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New technology used to convict man for deliberately infecting police with COVOD-19

Wiltshire Police, The Crown Prosecution Service and HM Courts and Tribunal Service used new remote video links for the first time in a trial that convicted

a man for deliberately infecting police officers.

They used the Cloud Video Platform that enabled witnesses to give evidence from their homes and from Gablecross police station in Swindon. CCTV

footage was also shown using the video links.

Matthew Brown, 32, who faced three charges of assault and one charge of harassment was sentenced at Swindon Magistrates' Court on 14 May.

Brown had previously admitted harassment and yesterday was found guilty of assaulting an emergency worker. Brown received a three-month

prison sentence and ordered to pay a £122 victim surcharge.

Joanne Jakymec, Chief Crown Prosecutor, said “Anyone who deliberately attempts or threatens to infect emergency workers could face up to

12 months in prison.

“I am very proud that my team have been one of the first in the country to prosecute such an assault using new technology.

"The public should be confident that justice continues to be delivered and we are committed to protecting the public and our heroic emergency workers.”

Restraining order

Brown was arrested on 27 March on suspicion of breaching a restraining order. He was taken to Gablecross Police station by Wiltshire Police.

Whilst in the police van, Brown claimed he had coronavirus and repeatedly coughed.

Furthermore, whilst at the station, Brown told officers again that he had coronavirus and blew heavily with intent to infect them.

Ben Worthington, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS Wessex, said “The CPS and our police partners take these attacks very seriously. Emergency workers are performing a vital role; they are risking their own lives to keep us safe.

"They deserve to be able to carry out their role without fear of deliberate infection. Have no doubt that we will seek to prosecute anyone charged with such an offence.”

Fake coronavirus emails scams emerge as worrying new fraud trend

More than 160,000 suspect emails offering fake coronavirus services have been reported to the newly

launched Suspicious Email Reporting System according to the National Cyber Security Centre.

The National Cyber Security Centre have revealed that members of the public have flagged more than

160,00 suspect emails that the centre has now blocked to avoid any further crimes being committed.

Scams include attempts to exploit coronavirus fears through fake offers of testing kits and face masks.

As a result, more than 1,400 links have been removed.

Emails reported to the National Cyber Security Centre as part of the newly launched Suspicious

Email Reporting Service include callous attempts by criminals to exploit the coronavirus through fake

offers of face masks and testing kits.

In just over two weeks since the NCSC and police launched the service, the public has passed on

more than 160,000 suspect emails, leading to the removal of over 1,400 links to bogus sites.

The NCSC has shared some examples of what it has removed with the help of the reporting service. 

These include:

• Scam web pages that have been flagged include mock-ups of official GOV.uk and TV licencing 

websites. Visitors are lured into giving their billing information to scammers posing as these legitimate

organisations.

• There has also been scam web pages purporting to sell coronavirus linked bogus products such as

testing kits, face makes and even vaccines. The NCSC noted a rise in cyber crime exploiting the

coronavirus pandemic last month.

 

The automated email reporting service makes it easier than ever for people to help protect others

from falling victim to scams.

To use it, people are asked to simply forward suspect emails to report@phishing.gov.uk. If they are found to link to malicious content, it will be taken down or blocked, helping prevent future victims of crime.

Ciaran Martin, Chief Executive of the NCSC praised what he described as a ‘phenomenal response from the British public.’

“While cyber criminals continue to prey on people’s fears, the number of scams we have removed in such a short timeframe shows what a vital role the public can play in fighting back,” he said.

“I would urge people to remain vigilant and to forward suspect emails to us. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

Commander Karen Baxter, City of London Police, National Lead force for Fraud said: “While the world is coming together to combat this global health crisis, criminals are intent on exploiting our unease, anxiety and vulnerabilities in these unprecedented times.

The fact the public have taken the opportunity to fight back and show these criminals how unacceptable this is, is fantastic.

