Category: information

Fake Designer Goods

Market stalls, tourist spots, high streets, beaches, the Internet – all places where you are likely to come across people selling fake designer goods.

But is there any harm in nabbing a pair of “Louboutins” from a market, or a “Chanel” handbag from a girl selling them on a foreign beach?

The answer depends a lot on the situation and what the buyer expects. If you make an impulse buy in a tourist market and pick up fake perfume – as long as you know it’s going to be fake then that’s up to you. Whereas if you invest a lot of money in an APPLE iPhone believing it to be genuine but at a bargain price and then find out the item is a cheap knock-off – you’re not going to be pleased.

The argument that by buying fakes you are doing the legitimate business out of their sales is true sometimes but most people are never going to buy the expensive designer goods and buying something that looks expensive but was cheap may be harmless fun.

Fake goods do damage the reputation of the legitimate companies and chances are the fakes are made in much worse factories and conditions than the genuine articles, so should be avoided for that reason alone.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau advises consumers to avoid buying fake goods because “you’re helping the trader to break the law”. “Many fraudsters use the proceeds from selling counterfeit goods to fund drug dealing or other types of organised crime”

“In 2010, Louis Vuitton initiated 10,673 raids and 30,171 anti-counterfeiting procedures worldwide, resulting in the seizure of thousands of counterfeit products and the breaking up of criminal networks.”

“So long as people know what they’re getting, there’s really no need to get worked up about it.”

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Open Banking

Open Banking was launched in January 2018, in an effort to increase competition within the UK financial sector, and to facilitate closer relationships between big banks and new fintech companies (i.e. financial technology). The law will force the big banks to release data, to third parties if customers so choose.

The initiative will enable individual customers to easily share their banking data with approved third party institutions, putting customers more in control of their own data. The government believes this has the potential for far-reaching impact beyond banking, extending into lending, savings, investment and other areas ready for innovation.

This will make it easier for new products and services to help customers securely move and manage money more easily and efficiently.

At the moment, only the UK’s nine largest banks and building societies must make your data available through Open Banking. Other smaller banks and building societies can choose whether to take part in Open Banking.

The banks and building societies who currently offer Open Banking are: Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Danske, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Nationwide, NatWest, Santander, The Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank.

Every provider that uses Open Banking to offer products and services must be regulated by the FCA or European equivalent.

  1. How do I control who has access to my information?
  2. You choose which regulated apps and websites you want to use. You decide what information they can access, and for how long. No one gets access unless you say so.
  3. Can a regulated third party provider make a payment from my account without me authorising it?
  4. No. You’ll always need to approve any payment made from your account.

If you’re interested to try Open banking – contact your bank or check the website

You can change your mind at any time and tell your bank to stop sharing your information, or you can cancel with the firm directly.

Only firms registered with the City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, (or the European equivalent) can use the Open Banking system to access your data like this.

But, be warned that banks may not take responsibility if something goes wrong when you gave the third party permission to take funds from your account.

If the company is registered by the FCA and you notice a payment you didn’t authorise, you should be able to claim back the money from your bank — providing you haven’t been negligent with your account details.

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

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Fake Trip Advisor Reviewer Jailed

An Italian has been jailed for selling hundreds of fake TripAdvisor reviews.

The owner of an Italian business (Promo Salento) that sold fake TripAdvisor reviews has been sentenced to nine months in prison. He posted favourable reviews on behalf of hundreds of restaurants and was sentenced by a court in Italy and also ordered to pay around €8000 euros (£7,100) in damages and legal costs.

The unnamed businessman submitted over 1,000 paid-for reviews to TripAdvisor, pretending to be satisfied diners. He charged restaurants €100 euros for 10 reviews.

The court in Puglia ruled that writing fictional reviews using a false identity is criminal conduct. Paid review fraud is illegal in EU countries, but this is the first case to result in a jail term. TripAdvisor hailed the result as “a landmark ruling for the Internet”.

TripAdvisor said that writing fake reviews has always been fraud, but this is the first time we’ve seen someone sent to jail as a result” – Brad Young, the company’s vice-president, in a statement. He also said that since 2015, they’d put a stop to the activity of more than 60 different paid review companies worldwide.

