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Archive for February, 2015



Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov speaks during an opposition protest in central Moscow in December 2011.

Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov speaks during an opposition protest in central Moscow in December 2011. Photo: Reuters

Nemtsov’s close associate and opposition leader Ilya Yashin called the deadly attack on his friend “a political murder.”

“Boris was the most outspoken critic of Putin and the most charismatic leader of the opposition and his dead body found 100 yards from the Kremlin is a clear message to all the opposition activists and all people who do not support the Kremlin,” Yashin said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “This act of political terror is clearly aimed to stun and horrify the opposition to the Putin regime on the eve of the march we will now hold as a mourning march as originally planned on Sunday.”

Nemtsov ran afoul of Putin’s Kremlin administration years ago and had been active with the opposition coalition PARNAS.

Russia Today television, a pro-Kremlin mouthpiece, said on Twitter that the slaying “could be a provocation,” suggesting that the opposition was responsible for the killing to tarnish the Putin administration.

United States President Barack Obama condemned the “brutal murder” and called for a full investigation into the killing.

Mr Obama said he admired Nemtsov’s “courageous dedication to the struggle against corruption in Russia.”

Other pro-democracy allies and world leaders who knew the gregarious and energetic politician expressed horror over the killing that many were inclined to see as an assassination.

“Shock. Boris has been killed. It’s impossible to believe,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said via Twitter. “I’m certain the killers will be punished. Sooner or later.”

Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion and another outspoken opponent of Mr Putin, linked Nemtsov’s killing with other violence attributed to the Kremlin and its enforcers.

“(Journalist Anna) Politkovskaya was gunned down. MH17 was shot out of the sky. Now Boris is dead. As always, Kremlin will blame opposition, or CIA, whatever,” Mr Kasparov said via Twitter.

In an interview last year, Nemtsov laid out a bleak forecast of Russia’s political future under Mr Putin, who engineered constitutional changes before his 2012 reelection that should allow him to remain at the Kremlin’s helm until 2024.

Putin’s primary goal as Russian leader, Nemtsov argued, is not to build a modern, European state and vibrant middle class but “to keep power and money by all means,” through oppression when necessary or by highlighting invented threats to Russia from abroad.

“He has $500 billion in Central Bank reserves, 100 percent control of television and authoritarian laws that allow the administration to strike anyone from the list of candidates,” Nemtsov said of the prospects of Putin being voted out of office in the next election, in 2018.

TNS, Reuters


Henry Sapiecha



Police tape surrounds one of the crime scenes in Tyrone, Missouri. Authorities say multiple people were shot to death and one was wounded in attacks in the small southeastern Missouri town, and the suspected gunman was found dead.

Police tape surrounds one of the crime scenes in Tyrone, Missouri. Authorities say multiple people were shot to death and one was wounded in attacks in the small southeastern Missouri town, and the suspected gunman was found dead. Photo: AP

Nine people are dead following a mass murder in rural Missouri, in which the suspected gunman took his own life.

With an investigation still underway, police in the Midwestern state said on Friday it appeared that seven people were shot and killed in four different residences in the small town of Tyrone.

Tyrone is a tiny community in Texas County, about 120 km east of Springfield, and less than 50 kilometres north of the Arkansas border.

Police secure a crime scene at a house in the small town of Tyrone, Missouri.

Police secure a crime scene at a house in the small town of Tyrone, Missouri. Photo: AP

The wounded victim was taken to a hospital.

An eighth person, described as an elderly woman, was found dead in a fifth house, apparently “from natural causes,” the Missouri State Highway Patrol said.

Her relationship with the gunman and the victims was not immediately disclosed.

Trying to establish the motive for the killings ...Texas County Sheriff James Sigman, right, works in a mobile command post at Highways 137 and H near Tyrone, Missouri.

Trying to establish the motive for the killings …Texas County Sheriff James Sigman, right, works in a mobile command post at Highways 137 and H near Tyrone, Missouri. Photo: AP

“The apparent suspect, a 36-year-old male from Tyrone, was found dead in a vehicle … in (neighbouring) Shannon County from an apparent self-inflicted … wound,” added police spokesman Sergeant Jeff Kinder.

