An Irish charity that supports women whose lives have been impacted by prostitution and sex trafficking has revealed that it helped more than 300 women of 40 nationalities in 2018, including 122 victims of trafficking from 29 countries.
Ruhama, which is the country’s only NGO dedicated to providing help and support to women affected by sex trafficking and prostitution, offers its users services tailored to meet their needs.
In a new report, the charity reveals that 60% of women who used its street outreach service in 2018 reported dealing with drug and/or alcohol issues, with many women abusing multiple substances at the same time.
Some 40% said they had issues relating to the use of crack cocaine, while 21% said they used heroin.
The NGO said Ireland’s worsening homelessness crisis is causing women working in street prostitution major problems, noting that 40% of the women it engaged with last year reported being homeless, with a majority staying in hostels.
Highlighting the global nature of the international sex trafficking trade, Ruhama said that it offered support to women from Nigeria, Brazil, Romania, Cameroon and a range of other countries last year.
In one case study that features in the report, a woman from Eastern Europe describes how she was tricked into travelling to Dublin by her boyfriend on the promise of well-paid work.
Once that failed to materialise, her boyfriend started to force to have sex with other men for money on a daily basis, and would threaten to kill her if she failed to comply with his demands.
“One day after a year I just couldn’t take it anymore. I told him I was going to the shop and instead I walked to the local [police station],” the woman said.
“I was shaking and crying as I told them what had happened to me, but I was glad I did. They then put me in touch with Ruhama and I met my caseworker.”
Announcing the release of the charity’s annual report, Sarah Benson, Ruhama CEO, commented: “The good news is that we have supported literally thousands of women in very difficult situations over 30 years.
“So many of them have had successful outcomes and been able to move past the trauma of sexual exploitation.
“The bad news is that some have not survived, and the sex trade is still alive and thriving in Ireland.
“Unfortunately our work is still so necessary and the demand for our services is only increasing,”
EU gets new powers to hit international cyber hackers with sanctions
The EU is now able to hit international cyber criminals who pose a threat to member states with targeted sanctions as part of efforts to restrict hackers’ ability to knock out key infrastructure.
A new legal mechanism agreed this morning by the European Council can be used to target hackers regardless of where in the world they are based.
It provides the EU with the power to freeze assets held by such offenders in member states, and to prevent them from entering the 28-nation bloc.
The new framework can also be used to target any individuals who provide “financial, technical or material support for such attacks or who are involved in other ways”, the Council said in a statement issued this morning.
The new measures were signed off today in Brussels after the Netherlands and the UK lobbied for greater powers for members states to take swifter action against the originators of cyber attacks with the potential to bring down crucial national infrastructure, such as the May 2017 WannaCry ransomware outbreak.
Welcoming the introduction of the new sanctions regime, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt commented: “This is decisive action to deter future cyber-attacks. For too long now, hostile actors have been threatening the EU’s security through disrupting critical infrastructure, attempts to undermine democracy and stealing commercial secrets and money running to billions of euros.
“We must now look to impose travel bans and asset freezes against those we know have been responsible for this.”
The new powers were passed into EU law after it was reported that an international coalition of law enforcement agencies had broken up a cyber crime network that used malware in an attempt to steal $100 million from more than 41,000 victims.
Members of the gang, which was made up of hackers who advertised their skills on internet forums, are said to have used the GozNym malware to gain access to victims’ online banking login credentials, before using these to gain unauthorised access to their online accounts to drain them of money.
The funds that were stolen would then be laundered using US and foreign beneficiary bank accounts controlled by gang members.
A criminal indictment has now been returned by a US federal grand jury in Pittsburgh charging 10 members of the network with a number of cyber crime-related offences.
US Attorney Scott Brady commented: “The collaborative and simultaneous prosecution of the members of the GozNym criminal conspiracy in four countries represents a paradigm shift in how we investigate and prosecute cyber crime.
“Cyber crime victimises people all over the world. This prosecution represents an international cooperative effort to bring cyber criminals to justice.”
German and Italian police break up gang behind fake extra virgin olive oil conspiracy
An international operation coordinated by Europol has resulted in the dismantling of an organised criminal network behind the fraudulent sale of huge quantities of counterfeit extra virgin olive oil in Germany and Italy.
The operation that targeted the gang, which involved police investigators, from both countries, resulted in the arrest of 20 suspected gang members, as well as the seizure of 150,000 litres of fake extra virgin olive oil.
