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Phone scam dialing into area

WAHOO A new phone scam recently crept into the area, only needing the word yes from victims.

If you get a call from a stranger asking, Can you hear me? hang up the phone.

That s what the Better Business Bureau is advising consumers who might become victims of the latest scam it says is circulating the country.

As a general rule, you re going to answer that question. But don t volunteer anything, said Saunders County Sheriff Kevin Stukenholtz. Jim Hegarty, president of the BBB serving Nebraska, South Dakota, the Kansas Plains and southwest Iowa, said the region has already received hundreds of reports about the scam. Stukenholtz said he s received reports of the scam in Saunders County as well.

The con aims to get victims to say the word yes so scammers can record it. The affirmative response is then used to authorize unwanted charges whether it s to a credit card, a cable or phone account or subscriptions. Many times, as with other phone scams, the perpetrators try and get local phone numbers to increase the likelihood of someone answering, Stukenholtz said.

They re coming up with something all the time, he said. Stukenholtz said he would advise people not to answer the phone at all if the number calling is not recognized.

But it s difficult to avoid. Here s how it works: You might receive a call from someone recent reports say the scammers are claiming they re from a home security agency, a cruise line or associated with Social Security. After the introduction, the recording will ask if you can hear the caller clearly. If you answer yes, there s a possibility the scam artist has recorded you and will use the response to sign you up for a product or service and then demand payment. If you refuse to pay, the caller may use your recorded yes to confirm your purchase agreement. In many cases, the scammers already have the person s phone number, which can be used to authorize third-party charges; or they may have a victim s credit card number or cable bill as the result of a data breach. When the victim disputes any charges to an account, the scammer can counter that they have your consent on a recorded line.

Stukenholtz said the scam can be avoided if one s guard is up. He said he recently received a call with a Denver, Co. area code that asked if he was Kevin Stukenholtz. He said he responded with who is this?

The innocuous conversation started off on the wrong foot, but Stukenholtz said a good strategy is to make the people on the other end of the phone commit to something. Other tips:

If you receive a call that sounds similar or asks questions seeking affirmation, avoid responding with yes, sure or OK. If you are asked a similar question on the phone or are asked to press a button to be placed on the Do Not Call registry, just hang up. Saying anything may help the scam artist identify that you have an active phone number. No government agency will ever solicit for the Do Not Call registry.

Write down the phone number of callers with this behavior and file a scam report with the BBB Scam Tracker at[1] or by calling 800-649-6814. Check your credit card, phone and cable statements carefully for any unfamiliar charges. If you suspect you have been victimized, call the billing company and dispute anything you did not authorize. The earlier you identify the unauthorized charges on your account, the easier it will be to recover any lost money. Stukenholtz said the scammers can come across as nice people, but they re not stupid and will work to manipulate the conversation.

Law enforcement efforts can be difficult, but if caught, they turn them into the attorney general s office, Stukenholtz said.

They ve made some arrests, but many times the calls originate from out of the country. It takes quite a bit to make that happen, Stukenholtz said.

(Paige Yowell with the BH News Service contributed to this article.)


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“If you cooperate, no one will get hurt. Otherwise,” one abductor warned the bank depot manager, “you’ll get a hole …

“If You Cooperate, No One Will Get Hurt. Otherwise,” One Abductor Warned The Bank Depot Manager, “you'll Get A Hole ...

At first glance it seemed like typical MMA clickbait, a low-rent version of Conor McGregor threatening to box against Floyd Mayweather, or Demi Lovato trolling for a professional fight. England s Daily Star recently reported that Alex Reid and Lee Murray were in talks to meet in a cage. Reid, a former MMA fighter and British tabloid heavyweight, is best known for his brief marriage to model Katie Price and his turn on Celebrity Big Brother. As for Murray, he too is a former fighter; he made it to the UFC and once went the distance with the great Anderson Silva. It s hard to imagine how he could meet an assignation to fight, however, given that he s currently incarcerated in Morocco. While he s there on drug-related charges, he s best known for having masterminded the Securitas Heist, this century s equivalent of the Great Train Robbery. In 2006, with his professional fighting career on the decline, Murray rounded up a group of friends and training partners. Posing as policemen, they abducted a guard, entered a repository where currency was transferred among banks, and absconded with 53 million, or roughly $100 million at the time. (It would have been more, if only Murray and his crew had thought to rent a larger van.) As it was, theirs constituted the largest cash heist in history pulled off without a single physical injury or even a bullet being fired.

As slick and organized as the thieves were during the actual heist, they were equally clumsy afterward. Because they hadn’t thought through where to store the cash, they ended up stashing bills in closets. They abandoned one of the vehicles used in the crime and set it afire in the middle of a field, attracting attention. Inside another vehicle the bandits carelessly left ski masks, guns and more than 1 million in bills. The gang members soon began accusing each other of informing the police. The son of a British mother and a Moroccan father, Murray fled to Morocco, which does not have an extradition policy with the U.K. But there Murray found himself involved in an altercation in a Rabat shopping mall, and when his home was searched police found drugs. He was sent to prison in Morocco, where he has resided since 2007, notwithstanding an attempted escape using tiny saws that were snuck in inside of biscuits. In 10, Murray was convicted of masterminding the Securitas Heist and he faces 25 years in prison. It is still to be determined whether he will be extradited. In 2008, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED covered Murray and the Securitas Heist in a magazine story titled Breaking the Bank. While the piece was optioned by Universal Studios and ran in print, British laws about ongoing criminal cases prevented the story from running online at the time. With the case s criminal trials finally resolved, we are permitted to present this SI True Crime classic.