“There are a total of nine deceased individuals, including the elderly female and the suspect.”

The Missouri Highway Patrol, which is investigating, released a statement saying that at 10:15 pm, the Texas County Sheriff’s Department received a call from “a juvenile female caller” in a home in Tyrone who said she had heard gunshots.

“She immediately fled to a neighbour’s house to notify authorities,” the statement said. “Responding deputies found two deceased persons at this residence. Further investigation revealed five additional victims who were deceased and one additional victim who was wounded in three additional residences.”

No names have been released, pending notification of next of kin.

Law enforcement officials, who said they were trying to establish the motive for the killings, said they would hold a news conference on Friday.

For help or information, call Lifeline, 131 114, or visit

The New York Times, AFP



Deceived: Tracee Douglas believed she was engaged to US soldier 'Robert Sigfrid', but was instead being wooed by a Nigerian scammer.

Deceived: Tracee Douglas believed she was engaged to US soldier ‘Robert Sigfrid’, but was instead being wooed by a Nigerian scammer. Photo: Edwina Pickles

There is something about men in uniform — and perhaps women in uniform — that is appealing and romantic. Hundreds, or perhaps thousands of scammers take advantage of military attraction to separate unsuspecting targets from their money.

Here’s how they work: Con artists working out of Internet cafés — often in Africa — troll through dating sites, Facebook and other websites, striking up acquaintances with lonely people, usually women. They talk about the dangerous but important work they do in Afghanistan, Iraq or other distant locations. They confess their feelings of love for their targets. Then they ask the targets for money to pay for “leave requests,” “communication fees,” “transportation costs” or some other financial need. Thousands of targets actually send money — sometimes a lot of money. It’s gone forever.

The problem has gotten so bad that last year the Army Criminal Investigation Command sent out a press release to warn the public, which is reprinted below.

I frequently hear from people who have been targeted by these scams. Some of them get suspicious and dump the con artists; others fall for the ruse and lose money. Why, exactly do people fall for romance scams? I addressed this in a previous article:

Why we fall for romance scams

Over the next few days, Lovefraud will publish a series of these military romance scams so you can see what they look like. The audacity of the perpetrators is mind-blowing.

U.S. Army CID Pleads with Public, Warns Against Romance Scams

Female victims being cyber-robbed daily by thugs claiming to be U.S. servicemen

QUANTICO, Va. Nov 26, 2012 – Special Agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command are once again warning internet users worldwide, to be extra vigilant and not to fall prey to internet scams or impersonation fraud – especially scams promising true love, but only end up breaking hearts and bank accounts.

According to Army CID Special Agents, CID continues to receive hundreds of reports from people worldwide, of various scams involving persons pretending to be U.S. Soldiers serving in Afghanistan or somewhere else in the world.  The victims are most often unsuspecting women, 30 to 55 years old, who think they are romantically involved on the internet with an American Soldier, when in fact they are being cyber-robbed by perpetrators thousands of miles away.

“We cannot stress enough that people need to stop sending money to persons they meet on the internet and claim to be in the U.S. military,” said Chris Grey, Army CID’s spokesman. “It is heartbreaking to hear these stories over and over again of people who have sent thousands of dollars to someone they have never met and sometimes have never even spoken to on the phone.”

The majority of the “romance scams,” as they have been dubbed, are being perpetrated on social media, dating-type websites where unsuspecting females are the main target.

The criminals are pretending to be U.S. servicemen, routinely serving in a combat zone.  The perpetrators will often take the true rank and name of a U.S. Soldier who is honorably serving his country somewhere in the world, marry that up with some photographs of a Soldier off the internet, and then build a false identity to begin prowling the internet for victims.

“We have even seen instances where the Soldier was killed in action and the crooks have used that hero’s identity to perpetrate their twisted scam,” said CID Special Agent Matthew Ivanjack, who has fielded hundreds of calls and emails from victims.

The scams often involve carefully worded romantic requests for money from the victim to purchase special laptop computers, international telephones, military leave papers, and transportation fees to be used by the fictitious “deployed Soldier” so their false relationship can continue.  The scams include asking the victim to send money, often thousands of dollars at a time, to a third party address.

Once victims are hooked, the criminals continue their ruse.

