Sizing up the problem
Identity theft is big business for fraudsters, and a big headache for Government. According to Cabinet Office figures, identity fraud cost the UK economy £1.5bn in 2005. This cost is a double whammy; a significant proportion of identity theft is committed by foreign nationals carrying out their criminal activity from outside the UK. This means that their illegal gains are removed from the UK economy when they are spent abroad.
The number of reported cases has shown a steady rise since it first reached a significant level of public awareness in 1999. The rise still appears to be unchecked, caused by the fact that this is a relatively new crime phenomenon, meaning that police do not yet have sufficient experience to investigate and bring those responsible to justice in a meaningful number of cases. Specialist teams investigating identity fraud (such as that based at City of London Police) do exist, most recently in the form of the new National Fraud Reporting Centre (which aims to amalgamate efforts) but so far these have only used to investigate the most serious cases, estimated to be 1% of total cases reported. Part of the reason for this is that investigations are complex and time consuming, spanning multiple geographies with a complex paper trail. Furthermore, our stringent data protection laws can actually work against us; access for police to information to help identify offenders is often hindered by arduous requirements for regulation of investigatory powers warrants, which are highly time consuming to obtain.
If our police forces are to increase our investigation and detection figures for these offences, the public must accept they will need new training, equipment and procedures, all of which come at a cost. And perhaps more controversially, they need additional legal powers to obtain information to identify offenders in a much more streamlined way. Ironically, to keep our identities secure, we must trust them to those that protect them.
The real life impact of identity theft – worse than being robbed in the street?
Identity Theft has been seen by many as a victimless crime. In many cases, provided the consumer has not been negligent, they will not be liable any financial losses incurred as a result of the fraud, for example, their credit card being used to order goods fraudulently. However, the impact of identity theft goes deeper than simple financial losses. In the more trivial cases, impact may be low, for example if a consumer received confirmation of a loan application through the post that they did not make, it may be a simple matter of a telephone call to the building society to explain the circumstances. However, in the more serious cases, where multiple fraudulent applications have been made to perhaps twenty organisations, the amount of time (and consequent cost in terms of lost earnings) required to contact each one may be very significant.
Frequently, the problem doesn’t end there. Credit history is often very adversely affected by the sheer number of credit applications that fraudsters make, and while notes can be added to credit files, credit score invariably suffers as a result. Applications for loans, credit cards, insurance and even mortgages may be denied or have special terms imposed. So while street robbery is undoubtedly a more traumatic experience, cards can be cancelled and replaced in a matter of days. With identity theft, the victim may feel the effects for far longer.
Sharing the responsibility for preventing identity fraud
Until recently, the consumer has shouldered most of the responsibility for prevention of identity fraud. Scare campaigns led by the financial institutions and frightening news stories caused many households to start shredding the myriad of confidential documents that land on our doormats on a daily basis before disposing of them.
However, an increasing number of news stories are starting to emerge, showing that those we trust with our personal information, both private companies and Government bodies are failing to afford this information the protection it deserves. Failures in systems, processes and the human element of operations have led to some catastrophic leakages of data, leaving the consumer at risk of significant inconvenience and expense.
By way of an analogy, if a bank does not transport cash securely, and it is stolen, the bank and the bank alone bears the brunt of the loss, and will take steps to avoid a recurrence to protect itself financially in the future. Not so if that same bank is careless with our personal data and it falls into criminal hands; the full impact of the security failure hits us, as in reality, it will be difficult or impossible to prove that a single security breach causes a specific criminal act to take place. In that respect, identity theft is a strange crime, in that the negligent party may not be the victim.
Increase security voluntarily now, or have it imposed later
The current situation is clearly untenable, in that at present, there is little incentive for organisations to increase the security they apply to personal information because those organisations are rarely the victim. In time, this fact will lead to legislative change, mandating and defining key security requirements and procedures. Penalties will also need to be defined for those that do not comply.
For that reason, now is the time for organisations to get advice on improving security in their people, processes, governance and tools. Doing so now will ease the pain when these changes are inevitably mandated by law, and increase public confidence that personal data is given the level of protection it deserves.