“Fraud is an incredibly underreported crime. The more the police know about fraud, and fraud attempts, the better chance they have of tracking down those responsible and bringing them to justice.”

The service was launched alongside the new cross-governmental Cyber Aware campaign, which promotes six top tips to help keep yourself secure online.

Within just 24 hours of the service launching more than 80 scam URLS were taken down in a day after 5,000 suspicious emails were flagged.

If people have lost money, they should tell their bank and report it as a crime to Action Fraud, but sending emails to report@phishing.gov.uk will offer an automated service to people who flag what they think to be a suspicious email and prevent others from falling victim to these scams.

Europol report warns human traffickers are finding new ways to lure victims

 

The Coronavirus Pandemic is causing criminals to look for new way to exploit and traffic migrants who want to travel across

Europe for a better life, according to a new report.

 

The report released by Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre Europol looks back at the operations supported in

2019 and the intelligence gathered to draw the possible evolution of these crime areas in the upcoming months.

It says that Enhanced border control measures and travel restrictions put in place throughout the EU have led to a shift in the

smuggling activities from air to land and sea routes. Small boats are increasingly being used to cross river borders. Migrants

are also smuggled hidden in concealments in freight vehicles and cargo trains which still move across borders.

The closing of establishments offering sexual services in countries where these activities are regulated may also increase

sexual exploitation. The travel restrictions may also complicate the employment of seasonal labour in the agricultural sector

and increase the demand for trafficked third-country migrants already present in the areas. 

Main threats

The report identified the following main threats

  • Online discussion groups attempting to facilitate mass movements from Turkey to Greece in 2019, detected by Europol and eventually prevented by the Greek authorities

  • An apparent attempt of the Turkish authorities to facilitate large groups of migrants towards and across the Turkish-Greek land border in early 2020

  • Transportation of migrants in life-threatening conditions hidden in concealed compartments of vehicles mostly in the Western Balkans region and across the English Channel

  • Increased use of fraudulently obtained visas and document fraud in general to facilitate primary entries

  • Increased vulnerability to abuse and violence of unaccompanied migrant along migration routes towards and within the EU

  • Potential vulnerability to exploitation by traffickers of irregular migrants in remote locations.

 

Europol Executive Director Catherine De Bolle said the 2020 Pandemic would have a lasting effect on the organised crime environment and that the dynamics of migrant smuggling and human trafficking are changing.

“To counter this threat, we have to use the great advantage of shared intelligence to target these types of international organised crime and Europol plays a key role.” She said.

Exploitation

The report said that sexual exploitation is the most reported purpose for human traffickers in the EU, victimising citizens from Eastern and Central Europe and non-EU nationals, mainly from Nigeria. Nigerian poly-criminal networks affect EU organised crime while exploiting their own nationals, recruited locally and indoctrinated through voodoo beliefs and rituals.

Their effective dismantling could be impacted by a lack of cooperation with the Nigerian authorities. In general terms, criminals see emotional and economic vulnerabilities as an opportunity to increase their illegal profits.

 In 2019, they increased their focus on labour exploitation in less controlled industries such as the agricultural sector, and illegal adoptions. The exploitation of underage victims, forced to commit property crimes or to traffic drugs, is a continuous and alarming phenomenon.

Co-operation

A Joint Liaison Task Force migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings was set up at Europol to speed up cooperation in major investigations such as the Essex lorry incident where 39 Vietnamese migrants were found dead in a refrigerated lorry.

A focus on high-value targets and operational task forces have and will further streamline major investigations as Europol is committed to providing increased support to national authorities to protect lives by combating human trafficking and migrant smuggling.  

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Criminal network serving 50 years ‘bird’ for importing cocaine in chicken

In a coup for the National Crime Agency, (NCA) a criminal gang has been convicted of fowl play for transporting hundreds of kilos of cocaine through Kent, stashed in frozen chicken and marrow bones.

