Posted on

Skimmers Net $428,581 from Various New Jersey bank locations


the staff of the Ridgewood blog

NEWARK NJ, A New York man today admitted participating in a scheme that used secret card-reading devices and pinhole cameras on various New Jersey bank locations to steal at least $428,581, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Bogdan Rusu, 39, of Queens, New York, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Rusu and others sought to defraud financial institutions and their customers by illegally obtaining customer account information, including account numbers and personal identification numbers. Rusu admitted installing equipment on ATMs at banks in New Jersey. Eleven other defendants charged in this scheme have pleaded guilty.

Continue reading Skimmers Net $428,581 from Various New Jersey bank locations
Posted on

House Approves Financial CHOICE Act In Major Step to Repealing Dodd-Frank


June 9,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Washington DC, The House on Thursday passed the Financial CHOICE Act, legislation to overhaul and replace the failed Dodd-Frank Act that has contributed to the worst economic recovery of the last 70 years.“Every promise of Dodd-Frank has been broken,” said Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), as he read letters from Americans about how they were declined home, automobile and small business loans due to Dodd-Frank’s burdensome regulations.  “Fortunately there is a better, smarter way.  It’s called the Financial CHOICE Act.  It stands for economic growth for all, but bank bailouts for none.  We will end bank bailouts once and for all.  We will replace bailouts with bankruptcy.  We will replace economic stagnation with a growing, healthy economy,” he said.

“We will make sure there is needed regulatory relief for our small banks and credit unions, because it’s our small banks and credit unions that lend to our small businesses that are the jobs engine of our economy and make sure the American dream is not a pipe dream,” said Chairman Hensarling.

CHOICE, which stands for Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs, has received strong support from community banks and credit unions.  Large financial institutions did not offer their support for the Financial CHOICE Act.  Instead, Wall Street CEOs have publicly said they do not support repealing Dodd-Frank.

The Congressional Budget Office reports the Financial CHOICE Act would reduce the deficit by $33.6 billion over 10 years and that the bill’s regulatory relief would benefit community banks and credit unions.  The nation’s largest banks would be unlikely to raise enough capital to meet the bill’s requirement for substantial regulatory relief, the CBO reported.



No more bailouts:  that’s at the core of the Financial CHOICE Act. With changes to the bankruptcy code, large financial firms can fail without disrupting the entire economy or forcing hardworking taxpayers to pay for more bailouts.


The Financial CHOICE Act includes the toughest penalties in history for those who commit financial fraud and insider trading.  Holding Wall Street accountable with the toughest penalties in history will deter corporate wrongdoing and better protect consumers. At the same time the Financial CHOICE Act holds Wall Street accountable, it also holds Washington accountable. Tougher accountability for Wall Street and Washington will protect the integrity of our markets so they benefit ordinary Americans who are working, saving and investing.


Dodd-Frank’s one-size-fits-all regulations treat all financial institutions the same, regardless of their size.  That makes no sense and hurts smaller, hometown banks and credit unions that did nothing to cause the last financial crisis.

The Financial CHOICE Act is based on two important principles:  First, all banks need to be well-capitalized and, second, community banks and credit unions deserve relief from the crushing burden of over-regulation. Under the Financial CHOICE Act, banks and credit unions will qualify for regulatory relief if they elect to maintain enough capital to ensure that if they get in trouble, taxpayers won’t be forced to bail them out. Ninety-eight percent of the financial institutions that met the Financial CHOICE Act’s requirements for being well-capitalized did not fail during the financial crisis.  Of the miniscule percentage that did fail, none posed a systemic risk.


The Financial CHOICE Act grows our economy from Main Street up.  Dodd-Frank tries to control the economy from Washington down.  The Financial CHOICE Act will help get credit and capital into the hands of working men and women to fuel their economic growth.

Posted on

‘Dismantling Dodd-Frank’ a Top Priority for Administration, Congress



January 27,2017
the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ,  After President Trump today said Congress should make financial regulatory reform a priority to “help striving Americans get the credit they need to realize their dreams” and Vice President Pence said “dismantling Dodd-Frank” is a top legislative priority for the Trump Administration, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) issued the following statement:

“No bureaucrat in Washington should be able to tell hardworking Americans what kind of credit card, bank account, mortgage or retirement advice they can have, but that’s exactly what Dodd-Frank does.  As the President and Vice President have said, Dodd-Frank makes it harder for people to get loans to buy a home or start a small business.  Consumers are paying more in fees and are losing benefits and access to services they want and need.  Instead of ending ‘too big to fail,’ Dodd-Frank institutionalizes bailouts for big banks. Dodd-Frank’s regulations give Wall Street a competitive advantage over community banks and credit unions. In fact, since Dodd-Frank became law the big banks have gotten bigger and the small banks are fewer.

