Category Archives: Recipero

CheckMEND leads Bristol Police to successful prosecution of stolen goods seller

Recipero’s CheckMEND service in conjunction with the Police’s NMPR system has proven to be a key tool in the identification and prosecution of crimes related to stolen goods.

On the 14th May, a man was sentenced to 18 months in prison for handling stolen goods. Alexander Smith, aged 40, was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court after a two year investigation conducted by Avon and Somerset Police’s burglary team and crime reduction unit in Bristol.

Officers were able to prove that Smith had been knowingly buying stolen mobile phones by utilising an online system known as CheckMEND. This system allows members of the public to check if a mobile phone is stolen before buying it.

Police searched a shop in East Street, Bedminster and identified more than 20 phones that were stolen from victims in both burglaries and robberies, many of which had occurred in the South Bristol area. A stolen pedal cycle was also found at Smith’s home address.

During one of these incidents, a female victim positively identified her stolen phone in Smith’s shop. Smith then demanded £40 from the victim before he would return her phone.
PC Frank Simonds, from Bristol Crime Reduction Unit, said:

The use of CheckMEND technology now allows the police to prove if stolen phones are being bought and sold by second hand retailers.

We will be relentless in our pursuit of those dealing in stolen goods.

Many phones that were proven to be stolen had been registered by owners on the Immobilise database. Registering phones enables the police to return them to their rightful owners.
Members of the public can register their phone for free by visiting www.immobilise.com

Members of the public can check if a mobile phone is stolen by visiting www.checkmend.com.

Retailers can receive advice on protecting their business from handling stolen goods as part of Operation Recover run by Avon and Somerset Police.

To read the source release in full please go to: Avon & Somerset Police

Home Office unveils technologies to help protect Britain’s 75m mobile phone users from crime

stolenmobilephonesThree new design innovations to tackle mobile phone crime, including a device that locks a phone and alerts the owner if it is taken away from them, have been unveiled today. The prototypes were developed by teams of designers and technology experts as part of the Mobile Phone Security Challenge, an initiative from the Home Office Design and Technology Alliance and the Design Council, with support and funding from the Technology Strategy Board.

Although the adoption of the designs by the industry is by no means guaranteed, very few people disagree that more needs to be done to address crime relating to mobile phones and portable devices. Although overall crime has dropped since 1997, according to research performed by the University of Leicester, the type of crimes being committed has changed. Their findings suggest that a decade ago burglary was attractive to criminals as they would find households containing DVD players, videos etc that were easy to sell on. These days DVD players cost as little as £20 so have hardly any resale value.

As the phones and media devices we carry around with us have become more powerful, their values have increased and along with it their attractiveness to criminals.

Commenting on the research findings criminology lecturer James Treadwell said:

While we might have seen a decline in some types of crime, we have seen a rise in other forms of criminal activity, particularly young people who seem to be mugging one another

DVD players for example, got cheaper, certain consumer items became smaller and were very, very expensive and sought after, and so the latest mobile phone, or the latest iPod, which people carry about them, have become targets for robbers.

Mobile phone crime will never be an easy issue to address especially as devices become enabled for mobile payments, but new designs and initiatives like the Immobilise National Property Register / NMPR will continue to combat crime.

Links:

Immobilise National Property Register
Home Office: New technologies unveiled to help protect Britain’s 75m mobile phone users from crime
BBC News: Crime targets affected by drop in goods prices

CheckMEND acquires Trace.com and Phonehistoryreport.com to expand its USA operations

IMPORTANT MESSAGE: PLEASE NOTE THAT AS DATA FROM TRACE IS CURRENTLY BEING INTEGRATED WITH OUR SYSTEMS WE RECOMMEND USERS ALSO RUN A FREE SEARCH ON TRACE (www.trace.com) WHILST THE WORK IS COMPLETED.

CheckMEND the world’s largest due diligence service which is owned by Recipero is delighted to announce the recent acquisitions of two US centric businesses, the Trace due diligence system and PhoneHistoryReport the stolen phone checking service. The data from both businesses will be incorporated into the CheckMEND service over the next few weeks.

Both services will complement the existing CheckMEND service providing millions of new records to the CheckMEND website. Of particular note is that the acquisition of Trace will allow CheckMEND to access stolen property data from over 18,000 US law enforcement agencies vastly expanding their reach in the US market. Adrian Portlock CEO of Recipero commented:

These two acquisitions are strategically very important to us as we look to replicate the huge success of CheckMEND in the UK and Europe in the USA. We are already talking to a range of organisations who wish to use the new enhanced CheckMEND service in the US and we are very excited about the potential opportunities this provides to the US consumer buying and selling on sites such as EBay and Craig’s List.