TripAdvisor is the world’s biggest travel website with more than 600 million reviews covering accommodation, airlines, museums and restaurants. The quality of the customer reviews is essential to TripAdvisor and there has been bad publicity over fake reviews at times with complaints that TripAdvisor doesn’t do enough to weed out the fake ones.

There has been the development of a market for businesses offering reputation management which can them include writing good reviews and submitting negative reviews of their competitors.  This not legal but is difficult to prove.

As an experiment, a Vice journalist wanted to see if he could get a ridiculous non existent restaurant to rank high on TripAdvisor.

He selected his garden shed, called it “The Shed”, created a pretentious website and made photographs of ridiculous looking food – largely created with shaving foam, colourants and anything to hand. Then using friends he created so many top reviews that his shed became the number one restaurant in London according to TripAdvisor.

Oh dear, TripAdvisor.

Almost all reviews on TripAdvisor and similar sites are believed to be real, but do beware the fakes.

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Rise in Identity Theft in Over-60s

Identity theft is where a criminal gets personal information on someone and pretends to be that person so they can take out credit cards, bank accounts, loan agreements etc. in that person’s name.

Identity thieves generally don’t care about the age of their targets as long as they are over 18 (so they buy alcohol etc. with the fake identity) but increasingly the over-60s age group are being targeted.

In the first half of 2018, there were more than 14 thousand reports of identity theft in those aged 60 and above. The total number of identity theft cases in that time was over 80 thousand.

There are more and more people over 60 accessing the Internet so this makes it easier for criminals to find such targets.

And it may be that over-60s are more trusting and less familiar with the dangers of the Internet so don’t take the necessary steps to protect themselves as they should.

Be careful about giving away your private information e.g. name, address, email address, date of birth, bank details etc.

Be equally careful about callers claiming to be from an organisation you deal with e.g. water company, Internet provider, local government, local bank etc.

If in doubt, check the genuine phone number and call them to verify the situation.

Got to for more advice on personal security.

Do you have an opinion on this matter? Please comment in the box below.

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The Spanish Prisoner Scam

This a very old scam and is the origin of the modern Nigerian 419 scams (also called the Advance Fee scam) and shows that some scams have roots from a long time ago.

The Spanish Prisoner scam is a confidence trick originating in the late 19th century. The fraudster tells the victim that he is (or is in correspondence with) a wealthy person of high estate who has been imprisoned in Spain under a false identity.

The fraudster offers to let the victim put up some of the funds, with a promise of a greater monetary reward upon release of the prisoner plus another incentive  such as gaining the hand of a beautiful woman who is the prisoner’s daughter.

After the victim has paid the ransom, he is told that further difficulties have arisen, and more money is needed. The fraudster continues to press for more money until the victim is cleaned out or refuses to pay any more.

A key element of the Spanish Prisoner scam is an emphasis on secrecy. The Police cannot be involved and identity of the prisoner cannot be revealed. The scammer will claim to have chosen the victim, based on his reputation for honesty and straight dealing.

This fraud came to be known as the “Spanish Prisoner” because, often, the letter-writer claimed to be trapped in a Spanish jail, for reasons arising from the Spanish-American War. The letter was written on thin, blue, cross-lined paper, such as is used for foreign letters, and is written as fairly well-educated foreigners write English, with a word misspelled here and there, and an occasional foreign idiom.

Modern Version

In the advance-fee fraud, a valuable item must be ransomed from customs or an impound or lost-baggage service before the authorities realise its value and block the repossession.

In the Nigerian 419 scam, a relative of a deposed African dictator or Libyan leader or Iraqi leader (or similar countries leaders) offers to transfer items (gold or diamonds or bearer bonds or just cash) worth millions of dollars to the victim in return for small initial payments to cover release fees and other expenses.

Another variation spreads via hijacked social media accounts, where a message is sent to all the social media contacts of the victim, claiming that the victim is in a foreign country, has been robbed, and needs money to be sent immediately to pay for hospital bills or airline tickets or to bribe the Police in order to escape the country etc. and paid by Western Union or similar money transfer agents.

This scam is very well know but large numbers of scammers still use it in some form and people still fall for it in and in total lose hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

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

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Trusteer Rapport

Trusteer Rapport is a free security tool that’s often promoted by banks for online banking.

