Tag Archives: Cyber ​​crime

Targeting Palau and other Island States, China Threatens Human Rights and Pacific Security | Instant News


First of 2 parts

On 9 December 2020, International Anti-Corruption Day, the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a press release detailing sanctions against criminal networks in Africa and Asia, including Palau. OFAC applies the Magnitsky Global Human Rights Accountability Act, which targets perpetrators of corruption and serious human rights abuses. But why Palau?

China’s manipulation of the Palau Presidential Election

On November 3, 2020, primary elections were held in Palau with presidential candidates who have publicly discussed the possibility of switching diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China. The Republic of Palau is a Pacific island country that has established diplomatic relations with Taiwan since its independence in 1994. There are currently 15 countries in the world that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, including four in the Pacific: Palau, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Tuvalu.

Palau’s presidential election is a substantive battle between the incumbent Vice President and Minister of Justice, Raynold Oilouch, and former congressman and businessman Surangel Whipps, Jr. It was Vice President Oilouch who publicly supported the establishment of relations with China. Although Palau has maintained ties with Taiwan since its independence, Oilouch promised in his campaign speech that turning to China could lead to economic development. If Oilouch becomes President, Palau will most likely establish diplomatic relations with China.

The election results saw Surangel Whipps, Jr. win significant wins. At the same time, there were rumors that a lot of money flowed from China to Oilouch, and the cash was being distributed among voters. If this is true, the outcome of this election will be a victory for the Palauan people over Chinese money. It is clear that the Chinese infiltration had corrupted Palauan society and caused unrest among the people.

Former US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who visited the country on August 28, must have been as relieved as the national election results. The United States, which has signed a special defense and diplomatic agreement with Palau, plans to install a multi-billion dollar ballistic missile radar facility on the country’s Angaur Island. There are fears that if diplomatic ties with China are established, China’s infiltration of Palau, which has a population of less than 20,000, will continue even further. This will not only affect Palau, but could lead to a broader Indo-Pacific security crisis.

I want summarize the articles I wrote together in August 2020 with Jennifer Anson, Director of the Palau Ministry of Justice’s Human Trafficking Office, for JAPAN Forward.

The Chinese threat has not only military implications: In 2015, Palau saw a Chinese entry by receiving direct charter flights from mainland China, Macau and Hong Kong. Many Chinese “investors” pay large sums of money to acquire land and buildings on 50 to 99 year leases. The possibility of money laundering is undeniable as most of these “investments” have been abandoned.

Tommy Esang Remengesau Jr., President of Palau, speaks in a recorded message for the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, Wednesday, 23 September 2020 (UNTV via AP)

Cyber ​​crime in Asia and the Pacific Islands

Illegal online gambling operations have also skyrocketed with the influx of Chinese money. In January 2020, law enforcement agencies arrested three different online gambling operations and arrested around 150 Chinese nationals. In June, they arrested, tried and convicted about 60 Chinese people in another operation, and in September, they tampered with another gambling operation at a hotel, and linked Chinese workers to a prominent Palau senator.

The Ministry of Justice has evidence that these operations are still ongoing in several hotels and buildings throughout Palau.

Why is China promoting online gambling operations in Palau when China has banned gambling? Likewise Cambodia, Myanmar, Vanuatu, Philippines, etc. Where law and order are lax, the state becomes a prime target for criminal activity. There are concerns that online gambling could spread to all kinds of cybercrime in a number of countries. Young Chinese men and women, even teenagers, are involved in these crimes and may be victims of human trafficking. These minors have been recruited to Palau from places such as Cambodia, where online gambling is prohibited.

What exactly is cyber crime being committed? In Cambodia, for example, hundreds or even thousands of Chinese people live illegally without work visas. They work in hotel rooms where hundreds of computers connect people from all over the world as participants in virtual currency investments and online gaming. They not only withdraw money for games and investments, but also obtain credit card information from customers and make unauthorized withdrawals.

The Palau National Congress discussed a bill that would amend the existing casino bill and ignore the illegal activities of Chinese cybercriminals in Palau. The President of the Senate and the current Chair of the Council of Delegations, both of whom were re-elected in national elections, have stated that they want to explore online gambling as a way to aid economic recovery in the next government.

