Posts Tagged ‘fraud’
Before you book your summer holiday, it might be a good idea to acquaint yourself with the latest online travel scams – of which there are many.
According to a new report from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, travel-related internet scams are diddling customers out of about £7 million a year, and last year there were 5000 reported cases of holiday fraud.
So what should we be looking out for? Well, fake ads for apartments and villas are very popular amongst Internet fraudsters. 3 out of 10 victims fell for imaginary accommodation advertised on Facebook, so before you get the credit card out, it’s a good idea to check that your dream destination actually exists, and isn’t just a stock photo of some random guy’s house in Tenerife.
21% of cases involve people falling for airline ticket fraud, where people pay for tickets in advance, with the promise of a booking, and the booking is never made. And because these ‘companies’ rely on paperless ticketing, fraud is rife – particularly on flights to Africa.
The solution? Check, check and double check. ABTA says you should do a thorough background check of any holiday company before you book, and read all customer reviews in case there are any grievances or evidence that other victims that have been scammed.
Anyway. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
You would think that if someone hacks into your mobile phone account, and then unlocks a (possibly stolen) iphone and starts charging their bill to you, that your mobile provider might do something about it. You’d think that they would be FALLING OVER THEMSELVES to fix your compromised account.
But no. When this happened to one customer, avid Bitterwallet reader Mr Confused in November, Vodafone’s response was lukewarm to say the least. When he found out about it early in December, Vodaphone promised to open a fraud case and said they would call back in a few days.
Days passed. Weeks passed. Christmas came and went. On December 31st Mr Confused called them, only to be told that the fraud case had been deemed ‘invalid’. When he got (understandably) upset that they didn’t bother to tell him, Vodafone’s Twitter support team advised Joe to send them an email, so he did.
On January 2nd, Vodafone called back to tell him he would get a call back in two weeks.
On January 15th, having not received a call back, Mr Confused called them again, and the call centre lackey got his name wrong, calling him ‘Mr Bains’ and giving him details of Mr Bains’ account – which obviously wasn’t his account. After happily imparting someone else’s sensitive information over the phone, the call centre guy told him to call the fraud team. When he contacted the fraud team, they had no idea what he was talking about. AAAAAAAARRRRGH.
So essentially, a customer’s account was compromised, nobody really did anything about it, and then Vodafone compromised another customer’s personal details in the process of not really doing anything about it. Mr Confused is now Mr Furious, and despite contacting Vodafone over Twitter and Facebook several times, he is -as far as we know – still waiting for an explanation and an apology.
Over to you, Vodafone.
We regularly delete that Paypal email addressed to ‘dear costumer’, and we can spot a Nigerian inheritance scam at fifty paces. But what email dodginess can we look forward to in 2014?
Well, this year, email scams are getting more creative than ever. Rugby fans should be aware of the Rugby World Cup 2015 scam, where unscrupulous websites are selling fake tickets in exchange for your hard earned cash. The advice is only to buy from the official site.
Then there are fake Royal Mail emails, from an address called ‘Royal Mail Group.’ These bogus emails try to convince you that you’ve missed a package or something has got lost in the post. If you click on the attachment to retrieve your parcel, it installs malware, so don’t click, and delete the email immediately.
It’s doubtful that you’ll invest in graphene after receiving a junk email, but if you’re tempted, don’t. Graphene is a new kind of carbon substitute and won’t be used commercially for another 6 years, so if someone tries to sell you it, it’s impossible to tell if it’s the real thing.
Then of course, there are the phone scams you’re probably more likely to fall for, like ‘vishing’, where people pretending to be the bank say your account has been compromised and then put you through to a fake bank representative.
But although these scams have new guises, it’s still the same old story – don’t give anyone your information unless you’re 100% sure it’s a trusted site or caller. And for God’s sake don’t open random zipfiles from people called Eugenia Pontes Pontes or Maximus Gloryhole.
If you’ve been getting into waving your credit card around near the machine, rather than having to type in that timewastingly long 4 digit pin number, be warned – engineers from the University of Surrey have found that contactless payments are relatively easy for others to intercept.
According to them, they managed to ‘successfully receive contactless transmission from distances of 45-80cm using inconspicuous equipment.’
The banking industry, who have issued millions of contactless cards, insists that’s not true. They say: “The technology is extremely robust, has been thoroughly tested and is working as expected. Payments can only take place where the card is placed within 5cm (2 inches) of the terminal.’
