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News Article | November 7, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Tesco Bank was scrambling to restore services for customers on Monday after it admitted 40,000 customers had been affected by an online heist over the weekend when money was stolen from half the number of accounts targeted. Tesco immediately froze online transactions and pledged to refund the 20,000 customers whose current accounts had been plundered in one of the largest cyber-thefts ever to hit a UK bank. Benny Higgins, chief executive of the supermarket chain’s banking arm, said the decision to suspend some banking activities was an attempt to protect customers from “online criminal activity”. The National Crime Agency (NCA) is one of a number of organisations scrutinising what has taken place at a bank with more than 7 million customers. “We apologise for the worry and inconvenience that this has caused for customers, and can only stress that we are taking every step to protect our customers’ accounts,” said Higgins. Refunds to customers – some of whom claimed they had lost thousands of pounds – were under way on Monday but Higgins was facing demands from MPs for an explanation of what had gone wrong in the face of repeated warnings about cybersecurity from regulators in recent years. It is thought to be the first time such a large group of UK bank customers have lost money as a result of a single cyber-crime incident and could prove costly for its parent supermarket group in reputational as well as financial terms. There were also concerns of collateral brand damage for other digital and online banks attempting to compete with established high street players, as Tesco raced to keep pace with the deluge of complaints on social media about difficulty reaching its call centres in Glasgow and Newcastle. Higgins provided little explanation for what had gone wrong over the weekend, when the bank started to text customers to warn them it had detected suspicious activity. However, he told the BBC it was “a systematic, sophisticated attack”. The chief executive, who earlier this year faced questions about a £18,000 expenses bill he had submitted to his employer, said the decision to “temporarily stop online transactions from current accounts” was a temporary measure. Late on Monday, the bank admitted the suspension was still in place and it was “working hard to resume normal service on current accounts as soon as possible”. Despite its more than 7 million customers who use services ranging from credit cards to small loans, Tesco Bank has just 137,000 current accounts. It has has been fighting to win current account business in a market that is traditionally dominated by the “big four” of Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays. While customers can pay in cheques and cash at 300 Tesco stores, most of the business is conducted through an app and the internet. It has been trying to win customers by offering 3% interest on balances of up to £3,000 – and letting customers have two accounts – at a time when others are cutting their rates. Tashema Jackson, money expert at price comparision website uSwitch.com, said: “As well as being a blow for Tesco Bank, there could also be knock-on effects for other challenger banks wanting to take market share from the high street banks. A security failure of this nature could mean challengers, who already face an uphill battle convincing customers to switch, may find concerns around security will further put people off making that step away from their current bank.” Some of its customers appear to have used the current account purely as a savings account. One customer affected by the cyber raid, Mark Taylor, said he had never used his debit card because he uses the account purely as a home for his savings. Taylor had £3,000 in the account and, after receiving a text message from Tesco at the weekend, he logged on and was shocked to see that his available balance had dropped to £574.73 after more than £2,400 was apparently siphoned from it. “I spent the next hour and 20 minutes on hold waiting to talk to Tesco. They blocked my account – worryingly it wasn’t blocked already and the last £574 could have been taken. I’m now waiting for a phone call back from their fraud team.” Taylor, who lives in Leeds, said it later transpired that the money had been withdrawn in four separate transactions. The four amounts were for £9.33, £802.61, £795.27 and £818.26, “all to different retailers in Spain”. The incident has sparked a wave of theories about how it was orchestrated. Taylor, who works as a security engineer, speculated that it was an internal security breach. Others suggested that hackers had been involved. Conservative MP Chris Philp, a member of the Treasury select committee, said it could have been the work of a foreign power. “I think we can’t rule out the possibility, at all, that this is state-sponsored,” he told the BBC. It comes after the Bank of England has issued a series of warnings about cybersecurity threats to the financial sector. But it is not the only industry which has been hit. Telecoms company TalkTalk was hit with a record £400,000 fine from the Information Commissioner’s Office in October for failing to stop personal data of 157,000 customers being obtained. The ICO is one of a number of authorities scrutinising Tesco Bank. City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority is monitoring the situation and keeping the Bank of England informed. The NCA said it had been notified by Tesco Bank and was coordinating a response among law enforcement agencies. ICO said: “We’re aware of this incident and are looking into the details. The law requires organisations to have appropriate measures in place to keep people’s personal data secure. Where there’s a suggestion that hasn’t happened, the ICO can investigate, and enforce if necessary.” Andrew Tyrie, the MP who chairs the Treasury select committee, said it was the latest in a long list of IT failures and security breaches in the financial sector. He added that he would writing to Higgins for an explanation and reassurance it will not happen again. “Making sure that banks improve their IT systems, and their resilience to cybercrime, is also a responsibility of regulators. We will raise this issue with them again shortly. We can’t carry on like this,” he said. Shares in Tesco, one of Britain’s biggest listed businesses, were among the biggest fallers on the stock market. Pete Hahn, of the London Institute of Banking & Finance, said: “The question is does the reputation that the bank has suffered translate to [Tesco’s] other businesses.”


