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CRIME OF THE TIME

Pssst... a word to the streetwise... Crime of the Time is packed with highly valuable information to protect you from being the next victim of credit card and cyber fraud.

Every day, crooks and scammers are conjuring up sinister schemes to steal your credit card straight out of your wallet using sophisticated sleight of hand – as well as devising devastating new ways to separate you from your dollars whenever you go online.

If you've ever wondered what exactly skimming, phishing, shoulder surfing, hacking, and identity theft is, find out how easily these crimes are committed by increasingly fluid and tech-savvy thieves.

This eye-opening investigation also goes behind the scenes of the banks and criminal networks to uncover how the multitude of ingenious scams is just the tip of a massive international fraud iceberg.

Find out how cutting-edge technology, from chip cards to third generation online security, is being trumped by crooks and putting users at risk of paying billions in fraud.

We now live in a global community where these scams have far-reaching consequences and where the lines of crime are blurred between organised criminals and our national security. Learn just how important it is for you as a consumer to protect your cards, bank information and personal details before it's too late.

Discover what bored teenagers, opportunist two-bit street thieves, hardcore druggies, highly organised criminals, and generation jihad terrorists all have in common...

In Store Price: $31.95 
Online Price:   $28.95

ISBN: 978-1-921574-69-6 
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 373
Genre: Non Fiction

NEW ZEALAND CUSTOMERS - CLICK HERE TO BUY LOCALLY.

Author: Chris Taylor
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2010
Language: English

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Whether it's battling the war on drug trafficking, weapons and people smuggling, terrorism, or child pornography, one key to crime fighting success globally is the sharing of intelligence between frontline police agencies... 

When it comes to the fastest growing crimes of our generation - credit card fraud, cyber scams and identity theft - as a consumer you too can help mitigate the negative impact of hard crime on our society by joining a wider intelligence community of “fraud fighters” who have learnt how to protect themselves from being the next statistic..

Thanks to the information age explosion - highly sophisticated mafia’s, organised street-smart gangs, crazed drug addicts, bored teenagers, traditional shyster conmen, recession stretched individuals, and even generation jihad terrorists… are all exploiting an international payments network and a globally connected internet to their devious advantage.

If you've ever wondered what exactly card skimming, internet phishing, shoulder surfing, hacking, and identity theft is, find out how easily these crimes are committed by increasingly fluid and tech-savvy thieves.

Author of Crime of the Time Chris Taylor invites you to go behind the scenes of the banks and shady criminal networks to reveal how the multitude of ingenious scams is just the tip of a massive international fraud iceberg. .

Find out how cutting-edge technology, from chip cards to third generation online security, and smart phone gadgets, are being trumped by crooks and putting users at risk of paying billions in fraud.

We now live in a global community where these scams have far-reaching consequences and where the lines of crime are blurred between organised criminals and our national security. Learn just how important it is for you as a consumer to protect your cards, bank information and personal details before it's too late.

Find out the truth about card and online fraud...

.On one hand - how debt addicted consumers, a predatory credit industry, nuclear age technology, all drive the crime - and on the other... how the over-stretched police force, misguided government agencies, short sighted banks, and stopgap card company security measures are all falling short in combating the crooks!

This book will appeal if:

  • You have an interest in global society trends
  • You're a consumer armed with a credit card or five, and shop, bank, or auction      over the "wild web"
  • You social network online ŕ la Facebook or Twitter
  • If you're a merchant that accepts credit cards and wish to combat fraud
  • You're in the industry and terms such as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard PCI DSS mean something to you
  • You've been a victim and you're interested in getting payback on crafty credit card scammers, Nigerian 419 letter con-artists, Russian cyber hoods, or organised crime syndicates and two-bit crooks of every diverse description
  • You're interested in the coming wave of crazy biometric security measures - such as finger/retina/facial scanners, and voice verification which are set to invade your personal space
  • You're also interested in how we'll be spending in the next 50 - 100 years and how crooks will be cashing in even more thanks to futuristic hologram and cloud driven technology
  • Or, if you're just curious about the criminal psychology behind fraud...

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About the author

Chris Taylor has gained several valuable years experience investigating multitudes of fraud scams - from sophisticated card skimming and ATM heists - to international cross border online scams and identity theft. He's uniquely picked up his in-depth industry knowledge having not only worked for nationwide banks in Australia and New Zealand, as an investigator and card scheme manager, but also with government in a "behind the scenes" verification unit co-ordinating intelligence - and the region's leading credit bureau as a fraud and anti-money laundering product manager.  

His mission is for all credit card consumers to have an awareness of the crime to mitigate the adverse impact on our global society.

Take a journey into the shadowy world of fraud from an investigators first hand account...

 "Some people make things happen, some watch things happen and some wonder what happened?" Gaelic Proverb

An Investigator’s Story 

There are at least two sides to every story. In the case of credit card and cyber fraud there happen to be three: the increasingly shady crooks committing shocking crimes, the poor consumer victims being ripped off, and last but by no means least important, the profiteering banks and card firms defending their global payments network.  

