FBI sting operation nets 24 in global financial fraud ring - Daily Telegraph FBI sting operation nets 24 in global financial fraud ring - Daily Telegraph

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

FBI sting operation nets 24 in global financial fraud ring - Daily Telegraph

FBI sting operation nets 24 in global financial fraud ring - Daily Telegraph

In June 2010, undercover investigators set up their own website "as an online meeting place where the FBI could locate cybercriminals, investigate and identify them and disrupt their activities," the complaint said. The site - called "Carder Profit" - was rigged to allow agents to monitor and record private messages and identify the computers of registered users.

The complaints charged two alleged "carders" from New York, Joshua Hicks and Mir Islam, with fraud. Both were released on bail following brief appearances in federal court in Manhattan. Neither entered a plea.

Undercover agents say they bought stolen data related to 15 American Express, MasterCard and Discover accounts from Hicks, a 19-year who lives with his mother and goes by the name "OxideDox" on the Internet.

In one instance, an undercover investigator delivered a digital camera as payment to Hicks for one of the stolen information "dumps," the complaint added. When the agent later asked the defendant in a chat if he liked the camera, the defendant responded, "A different model ... would have been better, but hey, a free camera is a free camera."

Using the name "JoshTheGod", the 18-year-old Islam advised another website user to keep fraudulent purchases from Apple under $350 to avoid detection, the court papers said. He also provided an undercover investigator with credit card numbers and Card Verification Value numbers and corresponding names and addresses, they said.

After Islam's arrest, authorities say Islam admitted that he also used the site to advertise his "doxing" service - a term referring to the sharing of an "individual's name, address, phone number, date of birth, Social Security number, email address in order to embarrass, harass or retaliate against such individual."

Another defendant from Tucson, Arizona, was accused of trying to sell viruses on the FBI site that was designed to take over and remotely control a victim's computer. The malware programs allowed buyers to turn on the web camera of an infected computer and spy on the users, and to record user names and passwords on bank and other accounts, authorities said.

The registration process for the bogus website required unwitting users "to agree to terms and conditions, including that their activities on the site were subject to monitoring for any purpose," the complaint said.

Investigators made 11 arrests in various states, including New York, Florida, Wisconsin and California. Thirteen others were picked up in the United Kingdom, Bosnia, Norway, Italy, Japan and elsewhere overseas. In addition, search warrants were executed in Australia and Canada.

If convicted, the US defendants face five to 20 years in prison.

CANADA STOCKS-TSX rises on stronger oil price; eye on EU summit - Reuters UK

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Swiss Stocks Gain for Second Day; Adecco, Von Roll Rise - Bloomberg

Swiss stocks advanced for a second day after reports on U.S. durable-goods orders and existing house sales exceeded economists’ estimates.

Adecco SA (ADEN) surged 5.7 percent, the biggest gain on the benchmark Swiss Market Index. (SMI) Von Roll (ROL) Holding AG gained 1.6 percent after the stock was upgraded by Vontobel Holding AG.

The SMI advanced 0.7 percent to 5,996.53 at the close in Zurich. The benchmark measure has gained 5 percent from its 2012 low on June 4 as Greece formed a coalition government after its second election in six weeks. The gauge has risen 1 percent in the first six months of this year. The Swiss Performance Index also added 0.7 percent today.

“As it is quite difficult to get any positive signs from the European Union nowadays, better-than-expected U.S. durable- goods and housing data have helped to push European markets higher today,” said George Satlas, head of investments at TT ELTA Mutual Funds Management SA in Athens.

The volume of shares changing hands in SMI-listed companies was 6.7 percent lower than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

EU President Herman Van Rompuy, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and European Commission President Jose Barroso have prepared a 10-year road map for the euro area, which they will present to the summit tomorrow.

A senior member of Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union said today that the 17 countries using the single currency must agree to share control over their budgets before the euro area’s largest economy will agree to share responsibility for their debts.

Chinese Stimulus

In China, a newspaper said that the world’s second-biggest economy may introduce “more proactive” policies to ensure stable growth. Separately, the official Xinhua News Agency said China will promote alliances between the mainland markets and Hong Kong and increase cooperation in investments overseas and in infrastructure. The government will encourage joint ventures between the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock bourses and their Hong Kong counterpart, and allow the listing of exchange-traded funds in both places, the agency said.

In the U.S., durable-goods orders climbed more than economists had estimated. A Commerce Department report showed that bookings increased 1.1 percent, compared with the median projection of 76 economists in a Bloomberg News survey for a 0.5 percent gain.

Another report showed more Americans than forecast signed contracts to buy previously owned houses. An index of pending house sales rose 5.9 percent in May, after dropping 5.5 percent a month earlier, the National Association of Realtors said. Economists had predicted a 1.5 percent increase, according to a Bloomberg News survey.

Adecco Jumps

Adecco, the world’s largest supplier of temporary workers, advanced 5.7 percent to 40.57 Swiss francs.

