Wednesday, 30 September 2020

JUAN Carlos Guzman-Betancourt

Slick talker Juan Carlos Guzman-Betancourt is back in the clink after being caught by the US Border Patrol near the Canadian border in Vermont on 21 September.
He became notorious for his ability to talk staff into helping him steal cash and valuables from top-class hotels. Betancourt was last heard of in December 2006 being extradited back to France after serving a two-year sentence for theft in Ireland. Back then he didn't go without a fight - claiming in court to be Spaniard Alejandro Cuenca and that it was an amazing co-incidence that his fingerprints were a match for Betancourt.
In April this year there were reports of a charming fraudster who carried out thefts in a Toronto hotel using his modus operandi. There are still warrants out for his arrest in connection with a Las Vegas theft in 2006. According to the Border Patrol agent who filed an affidavit he has already been deported from the US on three occasions. (Read here). Guzman-Betancourt's globe- trotting could be over for a while with the looming prospect of a 20-year-sentence in the US.

Friday, 25 September 2020

FAME at last!

It looks like my efforts in the field of journalism have finally brought me the recognition I truly deserve. I have been invited to appear in Who's Who - or maybe it is just another phishing scam?

Thursday, 24 September 2020

SUCKER lists

Anyone who has fallen victim to an email or a snail-mail con are likely to feature on so-called 'sucker-lists.' Fraudsters sell and swap these lists when targeting people in various scams. The Serious Organised Crime Agency in the UK recently warned that hundreds of thousands of people could be on the lists and that there appears to be an upsurge in the scams. Once a person replies they get more and more letters some of which are dressed up as legal documents. Read here about one scam broken up by SOCA last April that could have netted €35 million for the fraudsters.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

LATEST phishing attempts

Here's two of the latest attempts at phishing for bank details. I got both today. Definitely the scam emails are more sophisticated, but a lot more people are aware that the fraudsters are out there.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

ATM thieves

This is how distraction thieves work their scam at an ATM. The lady in this clip lost €200.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

PHISH hook

The National Consumer Agency are warning people about a scam in which a cheque is mailed to people telling them they've been selected for a grant from the Money Advice and Budgeting Service. To cash the cheque they have to phone a number and are asked for lots of personal details. The fake Bank of Ireland cheques for €1,450 are the latest attempt to entice people to hand over their identities to phishing scammers.
In another part of the forest customs found 4,000 litres of full-strength industrial alcohol being imported through Dublin Port on Tuesday (press release). It was packaged as car wash fluid. Destined for a fake address in County Louth, alcohol would have been used to make counterfeit vodka to be sold through pubs and clubs.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

SLOSH fund

Having a go at fleecing the European Union isn't confined to the European borders. OLAF (the EU's anti-fraud agency) put out a press release today how an aid project in Paraguay was shaken down for €2.5 million. The project was aimed at providing drinking water to various communities. The Spanish national diverted the flow of cash, not mention the flow of water, to a pal in company that didn't even bother doing the work. Read here for the press release and let me know if you can put the word 'defalcation' into a sentence.

Monday, 7 September 2020


The movie world loves a good yarn about con-artists - although they tend to make they to make them cuddly and likeable. The latest addition to this genre I Love You Phillip Morris (unofficial site) tells the story of Steven Russell a serial con-artist who talked his way out of jail on three occasions. Here's other movies which have told both true and fictionalised stories of con-artists:

1. The Sting (1973), starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford as two fraudsters who set out to con a mob boss.
2. Six Degrees of Separation (1993) with Will Smith, based on the real life of David Hampton who fooled Manhattan's glitterati into thinking he was Sidney Poitier's son.
3. Traveller (1997) with Mark Walhberg in a movie about Irish traveller scam artists working in the United States.
4. The Grifters (1990) with Angelica Heuston and John Cusask playing the parts of professional con-artists in a gritty film noir.
5. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) with Steve Martin and Martin Caine in the kind of comedy that sums up the preferred view of fraudsters as lovable rogues.
6. Boiler Room (2000) - John Cusack and Vin Diesel in an unsympathetic depiction of the seedy con-artists trying to sell worthless shares.
7. Catch Me If You Can (2002) with Leonardo DiCaprio in probably the best known movie about con-artists, based on the true-life exploits of Frank Abagnale junior.
8. Confidence (2002) with Edward Burns playing a con-man who tries to pull off a scam and avenge the death of his best friend.
9. Colour Me Kubrick (2005) starring John Malkovich playing the part of real-life Alan Conway who pretended he was film director Stanley Kubrick for two decades.
10. 21 (2008) about the true story of five college students who devise a system for card-counting to rip-off the Las Vegas casinos.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

SKIMMERS skive-off

IT appears that the professional gangsters who made millions from skimming bank cards at ATM's have finally given up on Ireland. This year there have been just three reported attacks in Ireland where better security and wary card-holders have made it too hard for the fraudsters to make a decent living. Organised gangs of foreign card-skimmers, who stole a staggering €4 million at the peak of the scam in 2005, made off with a mere €1.1 million in 2008. But now the professional skimmers seem to have packed up their mini-cameras, fake key-pads, card readers and their tubes of super glue and gone elsewhere looking for new victims.
Instead the fraudsters' focus has switched back to credit cards and using them to make fraudulent deals on internet retail websites. Total card-fraud, which includes both bank debit cards and credit cards, still cost Irish banks a total of €16.5 million in 2008. At 0.06 per cent of the €22.6 billion spent by Irish card-holders in 2007, the level of card fraud in Ireland is less that half the average rate across the European Union, according to newly released figures from the Irish Payment Services Organisation. In contrast to Ireland there has been an increase in ATM fraud last years across the EU with attacks up 149 per cent, in which an estimated €485 million was stolen, according to EAST. Last month European arrest warrants were issued for two people in Ireland as part of an investigation into skimming frauds worth €6.5 million. They were part of a group blamed for 35,000 fraudulent transactions using over 15,000 bank cards.
There were 24 arrests made in the other countries involved, with eight arrests in Italy, two in the Netherlands, two in Belgium and 12 in Romania. Recently Romanian skimmer Adrian Pleseru was jailed for his role in a card-cloning operation based in Dublin.