Category: Fight Back

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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Facebook Blocks Fake News

Fake news is bad for everyone and Facebook has woken up to the fact that it’s bad for them as well.

Facebook say they are making significant investments to stop fake news from spreading and to promote high-quality journalism and news literacy.

Facebook’s New Strategy

  1. Remove accounts and content that violate the Community Standards or advertisement policies
  2. Reduce the distribution of fake news and inauthentic content, such as clickbait
  3. Inform people by giving them more context on the posts they see.

Fact-checking

Fact-checking is a key part of the strategy to ensure that what you see on Facebook is accurate and from a trustworthy source. Facebook will make use of specialist third-party fact-checking organisations globally (approved by the International Fact-Checking Network).

These organisations work around the clock to help identify misleading content. When they flag something as being false, Facebook rank the story significantly lower in News Feed. On average, this reduces future views of the offending content by more than 80%. They’re also using the information provided by these fact-checkers to improve the technology to identify potential fake news articles even faster in the future.

Fake Accounts

Fake accounts violate Facebook policies, so, once they are spotted, they are deleted. If a Facebook Page violates the requirement that people use their real identities and not impersonate others, it will be taken down, eliminating all of the misleading content. They’re hiring more reviewers and developing new AI tools all the time to detect and deactivate fake accounts quicker than ever before.

De-ranking

Facebook use many signals to work out which articles are likely to be clickbait, spam or fake news. Anything determined to be disreputable is de-ranked. This means they appear much lower down in your News Feed and you are far less likely to see them. Facebook use machine learning to continually hone the algorithms to help spot fake news, seek it out and reduce your chance of seeing it. This means the things at the top of your News Feed are more likely to be reputable, trustworthy and things you want to see.

Background Information on Articles and Publishers

Facebook will give you background information about the content in your News Feed. You’ll be noticing that articles are starting to come with a context button that gives you more details about the publisher.

They’ve also started to roll out a feature globally called Related Articles, which displays other sources discussing the same topic as any given article in your News Feed. These Related Articles have all been verified by the third-party fact-checkers and allow you to read around a subject and decide for yourself what to believe. If a fact-checker rates a story as false and you try to share it, you’ll be presented with other articles reporting on the same subject.

Stop the Flow of Money

A lot of the misinformation on Facebook is financially motivated. Publishers of fake news are often hoping that people will click on their stories and visit their sites, so they can make money from the ads they show there. Facebook are trying to make this practice unprofitable. They’re penalising fake news, clickbait, links that are shared by spammers and links to low-quality websites (also known as “ad farms”).

Publishers who are known to frequently share false information are also forbidden from running ads or using the other monetisation features, such as Instant Articles. Making fake news unprofitable should slow down it’s spread considerably and reduce the motives for creating it.

Well done Facebook – shame it took you so long to wake-up.

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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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Councillor Pothole

Councillor Roy Owen got tired of just attending council meetings and decided to tackle some of the council’s problems by hand – potholes, litter, rubbish dumping etc.

Roy lives in Caernafon and the streets have a serious pothole problem but the council is short of money and the complaints from the residents pour in.

So, Roy armed with his van, asphalt, a blow torch and some tools started filling the holes.

Now, he does this for much of the week and also helps to get rid of rubbish piling up and other jobs as the residents need. He does have to skip some council meetings – what a shame.

Roy, who is 60, has been carrying out repairs for the last two years in his Seiont ward in Caernarfon and it’s all due to the number of complaints he receives from residents about potholes and that the council cannot deal with them in a timely manner.

Roy’s only cost apart from his own time is about £26-a-week spent on asphalt, paid from his councillor’s allowance.

He is trained in road repairs but the council is not so pleased with his actions and says that the work should always be carried out by a highway authority.

“I go out and deal with the problem head on,” he has said.

Unsurprisingly, his residents love him and he wins his council ward election by a huge margin each time.

Roy is what a councilor should be – someone who gets the job done and makes a difference.

Nice one Roy. You are an honorary Ninja.

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Stop Badware

https://www.stopbadware.org/

The site claims that “Our work protects people and organizations from becoming victims of viruses, spyware, scareware, and other badware”. That sounds useful.

The StopBadware project started at Harvard University and was turned into an independent nonprofit organization in 2010.

What is Badware?

Badware is software that overrides a user’s choice about how his or her computer or network connection will be used.

Some badware is specifically designed for criminal, political, and/or mischievous purposes.

These purposes might include:

  • stealing bank account numbers, passwords, company secrets, or other confidential information
  • tricking the user into buying something that they don’t need
  • sending junk email (spam)
  • sending premium text messages from a mobile device
  • attacking other computers to prevent them functioning properly
  • distributing badware to other computers

Badware is sometimes referred to as malware. It includes viruses, Trojans, rootkits, botnets, spyware, scareware, and more.