While law enforcement authorities struggle every day to catch Chinese cyber criminals, officials protect them. According to various sources, Oilouch’s Vice President and Justice Minister instructed the task force to return all confiscated computers and equipment to Chinese people, and only prosecute Chinese people with labor violations (working without permission), and not prosecute them online. gambling.

The arrests in June this year resulted in confiscation of evidence and a guilty verdict in court. However, this time the Attorney General issued an unusual written advice, stating that the special prosecutor had acted beyond his authority. It was widely rumored that this was another instruction from Justice Minister Oilouch.

The current president, Tommy Remengesau, Jr., also had a hand in his involvement with the Chinese crime syndicate in Palau. Last April, an article appeared in the press with a photo of Wan Kuok Koi, leader of the Macau’s 14K Triad, shaking hands with President Remengesau. The president has signed a letter of approval for the formation of the Palau China Hung-Mun Cultural Association, with the aim of cultural and charitable activities in Palau. The news shocked Chinese experts who knew what the Triads were and their impact on Palau society. INDOPACOM, which has been raising awareness of the importance of Palau’s security, also pays special attention to this issue.

Can INDOPACOM Radar and Casino Triad Coexist?

INDOPACOM chose Angaur Island in Palau as the radar base. Interestingly, Wan Kuok Koi of Macau 14K Triad announced that he will lease Angaur Island for 99 years and develop a large casino resort there. This may sound like a joke, but it is possible that the Triad casino resort and US radar facility should coexist on the island of Angaur.

What is the purpose of building a casino resort on such a desert island? This will likely become a new breeding ground for cyber crime and money laundering. Additionally, several US government officials have pointed out that the infrastructure being developed under the guise of a casino resort could become a future base for the Chinese Liberation Army. China continues to build its military bases on South China Sea, and a similar movement in the Pacific Islands is quite possible.

Young US Attorney Protecting Women and Children, Shot

Drug trafficking is also widespread in Palau, and the Justice Ministry’s Narcotics Enforcement Agency (NEA), with only eight employees, tackles it every day without fear of personal harm. The director of the NEA recently set fire to his vehicle, and last year the boat caught fire.

The NEA also works to protect children from drug and criminal activity by organizing children’s judo classes and the Law Enforcement Explorer Program (LEEP). Unfortunately, the families of Palau’s politicians are also involved in drug crimes. They smuggle methamphetamine or “ice” from China and the Philippines. They give it to the kids on their way home from school for free and it gets them hooked. Then addicted children are forced to engage in prostitution and other crimes in order to obtain cash in exchange for crystal meth.

An Indian reporter who worked in Palau for a local newspaper who reported on the situation disappeared. She had written about the realities of drug syndicates in Palau, and it was I who gave her the information. I advised her that her life was in danger, but she told me, “You’re the third person to warn me,” and went on to tell me about journalists’ social responsibility. He told me that he majored in journalism at university. He also said that people who knew about the drug problem in Palau would not talk about it, and if they did, they would be eliminated. This is the darkness of heaven.

Lawyer Rachel Bergeron, a 33 year old woman and US citizen who tried to save children and women in the darkness of paradise ー Yap Island in the Federated States of Micronesia ー was shot and killed in October 2019 by local islanders. Bergeron is Acting Attorney General Yap.


Author: Rieko Hayakawa, PhD

Find other articles on JAPAN Forward written by Rieko Hayakawa here.


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Cyberpunk Lesson 2077: Making Big Games Is Never More Difficult | Instant News

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UK retail investors have lost nearly £ 10 million to ‘clone’ investment scams since March, the trade agency said | Instant News

Scammers are increasingly targeting retail investors in the United Kingdom, according to new data released by the Investment Association, a trade body.

They say that sophisticated fraudsters have stepped up operations targeting retail investors. They report that the incidence of large-scale investment fraud has nearly quadrupled since July. “The scam clones real investment management companies through fake products, websites and documentation, and then promotes fake products through fake price comparison sites and advertisements on social media and search engines,” the trade agency explained.

The total number of reported fraud incidents has increased from 300 in July to 1,175 in October. The scam affected more than 200 people, and accounted for an estimated total loss of £ 9.4 million reported in October. The loss has doubled from nearly £ 4 million in July.


