Categories
Canada

Help for pyrrhotite victims

The Société d’habitation du Québec has implemented two new assistance measures to financially support building owners wishing to test for pyrrhotite.

• Read also: The lawyer who defeated Goliath and won the pyrrhotite case

• Read also: Pyrrhotite victims receive $ 210 million

This mineral species produces sulfuric acid on contact with air and moisture, causing cracks in the concrete foundations of buildings.

Government financial assistance may reach $ 1,200 per expert report. Two tests may sometimes be necessary, first to identify the presence of the contaminant, and then to determine the pyrrhotite content of the concrete.

About 3,300 homeowners could benefit from this measure launched Friday by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Andrée Laforest, and the MP responsible for the file, Simon Allaire.

A letter of compliance will be sent to the owners of buildings showing a pyrrhotite level below 0.23%, the minor danger threshold established by the government.

Categories
Canada

Sexual Assault: Police Search for Victims of Dating Site User

Laval police are searching for potential victims of a man who allegedly sexually assaulted a woman he initially knew through an online dating site.

Suspect Tarek Hammoud, 29, was arrested on December 3 and appeared the next day on several counts, including sexual assault and assault.

Police said the individual was using the pseudonym Lucas 29, Laval Quebec on the Badoo platform. After making contact with the victim, they arranged to meet.

“During their meeting, he would have invited her to board his vehicle where he would have sexually assaulted her,” said spokesperson Stéphanie Beshara of the Laval Police Department.

As the investigators have reason to believe that the accused could have made other victims, they ask any person who would have been victim of this man to file an official complaint on the Line-Info 450-662-INFO (4636) or dial 911, mentioning file LVL-201027-008.

Note that after his appearance, Tarek Hammoud was released with conditions to be met and his return to court is scheduled for March 18.

Categories
Canada

Bad times for the alleged victims

Harold LeBel says he has nothing to be ashamed of. Gilbert Rozon was acquitted. And that’s when we’ll know what will happen to Eric Salvail. Yes, it’s a bad time for the alleged victims.

It’s ironic that the ex-humor mogul received his not guilty verdict on the same day the transpartisan committee submitted its report. In it, 190 bold recommendations. One of the most important is to set up ASAP a court dedicated to domestic violence and sexual assault cases.

Go!

I hope the Legault government will be as daring when the time comes to act on what is being suggested.

On my show, Simon Jolin-Barrette was open to the creation of this special tribunal, but was awaiting the conclusions of the report. Well, there it is. It is deposited. What’s next, Minister?

Do not give up

If there is one thing to remember from Annick Charette’s testimony, who accused Rozon, it is that we must stand up and continue to file a complaint.

The acquittals of Gilbert Rozon, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Jian Ghomeshi must not become the symbol of the failure of the #MeToo movement.

If we let ourselves be muzzled, if we abandon traditional justice in favor of popular justice, the aggressors win. Justice Hébert made it clear: believing the victim at all costs as #MeToo suggests has no place in criminal law.

The justice system must therefore face its own pitfalls if things are to evolve. And for that, people have to file a complaint.

Will 2021 be a year of change? Will the burden of proof cease to rest entirely on the backs of the alleged victims? Will we stop trying to invalidate their testimonies? I want to believe it. But let me have a reasonable doubt.

Categories
Headline USA

“Twitter” Killer Sentenced to Death for Dismembering Nine Victims in Japan | The State

The murderer strangled and dismembered his victims.

Photo:
niekverlaan / Pixabay

The call “Twitter killer” was sentenced to the death penalty this Tuesday in Japan for strangling and dismembering nine people in that country.

Today’s report from the BBC network indicates that Takahiro shiraishi was sentenced to die after being found guilty of murdering eight women and a man between August and October 2017. The convicted man had contacted his victims through the social network.

The case has caused great commotion in Japan to the point that more than 400 people went to court to witness the verdict, despite the fact that the venue only has 16 seats available for the public.

Shiraishi was arrested in 2017 after human remains were found in his apartment.

The 30-year-old admitted to murdering and dismembering his victims, almost all young women.

Manipulated suicidal women

According to what emerged in the trial, Shiraishi used Twitter to draw the attention of women with suicidal tendencies and tell them that he would help them die.

The murderer, who invited them to his home, in some cases assured the victims that he would commit suicide with them.

The victims were between 15 and 26 years old, according to local media information cited by the British network.

Dismembered human remains in his apartment

The serial killings became public in October 2017 when police found body parts in Shiraishi’s apartment in the Japanese city of Zama, near Tokyo.

The media called the house the “house of horrors” after investigators discovered nine heads along with arm and leg bones hidden in coolers and tool boxes.

Lawyers tried to save him, but he challenged them

Prosecutors requested the death penalty for Shiraishi.

Although the criminal admitted to killing and dismembering the nine people, the lawyers tried to prove that he was guilty of a lesser charge of “murder with consent”, since the victims had allegedly given him permission to kill them.

Subsequently, the defendant questioned the version of his own legal team to indicate that he committed the murders without any consent.

This Tuesday, the judge who issued the verdict determined that none of the victims agreed to be killed.

.

Categories
Entertainment USA

Grey’s Anatomy honors COVID-19 patients with a powerful tribute to the victims of coronavirus

Grey’s Anatomy honored the lives of victims and those affected by the coronavirus on Thursday’s episode.

