Hospitality chiefs are seeking clarity over whether business lunches are exempt from Covid restrictions.

The oil giant distances itself from the President's "hypothetical" funds-for-contracts phone call.

The aim is to help people travelling to destinations where a negative result is required on arrival.

The maker of Dettol and Cillit Bang previously reported a big drop in demand for condoms across Europe.

Yahoo Finance's Akiko Fujita and Sibile Marcellus discuss AMC Theatres' decision to resume operations on October 23 in New York and China surpassing the United States in box office sales.
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Dr. Adrian Burrowes, Family Medicine Physician & CFP Physicians Group CEO, joins Yahoo Finance’s Akiko Fujita to discuss Florida reporting its highest COVID-19 count in two months, what people should do to stop the spread of coronavirus, the government response, and the election risks.
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Coronavirus essentials stores are opening amid the pandemic. The available products are specifically meant to help in the fight against the pandemic.
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Jack Manley, J.P. Morgan Asset Management's Global Market Strategist, joins speaks with Yahoo Finance's Seana Smith to discuss market uncertainty amid rising coronavirus cases and election uncertainty.
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The unemployment rate could rise above current predictions, a Bank of England policymaker warns.

The Justice Department is expected to file an antitrust suit against Google claiming anticompetitive conduct by tech giant.

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robin hood hacker imagery

image copyrightEDUARD MUZHEVSKYI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

A hacking group is donating stolen money to charity in what is seen as a mysterious first for cyber-crime that's puzzling experts.

Darkside hackers claim to have extorted millions of dollars from companies, but say they now want to "make the world a better place".

In a post on the dark web, the gang posted receipts for $10,000 in Bitcoin donations to two charities.

One of them, Children International, says it will not be keeping the money.

The move is being seen as a strange and troubling development, both morally and legally.

In the blog post on 13 October, the hackers claim they only target large profitable companies with their ransomware attacks. The attacks hold organisations' IT systems hostage until a ransom is paid.

hackers tax receipt for one donation

They wrote: "We think that it's fair that some of the money the companies have paid will go to charity.

"No matter how bad you think our work is, we are pleased to know that we helped changed someone's life. Today we sended (sic) the first donations."

The cyber-criminals posted the donation along with tax receipts they received in exchange for the 0.88 Bitcoin they had sent to two charities, The Water Project and Children International.

Children International supports children, families and communities in India, the Philippines, Colombia, Ecuador, Zambia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the United States.

A Children International spokesperson told the BBC: "If the donation is linked to a hacker, we have no intention of keeping it".

The Water Project, which works to improve access to clean water in sub-Saharan Africa, has not responded to requests for comment.

another tax receipt for a donation

Brett Callow, Threat Analyst at cyber-security company Emsisoft, said: "What the criminals hope to achieve by making these donations is not at all clear. Perhaps it helps assuage their guilt? Or perhaps for egotistical reasons they want to be perceived as Robin Hood-like characters rather than conscienceless extortionists.

"Whatever their motivations, it's certainly a very unusual step and is, as far as I know, the first time a ransomware group has donated a portion of their profits to charity."

The Darkside hacker group is relatively new on the scene, but analysis of the crypto-currency market confirms they are actively extorting funds from victims.

There is also evidence they may have links to other cyber-criminal groups responsible for high-profile attacks on companies including Travelex, which was crippled by ransomware in January.

The way the hackers paid the charities is also a possible cause for concern for law enforcement.

The cyber-criminals used a US-based service called The Giving Block, which is used by 67 different non-profits from around the world including Save The Children, Rainforest Foundation and She's The First.

deleted tweet from giving block

The Giving Block describes itself online as "the only non-profit specific solution for accepting crypto-currency donations".

The company was set up in 2018 to offer cryptocurrency 'millionaires' the ability to take advantage of the "huge tax incentive to donate Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies directly to non-profits".

The Giving Block told the BBC it was not aware these donations were made by cyber-criminals. It said: "We are still working to determine if these funds were actually stolen.

"If it turns out these donations were made using stolen funds, we will of course begin the work of returning them to the rightful owner."

The company did not clarify if this means returning the stolen money to the criminals, or attempting to work out which of the criminal victims it intended to reimburse and how.

The Giving Block, which is also an advocate for crypto-currencies, added: "The fact they used crypto will make it easier, not harder, to catch them."