But the researchers have proved them wrong. Using easily available shop bought electronics, the researchers rigged up a looped antenna, which successfully swiped the information from a contactless card from 45cm away. The device, which could easily be concealed in a backpack, was mainly made of cheap components. The most expensive part was a computer card costing £1500, but they said it could be easily replaced with a lower cost version.
(Way to go University of Surrey, giving people ideas.)
The UK Cards association said that contactless fraud card was still extremely rare. But with this and the Marks and Spencer’s debacle, where customers recently paid for things by mistake, contactless payments might just prove to be more trouble than they’re worth…
It’s no yolk, a pensioner couple in Dorset have been fined £300 each and ordered to pay costs of £1,178 after buying a loads of battery farmed eggs and selling them as if they were free-range eggs from their back garden. A member of the public noticed the couple suddenly had a lot more eggs for sale but had no more hens. This concerned citizen put two and two together and reported them to Trading Standards, who decided to prosecute.
Stephen and Anne Hobbs, aged 65 and 66 respectively, poached bought 12,000 eggs from a battery farm, removed the producer code stamped on the eggs, and the resold them as free-range garden hen’s eggs. They were charging £2.20 a dozen for the eggs, which had cost them £1.30 to buy.
The couple originally claimed they had done no wrong as they did not specifically advertise the eggs as free range; however the court ruled this was implied by the fact that they sold the eggs next to free-roaming hens and that they deliberately removed the battery producers-code.
The pensioners pleaded guilty to the charges at Bournemouth Crown court, claiming that they had only done it as a last resort after their hens stopped laying, and they hadn’t even made any money, as the £9,000 profit was spent on chicken feed. That’s a lot of chicken feed.
Ivan Hancock, of Dorset County Council’s trading standards department, said in a statement that the reason this case was worth prosecuting is the importance of people knowing the provenance of their food – which has been at the forefront of consumers’ minds since the horse meat scandal.
He said: “Many consumers choose to buy from local outlets to support local producers or particular methods of farming or production. Anyone misleading customers undermines that choice and abuses the trust consumers place on local food suppliers.”
What a cracking result.
Sealing their reputation as a caring, sharing payday lender, Wonga has raided the account of an innocent 15 year old boy whose bank details were used by fraudsters to take out a loan.
Obviously, you have to be 18 to borrow cash, but greedy Wonga didn’t check the details closely enough, and failed to spot that the account actually belonged to Simon Oliver, now 16, from East Sussex.
The poor lad tried to take money out on a school trip, only to find that Wonga had drained it of £260. Not only that, but IT WAS HIS BIRTHDAY AND CHRISTMAS MONEY THAT HE’D SAVED UP. (Let’s just take a moment here to well up with indignant tears).
Simon’s bank refunded the money, but the trouble won’t be over for Wonga. According to Watchdog, which will be getting its teeth into the story on tonight’s show, there have been 386 reported fraudulent loans granted by the company – some amounting to thousands of pounds.
The Office of Fair Trading are currently investigating the whole payday loan industry – and MPs are calling for much stricter measures, including real time credit checks. Let’s hope these shabby shysters get their arses kicked soon.
In fact according to the European ATM Security Team (who we hope are a gang of Mission Impossible types in black catsuits hanging around outside The Royal Bank of Scotland with Kalashnikovs) it’s becoming the norm.
Criminals use Bluetooth to get your card details and pin number, then before you know it you no longer exist and you’re running through Waterloo station with a sniper on your tail.
It’s becoming a widespread problem, so make sure you take the same precautions as you might with a cash machine – check for any suspicious devices, and don’t use if you’re in doubt.
The good news is they have yet to crack Chip and Pin devices, which are widely used in the UK and Europe, but be on your guard. Meanwhile, there’s always less subtle methods of snaffling cash from ATMs, like this…
Security researchers have found a dastardly botnet that is stealing millions per month from advertisers by simulating click-throughs on ads.
It has been called the “Chameleon” botnet by analytics botherers spider.io thanks to its ability to display adverts that make money for fraudsters and hoodwink advertisers’ behaviour-tracking algorithms.
It is estimated that Chameleon is responsible for at least nine billion fraudulent ad impressions, which means that the botnet causes $6.2 million per month in advertising losses.