Julius Baer Group Ltd. (BAER), the Swiss wealth manager established in 1890, rose 4.4 percent to 33.75 francs, snapping a two-day decline. UBS AG (UBSN) gained 2.1 percent to 11.05 francs. A gauge of bank stocks was the best performer of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. (SXXP)

Von Roll, a maker of wire insulation and transformers, increased 1.6 percent to 1.88 francs as Vontobel raised the stock to hold from reduce.

Swiss Re gained 1.7 percent to 58.70 francs. Global insurance premiums may rebound this year after they dropped in 2011 because of lower sales of life policies in western Europe, China and India, Switzerland’s biggest reinsurer said. Zurich Insurance Group AG added 1.5 percent to 207.80 francs.

Swisscom AG (SCMN), Switzerland’s biggest phone company, climbed 1.4 percent to 377 francs, while Transocean Ltd., the world’s largest offshore-rig, gained 3 percent to 41.65 francs.

Actelion Ltd. (ATLN), Switzerland’s largest biotechnology company, fell 2.2 percent to 38.36 francs, the biggest drop on the SMI.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Stoukas in Athens at astoukas@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Rummer at arummer@bloomberg.net

Stocks rise on stronger US data; EU summit awaits - Philadelphia Daily News

U.S. stocks rose modestly Tuesday as traders weighed stronger U.S. manufacturing data against the looming debt turmoil in Europe.

Businesses placed more orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in May, suggesting they remain confident in the U.S. economy.

Orders for durable goods rose 1.1 percent after two months of declines, the Commerce Department said. Core goods, a measure of business investment plans, jumped 1.6 percent. That also followed two months of declines.

The report was a rare glimpse of good news about the U.S. economy after three months of weak output and abysmal job growth.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 51 points to 12,585.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose seven points to 1,326. Its biggest gainer was home builder Lennar, which rose $1.51, or 6 percent, to $28.90 after reporting that its second-quarter profit soared as deliveries and new orders increased.

The S&P 500's biggest loser by far was auto parts maker O'Reilly Automotive, which fell $17.60, or 19 percent, to $78.84. O'Reilly said its second-quarter earnings will be at the low end of its earlier estimates and sales will be weaker than previously expected.

The Nasdaq composite average rose 13 to 2,867.

Markets remain wracked with concern as European leaders prepare for a two-day summit aimed at defusing their lingering debt crisis. German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Wednesday that there would be no quick solution to the structural issues plaguing the continent.


Daniel Wagner can be reached at www.twitter.com/wagnerreports.

Upbeat US economic figures help stocks advance - AP - msnbc.com

Upbeat U.S. economic figures helped stocks rise on Wednesday, though investors remained skeptical that European leaders would agree to any meaningful debt crisis solutions at their summit later this week.

U.S. government figures showing that durable goods orders rose by 1.1 percent in May after two months of declines, combined with a report about another positive piece of housing data. The National Association of Realtors said pending home sales jumped by 5.9 percent in May, way above the 1 percent predicted.

A recovery in the U.S. housing market is considered one of the key elements toward a stable and long-lasting economic recovery. Its demise in 2007-8 was one of the reasons behind the global financial crisis.

"What we have here is another report to support the view that the U.S. housing is recovering," said Jennifer Lee, an economist at BMO Capital Markets.

That helped investors brush aside ongoing worries about Europe's debt crisis, helping stocks and oil prices up sharply.

In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 1.5 percent to close at 6,228.99, while the CAC-40 in France rose 1.7 percent to 3,063.12. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares ended 1.4 percent higher at 5,523.92.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.8 percent at 12,629, and the broader S&P 500 index was 1 percent higher at 1,333.

The gains have come even though expectations over the European Union summit that starts Thursday are low.

With German Chancellor Angela Merkel continuing to voice her opposition to the prospect of jointly-issued eurobonds, investors doubt anything substantial will emerge at the two-day summit in Brussels.

Many experts say eurobonds are the answer to the eurozone's problems because they would help lower indebted countries' borrowing costs, easing the risk they may need a bailout. But Germany is reluctant to expose itself to new potential costs and is concerned that Eurobonds would ease the pressure on countries like Greece and Spain to reform their economies.

"A few brave souls have edged into the market, but enthusiasm is distinctly lacking, as most traders opt to hold their ground and wait to see what decisions, if any, emerge from the eurozone summit," said Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG Index.

The run-up to the summit is distinctly different to previous ones over the past two years when investors got ahead of themselves, anticipating game-changing conclusions, only to be disappointed. Though little is expected from the summit, some traders think the European Central Bank may take more aggressive action to ease the crisis and that has helped shore up stocks.

"If the eurozone meeting does not bear any fruit, there will be anticipation of coordinated central bank intervention and a slashing of ECB rates on July 5," said Mike McCudden, head of derivatives at Interactive Investor.

McCudden said a third round of super-cheap long-term loans from the ECB may be in the cards. The second round in December helped stabilize financial markets in the early part of this year, and the hope would be that a repeat performance may occur during the summer months.