With flashing blue lights illuminating his rearview mirror, Colin Dixon pulled his car to the side of a deserted road. It was around six on the evening of Feb. 21, 2006, and Dixon had just clocked out from his job at the Securitas cash depot in Tonbridge, England, 30 miles southeast of central London. A purposely nondescript, brown building tucked behind a car repair garage, the depot serves as a regional warehouse of sorts, where cash for the Bank of England is stored and disbursed. Dixon, 52, was the manager.

Now, driving home, he figured he was getting pulled over by an unmarked police car for a routine traffic stop. A tall, athletic-looking man in a police uniform approached. Though it would turn out that the cop was no cop at all the uniform was fake, the Kent police badge he flashed had been purchased on eBay, and the guy’s face had been distorted with help from a professional makeup artist Dixon was compliant. He got out of his Nissan sedan and was handcuffed and placed in the back of the other car. He would later testify that the driver, a second man in uniform, turned and said menacingly, You will have guessed we are not policemen…. Don’t do anything silly and you won’t get hurt. When Dixon tried to adjust his handcuffs, he says the officer who’d apprehended him brandished a pistol and barked, We’re not f—— about. This is a nine-millimeter.

“If You Cooperate, No One Will Get Hurt. Otherwise,” One Abductor Warned The Bank Depot Manager, “you'll Get A Hole ...

Police examine the car of Securitas depot manager Colin Dixon, which was found abandoned by a pub. GARETH FULLER/AFP/Getty Images

Dixon was blindfolded and transferred to a van, then taken to a remote farm in western Kent. Meanwhile, two other fake cops drove to Dixon’s home in the nearby town of Herne Bay, along with accomplices in a second van. Greeted at the door by Dixon’s wife, Lynn, they explained that her husband had been in a serious traffic accident. They said that Lynn and the couple’s young child needed to accompany them to the hospital. Outside the home, the Dixons were placed in the back of the second van and taken to the farm, where the Dixons were reunited. At once relieved and terrified, they were bound and held at gunpoint. Colin Dixon was ordered to give the plotters information about the depot. If you cooperate, no one will get hurt. Otherwise, one abductor warned, you’ll get a hole in you.

If you cooperate, no one will get hurt. Otherwise, one abductor warned the bank depot manager, you’ll get a hole in you.

A group of at least seven men then drove to the Securitas depot, Colin Dixon accompanying a phony police officer in a sedan and his family bound in the back of a large, white Renault truck. By now it was after midnight on the morning of Feb. 22. Surveillance video shows Dixon being buzzed into the depot with an officer beside him. Once inside, the fake cop overpowers the security guard and buzzes in the rest of the robbers wearing ski masks and armed with high-powered weapons, including an AK-47. Dixon told the 14 staffers working the graveyard shift, They’ve got my family, and instructed them not to touch the alarms. He proceeded to deactivate the security system and hand over the keys to the vault. The Dixons and the staff were then bound and placed in metal cages normally used for storing cash. The truck can be seen backing up to a loading dock.

“If You Cooperate, No One Will Get Hurt. Otherwise,” One Abductor Warned The Bank Depot Manager, “you'll Get A Hole ...

The truck used to transport the money, parked at the loading dock of the Securitas depot. Kent Police via Getty Images

The robbers clearly knew their way around the depot where the doors were located and how they locked and with good reason. One member of the gang, Ermir Hysenaj, 28, an Albanian immigrant, was the classic inside man. Months earlier, after just a 10-minute job interview, Hysenaj had been hired for roughly $11 an hour to work the evening shift at the depot. It was later revealed that in the weeks before the robbery, he had come to work wearing a small video camera hidden in his belt buckle. For the next 40 minutes, the gang emptied the vault of its contents, wheeling metal carts filled with cash into the truck. The supply of 10 and 20 notes was so massive that by the time the truck was filled to capacity, it accounted for only one quarter of the money in the vault. Still, the conspirators absconded with a haul of 53 million, or more than $100 million.

