North East Fraud Forum


I went to my first North East Fraud Forum event last week. There is such an overlap between fraud, cyber crime and business ethics that it was a natural fit with many of the other things that I am involved in. It was also the first time that I had been inside the Virgin Money building in Gosforth. It went on for miles and yet is hidden away behind the Regent Centre.

It was a very good conference and, as I had thought, many of the speakers talked about cyber related issues. Indeed I knew most of the speakers and those that I didn’t I made the effort to go and say hello.

Phil started off by telling us about the difference between the service web, the deep web and the dark web as well as the threat the latter poses to businesses and individuals. I have never thought that much about the dark web, thinking it was an illegal activity but not so. It certainly aids criminal activity to an extent through its higher anonymity.

Aad spoke to us about blockchain and the 17 million bitcoins in circulation. He described the increasing use of smart contracts based upon the technology. The most worrying fact of the day though was that the amount of electricity being used to generate bitcoins is equivalent to that used by Austria, or 0.3% of all global energy usage. Well I never.

Jackie, who I didn’t know, talked about fixing the flaws in the AML/TF regime. Every industry is awash with its own acronyms and initials. (Anti-money laundering/financing terrorism). It didn’t stop there though as she went on to tell us about FATF (Financial Action Task Force) and SAR (suspicious activity report). A financial institution has to submit a SAR every time there is a suspected suspicious transaction. There were 419,000 submitted last year alone.

Julie, spoke to us about YOTI, a digital identity app. Apparently in the UK, each year we manage to lose 1 million driving licences and 400,000 passports. Now that is just careless.

Finally Martin from the North East Regional Cyber Crime Unit reminded us how easy it is to get hacked. He left is with a few useful tips on how to stay safe online:

  • Never give away your full banking details
  • Don’t assume an email  or text or phone call is authentic
  • Don’t be rushed, a genuine organisation won’t mind waiting
  • Listen to your instincts, if it feels wrong, it probably is
  • Stay in control.

All in all, it was a very interesting event. I think the next one is in January.

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