In a joint operation, involving The Met Police Organised Crime Partnership, the gang members Thomas Lordan,

38, of Hurst Road, Sidcup; Mehmet Ali, 62, of Ministry Way, Eltham; and Francis Sullivan, 22, of Clayhill

Crescent, Mottingham all admitted conspiracy to supply class A drugs, were sentenced yesterday to 18, 15.5,

and 10 years at Lewes Crown Court. Emanuel Jella, 20, of Chatham Road, Kingston, was previously jailed to

6 years 7 months for the same offence at Southwark Crown Court.

Officers proved they were no chickens when they witnessed Sullivan and Jella on Church Street in Shadoxhurst,

Kent, exchange a holdall packed with 11 kilos of cocaine on 26 June 2019.Jella was arrested, but Sullivan

managed to flee.

Further investigation revealed that Sullivan and Jella were working as part of an organised criminal network,

involving Lordan and Ali.

Officers uncovered that Lordan had set up a front company – Independent Meat Ltd – which had been used to

transport hundreds of kilos of cocaine in cover loads of frozen chickens since May 2019.

On 29 August, Ali was arrested by OCP officers at an industrial estate in Lympne, Kent, while attempting to

move 55 kilos of cocaine from the truck he was driving to a unit in Firsland Park.

A few hours after Ali was arrested, Lordan bought a one way flight to Turkey and flew out the same day.

Sullivan was arrested on 24 September at his home where officers also seized £32,000 cash, scales, and a small amount of cocaine.

Lordan was eventually apprehended on a European Arrest Warrant by Dutch Police at Amsterdam Airport on 14 January 2020. He was later extradited to the UK.

NCA Operations Manager Matt McMillan said: “This seizure of a significant amount of cocaine means it hasn’t ended up on the streets, fuelling violence and exploitation. We have dismantled a well-established drug supply route.

“Lordan provided the logistics with Sullivan and Ali acting as trusted lieutenants. They used a front company in an effort to disguise their criminality, thinking they could evade capture. But, as this case shows, if you engage in drug trafficking you will be caught.

“The NCA and the MPS will continue to work with partners to target and disrupt the criminal networks involved in drug supply to make our streets safer.”

Detective Chief Inspector Tony O’Sullivan, from the Metropolitan Police Service, said: “This investigation is yet another great example of joint partnership working between the Met and the NCA to crackdown on the supply of illegal drugs within London and the home counties.”

 He said that drugs ‘blight communities and ruin lives’.

 “It is great news that we have been able to seize this colossal haul of class A drugs that would have otherwise ended up on the streets. I have no doubt that we have massively disrupted a major drugs network operating in London and Kent.

“It is important to remember the strong link between drugs and violence and by removing this amount of cocaine from the market we have undoubtedly prevented incidents of serious violence and potentially saved lives.”

Home Office to publish paper into group-based child sexual exploitation

The Home Secretary has announced that the government will publish a paper into group-based child sexual exploitation in

order to better understand the characteristics of group-based offending and help deliver justice for victims.

The paper, to be published later this year, will outline the insights gained from this work and focus on how agencies can learn lessons from the past to tackle group-based offending and safeguard vulnerable children.

The Home Office will set up an external reference group of experts to review the research before its publication.

The work was commissioned by the previous Home Secretary to better understand the scale and nature of group-based child sexual exploitation, including the characteristics of offenders, victims and the context in which these crimes are committed.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Victims of these sickening child sex abuse groups have told me how they were let down by the state in the name of political correctness.What happened to these children remains one of the biggest stains on our country’s conscience. It is shameful.”

She said she was ‘determined to deliver justice for victims and ensure something like this can never happen again.’

The Home Office continues to support and drive improvements in the police response to child sexual abuse, which was be discussed at a recent virtual Hidden Harms Summit.

The event brought together government, law enforcement and the charity sector to work together to protect vulnerable people during the lockdown, including children at risk of sexual abuse.

Last September, the government announced an additional £30 million to take down the worst offenders and safeguard victims.

The Home Office will shortly publish the first of its kind cross-government Child Sexual Abuse Strategy to improve the UK’s response to tackling this abhorrent crime.