The supply of 10 and 20 notes was so massive that by the time the truck was filled to capacity, it accounted for only one quarter of the money in the vault. Still, the conspirators absconded with a haul of 53 million, or more than $100 million. If the caper didn’t entail pyrotechnics worthy of, say, the current movie The Bank Job, it seemed to come off remarkably smoothly, at least from the robbers’ perspective. All their discipline and meticulous preparation had paid off. There were no surprises. No one was physically injured, much less ventilated with bullets. No one had triggered the alarms. At around 3 a.m., Dixon’s child was able to slither out of a metal cage and the police were summoned. By then the thieves were back at the farm divvying up the money a bounty that one British prosecutor would later characterize as dishonest gain almost beyond the dreams of avarice. As investigators worked to crack the case, they began to suspect that the ringleader was Lee Murray, and that he and his pal Lea Rusha were the impostors who had first abducted Colin Dixon. Murray was no stranger to London law enforcement. He spent time in a juvenile detention center as an adolescent and later was tried and acquitted in a serious road-rage incident. Ironically, he’d also been questioned by police after a traffic stop in the area of the Securitas depot the summer before the robbery. But he was a prominent figure in pockets of the sports community as well, a fearsome British cage fighter who’d recently gone the distance against the great Brazilian champion Anderson Silva. Murray lost a decision and was paid the equivalent of a few thousand dollars for that fight. Now, Kent police contended, he was a fugitive in Morocco, luxuriating poolside at a villa in an upscale part of Rabat. Lightning Lee was now worth a small fortune in pounds sterling, they alleged, having just orchestrated the largest cash heist in history.

Lee Murray came into the world in 1977 with his fists balled, and he never quite seemed to unclench them. The son of a British mother and a Moroccan father his given name is Lee Lamrani Ibrahim Murray he grew up poor in public housing in a rough-and-tumble section near London’s East End.

His salvation, such as it was, came through fighting. It wasn’t so much what he did as who he was. By his own reckoning, he was a veteran of hundreds of street fights, lining up his target, transferring his weight and then unloading punches that would seem to detonate on impact. After so many bare-knuckle brawls, he figured, not unreasonably, that he might as well get paid for his violence. He frequented boxing and kickboxing gyms, channeling some of his primal tendencies into mixed martial arts (MMA), the increasingly popular sport that combines the striking of boxing and Muay Thai with the ground game of wrestling and jujitsu. In particular Murray had designs on competing in the Octagon, the eight-sided cage used for bouts in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the preeminent MMA league, which is headquartered in the U.S.

“If You Cooperate, No One Will Get Hurt. Otherwise,” One Abductor Warned The Bank Depot Manager, “you'll Get A Hole ...

Jules Annan/Photoshot/Getty Images

Murray recognized that while his stand-up fighting was exceptional, he was at a loss when a bout went to the ground. That is, he needed to improve his grappling and jujitsu, disciplines predicated less on brute strength and aggression than on technique and smarts. So in the winter of 2000 he packed a duffle bag, flew to the U.S. and made his way to gritty Bettendorf, Iowa. Pat Miletich, a former junior college wrestler and five-time UFC champion, had opened an MMA training gym in Bettendorf a few blocks from the banks of the Mississippi. Aspiring fighters came there from all over the world, making Miletich’s gym to fighters what Florence was to Renaissance painters though with bloodier canvasses. To this day, Miletich’s so-called Battlebox represents athletic Darwinism at its most brutal. Under the open-door policy, anyone is welcome to come and spar against a stable of regulars, many of whom have fought in the UFC. Self-styled tough guys show up every Monday. Those with the requisite skill and ruggedness stay. The other 95% are back on the interstate, bloodied and bruised, before sundown. Murray was one of the few who stuck it out. All bone and fast-twitch muscle, Murray was built like a sprinter. He stood 6’3″ but could cut weight and fight as light as 170 pounds. One Miletich fighter likened the kid with the Cockney accent to a British greyhound. Lee Murray had world-class punching power, recalls Robbie Lawler, a top mixed martial arts fighter who sparred frequently with Murray. Man, he would hit the mitts pop-pop-POP-POP and you would stop your workout and look over because it sounded like gunfire.

Lee Murray had world-class punching power, recalls Robbie Lawler. Man, he would hit the mitts pop-pop-POP-POP and you would stop your workout and look over because it sounded like gunfire. Murray crashed with other Miletich fighters before getting a room at a shopworn motel not far from the gym. He wasn’t averse to going out for a beer from time to time, but he’d come to America’s heartland to train. When he wasn’t in the gym, strip-mining Miletich for wrestling tips, he was lifting weights or going for runs under a big dome of Iowa sky. Not one sign of trouble, says Miletich. One of his first days, I told him, ‘It’s up to you how far you want to go in this sport. At your height and weight and the way you hit, you could be a champion.’ It was just a question of learning what to do once the fight hit the ground.

That spring, Murray entered a four-man MMA tournament in rural Wisconsin. After winning his first bout, Murray fought a burly Canadian, Joe Doerksen, now a UFC veteran. Murray showed his inexperience and got caught in a submission hold called an arm bar. He tapped out (surrendered) and cursed himself the entire drive back to Iowa. Having exhausted his budget, Murray returned to England. But he kept fighting and started to win. While MMA was becoming mainstream in the U.S., the sport was still an underground pursuit in the U.K. Still, among the niche audience Murray was regarded as perhaps England’s best fighter. He was one of those guys who rose to the occasion when he fought, says Paul Ivens, an instructor at the London Shootfighters Club, where Murray often trained. You get guys who are tough on the street but they crumble in a real fight. He was one of the fortunate ones who would bask under pressure.

