Theranos CEO Indicted On Criminal Fraud Charges

Technology a fraud

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Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, speaks at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, Nov. 2, 2015. Federal prosecutors said Friday they have indicted Holmes on criminal fraud charges for allegedly defrauding investors, doctors and patients.
Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, speaks at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, Nov. 2, 2015. Federal prosecutors said Friday they have indicted Holmes on criminal fraud charges for allegedly defrauding investors, doctors and patients. VOA

Federal prosecutors have indicted Elizabeth Holmes on criminal fraud charges for allegedly defrauding investors, doctors and the public as the head of the once-heralded blood-testing startup Theranos. Federal prosecutors also brought charges against the company’s former second-in-command.

Holmes, who was once considered a wunderkind of Silicon Valley, and her former Chief Operating Officer Ramesh Balwani, are charged with two counts conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California said late Friday. If convicted, they could face prison sentences that would keep them behind bars for the rest of their lives, and total fines of $2.75 million each.

Technology a fraud

Prosecutors allege that Holmes and Balwani deliberately misled investors, policymakers and the public about the accuracy of Theranos’ blood-testing technologies. Holmes, 34, founded Theranos in Palo Alto, California, in 2003, pitching its technology as a cheaper way to run dozens of blood tests. Once considered the nation’s youngest female billionaire, Holmes said she was inspired to start the company in response to her fear of needles.

But an investigation by The Wall Street Journal two years ago found that Theranos’ technology was a fraud, and that the company was using routine blood-testing equipment for the vast majority of its tests. The story raised concerns about the accuracy of Theranos’ blood testing technology, which put patients at risk of having conditions either misdiagnosed or ignored.

“CEO Elizabeth Holmes and COO Sunny Balwani not only defrauded investors, but also consumers who trusted and relied upon their allegedly-revolutionary blood-testing technology,” Acting U.S. Attorney Alex Tse said in a statement.

Elizabeth Holmes
Elizabeth Holmes, flickr

SEC charges

The Securities and Exchange Commission brought civil fraud charges against Holmes and Balwani three months ago. Holmes settled with the SEC, agreeing to pay $500,000 in fines and penalties. Balwani, 53, is fighting the charges.

As the charges were announced Friday, Theranos said Holmes would step down as CEO of the company and its general counsel, David Taylor, would become the company’s next CEO. Theranos laid off most of its staff earlier this year and is widely expected to file for bankruptcy. Holmes remains the company’s chairman.

Also read:Two Indian-Americans among Forbes America 50 successful women

The company did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Friday’s indictments. (VOA)

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Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic, Cybercriminals Lure Verified Facebook, Instagram Users With $1,500 per week in Disguise of Spreading Awareness

Facebook and Instagram have banned ads and commerce listings selling medical face masks on their platforms to stop people from exploiting the coronavirus emergency

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Facebook
Facebook said it also removed more than 2.5 million pieces of content. Pixabay

Cybercriminals are luring verified Facebook and Instagram users in disguise of spreading awareness about novel coronavirus (COVID-19), offering them $1,500 per week via a global email fraud.

IANS got access to such emails shared by verified Facebook users, that came from ‘health organisations’, offering money to advertise their awareness content on coronavirus on their verified handles on social media platforms like Facebook.

“World Health Organisation (WHO) is fighting against CORONA VIRUS. We want you help us through social media. We are willing to do advertisements on your Facebook page,for awareness peoples and save humans lives,” read an email that came from some obscure health organization.

The sender approached the verified Facebook user with conditions such as publishing 1 content per day, “we will pay you $1500 per week,” payment terms like PayPal, Western Union, payoneer, or any other way you can ask us”.

Terms and condition included Facebook verification to join website and add page to publish contents. “Assign any admin in publishing tool who can publish our contents every day for 4 weeks but you can stop any time you want,” said the sender.

According to Manan Shah, Founder and CEO of Mumbai-based Avalance Global Solutions, this is an ongoing email scam and several verified Facebook users are falling for it. “I think Facebook and Instagram, apart from temporarily banning face mask commerce listings and ads related to coronavirus, must also address this email fraud that is happening in the disguise of WHO to spread awareness,” Shah told IANS.

Facebook and Instagram have banned ads and commerce listings selling medical face masks on their platforms to stop people from exploiting the coronavirus emergency.

Facebook said that coronavirus-related searches on its platform would be greeted with an automatic pop-up featuring information from the WHO.

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Cybercriminals are luring verified Facebook and Instagram users in disguise of spreading awareness about novel coronavirus (COVID-19), offering them $1,500 per week via a global email fraud. Pixabay

The company said it will no longer allow people to search for COVID-19 related AR effects on Instagram, unless they were developed in partnership with a recognized health organization. According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook is focused on stopping hoaxes and harmful misinformation.

