How consumers can avoid fraud amid big sales week for Amazon, Walmart

  • With e-commerce surging during the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Day and the 2020 holiday season may be the perfect hunting ground for online fraudsters.
  • Business Insider spoke with Amazon’s former Director of Corporate Development Aaron Barfoot, who now serves as the chief financial officer of online security firm Forter. 
  • “Good online hygiene means paying attention and being alert,” Barfoot said. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

It’s a potential nightmare for anyone who’s ever shopped online: checking your bank account or credit card statement to find that a cybercriminal has stolen your identity and run up a huge bill.

During Amazon’s two-day Prime Day sales event and the upcoming 2020 holiday season, that’s a scenario that could become reality for more shoppers than ever before. Former Amazon Director of Corporate Development Aaron Barfoot — who now serves as chief financial officer for online fraud prevention firm Forter — said that 2020 may prove to be an especially risky year for online shoppers, thanks to the surge in online purchases during the coronavirus pandemic.

Forter estimates that transactions by first-time online shoppers have spiked from between 4% to 5% last year to around 10% to 14% in 2020. The overall increase in online transactions makes it “easier for a fraudster to hide,” Barfoot said. In its annual fraud report tracking e-commerce transactions, Forter also found that fraud pertaining to “buy-online-and-pickup-in-store” orders has already increased 55% year-over-year.

“More new customers are going online for the first time,” Barfoot told Business Insider. “Once those new customers are online, they are more susceptible to fraud.”

Those looking to prey upon the influx of inexperienced e-commerce shoppers — especially elderly customers and those without the digital savvy to create strong passwords — come armed with a playbook of fraudulent moves. Hussein Ahmad, CEO of digital

Manhattan Emptied Out During the Pandemic. But Big Tech Is Moving In.

Facebook has just leased enough new office space in Manhattan to nearly triple its current local work force, including at one of the city’s most iconic buildings, the 107-year-old former main post office complex near Pennsylvania Station.

Apple, which set up its first office in New York a decade ago, is expanding to another building in Manhattan. And Google and Amazon are stitching together corporate campuses in the city more quickly than anywhere else in the world. Amazon paid roughly $1 billion in March for the iconic Lord & Taylor building on Fifth Avenue.

Despite a pandemic that has ravaged New York, hollowed out many of its office buildings and raised fundamental questions about its future, the four companies collectively known as Big Tech are all significantly expanding their footprint in the city, giving it a badly needed vote of confidence.

With fears that the virus could spike again in the colder months, many companies are grappling with how, when and even if office workers will come back to buildings in Manhattan. And the tech giants have not brought their workers back yet, either.

Even so, the giants have not only moved forward with previous growth plans, but have also increased their pace of hiring and office acquisition during the pandemic.

The industry’s embrace of New York City comes despite the tumultuous reception that Amazon received last year when it proposed building a sprawling headquarters in Queens. Amazon abandoned the plans in the face of political and community opposition, but now has acquired more than 2 million square feet of office space for corporate workers, as well as warehouses from Staten Island to Queens to the Bronx.

After Amazon bought the Lord & Taylor building, it announced in August that 2,000 employees would eventually work there, increasing by half its

The tiny BBC micro:bit mini-computer just got a big upgrade

A new version of the pocket-sized BBC micro:bit computer is coming to schools worldwide, packed with new features designed to keep young students up-to-date with the latest hot trends in technology. 

New hardware will help young coders make experiments with artificial intelligence, and build applications running machine-learning systems. The micro:bit 2.0 also includes, for the first time, a built-in speaker and microphone, so that sound-based projects no longer have to be connected to exterior audio systems – while also letting the device respond and react to sounds like clapping. 

And in a nod to big tech and the industry’s privacy headaches, an LED will flash to make it clear when the microphone is on and sensing sound, to encourage young users to reflect on the pervasiveness of listening devices.

