Category: The Authorities

Surrey Police Stop Phone Scammer

Brandon Hurst of Hounslow, posed as a bank fraud investigator and scammed two ladies 88 and 70, out of just under £6,000.

He was caught and has been sentenced to 6 months imprisonment, suspended for two years and has to do community service and pay back nearly £6,000.

He phoned his victims and claimed to be calling from bank fraud investigation departments of Barclays or Santander.

He told them there had been fraudulent activity on their accounts and convinced them to return their bank cards to the bank. He got them to provide their PIN number as well.

To convince them he was calling from the bank he used the stay on the line trick. He told them to check the bank’s fraud number and call it but he stayed on the line and the victims were just talking to him again.

He arranged for a courier to collect the cards and the victims believed the cards would be taken back to the bank but they went to Hurst instead where he could then spend on the cards.

If you get any suspicious callers claiming to be from your bank then use a separate phone to call the bank to check and do not do as requested unless you are totally sure the caller is from your bank. Some scammers may already have some of your information such as the account number so do not be fooled by this.

Let’s hope the prison sentence can teach this man to pursue a life that doesn’t prey on vulnerable people.

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Men in Space Suits Scam

Two men dressed in homemade spacesuits claimed they had a deal with NASA and could generate electricity “from thunderbolts” but have been arrested for fraud.

Indian police tweeted a picture of the father and son duo wearing crinkly silver material and floppy topped helmets after a businessman complained he had been duped out of £156,000.

Virender Mohan Brar, and Nitin Mohan Brar, claimed they would be able to sell a device called the “rice puller” to NASA once it was ready.

They were confident and spoke in fluent English, police said, wore branded clothes and expensive watches and travelled in luxury cars with two armed security guards.

It is believed the pair duped at least 30 other people.

Mr Saini was allegedly told by the accused that he was paying for “anti-radiation suits” that scientists would wear during testing.

Deputy commissioner of police Bhisham Sing said the duo “roped in fake actors posing as Defence Research and Development Organisation officials just to convince Saini about the authenticity of the equipment”.

Already on bail accused of selling snakes with “medicinal qualities” for more than $25,000 each, the pair told potential victims they were developing a device that could be used to generate “electricity from thunderbolts”.

They promised it would be sold to NASA and India’s space agency for hundreds of millions of dollars, police said.

Images of the accused fraudsters in radiation suits alongside crime branch investigators were widely shared on Indian social media, where comments compared the duo’s antics to “a low-budget C-grade Bollywood movie”.

Their fake device was apparently based on rare copper “that had been struck by a thunderbolt” so that it could magnetise rice, police explained.

A copper plate covered in a thin magnetic liquid and rice mixed with iron filings were used to show off the machine.

The New Delhi businessman became suspicious when promised experiments were repeatedly called off, mainly because of bad weather.

As scams go this one is quite audacious though remarkably silly.

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FBI Charge 6 Over Nigerian 419 Scam

Six people charged in Houston in $7 million international investment scam.

The charges against the six individuals were for their participation in an elaborate international advance fee and money laundering scheme. The scheme involved the impersonation of Branch Banking & Trust (BB&T) and JPMorgan Chase (Chase) executives, the fabrication of U.S. government documents, the creation of fraudulent investment agreements in the name of BB&T and Chase and the purchase of luxury vehicles to launder the proceeds of the scheme.

The Scam

The scammers impersonated U.S. bank officials and financial consultants over the Internet and by phone and conned the victims into thinking they would receive millions of dollars of investment funding as part of joint ventures with U.S. banks, usually BB&T or Chase.

The scamers used fake Internet domains to make it appear that senders of emails were actually affiliated with BB&T or Chase.

To convince victims the opportunities were authentic, the perpetrators recruited U.S. citizens to pose as bank “representatives” at in-person meetings with victims around the world and outside of the USA  they used sham visits to the local U.S. embassy or consulate and fabricated U.S. government documents to make the victims believe the U.S. government was sponsoring the investment agreements.

The victims were then induced to pay tens of thousands, and often hundreds of thousands, of dollars to U.S.-based bank accounts on the belief that such payments were necessary to complete their investment agreements.