Securing confidential information in government organisations
Government bodies are dealing with confidential personal information that carries with it many of the risks and threats to the individual described above. As the recent furore over the HMRC / NAO leak shows, the cost of mistakes can be very high. The damage caused can very considerably outweigh the perceived cost of removing the risk points. In the highly publicised case, risk analysis factored in “perceptions” like the reliability of the internal government mail service, that should with hindsight have been regarded with pessimism. Hunting for risk points in a complex environment like that operated in many government agencies and departments can be a length process but it is well worth doing.
Briefing people on the need to respect customer confidentiality for it’s own sake is very important. Too often, organisations approach confidential information in an “impartial” manner as if the problem is either conceptual or belongs to someone else. Yet as both individual citizens and members of staff we are all threatened by sloppy approaches to security. The mainstay of ensuring secure behaviour is to encourage the right attitudes at all levels of staff and management, for good honest personal reasons.
IT and IS systems can help in the equation and always need to be looked at, but confidential and secure treatment of personal information is not just an IT problem – it is about personal decisions every day at work and the public sector needs to think about the way these decisions are made and how it makes them, not just lean on systemic solutions.
In the case Saggar v Ministry of Defence  , it was held that an overseas based employee of a British business, who was a UK resident when recruited or at any time during the course of the employee’s employment, is entitled to bring a discrimination claim in the UK .
The claim can be brought even if the employee did no further work in Britain after the move overseas. After 16 years at a Ministry of Defence base in Britain , Lieutenant Colonel Surinder Nath Saggar was permanently stationed in Cyprus from 1998 and was still there when he made a claim for race discrimination. The Employment Tribunal decided that Lieutenant Saggar worked wholly outside Britain and could not file a race discrimination claim in Britain .
He appealed against this decision to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (“EAT”). The EAT dismissed the appeal and held that:- In order for Lieutenant Saggar’s claim to succeed, the EAT would have to look at the whole of his employment from 1982 onwards, and that would be “absurd”;
The EAT was bound by the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Carver v Saudi Arabian Airlines  where for the purposes of establishing whether or not a tribunal has jurisdiction to hear a claim, it is necessary to consider whether, at the time of the alleged discrimination, the claimant was wholly or mainly working in Great Britain; Accordingly, at the time of the alleged discrimination, Lieutenant Saggar worked wholly in Cyprus .
The case went to the Court of Appeal and it was decided that: – The relevant period for determining whether a claimant worked wholly or mainly outside Great Britain is the whole period of employment;
This approach was supported by the wording in s 8(1) of the Race Relations Act 1976; and This decision applied equally to all employees even though a person serving in the Armed Forces is not an employee as there is no contract of service. The matter was remitted to a different tribunal to determine the issue of jurisdiction in accordance with the Court of Appeal’s judgment.
Comment: This is a significant decision in favour of employees. This means that in many cases where employees are posted abroad they are entitled to bring employment claims in the UK . In practice, as well as complying with the rules of the country where employees are working, it would be sensible for employers to apply English employment law standards as well.
Study shows that emigration in UK is higher than ever before. Also immigration is on the rise in UK. It can be derived from figures which came from different research conducted by various organizations that in 2006 alone 207,000 British citizens left their country. But the immigrants also came by more than double. In the same year around 510,000 foreigners arrived in UK to stay for a year or more.
After the labor party came into power in 1997, the British emigration figure shows 1.8 million people have left while only 979,000 have returned. In 2006 half the British emigrants went to only four countries mainly Australia, Spain, New Zealand and France. Almost 8 percent of every 100 emigrants went to USA. According to the research by ONS last year UK recorded the highest number of emigrants about 400,000 and immigrants of 591,000.
The majority of the immigrants are from commonwealth countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The legal aid service is very strong and a well spread network in UK. One can seek legal advice on various maters like personal injury, employment law (both for employer and employee), conveyance, will and probate, commercial litigation. Solicitors provide legal advice on family matters, criminal case, medical negligence, financial advice as well along with those mentioned above. Solicitors also give legal advice to estate agents but this service is limited to Scotland only.
Information on solicitors is also widely available on internet. One can find out the solicitor or lawyers based on their locality or law firms or even on the problem concerned. The fees for legal advice vary with the area of law involved in the concerned case. There is Community Legal Advice organization which provides free and confidential legal advice if someone lives on low income or benefits.
