Category: information

Legal Steps to Recover Your Stolen Money

This is a series of steps for attempting to recover money stolen by fraudsters. It has been created by Barrister  Gideon Roseman following his skirmish with fraudsters. You can read about that at fightback.ninja/amateur-detective-recovers-stolen-money/

  1. Immediately phone your bank and ask to speak with the fraud team

Explain what has happened and demand they immediately contact the fraudster’s bank, i.e.  the bank you transferred your money to.

  1. Immediately contact a solicitor or barrister who can accept instructions directly from members of the public (or alternatively you can attempt to do this yourself). Ask them to immediately make an application to freeze the fraudster’s bank account and any other bank account that the fraudster has with their bank. The application should include a request for an order that the fraudster’s bank provides the following information:
  • all contact details (mobile phone, home phone, email address, residential address etc.) for all signatories to the fraudster’s bank account and any other bank account held in the fraudster’s name or any other signatory to this bank account that is held at the bank
  • all bank statements for the fraudster’s bank account and any other bank account to which the fraudster or any other signatory has with the bank in question for a period of 6 months; and
  • the current balance of all bank accounts with the bank that is in the fraudster’s or any other signatory’s name.
  1. Once you get hold of the court order, this will need to be immediately emailed to the fraudster’s banks’ ‘court orders’ team who can process it. You can ask your bank for this email address.
  2. As soon as you receive the information from the fraudster’s bank, consider the following points:

(i) has your money been transferred or paid to any recognisable company you can contact, such as a known retailer

(ii) if you can identify a company that has received your money, you can then contact this company, explain what has happened and request they either cancel the transaction made by the fraudster or request them to hold onto the money they have received and

(iii) has the money been transferred to other bank accounts.

  1. If your money has been transferred out of the fraudster’s bank account and into another bank account, you have the option of returning to court and making an application for the information set out above and repeating the process set out above.
  2. When you have received the fraudster’s bank account statements, try to work out the dates and times of the transfers out of their accounts. Your bank will be under a duty to contact the fraudster’s bankers, who will then freeze the fraudster’s account.

If your bank has failed to act within a reasonable period of time after you have notified them of the fraud, which has enabled the fraudster to transfer your money without a trace, it is likely that your bank will have breached their duty and will have to compensate you.

Good luck.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.

Equifax Data Breach

The personal data of up to 44 million British consumers was feared stolen by hackers in a massive cyber attack on Equifax.

The information commissioner said it was investigating how the hack on Equifax, a US credit rating firm, affected UK customers, many of whom will be unaware their data is held by the company.

Equifax and its UK subsidiary companies state on their websites that they represent British clients including BT, Capital One and British Gas.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has urged Equifax to alert affected UK customers as soon as possible, and said it will work with the relevant overseas authorities on behalf of British citizens.

Equifax admitted hackers had exposed the personal data of 143 million customers in the US, which was stolen between mid-May and July this year due to a vulnerability on its website. The hack was not made public until recently.

The stolen information includes names, social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license details. It is also thought that around 209,000 credit card numbers were stolen.

Equifax said: “limited personal information” from British and Canadian residents had been compromised.

A spokesman for BT said: “We are aware of the developing story and are monitoring the situation closely. Like many companies in the UK, BT uses Equifax services. We are working on establishing whether this breach has any impact on those services.”

Lenders rely on the information collected by credit bureaus such as Equifax to help them decide whether to approve financing for homes, cars and credit cards.

Equifax chief executive Richard Smith said in a statement “I apologise to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes.”

How to check if you are affected – go online to https://trustedidpremier.com/eligibility/eligibility.html and type in your last name and last 6 digits of your social security number and it should tell you if you have been affected by the data breach.

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Journalist Turns Anonymised Data into Profiles

A journalist and a data scientist secured anonymised browsing data for three million users. They created a fake marketing company to get the data and were able to de-anonymised much of it i.e. they could identify the users.

Anonymised data means the names have been removed along with supposedly anything that makes it possible to identify the individuals.

How is that Possible?

