Archive for the ‘Money’ Category

Eight things that your bank will never ask you – but a fraudster will.

By   8th January 2015.                    Find Article Here:-

New ways to bank – by telephone, the internet and now your mobile – have saved us a lot of time but have also opened up opportunities for fraudsters.

Their tricks normally involve pretending to be your bank, whether on the phone or via email. After convincing you that they are genuine, they ask you to carry out various plausible-sounding actions that will result in your account being raided.

Here are eight things that fraudsters might ask you to do – but your bank never will.

1. Call or email to ask you for your full Pin or any online banking passwords

If your bank does contact you, perhaps to check that a transaction was really made by you, it would not ask for more than three digits from your Pin to confirm your identity, and would never ask for online passwords.

2. Send someone to your home to collect cash, bank cards or anything else

Having posed on the telephone as a bank employee to extract key security information such as your full Pin, the criminals may say they are sending an official courier to your home to collect the corresponding card. These couriers will have bogus “official” identification.

3. Ask you to authorise the transfer of funds to a new account or hand over cash

Often criminals, posing as a bank, will instruct you that your account is under threat – usually from a “corrupt employee” or “cyber criminals”. You will be instructed to make an online transfer of money into a new “safe account” – actually the fraudster’s – or hand cash to a bogus employee.

4. Ask you to carry out a ‘test transaction’ online

Criminals pretending to be from a bank sometimes email customers asking them to perform a “test” transaction online, perhaps because of a “technical problem” on their account.

5. Send an email with a link to a website that asks you to enter your online banking details

This is the well-known “phishing” scam.

6. Ask you to email or text personal or banking information

Even if the email address appears to belong to the bank.

7. Provide banking services through any mobile apps other than the bank’s official apps

To download your bank’s mobile banking app, follow the link from its official website.

8. Call to advise you to buy diamonds, land or other commodities

Reputable investment firms do not cold-call. Fraudulent “boiler rooms” can be very persistent and persuasive, so just put the phone down.


Oil tycoon’s ex-wife rejects $1bn handwritten cheque because settlement figure is ‘not enough’.

By Adam Withnall  7th January 2015.               Find Article Here:-

Sue Ann Arnall’s lawyers contest the Hamm fortune is worth $18bn – and represents a joint husband-and-wife effort.

One of the largest divorce cases in US history has served up another extraordinary twist after oil tycoon Harold Hamm’s ex-wife rejected a hand-written cheque for almost $1 billion.

The offer was available to cash immediately and in full, after Hamm moved enough money into a single account to cover the one-off $974,790,317.77 (£644 million) payment.

The figure – so large it barely fits on the cheque – was determined by an Oklahoma County judge in a divorce ruling in November.

But Hamm’s ex-wife, Sue Ann Arnall, has turned it down on the grounds that accepting it could hurt her chances of appealing for more, her lawyers said.

A divorce settlement check from Harold Hamm to ex-wife Sue Ann Arnall for the amount of $974.8m

A divorce settlement check from Harold Hamm to ex-wife Sue Ann Arnall for the amount of $974.8m Both parties are bringing appeal proceedings against the $1 billion figure, which Hamm’s lawyer Michael Burrage said was too large.

Hamm is the chief executive of drilling company Continental Resources, but says that he has lost billions in the value of his 68 per cent stake in the company after the recent fall in US oil prices.

Arnall, herself a lawyer and former Continental executive who was married to Hamm for 26 years, contends that his fortune is still worth around $18 billion (£11.8 billion) – and that the largest American oil owner was built up over those two-and-a-half decades in a joint effort.

Harold Hamm, founder and CEO of Continental Resources, enters the courthouse for divorce proceedings (Reuters)

Harold Hamm, founder and CEO of Continental Resources, enters the courthouse for divorce proceedings (Reuters)

Both parties appeared in court in Oklahoma on Tuesday, in part to clarify how much of the $1 billion should be made available to Arnall while appeals continue. Hamm has already paid out more than $20 million during the proceedings, a 10-week divorce hearing that ended in October.