After Chandra Wilson’s character Miranda Bailey lost her mother to the deadly virus, Bailey recited a list of patients who had also died from COVID-19.

Once the eye-opening scene was over, viewers of the medical drama watched while hundreds of names were listed on the screen. 

Tough: Grey’s Anatomy honored the lives of victims and those affected by the coronavirus on Thursday’s episode

Bailey’s mother suffered from Alzheimer’s and was admitted to the hospital as her body began breaking down due to complications from COVID. 

The staff at Seattle Grace Hospital have been inundated with COVID-19 patients, a similar scene to what medical workers around the world are dealing with as cases of the virus continue to rise. 

‘She’s decompensating, she barely knows who I am and I want to be there for her,’  Bailey told Richard Webber. ‘I want her husband to be there for her. She deserves to be surrounded by love and family. But dad’s in quarantine. He’s high risk. I don’t want him to expose anyone and I don’t want him to be exposed.’ 

‘I know this is not what you imagined for your mother and I’m sorry about that,’ Webber said. ‘She needs you now. It’s time. If you don’t go in, I promise you will never forgive yourself.’ 

'I know this is not what you imagined for your mother and I'm sorry about that,' Webber said. 'She needs you now. It's time. If you don't go in, I promise you will never forgive yourself'

‘I know this is not what you imagined for your mother and I’m sorry about that,’ Webber said. ‘She needs you now. It’s time. If you don’t go in, I promise you will never forgive yourself’

'Even in their deaths, they are not faceless. They are not nameless. They are more than statistics, more than co-morbid conditions or nursing home patients,' she said

‘Even in their deaths, they are not faceless. They are not nameless. They are more than statistics, more than co-morbid conditions or nursing home patients,’ she said

‘Patients lose their power when they’re referred to as ‘Bed No. 4,’ or ‘Arm pain guy,” Bailey said in the powerful voiceover at the end of the episode. ‘Even in their deaths, they are not faceless. They are not nameless. They are more than statistics, more than co-morbid conditions or nursing home patients. 

‘They are sons, brothers and uncles who speak five languages and run restaurants: Wade Klein, 66. They are great grandfathers who love Broadway: Jacob Lappin, 92. They are baseball-loving nurses with an easy laugh: Dane Wilson, 45. They are the world’s greatest mothers and they are the most beloved wives: Elena Rose Bailey, 84.’  

Zoanne Clark, the writer of Thursday’s episode, revealed the inspiration behind the final voiceover was ‘multifactorial.’

Brutal: The staff at Seattle Grace Hospital have been inundated with COVID-19 patients, a similar scene to what medical workers around the world are dealing with as cases of the virus continue to rise

Brutal: The staff at Seattle Grace Hospital have been inundated with COVID-19 patients, a similar scene to what medical workers around the world are dealing with as cases of the virus continue to rise

On the mend: Ellen Pompeo's character, Meredith Grey, endured a battle with COVID-19 on season 17

On the mend: Ellen Pompeo’s character, Meredith Grey, endured a battle with COVID-19 on season 17

‘When my mom contracted and almost died of COVID, I was so mad that she might go down in history as one of the nameless, faceless ramifications of this disease,’ she said. ‘I was seeing how it was disproportionately affecting Black Americans, older Americans, and people who lived in assisted living. My mom was all of those. 

‘But she was also a teacher who has influenced many successful lives and she has an infectious laugh. That was the story I wanted people to remember, not that she was a victim of a pandemic.’ 

On one of Clark’s medical websites called Medscape, she created an online memorial to honor those who have lost their lives due to the coronavirus: In Memoriam, Health Care Workers Who Have Died of Covid-19.’

‘People from all over the world can submit names of colleagues, friends, and family members,’ she said. ‘As of July 1, the list included more than 1800 names from 64 countries ranging in age from 20 to 99. The last update was Dec. 3 so no telling how many names are on it now.’ 

'Patients lose their power when they're referred to as 'Bed No. 4,' or 'Arm pain guy,'' Bailey said in the powerful voiceover at the end of the episode. 'Even in their deaths, they are not faceless. They are not nameless. They are more than statistics, more than co-morbid conditions or nursing home patients.

‘Patients lose their power when they’re referred to as ‘Bed No. 4,’ or ‘Arm pain guy,” Bailey said in the powerful voiceover at the end of the episode. ‘Even in their deaths, they are not faceless. They are not nameless. They are more than statistics, more than co-morbid conditions or nursing home patients.

Categories
Headline USA New York North Carolina

Bernie Madoff’s victims to receive another $488 million payout from recovered funds 80% their losses

Bernie Madoff’s victims to receive another $488million payout from recovered funds meaning they have now recovered 80% of their $17.5billion losses

  • Department of Justice has begun paying out approximately $488 million to help individuals, schools, charities, pension plans and others recoup their losses
  • Irving Picard, the trustee liquidating Madoff Investment Securities LLC, said he will seek court approval next month distribute an additional $190.8 million
  • Following the payouts, the government will have sent close to $3.2 billion to nearly 37,000 victims from a $4.05 billion fund set up in 2013
  • Picard will have sent $14.1 billion to Madoff customers he has estimated lost $17.5 billion – just over 80% of their original investment
  • Madoff, 82, was arrested in December 2008 after admitting his fraud to his sons
  • He later pleaded guilty to 11 criminal counts and was sentenced in June 2009 to 150 years in prison by Circuit Judge Denny Chin
  • In June, Chin rejected Madoff’s request to be released early from prison because he was dying of kidney failure saying he did not deserve compassionate release 

The victims of Bernie Madoff are to receive their share of another $488 million in recovered funds. 