Members of the gang are said to have sourced wholesale quantities of sunflower oil in Italy, which they then adulterated with chlorophyll, beta-carotene and soya oil in a bid to make it appear as though it was extra virgin olive oil.
Once this process was completed in what Europol described as “unsanitary conditions”, the resultant bogus oil was transported by lorry to Germany, where it was stored by logistics firms before being fraudulently sold onto restaurant owners across the country.
Based on evidence that indicates the network purchased around one million litres of sunflower oil a year, it is estimated that the gang made some €8 million ($8.96 million) annually by selling their counterfeit product for as much as €10 per litre.
Investigators participating in the operation conducted raids at 20 properties in multiple locations, and impounded five lorries that were intercepted while carrying 23,000 litres of counterfeit oil each.
In a statement, Europol said: “This operation, supported by Europol and Eurojust, was carried out within the framework of the international Operation Opson, focused on combating counterfeit and substandard food and beverage products on the market in Europe and beyond.
“Europol supported this case since the beginning by holding an operational meeting at its headquarters in The Hague.”
Operation Opson, which has been run by a coalition of law enforcement agencies including Europol and Interpol since 2011, has resulted in the seizure of many thousands of tonnes of fake and adulterated food and drink, as well as the arrest of scores of suspected members of criminal food fraud gangs.
During the most recent Operation Opson investigation, which took place between December 2017 and March 2018, law enforcement agencies from a record 67 countries removed 3,620 tonnes of substandard and dangerous food from international supply chains, and broke up almost 50 organised crime networks said to have been involved in the illegal trade in counterfeit food and drink.
Speaking in April last year, Jari Liukku, Head of Europol’s European Serious and Organised Crime Centre, said: “[Food fraud] is a threat which requires… cooperation across borders, taking into account the increased integration and globalisation of supply chains.”
UK’s FBI needs extra £2.7 billion to tackle more than 181,000 serious and organised offenders
In the latest edition of its annual National Strategic Assessment, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has warned that there are at least 181,000 offenders linked to serious and organised crime operating in Britain, which is more than twice the number of soldiers currently serving in the British Army.
Launching the assessment, which was published this morning, NCA Director General Lynne Owens said the UK Government must provide an additional £2.7 billion ($3.5 billion) to tackle the growth in serious and organised crime, which she said is causing “staggering” damage to Britain.
She said this would work out to an additional £650 million in annual funding over the next three years; an amount equivalent to less than the weekly cost of serious and organised crime to Britain.
Speaking at the weekend ahead of the release of the assessment, Owens told reporters that serious and organised crime is responsible for more deaths every year in the UK than terrorism, war and natural disasters combined.
The assessment reveals that more than 144,000 paedophiles are accessing child sex abuse images through the dark web in Britain, while the number of county lines drug supply lines has increased from 720 to around 2,000 in little over a year.
Elsewhere, the report found that financial losses from fraud increased by 32% between April and September 2018 in the UK, and that there were 3.6 million incidents of fraud reported in England and Wales last year.
According to the report, organised immigration crime gangs from China and Vietnam have ramped up their activities in Britain over the course of the past year, while the number of human trafficking and modern slavery victims identified in the UK has risen sharply.
The NCA, which is often referred to as the UK’s equivalent of the FBI, notes in its assessment that new and emerging technologies such as the dark web, cryptocurrencies and encrypted messaging apps are helping serious and organised criminals commit a range of offences from anywhere in the world, including drug distribution, money laundering, the sharing of indecent images of children, and the hacking of national infrastructure.
“Visible, frontline policing is vital to public safety, but the reality is that we will not defeat serious and organised crime with beat officers alone,” Owens said.
“Some of the capabilities we need are most effectively and efficiently delivered at the local or regional level. The NCA must deliver others on a national basis, providing the right agencies with the right capabilities at the right time to deliver maximum impact.
“The choice is stark. Failing to invest will result in the gradual erosion of our capabilities and our ability to protect the public.”
- International pickpocketing gangs must be treated as serious and organised criminal networks
- EU gets new powers to hit international cyber hackers with sanctions
- German and Italian police break up gang behind fake extra virgin olive oil conspiracy
- Why counterfeiters are still able to operate all but freely on the surface web
- UK’s FBI needs extra £2.7 billion to tackle more than 181,000 serious and organised offenders
9 February 2018
9 February 2018
8 February 2018
28 November 2017
28 November 2017
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