If one has been injured in an accident with no fault of his he can seek legal advice from an accident solicitor. The Accident Solicitors is one such legal firm which assists in getting the victim his injury claims for compensation. The accident solicitors can take up cases from places throughout UK including Cheshire, Cornwall, Devon, Lancashire, Manchester and Yorkshire.
Accident solicitors help victims get injury claim for accidents causing head injuries, spinal injuries, scarring, broken bones or torn ligaments, paraplegia, loss of eye sight, limbs, damaged or lost teeth etc. the accident solicitors also take on cases involving all sorts of personal injury, medical negligence, fatal accidents, head injury claims, spinal injury claims, sports injury claims, holiday accidents, defective product or service claims, marine or aircraft injury claims, psychiatric injury claims etc.
One can find lawyers in Manchester simply by logging into internet. On internet every detail of information is provided regarding different law firms as well as lawyers in Manchester. Lawyers of different arenas of legal scenario are available with their details on the web.
Parents who feed their children’s bodies but starve them for emotional nourishment will be prosecutable with Britain’s new “Cinderella Law”. The changes to the existing child protection laws on the books will make “emotional cruelty” a crime along with physical or sexual abuse.
The change will be introduced by the government during the Queen’s Speech in early June. The timing of the release coincides with other planned events to enforce the protection of children’s emotional, as well as physical, well-being. Breaking the new aspect of the law could result in the parents being sentenced to as much as a decade in prison. The changes update existing laws in Wales and England which currently cover only assault, abandonment or exposure of a child to suffering or injury.
Under the new law, which makes it a crime to commit an act that deliberately harms a child’s physical, emotional or social development, ignoring a child or acts damaging a child’s emotional development would be punishable. Other offenses would include forcing a child to witness domestic violence or making a child a scape goat in domestic situations.
Social service workers say that as many as 1.5 million British children suffer from neglect. The changes will give the police the authority to intervene earlier and start building a case before physical or sexual harm is done to a child. Robert Buckland, a part-time judge and campaigner on the issue, said, “…the time for change is long overdue.”
A spokesman for Action for Children said the change was a big step towards protecting the country’s children. England has been one of few counties to recognize all types of child abuse as criminal. Following years of lobbying, the government has appeared to listen.
An official, with the Justice Ministry, said the government feels protecting children is basic and that child abuse is an offense which should be prosecuted.
“Every child should be able to grow up in a safe environment. We are considering ways the law can support this,” he said.
Tracy Johnson is being tried at Merthyr Crown Court. Johnson, who has claimed to be afraid to go outside, is heading to trial on benefit fraud charges. Despite claiming to be afraid of enjoying the outdoors, Johnson has been living a jet-set lifestyle. Flying around the world, landing in exotic locations and enjoying chilled champagne, Johnson also worked as a tour guide in Argentina while she was collecting cold weather benefits in Britain.
Johnson, 52, was living the life that most honest, hardworking people only dream of. In Buenos Aires, she would spend weeks — and months — at a time, running her own tour guide business, Northwest Nomad Adventure. When she wasn’t busy leading tourists around the Argentine capital, Johnson also worked as a wedding photographer.
A quick online search can find plenty of information that shows just how colorful Johnson’s life has been. According to prosecutors, Johnson is a published author with several books to her credit including “Last Tango in Buenos Aires.” Johnson’s websites call her a food and travel writer. In addition to tour guide and wedding photographer, Johnson also did boudoir photography and has been busy entering her work in a variety of competitions.
Information from Johnson’s LinkedIn profile were also read to the jury. According to her online profile, Johnson says that when she is not “nomading” she alternates between Brighton and Argentina. The jury was also told that Johnson’s books are listed on Amazon. Johnson, who claims to have first traveled to Buenos Aires in 2006, later moved to Salta in the foothills of The Andes.
Before relocating to Argentina, Johnson lived and worked in interior design in New York City. According to Johnson’s profile on the business social media network, she lived in the city where she worked as an interior designer specializing in kitchens and bathrooms. She also writes on her LinkedIn profile that she was a “consultant to various kitchen refurbishment and design corporations.”