“If You Cooperate, No One Will Get Hurt. Otherwise,” One Abductor Warned The Bank Depot Manager, “you'll Get A Hole ...

Jules Annan/Retna Pictures

In July 2002 Murray attended a UFC card at Royal Albert Hall in London. The UFC was trying to spread the gospel to the other side of the pond, and in addition to the fighters on the card, most of the organization’s brightest stars were on hand, including Miletich, Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell. The headline bout featured a Miletich fighter, Matt Hughes, defending his welterweight title. After the card ended, the fighters repaired to a local club for an after party, a long-standing UFC tradition. At closing time the fighters and their entourages filed out. Walking down the street, Miletich felt a body on his back. It turned out to be a buddy of Tito Ortiz’s. The guy was giving Miletich a playful bear hug, but suddenly Miletich felt the man getting ripped off his back. Another fighter had mistakenly believed that Miletich was being attacked. As the misunderstanding was being sorted out, Paul (the Enforcer) Allen, a longtime associate of Murray’s, approached. In what he surely thought was a show of loyalty to both Miletich and Murray, Allen cold-cocked Ortiz’s pal. This triggered what might rank as the Mother of All Street Fights, a scene that’s become as much a part of UFC lore as any bout inside the Octagon. A who’s who of the UFC and their entourages drunk and in street clothes began throwing haymakers indiscriminately. One posse member was knocked into the street and his arm was run over by a cab. Liddell got cracked in the back of the head and went ballistic. I’m hitting guys with spinning backfists, just dropping guys, says Liddell. It was a classic street fight. ‘If I don’t know you, I drop you.’

I’m hitting guys with spinning backfists, just dropping guys. It was a classic street fight. ‘If I don’t know you, I drop you’, says MMA legend Chuck Lidell of the most famous street fight. In the mayhem Ortiz and Murray backed into an alley and squared off. According to multiple witnesses, Ortiz threw a left hook. He missed, and Murray then fired off a combination that decked Ortiz. The self-proclaimed Bad Boy of the UFC fell to the pavement. (Ortiz declined to comment to SI.) Officially, Murray was still a promising up-and-comer. But as accounts of the melee rocketed through UFC circles, the rangy British kid who poleaxed the mighty Tito Ortiz became a minor legend. He’s a scary son of a bitch, says the UFC’s outspoken president, Dana White. And I don’t mean fighterwise.

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As for sanctioned fights, Murray continued to win those too, mostly with devastating knockouts. In July 2003, he took on the well-regarded Brazilian fighter Jos (Pel ) Landi-Jons at a London event. After getting pummeled for a round, Murray regrouped and starched Pel with a right hand. He’s probably still in the ring, probably still sleeping, catchin’ flies, Murray gloated in the postfight interview, mimicking the dazed, open-mouthed look of his opponent. I know now that … [the] UFC have gotta open their eyes to me, they gotta take me. There’s no ifs or buts. Sure enough, six months later Murray was summoned by the UFC to fight on a Las Vegas card. Concealing the inconvenient detail that he’d recently been questioned about his involvement in a road-rage incident that left a middle-aged motorist in a coma he was later charged with causing grievous bodily harm, but the jury failed to reach a verdict Murray flew to the U.S. He won the fight in the first round, trapping his opponent’s head between his legs as he tried for a triangle choke, then finishing him off with an arm bar, hyperextending the man’s elbow joint. He had reached the highest level, and all of his discipline and preparation had paid off: He’d won with a classic jujitsu maneuver, proving he was no one-dimensional fighter.

He’s a scary son of a bitch, UFC’s outspoken president, Dana White, said of Murray. And I don’t mean fighterwise. Murray’s next bout came in the summer of 2004 in Cage Rage, a British UFC knockoff. He was pitted against Anderson Silva, the ferocious Brazilian who is currently the Zeus of MMA. Emboldened by his recent success, Murray snarled at Silva at the weigh-in. He talked an unbelievable amount of s—, Silva remembers. He said, ‘I’m gonna do to you what I did to your friend Pel .’ According to Silva, at one point Murray spotted a pair of his fighting shorts hanging from a chair. Murray grabbed them, ripped off a Brazilian flag patch and tossed it at Silva. Though both fighters dispensed and withstood considerable punishment, Silva ended up winning by unanimous decision. As the two shook hands, Silva winked and pushed a gift into Murray’s palm. It was the patch of the Brazilian flag. Still, Murray did himself proud, all the more so in retrospect, as Silva would go on to become one of the UFC’s brightest stars.

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But in September 2005, while training for an upcoming fight at Wembley Stadium, Murray attended a birthday party for a British model at Funky Buddha, a trendy club in London’s Mayfair district. At around 3:15 a.m., a street brawl broke out. Murray was stabbed repeatedly in the chest, suffering a punctured lung and a severed artery. As he explained in a 2005 interview with the website, One of my friends got involved in the fight. I tried to help him because about six or seven guys was on [him]. That’s when I got stabbed. I got stabbed in the head first. I thought it was a punch. When I felt the blood coming down my face, I just wiped the blood and just continued to fight. Next, I looked down at my chest and blood was literally shooting out of my chest…. It was literally flying out of my chest like a yard in front of me…. I died three times. They said, ‘Because you’re an athlete and all the training you put your body through, that’s what saved your life.’

