‘New Violent Crime Tactics’ Fake Crimestoppers Message

imageTHIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED – SEE BELOW.

A friend posted this recently in a Facebook group I am part of and I thought it was worth mentioning. As anyone who has undertaken any good self-protection training knows, criminals will often work with deception and distraction tactics in order to get what they want, whether that’s your money, your vehicle, your body, your life or whatever else. Deception and distraction are often the key to their successes.

This is nothing new, and I’ve heard of these tactics before, but it’s always good to keep an eye on the current trends with crime if we want to be prepared to deal with or prevent it.

You can click the image to the right to see it larger (or go to where I got it from: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152312346350293) and read what it says exactly, but here are the key points:

  • This was noted in a rural area.
  • Gangs are using different methods of distraction to get people out of their cars.
  • There is a gang initiation that has been reported by the police where a car seat is placed by the road with a fake baby in it, waiting for someone to stop and check on the ‘baby’.
    • The location of this seat is usually beside a wooded or grassy (field) area and the victim is dragged into the woods, beaten, robbed and/or raped. They are left for dead. It has been reported that female victims are more likely to be raped and males are more likely to be robbed.

Aside from this distraction tactic, there is another that is mentioned in this letter:

  • Gangs are now throwing eggs at windscreens in order to force you to stop.
  • This works because the windscreen wiper smears the egg across the windscreen in a wide arc and if the egg comes into contact with water they become milky and can, according to this letter, block your vision up to 92.5%. I’m not sure where they get that figure from with such accuracy (Simple milky-egg opacity test? No idea.)but we can ascertain at least that milky eggs blocking your vision at all is not good!

The advice given for both situations is simple: DON’T STOP. Don’t even slow down. If you see the baby seat by the road or if you get egged, get to safety and dial 999 as soon as possible and tell them what you’ve seen and where. Don’t get complacent with the feeling of getting away. You did, but if you don’t call then the next person might not!  If you get egged, don’t use the wipers and definitely don’t use your spray. That’s what they’re counting on. If you do have to stop somewhere, of course do so safely for everyone else as well as yourself and keep your doors locked and windows closed. Pick where you stop wisely if you absolutely must stop. If you can see well enough to drive to safety safely, then do so.

This was posted to Facebook on the 11th of December 2012, and came to my attention yesterday.

Update: The Importance of Checking Information and What This Means to Us:

Now, as I’ve heard of these and similar tactics many times before, I took this seriously which is the approach I would advocate everyone take when hearing these things. Take it seriously until you hear otherwise, and then learn what you can from it. I had doubts about it, but shared it anyway for the useful information that can be taken from it regardless.

I contacted Staffordshire Police about the issue and they replied informing me that it is in fact a hoax (hence the poor grammar in the letter). According to this website:

This email did not originate with Crimestoppers, and the content of the email is false.

So now we know that the information is in fact fraudulent. However, let us not take this as an impetus to become blind to the possibility of such a thing happening, and thus place ourselves in a victim-state. If someone throwing around an email can think of it, so can a criminal! We know for a fact that distraction and deception tactics are widely used from small to large scales by criminals to victimise people, so take this as a warning and as inspiration if nothing else of something that theoretically could happen, and is theoretically possible.

Spelling It Out For Them: Personal security tips from a discarded letter

A few days ago I went to see The Bourne Legacy with my brother, which I enjoyed very much. On the bus coming back from the cinema I just happened to see a letter on the floor, and thus chanced upon a great opportunity to open discussion on the very real dangers of leaving documents that contain personal information around. Of course the best thing to do with this information is to destroy them if we don’t need it, however this person had either never been told this or had failed to uphold his vigilance this time. Luckily for him, it was me who picked it up instead of an identity defrauder! Originally I was going to merely take it and burn it to protect his identity, however I noticed just how much personal information was on there when I was about to, and so I took the opportunity to make this post. Of course, I have removed all of the information itself from these images to protect his identity and have destroyed the original document.