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: co.newswire.com

The young cryptocurrency, BitConnect Coin exhibits steady growth within a month of its successful ICO. ​BitConnect Coin (BCC) has showcased significant growth within the digital altcoin community as it tries to make a place for itself beside the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum. BCC is continuing the trend established by the two heavyweight cryptocurrencies since 2015, which saw an exponential rise in digital currency trading activity followed by doubling of Bitcoin’s value in 2016. The upcoming feature additions to BCC throughout 2017 will further boost its value. Since the completion of BCC’s initial launch following the ICO, its price has experienced few ups and downs. Like any new digital or physical product, BCC experienced a drop in the demand and value soon after its release. Being a cryptocurrency that is providing real value to the market, BCC has recovered to emerge bigger and stronger than ever. BCCs chart shows a more than two-fold increase in its price during the recent weeks. In addition, the cryptocurrency platform had to increase its mining difficulty to levels much higher than that of any other scrypt-based coin in the altcoin market, mainly due to an increase in the BitConnect Coin mining activity. Consequently, the exchange volume has been exhibiting significant growth in anticipation of the new features that are going to be included later this month. With BitConnect Coin, users can expect a new level of empowerment. The open source platform connects users socially and financially to a secure, protected community of investors and lenders. BCC owners can also connect with the community to increase the value in their respective wallets as the cryptocurrency’s price increases. They also get an opportunity to earn interest. The BCC cryptocurrency’s demand and price are expected to increase further as the platform prepares to launch the much awaited BitConnect application for Android and iOS devices. The BCC mining process will stop yielding new coins by the end of 2017. In the later part of this year, the cryptocurrency will see more innovation and inclusion of new convenience features. Few much-awaited releases on the BitConnect platform include BCC Mining and Staking Pool that provides a way for the community to earn BitConnect Coin reward for mining and minting, a new mobile wallet app, and BCC paper wallet. This year will also see the launch of BCC Smart Card for everyday usability of the digital currency. BitConnect has become the world’s fastest growing online Bitcoin community. It has risen from being a concept in Q1 of 2016 to a top 100K website on Alexa in less than one year. BitConnect is an open source platform for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency users to earn, learn, buy and sell bitcoins to other trusted community members directly. Learn more about BitConnect at – https://bitconnect.co/ Learn about BitConnect coin at – https://bitconnectcoin.co/ Register on BitConnect Exchange at – https://bitconnect.co/register Access BitConnect-QT wallet at – https://bitconnectcoin.co/guide/10/How-To-Set-Up-BitConnect-Coin-Wallet-on-Windows-Operating-System#Download BitConnect is the source of this content. Virtual currency is not legal tender, is not backed by the government, and accounts and value balances are not subject to consumer protections. This press release is for informational purposes only. The information does not constitute investment advice or an offer to invest.