Money movers in the U.S. liquidated the proceeds through outgoing wire transfers to exporters, cash withdrawals and purchases of vehicles, including luxury brands such as Land Rover and Mercedes Benz, which were then shipped to Nigeria.

Recovery of Funds

The scheme resulted in losses of more than $7 million from victims in more than 20 countries.

To date, a house in Richmond, a Range Rover car and approximately $200,000 in cash have been seized.

Well done the FBI.

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Fake Website Gang Sentenced

Six people have been given jail sentences after defrauding the public out of more than £37m in one of the largest UK online crime cases brought to court.

The group set up and operated a number of “copycat websites”, which impersonated official government services to sell British passports, driving licences and other key documents at very high prices. The convictions and sentences followed one of the biggest investigations undertaken by the National Trading Standards eCrime Team.

Peter Hall, Claire Hall, Syed Bilal Zaidi, Collette Ferrow, Liam Hincks and Kerry Mill received sentences of varying lengths.

The criminals plan was to create copycat websites mimicking websites of government agencies that charge  for documents such as passports, car tax etc. and spend the time and money necessary to ensure their websites come top of Google searches for people looking at how to get or update their passport etc.

They used the company name Tadservices Limited between January 2011 and November 2014 and their fake websites mimicked those of 11 government agencies and departments.

Customers were conned into paying more than they needed for new or replacement passports, visas, birth and death certificates, driving licences, driving tests, car tax discs and the London congestion charge.

The criminals then expanded their operation to make copycat websites mimicking similar government websites of the American, Cambodian, Sri Lankan, Turkish and Vietnamese official visa sites where travellers could apply and pay for electronic visas.

The illegal profits funded a glamorous lifestyle for the defendants, with extravagant spending on expensive cars and luxury holidays.

“These convictions represent an important milestone in the fight against online fraud,” said Lord Harris, the chair of National Trading Standards. “This was a huge fraud and a very large number of people lost money as a result of the malicious actions of these criminals.”

Handing down sentence on Tuesday, Judge Sean Morris said: “The internet is now the most frequently used marketplace. It is full of busy people in a rush who don’t have time. There is a lot of money to be made by dishonest people out of the honest people who don’t have time to check that a site is an official government service.”

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The State of Scamming in Australia

Government statistics show that 161,528 reports of scammers were raised with the Australian Authorities in 2017, of which 8.7% involves financial loss.

Total lost estimated to be $90 million.

The biggest chunk of this was to investment scams (approx. $34M), then dating and romance scams (approx. $22M), then business and employment scams (approx.$7M).

Following those were advance fee fraud, buying and selling scams, false billing, inheritance scams, remote access scams, threats to life and finally betting scams.

The age group that lost the most money was the over 65s.

The most common scams reported are:-

  1. Phishing
  2. Identity theft
  3. False billing
  4. Lottery scams
  5. Buying and selling scams
  6. Rebate scams
  7. Remote access scams
  8. Advance fee Fraud
  9. Threats to Life
  10. Online Shopping Scams

Beware of those scammers.

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UK Cyber Attacks in 2017

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has reported on 2017 and here are some key points from the report.

“It was a year of ransomware attacks, data breaches and online fraud.”

The WannaCry ransomware attack in May spread rapidly and randomly. 300,000 devices were infected across 150 countries and affecting services worldwide, including the NHS. The attack demonstrated the real-world harm that can result from cyber attacks, particularly when they are designed to self-replicate and spread.

 

The enormous scale of the 2013 Yahoo breach , the 2016 Uber breach and the 2017 Equifax breach came to light, demonstrating that data is a valuable target for cyber adversaries. It is clear that even if an organisation has excellent cyber security, there can be no guarantee that the same standards are applied by contractors and third party suppliers in the supply chain. Attackers will target the most vulnerable part of a supply chain to reach their intended victim.

Between October 2016 and the end of 2017, the NCSC recorded 34 significant cyber attacks. 762 less serious incidents were also recorded. With interest in cryptocurrency still strong, cryptojacking – where an individual’s computer processing power is used to mine cryptocurrency without the user’s consent – will likely become a regular source of revenue for website owners. Increased use of cloud technology to store sensitive information will continue to tempt cyber attackers, which could result in UK citizens’ information being breached.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks – where hackers threaten to conduct DDoS attacks unless a ransom is paid – have increased since mid-2017 when a South Korean web hosting company paid a ransom fee in Bitcoin equivalent to US$ 1 million. In late 2017.