Letter Part 1 Letter Part 2

So let’s take a closer look. After all, you might think a simple letter (or printed email in this case, strictly speaking) probably wouldn’t have too much information on and so wouldn’t be overly important – what’s the worst that could happen, right? I’ve gone through and labelled the relevant sections A-S (including repetitions). Let’s have a quick run through and look at them. One aspect of the psychological side of self-protection which is extremely useful and powerful is to cultivate the ability, through research and the ensuing logical thought processes, to see things from a criminal perspective. The classic example is to look at a crowd and identify victims from various criminal perspectives. Here we will be using this technique to identify how these various pieces of information could potentially be seen from a criminal perspective.

imageA – Name and address: Here not only do we have his gender and full name, but his full address with a postcode below. This alone is not good to throw around. Simple as it is, you should remember that this simple information tells a criminal a lot about you. More than merely where you live, we need to see this in more depth. With this information, the criminal can find a spot to watch you from and easily build up a profile of your habits – the times you leave for work, the times you get back, the arrival and departure times for other regular activities (gym, regular social meetups, etc) and the routes you take whether driving or on foot. The postcode makes it quick and easy to search for your address, and even with the simple usage of Google Earth’s Street View they can see what your house looks like, identify weaknesses, hiding places, escape routes, etc from the comfort of their own homes. With this an attack or stalking can be planned with ease.

imageB – National Insurance number: The top one of the blurred pieces here is simply his National Insurance number. This of course is just another piece of information that a criminal could potentially use when building up their profile of personal details with which to make changes to your accounts or it could be a security question they could be asked when attempting to get into an account, or when requesting information, etc.

imageC – Date: This may seem unimportant, but often when making banking inquiries you are asked for details of the specific message/s that you have pertaining to whatever you’re discussing. One of these is often simply the date of the correspondence, which in this case is helpfully left here.

imageD – Name: The mention of such a repetition here may seem irrelevant, but it is not. In a physical hard copy of a document such as this, it is essential from a criminal’s point of view. If the document is damaged, even mildly, obscuring any information then having it repeated is essential to verify or fill in missing bits that could be smudged, burnt, partially shredded, torn or simply worn off. In either hard (physical) or soft (electronic) documents, repetition is also important as it serves as a quick and easy verification: if an unusual name is there, it may well have been mis-typed, particularly if it seems an unusual spelling of a common name. In this case, a repetition of the name can offer some verification as to whether it was a typo or just an unusual name. This is of course important as the criminal wants to minimise the risk of making any mistakes and thus minimise the risk of sounding the alarm and getting caught out.

imageE – List of the documents attached to the email: This in itself of course is not personal information, however it would help someone making enquiries using this person’s identity sound more believable, for example making an enquiry about losing their ‘Give Me Some Money Please Pack’ (fictional and not on the actual list). In addition, they can give further ideas of the document’s context and the nature of the situation in general.

imageF – Sender’s name and position: Again, while this isn’t personal information to the recipient of this message it is useful for a criminal. When making an enquiry, it sounds much more believable to be able to casually say ‘I’ve just got a question about something in an email I had from Mrs Whatsherface, your Customer Relations Manager’ as opposed to something less specific.

imageG – URL: If an email has been printed by hitting File –> Print from an Internet browser, by default it’ll have the URL of the file you’re printing in the footer. URLs can include a lot of personal information, which varies between different websites. One example is what I have noticed with my university’s in-browser email access system: the URL for my inbox has my full university email address in it, which is simply my university username followed by ‘@student.staffs.ac.uk’. This is assumedly true of all Microsoft Office Outlook Web Access setups by default, but regardless the important thing to remember here is that URLs can hold a lot of information. Even if it looks like a random bunch of letters and numbers to you, to someone who knows what they’re looking for there could be useful clues hidden away in there.

imageH – Date: Again, this is another repetition of information which can be useful for verification.

imageI – Name: You get the idea.

imageJ – National Insurance number: Once again, another repetition here of a key piece of information.

imageK – Date: Yet again, you get the idea by now.