The Department of Justice said the cash will go to almost 37,000 victims around the world according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.

It is the sixth Madoff Victim Fund payout, bringing the total amount distributed to almost $3.6 billion from a $4.05 billion fund set up in 2013.

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The victims of Bernie Madoff are to receive their share of another $488 million in recovered funds. The former financier is pictured here leaving court in 2009

Attorney Irving Picard who has been working diligently to recover the monies will have sent $14.1 billion to Madoff customers who he estimated lost around $17.5 billion.  

It means the scammer’s victims will have recouped just over 80% of their total losses. 

The collapse of the Ponzi scheme left many investors severely damaged financially because they were told their investments had grown much larger than what they started with. 

Irving Picard, the trustee liquidating Madoff Investment Securities LLC, said he will seek court approval next month distribute an additional $190.8 million

Irving Picard, the trustee liquidating Madoff Investment Securities LLC, said he will seek court approval next month distribute an additional $190.8 million 

‘This is an extraordinary level of recovery for a Ponzi scheme — but our work is not yet finished, and the office’s tireless commitment to compensating the victims who suffered as a result of Madoff’s heinous crimes continues,’ said Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss in a statement.

It was March 2009 when Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 felonies. He admitted to turning his wealth management business into an enormous $65 billion fraud that ripped off his friends and family.

Madoff, now 82, was sentenced to 150 years in prison for running the largest Ponzi scheme in history. 

His bid to be released early on grounds that he is dying was rejected this year. Thousands of investors lost billions of dollars through his multi-decade fraud. 

His lawyers say he has advanced kidney disease and only 18 months to live but a federal judge denied his motion for compassionate release.

Judge Denny Chin ruled that when he set the prison sentence in 2009, he intended Madoff to die in jail and that nothing had happened in the last eleven years to change his mind. 

Chin, who now sits on the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, noted the continuing suffering of Madoff’s thousands of victims after the fraudulent scheme, which deceived them into thinking their money was invested properly, was exposed in December 2008.

Madoff is being held at Butner Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, North Carolina

Madoff is being held at Butner Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, North Carolina

‘I also believe that Mr. Madoff was never truly remorseful, and that he was only sorry that his life as he knew it was collapsing around him. Even at the end, he was trying to send more millions of his ill-gotten gains to family members, friends, and certain employees,’ Chin wrote.

Bernie Madoff, 82, was sentenced to 150 years behind bars in 2009 by Judge Denny Chin for a decades-long scheme that scammed thousands of people of $17.5billion

Bernie Madoff, 82, was sentenced to 150 years behind bars in 2009 by Judge Denny Chin for a decades-long scheme that scammed thousands of people of $17.5billion

The judge said he’d reviewed public statements made by Madoff and found they ‘show that he has never fully accepted responsibility for his actions and that he even faults his victims.’

Madoff’s fraud ensnared hedge funds, non-profit groups and celebrities, and devastated the life savings of thousands.

He admitted the Ponzi scheme began in the early 1990s in response to a recession and that he concocted the scam to meet the lofty expectations of his exclusive clients. 

He solicited billions from customers around the world under the pretense that it was being invested in securities.

In reality, he was simply depositing the money straight into a number of bank accounts. 

The Madoff scheme was revealed during the financial crisis in 2008 when he was unable to satisfy growing client demands to withdraw their investments.

Such was the extent of the scheme it was turned into a movie, The Wizard of Lies, with Michelle Pfeiffer playing Ruth and Robert De Niro as Bernard.   

Categories
Headlines UK London

Banks will still refund victims of fraud

A vital refund scheme for scam victims that had faced the axe this month will be extended until June next year, Money Mail can exclusively reveal.

High Street banks have pledged to continue to refund customers conned into transferring money to fraudsters — but it is thought the refund scheme will not be extended after the six months is up.

What’s more, victims still face losing thousands of pounds because some banks are refusing to play fair.

High Street banks have pledged to continue to refund customers conned into transferring money to fraudsters — but it is thought the refund scheme will end after six months

The refund scheme was supposed to put an end to the devastating cost of bank scams, with £207.8 million lost in the first six months of this year alone.

Yet figures expose how one unnamed bank is failing to fully refund customers in 99 per cent of cases. Another is reimbursing just 3 per cent of its customers.

Other banks, including Virgin Money and Monzo, have refused to sign up to the refund scheme altogether.

Separate Money Mail research reveals that Barclays was responsible for the largest number of complaints about fraud to the Financial Ombudsman.

Victims denied refunds by the bank lodged almost 3,000 complaints between June 1, 2019 and November 30, 2020 — more than half (52 per cent) of which were upheld by the Ombudsman.

NatWest had the highest rate of upheld cases, at 70 per cent, meaning the bank was least likely to have treated its customers fairly first time around.

Watchdog, the Lending Standards Board, which oversees the refund scheme, will soon reveal the results of its probe into the effectiveness of banks’ scam warnings.

It is also expected to address concerns about a lack of consistency in the way banks treat victims, with a full review expected early next year.

Britain is facing a fraud epidemic, with victims losing more than £4.1 million a day as scammers cash in on the coronavirus crisis.