The reported number and scale of data breaches continued to increase in 2017, with Yahoo finally admitting in October that all of its 3 billion customers had been affected by the 2013 breach.

Groups assessed to have links to state actors – were likely responsible for some of the larger breaches.

Examples of data breaches included: • Equifax, where the personally identifiable information of 145 million US users and almost 700,000 UK users was compromised. • Verizon’s data on 14 million customers stored in the cloud, and controlled by a third party company, was exposed to anyone who could guess the web address. • Uber was forced to reveal that it deliberately covered up a year-old breach by paying the hackers US$ 100,000 to destroy the data they had stolen. The data of 57 million accounts, which had not been encrypted, was exposed. • An aggregated database of data, collated from multiple breaches, was discovered by security company 4iQ in December 2017. This contained 1.4 billion credentials in clear text, including unencrypted and valid passwords. Analysis indicated a large number of incidents were caused by third party suppliers failing to secure data properly.

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

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The Scale of Cyber Crime UK

The City of London Police Commissioner Ian Dyson was a victim of credit card fraud some years ago when criminals used his credit card to pay for a hotel stay and tried to pay for their car insurance with his card.

It is estimated that 5.6 million fraud and cyber-crimes are committed each year, of which only about 10% are reported to the Police.   This does include virus attacks etc. and some things that many people would not expect to report to the Police but that still leaves a lot of crimes that are unreported, but should be reported.

Recent statistics show that of the fraud and cyber-crimes reported, only about 10% are investigated by Police.

A lot of online crime is effectively anonymous and there is little anyone can do to track down and stop the perpetrators.

Prevention can be the most practical method for getting to grips with such crimes – warning and educating  people to have proper security for their online accounts and  to behave with common sense in all dealings online.

However, the Police do have a great deal of success in restricting the actions of the criminals.

In the year to March 2017, the Police shut down 170,856 websites, bank accounts and phone lines connected to cyber criminals.

The banks and other financial institutions and payment services have a huge role to play in keeping us safe online and paying recompense to victims when necessary.

The authorities are progressively clamping down on online crime, but are always several steps behind the criminals.

Be careful

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The Safer Internet Centre

https://www.saferinternet.org.uk

The safer Internet Centre is a partnership of three leading organisations: Childnet International, Internet Watch Foundation and SWGfL, with one mission – to promote the safe and responsible use of technology for young people.

South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL) Trust is a not-for-profit charitable trust providing schools and other establishments with safe, secure, managed and supported connectivity and associated services, learning technologies to improve outcomes, and the toolkit for being safer online.

The partnership was appointed by the European Commission as the Safer Internet Centre for the UK in January 2011 and is one of the 31 Safer Internet Centres of the Insafe network. The centre has three main functions:

  1. Awareness Centre: to provide advice and support to children and young people, parents and carers, schools and the children’s workforce and to coordinate Safer Internet Day across UK
  2. Helpline: to provide support to professionals working with children and young people with online safety issues
  3. Hotline: an anonymous and safe place to report and remove child sexual abuse imagery and videos, wherever they are found in the world

The UK Safer Internet Centre is funded under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme of the European Commission. As such we contribute to the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) core service platform to share resources, services and practices between the European Safer Internet Centres and advice and information about a better internet to the general public.

The website pages are – About,  Safer Internet Day, Blog, Training & Events, Research, Get Involved, Translate

Advice Centre, Hotline, Helpline, Pupil powered e-safety

It contains a lot of advice and information, largely to do with young people, parents and carers but much applicable to anyone so it is a useful resource.

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The Pension Wise Service

https://www.pensionwise.gov.uk

In these days of pension fraud, if you’re over 55, it is wise to assess your pension situation using government advice.

The website Pension Wise was set-up by government to provide free advice

They say they can help you if:-

  • you are aged 50 or over
  • have a personal or workplace pension
  • want to make sense of your options

There is plenty of advice on the site from what happens if you live abroad to taxation to the different ways you can take money from your pension pot.

There’s also advice on how to avoid the pension scammers.

If you feel the need to talk to an expert, there are free calls of up to 60 minutes that can be booked.

If you need pension advice – this website is a good start.

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