Johnson has received approximately 50,000 British pounds, over $80,000USD, in benefits. Johnson received the benefits by claiming that she suffers from agoraphobia, depression, hallucinations, anxiety and blackouts. Johnson also claims that she cannot walk five yards without assistance and has a tendency to “wander off” and get lost, unable to find her home.
While filing and submitting the claims for disability benefits, Johnson was busy traveling the globe on taxpayers money. In addition to Buenos Aires, prosecutors also say that Johnson would go on shopping trips in New York City, spend days at a time in Madrid and, in 2012, took a four-month trip exploring India.
Based on an anonymous tip, Johnson’s benefits were cut off. She filed again to renew her claim when she returned from India. Asking for her benefits to be backdated to May 2012, Johnson convinced a community psychiatric nurse to file the forms for her claiming to be a “prisoner in her own home.”
When Johnson was arrested in 2012 in Builth Wells, at her mother’s home, the tags from the trips were still on her luggage. Other documents found by authorities included copies of tickets, photos of her in Peru and 14 bilingual business cards in English and Spanish.
Johnson has pleaded not guilty to a 13-count indictment. The indictment covers charges from January 2008 until July 2012.
The trial of the agoraphobic world traveler continues.
Attorneys, aka “Barristers,” in London have agreed to hold off on a planned walkout after proposed cuts to the country’s legal aid program were halted. The Ministry of Justice has said it will wait to introduce cost saving measures until next summer.
Criminal lawyers in Britain have announced they will call off their protest about the legal aid payments after reaching an agreement with the MoJ, which is looking to save about $215 million by 2018-2019.
Criminal solicitors and probation officers though weren’t happy and still plan to stage a two-day walkout. Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, told reporters the MoJ has had constructive talks with the bar and Law society leaders and have agreed to additional measures to help lawyers in their preparation for legal aid savings. For their part, the leaders of the bar have dropped all objections to accepting lower rates and have agreed to halt their plans to disrupt the courts.
Grayling said he was seeking a fair and efficient criminal justice system that would balance the needs of the public with the needs of the people working within the justice system. Calling it his top priority, Grayling said, “…I believe this agreement is a positive step forward.”
Recently there have been meetings between Grayling, representatives from the Bar Council and the Law Society which represents solicitors in England and Wales. The main part of the agreement looked at cuts to the advocates fee schedule. The annual budget for legal aid in Britain is $10 million and newer attorneys would be hurt most by any cuts approved.
The government has recognized that cuts to the “junior bar” are unnecessary and could possibly jeopardize the continuation of the legal progression in Britain. Eighty-nine percent of the cases heard in Britain do not qualify as VHCC — very high cost crime fraud — and thus could be eligible for payment supplements to come from the national fund. Lawyers have been boycotting VHCCs are part of their protest and are now in talks with the MoJ over the continuation of reimbursement in complex fraud cases.
Criminal attorneys have already joined solicitors in two walkouts, one in January and one this moth. The walkouts caused disruption in magistrate and crown courts throughout England and Wales.
Nicola Hill, president of the London Criminal Court Solicitors Association, said that Grayling’s plan to divide and conquer the legal profession is a move being made out of desperation. Hill went on to say that the government — and Grayling — is staring to comprehend the level of frustration and anger that is permeating the justice system due to cuts and systemic overhauls.
“This slash and burn approach affects not just the professionals, but more importantly, justice,” he said.
Fine wines can make a low-risk, long-term investment. Just as with other investments, there are people who are only interested in separating you from your money. If you are a wine lover, someone starting out in wine collecting or someone seeking to diversity your portfolio into non-traditional investments, here are some tips to keep your investment safe and secure.
Start With a Reliable Merchant
Before you start spending your money to build an investment in wine, make sure you are dealing with a vendor who is known and reliable. You want to find someone with a solid track record and a reputation for above-the-board dealing. If you are purchasing wine before it is packaged and released to the marketplace, it’s doubly important to know with whom you are doing business. Since “en primeur” wine is usually committed 2 – 3 years after vintage, it leaves the field wide open to swindlers.
Investigate the company to make sure it is well established. Find out who the corporate principals are and what practical knowledge they have had in wine investments. Established companies in the UK will be found on the registration with Companies House and you can also verify the balance sheet there.