First-ever Blockchain-based augmented reality game, Augmentors' ICO, is coming to an end. The game has so far raised over 883 BTC. The Augmentors ICO is coming to an end. The ongoing crowdsale organized by the first ever Blockchain-based augmented reality game started on January 30, 2017. The ICO ends tomorrow, on February 28, 2017 at 1 pm GMT (8 am EST), offering the last chance to snap up the Databits (DTB) cryptotokens (used in the Augmentors game) at a rate of 10000 DTB/ 1 BTC. The augmented reality mobile game allows players to summon virtual creatures into the real world where creatures possess unique powers and can be trained and traded by the player before participating in epic battles. Early backers of the game had the unique opportunity to select between 25 limited edition creatures including 3 legendary Gods, which sold out almost immediately, with only a few of the packages still available for purchase. In addition to the investments received on Shark Tank South Africa, plus a successful token pre-sale to the Spells of Genesis audience, Augmentors has been running the Databits ICO to raise 1000BTC to complete the development of the game. The platform had a successful start to the ICO as the first 24 hours of the crowdsale saw the platform raise over 50% of the required funds. Now with just under 120 BTC still to raise before the ICO end date, backers interested in buying into the unique Blockchain-based AR game offering can still purchase Databits tokens using Bitcoin here. The Augmentors game has been likened to “Pokemon GO” by many media outlets. It is the brainchild of Michael Deon, who dreamt up the concept of Augmentors over 10 years ago. Deon developed the characters, storyline and gameplay by drawing inspiration from his passion for turn-based fantasy games. With Augmentors, he has recreated his vision digitally through augmented reality and will soon give players a chance to get lost in this alternate reality. In the Augmentors realm Deon has included a collection of 50 unique creatures, or Augmentors, who each have their own unique attacks, spells or movements characteristics. The revolutionary Blockchain-based AR game has received recognition from some well-known personalities including Shark Tank South Africa’s Vinny Lingham (Silicon Valley entrepreneur), Gil Oved (co-CEO of Creative Counsel) and the Executive Director of Bitcoin Foundation, Llew Claasen. Lingham, known for his association with the blockchain startup Civic and Gyft has already invested in the game platform. He’s also a prolific advocate for Bitcoin and blockchain technology and was an early adopter of Bitcoin payments in his startup Gyft. The faith exhibited by Lingham and Claasen showcases Augmentors as a unique, innovative, useful and exciting use of Blockchain technology. Augmentors will be releasing the game’s Alpha version in the coming months. It will be followed by feature additions, upgrades and more before it hits the Google Play Store and Apple AppStore later in 2017. Cryptocurrency and gaming enthusiasts still wanting to secure a rare creature and become a part of gaming history can purchase the last of the packages available before 3 pm GMT (10 am EST) February 28th 2017. To Participate in the Augmentors ICO here. Learn more about Augmentors at – http://www.augmentorsgame.com/ Know more about Databits at – http://www.augmentorsgame.com/game-info__trashed/DataBits/ Disclaimer: This press release may contain certain forward-looking statements that are not purely historical, including any statements regarding beliefs, plans, expectations or intentions regarding the future. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, as there can be no assurance that the plans, intentions or expectations they are based on will occur. These statements include numerous assumptions, risks (known and unknown) and uncertainties. The content of the press release is for informational purposes only and it doesn’t constitute investment advice. Readers are urged to make investment decisions at their own discretion and the company will not be responsible for the outcome of such decisions. Augmentors is the source of this content. Virtual currency is not legal tender, is not backed by the government, and accounts and value balances are not subject to consumer protections. This press release is for informational purposes only. The information does not constitute investment advice or an offer to invest.