It will set out how we will work across all agencies – including government, law enforcement, safeguarding and industry – to stop offenders in their tracks, and to help victims and survivors rebuild their lives.

Interpol forms a global alliance to highlight cyber threats during Pandemic

 

In response to the rapidly changing cybercrime landscape during the COVID-19 pandemic, the global law enforcement and cybersecurity communities have formed an alliance to protect the public.

Harnessing the expertise of this alliance, INTERPOL has launched a global awareness campaign to keep communities safe from cybercriminals seeking to exploit the outbreak to steal data, commit online fraud or simply disrupt the virtual world.

The key message of the campaign, which focuses on alerting the public to the key cyberthreats linked to

the coronavirus pandemic, is to #WashYourCyberHands to promote good cyber hygiene.

Threats

The campaign will focus on social media outreach, highlighting the top threats that INTERPOL has

identified based on the data collected from its member countries, private industry partners, national

cybersecurity agencies and online information-sharing groups.

Analysis of this data has confirmed that cybercriminals are capitalizing on the anxiety caused by

COVID-19 through various cyberattacks such as data-harvesting malware, ransomware, online scams

and phishing.

Threats targeting people working from home during the global lockdowns will also be addressed, along

with prevention tips for companies.

Campaign

Basic cyber hygiene advice – how to ‘wash your cyber hands’ – was be provided throughout the four-week

campaign that was run during May, to ensure that individuals and businesses are equipped with the

knowledge of how to protect their systems and data.

Law enforcement agencies around the world and key global cybersecurity actors have been sharing the messages of the campaign to reach the widest possible global audience.

Craig Jones, INTERPOL’s Director of Cybercrime, said police and the cybersecurity industry have seen a considerable increase in the number of targeted cyberattacks by criminals since the virus outbreak began. These range from malicious web domains using the word ‘covid’ to phishing emails promising the sale of key supplies as well as ransomware attacks against critical infrastructure and hospitals.

“Cybercriminals are diversifying attack vectors to launch cyberattacks exploiting the COVID-19 outbreak. These cyberthreats are causing serious harm to people and organizations, which exacerbate an already dire situation in the physical world. Now is the time when we all must come together to stop them,” said Mr Jones.

“Cybercrime and cybersecurity may seem like a complex issue that is difficult to understand unless you are an expert in the field – this is not the case. INTERPOL’s campaign aims to demystify these cyberthreats and offer simple, concrete steps which everybody can take to protect themselves,” he concluded.

The campaign kicked off with the publication of a document on the ‘Global landscape on the COVID-19 cyberthreats’ which outlines the latest threats identified, expected future trends and INTERPOL’s response.

National Crime Agency recovers $8 million from international organised crime

Millions of pounds of laundered criminal money has been recovered by the National Crime Agency after an investigation into a corrupt Liberian business account.

The NCA issued a Notice of Forfeiture on the account’s balance of $8 million dollars (approx £6.4 million), which investigators argued was part of a fund operated for the purpose of tax evasion, money laundering, bribery and corruption.

The NCA’s investigation began when Commerzbank AG London approached the National Economic Crime Centre after noticing unusual activity on an account held by a Liberian company called ‘The Albatross Limited’.

The bank account had been internally investigated and suspended after an individual had tried to set up a new

account and move the money, explaining that it was to be paid to various charities. Since then, no one had

attempted to touch the money.

The company behind the account was incorporated in Liberia, West Africa, in the 1970s and was purportedly set

up to operate large container ships for an international shipping company.

Partnership

Working in partnership with the bank, NCA investigators were able to secure and analyse over 10 years-worth of

data which established that the account had been set up using fake identities.

The shipping company had no knowledge of the company and were able to show that it had never appeared on

any of their balance sheets.

All of those identified as being affected by the application gave their consent for the administrative forfeiture of the

funds totalling $8,042.059.57.