SEE: Technology in education: The latest products and trends (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

“We want to support teachers teaching or taking their first steps with digital creativity and coding,” Gareth Stockdale, CEO of the micro:bit educational foundation, told ZDNet. 

“So, listening to what teachers would find useful was really important, and making and creating with sounds always came out at the top. That’s why we worked on playful sounds and personality for the micro:bit, not just monotone beeps and buzzes.”

Available from mid-November 2020, the micro:bit’s new features are coming four years after the first iteration of the device was released as part of an effort to help children get to grips with basic programming skills. 

A 4×5-centimetre computer complete with two programmable buttons, LEDs, and I/O rings to connect to other objects, the first micro:bit launched in 2016 with motion detection, a built-in compass and Bluetooth technology. The goal was to enable children with no prior knowledge of computing to easily code the computer with something simple in seconds, using a

Big Money, Day Traders Both Love Japan Tech Darling Mercari

(Bloomberg) — Mercari Inc., the online flea-market operator that has become one of Japan’s most closely watched tech ventures, is closing in on new highs as the stock has drawn both big and small money.

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The company has already grown to command the largest weighting on Japan’s startup-focused Mothers index as individual investors buy in — of some 230 of the largest Japanese companies with market value of over $5 billion, Mercari has the third-highest percentage of individual shareholders. Then on Oct. 7, Los Angeles-based money manager Capital Group declared it had taken a 5% stake in Mercari.

That’s helping propel the stock to near the 6,000 yen mark it hit just once, on the day it listed to great fanfare in 2018. After a rapid decline, the stock has worked its way back up this year, fueled by its first quarterly operating profit. That’s been helped by the coronavirus pandemic, which has boosted usage of its online marketplace where users buy and sell items.



graphical user interface, chart, histogram: Mercari shares are nearly back to the post-IPO pop


© Bloomberg
Mercari shares are nearly back to the post-IPO pop

Mercari fell 0.2% in Tokyo on Tuesday. A gain of just 3.3% in the next trading session would see it match the 6,000 yen high.

Mercari is something of a rarity in Japan, which has few tech startups that have swelled to the size of the $8.6 billion company, according to Ikuo Mitsui, a fund manager at Aizawa Securities Co., who is still bullish on the firm after the share surge.

“In Japan there are very few companies like this, light on assets and not requiring large-scale capex,” he said. That’s why many are piling onto the stock, he added.

Video: Twilio CEO on the company’s stock jump and market opportunity (CNBC)

Twilio CEO on the company’s stock jump and market opportunity

EU targets Big Tech with “hit list” facing tougher rules

A Facebook logo in front of an EU flag in this photo illustration on November 20, 2017.
Enlarge / A Facebook logo in front of an EU flag in this photo illustration on November 20, 2017.

EU regulators are drawing up a “hit list” of up to 20 large Internet companies, likely to include Silicon Valley giants such as Facebook and Apple, that will be subject to new and far more stringent rules aimed at curbing their market power.

Under the plans, large platforms that find themselves on the list will have to comply with tougher regulation than smaller competitors, according to people familiar with the discussions, including new rules that will force them to share data with rivals and an obligation to be more transparent on how they gather information.

The list will be compiled based on a number of criteria, including market share of revenues and number of users, meaning the likes of Facebook and Google are likely to be included. Those deemed to be so powerful that rivals cannot trade without using their platforms could also be added.

The move to gain new powers is part of a growing effort in Brussels to force big technology companies to change their business practices without a full investigation or any finding that they have broken existing laws.

It follows complaints that the current regulatory regime has resulted in weak and belated action, which has done little to foster competition.

The number of companies and the precise criteria for the list is still being discussed, but it is the latest indication of how serious the EU is about coming up with powers to limit the power of platforms seen as “too big to care.”

“The immense market power of these platforms is not good for competition,” said a person with intimate knowledge of the discussions.

The proposals, which are still being discussed among senior EU officials, could