Jobs marketplace startup beWanted raised €600,000 from business angels. It’s not by any means the first Spanish company with the objective of making finding jobs easier, but the company claims to differentiate itself by focusing on entry level positions and internships. Propel Venture Partners, the fund which counts BBVA as its main LP, led a €13 million Series B round in US-based company benefits startup Hixme. Fond-ICO announced the results of it’s 9th call for applications. JME Ventures, Inveready and SeedRocket’s new investment vehicle will receive public money from the institution. Conector Barcelona announced the name of the startups that will participate in its newest batch: Aureum Gold, Inveslar, My Beweeg, Planomi, Nectar Company, Playeek, Sellers n’ Bloggers. Interview with HundredRooms CEO Juan Luis Martínez. Hundredrooms is one of the bigger Spanish metasearch engines for apartment rentals, along with Apartum. MasMovil to postpone its listing on the Spanish Stock Exchange. It currently floats on the MAB. Azahara García is Crowdcube’s new COO in Spain. Interesting article on Sabemos by Miguel Uriondo: Why there’s no unlimited data mobile plans in Spain? El Confidencial looks at energy and battery systems for the home that will soon be available in Spain: Tesla, Nissan and Solar Rocket. Spain’s AVE trains will start offering WiFi on November 3rd. This feature will be temporarily limited to trains connecting Madrid and Sevilla. Spanish police authorities are upset with WhatsApp because it won’t deliver the messages received and sent by Diana Quer the night she disappeared. WhatsApp implemented end-to-end encryption a few months ago, so in theory they don’t have any kind of access to messages exchanged by its users. The post New capital allocation by Fond-ICO, BBVA invests in insurtech and Conector Barcelona’s latest batch appeared first on Novobrief.


SEOUL, South Korea--(BUSINESS WIRE)--BlockchainOS, a blockchain technology company in Korea, announced the ICO (Initial Coin Offering) of BOScoin* from April 17th, 2017 to May 31st, 2017. BOScoin, the first global cryptocurrency issued in Korea, is a cryptocurrency that utilizes the blockchain, ontology language, and timed automation technologies to solve persistent issues in decentralized systems. BOScoin’s presale in the domestic market already gathered over 2,000BTC (approximately 2 million USD) during a two month period. *BOScoin - A congressional decentralized cryptocurrency platform for Trust Contracts based on ontology language and timed automation. Yezune Choi, the BlockchainOS CTO and General Executive Director, outlines the current state of blockchain, "There are two primary issues that need to be solved in the cryptocurrency and blockchain fields. The first issue is the integrity of the Dapps (Decentralized Applications) on the blockchain. The second issue is the consensus mechanism needed for confirming data on the blockchain and the decision making process for revising policies implemented in the core blockchain algorithm. We have been working on these core problems for over 2 years and are now opening our research to the public.” BOScoin, Trust Contracts and the Congress Network operate on top of the alternative blockchain called OWLchain. By the OWLchain’s integration of ontology language and timed automata into blockchain, the BOScoin and Trust Contracts will serve as digital currency and smart contract with inherent security assurance. And governance through the Congress Network ensures that adequate proposals on blockchain will be discussed and applied within desired time. BOScoin is a fixed supply cryptocurrency that will be issued over the next 141 years. Unlike Bitcoin or Ethereum, BOScoin sends a portion of the coins issued to a public account called the Commons Budget. Coins held in the Commons Budget can be used through the voting system to decide on future BOScoin policies. And since voting right is given to only the node operators who invested in the coin, the funds from the Commons Budget are likely to be used for the betterment of the coin. Trust Contracts are pre-defined programs or rules that users can create. Similar to Ethereum, the BOScoin team is also aiming to create a general purpose language on top of the blockchain so anyone can write, upload, and execute contracts. However, BOScoin’s approach is technically different from Ethereum. The BOScoin team believes security is the most important principle for smart contracts on the blockchain. As decentralized systems become more complex, these systems are bound to make mistakes and break. The failure of DAO project from Ethereum is the exact case of it. BOScoin Team believes in importance of being cautious when dealing with digital assets. This is the reason they carefully selected the Web Ontology Language (OWL) and TAL, the timed automata language, for the development of Trust Contracts. By using OWL and TAL for building contracts, due to the nature of the languages, the Trust Contracts can be mathematically proven to be trustworthy and operate without any unintended consequences. The Congress is the governance system inside the BOScoin platform. Many decentralized organizations suffer from a poor decision making process. This is why in BOScoin, all node operators are given a vote to decide on how to distribute the Commons Budget. With this vote, node operators can accept or deny proposals brought up from within the community. Anyone can make proposals for using BOScoin. BOScoin believes this kind of democratic system is key to sustaining and growing BOScoin. Learn more about the BOScoin ICO at https://boscoin.io .