The money had been held under an Account Freezing Order, granted to the NCA at Westminster Magistrates Court in October 2019.

Tim Quarrelle, NCA Financial Investigations Manager, said: “This was a significant forfeiture, which was the result of six months of investigative work, during sometimes challenging times.

“Commerzbank rightly referred this account, which had sat untouched for years and had a history of red flags.

“Part of the money recovered will go directly back into fighting serious and organised crime.”

Sarah Pritchard, Director of the National Economic Crime Centre, at the NCA, said: “This is a fantastic example of how public and private sectors can work together to detect and disrupt economic crime – denying criminals of their illicit funds.

“Money laundering underpins and enables most forms of organised crime, allowing criminals to hide their assets and continue their operations.

“Working with partners, we will continue to use our powers to look for and target funds that we suspect are linked to crime.”

Robert McMillan at Commerzbank said: “At Commerzbank we have a strong compliance culture and have invested significant resources in our AML policies and controls, so we are pleased to have worked with the NCA to achieve this result.”

CPS prosecution redefines the legal test for ‘dishonesty’ in criminal law

 

A prosecution involving a dishonest care home-owner who defrauded wealthy residents of more than £4m has clarified

the definition of dishonesty in criminal law.

David Barton was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court for 17 years following a year-long trial and appeal. The jury heard

evidence of a sustained course of dishonesty in which Barton targeted wealthy residents at the care home he owned in

Southport.

Barton manipulated the people in his care, making the residents believe he was the only person who cared about them

and isolating them from their family and friends. He persuaded them to pay him excessive amounts to cover care fees

and to make him a beneficiary in their wills to dishonestly profit from them.

Ground-breaking

In a ground-breaking judgment heard at the Court of Appeal, the CPS Specialist Fraud Division case has now clarified

the legal test for dishonesty in criminal law.

This ruling now means that juries must consider all the facts in the case, including the defendant’s knowledge or belief in the facts, before deciding whether the defendant’s behaviour is dishonest by the standards of ordinary reasonable people.

Previously, to prove that someone had acted dishonestly in theft or fraud cases, the jury had to find that both the defendant’s conduct was dishonest by the standards of ordinary, reasonable people; and the defendant appreciated that what he or she did was dishonest by the standards of those ordinary, reasonable people.  

Andrew West Prosecutor from the CPS Specialist Fraud Division commented: “This judgement means that David Barton’s offending will be remembered for clarifying the legal test for dishonesty in criminal cases.”

Mr West explained that Barton’s offending spanned twenty years.

“He dishonestly targeted, befriended and groomed wealthy and childless elderly people in his care home, taking advantage of their vulnerability towards the end of their lives.

Manipulating them and isolating them from their family, friends and professional advisors, enabled him to dishonestly profit from them.”

The CPS said that test for dishonesty to be applied by a jury, is now straightforward; firstly, they will consider, as part of their fact-finding duty, the defendant’s knowledge or belief as to what going on i.e. what made the defendant act as they did. They will then apply the standards of ordinary reasonable people to judge that behaviour.”

The Judgement

On 20 and 21 January this year, the Court of Appeal heard appeals against the convictions of David Barton and Rosemary Booth for their sustained frauds against older people.

HHJ Everett, who presided over the trial of Barton and Booth, directed the jury to consider the behaviour of the defendants according to their own standards of what was honest or dishonest, and not to speculate whether the defendants appreciated that people would find their behaviour dishonest.

Barton and Booth appealed their convictions on the basis that this direction was contrary to the proper legal test for dishonesty. However, the decision to refuse the appeal is significant as it clarifies the test to be used in all criminal cases involving allegations of dishonesty.

The Lord Chief Justice stated: “We wish to endorse the respondent’s submission that the test of dishonesty formulated in Ivey remains a test of the defendant’s state of mind – his or her knowledge or belief – to which the standards of ordinary decent people are applied.  This results in dishonesty being assessed by reference to society’s standards rather than the defendant’s understanding of those standards.”

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