Make a blog


5 days ago

Online Security: 19% of social media accounts associated with top ten brands are fraudulent, says study

Fake brand social media accounts are on the rise according to a study into the shape of the industry from Proofpoint.


From April through June 2016, the 10 top brands across different industries were identified and analysed across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. A total of 4,840 brands were found to be associated with these companies – almost a fifth (19 per cent) were fraudulent.


Social media is reportedly a prime platform for fraud. Used as a corporate marketing and communications tool, it can be hijacked with malicious intent such as spamming users and misrepresenting the brand.


Of the 902 fraudulent accounts associated with 10 top brands, nearly 30 per cent were scams or offers for counterfeit products and services. Furthermore, four per cent of these were either phishing for user information, looking to install malware, protesting against the company in question or parodying it – which it claimed could harm the reputation of the brands.


These were BMW, Capital One, Chanel, Amazon, DirecTV, Nike, Samsung, Shell, Sony, Starbucks as selected by the Brand Directory list of top brands for 2015.


The report said: “Many unauthorised accounts are fake brand accounts. They are created solely to defraud your customers or undermine your brand. Bad actors create these accounts for financial gain or to protest your company and create negative brand sentiment.


“Other fraudsters prey on customers who try to engage with your brand. They target customers using fake customer service accounts, phony sweepstakes, and more. Some are motivated by a political agenda and create fraudulent accounts to attack a brand’s image. Most often, they closely imitate the brand to make fun of the company or its customers. These protest accounts diminish brand value and create a negative or even hostile experience for customers.”


The most common fraud practices included offering free gifts or discounts, or posing as customer support or software updates.


A flaw was also identified with Facebook and Twitter verification which can help with capturing the spammers – while the seal is viewable on the profile it is not always readily viewable on individual tweets and posts.


Social media phishing is the fastest-growing social media threat, increasing 150 per cent from 2015 to 2016.

2 weeks ago

Online Security: A shoe e-retailer takes steps to improve its fraud detection

Fast-growing Schutz Shoes upgrades its fraud detection software to slash manual reviews and improve order processing.


Online orders were flowing into shoe e-retailer Schutz Shoes, the U.S. division of Brazilian-based shoe retailer Arezzo & Co., but the small team spent an increasing amount of time checking whether an order was fraudulent. When one employee on a staff of seven has to manually review the legitimacy of an online order, that’s time away from customers and other business, says Kimberly Gort, e-commerce manager for Schutz.


Schutz Shoes started selling online in 2014 operating its e-commerce site in the basement of its New York City store. That first year, Schutz had about $350,000 in online sales. In 2015, about half of its product catalog was available online and sales grew to $1.5 million. Now, with all of its products available online, Schutz Shoes projects about $3 million in online sales for 2016, Gort says. The retailer also opened a store in Los Angeles.


With triple-digit percentage growth comes growing pains. When the e-retailer received a modest five online orders a day, using the free tool from its e-commerce platform provider (Shopify Inc.) worked fine, Gort says. The plugin would flag orders that might be fraudulent, and the retailer decided to approve or decline such orders.  For example, the tool flagged an order if the credit card and shipping addresses didn’t match, so a Schutz employee had to call the customer and determine if it was a legitimate order. Deciding what was and wasn’t fraudulent often was difficult, Gort says.


“There’s always a risk,” she says. “It was like we were playing roulette.”


The situation frustrated the retailer and the shopper, as some shoppers were blocked from placing an order or their order was delayed or they had to deal with a phone call from the retailer. Schutz was missing out on orders, devoting almost a full employee to manually check the orders and seek out consumers to verify information. As order volume and sales grew, the manual-review model no longer worked, Gort says.


In July, Schutz Shoes decided to integrate fraud detection software provider ClearSale onto its platform, choosing the vendor because it was used by parent company Arezzo. It took about two weeks to integrate the technology onto Schutz’s site, Gort says.


ClearSale factors in about 100 variables to approve or deny orders, and then has its 500-person team to dig deeper on flagged orders, says Rafael Lourenco, vice president of operations at ClearSale. Orders can be approved within three seconds, while an order that requires manual review will take 24-48 hours, he says.


The impact of adding ClearSale was almost immediate, Gort says, as Schutz Shoes was no longer on the hook to manually check flagged orders. The e-retailer now approves 94-96% of its orders, which is about a 5% increase from when it relied on its free plugin, Gort says.