I got stabbed in the head first. I thought it was a punch, said Murray. Next, I looked down at my chest and blood was literally shooting out of my chest…. It was literally flying out of my chest like a yard in front of me…. I died three times. They said, ‘Because you’re an athlete and all the training you put your body through, that’s what saved your life.’

In the same interview, he casually noted that he had been stabbed outside the same club a week earlier. On that occasion, he’d only had one of his nipples sliced off. It was just a minor stabbing, like these things happen every night of the week, says Andy Geer, a British promoter for Cage Rage. He had stab wounds, bullet wounds. He was a proper from-the-streets kid. Three weeks after the stabbing, though covered in zippers of scars, Murray had resumed his training in the gym. But realistically, his promising career was threatened. Particularly as mixed martial arts was becoming gentrified, what promoter would permit a man with such serious injuries to fight again? What if a scar opened during a fight? Murray may have realized as much, and that could have been an incentive to turn to crime.

The thieves took too much money. Had the Securitas gang made off with, say, a few million pounds, it might have been one thing. But the magnitude of the heist was such that overnight it became an international cause c l bre. Even the most staid British newspapers covered the case breathlessly and exhaustively. The surveillance video from the depot was televised nationally and, inevitably, made it online. Hundreds of British policemen were immediately deployed to investigate. Hefty reward money provided an incentive to anyone with any knowledge to come forward. The gang had no chance, says Howard Sounes, the British author of a forthcoming book on the heist.

The suspects, though, also did plenty to hasten their demise. Mirroring Murray’s fighting career disciplined and methodical in MMA; arrogant and unthinking in street brawls the same thieves who had been smooth and poised in the actual pilferage could scarcely have been sloppier in the aftermath. Some gang members boasted to friends about the heist. One of the vehicles used in the crime was set afire in the middle of a field, attracting attention. The money was poorly hidden. Ocean’s 11 quickly devolved into a comedy of errors that recalled the Al Pacino classic Dog Day Afternoon. That’s what happens, says Bruce Reynolds, the convicted mastermind of Britain’s Great Train Robbery of 1963 and now something of an armchair analyst of British crime. All the planning goes into the robbery and none goes into what happens once you have the money.

“If You Cooperate, No One Will Get Hurt. Otherwise,” One Abductor Warned The Bank Depot Manager, “you'll Get A Hole ...

A portion of the money recovered from the heist. AP

Within 48 hours, police had made their first arrest. Acting on a tip, they apprehended Michelle Hogg, a makeup artist and the daughter of a policeman. Police found a quantity of latex they alleged Hogg had used to make prosthetic disguises for the robbers. (Under questioning, Hogg gave a statement saying she was too scared to identify the thieves.) Later that day, police found the van used to hold the Dixons. The next day, acting on another tip, they located a second van used in the robbery. When they looked inside, they found guns, ski masks, bandannas and 1.3 million in cash. Acting on still another tip the following day, police raided the homes of Murray’s pal Lea Rusha, an aspiring mixed martial arts fighter, and Rusha’s friend Jetmir Bucpapa. In Rusha’s bedroom, police found plans of the Securitas depot, and hidden in a nearby garage was 8.6 million in cash. All told, within 10 days, five people had been charged. Millions of pounds had been recovered. And innumerable additional leads had surfaced. A gang of misfits and bruisers pulled off the biggest robbery ever with considerable criminal aplomb, says Sounes. But they were also stupid. This was a brilliant caper which turned into a farce.

“If You Cooperate, No One Will Get Hurt. Otherwise,” One Abductor Warned The Bank Depot Manager, “you'll Get A Hole ...

From left to right: Emir Hysenaj, Stuart John Royle, Lea John Rusha, Jetmir Bucpapa and Roger Coutts. AFP PHOTO/KENT POLICE/HANDOUT

The fate of the accused was sealed in the fall of 2006 when Hogg went QE (Queen’s Evidence), as the Brits say, and testified against her co-conspirators in exchange for her freedom. She explained how she created the disguises so the gang members who posed as police officers couldn’t be accurately identified. On Jan. 28, 2008, after seven months of trial during which more than 200 witnesses were called, five men including Rusha, Bucpapa and Hysenaj, the insider were found guilty for their part in the robbery and sentenced to a total of 140 years in jail. At the sentencing, authorities urged the public to resist romanticizing the caper. Fearing for their lives after giving extensive testimony, the Dixons entered the British equivalent of witness protection. So did Hogg, the makeup artist, who, according to multiple newspaper accounts, has a 7 million bounty on her head. This crime was, at heart, a crime of violence, Nigel Pilkington of the Crown Prosecution Service told reporters. And with more than half the loot still unaccounted for, he vowed to continue to pursue the case. This is not the end of the matter for these criminals, he said. We intend to seize their ill-gotten gains, wherever they may be.