Action Fraud, part of the City of London Police, has received more than 283,000 fraud reports since the start of the year, with losses totalling £1.3 billion up to November.

Cases spiked in June and July, as fraudsters exploited the pandemic, resulting in the theft of £467.3 million combined — 221 per cent more than in April and May. And the true figure is thought to be much higher as only about 15 per cent of victims are believed to come forward to report their losses.

‘We lost £9,000 to investment fraud’

Gaye kyle (pictured with partner Colin Jones) lost £9,000 after a website promised to help the retired palliative care nurse find a top fixed-rate bond

Gaye kyle (pictured with partner Colin Jones) lost £9,000 after a website promised to help the retired palliative care nurse find a top fixed-rate bond

Gaye kyle lost £9,000 after a website called compareinvestmentgroup.co.uk promised to help the retired palliative care nurse find a top fixed-rate bond.

Gaye, 72, received a call from a man posing as a broker, who recommended a six-year bond with Morgan Stanley paying 4.1 per cent.

The next day, he called again and said he could offer her a bond paying 7.1 per cent. 

He gave Gaye, who lives in Oxfordshire with partner Colin Jones, 77 (both pictured), the number of a man who falsely claimed to be called Kristian Heugh from Morgan Stanley.

She agreed to transfer the money having checked there was a man by that name at the bank.

But Gaye later grew suspicious and rang her bank, NatWest — which refunded her after being contacted by Money Mail. Compare Investment Group did not respond to a request for comment.

In cases where crooks have stolen customers’ credit or debt card details, or set up a bogus direct debit, banks are obliged by law to refund the victim.

But soaring numbers are falling foul of so-called push payment scams, where criminals trick victims into handing over cash via bank transfer.

In some cases, fraudsters pose as trusted professionals such as banks, the police and even HMRC. Others trick online shoppers into buying goods that don’t exist or convince them to plough money into bogus investments.

In the first six months of this year, customers lost a record £207.8 million to this type of fraud — of which just £73.1 million was repaid by banks, according to banking trade body UK Finance.

Money Mail launched its Stop the Bank Scammers campaign more than two years ago to prevent blameless victims being left out of pocket.

In May 2019 we welcomed a voluntary code of conduct, which set out how customers should be treated.

This included a pledge to fully reimburse blameless victims.

Most major providers have signed up, including Co-operative Bank, Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC, Metro Bank, Nationwide, NatWest, Santander and Starling.

TSB launched its own guarantee to refund innocent fraud victims, all of whom it says have been repaid since introducing the pledge in April last year.

The banks which signed up to the industry code of conduct pay into a central pot that is used to refund customers where neither they nor the bank is to blame. The scheme has been extended several times and was due to end on December 31.

‘Poor savings rates led me to £10k con’

Retired nurse Alison Wall, 65, lost £10,000 after a firm she found online called Emerging Bonds offered a one-year bond paying 4 per cent.

She had been searching for the best place to put her money after despairing about pitiful High Street bank interest rates.

Alison was directed to a website which appeared to show the firm was authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Alison transferred £10,018 to a Barclays account — but after friends raised concerns, she called her building society, Nationwide, for help.The Emerging Bonds site has since been taken down and a contact number no longer works. The FCA has confirmed the firm was never registered with it.

Nationwide told Alison last month she would not be eligible for a refund. A spokesman says she ignored an online scam warning on its page.

‘Being duped by fake email cost me £8,641’

Steven Elliott, from Cheshire, was tricked into paying £8,641 to scammers posing as his boss.

The aviation centre finance director (pictured) received an email in April from crooks posing as the company’s chief executive.

They had set up a fake email address and told him to make payments to two accounts.

This didn’t seem odd to Steven, 66, as he regularly made such transfers and the company was buying office equipment.

Only later did he notice the requests had come from an email address he didn’t recognise.

He contacted the company’s bank, Revolut, and the two banks that had received the funds, but still doesn’t know where the money went.

A Revolut spokesman says: ‘We are investigating this urgently.’

Experts had feared victims could be left high and dry in the New Year after it emerged banks were in secret talks to water down their refund promise.

The High Street giants had discussed plans to stop paying out for purchase scams — where online shoppers are tricked into buying goods that don’t exist.

They had also proposed stricter rules to force investment scam victims to take more responsibility for losses.

Reports of investment scams have soared this year after rock-bottom interest rates led desperate savers to take bigger risks than they would usually have done.

They are typically lured in by attractive rates offered by firms which have set up copycat websites that mimic legitimate firms, or targeted by smooth-talking cold-callers.

In the first half of this year, victims lost £55.2 million to investment scams, according to UK Finance — a 27 per cent jump on the same period last year.

But because losses often run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, experts say some banks are reluctant to continue covering this type of fraud.

However, Money Mail understands that banks have now committed to paying in until at least June next year, with a formal announcement from banking trade body UK Finance expected today.

This is good news for fraud victims, but it is clear the code of conduct is not working for all. The Payment Systems Regulator warns that the scheme is resulting in ‘inconsistent and poor outcomes for consumers’.

Its figures show that victims are being reimbursed under the code in just 40 per cent of cases. And when they do pay out, they rarely refund customers in full.

Banks refuse to disclose what proportion of customers get a full refund. But anonymous data shows it is as low as 1 per cent at one bank.

Experts say banks must be forced to reveal their reimbursement rates.