There’s a phishing scam knocking around that behaves like a nightclub bouncer, according to reports. Does that mean it wears a black overcoat with a luminous yellow armband and barks at you to take your drinks back inside?
Either way, phishing attacks aimed at getting your personal information out of you were 59% higher in 2012 than the previous year and researchers reckon that it is costing the global economy over $1.5bn in fraud damages.
And there’s been a rise in the phishing scam that has been called “bouncer list phishing” because, ostensibly, it acts like “if your name is not on the list, you’re staying out.” according to Limor Kessem, cyber intelligence expert at RSA.
The bouncer phishing kit targets a list of email recipients and a user ID value is generated for the target, sending them a unique url for access to the attack. Any outsider attempting to access the phishing page is redirected to a 404 page.
“Unlike the usual IP-restricted entry that many older [phishing] kits used, this is a true – depending on how you look at it – black hat whitelist,” Kessem said.
When victims access the link, their name has to be on the list and their “D value is verified on-the-fly as soon as they attempt to browse to the url.” And then, validated users find that the kit generates an attack page designed to steal their information.
“These kits, used to target corporate email recipients, can easily be used as part of spear phishing campaigns to gain a foothold for a looming APT-style attack,” wrote Kessem. “Unfortunately, it is entirely up to the webmasters to become more aware of security and ensure that their websites don’t get exploited.”
There’s a number of people out there who have downloaded a dodgy version of Angry Birds to their phones, finding that they’ve been hit with a £15 charge every time they opened it.
It seems to be mostly children who have fallen foul of this rogue version, and some of them have run up bills beyond £500.
PhonepayPlus, mobile content regulators, have seen a 300% rise in complaints relating to children and app downloads in the past 12 months. Some of the complaints focus on free downloads which introduce in-app purchase options once the kids are hooked on a game. Then there’s the swine who create copies of popular games and plant malware in them.
A spokesman for PhonepayPlus said: “In one case, children as young as 11 years old downloaded free versions of popular games from the Android app store such as Angry Birds, Assassin’s Creed and Cut the Rope… in one case a 14 year old girl was tricked into paying for virtual credits in a game when a social media ‘friend’ said she had no credits to phone her dying grandmother.”
Elsewhere, children were tricked into sharing a promotion for supermarket vouchers from Tesco and Asda on Facebook, which misled them into taking part in a premium rate competition, which meant that up to 89,000 children were charged £5 every time a trivia question was sent to their phone.
PhonepayPlus continued: “Connected devices will define the age in which today’s children live and we are determined to ensure that they can receive the benefits while being protected from the risks. Smartphones in children’s pockets can burn holes in parent’s wallets, so we are working with partners across industry and other agencies to prevent this.”
If you need advice, see the phonebrain.org website.
Is it violently glamorous like a rap video, or really awful that Britain’s biggest bank – HSBC – appear to be friends with gun runners and drug dealers? That’s what tax authorities are wondering as they’ve got their hands on every British client of HSBC after a whistleblower secretly gave them a list of names, addresses and accounts.
And according to various reports, it seems that HSBC hold the account for Daniel Bayes, a drug dealer who is now in Venezuela and Michael Lee, who just so happens to be a man convicted of possessing more than 300 weapons at his house in Devon.
Then there’s bankers facing major fraud allegations and a someone who has been referred to as one of the biggest computer crooks in Europe.
All these people have offshore accounts with HSBC and of course, authorities are now faced with some serious questions about the bank’s procedures in Jersey. All this comes on the back of the breaking of money laundering rules in America, which HSBC have put $1.5 billion aside for fines.
And now HMRC are rifling through a list of the names and addresses of more than 4,000 people to see how many dodgy people HSBC have been happy to do business with. There’ll be a few twitchy bumholes in the City because HSBC won’t be the only company with some unsavoury customers.
Last night, a spokesman for HMRC said: “We can confirm we have received the data and we are studying it. We receive information from a very wide range of sources which we use to ensure the tax rules are being respected. Clamping down on those who try to cheat the system through evading taxes and over claiming benefits is a top priority for us and we value the information we receive from the public and business community.”
The 4,388 people holding offshore accounts with HSBC account for a gaspingly large £699 million.
Stuart Gulliver, the chief executive of HSBC, previously admitted: “We failed to spot and deal with unacceptable behaviour.”