imageL – Name: I know. I’ve mentioned this before.

image

M – Date of interview: This is crucial information. With this, a criminally-minded attacker could have known what his or her target would be doing on a particular day. A few ideas to take away from this: beforehand the recipient of this message is likely to be in a rush and they won’t be at home for a while on the day in question. Perfect. That’s bad enough, but let’s look further…

N – Time of interview: Now not only does the criminal have the date but the exact time that their target will be away from home, so they could use this as a time to attack them while they’re likely to be distracted and in a rush or they could simply take advantage of knowing that their house would be unoccupied at the time in question (or at least that this person specifically wouldn’t be at home – with their previous stalking opportunities they could have ascertained whether they live alone which adds other elements to this information’s usefulness). With the added knowledge of the duration of the interview, and that the target has to see someone else beforehand, they can work out a considerable window of opportunity.

O – Place of interview: This is even worse than the other information – now the criminal knows exactly where and when their target will be, so setting up any number of situations is rendered easy for them. What makes this worse, however, is the addition of the next piece of information:

image

P – Documents: Here the criminal reading this message finds out what his or her target will have on him when he attends the interview – more personal information. The claim form mentioned will undoubtedly have a wealth of personal information in it, and the other information will almost invariably include a form of photographic ID such as a driver’s licence or passport. Through mugging or subtler methods of theft, these documents could potentially be taken and copied. It may sound far-fetched, but it is far from impossible.

imageQ – Sender: Again, the name and position of the sender here. More verification.

imageR – URL: See above (G).

imageS – Date: Once more, just a repetition useful for verification. This is the date the document was printed of course, not necessarily the date it was sent or received.

Some Important Things to Remember:

Let’s keep this simple:

    • Documents contain information, and sometimes this can be useful to people who don’t hold your best interests at heart.
    • This information can be used to stalk you and build up a profile of your habits. This is useful for a criminal who wants to attack you, attack someone you live with, steal from/damage your property or use your identity for other reasons. That’s not an exhaustive list by any means – just a few ideas.

What we need to remember here is that simply put the information in these kinds of documents, or indeed potentially any other, can be used for criminal activities against you. I’m by no means an expert on this – I haven’t got a degree in criminology and I’ve had no experience of dealing with identity fraud – however I do know what to look for in terms of security holes and how criminals could exploit them.

The simple solution to this is to do everything you can to not leave any holes for them to exploit – this concept extends to all aspects of your life but let’s keep to the example of documents and information for now. When you don’t need these documents any more, burn or shred them. Better yet, shred and burn them! It’s not impossible for shredded paper to be put together by a committed individual, especially if you only shred one document at once. Shred documents along with random pages from an old magazine, or off-prints of unimportant things from when the printer last played up – anything to throw confusion into the heap. If you burn your sensitive information, make sure it’s fully burnt before you throw away the ashes! We’ve seen here from even a fairly cursory glance at the information in this letter how much can be gained from even an address.

The simple rule: if you wouldn’t shout it from your roof, tell it to a random person in the street or post it online publicly, then it’s sensitive information. Don’t leave it for the wrong people to find.

You can find more information on fraud and how to protect yourself and others against it at http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/CrimeJusticeAndTheLaw/Typesofcrime/DG_181626.

Stay safe!

Josh Nixon, ESP

PHDefence (17.12.2011) Feedback and Change Announcement

imageOk, after today’s stuff, I have some notes for everyone, but especially for G.C!

Condition White: Switched off. Asleep. Victim.
Condition Yellow: Switched on. Threat awareness. Looking around.
Condition Orange: Threat evaluation – passively avoiding a potential threat (e.g. crossing the street or turning back).
Condition Red: Threat avoidance / threat neutralisation. Acting – either running off or smashing someone. Or using verbal skills. Direct action to an imminent threat.

G.C. – if you can remember those then you can keep your super-dee-duper Christmas present!

It was awesome to have Charlie and Chris back again, so welcome back to them!

Now for an announcement.

