F.B.I. Internet Crime Complaint Center:

Cybercriminals Utilize Social Engineering Techniques To Obtain Employee Credentials To Conduct Payroll Diversion  

The IC3 has received complaints reporting cybercriminals are targeting the online payroll accounts of employees in a variety of industries. Institutions most affected are education, healthcare, and commercial airway transportation.


Cybercriminals target employees through phishing emails designed to capture an employee’s login credentials. Once the cybercriminal has obtained an employee’s credentials, the credentials are used to access the employee’s payroll account in order to change their bank account information. Rules are added by the cybercriminal to the employee’s account preventing the employee from receiving alerts regarding direct deposit changes. Direct deposits are then changed and redirected to an account controlled by the cybercriminal, which is often a prepaid card.


To mitigate the threat of payroll diversion:

Alert and educate your workforce about this scheme, including preventative strategies and appropriate reactive measures should a breach occur.
Instruct employees to hover their cursor over hyperlinks included in emails they receive to view the actual URL. Ensure the URL is actually related to or associated with the company it purports to be from.
Instruct employees to refrain from supplying log-in credentials or personally identifying information in response to any email.
Direct employees to forward suspicious requests for personal information to the information technology or human resources department.
Ensure that log-in credentials used for payroll purposes differ from those used for other purposes, such as employee surveys.
Apply heightened scrutiny to bank information initiated by employees seeking to update or change direct deposit credentials.
Monitor employee logins that occur outside normal business hours.
Restrict access to the Internet on systems handling sensitive information or implement two-factor authentication for access to sensitive systems and information.
Only allow required processes to run on systems handling sensitive information.


The FBI encourages victims to report information concerning suspicious or criminal activity to their local FBI field office, and file a complaint with the IC3 at If your complaint pertains to this particular scheme, then please note payroll diversion in the body of the complaint.

‘Yakuza Tattoo’: Inside the secretive world of the yakuza’s tattoos
Courtesy of Japan Times   Story By Oscar Boyd

Preserved in a glass jar on a wooden table is a fingertip. The skin is oddly translucent and the nail slightly discolored, the kind of bruised, off-green you’d associate with trapping your finger in a door.
The table — and the glass jar atop it — is in the home of a yakuza boss and the fingertip’s previous owner sits nearby, candidly explaining yubitsume (literally “finger-shortening”), the act of removing part of a finger that has come to be associated with Japan’s criminal underworld.
“It was actually kind of funny since it was hard to get it off,” says the yakuza. “I used a hammer, and while singing the Super Mario song I slammed down the hammer and the finger flew away, just like Super Mario.”

It’s a striking scene, one that is captured in full, gory detail in Andreas Johansson’s 2017 book, “Yakuza Tattoo,” an exploration of the artistic symbolism of yakuza members’ skin art and the culture that surrounds the gangs.
“I’m a trained historian of religion and I became interested in organized crime and its use of religious symbols in general,” says Johansson. “I was in Japan for a conference and when I finished, I went out and had a beer with a friend. I knew that yakuza existed in Japan and had tattoos with religious figures, so I asked if anyone in the bar knew any that I could interview.”
That question, asked after a couple of drinks, was Johansson’s first foray into a project that would eventually allow him to intimately photograph members of Japan’s underworld.
“All of a sudden one person in the bar said he knew a guy — Ken-san — and said that he was a ‘good guy,’ whatever a ‘good guy’ is in the yakuza world,” Johansson continues. “Very quickly I was told, ‘You can have an interview tomorrow.’ This was around 3 o’clock in the morning and I said, ‘Yeah, of course, I’ll be there.'”

Following that first meeting with Ken-san, a senior member of the Masuda-gumi — a gang connected to the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest yakuza family — Johansson immersed himself in the world of the yakuza, photographing and talking to around 30 different members, but concentrating mostly on Ken-san and his immediate “family.”

“I thought it might be awkward at first in the sense of me being an outsider, but they were extremely friendly and very inviting,” says Johansson. “So inviting that at one point I thought, ‘This is too good to be true, what do they want back?'”
In total, Johansson spent 2½ weeks in the company of the yakuza. “It took a couple of days before the guys really took me in,” he says. “But then it became more and more relaxed. Because I did my work mostly using my camera, I just became the ‘guy with the camera,’ I had a job to do. In the end, I was just a part of the gang, in that sense. I went in there thinking I had to approach topics like cutting off fingers in a very respectful way, but they were joking about it. They had a very relaxed relationship to these rituals. It was relaxing for me as well, we laughed a lot when we talked about those things.”

“Yakuza Tattoos” is broken down into chapters structured around Johansson’s own stories of meeting the yakuza, and also thematically around the tattoos: “Heroes & History,” “The Dragon & The Carp,” “Gods & Spirits.” Each chapter combines evocative imagery with contextual information and quotes from Johansson’s conversations with gang members to build a detailed and informative picture of the different tattoos and their symbolism.
“In my mind I had this idea that if you have a dragon on your arm you were a leader — like the Russian gang tattoos, which have very strict meanings — but with the Japanese I found the tattoos to be much more personal,” says Johansson. “The relationship between the tattoo master and the customer is extremely interesting, you have to go through interviews before your tattoo is decided. It has to fit your personality. Some of the tattoos aren’t even related to yakuza life. One grew up poor so he had (images of) old Japanese money tattooed, because he didn’t want to become poor again.”

In the latter portion of the book, Johansson delves into the less traditional styles of tattoo that are becoming more prevalent among younger gang members.

“Some of the most interesting things I saw were the modern, Western-inspired tattoos being drawn on the younger guys, and learning that the older members don’t like the departure from tradition,” says Johansson. “The old guys didn’t even want me writing about the shift in style, they see tattoos not as tattoos but as irezumi, with a clear distinction between the two. When I was naming the book, ‘Yakuza Tattoo,’ Ken-san was concerned because he didn’t like the word ‘tattoo.’ He looked at my tattoos and said ‘That’s fashion, you have fashion tattoos. I have rich tattoos, based on my personality.'”
And this is Johansson’s main takeaway from his research: That, whatever their skin-deep appearance, the tattoos take on a significance that runs far deeper in the minds of their owners, into the realm of the spiritual.