“Fulfilling the Trump Administration’s pledge to dismantle Dodd-Frank this year is essential to leveling the playing field, building a healthy economy and offering every American greater opportunities to achieve financial independence.

“Republicans on the Financial Services Committee are eager to work with the President and his administration to unclog the arteries of our financial system so the lifeblood of capital can flow more freely and create jobs.  The Financial CHOICE Act, our bold and forward looking plan, replaces Dodd-Frank with new policies to protect consumers by holding Wall Street and Washington accountable, end bailouts and unleash America’s economic potential.

“Replacing the Dodd-Frank mistake is necessary if we ever hope to enjoy a healthy economy and make America great again.”

Posted on

Banks to Donald Trump: Don’t Kill Dodd-Frank

Jamie Diamond

pic J.P. Morgan’s Mr. Dimon

Bankers admit they love the guaranteed bailouts, lack of competition and regulated margins of Dodd-Frank 
December 10, 2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Big banks have an unexpected message for President-elect Donald Trump: Don’t trash the Dodd-Frank Act.“We’re not asking for wholesale throwing out Dodd-Frank,” J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. chief James Dimon said at a financial-services conference this week where he and other big-bank executives spoke, often addressing potential regulatory changes for the first time since the election.

During his presidential campaign, Republican Donald Trump said he would “get rid of” Dodd-Frank — the sweeping legislation passed in 2010 to address problems underlying the 2008-2009 financial crisis. Dodd-Frank  a 2200 page monstrosity , was passed by congress like Obamacare without anyone reading the legislation , that is except for former NJ Congressmen Scott Garrett.

Dodd-Frank turned banks into utilities and did nothing to solve the ills that caused the banking crisis in 2008 ,it basically institutionalized the bad behavior that created the problem, put the bad debt in suspended animation and put taxpayers on the hook with its “too big to fail” provisions. Too big to fail also implies the corollary to big to really succeed.

Former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan called “too big to fail” legislation a “moral hazard” , giving bankers the excuse to engage in activities that would otherwise risk their livelihoods, feeling confident in ever larger government ie taxpayer bailouts.

Some in Washington have called for full repeal of Dodd-Frank, the legislation passed in 2010 that imposed new constraints on banks and created new agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A proposal that would effectively replace Dodd-Frank, by Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has gained momentum since the election.

The Trump team has talked about dismantling the law, although it has yet to state clearly whether this would involve a repeal of Dodd-Frank. Bank stocks have soared about 20% since the election, partly on the belief President-elect Donald Trump in some way will lighten banks’ regulatory load.

While banks favor a paring back of regulation, they tend to think in practical terms, rather than ideologically. And their core message seems to be: Make regulation simpler and less costly but don’t return banking to the Wild West days that preceded the financial crisis.

In many ways that is understandable. Banks have spent half a dozen years and hundreds of millions of dollars to adapt to the new landscape. This has caused them to exit businesses such as proprietary trading, rejig their corporate structures to make them safer and focus more on clients’ needs. While tearing up Dodd-Frank would seem to unshackle banks, starting with a new regulatory playbook would upend their new business models and divert management.

One of the biggest concerns for banks is that things don’t get worse. “The first thing I would ask for is nothing new, no new rules,” Citigroup Inc. finance chief John Gerspach said at the conference. “If you haven’t figured out yet how all the existing rules work together, don’t put on anything else.”

Banks acknowledge benefits to the new rules, noting they have helped improve the way firms manage risks and view their businesses. U.S. bankers have also said that having been forced to hold more capital, and build it quickly after the financial crisis, made their firms far stronger than troubled European peers.

So what would the big banks like to see changed?

Stress Tests—These annual exercises conducted by the Federal Reserve have become hugely important because they govern the amount of capital banks can return to shareholders, either through buybacks or dividends.

Banks want these to be based more on objective criteria and they want to have more of a view into the testing process and the Fed’s decision-making. And they should take less time and money to comply with, bankers say.

Bill Demchak, CEO of PNC Financial Services Group Inc., said his bank could theoretically get all the benefits of the stress-testing process with “60% of the effort.” He said that to comply with the tests, “you bring the place to a grinding halt once a year.”