Michael Burrage, Hamm’s lawyer, said Arnall could still cash the cheque if she wants to, and that Hamm had borrowed funds to ensure there would be enough cash in his account to cover it.

Ron Barber, Arnall’s lawyer, said: “We are seeking clarification of the court’s 10 November order at today’s hearing and cannot accept any payments, pending such clarification, without jeopardising Ms Arnall’s rights on appeal.”

Categories: Money Tags: , ,

Save the Fatcats

By Craig Murray   26th November 2014        Find Article Here:-

These are the top salaries at the Save the Children fund.

CEO Justin Forsyth £139,950
COO Anabel Hoult £139,950
COO / CFO & Strategic Initiatives Rachel Parr £131,970
Global Programmes Director Fergus Drake £113,300
Fundraising Director Tanya Steele £112,200
Marketing & Comms Director Sue Allchurch £111,920
Policy & Advocacy Director Brendan Cox £106,029
CFO Peter Banks £102,000
HR Director Paul Cutler £100,980

The UK average salary is 26,500.

StC has just given Tony Blair its “Global Legacy” award. What kind of people like Tony Blair? People who earn over 100,000. I am not sure that if you put money in a tin, or bought from their charity shop, you thought you were paying that many fat salaries. There are also gold plated pensions and other benefits. Justin Forsyth, the CEO, of course worked in Tony Blair’s neo-con policy unit.

As I have written before, very few charities are in any sense independent any more. Save the Children Fund gets 176 million pounds – over half its income – in grants from various governments, including over 80 million from the British government. That compares to 106 million in donations from the public. In 2012 over 70 million pounds was spent by Save the Children UK on its own staff costs. This was reduced on paper to 44 million in 2014 by the expedient of transferring some Headquarters staff from Save the Children UK to Save the Children International. I have an uneasy feeling about some of Save the Children’s accounting presentation. Justin Forsyth’s and Annabel Hoult’s salary of 139,950 sounds a lot better than 140,000 doesn’t it? Rachel Parr’s 131,970 sounds less than 132 grand.

Save the Children’s highly paid and very numerous HQ staff work in a swanky office for which they pay a staggering 6.5 million pounds a year lease. Do they really need their HQ in ultra expensive Central London? I suppose all those high earners have to get home to Islington. Their HQ costs more than all their other premises put together, including all their shops.

I wonder how much all of this is known to the 13,000 good-hearted volunteers who work many hours for nothing to support these people.

I give regularly to charity, by standing order. I am sure so do many who read this blog. If you are giving to Save the Children, I do urge you to re-target your charitable giving.

‘Fingerprint credit cards’ to replace PIN numbers.

October 25, 2014 1 comment

By   24th October 2014.       Find Article Here:-

Coming to Britain next year, the ‘contactless’ cards that let you pay with a touch of your finger (print).

A new payment card which will allow people to make card payments using their fingerprints

A new payment card which will allow people to make card payments using their fingerprint.

Credit cards in Britain will next year be issued with fingerprint scanners rather than PINs to speed up shopping.

Instead of placing a plastic card into a terminal and entering a four-digit number, shoppers will merely have to place their finger over a sensor on a card loaded with data on their prints.

If the scanner recognises the user, it will send a signal to the shop till, prompting a payment to go through.

The first fingerprint Mastercards are expected in Britain next year after a successful trial in Norway.

Kim Humborstad, founder of Zwipe, a Norwegian technology firm working with Mastercard on the project, said: “Feedback from our pilot with has been very positive – cardholders love how easy the card is to use with the added security feature.”

The cards are effectively the same as “contactless” models, where the user taps or waves the plastic close to a card reader, but, crucially, without any spending limit.

Ordinary contactless cards, which require no authentication, work on purchases up to £20 in Britain. Customers are asked for a Pin number check at random intervals to prevent fraud. Nearly 24 million contactless payments were made in June alone, according to UK Cards Association, up 226 per cent in a year.