Gareth Shaw, head of money at lobby group Which?, says: ‘The regulator needs to step in. The code should be replaced with a mandatory scheme for all banks and payment providers, and clearer standards are needed to bring an end to the refund lottery that consumers currently face.

‘Banks should also regularly publish their reimbursement figures so consumers have a better idea of how a firm may treat them if they fall victim to a scam.’

At present, victims face uncertainty over refunds with some banks taking a more sympathetic approach than others.

The DIY Scam guides on sale for £5

How-to scam guides are being sold on popular social media sites including Facebook and Twitter.

They teach would-be fraudsters how to use stolen credit cards to buy goods from online retailers such as Amazon and eBay without getting caught.

Others offer instructions on how to hack into laptops.

Money Mail understands the booklets have been available on the dark web, a hidden part of the internet popular with cybercriminals, for years. However, they have begun to be traded on popular social media sites recently.

Experts believe the increased activity is because more young people have been out of work in the pandemic and are therefore more susceptible to promises of quick and easy cash.

One young woman offered Money Mail a copy of a scam guide for $45 (£34) via Facebook.

Other members of the Facebook group claim to be selling stolen details including credit card numbers and PayPal logins.

In another group, the guide was being sold for $25 (£19). A user on eBay was selling one for £14.99, and on Twitter they go for as little as $5 (less than £4).

The guides are also being sold on YouTube with the claim of being for ‘educational purposes’. One user described one of these as being ‘informational heaven’.

Cyber security expert Jake Moore, from antivirus firm ESET, says: ‘We are seeing dark web material brought onto social media for everyday people.

‘Fraud promises high rewards. With these guides being so easily available, people could be enticed into breaking the law and getting a criminal record.’

A Facebook spokesman says: ‘There’s no place for fraudulent activity and we have removed the pages and accounts brought to our attention. We continue to invest in people and technology to enforce our policies, and we urge people to report any suspicious activity to us.’

Twitter suspended the accounts after Money Mail brought them to its attention. A spokesman says: ‘Where we identify violations of our rules, we take robust enforcement action.’

YouTube says it removes footage that violates its policies and has now taken down the videos flagged by us.

An eBay spokesman says: ‘Encouraging or enabling illegal activity is prohibited. Any listings found to be against our policy will be removed.’

Many providers are refusing to pay out if customers ignored generic warnings that pop up online or are read over the phone.

But scams have become sophisticated in recent years, with fraudsters skilled at talking their way around such warnings.

And because each bank has its own rules, Money Mail often hears from victims refunded by one bank but not by another.

The Financial Ombudsman has also reported that many customers are wrongly told that they can not have their money back.

Sadly, the elderly and vulnerable are most at risk of being conned. And people with mental health problems are three times more likely to fall victim to an online scam, according to charity the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute.

Yet banks argue it is not fair that they are left to foot the entire compensation bill and argue other industries should contribute to the pot.

They have often pointed the finger at tech giants such as Google, which advertise investment scams, and companies which fail to protect their customers’ data from online fraudsters.

Banks also suggested funding the compensation pot by adding a 2.9p levy to all bank transfers over £30 — but the proposal was spiked last year after disagreements among big banks and smaller digital providers.

However, consumer experts insist the banks should pay as they run the electronic payments systems exploited by the crooks. Also, customers are being forced online by bank branch closures and the loss of ATMs.

UK Finance is calling for the Government to step in with legislation, as a voluntary code does not go far enough.

A spokesman says: ‘We recognise the voluntary code is not always delivering consistent outcomes for customers. That is why UK Finance is backing calls for legislation to address issues of liability and reimbursement and deliver certainty both for customers and firms.

‘This should be combined with a stronger regulatory framework to ensure online platforms and other sectors play their part in tackling fraud.’

But campaigners say banks must continue to pay until a longer-term solution is agreed.

Mr Shaw says: ‘These measures would serve as an incentive to tighten up the security systems banks have in place and ensure more is done to stop scams from happening in the first place.’

A Payment Systems Regulator spokesman says: ‘We continue to monitor the outcomes the code is delivering. We are also exploring what further actions we could take to improve scam prevention and consumer protection for those who do fall victim.’

Barclays and NatWest say some of the Financial Ombudsman complaints could be linked to historic cases. Barclays adds some could also refer to fraud where the code of conduct does not apply.

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Categories
Headlines UK London

Scotland Yard officers who joked about raping victims of crime are spared the sack

Scotland Yard officers who joked about raping victims of crime are spared the sack and let off with written warnings

  • The Mail obtained the contents of a phone belonging to PC Edward Bengree
  • Discussions showed officers joking about raping victims of crime
  • But the Metropolitan Police decided that he and his colleagues should not be sacked

A group of Scotland Yard officers who joked about raping crime victims and exchanged racist, homophobic and misogynistic messages have been allowed to keep their jobs.

Nearly three years after the Daily Mail revealed the vile messages, five officers have been let off with written warnings for misconduct.

The scandal was exposed after the Mail obtained the disturbing contents of a phone belonging to an award-winning firearms officer, PC Edward Bengree.

It revealed discussions between officers about demanding oral sex from a ‘hot s*** victim of crime’ in exchange for filing a crime report on the woman’s ordeal.

The 38-year-old armed officer who worked at Heathrow was found to have secretly recorded suspects while they were in custody and in the back of a police car.

PC Bengree, pictured, also ‘endeavoured to develop an inappropriate relationship with a vulnerable female victim of crime’ and accessed confidential information about her in order to pursue her.

