Security and Risk Online – Western Union to pay $586 million fine to settle fraud charges

western-union-to-pay-586-million-fine-to-settle-fraud-charges

Jan. 19 (UPI) — The largest money service business in the world agreed on Thursday to a half-billion dollar settlement over charges they failed to protect customers from fraud and permitted their agents to illegally launder money for customers.

Western Union will pay a $586 million fine after pleading guilty to charges of willfully failing to run an effective anti-money laundering program and aiding and abetting wire fraud with the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices of the Middle and Eastern districts of Pennsylvania, Central District of California and Southern District of Florida.

“Western Union owes a responsibility to American consumers to guard against fraud, but instead the company looked the other way, and its system facilitated scammers and rip-offs,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a press release. “The agreements we are announcing today will ensure Western Union changes the way it conducts its business and provides more than a half billion dollars for refunds to consumers who were harmed by the company’s unlawful behavior.”

Based on a complaint filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Western Union violated U.S. laws when they processed thousands of transactions for Western Union agents and others as part of multiple national and international fraud schemes.

Among the allegations are criminals who contacted victims in the United States posing as family members, potential employers or people awarding some kind of prize asking for money to be wired to them. The company’s agents were often complicit in the schemes, the FTC said, and sometimes took a cut of the money.

Previous cases have also established that Western Union failed to halt the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars to human traffickers in China and drug traffickers in other parts of the world, as well as not adhering to laws requiring verification and investigation of daily transfer limits.

The settlement requires Western Union to block money transfers to any person who is the subject of a fraud report, provide clear warnings to consumers about fraud on their paper and electronic forms, refund fraudulently induced money transfers if the company did not follow proper anti-fraud protocol and to increase the availability for how consumers can file fraud complaints.

Western Union will also be monitored by an independent auditor for its adherence to the telemarketing sales rule, which bars companies from processing transfers known to be fraud, or those the company “should know is payment for a telemarketing transaction.”

Western Union said in a press release it has increased compliance consistently during the last five years and has dedicated about 20 percent of its employees to compliance functions, noting the issues it settled Thursday occurred mostly between 2004 and 2012.

“We share the government’s goal of protecting consumers and the integrity of our global money transfer network, and we worked hard to resolve these matters with the government,” Western Union said in the release. “We are committed to enhancing our compliance programs to prevent illicit activity on our network and protect customers who transfer money to friends, family and businesses.”

Online Fraud Detection: Blockchain Can Be a Powerful Tool for Indian Businesses

Bitcoin

Blockchain technology was developed to reinforce digital currency bitcoin, and is considered the most efficient technology against cyber fraud that allows financial transactions to be verified electronically over a network of computers.

While relatively nascent in India, the country too plans to embrace the Block Chain technology because of increased cybercrime in financial institutions. India’s southern state of Andhra Pradesh has been named as the first in Asia to introduce the Block Chain Technology Institute last month. This technology ensures security and scale by using a dispersed network.

Alex Tapscott  in a Forbes report explains,blockchain is a vast, global distributed ledger or database running on millions of devices and open to anyone, where not just information but anything of value –like money and units of energy – can be moved and stored securely and privately peer to peer, and where trust is established, not by powerful intermediaries like banks, governments and technology companies, but rather through mass collaboration and clever code.

In India too, IT services and solutions companies are stepping in to leverage emerging blockchain technology applications for customers across market verticals.

Here are some sectors that plan to significantly invest on Blockchain.

BFSI

Banks are investing on implementing blockchain. This will resolve issues surrounding high rate on transactions and will allay the commotion expected from other financial institutions offering financial services at a lower cost than the banks themselves.

According to a blogpost on Infosys Finacle site by Rajashekara V. Maiya, blockchain technology has created a lot of buzz in the technology landscape compared to any other technology in the past. Perhaps, blockchain is considered to be the biggest disruption post ‘internet’.

A recent report by World Economic Forum (WEF) shows that 80 percent of banks are predicted to start blockchain projects by 2017 and $1.4 billion has been invested into the technology over the past three years. 90 central banks are looking at the technology. In the Indian context, even RBI is optimistic about advantages of using blockchain to prevent cheque frauds. There are many identity-related blockchain projects where organizations are focusing on know-your-customer (KYC) for banks.

Intellectual Property

With the rise of the internet, it is becoming increasingly difficult to protect digital intellectual property. Many new companies are coming up to address this issue with the aid of blockchain technology.  blockchain is mostly linked with bitcoin and cryptocurrency, but its realm speeds beyond that. As blockchain is used as a virtual decentralised ledger to track bitcoin transactions, it can also track the actual rights of all kinds of digital content and Intellectual property from logos, to music, to books, to everything.

Energy

According to a Finextra report, the energy sector has seen significant changes over the past few decades across generation, distribution, storage, and consumption. The result is a complex, non-transparent and inefficient energy market leading to a lot of waste. Put simply, there isn’t a single, publicly available ledger of all energy transactions that take place in the industry. Though the data is there, it is very fragmented, hard to interpret, and largely underused as a result.

Blockchain infrastructure would provide an open, transparent and timely way to record transactions in the energy business, from generation through consumption.

Supply Chain

Global supply chain can add transparency and auditability with blockchain technology. Every time a product changes hands, the transaction could be documented. This will create a permanent record of a product, from manufacture to sale. blockchain technology reduces leaks in the chain and reduce time delays, added costs, human error and insurance costs.

Also Internet-of-Things (IoT) plays a major role in this vertical. Here IoT sensors can record sessions of objects on the blockchain, which will provide data diligence and optimize cost.

Government

Government has innumerable data all across, so we can imagine the settlement of all the dissidence if blockchain is used. It can also bring more transparency to the tax structure and citizens could gage how the money is being spent.

Also by moving the registries to blockchain, government can save money, increase transparency, and cull corruption.

According to a IndiaToday report, in possibly a first in Asia, Andhra Pradesh government has introduced blockchain technology to prevent incidents of cybercrime. It has introduced the technology in some departments to protect the database from being hacked.

However, Eric Piscini in a TechTarget report opined, “Mass adoption will not happen unless we have a regulatory framework and today these frameworks are inconsistent at best, and nonexistent in a few cases.”

“In addition, our legal environment needs to evolve to account for specific smart contracts, which are business logic running on blockchain and automatically executed, to be recognized in court,” said Eric.

Clearly, with rapid adoption of blockchain technology, the enterprises offering the same have a huge potential market to tap in 2017 and beyond.