“She was careful to only keep items that were valued at under $10,000″

Bloomberg Business Week

How a Tiffany’s Employee Stole $1.3 Million in Jewelry

By  | Article Courtesy of:  Business Week

Jewelry - Investigative Database

An executive at Tiffany & Co. allegedly stole $1.3 million worth of jewelry from the company. How did she do it?

Very slowly, it seems. Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, 46, worked as the vice president of product development at the jeweler’s Midtown Manhattan headquarters from January 2011 to February of this year, when her position was terminated due to downsizing. The F.B.I. claims that between November 2012 and her dismissal, 165 pieces of jewelry went poof, including “diamond bracelets, platinum, or gold diamond drop and hoop earrings, platinum diamond rings, and platinum and diamond pendants.” Lederhaas-Okun, authorities say, would check out the jewelry for professional reasons—marketing purposes, showing potential buyers, and so forth—and then not return them.

“She was careful to only keep items that were valued at under $10,000,” says Scott Selby, the co-author of Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History. “Tiffany’s has a policy of only investigating missing inventory that’s valued over $25,000. That’s what enabled her to do this; it was slow and systematic.” Lederhaas-Okun has since been charged by the F.B.I. with wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property and she faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. Carson Glover, a spokesperson for Tiffany’s, says the company is “not in a position to comment at this time.”

VIDEO:  Court Documents say Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun procured, resold more than $1 million in diamond bracelets

What did she do with her millions in stolen Tiffany’s jewelry?

The details are still coming together, but according to the Feds, she sold the merchandize to an unnamed “leading international buyer and reseller of jewelry with an office in midtown Manhattan.” Ice-T (né Tracy Marrow), the longtime rapper, actor, and former professional jewel thief, suspects that Lederhaas-Okun may have had a buyer in advance. “When you steal things in that kind of quantity, that’s what we call consignment theft,” he says. “You don’t just put it on the fence and hope somebody picks it up. Everything is bought and paid for long before you steal it.”

Selby thinks the arrangement may have been less nefarious. Manhattan, he says, is filled with “pawn shops for rich people,” auction houses like Christie’s orSotheby’s. “If you show up at Christie’s with a Grecian vase worth two million dollars, and you’re in a nice suit and you give them an address that’s in a nice neighborhood in Connecticut, they won’t ask any questions—or at the most, perfunctory questions,” says Selby. Neither Christie’s nor Sotheby’s responded to requests for comment.

How did Lederhaas-Okun finally get caught?

Tiffany’s discovered that the jewelry was missing when it conducted a company-wide inventory review, and e-mails between Lederhaas-Okun and the unnamed jewelry reseller were found on her computer. At first, Lederhaas-Okun claimed all jewelry had been checked out for a PowerPoint presentation for her supervisor. (The supervisor denied this.) Lederhaas-Okun later said that the missing jewels could be found, according to the Feds, “in a white envelope in her office.” Searches turned up nothing.

Chris E. McGoey, a Los Angeles-based security advisor, believes that other employees at Tiffany’s may have had suspicions long before the investigation, but were afraid to speak up. “I guarantee you that a company like Tiffany’s has checks and balances,” he says. “But it didn’t apply to [Lederhaas-Okun.] People reported to her, and they had to relinquish their inventory to her, based on her say-so.”

Even if they had concerns about why the jewelry she was checking out wasn’t being returned, he says, they might’ve been reluctant to raise any red flags.

“Nobody wants to rat out their boss,” he says.

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Bloomberg Business Week

 

Big Data & the Boston Marathon Probe

Extracting Key Investigative Data from the “Noise”

Over Ten Terabytes of Data did not overwhelm federal, local and state investigators.  

What follows is a fascinating story involving advanced data access, tracking and retrieval technologies. 

FCW - The Business of Federal Technology

Boston probe’s big data use hints at the future

By Frank Konkel – Article Courtesy of:  FCW

The One Fund Boston

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Less than 24 hours after two explosions killed three people and injured dozens more at the April 15 Boston Marathon, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had compiled 10 terabytes of data in hopes of finding needles in haystacks of information that might lead to the suspects.

The tensest part of the ongoing investigation – the death of one suspect and the capture of the second – concluded four days later in part because the FBI-led investigation analyzed mountains of cell phone tower call logs, text messages, social media data, photographs and video surveillance footage to quickly pinpoint the suspects.

A big assist in this investigation goes the public, which presented perhaps the best illustration of a crowd-sourced investigation in recent memory.

Not only did the public respond to the FBI’s request for information – the agency ultimately received several thousand tips and loads of additional photographs and video footage – but a citizen’s tip ultimately led to the capture of the surviving suspect.

Still, the investigation showed a glimpse of what big data and data analytics can do — and highlighted how far we yet have to go.

Knowledge is power

Big data is a relatively new term in technology and its definition varies amongst early practitioners, but the main goal of any big data project is to pull insights from large amounts of data.

Prominent statistician Nate Silver describes it as “pulling signal from the noise” – noise that can be a veritable smorgasbord of different kinds of information. The noise can be big, too – some datasets within the federal government are measured in petabytes, each of which is one million gigabytes or 1,000 terabytes.

So the 10 terabytes gathered by investigators is not a large data collection even in today’s relatively early stages of big data technology.

But the investigation’s processes still presented officials with a data crunch due to the volume, variety and complexity, according to Bradley Schreiber, vice president of Washington operations for the Applied Science Foundation for Homeland Security.

To get a sense for the initial complexities of combining various data sets in the early moments of the investigation, consider this: In the aftermath of the bombing, cellular networks in the area were taxed beyond their capacity. AT&T put out a tweet urging those in the area to “please use text & we ask that you keep non-emergency calls to a minimum.”

There was speculation that the bombs could have been triggered remotely by mobile phones, prompting interest in traffic logs from area cell towers to try to get a fix on the culprits.

That geo-location information could then be cross-checked against surveillance video and eyewitness photography – just another layer of data available to law enforcement when trying to stitch together a detailed and textured version of events.

For the complete story and a GREAT READ… CLICK HERE