Is your phone ringing off the hook? Then you’d better check your bank account. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a new “telephone denial-of-service” attack is combining high-tech and low-tech fraud techniques to steal money from the bank accounts of unsuspecting victims.
As reported in the alert issued by the FBI, the scam begins with the suspect obtaining a victim’s personal and banking information, perhaps including bank account numbers, PINs, and passwords. Scammer can obtain a victim’s personal and banking information in a variety of ways, such as through phishing emails, social engineering tactics, or malware surreptitiously installed on a person’s computer.
Once the scammers have the victim’s personal information, they begin tying up the victim’s telephone line by using automated resources to place hundreds or thousands of calls to the victim’s telephone, not unlike a Distributed Denial of Service attack aimed at a computer network that overwhelms a computer with requests for information resulting in a slowing or failure of the network.
While the victim is busy dealing with the onslaught of telephone calls, the scammers quickly drain the victim’s bank account using the previously obtained personal and banking information to gain access to the account. If the banking institution calls its customer to verify the transactions they find the victim’s telephone line to be busy. In some cases, scammers are brazen enough to change a victim’s contact information listed with the bank. As a result, calls from a bank to verify fraudulent transactions are redirected to …
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On February 23, 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission began what may become radical revisions to the regulation of money market funds when it adopted a number of significant changes to its rules governing money market funds. The changes were accompanied by a statement from the SEC chairman that indicated more regulatory change is on the way. SEC Release No. IC-29132 (Feb. 23, 2010) is online.
The new rules are generally intended to increase investor protections by increasing regulatory oversight of money market funds. For example, among other things, the new rules establish:
- liquidity requirements for money market funds (a daily cash or equivalent requirement of 10 per cent);
- a new restriction on the ability of funds to acquire illiquid securities;shorter maturity limits for securities held by money market funds;
- “know your investor” procedures requiring funds to hold liquid securities to meet foreseeable redemptions;
- a requirement for periodic stress testing to assess ability of a fund to maintain a stable net asset value upon the occurrence of events such as a sudden increase in interest rates;
- andnew disclosure requirements including a monthly report of holdings to the Commission and a monthly posting of holdings online.
In many of these areas there previously was little or no regulation. The rules are effective May 5, 2010, but a number of the new requirements are phased in over two years, including a new requirement that funds be able, as a matter of processing capability, to process transactions at prices other than a stable …
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January 21, 2010, President Obama proposed reforms to the financial system designed to ensure no bank, or financial institution that contains a bank, will own, invest in, or sponsor a hedge fund, private equity fund, or proprietary trading operation for the bank’s own profit. The new reforms, known as the Volcker Rule after former chair of the Federal Reserve Board, Paul Volcker, are intended to prevent banks from engaging in what are now perceived as risky investments.
How the Volcker Rule will be drafted and applied is unclear. At a minimum it seems that banks may have to halt investments that use solely the bank’s capital. Banks may therefore have to divest their proprietary trading desks, although most banks have significantly smaller proprietary trading desks than they did prior to the economic crisis.
What constitutes proprietary trading operations under the Volcker Rule is unknown. For example, do such activities include the practice of facilitating trading for clients and investing alongside clients? Additionally, it is unclear whether only wholly-owned bank funds would be prohibited or any bank involvement in a hedge fund or private equity fund above a certain threshold. One approach, which would be a broad interpretation of the Volcker Rule, would be to prohibit any trading activity that could affect a bank’s balance sheet.
President Obama has pledged to work with Congress to implement the Volcker Rule as part of a comprehensive financial reform bill. The dynamics of the bill should have a direct effect on whether some banks …
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