It’s advertised as an additional layer of security over and above anti-virus software. It is designed to protect confidential data, such as account credentials, from being stolen by malicious software (malware) or by phishing.

The software includes anti-phishing measures to protect against misdirection and attempts to prevent malicious screen scraping; it attempts to protect users against the attacks know as:- man-in-the-browser, man-in-the-middle, session hijacking and screen capturing.

Trusteer Rapport is installed as a browser extension.

This all sounds very good, but there are reviews on the Internet suggesting that Trusteer can cause computers to run very slowly, cause conflicts with your already installed anti-virus software and cause browser crashes.

Various financial institutions have been distributing the software to their customers via internet banking services.

This has included:- Bank of America, Société Générale,Tangerine, INGDirect, HSBC,The Royal Bank of Scotland, CIBC, Ulster Bank, First Direct, Santander, Standard Bank of South Africa, Nedbank, Scotiabank and more.

It is usually good advice to follow your banks recommendations, but do be careful if you install Trusteer and report any problems immediately to your bank. .

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The eBAY Community






This is a website at

“Welcome to the eBay Community … your community. It’s a meeting-point for eBay buyers and sellers to chat, ask questions, exchange advice and tips.”

“It is a discussion group for eBAY sellers and buyers to share useful information, ask each other questions, warn about scammers etc. and generally give feedback on anything eBAY that they wish to share..”

The site has:-

  • Answer Centre
  • Discussion Boards
  • Groups
  • Meet the Community Team
  • Community Content Policy
  • Board Usage Policy
  • eBay News
  • Safety Center
  • Feedback Forum
  • Buying Guides

The answer centre is filled with questions about everything to do with eBAY – and answers.

A check showed the most recent questions are to do with how do with:- can i block a specific address, refunds, Seller not replying about item guarantee, profile image,  VARIATIONS BUTTON MISSING, Relisting fees, item becomes faulty, Location etc.

The eBAY café is a group for people who want to chat about anything vaguely connected to eBAY such as how to look after plants they bought on eBAY.

The eBAY community website is well used so it can be a useful resource for some who would rather deal with human beings than eBAY automated answers.

Do enter your email address and click on the subscribe button on top right to keep up to date with new posts.

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WordPress Owners Survey

Dan Moen carried out a survey in 2016 of people who have WordPress websites that have been attacked, seeking to understand why and how the attacks were being made.  1,032 people responded to the survey.

The most telling statistic is that 61% of respondents didn’t know how the attacker compromised their website.

This is of concern as if you don’t know how the attack was made it is difficult to be sure you have blocked a repeat.

For the site owners who did figure out how the attackers entered, there are two main fidnings:-

  1. Plugins Are A Big Risk

Plugins play a big part in making WordPress very popular and very useful and there are tens of thousands of plugins available for WordPress. But you obviously need to be careful with them, as plugin vulnerabilities represented 56% of the known entry points reported by respondents.

  1. Brute Force Attacks Are A Big Problem

A brute force attack is a password guessing attack. The attacker needs to both identify a valid username on your website and then guess the password for that username. This type of attack is a huge problem, representing 16% of known entry points.

How to Protect Your WordPress Site

  1. Don’t Use Obvious Usernames

Every WordPress site has an administrator login and this should be renamed as administrator or admin are too easy to guess and the most used in brute force attacks.

Make the login something impossible to guess and not used elsewhere on the site.

  1. Add Security Plugins

e.g. WordFence, Jetpack etc. which typically use these kind of features:-

  • Enforce strong passwords
  • Lock users out after a defined number of login failures
  • Lock out users after a number of forgot password attempts
  • Lock out invalid usernames
  1. Keep Plugins updated

Reputable plugin creators fix any vulnerabilities quickly when discovered. By keeping them up to date you insure that you benefit from fixes before attackers can exploit them. Check for updates at least weekly if your WordPress website does not do this automatically.

  1. Only download plugins from reputable sites

If you are going to download plugins somewhere other than the official WordPress repository, you need to make sure the website is reputable. One of the easiest ways for attackers to compromise your website is to trick you into loading malware yourself. An attacker will do this by setting up a website that looks legitimate and getting you to download a compromised plugin.

Keep your WordPress website safe.

If your website has been attacked – let me know the details and the outcome by email.

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