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Are you listening, Google? You are getting banks into trouble.

Nigel Morris-Cotterill

As governments around the world ponder the possibility of making banks liable for losses suffered by customers who are the victims of e.g. phishing scams, there are companies that actively assist the fraudsters to get away with it. Let's start at the top: Google.

In "Cleaning up the 'net " one of the various matters I raised was the potential liability of companies that play an active part in fraud by the provision of e-mail accounts used by fraudsters.

If banks are expected to monitor accounts for suspicious activity, why not the providers of such services?

Here's one example : a fraudster using the name Fred Foldvik has been sending, from various email addresses, spam-scam mails for several weeks. They all have two things in common. The name Fred Foldvik is in the body of the mail. And they all have a return address that includes fred.foldvik (usually followed by a dot and, e.g., dnb and gmail.

While Google spends a fortune on developing one things after another, a fair few of which end up in the bin, it doesn't develop a system that identified accounts that receive e-mails from victims of fraud nor does it identify accounts with known fraudulent names.

This, surely, makes Google complicit in the fraud. After all, banks get into trouble not for what they know but for what it is said they should have known and, increasingly, for what is in their data even if they didn't realise its importance.

Governments bang on about professional enablers for money laundering: why not take action against professional enablers in relation to fraud and other crimes involving free and anonymous e-mail. That includes Microsoft, Yahoo, Yandex and a host of others.

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