Seal Beach Woman Arrested for Impersonating FBI Agents by Altering Voice and Using Telephonic ‘Spoofing’ Technology

A Seal Beach woman was arrested today for allegedly used "spoofing" technology to impersonate FBI agents in phone calls to business clients who believed she was running a fraud scheme, announced Steven Martinez, Assistant Director of the FBI in Los Angeles, and United States Attorney André Birotte Jr.

Karen Elaine Hanover, 44, was arrested this morning without incident at Fashion Island in Newport Beach by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Hanover was charged with impersonating a federal agent in a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in United District Court in Santa Ana.

According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, Hanover operated a real estate service that charged clients a $30,000 "consulting fee" in exchange for providing unique information about favorable commercial properties. When some clients concluded that Hanover failed to deliver the promised services, they complained about Hanover’s operation on an Internet blog and encouraged others to report Hanover’s suspected fraudulent activity to the FBI and other federal authorities.

During the second half of 2010, one of Hanover’s unsatisfied clients was contacted telephonically by a caller with a male voice who claimed to be an FBI agent and whose caller ID was for the main number of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Division. In this call, the "agent" threatened to imprison Hanover’s client if she did not stop complaining about Hanover.

Subsequent investigation revealed that calls from the purported male FBI agent were actually made from Hanover’s cellular phone, who used a website to alter her voice and to alter her caller ID to "spoof" the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Division’s phone number. Further investigation revealed that Hanover had used this website to "spoof" the FBI Miami Division’s phone number, as well as the FBI Headquarters number in Washington, D.C., in an effort to discourage disgruntled clients from complaining to the authorities.

Hanover will have an initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in Santa Ana.

If convicted, Hanover faces a statutory maximum penalty of three years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

This investigation was conducted by the FBI. The charges against Hanover will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt