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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Enfield Company Director Found Guilty of Selling Counterfeits

  • April 24, 2014
  • The director of a private company has been found guilty of selling high class counterfeit clothing.

    Kabamba Tabukanga, director of Gramadi Place Limited in Hoe Lane, Enfield, pleaded guilty to 16 charges of selling counterfeit goods.

    For each charge he was fined £1,5000 with each offence running concurrently. The 53-year-old was also ordered to pay a contribution to Trading Standards, costs of £1,300 and a victim surcharge of £150. The trading included good such as Chanel, Burberry, Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Vivienne Westwood, Gucci, Dior and Dolce & Gabbana between January 9 and March 21, 2013.

    “Often counterfeit goods are made from inferior materials and the workmanship is of poor quality. This case is a strong warning that our trading standards officers will seize counterfeit goods and prosecute.”

    The council had made several warnings to the private limited company for three previous incident of counterfeit clothes and jewellery at the Enfield base.

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    by Ron

Hiring a Private Investigator

  • Jonathan Rayner, a staff writer of the Law Society Gazette, explains what a law firm can do to distinguish between good and bad private investigators.

    Hiring a private investigator was once, to coin a phrase, elementary. You would take a hansom cab to 221B Baker Street. There would be no uncouth discussion of fees or, heaven forbid, professional indemnity insurance. Sherlock Holmes would simply stalk off in a fug of pipe smoke and nab the cad.

    Those were the innocent days before phone taps and computer hacking. One relied on doltish, but decent and honest, policemen and on cockney petty thieves who called you ‘Guv’. It was de rigueur to be handy with a swordstick or revolver. Fisticuffs could also come in useful to help a chap out of a tight corner. And one remained resolutely amateur, albeit an amateur with fantastic powers of deduction.

    Even today, and quite surprisingly, ‘amateur’ remains the hallmark of the private investigations industry. There are an estimated 10,000 private investigators working in the UK offering services as varied as serving documents, investigating insurance fraud, tracing missing persons, countering intellectual property theft, computer forensics and gathering proof of adultery. Not one of these 10,000 investigators is regulated by the government. Perhaps 20% (or 2,000) have voluntarily submitted to regulation by a peer-reviewed body, but the rest have not.

    There is nothing to stop the remaining 8,000 people from screwing a brass plate to the wall or, more probably, creating a website to tell the world that they are private investigators. They can charge what they like while getting access to your confidential information. They could rob you and there is no industry body to which you could complain or which would impose sanctions on offenders.

    Choose wisely

    It would be unfair – and wrong – to assume that these investigators are crooked. Many practise to an ethical code and provide excellent value for money. But given that some aspects of this work can operate at the edge of legality, how are solicitors to distinguish between the good and the bad guys?

    Jo Pizzala, a partner at national firm Plexus Law, has been instructing private investigators on behalf of insurance company clients for more than 20 years. She makes the point that defrauding insurance companies is ‘not a victimless crime’. We all pay the price for fraud through increased premiums, she points out.

    Pizzala has seen huge changes in the industry over the last two decades, with surveillance techniques becoming more sophisticated as products developed by the military have filtered through to civilian use. ‘The growth of social media has also made a big difference,’ she says. ‘It enables investigators to build a picture of younger people in particular.

    People will often say one thing in a witness statement and then say something completely different online. They might claim to be broke and unable to pay their ex-wife, for instance, and then boast online about their new car or a recent holiday in the Caribbean.’

    Pizzala generally commissions investigations into personal injury claimants who are claiming hundreds of thousands of pounds from an insurance company because they claim to have suffered life-altering injuries. The investigator’s role is to gather evidence to determine whether the claim is fraudulent or legitimate.

    She tells the Gazette: ‘The bigger insurance companies have their own panels of approved investigators and so selecting one is easy. But if I was starting from scratch, I would look for a firm of investigators offering a range of services, not just manned surveillance, but also mining data and tracing missing persons.

    ‘I would ask if they were ISO-registered, had Edexcel accreditation, had undertaken Skills for Security training and had passed their Criminal Records Bureau checks. I would want confirmation that they were solvent and their staff were experienced at giving evidence in court. Do they have fraud capabilities and undertake corporate investigations? Do members of staff have ongoing training in the latest technologies and techniques? For that matter, does the firm regularly update its equipment?’

    The private investigation sector has learned to be wary of collecting ‘the best evidence in the world’, only to see it challenged in court and disallowed. ‘Twenty years ago, an investigator would knock on the door of a claimant and tell him he had won a TV set,’ Pizzala recalls.

    ‘But would the claimant please get it from the boot of the car. If he could carry a heavy TV set, then what price his claim that he had suffered a crippling back injury? Job done; except these days the investigator would be accused of getting the evidence through entrapment and it would be ruled inadmissible. All that time and money wasted.’

    Investigators must also be up to speed with the Human Rights Act and the Data Protection Act, because breaching either could similarly result in evidence being disallowed.

