Wi-Fi safety: Your Weekly ScamWatch

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

Wi-Fi predators -– 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 URL); log out from sites after visiting them; and do not use the same passwords on multiple accounts because that could allow someone who learns one password to access several of your accounts.

Ponzi scheme –- The bookkeeper for an Irvine investment firm has pleaded guilty 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 in a news release. Sang Yi, 40, a citizen of South Korea, and her boyfriend, Euirang Hwang, promised high returns to investors in their company, Pinupito Inc., that they said invested in Korean companies. Instead, the couple used investor money on personal expenses, including the lease of luxury cars, and to pay returns to early investors. Yi and Hwang, who had already pleaded guilty, each faces a maximum sentence 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 financial accounts of more than $300,000, federal prosecutors said in a news release. Oladayo Oladokun pleaded guilty Feb. 3 in federal court in Washington to aggravated identity theft. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in federal prison at sentencing April 1, according to a news release by the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia.


Investment fraud -– The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a civil lawsuit against two people who ran a Pasadena company that promised returns of as high as 1000% per month, but allegedly used the money on personal expenses and other unauthorized items. Curtis Peterson and Eric Maher are accused in the lawsuit of defrauding investors of $3 million by promising to achieve the astronomical returns through “international bank instruments,” the lawsuit said. They sent some money to a bank in Hungary, but diverted the bulk of the money to themselves, the SEC alleged.


Feb. 6: Super Bowl cyber crime, real estate, tax preparation

Jan. 30: Gold mine, malware, credit card fraud

January 16: Going green, bank official, disputed debits

-- Stuart Pfeifer