PC Bengree, pictured, also ‘endeavoured to develop an inappropriate relationship with a vulnerable female victim of crime’

The officer was once hailed by former Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey as a ‘fantastic example of the values we hold dear within the Metropolitan Police Service’ after he received a bravery award for saving the life of a boy who had stopped breathing.

But last Thursday he was found by a police disciplinary panel to have committed gross misconduct. However, astonishingly, the Metropolitan Police decided that he and his colleagues – Detective Constable John Taylor, from Specialist Crime; PC Christopher Davey, from the Aviation Policing Command; and PC Matthew Hewett and PC David Donovan, from the South West Basic Command Unit – should not be sacked.

The three-day misconduct hearing panel concluded that PC Bengree, PC Hewett and PC Donovan should receive final written warnings for gross misconduct. PC Davey and DC Taylor were issued with written warnings for misconduct.

The officers were involved in exchanging racist messages, degrading slurs about female victims of crime and offensive comments about homosexuals and disabled people. PC Bengree and DC Taylor discussed getting victims of crime into the back of a police van and sexually assaulting them.

DC Taylor wrote: ‘Bring on our next night duty in the van. Victim. Hot. I get to choose.’

In other messages the pair chatted about DC Taylor having sex with a stripper who had been arrested two months earlier.

Investigators found scores of racist messages on PC Bengree’s phone in conversations with fellow officers and friends in which black people were referred to ‘w***’. PC Hewett joked with his father: ‘How many Metropolitan police officers does it take to push a black man down the stairs?… None, he fell.’ During the London riots in 2011, PC Bengree said he was ‘so upset’ he was not there after his brother said: ‘It’s pretty much “feel free to hit [rioters] with batons” time.’

Bengree was an armed officer instated at Heathrow Airport to protect members of the public

Bengree was an armed officer instated at Heathrow Airport to protect members of the public

The messages, sent between 2009 and 2011, were only uncovered due to a mix-up in an unrelated court case, when the contents of PC Bengree’s phone were handed over to lawyers by mistake.

In a disclosure blunder, prosecutors accidentally gave the material to lawyers acting for a Surrey businessman in a case that has since collapsed. The contents of the phone had been backed up on a laptop recovered as part of police searches in the case.

After the Mail exposé, Scotland Yard and the Independent Office for Police Conduct launched a misconduct inquiry in January 2018.

Categories
Birmingham Headlines UK London

Britain’s coronavirus deaths fall by 17% on last week with 397 victims

The Government said a further 397 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, falling by 17 per cent, bringing the UK total to 61,014.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths that have occurred in recent days, show there have now been 74,000 deaths involving Covid-19 in the UK.

The Government said that, as of 9am on Saturday, there had been a further 15,539 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 1,705,971.

Britain’s coronavirus deaths in hospital are two lower than last weekend with 368 victims in more proof the second wave has been levelling off as a result of coronavirus lockdown. 

In England 315 people died from coronavirus in hospital, while Wales recorded 24 deaths, Scotland 22 and Northern Ireland reported seven.  

Yesterday, health chiefs recorded 504 victims as a raft of promising statistics confirmed the second wave is in full retreat after November’s lockdown. 

Last Saturday, official figures revealed 479 coronavirus deaths – a 40 per cent rise on the 341 figure seen the week before. The nation’s official death toll in all settings, including care homes, is now at more than 60,500 – the highest in Europe and fifth highest total in the world.  

But Department of Health figures showed Friday’s death count – which NHS England said included a 15-year-old with no known underlying conditions – was only slightly lower than the 521 announced the Friday the week before. 

The curve has been consistently falling for more than a fortnight but officials yesterday announced another 16,298 cases, marginally up on last week’s 16,022.

In other coronavirus news today:

  • Britons headed out on an expected £1.5billion spending spree across high streets to do their Christmas shopping following the end of lockdown; 
  • Protesters gathered in Victoria Square in Birmingham this afternoon and outside Stratford Station in east London to demand an end to lockdown measures; 
  • Furious Slough locals scolded lockdown rule-breakers who refuse to wear masks or keep a social distance for causing the borough to be put under strict Tier 3 restrictions; 
  • The Jenner Institute, the Oxford team behind a successful coronavirus vaccine, are on the verge of entering the final stage of human trials in their jab against malaria;
  • Coronavirus vaccines are expected to be rolled out to care homes and GP surgeries within a fortnight after regulators confirmed doses can be transported in refrigerated bags to keep them cool enough. 

In yet more evidence that the worst of Britain’s resurgence of Covid is over, SAGE revealed the R rate has fallen for the fourth week in a row and could now be as low as 0.8. No10’s scientific advisory panel claimed outbreaks were shrinking in every part of the country. 

Scotland’s first Covid vaccines arrive 

Coronavirus vaccines have arrived in Scotland ahead of a nationwide immunisation battle.

The ‘initial supplies’ have been stored ‘securely’ ahead of the first vaccinations on Tuesday. 

Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: ‘Some positive news – initial supplies of the Covid vaccine have now arrived safely in Scotland and are being stored securely.

‘The first vaccinations are on track to be administered on Tuesday.’  

And Office for National Statistics data showed the number of daily coronavirus infections in England plummeted by almost half last month, from 47,700 per day to 25,700 in the week ending November 28, in more proof that the disease has began to fade away. The report estimated that a total of 521,300 people were carrying the virus in England on November 28, down from 665,000 just two weeks earlier. 