Working as an investigator in a seemingly bullet-proof financial institution, I was caught in the constant crossfire of all three of these players’ often eye-opening stories as credit card and cyber crimes evolved.  

I sincerely hope you get something from reading my take on one of the fastest moving crimes of our generation.

Introduction

 

Internationally, combating fraud wasn’t always a priority for banks. I witnessed firsthand their need to change their focus dramatically.

 

The politics of fraud

 

‘W

e’re moving offices, again,’ our senior manager tentatively announced, much to the annoyance of our small team at an impromptu staff meeting. We were frustrated, not just at the prospect of having to pack all of our belongings into cardboard boxes, but because our fraud investigations department had already been shunted around many so-called ‘spare office spaces’ suspiciously resembling empty broom closets or condemned premises. Like the 1960’s TV comedy Get Smart our current hideaway was situated down a series of long winding windowless corridors, secure doors, and suitably concealed behind the obscure mailroom. If the intention was to be a covert top-secret department, we were definitely doing a phenomenal job. The rest of the company barely knew we existed or what we did behind closed doors. We certainly didn’t make the bank any money so we were treated like a bad liability that needed to be temporarily ‘buried’ until the next financial year restructure. This unfortunately reflected the attitude the bank had on fraud; proving to executive powers how many thousands of dollars we saved them in potential losses held very little importance. In street slang, we had been ‘played’ and ‘dissed’ by the corporate cash cow. Strangely though, once the boss had the secret agenda item off his chest he looked rather excited and animatedly explained to us that this particular move was going to be significantly different from what we had become accustomed to. We could now kiss the obsolete business operations building in suburbia goodbye, as we were moving into the bank’s prestigious downtown corporate head office, complete with views of the stunning harbour city. Lucky level 13 on the 29-floor building, right next door to securities. No, not security, but the shrewd share traders nonetheless. Not bad for a few generation X misfits who didn’t suit the sedate banker stereotype, along with some more distinguished baby boomers finishing off their long ‘life sentences’ in the bank.

It was spring 2004 and this break was definitely payoff for the past few years of our battling fraud, which was increasingly biting financial institutions globally. The fresh focus on fraud also partly came about thanks to the media gods who continually sensationalised stories, hyping up retail, credit card and cyber crimes in print and on primetime TV. The profile of fraud had certainly been raised in recent times and the problem had become so big that even our CEO and his top floor of senior executive decision makers could no longer ignore it. The banking industry was abuzz with each new scam as it came along, from ‘shoulder surfing’, data breaches, card skimming, identity theft and the ever-popular internet phishing, to name a few. Our chief exec would have probably mused at an old boys’ club event while thoughtfully sipping on a chardonnay, ‘How much resource am I putting into this area?’ I wish I’d had a chance to tell him straight that the bank was almost overlooking the problem. It wasn’t until there was an atomic sized fraud explosion that these crimes were finally being recognised by our somewhat shortsighted institution. In hindsight, I could have sped the whole process up a few years if I’d followed through on my empty threat to our team that I personally steal the chief exec’s credit card and commit heinous amounts of fraud on it to open his eyes.

As with any financial institution, they had only been focused on making as much money out of the banking machine as possible – all with the desire to meet their lust for attractive bottom-line figures and to keep the hungry shareholders satisfied. Marketing and sales, as with most organisations, was all that mattered. Our bank’s advertising catchphrase was ‘one step ahead’, but if we kept this up, the crooks would be leading the way.

The wonderful world of commercial technology that they had been investing in to red carpet the hallowed customer experience and cut the bank’s overheads was fantastic. However, out of this evolution spawned a new era of fraud, which was now as advanced as the artificial intelligence it abused to commit crimes. Because the internet and credit card industries are changing continually and dynamically, we were finding out first hand that many of our customers were navigating the new information highway with an alarming level of naivety. Many were very green when it came to shopping online, paying on plastic and sending their funds off into cyberspace. A high percentage couldn’t tell a .com from a .con. Regrettably, the criminals weren’t overly fussy when it came to their prey’s age, racial or socioeconomic background, but certainly the wealthier the better as far as they were concerned. Our loyal customers were completely exposed to a vast selection of credit card and techno-savvy scams from around the globe.

Credit card and cyber crimes may not be the same as a market crash where there is instant tsunami style devastation. The effects are much more subtle – like rising water levels. So I guess it took just a little bit longer before the executive management sat up and noticed that this problem was starting to dampen their plush office carpet. They also couldn’t afford the damage a big crime wave could potentially do to the trusted banking reputation and the loss of customer faith. Our fraud department had finally been recognised as holding the noble responsibility of defending the bank’s integrity, corporate brand, and of course their all-important bottom line. Although, in the game of fraud we were just a very small pawn in a much larger game that was being played out internationally.

 

What was really going on?

