BEHIND YOUR BACK: Personal security, convenience and child safety as the bases for corporate fraud

You don’t need to be a roving, khaki­-clad action correspondent these days to dig out malfeasance; you just have to wonder why things are as they are, do some internet research, and then sound innocent when calling the more naively accepting employees of multinational concerns. Yes it’s sneaky, but after a while one gets to realise that the purpose of the exercise is to put something back into the society that helped you.

That may sound terribly grand, but the truth is that for a Northern English lad comme moi, society did poo on me an awful lot early on, but on the whole I benefited far more from the free healthcare and education I got.

Plant a tree after 65, and you realise the likelihood of you ever sitting on a
circular bench around the trunk of the resultant mature walnut are close to zero. I’ve no idea whether it’s any form of human instinct (frankly, I doubt it) but the idea of ‘putting something back’ is in the wiring of many of us. For myself, I think of what I do as putting something back where it belongs ­ ie, without any privileged power whatsoever. Forty years ago it was the TUC and its disgracefully fascist block vote: today it’s the huge banking, military, surveillance, marketing and media corporations and their global heist of government and politics.

Putting something back is made all the more difficult by the number of wide-eyed greed buckets doing things behind your back. Of course, the place I choose to designate ‘behind your back’ is a port of literary convenience: ‘under a stone’ is just as good a descriptor. And every stone you lift from the beach of Mammon these days has something of the slimey, neolithic night underneath. Three such examples follow.

Passwords on monetised websites. This one’s a beaut. You stumble
upon a great service and start to use it regularly. Then they (aka the
company accountant) suggest you have ‘an account’ from which you can
withdraw each time you buy ‘for that faster, totally convenient purchase’. It’s not a credit account, I hasten to add: you give them money, ­ albeit in fairly small amounts. Every now and then a smiley happy email arrives to say you need a top­up and you say sure, dig your spade into my bank account. The service, after all, is first class and the people are nice.

But then they sell out to Maxwell Swingingdick. And that’s when the trouble starts, because the values of Wall Street are not those of Walsall or small-town Wisconsin. One day you go in to make a cheap call or top up your phone or send that important greetings card, and Computer Says No. It says absolutely no, ­ that password does not match the user name/email address we have in our records.

The ‘help’ section and the ‘user forum’ don’t get you anywhere, the email­-us-because­-we­-wanna-­hear­-from­-you wends its way in orbit around an irrelevant planet, and eventually most users (by now informed that only complex realignments and an upgrade will get them back on board) go with the flow and create a new ID.

What they don’t get is their own ‘float’ back.

The three biggest perpetrators of this fraud have, at the last count, just over 40 million users between them. All they have to do is mine 1% of the user base with this scam per annum, and lo ­ at an average float of $20 ­ that’s eight million bucks straight to the bottom line.

What’s more, they don’t even have to wait several years (like financial
institutions) before sending these sums to profit as ‘dead accounts’: they
know they’re dead…..they killed them.

They will simply wind up in the Annual Report of the holding company under an arcane heading such as ‘extraordinary churn items’ ­ or, my particular favourite, ‘inadvertant user dysfunction’.

It’s for yoo­hoo. Pretty well everyone these days with a landline phone has
an infoscreen on the receiver. The screens say all kinds of impenetrable things, but the most common thing they announce is ‘new messages’.
I wonder if, like me, your screen has told you there are new messages when, um, there aren’t?

In a busy day, you just swear under your breath and move on. But every time the screen is ‘wrong’, the phoneco makes a nice little earner…for doing nothing but telling you a lie.

That is fraud.

And before anyone says it’s just me, I didn’t start from my own experiences on this one: they just chimed with an email I got from somebody – ­ and then asking an admittedly small sample of chums what they felt about it.

Now for this to have any validity given the way things work in 2015, there
would have to be collusion between the phone hardware manufacturers, and the telcos.

I have two phone connections here at Slogger’s Roost. The receivers are made by two different manufacturers and attached to access supplied by two unrelated ISPs. They both tell me, on occasions, that I have calls waiting when I don’t.

This isn’t incontrovertible truth. It is food for thought.

But the standard excuse for the password and message scams is ‘USER
ERROR’. It’s not dissimilar to the self­-whitewashing bollocks given out by
airlines and plane manufacturers after a fatal crash: PILOT ERROR.

Domestic cleaning sprays and child safety. In the interests of ensuring
our children don’t suddenly decide to take that garden axe lying around and smash plastic spray­ bottles of things called ‘Bang’, ‘Extreme’ and ‘Boom’ into toxically leaking bits, manufacturers of the new generation of merciless germ­killers have decided to make it absolutely impossible to get the spray module open and thus use the full contents of the pack.

I did some measuring of the amount left unused in such spray bottles last
week; the length of the suction tube is such that, in the three packs I tested, around 15% of the liquid would be wasted by the 99% of users who aren’t obsessed sad old gits like me.

A product with a margin into the trade of around 27% is thus ­ in terms of
accelerated repurchase rate ­ transformed into one giving shareholders the
best part of 30%. That might not seem like much: but a 10% increase in
margin equates to huge amounts of money given the context of global

It is fraud hiding behind Health & Safety, and it isn’t unusual. One of the
many things completely alien to the HSE mindset is the sad reality of
exploitation in the Age of deregulated illegality.


I can absolutely guarantee that, in every State on the planet today and in
every market sector, the dead hands of the amoral cost accountants are
about their Zombie work….destroying the trust between brands and
consumers, while deceiving shareholders and the media about their real (ie, legal) level of profitability.

Once they have finished their work, the corporate accountants and tame
auditors will begin their task of making a loss look like an investment and a profit look like r&d. Columns, rows and extrapolations will bamboozle the analysts and satisfy the authorities. Panic­-driven Rights issues will seem like sound diligence, and restoring the permatan Chairman’s summer retreat in Nice will be hidden somewhere under the cost of sales to key clients.

By the time an offer or issue document of some kind gets out there, the
reportage therein will bear about as much relation to reality as COP21 did
last weekend.

The only thing we can be certain about is that We the People will have been royally screwed, and the operation will have been carried out with the collusion and enthusiastic support of the political élites.

Yesterday at The Slog: Tim Peake, Weapon of Mass Distraction