As the Securitas gang was being rounded up systematically, Murray apparently did not stand idly by. He left the country, leaving his wife and two children behind. Accompanied by his friend Paul Allen he of the infamous UFC street brawl he drove from London to Dover. There, according to Kent police, the two piloted their car onto a ferry headed for France. Murray is believed to have then traveled from France to Amsterdam to Spain, where he and Allen crossed the Strait of Gibraltar by ferry before finally finding sanctuary in Morocco.

If Morocco has historically held a certain exotic allure for Europeans, Murray is believed to have gone there for more practical reasons. Because of his lineage on his father’s side, Murray is considered a Moroccan national. And Morocco has no formal extradition agreement with Great Britain. By all accounts, Murray lived lavishly in Northern Africa. He, Allen and two other friends from England, Gary Armitage and Mustafa Basar, lived in a villa in Souissi, an upscale district popular with diplomats, in Morocco’s capital city, Rabat. They tooled around town in a Mercedes and spent prodigious amounts of money on clothes, jewelry, electronic equipment and jaunts to Casablanca.

“If You Cooperate, No One Will Get Hurt. Otherwise,” One Abductor Warned The Bank Depot Manager, “you'll Get A Hole ...

Paul Allen (left) and Gary Armitage. ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP/Getty Images

After a few months, Murray reportedly spent close to $1 million on a concrete manor around the corner from a cousin of Morocco’s king, Mohammed VI, outfitting it with an additional 200,000 in upgrades that include marble floors and a fully equipped gym. He also commissioned a giant mural above the hot tub, depicting his victory in his one and only UFC fight. Allen bought a property of his own nearby.

“If You Cooperate, No One Will Get Hurt. Otherwise,” One Abductor Warned The Bank Depot Manager, “you'll Get A Hole ...

The mural Murray had commissioned for his home in Morocco. JAMES MILLS/DAILY MAIL

Shortly after Murray’s arrival in Morocco in March ’06, the Kent police and Scotland Yard officials handling the investigation contacted Moroccan authorities and conveyed their concerns. Likely unbeknownst to Murray, almost from the day he arrived in the country he was under 24-hour surveillance. On June 25, 2006, dozens of Moroccan police sealed off a portion of the Mega Mall in Rabat, where Murray, Allen, Armitage and Basar were shopping. Because some of the suspects were experts in martial arts (and were potentially carrying weapons), the small army of police officers was armed. After a physical struggle, the four men were arrested. A Kent police spokeswoman asserted that Murray was arrested for offenses linked to the 53 million Securitas raid. Murray and three of his friends were charged with drug possession and for violently resisting when police arrested them at the mall, a crime a Moroccan judge termed beating and humiliating members of the security forces.

When the Moroccan police went to Murray’s residence, they found cocaine and marijuana. The four men were charged with drug possession and for violently resisting when police arrested them at the mall, a crime a Moroccan judge termed beating and humiliating members of the security forces. They were found guilty and in February 2007 received sentences ranging from four to eight months in prison. Armitage and Basar were released soon after for time served and returned to the U.K. Allen was extradited by the British government and is currently in a British jail, awaiting trial for his alleged role in the heist.

“If You Cooperate, No One Will Get Hurt. Otherwise,” One Abductor Warned The Bank Depot Manager, “you'll Get A Hole ...

Murray (right) being taken to Sake Court to stand trial in Morocco. ABDELHAK SENNA/AFP/Getty Images

Murray’s situation was somewhat more complicated. Because of his Moroccan heritage, the U.K.’s extradition request was initially denied. The British government has been putting a lot of pressure on Morocco, says Abdellah Benlamhidi Aissaoui, Murray’s lawyer in Morocco. But Moroccan nationals cannot be extradited [from Morocco]. That is the law, and the law should govern. The Moroccan government discussed swapping Murray for Mohamed Karbouzi, a suspected terrorist living in London and sought for questioning in a 2003 Casablanca bombing. But the British government reportedly declined the exchange. Aissaoui says he has also heard that Britain might file a formal request to have Murray tried for the Securitas heist by Moroccan authorities in Morocco. While the extradition mess is being sorted out, Murray, at the behest of Britain, sits in a jail cell just outside Rabat, a caged cage fighter. It’s tough for him, says his lawyer. He states that he’s innocent. He has not participated in this robbery. He made money from his fights. He doesn’t need to do this.

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If Murray was in fact the ringleader, the Mr. Big, it wouldn’t surprise Reynolds, the Great Train Robber. He compares a heist to sport. You’re challenging the authority of the state the challenge is what it’s all about, says Reynolds, now 76 and living outside London. [Same as] Jesse James and Pancho Villa. What about the money? It’s a benchmark. Everyone wants to beat the record. It’s like [Formula One] drivers want to beat Michael Schumacher’s record.

Murray isn’t granting interviews these days (his lawyer says that for Murray to speak to SI is impossible right now ), much less speaking publicly about his guilt or innocence with respect to the heist. But he told a friend this story: After learning about Murray’s saga the street fights, the stabbing, the Securitas accusation a London casino wrote him a formal letter explaining that he was no longer welcome at the establishment. That was fine by Murray. He says he wrote a quick note back: Haven’t you already heard? I hit the jackpot. “If You Cooperate, No One Will Get Hurt. Otherwise,” One Abductor Warned The Bank Depot Manager, “you'll Get A Hole ...

