Sunday, July 1, 2012

Using the Internet Crime Complaint Center (The IC3)


This is part 5 of “Fighting the BMW Spam Machine”

To my International guests, don’t go away quite yet. If you are the victim of cybercrime and the perpetrator is in the USA, you can file a complaint through the IC3 too!

Today I am going to walk you through filing an IC3 Complaint. The IC3 is the Internet Crime Complaint Center which is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. Their Home page is at http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx



It’s really worth reading the information about the types of crimes handled and the processes at http://www.ic3.gov/faq/default.aspx#item1.

Let’s get started. Today we’ll use BMW of Mt Laurel, The Holman Automotive Group, and BMW of North America as examples in filing the spam/harassment complaint. Holman Automotive is the Parent Company of BMW of Mt. Laurel and appears to allow them to disregard federal laws regarding spam. BMW of North America profits from Holman Automotive selling cars for them and do not seem to be inclined to take away the dealership if it is operated with illegal practices.

In the picture above I am going to click on the “File a Complaint” link. This takes me to http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx, which I am not going to print a screen shot of. It basically says you are telling the truth and that due to state laws your complaint may not remain confidential. I don’t think that is an issue for me today! I’ll click the “Accept” button.

The complaint process uses SSL to keep the information confidential as you transmit it to the IC3. Here’s the first screen



The next screen is easy enough


And then…


The next screen is too long to post here. It includes your contact information, specific questions about the entity you are reporting, the evidence you may have, and many other things that are usually not too hard to figure out.

Below is the information I submitted to the IC3 about the incident.

"On 5/19/2011 I received spam from BMW of Mt. Laurel, a Holman Automotive Group company. I replied indicating I believed it was spam. The opt out did not work as they require scripts that might not be safe. The opt out page should use no scripting. The company did not respond to me. I have a copy of my response that includes the original email and I can print it out. On 11/21/2011 I received another spam from Holman Automotive and again on 11/29/2011. I posted a message to Facebook and received a message back on November 30 indicating that if I sent them my email address they would remove me. I have email copies of every thing except my comment to them on Facebook. I have email with their reply. I sent them copies of the spam on 11/30/2011. On 12/12/2011 I received more spam from BMW of Mt. Laurel. I emailed customer service at Holman Automotive and at BMW of Mt. Laurel and told them to remove me from their mailing list once again. On 1/25/2012 I received more spam from "Wendy Morgan" at BMW of Mt. Laurel. I emailed more than a dozen employees of BMW of Mt. Laurel and Holman Automotive telling them to stop spamming me and nobody replied. On 2/3/2012 I emailed Comcast and CC'd Holman Automotive and BMW North America. I asked Comcast to block the spammers, but they did not. Holman Automotive ignored the request and BMW of North America returned a form letter telling me they appreciate my comments. I also sent a complaint with the spam to the FTC, but no action has been taken against the spammers who repeatedly defy the canned spam act. I sent another email to BMW of Mt. Laurel, The Holman Automotive Group, and BMW of North America and told them all to stop spamming me. I sent an email specifically to BMW of North America and told them to remove my email address from their lists and have it removed from all of their dealer's lists. I received an email the same day (2/3/12) from a "Wendy Morgan" who assured me she would attend to it immediately and put a "total block" on all the email addresses I previously provided. On 2/7/ I received a reply from BMW of North America and they said "BMW of North America, LLC is not responsible for the marketing promotions and mailings of individual BMW centers.  We suggest contacting the marketing representative at BMW of Mt. Laurel.  They will be in the best position to assist in researching your inquiry for future mailings.". I replied indicating the contacting BMW of Mt. Laurel doesn't work and that they should not be supporting illegal activities by their dealers. BMW of NA responded and asked for my phone number, which I provided. BMW of NA replied that they would research and call me back. They did not. On 5/24/2012 I received more spam form "Wendy Morgan" on behalf of BMW of Mt. Laurel. I replied back to BMW of Mt. Laurel, Holman Automotive, BMW of NA and the German BMW headquarters. So far there has been no response from BMW of Mt. Laurel, or Holman Automotive. BMW USA said they would not put a stop to the spamming on a phone call. BMW AG (Germany) replied they would have their IT look into it. It really is time that BMW of Mt. Laurel and Holman Automotive cease the harassment and comply with the canned spam act. If possible I would like criminal harassment charges filed. I also filed another complaint with the FTC, but the FTC indicated they do not pursue individual complaints. I again asked Comcast to stop their customer from illegal spamming, but Comcast did not indicate that they would take any effective action."

I have filed a complaint with the New Jersey Better Business Bureau, however the attacker is not accredited by the BBB.

I am happy to print out and provide all relevant correspondence.

Following this write up I am asked to provide details of contact I made with the attacker, and any law enforcement or consumer advocacy agencies, including the Better Business Bureau.

On the next page I confirm the information and then submit. The last is as follows…

A couple of minutes later I received an email from the IC3 with my case number and a password.

You can use the IC3 to report all kinds of Internet crimes, you just need to know the resource is there.

My next blog on the subject will deal with how BMW of Mt. Laurel lied to the Better Business Bureau in response to my complaint, and the folks at BMW HQ who know about it. If BMW of Mt. Laurel, and or BMW North America, and/or BMW AG have any comments I'll post those as well.

Left to do... Check on the feasibility of filing suit in New Jersey, and retain a lawyer to file civil suit for CAN Spam act violations. 

Part 1 - Fighting the BMW Spam Machine
http://randy-abrams.blogspot.com/2012/06/fighting-bmw-spam-machine-part-1.html

Part 2 - An Open Letter to BMW AG
http://randy-abrams.blogspot.com/2012/06/fighting-bmw-spam-machine-part-2.html

Part 3 - How to Get A the Attention of a Global Corporation
http://randy-abrams.blogspot.com/2012/06/fighting-bmw-spam-machine-part-3.html

Part 4 - Filing an Online FTC Complaint is Easy, Fun, and Socially Responsible
http://randy-abrams.blogspot.com/2012/06/fighting-bmw-spam-machine-part-4.html

©2012 Randy Abrams - Independent Security Analyst