Chris Cummings, Chief Executive Officer of the Investment Association, said, “In a year beset with uncertainty, organized criminals have been looking for opportunities in bad luck by trying to cheat investors out of their hard-earned savings. The investment management industry is working with the police and regulators to stop this scam, and is working with our partners in the Government to shut it down and prevent it from being advertised. “

“Fraud and deception come in many forms. Therefore, ahead of the festive season, we urge savers and investors to be vigilant in protecting their investments and to think carefully about the risk of fraud when making investment decisions, ”added Cummings.

Earlier this month, Britain’s national cyber and fraud reporting center Action Fraud warned of an increase in reports of investment fraud as the country entered a second lockdown.

Between September 2019 and September 2020, Action Fraud has received more than 17,000 reports of investment fraud, worth £ 657.4 million in reported losses. This is an increase of 28 percent when compared to the same period last year. This report spiked in May, June, July, August and September 2020, according to the official release.


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The FIA ​​arrested the Karachi man for posing as an official | Instant News

The cyber crime wing of the Federal Investigation Agency has arrested a man in Karachi for posing as an agency official.

According to FIR, the defendant, identified as Irfan Khan, identified himself as an FIA officer and defrauded people. The defendant also told people that his wife was an adjunct session judge in Karachi.

“As per the FIA’s records, there is no officer named Irfan Khan who works here,” said FIR.

The defendant was arrested in the attack carried out in Landhi Karachi, said Faizullah Korejo, additional director of the FIA, in Karachi.

The FIA ​​has confiscated his cell phone, laptop, USB drive and files and sent them to the agency’s technical experts.

Initial technical reports, according to FIA officials, had established that the accused was posing as FIA officials and defrauding people.


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Dark web trial ′ Cyberbunker ′ breaks new ground | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | Instant News

Germany’s largest cybercrime court started this week amid much media fanfare at a district court in the city of Trier. The courtroom was crowded. The defendants and their lawyers wore masks and were separated by plastic screens.

On the first day it took the judge two hours to read out the charges. In the second case, three of the eight defendants were given the opportunity to tell their life stories.

Eight people – four Dutch, three German and one Bulgarian – worked in a “cyberbunker” data center in a former military bunker in the pretty village of Traben-Trarbach.

They are now accused of aiding and abetting criminals in an estimated 249,000 illegal online transactions involving drugs, contract murder, money laundering and millions of euros of child abuse imagery.

Johan X., the suspect culprit has become the focus of the German media – which may not identify the accused until proven guilty.

In September 2019, a major police operation that has been carried out for half a decade to raid the bunkers and close it. A key member of the group was arrested.

The alleged culprit for the operation, Johan X., 60 years old from Holland, remained silent and was silent during the first days of the investigation, listening to the testimony of the first three defendants.

Dutchman Michiel R. who works as a “manager” in the bunker summarizes his work history in a boxy shape and gives a tearful picture of his close relationship with his mother. Jaqueline B., a German who acts as a “bookkeeper” for the operation, talks about her childhood in Cameroon growing up as the daughter of a poor farmer. A 21-year-old German IT expert who spent a year working in technical support described his solitary life and history of depression.

Map of Traben-Trarbach in Germany

The location of the bunker was chosen in the Cold War because it is west of the Rhine, an important natural border in Germany

Beautiful setting

There is a lot of focus in the international media on the bunkers the group uses for its operations.

Massive constructions were built during the Cold War to house the NATO command center. It sits on a hill overlooking a small town of 6,000 people, mostly known for its Riesling vineyards.

“We’re tourist-oriented here; it’s really beautiful,” explains Patrice-Christian-Roger Langer, mayor of Traben-Trarbach. He knew the bunker well because he worked there as a computer programmer in the 1980s and 1990s.

“It’s like a giant root system,” he explained. “Only one floor above ground and four underground. The only way to distinguish each floor is through color coding on the walls. Visitors will often come and have no idea whether they are at ground level or tens of meters underground.”

After the end of the Cold War, the bunker gradually fell out of use and the German government finally sold it to Johan X. in 2013. Langer said the city council had no say in the sale, and there was a lot of speculation about Johan X. and his plans for the bunker.

