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Expat Investor : December 2008
NEWS Continued from page 3 exposure to the subprime sector, or they have derived most of their mortgage lending from housing markets which are now experiencing difficulties, such as the US and UK markets. Generally speaking, banks that have done better in the current financial climate are those with minimal or small amounts of exposure to subprime lending. An example of this would be Banco Santander, which owns Abbey in the UK and, through this, Abbey International in Jersey. A UK based financial adviser can help savers find their way through the maze of information on company stability and interest rates on offer, and whether savers should be aiming for a best buy top slot. Mr Harvey comments, “We have never steered savers towards those organisations at the top of best buy tables for two reasons – firstly, all the evidence suggests they will not be top in a few weeks’ time, as no bank can afford to give away such sums in interest that are obviously out of line with the market, and secondly, our clients want stability and consistency, not a flash in the pan, as they cannot spend their time constantly chasing changing rates.” For savers with substantial amounts on deposit, what, then, is the advice? Certainly spreading risk and avoiding relatively unknown foreign owned banks and their subsidiaries is one option – the experience of Landsbanki suggests that at best, savers are likely to Payments industry reveals growth in ‘money mule' fraud activity APACS, the UK payments association, has revealed the increasing number of ‘money mule’ recruitment adverts detected in the UK and reminded consumers of some simple rules to avoid being duped into helping criminals transfer money out of the country. Recruitment adverts for money mules are becoming more common with the latest APACS data showing 873 detected fake ‘job’ adverts in the first half of 2008, up 445% over the last three years, and 133% on last year. A ‘money mule’, or ‘money transfer agent’, as it is sometimes called, is someone recruited by fraudsters needing to transfer money from one country to another. As most fraudsters are located overseas and it is not possible to make cross- border transfers from most online bank accounts in the UK, a money mule is required to launder the money. After being recruited by the fraudsters, money mules receive funds into their accounts and they then withdraw the money and send it overseas using a wire transfer service, minus a certain commission payment (see table). To help consumers avoid getting caught up in scams of this nature, APACS has launched an advice guide explaining how criminals go about recruiting people to transfer fraudulent funds abroad and the consequences of getting involved in this type of scam. The guide is available to download from www.apacs.org.uk and www.banksafeonline.org.uk Sandra Quinn, director of communications at APACS, says: “Criminals clearly aren’t giving up and are turning to new and more sophisticated methods of transferring fraudulent funds out of this country.We urge consumers to be cautious about any unsolicited offers or opportunities offering the chance to make some easy money. By allowing your bank account to be used to receive and transfer funds, you will be acting illegally, even if you have had nothing to do with the actual theft of funds from another person’s account. If you see an opportunity to make some easy money and the offer seems too good to be true, then it probably is! “Anyone who has disclosed their bank account details or received funds into their account for what experience delays accessing their funds, if there are problems, so chasing the best interest rate is also unlikely to be a one way bet. Keeping a close eye on all accounts and if possible holding all the paperwork together is another idea. Financial advisers will tell you that half the battle is staying on top of your administration, so you know what investments you have where. Mr Harvey concludes, “We have seen an upswing in interest in collective redemption bonds, particularly amongst UK and European clients where there can be tax advantages to holding a range of deposit accounts in these wrappers. Clients simply place their deposits in a range of blue chip banks and building societies such as Abbey International or Nationwide in the bond. “The funds are easy to follow and all the paperwork is in one place, but each deposit benefits from its own share of any protection scheme, should it be needed.” Fast Facts 10121 they think could be a money mule scam should contact their bank immediately.” APACS advice to consumer to help minimise their chances of being a victim is: ? Be cautious about any unsolicited offers or opportunities offering you the chance to make some easy money. ? Be especially wary of offers from people or companies overseas as it is harder for you to find out if they really are who they say they are. ? Take steps to verify any company which makes you a job offer and check their contact details (address, phone number, email address and web site) are correct and whether they are registered in the UK. ? Never give your bank details to anyone unless you know and trust them. Further help and