News Article | October 5, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

TalkTalk has been hit with a record £400,000 fine for the security failings that led to the company being hacked in October 2015. The Information Commissioner’s Office levied the fine saying that the attack “could have been prevented if TalkTalk had taken basic steps to protect customers’ information”. The hack resulted in the attacker accessing the personal information of more than 150,000 customers of the internet service provider, including sensitive financial data for more than 15,000 people. The information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, said: “TalkTalk’s failure to implement the most basic cyber security measures allowed hackers to penetrate TalkTalk’s systems with ease. “Yes, hacking is wrong, but that is not an excuse for companies to abdicate their security obligations. TalkTalk should and could have done more to safeguard its customer information. It did not and we have taken action.” The technique used by the attacker, called SQL injection, has been well known in security circles for almost 20 years. “SQL injection is well understood, defences exist and TalkTalk ought to have known it posed a risk to its data,” the ICO said. “On top of that the company also had two early warnings that it was unaware of. The first was a successful SQL injection attack on 17 July 2015 that exploited the same vulnerability in the webpages. A second attack was launched between 2 and 3 September 2015.” The amount the ICO can fine companies for serious breach of data protection obligations is capped at £500,000, leaving TalkTalk’s fine almost as large as it could possibly receive. Repeat offenders can also be issued “enforcement notices” under the same legislation, which entail the ICO requiring a business to take particular steps to prevent a re-occurrence. The previous highest fine ever issued by the ICO was £350,000, against Prodial, a spam-calling company responsible for over 46 million automated nuisance calls. In a statement, TalkTalk said: “TalkTalk has co-operated fully with the ICO at all times and, while this is clearly a disappointing decision, we continue to be respectful of the important role the ICO plays in upholding the privacy of consumers. “During a year in which the government data showed nine in 10 large UK businesses were successfully breached, the TalkTalk attack was notable for our decision to be open and honest with our customers from the outset. This gave them the best chance of protecting themselves and we remain firm that this was the right approach for them and for our business. “As the case remains the subject of an ongoing criminal prosecution, we cannot comment further at this time.” In September this year, Daniel Kelley, 19, was charged with hacking the company. Kelley appeared at Westminster magistrates court accused of demanding 465 bitcoins, then worth over £200,000, from the company after allegedly carrying out the attack. Data was taken from an underlying customer database that was part of TalkTalk’s acquisition of Tiscali’s UK operations in 2009, the ICO said. It added that the data was accessed through an attack on three vulnerable webpages in the “inherited infrastructure”. TalkTalk was said to have failed to properly scan this infrastructure for possible threats and was unaware the vulnerable pages existed or that they enabled access to a database that held customer information. TalkTalk was not aware that the installed version of the database software was outdated and no longer supported by the provider, according to the ICO. The company said it did not know at the time that the software was affected by a bug – for which a fix was available, the watchdog said, adding: “The bug allowed the attacker to bypass access restrictions. Had it been fixed, this would not have been possible.” When the cyber-attack was revealed, TalkTalk said it did not know how many customers were affected, raising concerns that hundreds of thousands of customers could be at risk. It had been criticised for failing to to take precautions after being hacked twice in the recent past. In December 2014, the company saw customers hit by India-based scam calls after a data breach. It happened gain in again in February 2015, when TalkTalk customers were subjected to further scams, despite the company describing the information stolen in the breach as limited and non-sensitive. TalkTalk Mobile customers were also affected by an attack on Carphone Warehouse systems in which the personal information of up to 2.4 million customers was stolen.


News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: www.businesswire.com

首尔--(BUSINESS WIRE)--韩国区块链专业技术公司区块链OS发表称:在2017年4月17日~5月31日期间将首次公开发行BOScoin ICO(Initial Coin Offering)。BOScoin是首次在韩国发行的加密货币,是为解决分散化系统固有问题而活用区块链、Ontology 语言、时间限制自动处理技术的加密货币。


LOS ALTOS, Calif., Feb. 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The Augmentors ICO is coming to an end. The ongoing crowdsale organized by the first ever Blockchain-based augmented reality game started on January 30, 2017. The ICO ends tomorrow, on February 28, 2017 at 1 pm GMT (8 am EST), offering...


