Why Pittsburgh?

For the second time in as many weeks, national reporters are asking: Why Pittsburgh? First it was U.S. Attorney Hickton indicting the Chinese military hackers. Now it’s Hickton and the FBI going after Russian criminal hackers.

Why Pittsburgh? The FBI’s top cyber investigator Keith Mularski told me that’s easy: “I just think it goes to the team we have here in Pittsburgh and the resources we have. … We have one of the best teams in the country, if not all of the world.”

Talking with experts who worked this latest case from the inside out, I was able to piece together a story you won’t read anywhere else. It tells about how the nation’s top cyber experts — in Pittsburgh — tracked down hackers all the way back to a Black Sea resort town in Russia.

This map shows the locations of computers in Pennsylvania infected with the Russian malware Gameover Zeus on a single day in May 2013.

This map shows the locations of computers in Pennsylvania infected with the Russian malware Gameover Zeus on a single day in May 2013.

FBI cyber agents in Pittsburgh helped bring down two Russian-based cybercrime schemes that infected more than Continue reading

Pittsburgh Hustle

Courtesy of American Hustle.

Courtesy of American Hustle.

American Hustle never happens without a little Pittsburgh hustle first. The movie that comes out today tells a story inspired by a 1970s super-swindler named Mel Weinberg who ended up working with the FBI to nab members of Congress in a bribery scandal. Investigative journalist Robert William Greene Sr. first told the story in his book The Sting Man. Weinberg ends up working with the feds only after first getting nabbed in Pittsburgh.

The story goes that Weinberg scammed a Pittsburgh real estate guy, Lee Schlag, who needed money to purchase a dairy. Weinberg offered to line up the financing but had no intentions of coming up with a loan. So when Schlag paid for the loan application and never received the money, he turned everything over to the feds.

sting manI talked this week with several of Schlag’s family members. He, unfortunately, died several years ago, never married and had no children.¬†Until I called, the family had no idea about his connection to Weinberg, the book or the movie. The full story appears in today’s Tribune-Review.

I’m loving the book and can’t wait to see the movie. Hat tip to my friend Salena Zito, who often says that all roads lead through Pittsburgh.