Business Risk

Risk assessments and threat intelligence on business risks that can impact corporations or businesses. Information about money laundering, corruption and other threats to business operations.

Interpol and cyber crime officials in the Philippines broke up an industrial-style extortion ring that as blackmailing hundreds of people around the world through online channels.

According to security agencies, the 58 people who were arrested in May 2014 would contact people through social media. After establishing a relationship, the group would obtain intimate or sexual pictures from the victim. Once in possession of the images, they would then demand payment or else the images would be released to the public.

Interpol stated that the average “sextortion” demand was between $500 to $15,000. Some victims paid on several occasions before going to the police.

(More illegal job earnings and revenue.)

Source:  AFP, “Dozens held in Philippines over global ‘sextortion’ ring,” Global Post, May 2, 2014.

In a translated account published in Tech in Asia, the operations and financial earnings of a hacking group in China that targets online games was broken down.

The group targets online games in China due to its low levels of security. Due to the costs to harden its servers, game developers in China choose not to invest in this area. The companies are believed to have made a decision that the security of its servers and database is not an area where a gamer will make his decision on whether to play the game or not. In addition, many of the Internet users in China has not developed the habit of using security tools. For example, even if two-step authentication is available, many game players choose not to use them.

Hackers in China have noticed these security vulnerabilities and have thus started targeting these websites. Due to the high number of users and popularity of games, the hackers have been able to create a profitable enterprise by hacking the game servers.

The group is organized on three levels, according to the report. The first level consists of the elite hackers. These are the most technically skilled hackers who are responsible for penetrating into the databases in order to obtain usernames and passwords. The second level consists of hackers who are responsible for collecting valuable information from the databases by scanning the sites. The third tier is responsible for selling the goods that were found. This can include game-play items such as armor, weapons and in-game currency.

On average, hackers involved in this group can make as much as $16,000 (100,000 RMB) a month.

(More earnings from illegal jobs.)

In another incident, a hacker reportedly got access to an online game’s entire database. The hacker then sold it to a third party for $820,000 (5 Million RMB). The third party uses this access in order to place itself between the gamer and the game server when gamers are attempting to add money to its account. By placing itself in the middle, all funds that gamers submit would be intercepted by the third party. Although the breach would be quickly noticed, a popular game with many payments could easily recoup the initial investment.

(Prices of hacking services and other online fraud.)

Source:  C. Custer, “Hacking China’s online games for profit: an interview with a Chinese hacker,” Tech in Asia, May 2, 2014.

According to financial regulators and security officers, since the introduction of the Euro in January 1, 2002, there have been over 6 million counterfeit euros and fake banknotes that have been removed from circulation. Intelligence officers estimate that over half of these fake notes were produced in the Italian town of Giugliano.

(More crime in Italy statistics.)

The European Central Bank reported 670,000 counterfeit banknotes were found to be in the money circulation and removed in 2013. The amount of counterfeit money detected represented an annual increase of mover 26 percent.

Criminal justice agencies across the European Union state that the makers of counterfeit notes sells batches in bulk to wholesale distributors for 10 percent of the value of the bill. Thus, if a counterfeit money producer sells a batch of fake bills that have a face value of 500,000 euros, then the producer will receive 50,000 genuine euros for the fakes.

The wholesaler who bought the fakes will the pay money mules to spend the money and get it into the financial system. When paying the mules, the wholesaler also charges 10 percent. The mules prefer to spend the fake bills in locations where there are a lot of people that have many cash transactions. Popular venues to pass the fake notes include Champions League football matches and at Oktoberfest.

(See how Peru’s counterfeiters make counterfeit dollars.)

Source:  Philip Johnson, “The Town That Prints Money: Europe’s Counterfeit Capital,” Newsweek, April 28, 2014.

According to statistics reported by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, there were 230,845 cases of fraud record during the 2013/2014 fiscal year in Britain. The figures averages out to over 630 cases of fraud being reported each day.

The number of fraud cases reported was 89 percent higher than the previous fiscal year, when 122,240 cases of fraud were reported.

Security officials state that nearly 70 percent of all fraud cases involves some sort of cyber element.  5 years ago, the cyber element involves roughly 40 percent of all fraud cases.

Pure cyber crime cases, such as hacking or computer virus attacks on companies, increased to 22,315, nearly double the 11,523 attacks recorded in the previous fiscal year. 494 companies reported that there computer servers were breached.

Nearly 6,000 people also reported to the police that their Facebook profiles have been hacked. Security officials state that most of these cases involved id thieves attempting to collect personal data.

Cyber crime costs Britain’s economy up to $45 Billion (£27 Billion ) a  year.

(See all statistics about crime in the UK.)

