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ICE warns cyber shoppers to beware of criminal enterprises

As “Black Friday” madness grabbed headlines for skirmishes and tramplings over the weekend, Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) warned “Cyber Monday” shoppers to beware of criminal enterprises lurking on the Internet.

“For most, the holidays represent a season of good will and giving, but for these criminals, it’s the season to lure in unsuspecting holiday shoppers,” said ICE Director John Morton. “More and more Americans are doing their holiday shopping online, and they may not realize that purchasing counterfeit goods results in American jobs lost, stolen American business profits and American consumers receiving substandard products. The ramifications can be even greater because the illicit profits made from these types of illegal ventures often fuel other kinds of organized crime.”

For many customers, shopping online provides an alternative to busy malls and crowded parking lots, but federal law enforcement officials say online purchases provide criminals with the perfect opportunity for intellectual and identity theft.
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“The theft of intellectual property, to include the trafficking of counterfeit goods, creates significant financial losses,” said FBI Section Chief Zack Miller of the Cyber Division. “The FBI aggressively pursues intellectual property enforcement through traditional investigative methods, intelligence initiatives and coordinated efforts with private industry and domestic and foreign law enforcement partners.”

Gearing up for the busy holiday season the Department of Justice (DOJ), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the ICE-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), and the FBI Washington Field Office announced “Operation in Our Sites.” The joint operation executed 150 commercial websites seizures that were engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and copyrighted products.

Federal law enforcement agents made a broad series of undercover purchases including professional sports jerseys, Hollywood DVD sets, brand name footwear, designer handbags and sunglasses, all representing a variety of trademarks.

The 150 seized domains are now in federal custody. Website visitors will now discover a seizure banner that announces the domain name has been seized by federal authorities for willful copyright infringement.

To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit http://www.IPRCenter.gov or http://www.justice.gov/dag/iptaskforce/.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

San Diego car wash owners jailed for hiring & harboring illegal aliens

The owners of a San Diego car wash were arraigned in federal court yesterday for hiring and harboring known illegal aliens.

The owners Sun Jae Lee, 51, and Ju Hea Kim, 54 were charged with a criminal conspiracy complaint for harboring illegal aliens. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego, a conviction carries a five-year prison sentence and a fine of $250,000 for each defendant.

The two arrested defendants own and manage Betty’s Car Wash in the north San Diego community of Rancho Penasquitos. Authorities said the arrests took place after a routine search of the business.

Officers on the scene also detained alleged illegal aliens working at the car wash. Authorities said the illegal workers will be held as material witnesses in the case.

According to prosecutors, “the majority of those employed by the defendants lacked legal documentation that would allow them to work in the United States. Additionally, Kim and Lee allegedly rehired two employees who were deported while working at the car wash and then returned to the country illegally.”
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The complaint also contends that Kim instructed two employees to hide from view because Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials had arrived at the business.

The defendants will face U.S. Magistrate Judge William Gallo on Monday.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/homeland-security-in-national/

© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

San Diego businesses turn to ICE IMAGE program to ensure legal employees

A little known employment verification program run by ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement) is spreading throughout San Diego County and the country. IMAGE (ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers) is a relatively new tool for employers in the fight against illegal immigration.

While the E-Verify program is widely known and now used by hundreds of thousands of businesses nationwide to check their employee’s legal eligibility, the IMAGE program goes far beyond fast and easy computer background checks. The IMAGE program ensures that businesses use Homeland Security’s ‘best hiring practices’ to help detect fraudulent documents through education and training.

The IMAGE certification process gives business owners the peace of mind their current employees are legal and customers can see an IMAGE certification sticker in the window (similar to the Better Business Bureau-BBB) to show that the business is complying with all Federal laws.

“IMAGE is a win-win partnership between ICE and the business community,” said Miguel Unzueta, special agent in charge for ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in San Diego. “The training and education employers enrolled in the IMAGE program receive gives them the tools they need to develop a more secure and stable workforce. And beyond that, each time a new company voluntarily signs up as an IMAGE participant, we are better able to protect lawful workers in this challenging economy.”

The IMAGE program is a free service operated by ICE and takes 4-6 weeks to complete. During the process, the ICE agent makes several visits to the business to conduct on-site training and inspection of the I-9 hiring documents.

Earlier this month, UNICEL Corporation in Escondido, CA became the first business in that city, known nationwide for its strong stance against illegal immigration, to be IMAGE certified.

UNICEL owner Mike Henderson says he was glad to take an active role in combating the number one draw of illegal aliens to the country.

“We are pleased to be IMAGE certified. We learned a lot about what legal documents look like and now feel confident as a business,” Henderson said. “The process was painless, enjoyable and now we will avoid any fines because we have the correct paperwork.”

At the ceremony last week was newly elected Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, who is also a legal immigrant. “I am proud that UNICEL went through the program and it reassures city residents that Escondido businesses are doing everything in their power to have a legal workforce.”

ICE Special Agent John Murakami, who conducts IMAGE audits and certifications for San Diego County, attended the ceremony and presented UNICEL with their IMAGE certificate. Agent Murakami said he enjoys this aspect of the job.

Also attending the ceremony was Jim Betz, owner of Betz Concrete which is also located in Escondido. His cement business is nearing completion of their ICE audit and they hope to have their IMAGE certification by the first of the year.

“I sleep well at night knowing I am hiring American workers in this tough economy,” Betz said about the IMAGE program. “It’s definitely worth it to get the paperwork in order. Before IMAGE I didn’t know what to look for when employees provided me with I-9s.”

Currently San Diego County has six businesses that are fully IMAGE certified and according to ICE several more are in the pipeline.

Local secure borders activist Jeff Schwilk hopes more businesses will see the many benefits of being IMAGE certified and sign up with ICE. “IMAGE is a powerful tool for businesses who want to follow the law and hire only American and legal workers,” he said. “IMAGE certification tells the public this business has gone above and beyond in their hiring practices and can be fully trusted. It also gives them a leg up on their competition which is so important in this recession and period of high unemployment.

For more information on the IMAGE program visit; http://www.ice.gov/image

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

© Copyright 2010 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

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