“I hate social media. I hate the internet,” FBI Special Agent Frederick Simon told members of the Palisades-Brentwood National League of Young Men. “I used to feel the good and the bad of the internet were evenly weighed, but now I feel that the good is outweighed by the bad.
“The internet is where the predators are fishing,” Simon told the gathering of high school students in Janes Hall at the Palisades Presbyterian Church on December 8.
As an example, he described a case in Orange County, in which a woman was duped out of more than $130,000. She met a man on the internet, who convinced her to give him money.
Her relatives contacted the FBI, or the case may have gone undetected. How did the predator convince the woman he met online to send so much money?
“He came and had lunch with me,” the woman told agents. She added that he looked just like the photo the he posted on the internet.
The predator had actually posted a different photo of a guy, who was likely not connected to the scam but was paid to go and take the woman out to lunch. Afterwards, the woman sent the predator even more money.
Simon also warned the youth not to go into anyone’s home they don’t know but had met online. “They contact you on the internet and convince you to come into a place you don’t know,” he said. “These people are worse than predators, they will exploit you any way they can.
“Do not be involved in any way, with anyone you do not know,” Simon warned.
The special agent has been with the FBI for two decades and has served on several different squads, including terrorism and espionage. He is currently assigned to the Los Angeles Division’s Office of Public and Congressional Affairs.
Whenever he flies, he alerts the pilots, so they know he is onboard. On one particular flight to Minneapolis, where he was assigned to investigate a case involving Somali nationals, a flight attendant came back and told Simon they had an issue with a 30-year male who had dropped his pants and was “vigorously touching himself.”
“The airline doesn’t appreciate that,” said Simon, who was dispatched to a seat close to the man to keep track of him. “At the end of the flight I arrested him.”
He said in his years with the FBI, “I’ve seen a lot of things I would not want you to see or my children to see. Monsters do exist. Monsters look like normal humans. They have traded in their human card.
“People do really horrific things, but most people are not like that,” he assured his audience.
Simon said he was assigned to a city that had a high crime rate. He was riding with a police officer and asked him, “What percentage of people in this city are criminal?”
The police officer told him, “About 10 percent.”
Simon thought about what the officer said and agreed. “About 90 percent of people just want to get up, go to work and come home,” he said. “[But] 10 percent of people can do a lot of bad things.”
He emphasized what a great country this is. “The United States might be the only country you can move to and become an American,” Simon said. “You can come here from China, live here, take a citizenship test and you are an American.
“I cannot go to France and live there and be considered French, no matter how long I live there,” he continued, noting that this is true in every country of the world—except America.
He was asked if he felt this county was racist. “I don’t know if this country is as racist as it is portrayed in the media,” he responded.
Somebody else asked him if abduction has gone up here. “Not in the United States, but in Latin America,” the agent said.
He was asked about interrogation and interviews.
“There’s a science to I & I,” Simon said. “I could talk about it for two days.”
He said that interrogation is accusatory and only works in special cases, but “an interview is a conversation with a purpose.”
Simon worked on the Boston Marathon bombing case and also assisted with interviews after the bomb explosion at a day spa in Aliso Viejo that killed one woman and injured two others in 2018.
“I do rapport building to get people to speak about themselves,” he said, and acknowledged that depending on who he interviews, it determines his clothing choice.
Before he interviews someone, he tries to find out as much as he can about them.
But “the greatest disappointment was the paperwork,” he said, referring to a past assignment. “I would do two hours of interviewing and then four hours of writing.”
“The cool thing about the FBI is all the areas you can work, such as drugs and gangs, cyberware, financial areas, child pornography and terrorism,” Simon said. The FBI covers about 300 different areas, offering a wide range of interesting options for those seeking a career with the bureau.
National League of Young Men
The National League of Young Men, Inc. (NLYM), initially named Beach City Service League, was founded in 2007 in Newport Beach by Diane Edmonston and Mary Pat Lucas, specifically for high school males and their mothers.
The women’s goal was to provide a unique program of leadership, service, culture and protocol opportunities for the young men in their community, while at the same time strengthening the mother-son relationship.
The nonprofit rapidly spread and when other communities wanted to start their own chapter, the name was changed to NLYM and a national board of directors was created.
The Brentwood-Palisades chapter was founded in 2016. The current board of directors includes Shawn Silletti (president), Kristen Abraham (president-elect), Tina Kenefick, Jill Berman, Kristi Drinkwater, Lee Anne Sanderson, Liz Denham, Jennifer Munakash, Jennifer Mirner, Karina Mirkin, Maylee Witham, Staci Rubin, Tracy Wang, Michaela Carmichael, Leslie Johnson, Maryam Zar, Dolly Klock and Lauren Sands.