“We’ve even seen instances where the perpetrators are asking the victims for money to purchase “leave papers” from the Army, help pay for medical expenses from combat wounds or help pay for their flight home so they can leave the war zone,” said Grey.

These scams are outright theft and are a grave misrepresentation of the U.S. Army and the tremendous amount of support programs and mechanisms that exist for Soldiers today, especially those serving overseas, said Grey.

Along with the romance type scams, CID has been receiving complaints from citizens worldwide that they have been the victims of other types of scams – once again where a cyber crook is impersonating a U.S. servicemember.  One version usually involves the sale of a vehicle; where the servicemember claims to be living overseas and has to quickly sell their vehicle because they are being sent to another duty station.  After sending bogus information regarding the vehicle, the seller requests the buyer do a wire transfer to a third party to complete the purchase. When in reality, the entire exchange is a ruse for the crook to get the wire transfer and leave the buyer high and dry, with no vehicle.


Army CID is warning people once again to be very suspicious if they begin a relationship on the internet with someone claiming to be an American Soldier and within a matter of weeks, the alleged Soldier is asking for money, as well as their hand in marriage.

Many of these cases have a distinct pattern to them, explained Grey.

“These are not Soldiers, they are outright thieves. If someone asked you out on a first date and before they picked you up they asked you for $3,000 to fix their car to come get you, many people would find that very suspicious and certainly would not give them the money.  This is the same thing, except over the internet.” said Grey.

The perpetrators often tell the victims that their units do not have telephones or they are not allowed to make calls or they need money to “help keep the Army internet running.”  They often say they are widowers and raising a young child on their own to pull on the heartstrings of their victims.

“We’ve even seen where the criminals said that the Army won’t allow the Soldier to access their personal bank accounts or credit cards,” said Grey.

All lies, according to CID officials.

“These perpetrators, often from other countries, most notably from West African countries are good at what they do and quite familiar with American culture, but the claims about the Army and its regulations are ridiculous,” said Grey.

The Army reports that numerous very senior officers and enlisted Soldiers throughout the Army have had their identities stolen to be used in these scams.

To date, there have been no reports to Army CID indicating any U.S. service members have suffered any financial loss as a result of these attacks.  Photographs and actual names of U.S. service members have been the only thing utilized.  On the contrary, the victims have lost thousands. In one extreme example, a woman from New York took out a second mortgage on her home to get money to help her “Soldier.”  She lost more than $60,000.  More recently, a woman from Great Britain told CID officials she had sent more than $75,000 to the con artists.

“The criminals are preying on the emotions and patriotism of their victims,” added Grey.

The U.S. has established numerous task force organizations to deal with this and other growing issues; unfortunately, the people committing these scams are using untraceable email addresses on “Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail,” etc., routing accounts through numerous locations around the world, and utilizing pay-per-hour Internet cyber cafes, which often times maintain no accountability of use. The ability of law enforcement to identify these perpetrators is very limited, so individuals must stay on the alert and be personally responsible to protect themselves.

“Another critical issue is we don’t want victims who do not report this crime walking away and thinking that a U.S. serviceman has ripped them off when in fact that serviceman is honorably serving his country and often not even aware that his pictures or identity have been stolen,” said Grey.

What to look for:

  • DON’T EVER SEND MONEY! Be extremely suspicious if you are asked for money for transportation costs, communication fees or marriage processing and medical fees.
  • If you do start an internet-based relationship with someone, check them out, research what they are telling you with someone who would know, such as a current or former service member.
  • Be very suspicious if you never get to actually speak with the person on the phone or are told you cannot write or receive letters in the mail.  Servicemen and women serving overseas will often have an APO or FPO mailing address. Internet or not, service members always appreciate a letter in the mail.
  • Many of the negative claims made about the military and the supposed lack of support and services provided to troops overseas are far from reality – check the facts.
  • Be very suspicious if you are asked to send money or ship property to a third party or company. Often times the company exists, but has no idea or is not a part of the scam.
  • Be aware of common spelling, grammatical or language errors in the emails.

Where to go for help:

Report the theft to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) (FBI-NW3C Partnership).


Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report helps law enforcement officials across the United States in their investigations.