With expectations of lower European interest rates, the euro was a little lower at $1.2472.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 0.8 percent to close at 8,730.49, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1 percent to 19,176.95, and South Korea's Kospi was nearly unchanged at 1,817.65.

Mainland Chinese shares were mixed. The Shanghai Composite Index fell for a sixth straight trading day, down 0.2 percent to 2,216.93. The Shenzhen Composite Index rose marginally to 918.38.

Oil prices headed back above the $80 a barrel mark as stocks recovered. Benchmark oil for August delivery was up $1.17 at $80.53 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.


Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Shenzhen's "mini-Hong Kong" to test China's financial ambitions - msnbc.com

SHENZHEN/HONG KONG (Reuters) - China's southern boomtown of Shenzhen, a pioneer of economic reforms but long in the shadow of Hong Kong, is plotting another bold ploy: a $45 billion 'mini-Hong Kong' to return it to the limelight and aid China's rise as a financial power.

On a barren stretch of reclaimed land in western Shenzhen and near the Hong Kong border, China wants to build another financial services hub from scratch in the Qianhai Bay economic zone, offering the low taxes, rigorous legal regime and anticorruption vigilance enjoyed by its affluent neighbor.

For the former British colony, which this weekend will mark the 15th anniversary of its return to China, the project could bring fresh business opportunities and bolster its position as China's financial window on the global markets.

But Shenzhen's ambitions are running into the brick wall of Beijing's caution over reform, as China's grand hopes of becoming a global financial powerhouse struggle to overcome its fear of freeing markets from government control.

Local officials have given up, for example, on the idea of an independent antigraft body similar to Hong Kong's, settling for a hybrid that mixes features of the Hong Kong and mainland systems, said Cao Hailei, head of the Qianhai Authority overseeing the project.

"The structure of the two governments is different," Cao told Reuters in an interview at a Shenzhen municipal government office.

Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to announce preferential tax rates and other incentives for the Qianhai Bay zone when he visits Hong Kong this week to fete the anniversary of the city's return and swear in a new administration.

China has been steadily expanding the role Hong Kong plays in internationalizing the yuan, which it hopes one day will be a global currency like the dollar, and in building up the Chinese financial markets.

Beijing announced a series of new measures on Wednesday for Hong Kong, including allowing joint ventures among the stock exchanges of Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, and letting Hong Kong financial firms set up consumer arms in Guangdong province, which includes Shenzhen.


Now a bustling metropolis of 10 million crammed with ports and skyscrapers and home to Chinese corporate goliaths such as carmaker BYD Co and telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies , Shenzhen was no more than a bucolic backwater of 30,000 villagers living off paddy fields and the sea in 1980.

Shenzhen's stock market, while smaller than its Shanghai counterpart, has become the most active global IPO center on a wave of domestic listings, eclipsing London and Hong Kong.

China has also laid out plans to build up Shanghai, which already boasts the world's fourth-largest stock market by value of shares traded, into a bona fide global financial center by 2020, but it still has far to go to compete broadly with established centers such as New York and London.

Despite giant economic strides in the past two decades, China's still difficult and fickle business environment needs to mature into one of greater openness and legal rigor, foreign investors say, and those are elements that have long been part of Hong Kong's institutional and commercial fabric.

Qianhai, which will focus on financial, logistics and IT services and is set for completion in 2020, would allow the mainland to leverage Hong Kong's expertise.

Through close cooperation with Hong Kong, Qianhai would forge an "innovative financial reform program", Zhang Jianmin, an official with China's top economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, said this month.

The Qianhai Authority's Cao said he hoped to establish a new arbitration court with juries partly comprised of Hong Kong residents to settle commercial disputes, addressing common concerns among Hong Kong and foreign investors toward the vagaries of Chinese law.

"We expect the policies will be approved before the end of June," he said.

Hong Kong officials have publicly backed the Qianhai project, offering expertise on financial markets and legal systems.

They see it as a key part of the rapidly expanding conglomeration of cities in the Pearl River Delta, which comprises much of Guangdong province and is often called the world's workshop for its concentration of export-oriented manufacturers. The region, along with Hong Kong and Macau, has a combined GDP exceeding the Netherlands and nearly the size of Australia.

"Hong Kong is suffering from limited land supply," said Thomas Chan, head of the China Business Centre at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

"With the help of Qianhai, (Hong Kong) could expand some of its financial business across the border. In fact, this is what the mainland planners have in mind. The 15 square-kilometer area is twelve times the size of Hong Kong's central district."

Qianhai will be largely self-financed by bank loans, bonds and revenue from land-use rights of the area, as well as co-development projects, Cao said, with infrastructure development costs estimated at 285 billion yuan ($44.8 billion).

Analysts say the project's endorsement at the highest levels in Beijing should reduce the risk of any financing difficulties even as China's credit environment tightens.

(Editing by Edmund Klamann)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp

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