However, The Giving Block has not given details on what information they collect on their donors. Most services that buy and sell digital coins like Bitcoin require users to verify their identity, but it's not clear whether this has been done here.

The Bitcoin payment widget on a charity website

As an experiment, the BBC attempted to donate anonymously through The Giving Block's online system, and was not asked any identity verification questions.

Experts say the case highlights the complexity and dangers of anonymous donations.

Crypto-currency investigator Philip Gradwell from Chainanalysis said: "If you walked into a charity shop with an anonymous mask on and donated £10,000 in cash, then asked for a taxable receipt, questions should probably be asked - and it's no different.

"It's right to say that researchers and law enforcement have become adept at tracing crypto-currency funds as they are moved around from wallet to wallet. But finding who actually owns each wallet is far more complicated.

"By allowing anonymous donations from potentially illicit sources, it opens up the danger of money laundering.

"All crypto-currency businesses need a full range of Anti-Money Laundering measures including a Know Your Customer (KYC) program of basic background checks, so that they can understand who is behind the transactions their business facilitates."

The BBC has spoken with other charities which accept donations via The Giving Project.

Save the Children told the BBC it would "never knowingly take money obtained through crime".

She's the First, a charity for girls' education around the world, said it would not be comfortable accepting money from anonymous, possibly criminal, sources and said: "It's a shame that bad actors would exploit the opportunity to donate crypto-currency for personal gain, and we hope that even anonymous donors share our community's values."

A customer pays at a supermarket till using her credit card

image copyrightGetty Images

Visa and Mastercard have been accused of cashing in during the coronavirus crisis by charging "excessive fees".

British retail groups say the scheme fees charged by payment firms have almost doubled in the last two years.

They warn that retailers will be forced to pass on the extra costs to consumers, with credit card bills rising by another £40 a year.

"It is vital that the government takes action to tackle excessive card costs," said the BRC's Andrew Cregan.

Mr Cregan, head of finance policy at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), told the BBC: "If a phone or energy company increased their fees by such an amount there would uproar.

"It's an abuse of a dominant market position by these companies. They're two of the most profitable organisations in the world and they've got merchants over a barrel."

The industry body wants the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate the card schemes.

A Visa spokesperson responded: "Visa enables millions of merchants throughout the UK to access the benefits of digital payments, giving them the ability to reach billions of potential customers both in their local communities and across the globe. Visa has delivered to UK consumers some of the most secure and innovative payments solutions available anywhere in the world."

A Mastercard spokesperson said: "Card-based payments continue to grow in popularity with consumers as they offer unrivalled convenience, security and protection.

"More shops and businesses are also adopting them either for the first time or in new contactless or digital formats, as they too benefit from faster, more efficient and secure payments, which in turn generates significant value for their businesses."

Retail and hospitality trade bodies have come together to call for action to tackle card fees, as more of them have been forced to accept only card payments due to the pandemic and social distancing rules.

Visa and Mastercard debit and credit cards

image copyrightSOPA Images

In its latest Payments Survey, the BRC said that card schemes were clearly the "least competitive layer of the card payments ecosystem", with a duopoly controlling 98% of the UK market.

"Complex billing structures have become a powerful tool to bamboozle political, regulatory or legal attempts to rein in increasing abuses of the schemes' dominant market positions," said the industry body.

BRC said the increases in scheme fees - 39% in 2017 and 56% in 2018, measured as a percentage of turnover - were "clear demonstrations of an abuse of market dominance".

The BRC said the average cost of a cash transaction to retailers was just 1.42p. Accepting payment by debit cards costs retailers 5.88p, while credit cards cost them 18.4p.

"The events of the last few months have accelerated a move towards the use of card payments across hospitality, with many now not accepting cash on safety grounds," pointed out David Sheen, public affairs director at UK Hospitality.

"The sector needs to be protected from excessive fees for doing the right thing."

Jeff Moody, commercial director, British Independent Retailers Association, said that local shops are being penalised as they are not able to negotiate better fees with payment firms.

"The contracts available to large national chains are often not available to individual smaller independent retailers," he said.

"With card transactions now the majority of their payment transactions, these costs are therefore being felt by consumers."

"The costs that accompany acceptance of card payments represent yet another overhead for embattled small retailers," added Martin McTague, national policy and advocacy vice chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

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