Beijing:  Chinese authorities have executed a former billionaire mining tycoon connected to the eldest son of retired domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, the man who became the focus of a high-profile corruption investigation, state media reported.

China's former public security minister, Zhou Yongkang.

Retired domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang

Last year China announced a probe into Zhou Yongkang, one of its most influential politicians of the last decade, in a case that has its roots in a power struggle in the ruling Communist Party. Liu was once a business associate of Zhou’s eldest son, Zhou Bin. State media have not explicitly linked Liu’s case to Zhou Yongkang, but reported that his rise coincided with Zhou’s time as Sichuan province’s party boss.

The party has already probed several of Zhou’s proteges, including Jiang Jiemin, who was the top regulator of state-owned enterprises.

China has embarked on legal reforms, including reducing the use of the death penalty, as public discontent mounts over wrongful punishment. Though wrongful executions have often stirred outrage, capital punishment itself has wide support from the public. Anti-death penalty campaigners say China uses the death penalty far more than other countries. The government does not release the number of executions it carries out, deeming it a state secret.



Two Women in ‘Sexy’ Outfits Seduce and Drug Prison Guards, Escape with 26 Prisoners

Two prison guards succumbed to one of the sexier breakout schemes in recent memory, when two women dressed in skimpy “sexy” police costumes showed up Thursday at a prison in Nova Mutum, a small Brazilian city near Cuiaba.

According to CNN, the two women managed to talk two prison guards into letting them inside. They seduced the guards and spiked their drinks in the process. The guards woke up the next morning, naked and handcuffed, with little to no memory of the night before. 26 prisoners had escaped while they slept, presumably aided by the mysterious sexy women.

A spokesman for the Justice Secretariat of Mato Grosso, which oversees prisons, confirmed to CNN that officials found bottles of spiked whiskey and a pair of provocative, police-themed costumes next to the handcuffed guards, who were passed out.

“We assume that is what the women were wearing when they seduced the guards,” spokesman Willian Fidelis said.


Since the escape, 11 of the missing inmates have been apprehended. It’s unclear as of yet who, of the 26 prisoners and two women, was behind the breakout.

“Nothing like this has ever happened,” Fidelis said. “Nova Mutum is a small city. People haven’t talked about anything else since it happened. Especially since 15 prisoners are still out there.”



Murdered ...Theresa van Breda and her husband Martin.

Murdered …Theresa van Breda and her husband Martin. Photo: Facebook

Henri van Breda, 20, told police his brother Rudi was attacked first before a burglar turned on his mother, father and 16-year-old sister Marli, South African news agency Netwerk24 has reported.

Marli, who went to the Presbyterian Ladies’ College in Perth, is currently under police guard in a South African hospital after suffering horrific head injuries in the attack. She is awake and answering simple questions, according to the South African Sunday Times.

Henri’s wounds – a bruise to the head and scratches – were self-inflicted and he waited up to four hours before calling emergency services after his family was slain, the Times reported.


The surviving son of the former Perth family axed to death in South Africa had self-inflicted wounds and waited hours before calling authorities, it has been reported.

Martin van Breda, 54, his wife Teresa, 55, and son Rudi, 22, were killed in what is believed to have been an attack with an axe on January 29 at De Zalze Winelands Golf Estate, an exclusive golf resort in Stellenbosch, about 50 kilometres east of Cape Town.

Marli van Breda

Marli van Breda Photo: Facebook

He has enlisted South African high profile defence lawyer Pieter Botha, who famously defended British millionaire Shrien Dewani who was accused of killing his wife Anne during their honeymoon in South Africa in 2010. The charges were dismissed in 2014.

Last week, a triple-0 call Henri made after the attack appears to have him snigger when telling the operator members of his family were “bleeding from the head”.

The van Breda family were originally from South Africa before settling in Perth about eight years ago, and then moving to Brisbane before returning to South Africa.

Mr van Breda was managing director of the Australian franchise of Engel & Völkers, an international company that sells and rents “premium residential property, commercial real estate and yachts”, according to its website.

Karen Sadler, whose daughter went to Presbyterian Ladies College with Marli for about seven years, described the van Breda family as “a beautiful, gorgeous family and very close”




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