ClearSale charges per transaction and takes a 0.4-1.5% cut of the sale. The commission is worth it, Gort says, as more sales are approved. In August, Schutz Shoes paid ClearSale $1,500. The retailer processed 1,200 online orders that month, 1,002 of which ClearSale reviewed in some capacity; of those 1,002 orders, 973 (97.1%) were approved.


ClearSale has about 2,000 clients, and more than 90% are retailers, Lourenco says. Across all of its clients, 93.5% of orders are automatically approved, Lourenco says.


Recently, ClearSale updated its formula with another variable to approve or deny orders. The feature factors in how long a consumer is on the website before she purchases. The shorter it is, the more suspect. However, this is only one variable and a short time between landing on the site and purchasing will not automatically flag an order, Lourenco says. The new feature increased ClearSale’s average approval rate by 1%, he says.

3 weeks ago

Phishing attacks on the rise by Oakmere Road

There has been a notable escalation in phishing attacks in 2016, according to a new report from the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG). It noted that there have been more phishing attacks during the the first quarter of this year, “than at any other time in history”.


There was a huge spike in phishing activity between October 2015 and March 2016, with incidents rising by a massive 250%, the study highlighted.


“We always see a surge in phishing during the holiday season, but the number of phishing sites kept going up from December into the spring of 2016,” commented Greg Aaron, a senior research fellow at APWG and vice-president of the iThreat Cyber Group.


“The sustained increase into 2016 shows phishers launching more sites, and is cause for concern.”


Phishing is a tactic used by cybercriminals and fraudsters to secure sensitive information from people. Deceptive emails, texts and instant messaging alerts – to name but a few – are sent to potential victims encouraging them to hand over their data.


The fraudulent messaging often looks and sounds authentic. Interestingly, as the authors of the paper state, phishing attacks are increasingly more aggressive. For example, keyloggers have been a notable feature in attacks in 2016, used to “target specific information and organizations”.


The authors of the report also touched upon the growing threat posed by ransomware. As with phishing, the attacks have demonstrated a more aggressive streak.


“The threat space continues to expand despite the best efforts of industry, government and law enforcement,” observed Peter Cassidy, co-founder and secretary general of the APWG.

1 month ago

Oakmere Road: PayPal “Verification Required” Phishing Scam Email


“Verification Required” email purporting to be from PayPal claims that your account has been limited due to several listed security issues and you must click a “Remove Limitation” button to address the issues.


Brief Analysis:

The email is not from PayPal and the claim that your account has been limited is untrue. In fact, the email is a phishing scam designed to steal your PayPal account login credentials, your credit card numbers, and other sensitive personal information.


Detailed Analysis:

According to this email, which claims to be from PayPal, your account has been limited and your “verification is required”. The email, which addresses you as “Dear Customer”, claims that the limitation has been imposed because someone else has logged into your account, you sent or received money related to fraudulent activity, and you violated the terms and the user agreements.


It features a “Remove Limitations” button that will supposedly allow you to deal with the account issues mentioned.


However, the email is not from PayPal and the claim that your account has been limited is a lie. Instead, the email is a typical phishing scam designed to steal your personal information.


If you hit the “Remove Limitations” button, you will be taken to a bogus website that has been built to emulate a genuine PayPal login page. The page asks you to login with your PayPal email address and password. After logging in, you will be taken to a second form that asks you to verify your account by supplying your credit card numbers, your name and address details, and other identifying information.  After submitting the requested information, you may receive a final message claiming that you have successfully removed the account limitations.


Meanwhile, the criminals can use the information you supplied to hijack your PayPal account and steal or misuse its funds as well as use your credit card for fraudulent transactions.   They may also be able to steal your identity using the personal and financial information they have gathered from you.


PayPal scams like this one are very common. Be wary of any PayPal message that claims that your account has been limited, disabled, or suspended and you must click a link or open an attached file to verify account details. PayPal will never send you an email or text message that makes such demands. Note also that PayPal will always address you by name in its messages. Genuine PayPal messages will never use generic greetings such as “Dear Customer”.


If you receive one of these emails, do not click any links or open any attachments that it contains.


The PayPal website includes information about how to recognize and report such phishing scams.

2 months ago

Forex Hoster Review - Is ForexHoster VPS Scam? Does It Work? by Oakmere Road

Is the Forex Hoster VPS a scam? This is a service that allows users to upload their own Forex scripts, indicators and especially Expert Advisors that they want to run 24/7. FX Hoster hosts the back end that users have access to in order to upload these files.


