Category: The Authorities

The Banking Protocol Scheme

Under the Banking Protocol scheme, branch staff are trained to detect the warning signs that someone is being scammed and make an emergency call to the police. Police will then visit the branch to investigate the suspected fraud and arrest any suspects still on the scene.

The scheme has now prevented £116 million in scams since it was introduced three years ago.

The Banking Protocol allows bank branch staff to contact police if they suspect a customer is in the process of being scammed, with police making an immediate priority response to the branch. This can prevent customers from falling victim to fraud, while allowing police to catch the fraudsters in the act.

Over 100 suspected fraudsters were arrested through the initiative in the first half of this year. These range from rogue traders who demand cash for unnecessary work on people’s property, to courier scam fraudsters who persuade their victims take out a large sum of cash and hand it over to someone posing as a courier.

Customers would first be asked by the bank to visit their local branch to complete the transaction, enabling branch staff to carry out additional checks and use the Banking Protocol if necessary. However, if the customer is unable to visit their bank branch, for example if they are vulnerable or have a disability, staff would be able to directly alert the local police who will make a visit to the customer’s home and assess whether they have fallen victim to a scam.

These scams will only stop when the banks make it too difficult for them to succeed.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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Goldman Sachs Fined in Fraud

Goldman Sachs, one of Wall Street’s oldest and most prestigious banks was charged with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which forbids companies or individuals from paying foreign governments to retain business. The bank will have to pay $2.9 billion in fines over its involvement in a Malaysian bribery scheme.

$1.3 billion will go to the Justice Department; $606 million to Malaysia; $400 million to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; and $154 million to the Federal Reserve. The rest will be split among foreign financial regulators in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The Justice Department alleged that Goldman Sachs ignored signs of fraud among some of its senior bankers in a scheme that ultimately led to a Malaysian government-backed economic development corporation being defrauded out of $2.7 billion. About $1.6 billion was used to pay officials in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates to secure work issuing and selling bonds in international markets.

Goldman earned $600 million in fees for helping that corporation, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, raise $6.5 billion to support energy development in Malaysia, but much of the money was looted, with some used to buy luxury real estate and yachts.

The Malaysian branch of Goldman reached a $3.9 billion settlement with Malaysian prosecutors in July and pleaded guilty to violating federal anti-bribery law in a Brooklyn federal court. Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak was sentenced to 12 years in prison by a Kuala Lumpur court for money-laundering connected with the scandal.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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723 Serious Cyber Attacks Stopped

The job of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is to protect the UK against cyber threats, whether that’s from hostile nations and groups or simply criminals.

Since it became operational in 2016, GCHQ’s cyber crime defence centre has defended the UK against 1,167 serious such threats.

The majority of the attacks were carried out by hackers “directed, sponsored or tolerated” by foreign governments, according to NCSC chief executive Ciaran Martin.

“These groups constitute the most acute and direct cyber threat to our national security,” he said.

In these days of coronavirus, NSCSC has also had to help protect scientists working on a vaccine, NHS hospitals, essential infrastructure and more.

The Wannacry ransomware in 2017 did huge damage to the NHS hospitals caught out.

NCSC also work to stamp out phishing and similar scams and what they call ‘high commodity attacks’ including the removal of 138,398 phishing sites between September 2017 and August 2018.

Cyber attacks are increasing in volume, scale and range of targets every year so business and all organisations need to take this seriously and protect themselves accordingly.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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British Airways Fined for Data Breach

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined British Airways (BA) £20m for failing to protect the personal and financial details of more than 400,000 of its customers.

An ICO investigation found the airline was processing a significant amount of personal data without adequate security measures in place. This failure broke data protection law and, subsequently, BA was the subject of a cyber-attack during 2018, which it did not detect for more than two months.

The Data Breach

The attacker is believed to have potentially accessed the personal data of approximately 429,612 customers and staff. This included names, addresses, payment card numbers and CVV numbers of 244,000 BA customers.

Also, the usernames and passwords of BA employee and administrator accounts as well as usernames and PINs of up to 612 BA Executive Club accounts were potentially accessed, but this is uncertain. It is often impossible to be certain which data the hackers copied.

The ICO concluded that there were numerous measures BA could have used to mitigate the risk of an attacker being able to access the BA network. These include:

  • limiting access to applications, data and tools to only that which are required to fulfil a user’s role
  • undertaking rigorous testing, in the form of simulating a cyber-attack, on the business’ systems;
  • protecting employee and third party accounts with multi-factor authentication.

Since the attack, BA has made considerable improvements to its IT security.

BA did not detect the attack in June 2018 themselves but were alerted by a third party more than two months afterwards in September 2018. Once they became aware BA acted promptly and notified the ICO.

“When organisations take poor decisions around people’s personal data, that can have a real impact on people’s lives. The law now gives us the tools to encourage businesses to make better decisions about data, including investing in up-to-date security,” said Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denman.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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John McAfee Arrested

John McAfee was the creator of the McAfee anti-virus software and helped start a multi billion dollar industry but he holds some unusual opinions (including that taxation is illegal) and has come to the interest of the Police in various countries over the years since he sold his company to Intel.

He was arrested in Spain over tax evasion charges and faces extradition to the US.

Prosecutors say he failed to file tax returns for four years, despite earning millions from consulting work, speaking engagements, crypto-currencies and selling the rights to his life story.

If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison.

In a statement the US Justice Department said Mr McAfee allegedly evaded tax liability by having his income paid into bank accounts and cryptocurrency exchange accounts in the names of nominees. As a result, it is alleged, he failed to file any tax returns from 2014 to 2018.

He is also accused of concealing assets, including a yacht and real estate property, in the names of others.

The government regulator alleges that Mr McAfee made over $23m by “leveraging his fame” and recommending seven cryptocurrency offerings between 2017 and 2018, which allegedly turned out to be “essentially worthless”.

The SEC is seeking to impose a civil penalty on him, and remove any “allegedly ill-gotten gains”, with interest. It also wants to permanently ban him from serving as an officer or director of any listed company, or any company which files reports to the SEC.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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The National Crime Agency Scam

The job of the National Crime Agency (NCA) is described as leading the fight against organised crime; human, weapon and drug trafficking; cyber crime and economic crime that goes across regional and international borders.

However, criminals are posing as National Crime Agency officers over the phone in an attempt to con people and steal from them.

The scammers target the elderly and some victims have lost their life savings.

The NCA has so far recorded hundreds of  reports of scammers claiming to be NCA officers and they often give a bogus NCA identity number.

The criminals warn victims about a banking scam and persuade them to allow remote access to their computers, or to hand over personal information and bank details.

Sometimes they ask their targets to move the money to a “safe” bank account.

One case involved a 70-year-old man from London who transferred his life savings of £350,000 out of his account after scammers pretended to be NCA officers and staff from an IT security company. The victim allowed the men remote access to his computer after they said he had been hacked and needed to move his money to safe account.

Members of the public should be aware that an NCA officer will NEVER:

  • Ask for remote access to your computer via phone, email or online
  • Ask you to verify personal details such as passwords, account numbers or card details via phone, email or online
  • Ask you to transfer or hand over money via phone, email or online
  • Threaten you into providing this information

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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