Interpol chief impersonated on Facebook

In a speech in Hong Kong arguing that cybercrime may be "one of the most dangerous criminal threats ever," and detailing his organization's efforst to counter it, Interpol Chief Ronald K. Noble told this harrowing tale of his own brush with online identity theft: 

[E]ven with the best standards in place, security incidents can always happen.

Just recently INTERPOL’s Information Security Incident Response Team discovered two Facebook profiles attempting to assume my identity as INTERPOL’s Secretary General.

One of the impersonators was using this profile to try to obtain information on fugitives
targeted during our recent Operation Infra Red. This Operation was bringing investigators from 29 member countries at the INTERPOL General Secretariat to exchange information on international fugitives and lead to more than 130 arrests in 32 countries. 

Noble didn't go into details about how much success the cyberfraudsters got with their ruse -- some of the press reports have been a tad misleading in this regard -- but frankly, if this is the level cybercriminals are operating on, I don't think we have much to worry about. 

It's perfectly fine that Noble has an official Facebook profile,  but I would certainly hope he's not using it to share and obtain information with other law enforcement officials. I'm trying to imagine how the fake Ronald Nobles would go about trying to deceive their marks: "Hey there, it's Ron from Interpol. Just postin' on ur wall to see how that big organized crime investigation is going. Please send me all the deets including names of suspects and plans for future operations! TTYL!!!"

If fake Facebook pages are really a threat to Interpol security, they probably have bigger things to worry about.  


Vatican bank investigated for money laundering

In yet another scandal for the Catholic Church, Italian authorities are investigating the Vatican Bank on suspicion of money laundering: 

The Bank of Italy investigation was prompted by two wire transfers which the Vatican Bank asked Credito Artigiano to carry out, the Bank of Italy said.

The Vatican Bank did not provide enough information about the transfers -- one for 20 million euros (about $26 million), and one for 3 million euros (about $4 million) -- to comply with the law, prompting the Bank of Italy to suspend them automatically, it said.

The Vatican Bank is subject to particularly stringent anti-money laundering regulations because Italian law does not consider it to operate within the European Union.

This is not the first time the bank, formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion, has been under suspicion. The bank has been accused in the past of laundering money for the Sicilian mafia and the Gambino crime family as well as helping Croatia's pro-Nazi wartime government steal the assets of Holocaust victims.

The current investigation could add more fuel to the current debate over Vatican sovereignty, which was prompted by the pope's recent visit to Britain. Anti-pope campaigners like the British LGBT activist Peter Tatchell argue that the Holy See's officially recognized sovereignty and observer status at the United Nations give it unwarranted authority in international debates over subjects like birth control, abortion and homosexuality while protecting priests and Vatican officials from prosecution. 

As I wrote in a recent explainer piece, the Holy See has worked hard to cement its sovereign status since it was first recognized under a treaty with Benito Mussolini's Italy in 1929. It currently enjoys diplomatic relations with 176 countries in spite of the fact that has no fixed population and controls virtually no territory, usually prerequisites for statehood.

But in light of the fact that Vatican sovereignty can be used as a tool to protect both accused pedophiles and money launderers, it might be time to consider whether the Catholic Church deserves a special recognition under international law not granted to any other religion.