Separate infection estimates produced by the Covid Symptom Study say there are just 15,845 people developing symptoms of coronavirus each day in England, down from a peak of 44,000 at the end of October. Although the numbers are different to those made by the ONS, they illustrate the same downward trend.

Professor Tim Spector, the King’s College epidemiologist running that study, which is based on data from a public mobile app, said the signs were ‘encouraging’, adding: ‘We’re now [at] less than half the peak of the second wave we saw in October.’ 

And separate Public Health England figures revealed every local authority in the North saw their Covid-19 infection rate fall last week, adding to mounting questions over whether millions of people have been unnecessarily forced to live under the harshest Tier Three curbs.

The promising figures come as the UK gets set to become the first country in the world to start vaccinating people against Covid-19 next week, after drug regulators gave the green light for a jab developed by pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and BioNTech. 

The first doses were delivered on British soil Thursday via a convoy of unmarked lorries from Belgium and NHS Providers chief Dr Chris Hopson says the country is planning to start vaccinating on Tuesday, December 8, with care home residents and staff and elderly hospital patients at the front of the queue.

Coronavirus vaccines will be rolled out to care homes and GP surgeries within a fortnight, after regulators confirmed that doses can be transported in refrigerated bags. Pictured, Matron May Parsons (right) talks to Heather Price (left) during training in the Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic at the University Hospital in Coventry

Coronavirus vaccines will be rolled out to care homes and GP surgeries within a fortnight, after regulators confirmed that doses can be transported in refrigerated bags. Pictured, Matron May Parsons (right) talks to Heather Price (left) during training in the Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic at the University Hospital in Coventry

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) still has to rubber-stamp the protocol for removing the fragile vaccine from its deep-freeze, but officials expect that to be resolved within days (stock photo)

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) still has to rubber-stamp the protocol for removing the fragile vaccine from its deep-freeze, but officials expect that to be resolved within days (stock photo)

GPs were last night told to prepare to receive doses of the coronavirus vaccine in the week starting December 14, with care homes expected to receive the vaccine in the same week. 

HOW IS THE OUTBREAK DIFFERENT ACROSS THE COUNTRY? 

Regional differences across England show that some parts of the country are being hit far harder than others during the second wave of coronavirus.

The R rate is produced by SAGE; daily infections by the Covid Symptom Study; and percentage of people infected by the ONS. 

Not all are collected in the same way or using the exact same time frame, but illustrate an approximately consistent picture that cases are highest but declining fastest in the North, while lower but shrinking more slowly in the South.

 % of people carrying coronavirus

East England

London

Midlands

NE/Yorkshire

North West

South East

South West 

0.9 – 1.0

0.8 – 1.1

0.8 – 0.9

0.7 – 0.9

0.7 – 0.9

0.9 – 1.1

0.7 – 1.0 

1,661

3,379

2,890

3,027

2,295

2,139

1,124 

0.4% 

 0.7%

1.1 – 1.2%

1.6 – 1.7%

1.6%

0.6%

0.5% 

NHS officials last night gave GPs ten days’ notice to prepare to receive stocks of the vaccine in order to begin the process of injecting elderly and vulnerable people. 

In a letter, they said central GP hubs will receive trays of 975 doses and will have to use all of them within three and a half days. The sites to receive the jabs will be confirmed on Monday.

Meanwhile, people are so unlikely to get Covid a second time that they could be get ‘immunity certificates’ after a vaccine or confirmed illness, according to SAGE.

Scientists on the advisory panel said it was ‘likely to be possible’ that people could be freed from social distancing if they were proved immune to coronavirus. 

SAGE is made up of dozens of expert scientists who interpret research and explain it in simple terms to government ministers so they can decide on policies.

In a report presented by infectious diseases sub-group NERVTAG in November, researchers said they had ‘high confidence’ that people would become immune to coronavirus after catching it once or getting vaccinated, which triggers the same reaction in the body without actually causing illness.

Although it is possible that people could get sick a second time it is rare, they said, and there was not good evidence that people could transmit the virus if they had some level of immunity.

Now that people are actually going to get vaccinated in the UK it could be time the Government considered immunity certificates for people who have had a jab, they said.

Nervous about whether immunity might fade after six months, however, SAGE stuck to suggesting a ‘short-term’ solution and said more data was needed.

Downing Street has toyed with the idea of immunity certificates in the past but never announced a policy on the subject. 

Michael Gove this week denied that Britons will need ‘immunity certificates’ to go to the pub – despite a fellow minister raising the prospect that some venues may insist on proof that people have either had the illness or been vaccinated before granting them entry.

Currently, people who get a vaccine to protect them from Covid-19 will still have to follow the same rules as everyone else, which raises questions about whether people who aren’t at personal risk will bother to volunteer for it.

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Time’s Up organization raised $3.6m in 2018 but most of the cash went on salaries not victims


Time’s Up, the organization that was set up to protect women from sexual harassment in the work place and founded by Hollywood celebrities appears to have spent the bulk of donations on paying salaries for executives, with just a small fraction going towards a defense fund for victims.

Tax filings show that the organization made up from the Time’s Up Foundation and Time’s Up Now Inc. raised $3,670,219 in 2018 in its first year of operation.

However, less than 10% was spent on helping those women who have experienced sexual harassment. 

