-=[ Busted ]=- Six Trillion In Fake Bonds

On the other side of the pond, a record $6 trillion of fake US Treasury bonds were seized by Italian anti-mafia prosecutors.  The bonds were uncovered in hidden compartments in three safety deposit boxes in Zurich.  Bloomberg reports that Italian authorities arrested eight people in connection with the probe, dubbed Operation Vulcanica.

The Italian authorities also uncovered fraudulent checks issued through HSBC Holdings in London, and another $2 billion of fake bonds in Rome.  Those involved in the financial fraud case were apparently planning to buy plutonium from Nigeria, according to police monitored phone conversations.

Good work guys.  I hope they round up all involved, especially those with the plutonium.  You know that stuff isn’t going to be used to power wind up toys.

Of Skimmers & Scumbags

A skimming device came off in the hands of a Bank of America customer when she tried to use her debit card at an ATM recently, police said.  The man who had planted the credential stealing device appeared and asked for it back.  The woman refused to return the card and growled at the man who fled.

Sixth Precinct police are seeking two male suspects in connection with the  incident. The first is about 40, stands 5 feet 10 inches tall, and weighs 170  pounds. The second male is about 30, stands 5 feet 8 inches tall, and weighs 160  pounds, police said.

The two suspects face felony forgery charges and up to 15 years in  prison.  I wouldn’t advise anyone to do this, but that 23 year old woman sure has moxxy.  I hope the bank rewards her for her valiant stance.  DNAinfo

The reason that I don’t advise people to take this kind of action?  Read the article just published in The Compliance Exchange blog about Aaron Hand, already convicted in a $100 million mortgage-fraud scheme and serving a sentence of eight years and four months to 25 years.  He was sentenced to 8 – 16 more for plotting to have a key witness in his case killed.

Please remember that these guys mean business, and that there is more than just your current balance at stake.  These guys are all in it for the big money payoff.  If you find yourself involved in a confrontation or an investigation, a little paranoia is healthy, and caution is not cowardice, in my humble opinion.

ASIC Warns Online Trading Accounts Hacked

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is warning online traders to review their account security after a wave of account hacks.  During its regular surveillance ASIC became aware of “several stockbroking account intrusions involving unauthorized access and trading”.

ASIC is working with online brokerage firms to help affected customers, and with authorities to find the source.  In the meantime, anyone with an online account should check their transaction history and bank accounts, change their passwords, and make sure their anti-virus software is current.  If any unauthorized trading is suspected, contact your broker ASAP.

http://www.theage.com.au/business/online-brokers-hit-by-run-of-bogus-trades-20120120-1qa58.html

Fake iPad2s On Store Shelves in BC

CTV reports that as many as 10 fake iPad 2s, made of slabs of modeling clay, were recently sold at retail stores in Vancouver, BC.  Best Buy and Future Shop are investigating.

Scammers apparently bought the iPads with cash, replaced them with bags of modeling clay, resealed the boxes and returned them to stores for refunds.  The devices were apparently stuck back onto the shelves without being checked because they appeared to still be sealed, and then re-sold to other customers.

How these “tablets” were not detected is beyond me.  I can never return merchandise without getting the third degree.  I have had to provide a reason for every return, and “I just changed my mind” never suffices.  Don’t retailers generally test returned products, or at least check that the contents are present?  Those little plastic seals aren’t that difficult to unstick and then reseal.

So what can consumers do to protect themselves?  Always open the box before leaving the store, and check that the contents are what you expected.

Beware The Pink Facebook Scam

Watch out for this scam on Facebook.  You might get invitations from some of your online friends to change your Facebook page from that boring blue color to the more exciting and invigorating pink, black or even red color.  Don’t get sucked in.  Each of the pages linked to in the invitation demands that you share it with others, write a nice comment about it, and complete a survey.  These surveys drive revenue to the scammer, they are paid for each one that someone fills out.

You are very unlikley to get the awesome color change that was advertised, and any friends that follow your recommendations won’t be very impressed when they don’t get it either.  Now, there are number of GreaseMonkey scripts which will work alongside the Firefox web browser to customise the look of Facebook and other sites, according to Graham Cluley.  Look them up if you are so inclined.

People who have fallen for this survey scam should scan their Facebook profiles for “shared” and “liked” content that they don’t want to endorse.

Financial Institutions, Charities, Beware OpRobinHood

Notorious hacking groups Anonymous and TeaMp0isoN are teaming up with other hacktivists to launch coordinated attacks on banks in response to recent crackdowns against “Occupy” protest movement encampments.  The joint operation has been code named OpRobinHood, and will involve using stolen credit cards to make false donations to charities, and other malicious activities that their moms can all be proud of.  These activities are supposed to be going down at the expense of banks, but who do you REALLY think will face increased charges and clawbacks to cover the losses?  Yup.  You, Me and those unnamed Charities.

These anarchists are also encouraging bank account holders to withdraw their funds and deposit them in credit unions instead.  Their intentions are to starve the banks of customers as a physical attack, and parallel that attack with sustained and large scale credit card charging campaigns. 

Of course, this begs a few questions:

  • Just how much more “honest and considerate” do you think a credit union is of the Occupy protesters?
  • What differs the credit union from the banks regarding motivations and intentions?
  • How is one any better than the other?
  • Is security somehow better, worse, or about the same at these gentler credit unions versus the evil empire of banks?
  • When they are finished with the banks, will they then come after the credit unions?  Then the mattress manufacturers?  And finally cookie jar makers?

It’s nice that these hacktivists have 99% of us in their hearts, but why do I get the feeling that this is all just another sham to cover over the fact that what these cowards are actually doing is to take money from the banks just to line their own pockets, and using the charities to either distract, hide, or lauder their ill-gotten gains?  Just sayin’…

-=[BUSTED]=- Fraud Victimizes Two NC Banks

FraudNews reports that three individuals, a disbarred lawyer, a crooked loan officer and another man could possibly get long prison sentences for their role in a mortgage fraud scam involving two well known North Carolina banks.   All three have pleaded guilty on a variety of counts.  The US attorney’s office states that they caused losses amounting to over $ 1 million.

Loans department bank officer Mark David Webb, and Goldsboro real estate lawyer, William Devaughn Orander III worked at both banks between 2004 and 2008 when the fraud took place.  The banks allowed borrowers to make a purchase of properties without having money of their own.   They also allowed them to walk away from the closing table with more than 50% of the purchase price for property in cash.   Prosecutors stated that there were a lot of instances where the money was paid to other members of the conspiracy.  This was either done individually or using the real estate holding companies that the co-conspirators owned.  As for Southern Bank’s losses, it amounts to nearly $284,000 with about $715,000 loaned out.

The third party to this conspiracy, Robert Keith Parker, pled guilty to the charge of making false statements to influence financial institutions connected with the loan.   It was Parker and Webb who falsified income tax returns to be able to qualify Parker’s wife to get a loan from Southern Bank.

Nearly $5 million worth of losses have been reported last year by the New Century Bank in a different fraud case by its founding chair, Raymond Lee Mulkey Jr., where the bank lent their founder millions to operate finance companies that he owned.