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Super Bowl cyber crimes: Your weekly ScamWatch

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

Super Bowl cyber attacks: For many people, Super Bowl Sunday is an opportunity to get together with friends, eat some good food and knock back a few cold ones. Computer security experts say it’s also a big day for cyber criminals, who will be targeting the millions of people using their home computers to keep up with the game, visit gambling websites and chat about television advertising. Internet security company PC Tools suggested in a news release that computer users be careful when visiting file-sharing websites that offer links to game or advertisement videos because these links can contain harmful malware. Users should also be sure that they change all passwords frequently and use software to protect their computers from viruses and other threats.

Bakersfield real estate: Ten people have been indicted on charges that they participated in a long-running mortgage fraud scheme that defrauded lenders out of more than $20 million between 2004 and 2007. The indictment focused on Bakersfield realtors David Marshall Crisp and Carlyle Lee Cole, who owned and operated Crisp & Cole Real Estate. With the help of eight other associates, Crisp and Cole allegedly obtained numerous real estate loans by making false statements about the borrowers’ income, assets, employment and intent to occupy homes they were borrowing against, prosecutors said. The case was investigated by the FBI and Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Tax preparer: A federal judge has issued an order prohibiting the owner of an Upland tax service from preparing returns and other documents for clients. U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II issued the order against Guillermo B. Garcia at the request of federal prosecutors, who accused Garcia of making false statements on clients’ returns in order to obtain larger returns than they expected. The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleged that Garcia kept the extra money. Auditors with the Internal Revenue Service said Garcia filed at least 183 fraudulent returns in the past four years, understating the taxes his clients owed by $784,000.

Investment fraud: Three brokers have pleaded guilty to charges that they defrauded investors in private placements by making false statements about how their money would be invested. Arn Wilson, Michael Passaro and Robert Grabowski had been accused of using investor money to enrich themselves, pay excessive, undisclosed fees to brokers and to repay some victims. They raised about $140 million between 1998 and 2006 through their companies, Sky Capital and the Thornwater Co., prosecutors said.

--Stuart Pfeifer

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