There are various techniques that can be used to identify people in the data, such as:-

  1. Anyone who visits their own Twitter analytics page will have a URL in their browsing record which contains their Twitter username. Find that URL, and you’ve linked the anonymous data to an actual person.
  2. A similar trick works for German social networking site Xing.

For other users, a more statistical approach can be used to de-anonymise the data. For instance, just 10 URLs can be enough to uniquely identify someone. For instance, how few people there are at your company, with your bank, your hobby, your preferred newspaper and your mobile phone provider. By creating “fingerprints” from the data, it’s possible to compare it to other, more public, sources of what URLs people have visited, such as social media accounts, or public YouTube playlists.

Eckert, a journalist, worked up with data scientist Andreas Dewes to acquire personal user data and see what they could get from it. They created a fake marketing company, complete with its own website, a LinkedIn page for its chief executive, and even a careers site.

The pair presented their findings at the Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas

They made the site full of pictures and marketing buzzwords, claiming to have developed a machine-learning algorithm which would be able to market more effectively to people, but only if it was trained with a large amount of data. Then they asked companies for anonymised data to try on their system.

The data they were eventually given came, for free, from a data broker, which was willing to let them test their hypothetical AI advertising platform.

Another discovery through the data collection occurred via Google Translate, which stores the text of every query put through it in the URL. From this, the researchers were able to uncover operational details about a German cybercrime investigation, since the detective involved was translating requests for assistance to foreign police forces.

Where did all of the data come from?  A number of browser plugins collect data, Google Translate collects data and various websites collect this data.

It is supposed to be anonymised when passed on to ensure no-one can identify the individuals, but this clearly is not true.

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BT Call Protect

BT Call Protect is BT’s new free service to help their users block out the scam callers, cold callers and other undesirables.

Nuisance calls take many forms – they can be malicious calls, unsolicited sales propositions, scams or simply someone dialling the wrong number.

Getting nuisance calls at home can be intrusive, may disturb your home life and, when they happen repeatedly, can be upsetting.

For BT home phone customers, BT Call Protect is free and works in three ways:

  1. BT blacklist: Numbers identified as nuisance callers by BT’s experts are added to a BT blacklist and sent automatically to your junk voicemail.
  2. Personal blacklist: If you get an unwanted call you can add the number to your Personal blacklist. All future calls from that number will be sent to your junk voicemail.
  3. Individual call types: Send calls from specific categories (such as withheld or international) straight to your junk voicemail.

Features

  • BT Call Protect is easy to set up

All new and existing BT customers can opt in at bt.com/callprotect. Once it’s set up  you can manage your settings  and add phone numbers to your personal blacklist by going online to bt.com/btcallprotect or by calling 1572 from your home phone (no charge) at any time.

  • You control who calls your phone

If you get an unwanted call hang up, dial 1572 and follow the simple instructions to add the last number to your personal blacklist. All future calls from that number will be sent to your junk voicemail.

You can also choose to send international, withheld and unrecognised numbers to your junk voicemail further reducing the amount of unwanted calls received.

  • BT’s Expert knowledge

BT has a team of experts based in Oswestry who identify nuisance calls and create the BT blacklist. Numbers on this blacklist will be sent directly to your junk voicemail. The team is continually updating the list with new unwanted numbers, so you can be sure it’s up to date. The blacklist also includes the phone numbers of scammers detected by the BT Security team.

The list is continually being updated and new numbers added, helping to reduce the number of nuisance calls.

Alternatives to BT Call Protect

There are various products on the market that can block unknown callers etc. The most well known is truCall but Gigaset and Panasonic also make home phones with call blocking features.

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07709 Scammer Phone Number

077009 is a fake mobile telephone number prefix.

If you have been contacted by someone claiming their number starts with  077009, you should be wary as the caller ID has probably been spoofed i.e. your telephone is reporting a false caller number.

Do not answer unexpected calls from 077009 numbers as they are likely to be from a scammer.

