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07/23/2021

Fraudulent websites use Walmart logo

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland has seized fraudulent websites that contained numerous uses of the legitimate Walmart trademarked logo and appeared to mimic a legitimate Walmart website. The fraudulent websites allegedly offer a number of drugs for sale for the experimental and unapproved treatment or prevention of COVID-19. Instead, the domains were allegedly used to collect the personal information of individuals visiting the sites in order to use their information for nefarious purposes, including fraud, phishing attacks and/or deployment of malware.

07/23/2021

OFAC sanctions Cuban defense minister and special forces unit

Yesterday, OFAC sanctioned one Cuban individual and one Cuban entity, targeting the Cuban Minister of Defense, Alvaro Lopez Miera, and the Brigada Especial Nacional del Ministerio del Interior of the Cuban Ministry of the Interior in connection with the repression of peaceful, pro-democratic protests in Cuba that began on July 11.

For identification information, see BankersOnline's July 22, 2021, OFAC Update.

07/23/2021

If You See Something, Say Something campaign materials

Homeland Security's “If you See Something, Say Something “ campaign is committed to educating the American public about how to recognize and report the signs of suspicious activity. Campaign materials are now available in ten additional languages: Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), French, Haitian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese. They can be downloaded from the DHS website.

“If You See Something, Say Something” is a national campaign that raises public awareness about the indicators of terrorism, terrorism-related crime, and domestic violent extremism, as well as the importance of reporting suspicious activity to state and local law enforcement. The campaign regularly works with state, local, tribal and territorial partners across the country to distribute public awareness messaging throughout local communities, organizations, and on social media.

07/21/2021

PrivacyCon 2021 agenda released

The Federal Trade Commission has released the final agenda for its sixth annual PrivacyCon event, which will be held online on July 27 and will include a focus on the privacy and security risks associated with algorithms, online advertising, and the Internet of Things.

PrivacyCon 2021 will highlight exciting new research and build on discussions in the United States and around the globe on trends related to consumer privacy and data security. Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Chief Technologist Erie Meyer will give opening remarks followed by six panels focused on algorithms, privacy considerations and understanding, advertising technology, the Internet of Things, privacy issues related to children and teens, and privacy and the pandemic. The event will also feature a presentation on the Algorithmic Bias Playbook by Ziad Obermeyer, Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Berkeley School of Public Health.

07/21/2021

OFAC issues Venezuela-related license

OFAC has issued a Venezuela-related General License and updated a related FAQ. See the July 20, 2021, BankersOnline OFAC Update for details.

07/19/2021

Advisory highlights growing Hong Kong risks

On Friday, the U.S. Departments of State, Commerce, Homeland Security and the Treasury issued an advisory to highlight growing risks associated with actions undertaken by the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) that could adversely impact U.S. companies that operate in the Hong Kong SAR of the People’s Republic of China.

Businesses, individuals, and other persons, including academic institutions, research service providers, and investors that operate in Hong Kong, or have exposure to sanctioned individuals or entities, should be aware of changes to Hong Kong’s laws and regulations. This new legal landscape, including the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, could adversely affect businesses and individuals operating in Hong Kong. As a result of these changes, they should be aware of potential reputational, regulatory, financial, and, in certain instances, legal risks associated with their Hong Kong operations.

These risks fall into four categories: risks for businesses following the imposition of the NSL; data privacy risks; risks regarding transparency and access to critical business information; and risks for businesses with exposure to sanctioned Hong Kong or PRC entities or individuals.

OFAC also designated seven individuals under its Hong Kong Executive Order 13936 sanctions. The July 16, 2021, BankersOnline OFAC Update has identification details.

07/16/2021

SEC charges former officers of Florida company

The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced it has charged the former CEO and CFO of FTE Networks Inc., a network infrastructure company formerly based in Naples, Florida, with conducting a multi-year accounting fraud.

This alleged scheme involved inflating the company’s revenues for certain periods by as much as 108 percent, the misappropriation of millions of dollars of company funds for personal use, and concealing the then-NYSE listed publicly traded company’s issuance of almost $23 million in convertible notes. The complaint filed by the SEC alleges Michael Palleschi and David Lethem, the former CEO and CFO respectively of FTE, directed the company to issue approximately $22.7 million in convertible notes with short-term maturities, steep interest rates, and market-price-based formulas for conversion into shares. As alleged, Palleschi and Lethem misled in-house accounting personnel and FTE’s outside auditor about certain material terms of the notes, which were not properly accounted for or disclosed in FTE’s financial statements. The complaint also alleges that Palleschi and Lethem inflated FTE’s revenue by directing FTE to improperly recognize revenue and related accounts receivable for nonexistent construction projects. According to the complaint, Palleschi and Lethem misappropriated millions of dollars of company funds to pay for personal expenses, including luxury car leases, private jet services, and unauthorized salary increases.

07/15/2021

Fed posts paper on remote authentication methods

The Federal Reserve recently published Remote Authentication Landscape and Authentication Methods, the first of three research briefs planned for this summer.

Many financial institutions, payment service providers, processors and merchants rely on outdated authentication and verification methods to prevent payments fraud. The brief explores authentication strategies to address new account, synthetic identity, and account takeover fraud.

The second brief in the series will describe several remote payment use cases where payments stakeholders apply authentication during the enrollment and transaction process. The third and final brief will discuss payments industry approaches and tools to mitigate remote authentication fraud, as well as key findings and recommendations on next steps to build awareness and engage industry stakeholders.

07/15/2021

FinCEN Exchange on ransomware

FinCEN has announced it will convene a FinCEN Exchange in August 2021 with representatives from financial institutions, other key industry stakeholders, and federal government agencies to discuss ongoing concerns regarding ransomware, as well as efforts by the public and private sectors. The FinCEN Exchange will build upon FinCEN’s November 2020 event on ransomware. FinCEN anticipates that this FinCEN Exchange will assist its government and private sector partners to inform next steps to address ransomware and focus resources to mitigate the threat. This announcement is part of a government-wide effort to combat ransomware.

According to FinCEN, ransomware attacks are a growing concern for the financial sector, given that financial institutions can be targeted by ransomware attacks as well as reputational and financial integrity concerns about the role financial institutions might play in the processing of ransom payments. Efforts to detect and report ransomware payments are vital to prevent and deter ransomware attacks, and to hold these attackers accountable for their crimes. In October 2020, FinCEN issued Advisory FIN-2020-A006 to alert financial institutions to predominant trends, typologies, and potential indicators of ransomware and associated money laundering activities. In addition, in June 2021, FinCEN highlighted ransomware as a particularly acute cybercrime concern in its issuance of the first government-wide priorities for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism policy.

07/15/2021

FDIC and CFPB enhance Money Smart for Older Adults

The FDIC and CFPB have announced they have jointly released an enhanced version of the award-winning financial education curriculum, Money Smart for Older Adults. The enhanced version includes a new section to help people avoid “romance scams” and an updated resource guide. The enhancements to Money Smart for Older Adults are based on stakeholder feedback and recent research conducted by the FDIC and CFPB for this collaborative effort.

In addition, the FDIC and CFPB have released a newly created informational brochure on COVID-19-related scams.

Money Smart for Older Adults training materials can be downloaded from the FDIC

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