“We’re removing false claims and conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations. We’re also blocking people from running ads that try to exploit the situation — for example, claiming that their product can cure the disease,” he said in a post last week.

ALSO READ: COVID-19 Has Caused a “Natural State of Disaster”: South Africa

According to Shah, Facebook can reach out to verified account holders, warning them not to fall for such email fraud. (IANS)

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Facebook Files Lawsuit Against “Namecheap” Over Domain Name Fraud

The domain names like www-facebook-login.com and facebook-mails.com were designed to mislead and confuse the users who believe they're interacting with Facebook

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According to Facebook, they has already sent multiple notices to Whoisguard between October 2018 and February 2020, asking them to share information about the domains. Despite those requests, the company did not cooperate. Pixabay

Social media giant Facebook has filed a lawsuit in Arizona against a domain registrar company Namecheap and its proxy service, Whoisguard over domain name fraud.

According to Facebook, they has already sent multiple notices to Whoisguard between October 2018 and February 2020, asking them to share information about the domains. Despite those requests, the company did not cooperate.

“We found that Namecheap’s proxy service, Whoisguard, registered or used 45 domain names that impersonated Facebook and our services, such as instagrambusinesshelp.com, facebo0k-login.com and whatsappdownload.site,” the company said in a statement recently.

Facebook states that it has taken a legal action in order to protect people from falling prey to phishing and scams.

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Social media giant Facebook has filed a lawsuit in Arizona against a domain registrar company Namecheap and its proxy service, Whoisguard over domain name fraud. Pixabay

This is not the first time Facebook has sued for this kind of practice. Back in October last year, the company filed a lawsuit against domain name registrar OnlineNIC for registering domain names or web addresses that pretended to be affiliated with the social networking giant.

ALSO READ: Here’s How the Song “Kitna Chanda Jeb Mei Aaya” Talks About the Corruption Done by AAP

The domain names like www-facebook-login.com and facebook-mails.com were designed to mislead and confuse the users who believe they’re interacting with Facebook. (IANS)

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Cyber Criminals to Target Online Payment Processing Systems in 2020: Kaspersky

Cybercrime: Online payment systems to be prime targets in 2020

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More cybercriminal groups will target online payment processing systems in 2020, researchers from global cybersecurity have warned. Pixabay

More cybercriminal groups will target online payment processing systems in 2020, researchers from global cybersecurity and anti-virus brand Kaspersky have warned.

Over the past couple of years, so-called JS-skimming (the method of stealing of payment card data from online stores), has gained immense popularity among attackers.

Kaspersky researchers in their latest report said they are currently aware of at least 10 different actors involved in these type of attacks.

Their number will continue to grow during the next year, the report said, adding that the most dangerous attacks will be on companies that provide services such as e-commerce as-a-service, which will lead to the compromise of thousands of companies.

“This year has been one of many important developments. Just as we predicted at the end of 2018, it has seen the emergence of new cybercriminal groups, like CopyPaste, a new geography of attacks by Silence group, cybercriminals shifting their focus onto data that helps to bypass antifraud systems in their attacks,” Yuriy Namestnikov, Security Researcher at Kaspersky, said in a statement.

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Cyber criminals will target online payment which will affect e-commerce. Pixabay

“Behavioural and biometrics data is on sale on the underground market. Additionally, we expected JS-skimmer base attacks to increase and they did. With 2020 on the horizon, we recommend security teams in potentially affected areas of the finance industry to gear up for new challenges,” Namestnikov said.

In addition, cybercriminals will also target mobile investments apps which have become more popular among users around the globe, according to the predictions from Kaspersky on the expected development of the threat landscape in the financial sector.

Not all of these apps utilize best security practices, like multi-factor authentication or protection of the app connection, which may give cybercriminals a potential way to target users of such applications

Kaspersky research and monitoring of underground forums suggests that the source code of some popular mobile banking Trojans was actually leaked into the public domain.

Previous similar cases of malware source code leakage (like Zeus, SpyEye) resulted in an increased number of new variations of these Trojans. In 2020, this pattern may repeat, the researchers warned.

They said tyhat they expect an increase in the activity of groups specialised in criminal-to-criminal sale of network access to banks in the African and Asian regions, as well as in Eastern Europe.

Also Read- Immediate Health Aid by WHO Protects Vulnerable Population from Health Threats

Their prime targets are small banks, as well as financial organizations recently bought by big players who are rebuilding their cybersecurity system in accordance with the standards of their parent companies.

Besides, it is expected that the same banks may become victims of targeted ransomware attacks, as banks are among those organisations that are more likely to pay a ransom than accept the loss of data. (IANS)