The 0077009 numbers have been allocated for use in UK TV and films where the makers don’t want viewers calling up a real phone number and causing annoyance. But some scammers have started to use these numbers in messages etc. so as to hide their real number.

In the USA most films and TV use numbers that have 555 as the central portion as these are easily recognisable as fake.

Most countries seem to have set ranges of fake phone numbers for various purposes.

If you are interested, the website https://fakenumber.org/ lists lots of these numbers.

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Facebook Adverts Target the Family

Facebook is introducing a new household audience feature that will let companies direct adverts to entire families or to specific people within a household. The tool could help aim adverts at people who influence purchasing decisions and other adverts to the people making the actual purchases.

Here’s how it works:

  1. The company selects the audience they want to target
  2. They uploads the custom audience data to Facebook (names and address, email addresses etc.). This may be data from their own systems or purchased data.
  3. They turn on the household audience feature to reach not just the person they’re targeting, but also other people in the same household.

Facebook is open about wanting to shift TV advertising to their platform.  Facebook executives said they’ll be able to identify members of the same household based on data, such as their familial relationships on Facebook, but also based on the frequency of shared check-ins or where they access the internet i.e. clever guesswork.

The tool might also be used to reduce wasted advertising spend. For example, if someone has already bought a household-specific product or service e.g. Netflix subscription, an Airbnb reservation—then based on the customer database, the marketer and Facebook know to stop showing such adverts to that household.

Along with the added targeting, Facebook is adding additional measurement capabilities. This will appear in the Adverts Reporting dashboard and show how campaigns perform in terms of getting results across members of a household. Metrics will include how many households the advertising reaches, along with the frequency at which they were reached. It’ll also potentially show how an advert shown to one person affected a purchase made by someone else.

Examples of how the new feature may be used:-

  1. A husband purchased products from Sonos, so he’s in the company’s customer database. Sonos might then try to influence his wife to get him a gift or their kids to buy him something.
  2. One member of the household who sees a hotel advert in France will find others in the household have seen it too, leading to the family making holiday plans.
  3. It could show parents ideas for their children and husbands the items his wife likes to look at.

This could spoil surprises or even expose cheating partners.

Many people already find the adverts that follow them around the Internet to be creepy. You look at a pair of shoes on Amazon then find every website you look at is showing you those same shoes.  This new Facebook feature could take that creepiness to a new level.

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Safe From Scams Website

http://www.safefromscams.co.uk/

SafeFromScams was created in 2010 to offer information on how to protect yourself against scams.

The sales pitch for the site is:-

“It’s a very dangerous world out there. You might lock your doors.. The scammers are everywhere. They want to part you from your hard-earned money, to steal your identity, or simply take advantage of your honesty to make a profit from others. You might be law-abiding, but they’re not. There are thousands of them, in person, in business, on the phone and online – and they’re growing more ingenious all the time”.

They say that the site is the resource to learn about scams of all types, from the classics that are still being run regularly, like bill-padding, builders, and chain letters – which still work – to the new ones that keep appearing, things like phishing, mobile phone scams, or those fake lotteries.

The website was created seven years ago as at that time, there was no single UK resource for interesting features and practical advice on how to stay safe from scams.

They say that the features and articles are written by experts – who have experience, or a particular interest in this area.

The guy who started Safe From Scams is John Rowlinson – the owner of PtS which has software and property companies and he uses those to fund the Safe From Scams website and a number of similar sites.

The site covers a wide range of scams, including Credit Card Scams, Travel Scams, Fake Goods, Medical Scams and is a great resource for more detailed information on the various kinds of scams.,

There is also an ‘Ask the Expert’ feature.

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Cyber Attack Costs Reckitt Benckiser £100 Million

Reckitt Benckiser is not a household name but it is a huge international company that makes Dettol and Durex amongst other things.

The Petya ransomware attack in June 2017 affected many companies and governments  but Reckitt Benckiser had 15,000 laptops, 2000 servers and 500 computer systems rendered unusable within an hour.

This ransomware is very similar to the Wannacry ransomware attack in May 2017 that caused havoc at the NHS.