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: co.newswire.com

The time-based cryptocurrency initiative will integrate the popular instant exchange service right within the ChronoWallet. ​​ChronoBank, an ambitious project aimed at disrupting the short-term recruitment sector by connecting employers with freelancers on a peer-to-peer basis, has announced the integration of the Changelly app within its main wallet software. ChronoBank’s ICO is currently ongoing, with around $3 million already raised. The key to the project’s operation is Labour Hour (LH) tokens, which will trade freely on the open market and will be the native unit of currency that companies use to purchase labour from professionals. Because these are linked to labour costs in each token’s originating country, they are also expected to provide an excellent store of value – an inflation-proof asset that will be attractive to long-term investors and traders wanting to park funds overnight. ‘The ability to trade these LH tokens quickly, easily and without slippage against other national and virtual currencies is vital to the smooth operation of ChronoBank and confidence in our platform,’ explains Sergei Sergienko, founder and CEO of ChronoBank. ‘That is why we are working to ensure they are listed on a wide range of exchanges. Moreover, we are implementing Changelly right within the core ChronoBank wallet. That will make it incredibly easy for users to exchange LH for bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies with practically zero delay.’ Changelly launched in 2013 as an instant exchange app, similar to the well-known ShapeShift. Rather than being a traditional exchange that requires users register before trading against an order book, with variable depth and the problems of slippage that can result, it aggregates rates from the largest trading platforms and offers a single rate. The commission is just 0.5%. By fundamentally rethinking the way cryptocurrencies are exchanged, Changelly aims to remove technical impediments to customers engaging with this critical element of the cryptocurrency world’s infrastructure. ‘Changelly’s team is well-established and trusted in the crypto world,’ comments Sergienko. ‘It is a clean, reliable interface that we will integrate directly into the ChronoWallet to give our users another choice for trading – in this case, one that’s all about speed and convenience.’ The move will allow anyone to buy LH tokens quickly, and then use these to buy for services on ChronoBank’s labour exchange. For more information about ChronoBank or to participate in the ICO, visit www.ChronoBank.io.