The Volcker Rule— Banks say they aren’t eager to get back into the business of speculating on market moves using their own balance sheets. But they want the process around the Volcker Rule to be less burdensome and administered by fewer than five agencies.

Changes in this area could “probably make it easier to make markets” and improve liquidity, likely benefiting investors and other issuers, said Mr. Dimon.

“You have active market-marking in lumber, rebar, chicken, pork, cotton; we need it in financial instruments, it’s not different,” he said. “I do think a little more liquidity could be good.”

Mr. Gerspach said Citigroup would like less paperwork. “We don’t want to do proprietary trading,” he said. “But I also would love to work with regulators to lessen the burden of proving that we’re not engaging in proprietary trading.”

Capital and Liquidity—Banks say there are so many new rules relating to so many areas of their balance sheets that they too often run the risk of working against each other. And it isn’t clear when enough capital really is enough.

Wells Fargo chief Timothy Sloan cited differences between rules about how much capital a bank must hold and the amount of liquid assets a firm has to keep on hand. The intersections of these rules, bankers argue, hampers lending.

Bankers would also like more clarity around how much capital is enough for banks. Regulators have applied various capital surcharges to the biggest banks and these can change as regulations evolve.

“It’s getting certainty around the ability to have access to your capital return once you’ve met all the hurdles and whether those hurdles move up or down because of various people’s point of view,” said Bank of America Corp. chief Brian Moynihan.

J.P. Morgan’s Mr. Dimon said that regulators’ authority should be “cut back a little bit. It should be more prescriptive in exactly what they’re trying to accomplish.”

For all that, bankers are taking a wait-and-see stance before making any big changes to their businesses. “I think the difference going into 2017 is that we do have hope,” Citigroup’s Mr. Gerspach said. “But…we can’t build a plan on hope.”

The fact that the culprits of the Financial Crisis in 2008 are now opposing the repeal of Dodd-Frank is further evidence that things need to change dramatically . The entire financial sector of the economy has been moribund  under Dodd-Franks government imposed socialism . A vital and growing financial sector is paramount to an active and growing economy .

Posted on

How Banks, Other Ridgewood Businesses Can Avoid Becoming Cyber-Crime Victims


May 7,2016

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Apparently, the heist couldn’t have been any simpler if it had been drawn up in the lunch line at an elementary school cafeteria.

In February, Bangladesh’s central bank saw $81 million disappear out a virtual window. Now it’s been revealed that, although the computer hackers used custom-made malware, they probably didn’t need to work up a cyber sweat while pulling off their long-distance theft. The bank had no firewalls to defend against intruders and its computers were linked to global-financial networks through second-hand routers that cost $10.

“It’s stunning that a major institution would leave itself so defenseless in this day and age when everyone should know that cyber criminals are waiting for you to let your guard down,” says Gary S. Miliefsky, CEO of SnoopWall (, a company that specializes in cyber security.

But he says the episode can serve as a cautionary tale for other banks and any businesses that want to protect themselves against today’s cyber versions of Bonnie and Clyde.

“Most companies have some vulnerability and it doesn’t take a sophisticated attack to cause a security breach,” Miliefsky says. “Often on the hackers’ end of things, it just takes patience.”

For example, he says, a cyber criminal can gain access by sending a company an email with an attachment called a Remote Access Trojan, or RAT, that looks like a normal file. All it takes is for an unsuspecting employee to open that file and, voila, security is compromised.

That’s bad for companies, of course, but it’s also bad for consumers, whose bank account, credit card and other private information is at risk.

Miliefsky says it’s important to go on the offensive. Among his recommendations:

• Employers need to train their staffs. Those employees sitting at their computers each day are a company’s first line of defense. An errant click on the wrong email is like unlocking the front door, so employees should be made aware of the dangers and told what do about suspicious email.
• Companies should routinely update their defenses. Outdated technology and outdated security software make a company’s computers vulnerable to attack. It’s important that businesses periodically review their IT operations to make sure what worked last year still provides the needed security.
• Consumers must take their own safety measures. It would be nice to expect banks and retailers to protect consumer information, but the average person can’t count on that. Miliefsky suggests consumers take personal security measures such as frequently changing passwords and deleting any phone apps they don’t use. Many apps contain malware that can spy on you.

“Most people log onto the internet every day without much thought about how susceptible they are to being hacked,” Miliefsky says. “It takes vigilance to protect yourself against cyber criminals who are working hard to figure their way around security measures.”