Recipero sign contract to provide real-time stolen phone blocking system to Asian networks

Recipero is delighted to have secured a contract to provide the Avalon real time stolen phone blocking system to Asian networks. The contract will allow consumers to report their phones as stolen to their home network and be blocked within minutes across all participating networks.

This will be the first time a system of this type has been implemented anywhere in the world as all other systems currently have a delay of at least 24 hours. Adrian Portlock CEO of Recipero commented:

This is a major step forward for the Avalon service and we are delighted to have secured this agreement, it will prove to networks all over the world that using cutting edge internet technology will offer a better service to the consumer and reduce the appeal to steal mobile phones. We are hopeful of having around 20 networks on the system over the next couple of years if all goes well.

Burglaries, robberies and theft jump as recession hits home – Times Online

The Times recently published an interesting article that is of particular relevance to the Immobilise National Property Register. Richard Ford, a Home Correspondent for the times reported that the latest recorded crime figures support the theory that the in a recession property crimes such as burglary and personal theft increase while violent offences fall.

Keith Bristow, chief constable of Warwickshire, said:

Crime has traditionally increased following periods of economic recession and the three per cent rise in domestic burglary compared to the same period last year is a reminder that we all must remain vigilant.

The Times article contains several interesting facts and statistics and can be found at:

www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article6885455.ece

The pocket spy: Will your smartphone rat you out? – New Scientist

by Linda Geddes (New Scientist)

The pocket spy: Will your smartphone rat you out? – tech – 14 October 2009 – New Scientist.

THERE are certain things you do not want to share with strangers. In my case it was a stream of highly personal text messages from my husband, sent during the early days of our relationship. Etched on my phone’s SIM card – but invisible on my current handset and thus forgotten – here they now are, displayed in all their brazen glory on a stranger’s computer screen.

I’ve just walked into a windowless room on an industrial estate in Tamworth, UK, where three cellphone analysts in blue shirts sit at their terminals, scrutinising the contents of my phone and smirking. “If it’s any consolation, we would have found them even if you had deleted them,” says one.

Worse, it seems embarrassing text messages aren’t the only thing I have to worry about: “Is this a photo of your office?” another asks (the answer is yes). “And did you enjoy your pizza on Monday night? And why did you divert from your normal route to work to visit this address in Camberwell, London, on Saturday?”

I’m at DiskLabs, a company that handles cellphone forensic analysis for UK police forces, but also for private companies and individuals snooping on suspect employees or wayward spouses. Armed with four cellphones, which I have begged, borrowed and bought off friends and strangers, I’m curious to know just how much personal information can be gleaned from our used handsets and SIM cards.

A decade ago, our phones’ memories could just about handle text messages and a contacts book. These days, the latest smartphones incorporate GPS, Wi-Fi connectivity and motion sensors. They automatically download your emails and appointments from your office computer, and come with the ability to track other individuals in your immediate vicinity. And there’s a lot more to come. Among other things, you could be using the next generation of phones to keep tabs on your health, store cash and make small transactions – something that’s already happening in east Asia (see “Future phones“).

Gone phishing

These changes could well be exploited in much the same way that email and the internet can be used to “phish” for personal information such as bank details. Indeed, some phone-related scams are already emerging, including one that uses reprogrammed cellphones to intercept passwords for other people’s online bank accounts. “Mobile phones are becoming a bigger part of our lives,” says Andy Jones, head of information security research at British Telecommunications. “We trust and rely on them more. And as we rely on them more, the potential for fraud has got to increase.”

So just how secure is the data we store on our phones? If we are starting to use them as combined diaries and wallets, what happens if we lose them or they are stolen? And what if we simply trade in our phones for recycling?

According to the UK government’s Design and Technology Alliance Against Crime (DTAAC), 80 per cent of us carry information on our handsets that could be used to commit fraud – and about 16 per cent of us keep our bank details on our phones. I thought my Nokia N96 would hold few surprises, though, since I had only been using it for a few weeks when I submitted it to DiskLabs. Yet their analysts proved me wrong.

Aside from the text messages stored on my SIM card, the most detailed personal information that could be gleaned from my handset came from an application called Sports Tracker. It allows users to measure their athletic performance over time and I had been using it to measure how fast I could cycle to work across London. It records distance travelled, fastest speed at different points along the route, changes in altitude, and roughly how many calories I burn off. But when DiskLabs uploaded this data to their computer and ran it through Google

they were able to pull up images of the front of my office and my home – with the house number clearly displayed. Sports Tracker also recorded what time I normally leave the house in the morning and when I return from work. “If I wanted more information, then I could just stalk you,” says Neil Buck, a senior analyst at DiskLabs.