Ruins in Traben-Trarbach (picture-alliance / Dumont / A. Selbach)

The Mosel Valley is a popular place for tourists

Gossip and rumors

“So I called him and asked if I could come visit,” said Langer. “He said I could come any time, I just needed to give a little notice because of the guard dog. And he was really very open – I visited twice and could look behind every door I wanted. Not much seems to have changed since I worked there. “

Johan X. promised that his new IT hub would offer at least 80 jobs to the local community, which Langer said was badly needed. He also promised to set up an IT training center. But he remains unclear about the true nature of the operation.

Neither of his promises materialized, and rumors continued to spread among the townspeople – that X. was producing drugs or buying and selling weapons in the bunkers.

Then, in September 2019, Langer attended a meeting in a neighboring town and received a WhatsApp notification: police vans and helicopters were in the bunker. He ran back to Traben-Trarbach to find the bunker had been raided.

Only then did Langer and the rest of the town hear about what might have happened and the dark web empire allegedly run by X.

Read more: Darknet, internet shady

aerial view of the bunker in Traben-Trarbach (LKA Rhineland-Palatinate)

The bunker was the site of a major police operation in September 2019

The ‘creepy’ dark web

Johan X. * and the other defendants were charged with running a “bulletproof hosting” service for websites, where they offered clients the opportunity to carry out covert online operations.

“There is no consistent meaning for the dark web,” explains Professor Steven Murdoch, a security engineering expert at University College London. “It’s used most often as a reference to creepy stuff on the Internet – because it sounds a little creepy. And flak hosting is completely unrelated to the dark web, but it might involve the same people at times.”

Johan X. strictly offered “bulletproof hosting” to Cyberbunker customers from the start, allowing clients to access the darknet, where some of the internet’s most sinister operations take place. He originally advertised that Cyberbunker would host the website with anything but “child pornography and anything related to terrorism”.

“Bulletproof hosting is for services that are normal internet services but are illegal or prohibited,” Professor Murdoch explains. “But it’s important to remember that most bad things on the internet happen on the normal internet.” He cited one study by the British Internet Watch Foundation on child abuse images and found that less than 1% of the images were accessed via the so-called onion service, which assists anonymous users.

Police photo of several confiscated servers (LKA Rheinland-Pfalz)

While some servers are virtual, hundreds of others are physically stored in bunkers

Close eyes

Investigators are still examining the content of the hundreds of physical and virtual servers housed by the bunkers and say they have not found any content unrelated to illegal activity. But Murdoch says it’s inconceivable that a host service provider might not know about the nature of their customers’ online activity – especially if they consciously turn a blind eye.

“The principle that organizations are not responsible for their customers is a good principle, and it is widely applied,” Murdoch said. “Once you become a large organization, there will be bad people using your services. So the question is – what proportion of your customers are bad people?”

Proportion is an important part because a major internet hosting service like Amazon can facilitate millions of cases of illegal online activity. But considering their gigantic size, this is only a fraction of their service, Murdoch pointed out.

stacks of files (Harald Tittel / dpa / picture-alliance)

The eight defendants and 250,000 crimes – evidence summarized in a pile of files

Making new breakthroughs

Defense lawyers this week argued that the groups surrounding Johan X. were not aware of what content and transactions were being carried out on the website hosted by the bunker servers.

With the trial running for more than a year, the public prosecutor said the trial would cover “a new legal foundation.”

Although the prosecutor was able to prove that Johan X. and his team were aware of the activity, the key question of the trial was whether the internet service provider had the right to act on this knowledge.

Germany is a country where data privacy is highly protected: electronic payment methods are still uncommon in most countries partly due to concerns about data mining. Mayor Langer was among those who saw the case as an opportunity to re-examine some of these regulations.

“I work with children, and my internet search history and personal background have to be checked by the police every year,” he said. “But can this man run an operation that facilitates the sale of child abuse images and he can claim a lack of knowledge due to data security? Something has to change.”

The trial will run as early as December 2021 as prosecutors will go through thousands of charges against the defendants. The evidence shows that the guilty verdict is far from certain. But Professor Murdoch said law enforcement often hides important evidence in cases like these.

“We may never know exactly what happened [in the bunker],” he says.

Mayor Langer was eagerly awaiting a decision: “This is truly history in the making.”

* Editor’s note: DW follows the German press code, which emphasizes the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and urges us not to disclose full names in such cases.


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