Mastercard said the new fingerprint cards provided an added layer of security that meant spending limits were not required.

Ajay Bhalla of Mastercard said: “Our belief is that we should be able to identify ourselves without having to use passwords or Pin numbers.

“Biometric authentication can help us achieve this – our challenge is to ensure the technology offers robust security, simplicity of use and convenience for the customer.”

Although the fingerprint scanner requires some power to function, there will be no need for batteries Mr Bhalla said. The cards unveiled next year will “harvest” energy from the payment terminals, he explained.

Categories: Money Tags:

How hackers stole millions from cashpoints around the world.

By   7th October 2014.     Find Article & Video Here:-

A security flaw saw criminals steal millions of pound from cashpoints around the world, an investigation has found.

Sophisticated hackers exploited a security flaw in cashpoints around the world to steal millions of pounds, researchers have found.

Criminals, working at night, were able to break into ATMs in Europe, Asia and America by loading malicious software – or “malware” – onto the machines.

The malware, “Tyupkin”, was uncovered by researchers at security group Kaspersky. Interpol, the international police organisation, is investigating the matter.

Vicente Diaz, Kaspersky’s principle security researcher, said the attack was the most wide-ranging hack of its kind that had been identified.

How it works

Hackers open the ATM and insert a CD loaded with the malware.

After that, they restart the machine, giving them control. The software then runs on a loop waiting for two uniquely-generated passwords – one known by the hackers at the scene and one given to them by phone.

Once these are entered, the cashpoint’s screen flashes up a message reading: Cash operation permitted. To start dispense operation – enter cassette number and press Enter.

The screen also displays how many notes are in each of its cassettes. The hacker selects which cassette to empty, and 40 notes are released from the machine.

How the cashpoint screen looks once it has been hacked

The malware only works on Sunday and Monday nights, when areas around cashpoints are most likely to be deserted, in order to avoid detection.

The attacks, which have successfully stolen millions, do not even require the use of a credit card.

Extent of attacks

Kaspersky said it had identified 31 attacks that had taken place using the machines, but that the true number of attacks will have been higher.

The vast majority of those identified were in Russia, with others in the US, India and China.

No attacks were identified in the UK, although Mr Diaz said UK bodies had been among those who had made their concerns about cashpoint hacks known.

“In the UK there have been these kind of attacks, it could be Tyupkin and it could not,” he said. “The UK was in the loop.”

He added: “Over the past few years, we have observed a major upswing in ATM attacks using skimming devices and malicious software. Now we are seeing the natural evolution of this threat with cybercriminals moving up the chain and targeting financial institutions directly.”

Cybersecurity at banks

Vulnerability to hacking attacks is a growing issue among financial institutions. Last week, JP Morgan said 84m individuals and businesses had their information compromised.

As The Telegraph revealed last week, influential MPs are investigating the issue amid fears customer data are at risk of cyber crime.

“Offenders are constantly identifying new ways to evolve their methodologies to commit crimes, and it is essential that we keep law enforcement in our member countries involved and informed about current trends and modus operandi,” said Sanjay Virmani, director of Interpol’s digital crime centre.

Categories: Money, Surveillance

World’s biggest cyber crime gang thwarted by police.

By   2nd June 2014.          Find Full Article and Video Here:-

It was one of the most sophisticated cyber crime campaigns ever mounted: a hacking spree that snared millions of victims worldwide and netted the gang behind it as much as half a billion pounds. Not content with raiding the bank accounts of their victims, the thieves blackmailed them, and then hijacked their computers to snare even more targets.

The criminal network behind it has now been hit by a global police operation. Channel 4 News was given exclusive access to the UK’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) as it helped in the take-down of the GameOver Zeus Crew, a notorious group of computer criminals believed to be based in Russia.

Phishing emails

The gang used carefully crafted phishing emails to trick its way on to victims’ machines, often masquerading as urgent messages from HMRC or Companies House. Some corporate victims told Channel 4 News that the emails included specific details about their company to add to their authenticity.