News Article | February 18, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

When pensioner Barry Tucker was called at home by his telecoms provider, TalkTalk, quoting his account number and personal details he dutifully carried out their instructions. He was told there was a problem on his computer and that a staff member would resolve it. He gave remote access to his computer, and after the work was completed was told he was entitled to a £200 “compensation” payment, and was invited to click on his bank logo that appeared on his computer. But the man Tucker was speaking to was not a TalkTalk employee. He was part of the network of crooks who have accessed the details of many thousands of TalkTalk customers stolen from the company in 2015. Instead of paying him £200 the fraudster stole £6,300 from his Santander account – and the real TalkTalk has refused to pay any compensation to him or the many other victims to come forward over the past year. Tucker, from Norfolk, says he still doesn’t know quite how the fraudster stole the money. He says he’d never made an online payment from his bank account before. Santander, meanwhile, says he inputted the One Time Passcode sent as a text to his TalkTalk-provided mobile phone. This code authorised the payment, although Tucker says he didn’t see it until an hour later. Other TalkTalk customers who claim they were conned as a result of the company’s multiple data hacks have called on the Information Commissioner’s Office to “get its act together” and finally rule on how fraudsters were able to gain customers’ account and other personal details, to enable them start legal proceedings against the telecoms giant. Customers started receiving calls to their landlines from fraudsters posing as the firm’s employees as far back as December 2014, and in February 2015 the company admitted a major data breach. But despite this the ICO is yet to decide whether any rules were broken, or even establish the facts. At least 20 individuals, some of whom lost £10,000, have registered an interest with lawyers in bringing claims against the firm, but say they are growing frustrated at the ICO’s lack of progress. In each case the fraudsters were able to call the customer and quote account details that only TalkTalk would have known. Victims claim it was this that led them to hand over access to their computers, and ultimately to them losing thousands of pounds. It is thought that customers’ details were stolen from an Indian call centre, and a year ago the company confirmed that three India-based contract workers had been arrested. The data hacks are not thought to be related to the much more publicised hacking of the company by a UK-based teenager that separately led the firm to be fined £400,000 by the ICO. The situation has prompted some of the victims to question whether the ICO, responsible for policing the way companies hold their customers’ data, is really interested in getting to the bottom of what happened to them. Guardian Money was recently contacted by another woman who declines to be named. She lost £10,000 in similar circumstances to Tucker last autumn, with the money stolen from her Santander account. Separately, Graeme Smith from County Durham was one of the first victims to come forward after he was defrauded of £2,800 in January 2015. He says he can’t understand why the ICO is taking so long. “This happened to me two years ago, and since then we have seen the ICO fine the company but stall on pronouncing on the earlier data breaches. There is a group of victims who have all been very patient, but this is starting to wear a bit thin. The ICO needs to get its act together. We have lost considerable sums and would like some answers. Is this body there to protect consumers’ data or not?” he asks. Sean Humber, a partner at Leigh Day, the solicitors acting for Smith and around 20 other victims, is also surprised at the delay. “I have repeatedly asked the ICO to clarify the nature, extent and progress of its investigations. So far it has simply confirmed that it is investigating incidents reported by TalkTalk and that its investigations are near completion. However, so far it has been unwilling to either identify the dates of any alleged breaches or confirm that it is also looking at complaints received from scammed customers. “Furthermore, the ICO has indicated that it will then only publish its findings if it decides to take enforcement action against TalkTalk. It is now vital that the ICO completes its investigations and publishes its findings without further delay. The report needs to set out the details of all data breaches suffered by TalkTalk, the adequacy of the security measures in place at the time, the extent to which customers were notified of any breaches in an effective and timely manner, and the effect of any breaches on those scammed.” A spokeswoman for the ICO told Money: “This has been a complex and detailed investigation involving outsourced processing with an international dimension, the investigation into which is now coming to an end. The ICO has the power to issue fines up to £500,000 for serious contraventions of the Data Protection Act, but the law doesn’t allow us to issue compensation to affected individuals or to order organisations to pay compensation.” She declined to say when it would publish any findings. TalkTalk, which has consistently denied any liability for such cases, says: “We are very sorry to hear Mr Tucker and others have been the victims of a scam. We believe we have a responsibility to help protect customers from these crimes, which is why we launched Beat the Scammers, a nationwide awareness and education campaign to help customers protect themselves.” Why does Santander’s name appear so often in these cases? Each of the victims of this fraud who have contacted Guardian Money have had one thing in common – they banked with Santander. Usually these frauds hit all bank customers equally, but not in this case – at least according to our postbag. It raises questions about whether the scammers have managed to find a way to exploit Santander’s online banking system using stolen TalkTalk details. Dave Westwood from south Wales, who lost £3,900 in very similar circumstances to those detailed above, says the fraudsters, having taken over his computer and promised him a refund, presented him with a list of bank logos on his computer and invited him to click on his bank. He had an account with First Direct so clicked on its logo, but the fraudster asked if the payment could be made into Westwood’s Santander account instead. Intriguingly, Westwood had opened a Santander account just a week earlier but had not made any withdrawals so was unsure how it worked. He told Money how he was duped into handing over a One Time Passcode which authorised the transaction. When Westwood later checked his balance on a neighbour’s computer, it emerged that First Direct had blocked an attempted £2,200 payment out of his account on the basis that it was “unusual”, but the Santander payment of £3,900 had been made. Like Graeme Smith in the above story, Westwood says he can’t understand how the fraudsters accessed his online account as he did not input any passwords or disclose them to the criminals. Barry Tucker (see above) makes the same point. When the Financial Ombudsman examined these cases, it sided with the bank. Santander told Money it is very sympathetic to victims, and welcomes awareness-raising of such scams. But it added that in the featured cases the customers gave the fraudsters access to their computers, before handing over the One Time Passcodes it sends out to customers to verify a money transfer, and that as a result the customers were liable for their losses. “In Mr Tucker’s case, Santander flagged the payment as suspect and the customer was contacted via text message to confirm the transaction on his registered mobile number. During our investigation we confirmed the IP address for the transaction was located back to the customer’s computer and that no sim swap took place,” the bank says. “We strongly advise customers to make sure they are aware of the latest scams as these can often be very sophisticated. We invest significant resource each year to alert customers to scams.”

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