Redline of the Internet Crimes Against Children Unit of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, which revealed the individuals possessed material depicting the sexual exploitation or abuse of children.  Presently, the investigations appear to be unconnected and the individuals are unknown to one another.

          Nie is presently lodged at the Middlesex Adult Correction Center pending a pre-trial detention hearing in Superior Court.  The remaining defendants individuals are likewise lodged at the Middlesex Adult Correction Center pending their initial appearances in Superior Court this afternoon. 

The investigations are active and continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Lojek at (732) 745-5924 or Detective Redline at (732) 867-1496 .

As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Zheng, Nie, Armas-Iriarte, Caramella, Walden, Godfrey, and the juveniles are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty or, as in the case of the juveniles, adjudicated delinquent.

Trenton Man Indicted for Hoffman Avenue Homicide

May 14, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A Mercer County grand jury returned a 10-count indictment last week charging a 40-year-old Trenton man in the April 2020 shooting death of Quamierah Massey, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.

Quasim Hallett is charged with one count of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, three counts of second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, two counts of third-degree terroristic threats, two counts of fourth-degree aggravated assault and one count of second-degree certain persons not to possess a firearm. 

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force.  On Sunday, April 5, 2020, at approximately 7:05 p.m., Trenton police responded to a call for shots fired in the 100 block of Hoffman Avenue.  Several calls came in reporting someone was shot in the head at this location and Shot Spotter reported one round fired in the area.  Officers arrived on scene and located the victim, identified as 24-year-old Quamierah Massey, suffering a gunshot wound to the head.   She was transported to the hospital where she was pronounced dead the next day.

Hallett was taken into custody in Delaware about a week after the murder by members of the U.S. Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force.  In addition to the murder and weapons offenses, he was charged with aggravated assault and terroristic threats for pointing his handgun at two other females on Hoffman Avenue that day and threatening to kill them.  Hallett was extradited back to New Jersey and is currently detained in the Mercer County Correction Center.

Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Paravecchia presented the case to the grand jury.

Despite having been indicted, every defendant is presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Related MidJersey.news coverage:

Trenton Man Indicted for Hoffman Avenue Homicide

Trenton Man Arrested in Hoffman Avenue Homicide

BREAKING NEWS: Another Shooting In Trenton Tonight

Trenton Under Siege: 2 Dead And 5 Injured In Multiple Shootings Sunday