Forex Hoster is a Forex Vps MetaTrader & Expert Advisor Hosting for Forex Traders. This gives you the ability to view, manage and trade in real-time through your broker, and host live or demo Expert Advisors. Forex Hoster servers are part of a larger grid, that uses various and accurate management systems to make sure that each client has access to the Internet, and is up and running as needed. Free expert advice is assigned to you once you sign up for an account.


Advantages of Hosting Forex Expert Advisors on a Virtual Private Server like Forex Hoster


Since the FX Hoster is 100% Unix based and does not use Windows technology, it is immune to the spyware, malware and viruses that will infect Microsoft environment systems. This independence of Microsoft systems by the software means that I am assured that my trading activities will have no chance of being negatively sabotaged by these viruses and malware.


Generally, when I use a Forex trading robot, I want to ensure that my robot can run as smoothly as possible and eliminate the chances of interrupting it, and you should do this too if you are using Forex Expert Advisors.


The Importance Of Connectivity


The reality is that many of the newer Expert Advisors such as PipZu and Forex Detector are making use of trend adapting technology. This means that they really do need a 24 hour connection to the markets so that they can properly analyse the trends and trade at the right times.


The fact is, switching your computer off, or, worse, having it crash on you, could leave you with stuck open positions or inadequate analysis - costing you money. Forex Hoster removes this risk.


Complete Domain / IP Management


Forex Hoster does not depend on any co-location or hosting company. Therefore its connector is capable of changing locations dynamically to follow the FX Hoster to where it is located at.


What Types of OS Can Forex Hoster Support?


It has multi operating system supports that works with Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems and is able to host Forex trading platforms like MetaTrader. I am using this service today as it is the best solution for me to run my Expert Advisor by keeping my MT4 platform running consistently.


Final Overview of the Forex Hoster VPS Service


With all the safety and powerful features that FX Hoster has provided me with, I must say that the membership fee for joining has been well worth the money, and I highly recommend Forex robot users to try it.

2 months ago

About IFSC by International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission


BELIZE, an English-speaking country in the heart of Central America, is a relative newcomer in the field of international financial services. Since attaining independence from Britain in 1981, Belize has been endeavoring to diversify its economy away from the agricultural sector. Belize, therefore, saw the international financial services sector as a window of opportunity where it could seek to achieve competitive advantage. Belize also earns a substantial income from the tourism sector. In 1989, the enactment of the Registration of Merchant Ships Act which constituted an open ship registry, gave birth to the International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize (IMMARBE). Today, more than 3000 vessels fly the Belizean flag and there is a network of IMMARBE offices around the world. Belize has ratified most of the International Maritime Organization Safety Conventions.


In 1990, Belize enacted the International Business Companies Act based on the British Virgin Islands model. In a short space of ten years, Belize has registered more than 15,000 IBC’s. Belize’s IBC legislation is viewed internationally as one of the most modern and user-friendly. It is particularly designed with the offshore investor in mind. A Belizean IBC is an ideal corporate vehicle for international financial transactions and allows the investor to engage in a wide variety of activities ranging from asset protection to operating bank accounts, brokerage accounts, ship ownership, commission arrangements and various other commercial transactions.

3 months ago

OVERVIEW by International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission



IFC’s offerings are designed to meet the specific needs of our clients in different industries, with a special focus on infrastructure, manufacturing, agribusiness, services, and financial markets.


Our financial products enable companies to manage risk and broaden their access to foreign and domestic capital markets. Our advice helps unlock private sector investment, which is essential for expanding businesses, creating jobs, and growing economies.


We work with the private sector to encourage entrepreneurship and build sustainable businesses—advising them on a wide range of issues, including environmental, social and governance standards, energy and resource efficiency, and supply chains. We help expand access to critical finance for individuals and micro, small, and medium enterprises through our work with financial intermediary clients.


We also measure our results and those of our clients to assess whether we are contributing effectively to our goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity—and whether our work is making a difference to the people and markets that most need our help.


In fiscal year 2015, our long-term investments in developing countries totaled $17.7 billion, a 17 percent increase over the previous year. More than a third of that amount—over $7 billion—was mobilized from other investors.






Trade and Supply Chain Finance


Treasury Client Solutions

Venture Capital


Asset Management




Agribusiness and Forestry

Financial Institutions


Health and Education



Oil, Gas, and Mining

Public-Private Partnerships

Telecommunications, Media and Technology


Tourism, Retail and Property


The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission was established to promote investor confidence in the securities and capital markets by providing more structure and government oversight.