    The investigators

    The Gazette next hears from the investigators themselves. ‘There are some real sharks out there who can be totally convincing, but who will take your money without doing the job,’ says Gavin Robertson, a former Metropolitan Police detective superintendent and now a member of the Association of British Investigators (ABI). ‘They will obtain data illegally, which could rebound on the reputation of the law firm and its client, and cost you fines. They will also frequently provide information that is inadmissible as evidence in a court of law – and so waste your money if you paid them to get it.’

    That is not at all reassuring. So how does a solicitor avoid these pitfalls? ‘In the absence of the government at last making it compulsory for all private investigators to be licensed and registered, your best option is to hire an ABI member,’ Robertson replies. ‘The Law Society of England and Wales, and the Law Society of Scotland have both endorsed the ABI.’

    Robertson recalls that the Private Security Industry Act 2001 was intended to clean up the sector by licensing all civil security operatives, such as loss adjusters, door supervisors and private investigators. However, the government has still not fully implemented the act and private investigators can continue to offer their services unlicensed. He says the two law societies, ‘anxious to come up with adequate protection for lawyers’, examined the ABI and declared its members ‘fit and proper’ for the role.

    ‘ABI membership is a one-stop shop,’ says Robertson. ‘To become a member they have to undergo a criminal records bureau and financial probity check. They have to pass an entrance examination to prove their competence and have professional indemnity insurance. They are also regulated by the ABI code of practice and disciplinary code, which in turn are independently adjudicated by a solicitor appointed for the task.’

    And does the licensing, to mix metaphors, successfully weed out the sharks? ‘Yes,’ he replies. ‘Every year a number of firms are expelled from the ABI, usually because they have gone into liquidation, rather than because they’ve done something dishonest.’

    In addition to his ABI duties, Robertson runs Robertson & Co, a company he founded in 1998. This provides surveillance, claim validation, risk control and fraud investigations services to government departments, local authorities, the insurance and casino industries, and big business. The firm will soon open a new office in Leeds, ‘to be closer to our northern clients’, Robertson says. He adds: ‘99% of our clients are lawyers hiring our services on behalf of their own clients.’

    The Gazette had direct experience of Robertson & Co in December 2009, when it joined one of its surveillance teams on a job in a London suburb. The brief was to watch the house of a person making a personal injury claim for some tens of thousands of pounds. Was the claim fraudulent?

    The surveillance agent had customised her handbag to hold a concealed camera and explained some of the tricks of trailing someone without being spotted. She also told the Gazette about one claimant she had watched – or ‘eyeballed’ – being helped by his wife across the road and into the passenger seat of a car. The wife drove the car four miles down the road.

    The car stopped and she swapped seats with her husband, who later took a bicycle out of the boot and rode off on it. ‘I don’t understand why the insurance companies don’t just sue them for perjury and attempted fraud,’ she said.

    ‘Judge, jury and prosecutor’

    Not all private investigators are fans of the ABI. Tim Burchell, who founded UK Private Investigations (UKPI) in 1997, is a member of the International Association for Asset Recovery, but not the ABI. He explains: ‘The ABI is self-regulating and run by private investigators who want to be the judge, jury and prosecutor.’

    Like Robertson, he looks forward to the day the government makes licensing mandatory for all private investigators. ‘It will help weed out the charlatans,’ he says. ‘Hiring a private investigator can be a minefield. The work can be a quick money-earner for the unscrupulous, who take money upfront and don’t deliver the results. Fortunately, once the word gets out, many such agencies simply go out of business. I’ve known 10 to 15 of them vanish over the last 10 years.’

    UKPI has been trading for 17 years and now has agents worldwide. How does it manage to attract new business without the ABI accreditation? ‘Word of mouth references mostly,’ replies Burchell. ‘We also do mail shots, to solicitor firms mainly. Some of our customers come through the internet.’

    But how do the latter know that UKPI is not one of the charlatans? Burchell replies: ‘Because they’ve done their research. If you find an agency that’s been trading for 10 years, say, then it is likely to have been doing something right. You can also ask questions. Is the agency registered with the information commissioner? Does it have indemnity insurance? Does it give free quotes? Are there testimonials you can read? What security organisations is it affiliated to? Who are the agents? Are they former police officers or trained operatives?’

    Sherlock Holmes, despite his legendary powers of deduction, would be out of his depth with some of the tasks undertaken by 21st century private investigators. What does the 19th century Holmes know about computer forensics, for instance, or intellectual property theft, or the profiling, tracing and recovery of assets?

    These are all services offered by some firms, as is data sifting. None of them is remotely elementary, but then neither is hiring a private investigator.

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    by Ron

‘Heartbleed’ Bug Bypasses Web Encryption

  • April 11, 2014
  • A major new vulnerability called Heartbleed could let attackers gain access to users’ passwords and fool people into using bogus versions of Web sites. Some already say they’ve found Yahoo passwords as a result.

    The problem, disclosed on 8th April, is in open-source software called OpenSSL that’s widely used to encrypt Web communications. Heartbleed can reveal the contents of a server’s memory, where the most sensitive of data is stored. That includes private data such as usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers. It also means an attacker can get copies of a server’s digital keys then use that to impersonate servers or to decrypt communications from the past or potentially the future, too.