Source:  Justin Davenport, “Seven out of 10 frauds are now cyber crimes, police chief warns,” London Evening Standard, April 28, 2014.

Security officials in Dubai reported that there were 1,419 cases of cyber crimes reported in the Emirate in 2013.

The number of cyber crime cases has been increasing over the past several years. In 2011, there were 588 cases of electronic crimes reported to police. In 2012, there were 792 cases of cyber crimes.

It was previously reported that up to $626 Million in economic value was lost to the United Arab Emirates due to cyber crime activities each year.

(See the prices of hackers and other online fraud activities.)

Source:  Dana Moukhallati, “Cyber crimes in Dubai nearly double in 2012,” National, April 28, 2014.

(All statistics about crime in the UAE.)


An artifact smuggler was quoted in the media as saying that the ability to smuggle ancient artifacts and antiques from historic sites in Syria has become easier and more rampant since the start of the violent civil conflict.

According to the report, artifact such as vases, silver coins and ceramic figures are all being looted from sties such as the Palmyra. Previously, smugglers had to evade security and intelligence officers in Syria when looting at protected sites. With security forces dealing with the conflict, the professional smugglers and newer amateur looters are able to loot the ancient city.

In an example of the market, one smuggler was offering a ceramic vase from the Idlib Province. Originally, the smuggler offered the vase for $500, but eventually sold it for $150. In another example, smugglers wanted to sell three items for $3,200. They were able to sell a sliver coin for $200.

In general, most of the items are being sold for $300 to $400.

(More information about looting and antique smuggling.)

Source:  Dominique Soguel, “Syrian smugglers enjoy a free-for-all among ancient ruins,” Christian Science Monitor, April 27, 2014.

A report by TorrentFreak stated that an online service is providing customers with the ability to set up a fully working online streaming site that displays pirated movies and television shows.

People who are looking to own their own movie streaming site pay at least $200 to the service. Once payment is complete, the service provides the scripts that automatically adds updated movies and televisions to the site. All the buyer needs is a server to host the website. According to interviews with one buyer, the total time to set up a new streaming site after payment was between 5 to 10 minuets.

The new owner of the site is then able to recoup the original investment by generating revenue from ads that are displayed on the sites.

It was previously reported that online streaming websites and other BitTorrent sites that offer users pirated movies are collectively able to make $227 Million a year from advertising clicks. A small BitTorrent site that has less than one million unique visitors per day can make around $100,000 a year from advertising.

(More earnings from illegal jobs and activities.)

Source:  Andy, “Buy a Fully Loaded Movie and TV Show Piracy Site for Just $200,” Torrent Freak, April 27, 2014.

A threat intelligence report by McAfee has found that many cyber criminals are using online gambling sites to launder money that they have earned from ransomware and other cyber crimes.

According to internet security researchers, criminals use VPNs and online currency such as Bitcoins to fund their accounts at online gambling sites. Due to the high volume, lack of regulations, and using Tor, criminals are able to wash their money and cash out the proceeds from cyber crime.

Back in 2003, online gambling sites paid out $9.1 Billion in winnings. By 2013, the amount of cash paid out by online sites increased to $32.7 Billion.

Although the number of online gambling sites fluctuate due to closures, there are at least over 25,000 online gambling sites in operation around the world, according to McAfee.

(More illegal gambling statistics.)

Source:  Teri Robinson, “Online gambling provides cover for money laundering, study says,” SC Magazine, April 25, 2014.

Criminal justice agencies in Jamaica reportedly seized $14.5 Million (1.6 Billion Jamaican Dollars) worth of counterfeit goods across the country between April 2013 to April 2014.

Security agents in Jamaica state that proceeds from the sale of counterfeits are used to fund the operations of organized crime groups active in the country.

Between the time period listed above, over 13.1 million pirated CDs and pirated DVDs were seized in raids by intellectual property enforcement campaigns. In addition, over 80 people were apprehended for violation IP laws.

(More information about crime in Jamaica.)

Source:  Livern Barrett, “Counterfeit crackdown – Cops vow to clamp down on masterminds behind intellectual property crimes,” Gleaner, April 26, 2014.

Security officers in Vietnam reported that its agencies investigated over 25,000 cases of counterfeit goods entering the country in the first 4 months of 2014.

According to officials, up to 80 percent of the counterfeit goods sold in Vietnam originates from China.

On average, enforcement agents with the Ministry of Industry and Trade investigate 90,000 cases of counterfeits being sold across Vietnam. Most of the cases involves counterfeit foods and beverages, fake tobacco products, and fake clothing.

Source: Bao Van, “Vietnam could become the next big counterfeiter,” Thanh Nien Daily, April 24, 2014.