The emails included an attachment or link, and when the recipient clicked on it they were infected with GameOver Zeus, a powerful new virus. It first checked whether the computer’s keyboard was set up in Russian, and if not, it installed a more complex virus which gave the criminal gang complete control over the machine.

“Anything you can do on your computer, they can do on your computer without you knowing,” said Stewart Garrick, who has led the NCCU’s investigation into the gang. “I know of more than 15,000 computers in the UK infected with this right now.”

The virus was used to blackmail victims, steal cash from their accounts, and then force the infected computer to snare other victims.

It gave the criminals real-time access to the victim’s entire online life: Channel 4 News was shown how the hackers can record videos of everything that appears on the screen, gather passwords for websites, and even switch on the webcam.

Extortion campaign

Blackmail is a key tactic, and the gang was behind a global extortion campaign that snared doctors’ surgeries, lawyers and even police stations. It used the virus to launch Cryptolocker, which scrambles the victims’ files and gives them deadline to pay a ransom of hundreds of pounds to get them back.

Eunice Power, a chef in Co Waterford, found the contents of her laptop scrambled. “This big red screen appeared saying ‘your files have been encrypted’. I checked the files and it was all gobbledy-gook, one after the other. I unplugged it thinking that would sort it out but it didn’t.

“At this point it was flashing up an amount of time, I had 72 hours to pay a ransom. I had an external back-up which was plugged in at the time so that was all encrypted. I could feel perspiration coming out through me. I didn’t believe anything could be so evil.”

The blackmailers demanded payment in the virtual currency Bitcoin. As Mrs Power struggled to make the payment work, the countdown hit zero.

“I lost everything: family photos, accounts, payroll, everything. If someone had robbed my house it would have been easier. It was devastating,” she said.

Her folders are still intact, meaning she can see which photos and documents she lost, but when she tries to open them, she is confronted with incomprehensible code.

Bank accounts targeted

Blackmail is just one option: the thieves’ main target is internet banking.

“They want to monetise the investment they’ve made in getting into your machine,” said Don Smith of Dell SecureWorks, which has spent years tracking the gang. “They are absolutely after dollars, pounds and euros.”

Once installed the virus waits for the computer to connect to online banking, and then alerts the criminal, who can manipulate what the victim sees on screen, throwing up fake pages and tricking them into authorising transfers out of their account.

Protecting yourself

With the criminals’ network disrupted, now is the time to protect your computer. There are three things you need to do:

1. Update your operating system (this is Microsoft Windows if you own a PC, or Mac OS if you have an Apple machine).

2. Install, update and run anti-virus software.
There are many options but try to buy it as a physical CD – that way you don’t risk downloading from a dodgy website.

There is more advice on the government’s Get Safe Online website.


Global Police Operation Disrupts Aggressive Cryptolocker Virus:-

How To Protect Yourself From Gameover Zeus:-


HMRC to sell UK taxpayers’ financial data

By   18th April 2014.      Find Article Here:-

• Firms could buy ‘anonymised’ financial details
• Plan ‘borderline insane’ according to senior Tory MP

HMRC on screen

The new legislation would allow HMRC to release anonymised tax data to third parties including companies, researchers and public bodies where there is a public benefit.

The personal financial data of millions of taxpayers could be sold to private firms under laws being drawn up by HM Revenue & Customs in a move branded “dangerous” by tax professionals and “borderline insane” by a senior Conservative MP.

Despite fears that it could jeopardise the principle of taxpayer confidentiality, the legislation would allow HMRC to release anonymised tax data to third parties including companies, researchers and public bodies where there is a public benefit. According to HMRC documents, officials are examining “charging options”.

The government insists that there will be suitable safeguards on personal data. But the plans, being overseen by the Treasury minister David Gauke, are likely to provoke serious worries among privacy campaigners and MPs in the wake of public concern about the government’s scheme – a plan to share “anonymised” medical records with third parties.