About Gary S. Miliefsky

Gary S. Miliefsky is founder of SnoopWall Inc. (, a cutting edge counter-intelligence technology company offering free consumer-based software to secure personal data on cell-phones and tablets, while generating revenues helping banks and government agencies secure their networks. He has been active in the INFOSEC arena, as the Executive Producer of Cyber Defense Magazine and a regular contributor to Hakin9 Magazine.

Posted on

TD Bank Branch Held Up in Hawthorne

TD Bank Robbery
photos courtesy of Boyd Loving
TD Bank Branch Held Up in Hawthorne 
February 18,2016
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Hawthorne NJ, The TD Bank branch located at 617 Lafayette Avenue, Hawthorne was held up shortly before 4:30 PM on Wednesday, 2/17. Hawthorne PD responded to the incident. A description of the perpetrator and his getaway vehicle was obtained and provided to surrounding area law enforcement agencies.
Posted on

Hackers steal up to $1 billion from banks



file photo

Hackers steal up to $1 billion from banks

Cybersecurity firm says international hacking ring steals up to $1 billion from banks

By Mae Anderson, AP Technology Writer4 hours ago

NEW YORK (AP) — A report from a cybersecurity firm says an international hacking ring has stolen up to $1 billion from banks around the globe in what would be one of the biggest banking breaches known.

The hackers have been active since at least the end of 2013 and infiltrated more than 100 banks in 30 countries, according to Russian security company Kaspersky Lab.

After gaining access to banks’ computers through phishing schemes and other methods, they lurk for months to learn the banks’ systems. Then the hackers have programmed ATMs to dispense money at specific times or set up fake accounts and transferred money into them.

Posted on

How Federal Agents Illegally Force Twitter, Google, and Banks to Turn Over Private Customer Data Without a Proper Warrant


How Federal Agents Illegally Force Twitter, Google, and Banks to Turn Over Private Customer Data Without a Proper Warrant

Private companies are fighting the federal government in court over the Patriot Act’s “National Security Letters,” which violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

Earlier this week, FBI Director James Comey gave an interview to 60 Minutes during which he revealed a flawed understanding of personal freedom. He rightly distinguished what FBI agents do in their investigations of federal crimes from what the NSA does in its intelligence gathering, when the two federal agencies are looking for non-public data.

The FBI requires, Comey correctly asserted, articulable suspicion to commence an investigation and probable cause to obtain a search warrant. It does this because its agents have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, and their failure to comply with that oath may very well render the evidence obtained by unconstitutional means useless in court.

The NSA, as we know, makes no pretense about presenting probable cause to a judge. Rather, it asks a judge on a secret court (so secret that the judges themselves are kept from the court’s files) for general warrants. A warrant based on probable cause must specifically describe the place to be searched and the person or thing to be seized. General warrants, which the Constitution prohibits, permit the bearer to search wherever he wishes and seize whatever he finds.

Posted on

Bank failures fading, but not completely, from view


Bank failures fading, but not completely, from view
Aug. 12, 2014, 11:11 a.m. EDT

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The number of bank failures is slowing down due to the improving economy and rising property values, but the industry is still not back to pre-crash levels and future growth remains uncertain.

Only 14 banks failed in the first half of this year, according to the most recent data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Last year, 24 banks failed – down from 157 failures in 2010, the peak failure year since the banking sector was taken down by the financial crisis in 2008. Typically, when a bank fails, its capital becomes too low to meet obligations to its creditors because of sustained losses, causing regulators to close it.

“This is a very typical bank failure cycle,” said Bert Ely, a banking industry consultant based in Alexandria, Va. “As the economy improves, banks work out their problems and the FDIC and other banking regulators closed failed banks, then you revert back to the normal situation of having very few bank failures.”

With the economic recovery continuing, many FDIC-regulated banks have improved their balance sheets, made more loans and enjoyed stronger earnings, but the industry has not improved to the single-digit annual failure rate pre-crisis.

“I don’t think we are back to the zero failure,” FDIC’s Chief Economist Richard Brown said, referring to 2005 and 2006 when no banks went under. “There are still institutions dealing with the aftermath of the recession.”

More than 400 banks remain on the FDIC’s unofficial problem list of troubled institutions that may run the risk of failure in the near terms. The list has shrunk to half the size of the peak year of 2010. However, the number remains elevated when measured against the pre-crash year 2007 with its mere 76 problem banks.

The declining pace of failures is an indication of more business activity, lower unemployment rates and a relatively stronger lending market.