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Telephone: 347-632-9775

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

FBI: What We Investigate

The FBI works around the globe to combat the most dangerous criminal and security threats facing our country—from international and domestic terrorists to spies on U.S. soil…from cyber villains to corrupt government officials…from mobsters to violent street thugs…from child predators to serial killers. The squads generally fall under three national security priorities and five criminal priorities as follows:

National Security Priorities:

1. Protect the United States from terrorist attack
2. Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage
3. Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes

Criminal Priorities:

4. Combat public corruption at all levels
5. Protect civil rights
6. Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises
7. Combat major white-collar crime
8. Combat significant violent crime


Criminal Priorities

4. Combat public corruption at all levels

Public corruption is a breach of the public's trust by government officials—whether elected, appointed, or under contract—and/or private individuals who use their public office for personal gain. It is a violation of federal law for any federal or state government official to ask for or receive anything of value for or because of any official act. Under federal law, the person who offers or pays a bribe is also guilty. These crimes are the result of deals sealed with whispered conversations, quick handshakes, and "under-the-table" money. Because of the secretive nature of bribes, such crimes are often difficult to detect and even more difficult to prove without the assistance of concerned citizens. Types of public corruption include: Law Enforcement corruption at the state or local level typically involves the payment of bribes or kickbacks in exchange for official actions or inaction. It also includes any violation of law not necessarily connected to the official duties of law enforcement personnel, such as stealing drugs; tipping criminals to investigations; escorting deliveries of drugs or other contraband; protecting criminal enterprises, including drug organizations; embezzling funds; and releasing law enforcement records without authorization. Legislative corruption at the state or local level usually involves payment of bribes or kickbacks in exchange for official action or inaction. These bribes or kickbacks can be received by the legislators themselves, by aides, by staff persons, and/or by outside parties doing business with the government. Municipal corruption involves illegal activities similar to legislative corruption. Common corruption schemes at a local level include bribes or kickbacks in exchange for: supporting local ordinances, approving local government bond issuance, reducing taxes unlawfully, fraudulently manipulating probate assets, and conspiring with others to rezone property or to influence land-use proposals. Judicial corruption typically arises out of the corrupt influencing of state or local judges, juries, or court personnel (clerks, bailiffs, probation officials, and other administrative staff). Common corrupt schemes include: payments to judiciary personnel in exchange for dismissal of charges; reduction of charges, bonds, or sentences; waiver of fines; return of forfeitable property; and favorable probation conditions. Contract corruption usually involves the payment of bribes or kickbacks to local or state officials in exchange for favorable treatment on government contracts. Potential subjects are private contractors, anyone acting on their behalf, and public officials involved in the contracting process (procurement officers, purchasing agents, city councilpersons, and county commissioners). Favorable treatment includes: improper disclosure of bid information; narrow tailoring of contracts to benefit a certain company (sole source contracts); improper disqualification of competitors from the bid process; support or voting for the bribing contractor; and approval of false invoices, improper change orders, or cost overruns on behalf of the bribing contractor. Regulatory corruption involves payment to local, state, or federal officials in exchange for favorable action or inaction pertaining to identification documents, licensing, and inspection and zoning variances. Unlawful payments (bribes and kickbacks) can be paid to: inspectors for non-enforcement of violations or extortion for false violations; planning and zoning officials for improperly reclassifying property; public officials for fraudulent documents, such as driver’s licenses and passports; and licensing officials for fraudulent issuance of licenses to construction contractors, subcontractors, and other regulated industries. Prison corruption involves corrections officers taking unlawful payment for acts directly or indirectly related to their job. Common schemes include: smuggling contraband into the facility, granting unlawful privileges, and prematurely releasing inmates.

5. Protect civil rights

We conduct investigations of allegations regarding violations of applicable federal laws that protect the civil rights of U.S. citizens and inhabitants. Any attempted or actual curtailment of constitutional or federally-protected rights possessed by citizens and inhabitants of the U.S. falls within the jurisdiction of the FBI. Investigations are conducted under guidelines established in cooperation with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. For more information, see the Department of Justice Civil Rights Frequently Asked Questions.

6. Combat transnational/national criminal organizations and enterprises

Criminal organizations—from mob families to street gangs to drug trafficking outfits—sow violence and crime in our communities and create underground economies that undercut free enterprise. We investigate both domestic and international drug trafficking, including the laundering of illegal proceeds and acts of violence associated with narcotics trafficking.

7. Combat major white-collar crime

Fraud—the art of deliberate deception for unlawful gain—is as old as history; the term "white-collar crime" was reportedly coined in 1939 and has since become synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals. Today's con artists are more savvy and sophisticated than ever, engineering everything from slick online scams to complex stock and health care frauds. The white-collar crime program is divided into the following investigative areas: Economic crime investigations involve telemarketing fraud, securities and commodities fraud, and investment fraud. Financial institution fraud investigations involve federal crimes against financial institutions and money laundering, including check kiting schemes, bank embezzlement, counterfeit check scams, wire transfer and loan frauds, and the bribery of bank officials. Governmental fraud investigations involve cases of fraud against the government, environmental crime, bankruptcy fraud, and antitrust matters. Healthcare fraud investigations involve fraud perpetrated against Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies. These types of fraud include illegal kickbacks, billing for services not rendered, and filing false claims. Public corruption investigations involve the corruption of federal, state, and local public officials, including law enforcement officers, judiciary and executive department employees, administrators, and others in public positions of trust. See Priority #4 above for more information. Mortgage fraud investigations involve making false statements about income, assets, debt, or matters of identification or willfully overvaluing any land or property in a loan and credit application for the purpose of influencing in any way the action of a financial institution.

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