Does the company have a legitimate street address for the head office? It is easy to come up with addresses that include PO boxes or even physical locations that are empty lots. Think about using Google Street Maps to get a view of the company’s headquarters. Obviously, if the location is close, it pays to make a personal visit to the spot. Don’t be overly concerned about offers coming unsolicited in the mail — be cautious though. While many legitimate companies do send out unsolicited pamphlets and slicks, it’s also an easy way for fraudsters to troll for potential victims. Remember the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Take particular caution to check out the bona fides of companies with whom you are unfamiliar that make proposals with offers of investment.
Know What You Are Buying
Before turning over your money, make sure you understand precisely what wine you are buying and double check to see if you’re making a solid use of your money. Of the thousands of wines produced each year, only a certain few will accrue in value. Wines that will see their value increase, tend to be more expensive as well. What can you do to protect yourself? Consider these tips:
Do your research. Make sure you are buying the proper product at the proper prices. Using the internet is a great way to compare prices as is seeking another opinion on your investment.
Quality. This is central to the potential value of your investment. Make sure you know the background of the wine you are choosing and be sure to know it comes from a reliable source.
Condition. Get details and information about anything that could affect the value of your investment. Just as an example, fine wine should be unmixed and in sealed cases in the genuine wooden container. Investment wine should never have been repackaged.
En Primeur Prices. Wait until the prices are published before purchasing en primeur. Traders worthy of your trust will not try to sell you en primeur before the producers have shared the release prices.
Availability. Find out if the seller has the wine already in stock or if it will have to be ordered from the producer. Be clear about when your wine will be delivered to you or to your account.
Investing in outstanding wines can be a rewarding experience as long as due diligence is conducted. Using a little common sense — along with seeking advice and guidance — your investment could grow and reward you and your heirs for years to come.
Isolated Theft at Mt. Gox Shakes Bitcoin User’s Trust, While Rival Industry Exchanges Reassure Customers Their Bitcoin Investments are Safe and Secure
Bitcoin trader Kolin Burgess of London has been picketing the Tokyo office tower where Mt. Gox, has its offices since February 14, 2014 in an effort to get back his $320,000 investment in bitcoins with the Mt. Gox exchange. Mt. Gox, considered the world’s largest bitcoin exchange, went offline on February 25, 2014 after reports surfaced that it had suffered a major theft. The company had halted its withdrawals indefinitely during the month after finding “unusual activity. According to a security guard, no one from the company is inside the building. On Sunday, February 23, 2014, Mt. Gox’s CEO, Mark Karpeles, resigned from the board of Bitcoin Foundation. Mr. Karpeles said about the loss, “It hasn’t shaken my trust in Bitcoin, but it has shaken my trust in bitcoin exchanges.”
It is reported that information contained in a “crisis strategy” report released online, from an internal Mt. Gox document reflects that 740,000 bitcoins were missing from its exchange, causing the freezing of withdrawals during the month of February 2014. Apparently, the document reveals that the theft has gone unnoticed for several years. Rival companies claim that the company has been lax in its security monitoring. The loss equates to approximately $350 million in bitcoin prices, although due to fluctuations in prices and values, this amount is uncertain.
Bitcoin started in 2009 as an alternative to government controlled currencies. Bitcoin is used by investors and others for investment purposes and for making transactions. The uniqueness of bitcoin is that it is an easy way to purchase anytime and anywhere in the world. Bitcoin users rely on trust. There are no government restraints, financial, banking or credit laws for bitcoin giving it flexibility regarding the various types of transactions it can be used for by its customers. Although the Mt. Gox theft may have shaken up some of that trust amongst its customers, other bitcoin exchanges have announced jointly that they are working to re-establish any trust lost. Rival exchanges are reassuring customers/investors that their funds are secure and that Mt. Gox’s losses should not be considered as a reflection on the industry.
Bitcoin’s popularity has recently been moving towards broader acceptance with approximately 14.4 million bitcoins in circulation today. The maximum amount of bitcoins that are allowed to be circulated are 21 million. It is estimated that by the year 2032, 99% of those bitcoins will be in circulation.