advice about preventing online banking fraud is available at www.banksafeonline.org.uk 2005 2006 2007 2008 NUMBER OF MULE RECRUITMENT ADVERTS* BY MONTH Q1 2005 - Q2 2008 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 78 118 107 169 202 266 Total 472 290 329 349 306 413 394 503 370 - - 1,087 1,462 - * These are calculated according to each time a new fake ‘job' advert is detected. Such scams may appear as spam emails, spoof websites, adverts on real job recruitment websites or even in national newspapers. Scarborough (CI) merges with Skipton Guernsey SKIPTON Building Society and Scarborough Building Society have announced their plans to merge in the UK, as have Skipton Guernsey Limited (SGL) and Scarborough Channel Islands Limited (SCIL) confirmed their intention of joining up. At the time of announcement, Skipton Guernsey told Expat Investor,“All existing customers of both entities will be offered similar or better terms on their current savings and mortgage accounts.” The two businesses, subject to local board and regulatory approval, are planning to be integrated fully during 2009 and until then, customers of each organisation will continue to use their respective offices. The merger in the UK is being carried out according to the terms of the UK Building Societies Act, which means 4 EXPAT INVESTOR ? there is no need for UK-based members of either Society to vote on the matter, as the respective Group boards are authorised to take such decisions. It is envisaged that the enlarged Guernsey bank will be called Skipton Guernsey Limited. Commenting on the merger, Skipton Guernsey’s Managing Director, Alan Bougourd, says, “This is good news for our customers and good news for customers of SCIL. Both our companies are well run, profitable and well capitalised, meaning we both have substantial reserves, which is an essential strength in the current turbulent markets. The enlarged company looks forward to continuing to offer them the highest possible levels of service. Following the merger, it is expected that our parent, Skipton Building Society, will be the fifth December 2008 largest building society in the UK with assets of over £16 billion and over 860,000 members. Our parent will continue to stand behind us, protecting the deposits of all customers of the merged bank going forward. That fact alone means we will be operating from a position of strength and, together with the proposed introduction of a Guernsey depositor compensation scheme similar to that operated in the UK guaranteeing the first £50,000 of each individual’s savings, we are confident that savers with Skipton Guernsey can look forward to a safe and rewarding future.” Tony Burdin, Managing Director, SCIL, adds, “This is a great opportunity to combine the significant strengths and capabilities of both businesses, and we are confident that the enlarged bank will enable us to offer an even better range of products and services to both new and existing customers.” Find out more at www.skiptonguernsey.com expatinvestor.com ZURICH Bank International has launched a new 1 Year Fixed Rate Bond paying a leading rate of 6.75% along with a 6-Month Fixed Rate Bond paying 6.25% (6.35% AER). These limited issue products have a minimum balance of £10,000 and are aimed at those savers who wish to receive a guaranteed rate of interest over six or 12 months. Graham Sheward, Managing Director of Zurich Bank International, says, “We are delighted to launch our new 6- Month Fixed Rate Bond along with the latest issue of our 1 Year Fixed Rate Bond series, both with highly competitive rates of interest. At this time, when customers are looking more and more at the financial strength of their bank, it is particularly pleasing that we are able to provide both security and great rates.” Zurich Bank International, based in the Isle of Man, is part of the Zurich Financial Services Group. Headquartered in Switzerland, which is one of the world’s strongest economies with a renowned banking pedigree, Zurich Financial Services is one of the largest insurance- based, financial services providers in the world. Mr Sheward, continues; “Being part of Zurich Financial Services means that unlike many other banks, Zurich Bank International does not need to rely on government guarantees for its financial strength. When government support and guarantees have long gone, Zurich will be here to provide a secure and world class services to all its customers. “These products build on the promise to our customers to offer simple, high interest products with interest rate guarantees which match their needs.” Both products are available to all new and existing personal customers, third party introducers, companies, trusts, charities and clubs and offer a choice of payment options on maturity. Fast Facts 10120 Britannia in Co-op merger talks BRITANNIA Building Society has confirmed it is in talks with Co- operative Financial Services (CFS) that may lead to a merger. Britannia is Britain's second biggest building society. CFS includes Co-operative Bank, Smile and Co-operative Insurance. A combination of the two result in around six million members and £70bn worth of assets, according to Britannia. Zurich Bank launches top-paying 1 year fixed rate bond
January February 2009