I had deliberately chosen to turn Sports Tracker on, and many people might not stop to consider how such programs could be used against them. In February, Google launched Latitude, networking software for smartphones that shares your location with friends. It can be turned off, but campaign group Privacy International is concerned by Latitude’s complex settings and says it is possible the program could broadcast your location to others without your knowledge. “Latitude could be a gift to stalkers, prying employers, jealous partners and obsessive friends,” the organisation warns.

It is possible your phone could broadcast your location to others without your knowledge

A phone-based calendar could also leave you vulnerable. Police in the UK have already identified burglaries that were committed after the thief stole a phone and then targeted the individual’s home because their calendar said they were away on holiday, says Joe McGeehan, head of Toshiba’s research lab in Europe and leader of DTAAC’s Design Out Crime project, which recently set UK designers the challenge of trying to make cellphones less attractive to people like hackers and identity thieves. “It’s largely opportunistic, but if you’ve got all your personal information on there, like bank details, social security details and credit card information, then you’re really asking for someone to ‘become’ you, or rob you, or invade your corporate life,” McGeehan says.

Code cracker

When Buck looked at my colleague’s iPhone, he found two 4-digit numbers stored in his address book under the names “M” and “V”. A search through his text messages revealed a few from Virgin informing him that a new credit card, ending in a specific number, had just been mailed to him. Buck guessed that “M” and “V” were PIN codes for the Virgin credit card and a Mastercard – and he proved to be correct on both counts.

“Out of context, an individual piece of information such as an SMS is almost meaningless,” says Jones. “But when you have a large volume of information – a person’s diary for the year, his emails, the plans he’s building – and you start to put them together, you can make some interesting discoveries.”

In this way the DiskLabs team also identified my colleague’s wife’s name, her passport number and its expiry date, and that she banks with Barclays. Ironically, Barclays had contacted her regarding fraud on her card and she had texted this to her husband. Buck’s team also discovered my colleague’s email address, his Facebook contacts, and their email addresses.

This kind of personal data is valuable and can fetch a high price online. It’s ideal for so-called 419 scams, for instance, in which you receive an email asking for help in exporting cash from a foreign country via your bank account, in exchange for a share of the profits. “What they need to launch a successful 419 scam is personal information,” says Jones.

A growing awareness of identity theft means that many people now destroy or wipe computer hard drives before throwing them away, but the same thing isn’t yet happening with cellphones, says Jones. At the same time, we are recycling ever greater numbers of handsets. According to market analysts ABI Research, by 2012 over 100 million cellphones will be recycled for reuse each year.

As part of a study to find better ways to protect cellphone data, Jones recently acquired 135 cellphones and 26 BlackBerry devices from volunteers, cellphone recycling companies and online auctioneers eBay. Around half of the devices couldn’t be accessed because they were faulty. In our own smartphone experiment, we were unable to retrieve any data from a BlackBerry, or the Samsung E590.

However, Jones’s team found 10 phones that contained enough personal data to identify previous users, and 12 had enough information for their owner’s employer to be identified – even though just three of the phones contained SIM cards.

Of the 26 BlackBerrys, four contained information from which the owner could be identified and seven contained enough to identify the owner’s employer. “The big surprise was the amount we got off the BlackBerry devices, which we had expected to be much more secure,” says Jones. While BlackBerry users have the option of encrypting their data or sending a message to purge data from their phones should it be sold or stolen, many had not done this. “Security is only any good if you turn the damned thing on,” says Jones.

Security is only any good if you turn the damned thing on

His team managed to trace one BlackBerry back to a senior sales director of a Japanese corporation. They recovered his call history, 249 address book entries, his diary, 90 email addresses and 291 emails. This enabled them to determine the structure of his organisation and responsibilities of individuals working within it; the organisation’s business plans for the next period; its main customers and the state of its relationships with them; travel and accommodation arrangements of the individual; his family details – including children, their occupations and movements, marital status, addresses, domestic arrangements, appointments and addresses for medical and dental care; his bank account numbers and sort codes, and his car registration index. Two further BlackBerrys “contained details of a personal nature about the owner and other individuals that would have caused embarrassment or distress if it had become publicly known”, says Jones.

Although his team used specialist forensic software to retrieve data from the phones, much of it could be obtained directly from the handsets themselves, or by using simple software of the kind that is sold with a phone. “This was not designed to be a sophisticated attack, it used simple techniques that anyone would have access to,” Jones says.