Petya gets into a system through email – someone opens an email that they shouldn’t and then the ransomware can spread from computer to computer using a technique that Microsoft issued a security patch for a long time ago.  So it appears that Reckitt Benckiser did not keep their system up to date for security.

Once in the systems and spreading it is very hard to contain without simply turning all of the computers off and cleaning them of the problem one at a time.

Reckitt and Benckiser were particularly badly hit because the virus got into their manufacturing systems and halted production at numerous factories around the world.

“Consequently, we were unable to ship and invoice some orders to customers prior to the close of the quarter,” a Reckitt Benckiser spokesperson said in a statement.

The cost of £100 million is mostly the drop in the share price rather than day to day costs.

Businesses have to become much more aware of the dangers in the cyber world and their responsibility to secure their customers information and their systems.

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Warning: Are You on a Sucker List

Scammers trade a list between themselves of people who have fallen for scams and it’s called a “sucker list”.

Sucker lists, which include names, addresses, phone numbers, and other information, are created, bought, and sold by scammers, spammers and some dishonest telemarketers. Scammers know that people who have been tricked once are easier to trick again. As a result, these people are flooded with letters, e-mails and phone calls about inheritances, lottery wins, health cures, investments etc.

In 2015, almost 200,000 people appeared on 13 different “suckers lists” that were seized by fraud investigators. Trading Standards said those listed were being sent mailshots inviting them to take part in lotteries, prize draws, competitions and special offers etc.

The average age of people on the list is 75. You can see how scammers target the elderly and vulnerable.

If you’ve ever been scammed, chances are your name could be on one.

How Do You Know if You’re on a Sucker List?

If you have been scammed online and get more scam messages and mail than others then chances are you are on a suckers list and there is no way to get off the list except by not responding to any scam messages for a long time. Evenetually they may lose interest in you.

How to Avoid Getting on a Sucker List:

Ensure you are registered on all mail and telemarketing opt-out or do-not-call lists.

The following article explains how to do register with the various preference services.

http://www.fightbackonline.org/index.php/fightback/17-how-to-fight-back/30-how-to-stop-spam-letters

Don’t reply to offers of money, miracle cures, competition wins etc. If you didn’t enter a competition then  you cannot have won one.

If you are truly being bombarded, consider changing your email address and/or phone number, and keep them confidential/unlisted.

In 2017, sucker’s lists held by National Trading Standards contained nearly 300,000 names.

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Airline Delays and Compensation

There are EU laws defining how much air passengers should be compensated for various flight delays.

However, many of the airlines are not playing fair with their customers and large numbers of people find they have to complain to the Civil Aviation Authority for their recompense. This is after they have been through the airlines dispute resolution process.

The Denied Boarding regulation covers flights originating in the EU and all flights by EU registered airlines.  However it does not cover non EU registered airlines flying outside the EU.

  • Short haul passengers are entitled to 250 Euros if the flight is delayed by more than 3 hours
  • Long haul passengers can be entitled to 300 Euros if the flight landed between 3 and 4 hours late
  • Long haul passengers are entitled to 600 Euros if the flight landed more than 4 hours behind schedule
  • Delayed passengers may be entitled to meals, refreshments, email service, phone calls and even overnight accommodation depending on the delays.

The airlines argue that most causes of delays are outside of their control e.g. weather problems, bird strikes, airport issues etc. and therefore they shouldn’t have to pay, but the regulators take a more open approach and expect the airlines to pay compensation in many of these cases.

For the EU law to apply, you’ll need to have departed from the UK, European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.

The airlines should help you at the airport. But if not, then you’ll need to apply to the airline afterwards. Make sure to keep any relevant receipts and don’t overspend – they won’t compensate you for luxury hotels and extravagant meals and alcohol etc.

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/holiday-cancellations-and-compensation/if-your-flights-delayed-or-cancelled/  has detailed information on exactly how much you can claim.

The Which consumer magazine site has a letter creator to help you claim compensation. At http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/i-had-a-flight-delay-can-i-get-compensation

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