“If You Cooperate, No One Will Get Hurt. Otherwise,” One Abductor Warned The Bank Depot Manager, “you'll Get A Hole ...

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Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

People protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline demonstrate at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota on Thanksgiving Day 2016. Cassi Alexandra for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Cassi Alexandra for NPR

The Dakota Access Pipeline’s route takes it over four states and nearly 1,200 miles, from the Bakken oil fields in northwestern North Dakota through South Dakota, Iowa and down to a terminal in Illinois. But one Missouri River crossing just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota has become the focal point of a fight over how the pipeline’s route was analyzed and approved by the federal government. In legal challenges and public demonstrations, members of the tribe and their supporters have argued that they were not adequately consulted about the route. Running the pipeline under a Missouri River reservoir called Lake Oahe, member say, would jeopardize the primary water source for the reservation, and construction would further damage sacred sites near the lake, violating tribal treaty rights.

After more than six months of legal wrangling, the Trump administration reversed a decision by the Obama administration and announced it is allowing the pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners, to drill under Lake Oahe and finish building the last section of the pipeline. Here are some key moments in the fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline.

This story has developed over many months, and this timeline captures only a portion of the newsworthy developments that have occurred, focusing largely on legal and policy decisions.

Dec. 2015 – Jan. 2016

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Omaha District publishes a draft[1] of its plan to approve the Dakota Access Pipeline route under the Missouri River. The Corps opened the plan up to public comments, including comments on environmental and cultural impacts.

April 2016

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office determines that no historic properties will be affected by the pipeline crossing.

A letter[2] from the Corps’ senior field archaeologist for the project lists five “recorded cultural sites” within the area that could be affected by construction of the pipeline, and more than 30 others that are thought to be within a 1-mile radius.

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

The letter supports the determination that “no historic properties will be subject to effect,” by the crossing under Lake Oahe, and notes that the Standing Rock Sioux has requested further archaeological survey of the area.

June 2016

The U.S. government’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation disputes the Corps determination in a letter[3] to the assistant secretary of the Army, citing the need for cooperation with tribal leaders to identify areas of concern to them. In the letter, the advisory council director asks the Corps to justify its decision.

July 25, 2016

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approves[4] the portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline route that crosses the Missouri River at the Lake Oahe reservoir. The crossing is on Army Corps-controlled land. The 1,261-page report announcing the approval said of the public review process: “No significant comments remain unresolved.”

The Omaha district commander, Col. John Henderson, wrote, “I have evaluated the anticipated environmental, economic, cultural, and social effects, and any cumulative effects” of the river crossing and found it is “not injurious to the public interest.”

Aug. 4, 2016

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sues[5] the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The tribe alleged that the Corps had failed to adequately consult tribe members before approving the pipeline, and had violated the National Historic Preservation Act when it “effectively authorized construction of the vast majority of the pipeline in and around federally regulated waters without any provision to ensure against destruction to culturally important sites.”

“There is a high risk that culturally and historically significant sites will be damaged or destroyed in the absence of an injunction,” the tribe wrote in its court filing.

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

In August 2016, demonstrators rally near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. That same month, a subsidiary of the company building the pipeline, accused protesters of halting construction activities. James MacPherson/AP hide caption

toggle caption James MacPherson/AP

Aug. 15, 2016

Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of the pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners, countersues[6] leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux, alleging that protesters near the Lake Oahe river crossing have “halted construction activities” that had been scheduled to begin five days earlier.

“On Wednesday August 10, 2016, representatives of Dakota Access arrived at the Construction Site and were met with resistance by approximately 15 to 30 individuals … who were protesting the construction of the Pipeline. By the afternoon, the number of individuals protesting at the Construction Site increased to approximately 100,” the company wrote.

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

Native American protesters and their supporters approach construction crews during a demonstration against work being done for the Dakota Access Pipeline near Cannon Ball, N.D., on Sept. 3, 2016. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Sept. 3, 2016

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe issues a statement saying Energy Transfer Partners demolished an area that contained “significant Native artifacts and sacred sites” when construction crews bulldozed a two-mile-long area near the Lake Oahe river crossing and north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

“I surveyed this land and we confirmed multiple graves and specific prayer sites,” the tribe’s historic preservation officer, Tim Mentz, said in the statement. “Portions, and possibly complete sites, have been taken out entirely.”

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

And protests in North Dakota turned violent[7] when private security guards clashed with some protesters. As reporter Amy Sisk of the public radio collaboration Inside Energy said in an NPR Live discussion on Facebook[8], “What happened is some protesters who’ve been camped out near this construction area broke through a fence to access this construction site and were met with some private security guards and guard dogs hired by the pipeline company. … Law enforcement says the protesters attacked the security guards and the dogs.” She added that[9] demonstrators said the dogs “actually bit some of the protesters.”