Filings show $312,001 was spent on the legal defense fund while $1,407,032 was spent on salaries. 

Tax filings reveal Times’ Up organization received $3,121,427 in contributions in 2018 in its first year of operation but spent $1,407,032 on salaries and $312,001 on helping victims

Time's Up is a movement against sexual harassment and was founded on January 1, 2018, by Hollywood celebrities in response to the Weinstein effect and #MeToo Movement

Time’s Up is a movement against sexual harassment and was founded on January 1, 2018, by Hollywood celebrities in response to the Weinstein effect and #MeToo Movement

The organization brought in Hollywood heavyweights during the early days of its operation with Reese Witherspoon, Amy Schumer and Brie Larson holding positions on its board.  

The tax filings detail the mission of Time’s Up Now as being: ‘to promote safe, fair and dignified work for women of all kinds. We work to make sure that women are free from harassment and other forms of discrimination on the job, have equal opportunity for economic security and can achieve the highest positions of power wherever they work.’ 

Aside from executive compensation, tax filings show that Time’s Up Now, which is the lobbying arm of the organization, was noted to have spent $157,155 on conferences ‘designed to build community and spark critical conversations about gender equity.’

The conferences included a retreat at a luxury resort and spa in Ojai, pictured, in June 2018 where a room for the night costs upwards of $400-a-night

The conferences included a retreat at a luxury resort and spa in Ojai, pictured, in June 2018 where a room for the night costs upwards of $400-a-night

The conferences included a retreat at a luxury resort and spa in Ojai in June 2018 where a room for the night costs upwards of $400-a-night.

Despite having been in existence six months, it appeared to one person who attended the conference who spoke to the New York Post that they could not decide what the organization’s mission statement should be. 

It later changed from ‘Let’s clean up Hollywood’ to ‘We’re going to help all workers.” 

Aside from the pricey conferences at country retreats the organization details in its tax filings how it spent $288,007 on advertising, and $940,328 on legal costs. 

A huge chunk of that went to a law firm that frequently lobbies on Capitol Hill. 

$719,522 alone went to  Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer for their services. 

A further $58,395 was spent on travel with $112,435 on Rally, a public relations company, according to the tax filings.    

Almost one million dollars was spent on legal fees to a global law firm with a strong lobbying arm on Capitol Hill while a further $100,000 were paid to a public relations firm

Almost one million dollars was spent on legal fees to a global law firm with a strong lobbying arm on Capitol Hill while a further $100,000 were paid to a public relations firm

Jessica Chastain

Mira Sorvino

Famous names including actress Jessica Chastain, left, and Mira Sorvino, right who detailed how she was abused by Weinstein in a hotel room in 1995 spoke out in support of the organization

The organization, which is based in California, ended up being formed in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in 2017 saw famous names including Oprah Winfrey speak out alongside journalist and activist Gloria Steinem and actresses Jessica Chastain, Rosanna Arquette and Mira Sorvino.

Sorvino who now sits on Time’s Up ‘global leadership board’ detailed how Weinstein sexually harassed her in a hotel room in 1995.

She, along with actress Alyssa Milano’s tweet which urged women to speak up if they had been sexually assaulted sparked the Me Too Movement. 

Actress Alyssa Milano's tweet, pictured, which urged women to speak up if they had been sexually assaulted sparked the Me Too Movement.

Actress Alyssa Milano’s tweet, pictured, which urged women to speak up if they had been sexually assaulted sparked the Me Too Movement.

The tweet captured the spirit of the movement with thousands of women responding 'Me Too'

The tweet captured the spirit of the movement with thousands of women responding ‘Me Too’

Oprah's rallying cry at the Golden Globes in January 2018 saw her make an impassioned speech from which the Time's Up name was conjured

Oprah’s rallying cry at the Golden Globes in January 2018 saw her make an impassioned speech from which the Time’s Up name was conjured

Meanwhile, Oprah’s rallying cry at the Golden Globes in January 2018 saw her make an impassioned speech from which the Time’s Up name was conjured.  

‘For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But, their time is up. Their time is up. Their time is up.’ 

It led to thousands of women sharing details of the times they had been sexually assaulted.

Despite the momentum in public, at the organizational level things were not plain sailing. 

Lisa Borders was recruited to head Time’s Up but only spent four months at the organization after her 36-year-old son was accused of sexual misconduct.

Former President & CEO of Time's Lisa Borders

Rachel Terrace

Lisa Borders, left, was recruited to head Time’s Up but only spent four months at the organization after her 36-year-old son was accused of sexual misconduct. She drew $342,308 for her salary. The Chief Marketing Officer, Rachel Terrace, right, also managed to draw a salary of $295,000 for her efforts during the organization’s first year

Nevertheless, she managed to pull in $342,308 for her salary. 

The Chief Marketing Officer, Rachel Terrace, drew a salary of $295,000 for her efforts during the organization’s first year.

And treasurer Rebecca Goldman drew a salary of $255,327. 

Tax filings detail how ‘3,000 individuals’ were helped by the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund between January and June 2018 at a cost of $1,747,635.

Most of the defense fund money came from grants that had been made to the Women’s Law Center, according to the Post.

Only a small proportion came from the Time’s Up organizations with the Time’s Up Foundation donating $132,575 to the fund and Time’s Up Now, the lobbying end of the charity, handing over $179,426.   

An email seeking comment to Time’s Up has not yet been returned. 



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