The initiative has now been suspended for six months over fears that people could be identified from the supposedly anonymous data, which turned out to contain postcodes, dates of birth, NHS numbers, ethnicity and gender.

HMRC’s chequered record on data is likely to come under scrutiny given historical scandals involving the loss of personal information about 25 million child benefit claimants and 15,000 bank customers.

Critics fear the data could include details about income, tax arrangements and payment history and would carry a risk that people could be identified. Even the perception that this could happen may lead to a breakdown in trust between HMRC and taxpayers, the Chartered Institute of Taxation warned.

Ross Anderson, a professor of security engineering at Cambridge University, said the information could be highly useful to credit rating agencies, advertisers, and retailers wanting to practise price discrimination.

He also raised concerns about any government claims to have made data fully anonymous.

“This is going to be a big battleground,” he said. “If they were to make HMRC information more available, there’s an awful lot of people who would like to get their hands on it. Anonymisation is something about which they lied to us over medical data … If the same thing is about to be done by HMRC, there should be a much greater public debate about this.”

The Tory MP David Davis, a former minister and shadow home secretary, described the proposal as “borderline insane”, adding: “The Treasury lists no credible benefits and offers a justification based on an international agreement that does not lead other governments to open up their tax database,” he said. “The officials who drew this up clearly have no idea of the risks to data in an electronic age. Our forefathers put these checks and balances in place when the information was kept in cardboard files, and data was therefore difficult to appropriate and misuse.

“It defies logic that we would remove those restraints at a time when data can be collected by the gigabyte, processed in milliseconds and transported around the world almost instantaneously.”

HMRC has not made clear exactly what bits of data it would share and with whom, but it has a wealth of information about people living in Britain. Its director of risk and intelligence said in 2012: “We have more data than the British Library.”

The government has strict rules about what can be released outside HMRC, with a near total ban on data sharing unless it is beneficial for the organisation’s internal work. But despite the restrictions, HMRC has quietly launched a pilot programme that has released data about VAT registration for research purposes to three private credit ratings agencies: Experian, Equifax and Dun & Bradstreet.

To comply with the law, the private ratings agencies, which determine credit scores for millions of people and businesses, have been contracted to act on behalf of HMRC and are “therefore treated as part of the department” – giving them access to tax data about businesses that would otherwise be confidential.

The government’s plans to change the law to allow the sale of anonymised individual tax data and release of the VAT register were buried in documents as part of the autumn statement and recent budget.

Emma Carr, of Big Brother Watch, said the government should not try to sneak the plans through without a public debate. She said: “The ongoing claims about anonymous data overlook the serious risks to privacy of individual level data being vulnerable to reidentification.”

During the consultation process officials acknowledged there were “concerns around the dangers of individual identities being disclosed inadvertently” but they believe the data can be appropriately protected.

Stephen Coleclough, president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation, said HMRC had failed to grasp the “worrying and dangerous” implications of what would be made into law.

“We are concerned that even the strictest safeguards and deterrents may not prevent misuse of the data, or identification of the underlying taxpayer,” he said. “There are already examples of aggregate data being provided at such a granular level which would enable identification of the relevant individuals, and we are anxious that any broadening of HMRC’s powers of disclosure will inevitably lead to the identification of individuals, and a consequential breakdown in trust between HMRC and taxpayers, not to mention contravention of legislation such as the Human Rights Act.”

The Treasury confirmed it was proceeding with plans to legislate to make aggregated and anonymised data more widely available, as set out in an HMRC document that said: “The government has decided to proceed with the proposal to remove the legal restrictions that currently limit HMRC’s ability to share anonymised individual level data for the purpose of research and analysis and deliver public benefits wider than HMRC’s own functions, but they accept that this must be done only where there are sufficient safeguards in place to protect taxpayer confidentiality.

“HMRC is committed to protecting its customers’ information. We shall be consulting further on implementing the proposals for sharing anonymised data, and would only take forward specific measures where there was a clear public benefit and subject to suitable safeguards.”

Categories: Government, Money Tags: ,