3 months ago

International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission: Fool-proof Investing Tips

P. T. Barnum is credited for giving us the adage: A sucker is born every day. In fact, it does not have to be April Fool’s Day for both sides of the deal (the fool and the fooled) to sprout like mushrooms after the thunderstorm. And since April brings both rain and brain-drain, it is quite appropriate that it is also Financial Literacy Month. The Financial industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) provides five tips to inform investors on how to protect their money from fraudsters. 


Gerry Walsh, the Senior VP of Investor Education at FINRA, said, “April Fool’s Day comes only once a year when people play on each other for fun. But fraudsters go about their practice all-year-round to fool people out of serious money; and, to really begin having fun and keep your money as well, make sure we know how to become more informed investors.” 

3 months ago

International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission: Scaling Solar Delivers Low-Cost Clean Energy For Zambia

Adding power capacity is a matter of urgency in Zambia, where only one fifth of the population has access to electricity and two years of drought have crippled existing hydropower facilities, causing a national electricity crisis.


It was in this context that the southern African country signed up to try Scaling Solar, a World Bank Group program designed to make it easier for governments to procure solar power quickly and at low cost through competitive tendering and pre-set financing, insurance products, and risk products.


The results of the first auction, which took place in May, have surpassed even the most optimistic expectations, with seven of the world’s leading renewables developers competing for the opportunity to build Zambia’s first large-scale solar plants.


The winning bids were for just 6.02 cents per kilowatt hour and 7.84 cents per kilowatt hour—the lowest prices for solar power to date in Africa, and among the lowest recorded anywhere in the world.


“This is a tremendous result for Zambia and for Scaling Solar, which has proved itself as a vehicle to open up new markets for clean energy,” said Philippe Le Houérou, IFC’s Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President. “It is now possible for governments across sub-Saharan Africa to look first to solar power as a solution for inexpensive, quick-to-build power—something unimaginable outside of South Africa until now.”


Because the 6-cent Zambia tariff is fixed for 25 years and won’t rise with inflation, it represents about 4.7 cents per kilowatt hour over the life of the project—on par with recent auctions in Peru and Mexico.


Scaling Solar has also delivered on its promise of speed: Zambia’s results come just nine months after the government first engaged IFC to advise on the transaction. The winning bidders—Neoen/First Solar and Enel—are expected to reach financial close on the projects within three months and complete construction a year later. This is especially critical in Zambia, where blackouts happen daily. The two new solar power plants will increase the country’s available generating capacity by 5 percent and will also help to restore water levels in its dams.


Zambia has already committed to a second round of Scaling Solar tendering, and Senegal and Madagascar have also signed up. Given growing interest in the program, Scaling Solar is now targeting developing 1 gigawatt of solar power in the next three years. At the tariffs recorded in Zambia, this would provide African consumers with more than $7 billion in savings compared to oil-based power, which costs about 20 cents per kilowatt hour.


Scaling Solar has financing support from USAID’s Power Africa, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, and the Infrastructure Development Collaboration Partnership Fund (DevCo). For more information, visit


The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission was established to promote investor confidence in the securities and capital markets by providing more structure and government oversight.

3 months ago

International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission : Protect Your Money

Investor protection is an integral part of FINRA’s mission. Unfortunately, far too many investors fall victim to Ponzi schemes, pump-and-dump scams and other types of investment fraud. The good news is that fraud and the growing threat of identity theft can often be avoided. 


We’ll help you spot the red flags of fraud and identity theft, and avoid the persuasion tactics of fraudsters. It’s also vital to know the right questions to ask about investments and the people who pitch them—and where to go to verify the answers. After all, it’s your money—learn how to protect it.


Investor Alerts

Check out the latest Investor Alerts from FINRA and other regulators.


Ask and Check

Ask the right questions and verify the answers before you work with an investment professional or buy an investment product.


Avoid Fraud

Even if you have never been subjected to an investment fraudster’s sales pitch, you probably know someone who has. The more you know about the types of fraud and tactics used the better equipped you’ll be to avoid it.


Protect Your Identity

Identity theft occurs when someone obtains your personal information and uses it to steal your money or commit fraud or other crimes. Here's how to safeguard your identity.


The International Financial Securities Regulatory Commission was established to promote investor confidence in the securities and capital markets by providing more structure and government oversight.