Thundering herbert, eminently punchable, obscenely wealthy and, of course, Tory chairman Grant Shapps, is to be investigated by the ASA over a ‘get rich quick’ business he set up while he was posing as a web guru called Michael Green.
The Advertising Standards Authority is looking into the allegation that the public was misled with the presentation of “Michael Green” as a genuine businessman with a personal fortune of $28m (£17m). HowToCorp.com is the name of the company co-founded by Shapps with some character called ‘Sebastian Fox’.
“The complainant has challenged whether the website is misleading because it implies Sebastian Fox and Michael Green are successful businessmen whereas they believe neither are real people, and whether the testimonials are genuine,” a spokesman for the ASA said.
Shapps has refuting the idea he has deceived anyone while pointing out that he did go by the name Michael Green in a bid to keep his business and political careers separate. And then there’s the small matter of the photograph showing Shapps in Vegas at a meeting with a badge that says ‘Michael Green’ on it.
In his business, Shapps Green said that he could help people earn ”$20,000 in 20 days guaranteed or your money back”, but of course, he won’t give out this foolproof information out for free to the general public so we can nix this recession overnight, will he?
This comes on the back of Google blacklisted a network of websites run by Shapps for breaches of copyright (or, in plain English, ‘borrowing’ content from other sites wholesale and creaming off Google ad revenue from them… ALLEGEDLY).
All this news, just in time for Shapps starring role at the imminent Tory Party conference. How lovely.
As more measures are developed to stop credit and debit card fraud, criminals are going old-school with their methods, indulging in unsophisticated card snatching and PIN theft, according to an industry body.
Card losses accounted for £185m in the first half of the year, a 9% rise on first half of 2011, the UK Cards Association said. So when they’re not stealing your card, they’re phoning your house pretending to be your bank and getting your PIN from you.
“This increase is due to organised criminal gangs committing straightforward frauds,” said Det Ch Insp David Carter, of the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit, which is funded by the banking industry.
“Given this rise in old-fashioned crimes – criminals using distraction techniques and duping people into disclosing their passwords and online banking details – we are urging everyone to be on their guard and work with us to help stop this criminal activity.”
“Your bank or the police will never cold-call you or email you and ask you for your full login details, cards or PINS. If anyone does, hang up the phone or delete the email.”
Keep an eye on nana, basically.
As we all know, times are tough right now, but it seems that some of us are prepared to commit fraud in order to get a house that we possibly can’t really afford.
According to a report from Experian, fraudulent mortgage applications are up by 23% year on year, with 39 in every 10,000 applications detected as being laced with lies. While it’s not a huge number, there’s probably a more significant number of applicants who are gently massaging the figures on their applications and getting away with it.
As we all know, the mortgage providers aren’t helping matters, tightening the lending criteria, insisting on larger deposits and refusing to lend to people with funny eyes. Perhaps it’s the funny-eyed ones who are fraudulently applying for mortgages, who knows?
James Jones, head of consumer affairs at Experian, said: “The increase certainly reflects the fact that many households are increasingly cash-strapped and resorting to ever more desperate measures. Nearly a quarter of mortgage fraud is due to people inflating their incomes.”
In addition, there’s also been an increase in naughty applications where people have said they planned to live in the house themselves only to actually rent it out once the application has been approved and the house purchased.
Are you in jail for a naughty mortgage application? Maybe you’ve done one and gotten away with it. Tell us how it all makes you feel. Also, describe your eyes to us. Thank you.
The cost of driving has been on the up since time began, but lately, it seems to be something of an unfunny joke. And the news that cost of car insurance has rocketed to an average of more than £1,000 a year, isn’t making the joke any funnier.
The AA British insurance premium index found that the cheapest average premium for comprehensive cover, sold directly, went up 8.5% year-on-year to £1,034. Greater Manchester and Liverpool were the most expensive regions for buying policies, with average quotes of £1,648.
The study claims that some insurance companies are putting their prices up in a bid to tackle “crash for cash” scams and “excessive” numbers of whiplash claims. Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, said the market was “in turmoil”, adding that ”significant inroads” were being made to tackle fraudulent claims.
“We expect the industry eventually to have routine access to DVLA data and the sooner this happens the better,” Mr Douglas said. ”It will allow fraudulent applications to be weeded out. Insurance companies are already exchanging information about people who appear to be manipulating data in order to cut the price quoted.”