PHDefence is moving its training time!

Sessions will, from the 6th of January 2012, be taking place on Friday nights, from 19:00-21:00. The price will remain unchanged, and it’s still in the same place. Full details, as always, are on our classes page.

There is a chance that, if there is enough interest, then PHDefence will be doubling their weekly training time, providing a weekly session on Fridays at 19:00-21:00, and another on Saturdays at 10:00-12:00. This is entirely down to how many students they can get though, so either send me an email, call me, Facebook me, Tweet me, whatever you want to do – let me know. If there’s a definite three or four people interested, then Paul’s willing to keep the Saturday one open and you can all have two classes a week. It depends entirely on how many students he can get.

Don’t forget to spread the word! They need more students to make any of this possible!

PHDefence is closed for Christmas and the New Year, and will resume on Friday, the 6th of January, 2012, at 19:00-21:00. That will be the new time, and hopefully they’ll be able to keep the Saturday as well. If you don’t get in touch though, it’s not going to happen.

Merry Christmas from PHDefence and me, and we hope you have an awesome New Year too.

All the best,
FCIns. Josh Nixon

Image courtesy of http://www.clipartheaven.com/clipart/holidays/christmas/santa_&_reindeer/santa_-_martial_arts.gif

A Quick Update

Hey all,

Just thought I’d push around a quick update on our progress in these early days, if nothing else to reassure you all that we are actually doing something! At the moment we’re just waiting for final confirmation from our venue. The application process has been started with the BCA so we’re just waiting for that to continue really.

The Syllabus and Guide has been updated a little, and final beta versions have been issued to Sifu Paul Horrobin of PHDefence along with some of my very good friends and training partners for them to scrutinise and scribble all over. Once they’ve all got back to me I’ll properly write up version 4.0, which will be the first release candidate.

Meanwhile, I’ve been training some of the obscure stuff that I haven’t done for a while in case it comes up in class (though I’m pretty sure it won’t for a while) and making sure I’m in shape for it. I always say that as an Instructor you should try to be better, harder, stronger, faster, more accurate, more adaptable, keep going for longer and ultimately be more knowledgeable than your students. Otherwise people won’t respect your authority on the subject because, to be frank, what authority do you have over them? Practically speaking, you have to be able to show them how you want them to do something, not just describe it. Otherwise training becomes just a chat.

While I’m here, I’d just like to say thank you to everyone who’s been visiting! Just so you know, I really do appreciate your interest. If anyone has any questions, or anything you’d like me to write about in the future, or ideas for instructional videos (or other videos) that you’d like to see on our YouTube channel when we start churning out videos and things. We monitor all the comms channels, so whether you send us a message or mention us on Twitter, send us a message or comment on YouTube or email us we’ll get it.

Keep coming back for more updates, thoughts on training, etc from CSPS – soon we’ll be announcing our first class, which will be the beginning of the end for combative ignorance!

All the very best,

Josh Nixon
Founding Chief Instructor, CSPS

CSPS Online is Finally Here!

CSPS Online, meet the world. World, meet CSPS Online. I’m sure you’re going to get on wonderfully…

Hi, I’m Josh Nixon and this blog is going to be the main online face of CSPS – the Combative Self-Protection System. All the information’s living in the pages at the top, so I won’t bore you with that right now. I’m just saying hello really, and checking for any teething problems before I get going properly.

As you can see from the buttons at the top, there’s a Twitter and YouTube presence already, and I’m sure there’ll be plenty more things coming soon. I’m going to get to work on a good logo and banner image, and once some interest, classes and members spring up then we’ll probably end up with a forum too. It’s all starting here and now, and this will be the hub of all the news from the System. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or just want to say hello then be my guest to subscribe over to the right, follow us on Twitter, email us, subscribe on YouTube, or whatever else!

We’re based in Stoke-on-Trent, but our potential is global. There’s no knowing where we’ll end up, so keep in touch. We hope to hear from you soon!

-Josh Nixon
Founding Chief Instructor, CSPS

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