The StopBadware programme:

 

  • provides Internet users with important and timely information about badware
  • helps website owners, particularly individuals and small businesses, protect their sites from badware; offers resources and community support to owners of compromised sites
  • engages web hosts and other key service providers to help them effectively and transparently address badware websites within their zones of control
  • encourages companies to proactively share data and knowledge with one another; leads collaborative information-sharing efforts that create greater security for all stakeholders
  • conducts high-impact research on malicious websites, cybersecurity econometrics, and critical infrastructure, to name just a few

Some badware may not have malicious intentions, but still takes away the user’s control.

For example, a browser toolbar that helps you shop online more effectively but does not mention that it will send a list of everything you buy online to the company that provides the toolbar. In this case, you are unable to make an informed decision about whether to install or use this software.

Another example is when you install a piece of software, and that software installs additional software that you weren’t expecting. This can be especially troubling if the additional software does something you dislike or doesn’t uninstall when you remove the original software.

STOP BADWARE!

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3 Tools That Block Online Tracking

A lot of our activities online are tracked by a variety of organisations. The various tools described below operate in different ways and none can guarantee to eliminate 100% of trackers so it’s trying them to see if they suit what you want.

Sometimes this is just so they can display relevant adverts or to offer location specific answers (e.g. local restaurants), sometimes to learn about their customers and sometimes for less acceptable reasons. However, if should be our choice how much is tracked – not the software makers and users.

 

Ghostery   https://www.ghostery.com/products/ 

This has a large database of tracking entities i.e. software that will track you. You install the browser add-on then it can detect these entities and block them as you browse.

On each website, Ghostery displays a list of trackers from that site in the upper right corner of the screen.. You can then go to the settings page and block individual trackers or block all trackers.

The browser add-on is available for the most browsers.

Disconnect https://disconnect.me/

The browser add-on blocks trackers as it finds them, but allows requests that it considers to be necessary for loading content.

Disconnect detects trackers based on the number of requests they’ve made for your information, and displays them in one of four categories: advertising, analytics, social and content. You can choose to block or allow each tracker.

Privacy Badger https://www.eff.org/privacybadger

This tool is belongs to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and uses an algorithm to “learn” which social or ad networks are tracking you over time.

It initially allows third-party trackers until it detects patterns in third-party requests. Then it will start automatically blocking what it considers “non-consensual invasions of people’s privacy”. This approach may mean the tool identifies new trackers more quickly than its competition but it takes longer to be effective.

Privacy Badger is available for Google Chrome and Firefox.

You can see these tools operate in a different manner, all attempting to block online tracing without stopping anything you find useful.

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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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SCARS Act Against Scams Campaign

https://againstromancescams.org/

The Society of Citizens Against Romance Scams (SCARS) claims to represent more than 25,000 people, dedicated to changing the world of online fraud for the sake of everyone.  They have been running a large campaign across 2017 and 2018.

SCARS say they are committed to doing everything possible to eradicate the plague of online scams.

To support that goal, they have developed a campaign for 2017 / 2018 to enlist the public’s help in providing direct information in the local community. they are asking SCARS Members to begin organizing opportunities in their towns and communities to inform and expand awareness about romance scams and other forms of fraud.

SCARS asks those that are interested, once they are approved for participation in the Campaign, to contact local community organizations, from schools to civic groups, private clubs, and even work with your local police, to better educate your fellow residents about these severe crimes and how they affect us all.

SCARS will provide you with a complete training kit that will help you learn more, and that you will use in conducting these presentations. The materials are designed to provide a 30 to 45 minute presentation, and allow for additional time for questions and answers. This will make it easy to cover the right information, regardless of your knowledge or experience. This helps you make a huge difference in the safety of your local community.

The SCARS™ Act Against Scams™ Campaign Kit consists of:

  • Introduction Brochure – for attendees
  • Introduction graphics to promote your presentation (can be used on social media)
  • Introduction Video – to allow you to promote your presentation (cane be used on social media)
  • Official PowerPoint Presentation
  • Presenters’ Guide
  • How To Report Online Crime Guide
  • An Official SCARS Presenter ID Card

All of the above are provided for you without cost, for download by the Campaign participant, and can be emailed to the entity or organization that will host your presentation. If you are producing significant results, SCARS may provide additional materials, including signs, etc.

They will also provide support to promote your events, and a webpage where interested persons can sign up for your presentations. This will also provide a means for you to follow up with the attendees for your presentations, enabling future local victims’ support.

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