The dramatic shift in our bank’s focus was by no means unique. It was following the worldwide trend of moving towards increased use of cards and electronic payment systems that radically needed more fraud protection. The Nilson Report is the world’s leading resource of news and research on consumer payment systems. They confirm that purchases of goods and services and cash advances and withdrawals on all credit, debit and prepaid payment cards worldwide is now rocketing up to an astounding USD12–14 trillion annually. The industry expert also last released figures in November 2008 stating that global fraud losses against this total spend was a mildly staggering USD5.5 billion.

Source: Nilson Group

Conversely, two years later we discover that in reality this amount is just a drop in the black hole of card crime. A new report from a leading independent financial services research and advisory firm – the Aite Group, LLC – released in January 2010 estimated card fraud is in fact annually costing the United States alone USD8.6 billion per USD2.1 trillion legitimate spend. Globally, card fraud could now be sinking anywhere around USD15-20 billion per annum in losses…

Source: Aite Group

A small cut of the pie – but a BIG problem
for all businesses and consumers.

As you can see, the percentage of fraud is only a fraction of consumer spend, and is generally thought to be dropping. The problem is, because our spending is increasing at a rapid rate, fraud is still continually climbing at an alarming proportion[i]. Regardless of bumpy economic times, the credit card firms are still expected to experience growth, as people rely more and more on plastic to get by, or choose to continue spending on cards without restraint. On the other side of the recession coin, card fraud is set to soar as many other financially strapped individuals turn to the crime in times of desperation. Thanks to this consumer-driven perfect storm, if you or someone you know hasn’t already fallen foul of a scam, the laws of probability suggest it will almost certainly happen, and happen when you least expect it.

Source: Nilson report

Even during a global financial slow-down, there’s one industry that is still set to boom…the fraud industry!

Global fraud trends have certainly evolved and flourished over the past few decades. We’re going to recount the fraud story from the very beginning when lost or stolen cards was the number one burden for banks. By the year 2000, this was matched by clever counterfeiters copying credit cards. Twenty years ago, you would never have heard of ‘card not present’ fraud, but this is now the most popular fad where card numbers are used fraudulently over the phone or on the world ‘wild web’. This increasingly compromises the integrity of the payments system and catches out millions of innocent victims around the globe. Criminals are always targeting the weakest link for more lucrative returns, which now happens to be the internet. That’s where credit card and cyber fraud have become even more interconnected. They have certainly become the crime of the time.

 

The card fraud farce

In the following exploration into common card cons and other more sophisticated fraud scams, we’ll separate fact from fiction and confirm whether there is anything for you to worry about. Will you really lose your life savings in a scam? Fraud in diverse forms has been around for a very long time – and I’m not just referring to the 1980s and the infamous phoney ‘singers’ Milli Vanilli. The cons have come in a variety of different packages over the centuries, from dishonest scales for the weighing of wares during biblical times to crude art and science forgeries. Fraud is now so ingrained in our society that it is part of everyday popular culture. Ever seen fake asteroid rocks for sale on eBay, or a ‘genuine’ Picasso painting? Today there are literally hundreds of different forms of fraud affecting every area of our lives. To name a few, embezzlement, counterfeiting, forgery, tax fraud, investment frauds including Ponzi schemes, retail bait and switch fraud, electoral fraud, insurance fraud, immigration fraud, mortgage fraud, match fixing, charity fraud, psychic cons, and charlatan frauds committed by every imaginable crook.

 

Definition of fraud: Wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain

–Oxford Dictionary

 

Conning folks of their dollars is without a doubt considered the most universally rampant type of fraud. Then considering the number of ‘plastic’ forms of payment in circulation today and the fast growing number of internet users, credit card and cyber crimes are two of the crooks’ most commonly used modus operandi. These crimes now indiscriminately affect more consumers from around the globe than any other form of fraud. From Mumbai to Manhattan, London to Kuala Lumpur, Sydney to St Petersburg, Rio to Rome, Cape Town to the Caribbean, the reasons why people commit fraud may be as different as their individual cultures and diverse personal characteristics, but the methods they use are the same.

You may or may not find it surprising to know that in my personal experience it was apparent that banks internationally typically don’t care about card crime, as the obscene profits made from credit card interest far outweigh the costs of fraud. The reality is that consumers are paying for the fraud losses of banks and businesses passed on through higher interest rates, bank fees and retail prices. This is what I call the fraud farce, as it’s all about profits and is accepted as part of doing everyday business; much in the same way as the multi-billion dollar mining industry companies permit their carbon pollution as an expected toxic by-product. The banks and credit card firms also don’t address the fact that there is a much wider social responsibility to warn and protect the masses from potentially lethal scams. Nonetheless, in this first-hand account of my journey into fraud we’ll piece together all of the players in this complicated jigsaw and look at practical ways that you can protect yourself from being the next statistic.


 

[i] Some media sources misinform the public when reporting card industry statistics and only tell half of the story. You’ll annually hear that card fraud has significantly fallen in recent years and that banks are much better at combating criminals. This is a complete farce. They report that fraud is currently only around 4.7c per $100 as opposed to its soaring high of 15c per $100 in 1992. Although it appears that fraud has decreased because sales on plastic have increased significantly, in reality fraud is probably now costing the card industry upwards of US15 billion dollars.

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