    Security vulnerabilities come and go, but this one is extremely serious.  Not only does it require significant change at Web sites, it could  require anybody who’s used them to change passwords too, because they  could have been intercepted. That’s a big problem as more and more of  people’s lives move online, with passwords recycled from one site to the  next and people not always going through the hassles of changing them.

    Yahoo said just after noon PT that it fixed the primary vulnerability on its main sites: “As soon as we  became aware of the issue, we began working to fix it. Our team has  successfully made the appropriate corrections across  the main Yahoo properties (Yahoo Homepage, Yahoo Search, Yahoo Mail,  Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Food, Yahoo Tech, Flickr, and Tumblr)  and we are working to implement the fix across the rest of our sites  right now. We’re focused on providing the most  secure experience possible for our users worldwide and are continuously  working to protect our users’ data.”

    OpenSSL is one implementation of the encryption technology variously called SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security). It’s what keeps prying eyes out of communications between a Web browser and Web server, but it’s also used in other online services such as email and instant messaging, Codenomicon said.  The bug afflicts version 1.0.1 and 1.0.2-beta releases of OpenSSL, server software that ships with many versions of Linux and is used in popular Web servers,  according to the OpenSSL project’s advisory on Monday night. OpenSSL has released version 1.0.1g to fix the bug, but many Web site operators will have to scramble to update the software. In addition, they’ll have to revoke security certificates that now might be compromised.

    Developer and cryptography consultant Filippo Valsorda published a tool that lets people check websites for Heartbleed vulnerability.  That tool showed Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, and several other major Web sites to be unaffected — but not Yahoo. Valsorda’s test uses Heartbleed to detect the words “yellow submarine” in a Web server’s memory after an interaction using those words.

    Should I Change My Password?

    Some security experts are saying that it would be prudent to do so although there is a degree of confusion as to when and if this needs to be done.

    Many of the large technology firms including Facebook and Google have patched the vulnerability.  Confusingly though Google spokeswoman Dorothy Chou specifically said: “Google users do not need to change their passwords.” A source at the firm told the BBC that it patched the vulnerability ahead of the exploit being made public and did not believe that it had been widely used by hackers.

    Some point out that there will be plenty of smaller sites that haven’t yet dealt with the issue and with these a password reset could do more harm than good, revealing both old and new passwords to any would-be attacker.  But now the bug is widely known even smaller sites will issue patches soon so most people should probably start thinking about resetting their passwords.

    “Some time over the next 48 hours would seem like sensible timing,” the University of Surrey’s computer scientist Prof Alan Woodward told the BBC.  Mikko Hypponen of security firm F-Secure issued similar advice: “Take care of the passwords that are very important to you. Maybe change them now, maybe change them in a week.  And if you are worried about your credit cards, check your credit card bills very closely.”

    See full articles at:

    Test websites for Heartbleed vulnerability at:






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    by Ron

Football Kit Man Sentenced for Making Fake One Direction Shirts

  • April 8, 2014
  • A football kit man ran a lucrative sideline flogging thousands of fake One Direction  hoodies and T-shirts online.

    Gary Simpson churned out the bogus boy band gear from the clubhouse at  Moorside Rangers, using the equipment intended for printing names and numbers on  strips.

    Simpson, 55, had no licence to use the pop stars’ branding, the Manchester Evening News reports but fans snapped up £16.99 items bearing crude copies of logos belonging to  the teen idols as well as Justin Bieber, JLS, The Wanted, Olly Murs and  Westlife.

    Simpson was spared jail after admitting eleven trademark offences over two  years.

    The court heard he was a ‘decent’ man who turned to counterfeiting as his  legitimate workwear business faltered, with debts piling up.

    He was caught red-handed after a representative of the firm which owns JLS’  copyright made a test purchase from Simpson’s eBay page, and found the hoodie he  received was counterfeit and poor quality.

    Salford trading standards started an investigation, leading to a raid in  February on his home in Walkden, Salford and his warehouse in nearby  Worsley.

    During the search, Simpson admitted he printed the fakes at the football  club’s ground in Swinton.

    Nicholas Courtney, prosecuting, said: “He would find the relevant logos on  the internet, download them, and send them to cutting machine at the football  club.

    “The counterfeit goods part of the business had been extremely busy – £15,000  in the three months prior to Christmas.

    “It seems clear, on any basis, the defendant was doing a substantial trade,  with profit measured in the tens of thousands.”

    Neil Usher, defending, said: “At the time, he had no idea how serious his  activities were. He foolishly assumed because others were selling them on eBay  there was nothing wrong with it.”

    Sentencing him to a 16-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, and 100  hours community work, Judge Lesley Newton said she took into account Simpson’s  ‘significant contribution’ to the football club, cooperation with the  investigation, and ‘genuine remorse’.

    She added if he were jailed, his creditors would go unpaid and his family  would ‘suffer severely’.


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    by Ron