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

Demonstrators march from an encampment on the banks of the Cannonball River to a nearby construction site for the Dakota Access Pipeline to perform a daily prayer ceremony in September 2016. Andrew Cullen hide caption

toggle caption Andrew Cullen Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

Protesters (left) wade into the Cannonball River as others (right) pray and hold flags while marching across a wooden pedestrian bridge across a creek north of the main protest camp near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Emily Kask for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Emily Kask for NPR

Sept. 9, 2016

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg denies[12] the Standing Rock Sioux’s request to stop construction. In his decision[13], he writes that “the United States’ relationship with the Indian tribes has been contentious and tragic.” But he went on to say that the Army Corps “likely complied” with its obligation to consult the tribe, adding that the tribe “has not shown it will suffer injury that would be prevented by any injunction the Court could issue.”

But the Justice Department, the Department of the Army and the Interior Department announced that construction[14] on Army Corps-controlled land near the Lake Oahe river crossing should not proceed and asked that the pipeline company honor the request pending further evaluation and consultation with the tribe.

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

Oct. 12, 2016

Energy Transfer Partners proceeds with construction despite the request by the three federal agencies that it voluntarily halt activities near the Lake Oahe river crossing. The Morton County Sheriff arrests 27 people[15] demonstrating at the site.

Oct. 24, 2016

The chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, Dave Archambault II, sends a letter[16] to then-U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch requesting an investigation “to protect civil rights” of protesters, citing the “overall militarization of law enforcement response.”

Nov. 2, 2016

Then-President Obama says in an interview[17] that the U.S Army Corps of Engineers is “examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline in a way. So we’re going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of the first Americans.”

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

Military veterans protesting the pipeline stand opposite police guarding a bridge at the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Dec. 1, 2016. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Scott Olson/Getty Images Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

Oceti Sakowin Camp occupied by protesters can be seen in the distance on Dec. 4, 2016. Cassi Alexandra for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Cassi Alexandra for NPR

Dec. 4, 2016

The Army Corps halts construction[22] of the Dakota Access Pipeline and says it intends to issue an environmental impact statement with “full public input and analysis” before it approves the river crossing at Lake Oahe.

Jan. 18, 2017

The Army publishes a notice[23] in the Federal Register saying it is preparing the environmental impact statement and soliciting public comments until Feb. 20, 2017, on whether to grant the easement necessary to cross under Lake Oahe.

Jan. 24, 2017

Key Moments In The Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

President Trump signs an executive memorandum instructing the Army to expedite the review and approval process[24] for the unbuilt section of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Jan. 31, 2017

The Army says[25] it has been directed to expedite the review process for the easement request, and that “the Assistant Secretary for the Army Civil Works will make a decision on the pipeline once a full review and analysis is completed in accordance with the [president’s] directive.”

Feb. 7, 2017

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers grants the easement[26] allowing the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The Corps also issues a memo[27] saying it intends to terminate the public comment period and rescind its notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact assessment. The pipeline company immediately began construction[28] near the crossing under Lake Oahe.

Feb. 9, 2017

The Cheyenne River Sioux tribe asks the U.S. District Court to issue a restraining order[29] to block construction of the final piece of the pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe officially joins the request[30] a few days later. Both reservations get their water downstream of the Lake Oahe crossing.

Feb. 13, 2017

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg denies the tribes’ joint motion, noting that oil is not yet flowing under the reservoir. In his decision, Boasberg requires Dakota Access LLC to update the court on Feb. 21, “and every Monday thereafter as to the likely date that oil will begin to flow beneath Lake Oahe.”

Feb. 15, 2017

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne River Sioux tribe request a summary judgement[31] against both the Army Corps and Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of the pipeline company.

The plaintiffs cite tribal land rights under the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty[32] and argue that the Corps decision to grant the easement was “arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law.”

Feb. 17, 2017

The Corps formally terminates its environmental review in a notice published[33] in the Federal Register.

Feb. 22, 2017

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum sets this date as a deadline[34] for the remaining protesters to leave an encampment on federal land near the area of the pipeline company’s construction site.


  1. ^ publishes a draft (
  2. ^ A letter (
  3. ^ in a letter (
  4. ^ approves (
  5. ^ sues (
  6. ^ countersues (
  7. ^ protests in North Dakota turned violent (
  8. ^ said in an NPR Live discussion on Facebook (
  9. ^ She added that (
  10. ^ temporarily halts construction (
  11. ^ activates the North Dakota National Guard (
  12. ^ denies (
  13. ^ decision (
  14. ^ announced that construction (
  15. ^ arrests 27 people (
  16. ^ sends a letter (
  17. ^ says in an interview (
  18. ^ uses tear gas and sprays water (
  19. ^ tells protesters (
  20. ^ follows up (
  21. ^ Nonetheless, many people stay (
  22. ^ halts construction (
  23. ^ publishes a notice (
  24. ^ expedite the review and approval process (
  25. ^ Army says (
  26. ^ grants the easement (
  27. ^ issues a memo (
  28. ^ began construction (
  29. ^ asks the U.S. District Court to issue a restraining order (
  30. ^ the request (
  31. ^ request a summary judgement (
  32. ^ 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty (
  33. ^ notice published (
  34. ^ as a deadline (
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