Monday, 14 March 2011

Bank Staff Arrested Over $10 Million Fraud Conspiracy

US authorities have charged 12 people, including several bank employees, in relation to a $10 million fraud conspiracy. Members of the network in Minnesota, California and New York are accused of buying and selling stolen identification information which was then used by other members to open fake bank and credit card accounts, apply for loans and get cash. The scam ran from 2006 until this year and saw the defendants obtain, or attempt to, well over $10 million using thousands of stolen documents.

Among several bank employees charged is a Wells Fargo branch manager who was found with customer account information for several people at her home and in her car when arrested, according to Associated Press.

American Express, Associated Bank, Bank of America, Capital One, Guaranty Bank, JP Morgan Chase Bank, TCF Bank, US Bank, Wachovia Bank, Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo Bank were all hit by the network.

Commentating on the arrests, US Attorney B Todd Jones said: "Individuals must take care to protect their personal identification information. They also must ask questions of their financial institutions, and those institutions need to examine their security measures on an ongoing basis".

Hard Drives Sold With Sensitive Government Data

New Jersey state agencies left confidential government information on computers set to be sold at auction, according to a report released this week by state Comptroller Matthew Boxer.

An audit by Boxer's office revealed that multiple state agencies disposed of computer equipment without ensuring that data on the devices had been removed. Auditors discovered completed tax returns, social security numbers, health records, child abuse papers and a list of login passwords on computers that were shrink-wrapped on pallets at the state's surplus property warehouse ready to be auctioned off to the public.

The comptroller's office intervened to stop the auction after confidential sensitive data was discovered on the computers. The New Jersey state of USA gives away or sells hundreds of computers each year, the comptroller's office estimated.

"It's certainly a reasonable assumption that before we arrived there was no one to stop computers with confidential data from being auctioned to the public," said Pete McAleer, a comptroller spokesman.

New Jersey state policy requires agencies to remove all data from a computer's hard drive before deeming it fit for redistribution. Despite the state's requirements, 46 out of 58 or 79%, of the hard drives evaluated during the audit contained data, much of which was confidential, according to the report.

1 Million ASK Contactless Cards Successfully Deployed in Dubai

ASK has achieved the delivery of the first batch of 1 million Nol cards in Dubai. The project was implemented by System Integrator and partner Abba Electronics, a division of well-known Al Abbas Group, for Dubai transport operator, RTA (Roads and Transport Authority).

Nol Card is a smart card used to pay for travelling on Dubai's metro, buses, water buses, as well as pay for RTA's paid parking. This multimodal contactless Nol card comes in 3 different layouts. Silver card is an anonymous card with an e-purse. Gold card holds the same features and grants the holder the privileged access to Metro's Gold Class seats for premium charges. Blue card is a personalised card with the holder's photo on it.

Abdullah Al Madani, the CEO of RTA Corporate Technical Support Services Sector said "Nol Card is the best fare payment means ever introduced in Dubai. We have been working with Abba Electronics for a long time and we are now pleased to work with their trustful partner ASK as well. ASK is a worldwide renowned actor in public transport for contactless technology".

Micropross to Offer Testers Latest VHBR Technology

Today, Micropross announced product availability of testing tools that are able to support the latest VHBR (Very High Bit Rates) contactless technology for smart cards. Its latest generation of contactless testers is able to communicate and spy a VHBR communication, at speeds up to 6.8 Mbit/s (maximum bit rate specified according to ISO/IEC 14443 today is 848 kbit/s). Micropross used contactless high-security controllers of the semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies to demonstrate the 6.8Mbit/s capabilities of its readers.

Philippe Bacle, CEO of Micropross, stated: "Micropross is a company that has always been an innovator in terms of testing tools for the smartcard industry. We are delighted to collaborate with Infineon, and supply them readers that are allowing them to characterize their designs".

In September 2010, Micropross and Infineon contributed their achievements to the ISO/IEC meeting (WG8/TF2) in Takamatsu, Japan. A presentation showed that slightly modified SO/IEC 14443 readers are already capable for high speed communication in both Reader-to-Card and Card-to-Reader direction. The technology proposed by Infineon extends already existing modulation and coding schemes allowing a fast migration path. At the end of the presentation, the VHBR technology was demonstrated showing high speed communication up to 6.8 Mbit/s in both directions. The demonstration got a very positive feedback, as considered much evolved from a technical point of view.

Peter Raggam, Senior Manager, Contactless Systems at Infineon Technologies, Graz, Austria, commented: "Driving a new technology requires early availability of corresponding readers and testers. Micropross is an important partner in providing high-performance and high-quality equipment to test outstanding contactless products".

PayPal Hires Blackhawk Founder to Oversee Its Increasing Physical Stores

PayPal Inc., the online-payment processor owned by EBay Inc. (EBAY), hired Blackhawk Network founder Don Kingsborough to oversee its expansion into physical stores as it steps up competition with Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc.

Kingsborough, who led Blackhawk's efforts to bring prepaid gift cards to Safeway Inc. (SWY) and other grocers, will be responsible for PayPal's push into retail stores in the second half of 2011.

According to PayPal President Scott Thompson, the Company is now aiming to attract consumers using mobile devices and the physical storefronts where Visa and MasterCard dominate. PayPal plans to introduce a redefined point-of-sale system, the equipment next to cash registers where consumers swipe credit cards, with major retailers this year.

Tom Noyes, a banking consultant at Davidson, North Carolina-based StarPoint LLP said: "The physical point-of-sale is the next showdown. Visa and MasterCard are starting to see PayPal as much more of a threat".

MasterCard and Alipay Partners for Overseas Payments

MasterCard is to partner with the Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba to develop the overseas business of the group's online payment division Alipay, according to the online media outlet

The partnership is set to enable customers with Alipay accounts to set up virtual MasterCard accounts in order to buy goods overseas. In 2010, MasterCard and the Chinese bankcard association China UnionPay signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to improve merchant acceptance for MasterCard customers travelling to China and for UnionPay cardholders who travel abroad.

According to MasterCard, China will overtake the US as the largest market for credit cards by 2020, with nearly 900 million cards in circulation. Total cards are expected to increase by 11 percent a year, while the transaction value will jump 14 percent annually until 2025.

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