A new way to combat online crime | landmark freezing order granted in internet fraud against ‘ghost’ perpetrators

Published on 7th Feb 2018

A worldwide freezing order (WFO) has been granted against ‘Person(s) Unknown’ who, in what appears to have been a cyber-attack, caused several million dollars of the claimant’s funds to be transferred from the claimant company’s bank accounts in London to a number of banks across different jurisdictions.

WFO against ‘Persons Unknown’

The innovative WFO will allow the claimant company to trace and secure the money that had been stolen from its accounts by the as-yet unidentified individuals. This could prove a potentially powerful tool to fight online fraud at an international level when the perpetrators are hiding behind cyber cloaks of anonymity. The decision was welcomed as an innovative response from the Commercial Court to modern threats brought about by online banking and e-commerce.

Internationally enforceable disclosure orders against banks

At the same time, the Commercial Court granted a worldwide disclosure order against the international banks to or through which the proceeds of fraud were diverted. The order will assist with the tracing of the monies, as well as with identifying the fraudsters, all the while maintaining foreign bank secrecy and client confidentiality at national level. 

Alternative service provisions

Innovative orders for service of documents by alternative methods were also granted: service through Facebook and a combination of email notification and online data room document delivery. The decision reflects the increasing use of modern communication channels not simply as social platforms, but as alterative tools in the course of international litigation.

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* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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