That’s bad news, considering that around 20 millions handsets were lost or stolen worldwide in 2008, according to UK data-security specialists Recipero. So how can people go about making their phones more secure? Turning on the security settings is an important first step, says McGeehan, as this may dissuade potential thieves from going to the effort of trying to crack the codes. Then make sure you delete anything you want to keep secret, while bearing in mind that it is often possible to recover it (see “Phone security Q & A“). “I work on the basis that anything I put on there I’ve got to be prepared for people to see,” says McGeehan.

As for me, I’ve taken to deleting potentially incriminating messages as soon as they arrive in my inbox – and reproving the sender in return. I have also passed my old handset to my husband for safekeeping. If those brazen messages must fall into someone else’s hands, I’d rather they were the hands of the Don Juan who composed them than a smirking IT geek in a distant windowless room.

To read the rest of this article please go to: New Scientist

Starting an internet-based business (businesswings.co.uk)

Recipero has grown out of an idea conceived several years ago, the article referred to below, written by businesswings.co.uk explains well how Recipero’s founder gained inspiration for the fast moving business that it has now become.

Many founders of fast-growing businesses set out with the most modest of intentions.

For example, Pierre Omidyar originally set up eBay as a vehicle for his wife to trade collectables called Pez candy dispensers. Omidyar had no inkling of what the site would become.

Adrian Portlock, whose Gloucestershire-based company Recipero has built an online database comprising the serial numbers of 100 million stolen goods, agrees that this is “often the way with businesses. If you see an opportunity based on providing a solution, that’s normally a good basis for a start-up.”

If you see an opportunity based on providing a solution, that’s normally a good basis for a start-up
One only has to look at some of the ridiculed inventions on Dragon’s Den to see the perils of trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist (what problem could have give rise to the ironing board that doubled as a piece of lounge furniture?).

Adrian, 50, set up his database, Check Mend, after an irksome experience highlighted a need for such a resource.

“I lost a phone on the Tube in London,” he recalls. “And when I went to the lost-property office they said ‘can you identify the phone?’ So I said ‘a Nokia 6310i.’ And they said ‘well, we’ve only had 35 of those today.’

“Then they wanted an IMEI number, the serial number of the phone. After much messing about my network gave it to me and I managed to get my phone back.

Eureka moment
“It then occurred to me that there was a market for keeping those details somewhere central, so if that if people lost any gizmos they could log in and find them more easily.

“So that’s how it started and it did really well.”

To read the rest of the story please go to:
www.businesswings.co.uk/articles/Starting-an-internet-based-business

Carphone Warehouse expands its use of CheckMEND

Carphone Warehouse Website

As of the 8th June The Carphone Warehouse have extended their trade-in scheme to include iPods and GPS equipment. Every item is checked in real-time on Recipero’s CheckMEND due diligence service.

The system has been integrated with Carphone Warehouse’s EPOS systems in over 800 UK stores, their website, and direct sales channels, allowing them to ensure only ‘bona fide’ customers can benefit from their trade-in offers.

With nearly 50 billion items of serial numbered goods recorded CheckMEND is the world’s largest database of stolen goods, making it an obvious partner for Carphone Warehouse.

For more information please visit the following links:

www.carphonewarehouse.com

www.checkmend.com

www.recipero.com/cpw_expand_checkmend_use

ReportMyLoss wins a birthday award

On the anniversary of its first year of operation, Avon and Somerset Constabulary has just announced that Reportmyloss.com has won an award in this years’ Problem Solving Competition.

The competition serves to recognise initiatives that bring direct and significant improvements in service to the public.

Reportmyloss was introduced by the Force as a quick and effective way to record lost property. It continues to go from strength to strength, with over 70% of the Force’s lost reports being submitted online. The system has helped to reunite thousands of items with their owners and to reduce the numbers of calls to their Force Service Centre.

ReportMyLoss wins Problem Solving Competition
ReportMyLoss wins Problem Solving Competition

For more information about the ReportMyLoss system please go to: www.reportmyloss.com

To visit Avon and Somerset Constabulary please go to: www.avonandsomerset.police.uk

Compulsory registration of mobile phones in the UK

The concept of making everyone register their handset in the UK is greatly misunderstood and is being hyped up by the press. Did you know that any contract mobile phone owner’s information can already be accessed by the Police using either a request under the RIPA or DPA procedures? So why should be people using PAYG phones not be subject to the same system? this is all this is about and it closes a loophole used by criminals that make it harder for the Police to identify stolen handsets or handsets used in connection with dubious activities. The only argument surely is whether the owner’s information is subject to the safeguards afforded by RIPA. If you use the DVLA registration of cars as a proof of concept, the Police can tap in your registration number and see the owner’s details in a heartbeat without having to make any formal requests so why not do the same with mobile phones?