A message from Judge Johnson to the jury in the sensational trial of former aides/au pair Elisabetta Grillo and her sister Francesca Grillo, facing charges of credit card fraud, to ignore comments made by the British Prime Minister made in a press interview stating that he was a “massive fan” of celebrity cook, Nigella Lawson, make it abundantly clear that British Courts take matters of contempt seriously. Although Downing Street declined to respond, a source said that Prime Minister Cameron’s comments referred to Ms. Lawson and the fact that he was a fan of her cooking and had nothing to do with the defendants or the court case at hand.
Sisters Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo each deny their charges of committing fraud by spending a total of £685,000 using company credit cards belonging to Ms. Lawson and her husband Charles Saatchi while in their employ during the period January 2008 through December 2012, to purchase designer goods and take luxury holidays. The jury also heard evidence from Elisabetta Grillo, who told the Isleworth Crown Court about her findings of a rolled-up banknote and credit cards with white powder. Although Ms. Grillow claims she never saw Ms. Lawson taking any illegal drugs nor did she confront her about the issue to avoid embarrassing her. Ms. Lawson denies hiding any cocaine, although admits she has used the Class A drug in the past. The trial is ongoing.
The Judge’s comments warning the jurors to decide the case only on the basis of evidence presented in the courtroom reminds us all that what public figures say and feel must not have any bearing on cases coming before the London criminal court system in order to insure a defendant’s right to a fair trial. Whether you are a celebrity, someone of notoriety or just an average subject of the Crown, if you are accused of a criminal offense of credit card fraud or other crimes in London, you have certain rights that you should be aware of including:
- The right to face your accuser in a court of law
- The presumption of innocence until otherwise proven
- The right to a London solicitor/barrister to defend you
- The right to a fair trial
London Criminal Defense Team
Since English criminal statutes and common laws are complex, it is important to make sure you work with an experienced criminal defense team to represent your interests. A team who understands how to protect your rights, reputation and privacy from the London media and sensational journalism can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case and ensure you receive a fair and just trial.
“This country has long prided itself on the integrity of its public officials and cynical acts of betrayal of that high standard have a profoundly corrosive effect.”
Those were the words of Mr Justice Fulford as he sentenced two people to prison today for misconduct and corrupt payments while in public offices. 40 year old Alan Tierney, who used to be a Police Constable in Surrey, pleaded guilty and was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 10 months in custody for selling information about John Terry’s mother and a shop lifting incident, as well as information about another celebrity, Ronnie Wood; Rolling Stones’ guitarist to News International. Richard Trunkfield was also found guilty of a similar offence and sentenced to 16 months in jail. Trunkfield who used to work as a support officer at Woodhill Prison admitted to selling news about John Venables, one of the 2 boys found guilty of the horrendous murder of the 2 year old James Bulger to the Sun Newspaper. The two men were sentenced separately at the Old Bailey earlier today.
Barely three months ago, Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn, a 53 year old woman had been found guilty of a similar offence of misconduct in public office and had also been sentenced, upon conviction, by Mr Justice Fulford at the Southwark Crown Court. In April Casburn’s case, she had been found guilty of trying to sell information from the phone hacking enquiry to the News of the World. She was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment on the 1st of February 2013. Misconduct in public office is only triable on indictment and in the most serious circumstances, can carry a sentence as high as life imprisonment. Whilst deriving benefits from holding a particular post in public service does not necessarily constitute misconduct, the recipient must be able, if and when called upon to do so, to prove that such benefit or ‘gifts’ were offered and accepted under the most transparent of circumstances.
The level of accountability demanded by law from those in public offices or in the position of trust such as those working in the care sector and anyone working with the vulnerable, is at an all time high. The enactment and subsequent coming into force of the Anti Bribery & Corruption Act (ABC) has brought even more stringent measures to the offer and/or acceptance of ‘gifts’ or other forms of benefits to and from those in public as well as private offices. According to the Court of Appeal, misconduct in office is an offence that can prove very complex and sometimes raises very sensitive issues. Unfortunately however, ignorance is no excuse under the law and the fact that a client was not aware of the consequences of their action or inaction, as it were, may not stand up to much of a defence in court.
Cheesy as it sounds, the old maxim “prevention is better than cure” proves particularly relevant here. Rather than toy with the possibility of jail, if in doubt, ask us!