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  • Geebo 10:09 am on January 17, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    The phony check scam revisited 

    The phony check scam revisited

    A man from Grand Island, Nebraska, has found himself out of over $500 after falling for one of the oldest scams that has been taking place on sites like craigslist almost since the beginning. The victim was trying to sell a piece of furniture on OfferUp and received a cashier’s check for $2000 more than the asking price. That should have been the first red flag indicating that this may have been a scam.

    The buyer asked the man to deposit the check and wire the difference back to them. The man followed the instructions and thought he was in the clear. However, days after he deposited the check, it came back as fraudulent. His bank is now holding him responsible for the $2000 he withdrew from the bank on a phony check. Sadly, this is an all too common occurrence.

    Stories like this show that there needs to be constant reminders of this scam and its ilk. If a buyer sends you a cashier check, be suspicious, and if it’s over the agreed upon amount it’s definitely a scam. Also, wiring money to anyone that you don’t know personally is always a recipe for disaster as the scammers could be somewhere where apprehension and prosecution is almost impossible.

  • Geebo 10:28 am on January 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    Fake lift ticket scams hitting the slopes 

    Fake lift ticket scams hitting the slopes

    With winter weather hitting the country hard recently, a number of people are using it as an opportunity to hit the ski slopes in many of the nation’s ski resorts. Unfortunately, scammers are also using this opportunity to defraud those looking for a fun time in the snow. In Colorado, there have been reports of phony lift tickets being sold on craigslist.

    This particular lift ticket scam works the same way many phony ticket scams do. The scammer purchases the tickets using a stolen credit card hoping they get the tickets before the fraudulent charges are caught. They then advertise the tickets for a deep discount. However, when the buyer reaches the slopes, the phony charges have been caught by then and the tickets are rendered null and void leaving many skiers and snowboarders stranded at the bottom of the hill.

    It’s not just ski resorts that deal with this problem either. Many vacation hotspots such as theme parks have encountered this scam as well.

    When buying any kind of vacation ticket, stick to purchasing the tickets from authorized vendors or the destination itself. If a price online seems too good or comes with some kind of story attached, it is more than likely too good to be true.

  • Geebo 10:19 am on January 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Citizens Against Sex Trafficking, , , twin cities   

    Twin Cities suburbs fight against human trafficking 

    Twin Cities suburbs fight against human trafficking

    Last week, we discussed how January is Human Trafficking Awareness month and how the problem is not just confined to big cities and urban areas. At that time we talked about how the issue was affecting Idaho Falls, Idaho. Not exactly a monolithic metropolis. Now another location in Middle America is taking the fight to the plague of human trafficking and it’s in suburban, Minnesota.

    A group called Citizens Against Sex Trafficking, or CAST for short, is working in cooperation with the police of Washington County, Minnesota, which contains communities considered the suburbs of the St. Paul-Minneapolis area. Once again, a citizens group is showing that human trafficking is happening everywhere in our country, including small towns and suburbs.

    CAST is already showing results with the rescuing of a 13-year-old girl. And where is CAST finding these victims? Backpage of course. An investigator with Washington County police said that she has reviewed close to a 100,000 ads for trafficking in their county alone last year. This is after Backpage supposedly closed down their adult section, although in reality the trafficking ads just moved to the personals section where paying to have the ads promoted still exists. In essence Backpage, is still making money from ads where woman and children are being trafficked against their will, and as we’ve pointed out, this is happening everywhere probably including where you live.

    Until we as a nation start to recognize human trafficking as an ‘everywhere’ problem, Backpage and the traffickers that keep them in business will continue to make what is essentially blood money.

  • Geebo 10:03 am on January 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    Is Peter Thiel trying to erase his critics from the internet? 

    Is Peter Thiel trying to erase his critics from the internet?

    It’s been reported recently that billionaire and Silicon Valley bigwwig Peter Thiel may have out in a bid to buy the remaining assets of the now defunct news and gossip blog Gawker. Thiel is infamous for admittedly funding the lawsuit by former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan that bankrupted Gawker media. Most of Gawker Media’s assets were sold to television network Univision, however, the Gawker website itself was left behind as part of a bankruptcy estate.

    So why is this news? Well, the Gawker archives are still online, that includes many stories critical of Peter Thiel and the story that started Thiel’s apparent vendetta against Gawker where Gawker outed him as being gay. One of Gawker’s former reporters alleges that if Thiel purchases Gawker he could potentially delete the archives and use copyright law to force any copies of them offline. While you may debate the merits or lack thereof of Gawker itself, this would be a dark day for journalism as it shows that information can be controlled if you have enough money.

    However, if Thiel chose to pursue this path it could have the opposite effect. Thiel is risking what’s been dubbed the Streisand Effect. The Streisand Effect is a term coined by the internet after celebrity Barbara Streisand who tried to have photos of her home suppressed from publication. What followed was a flood of Streisand’s home being posted online. If Thiel were to try to erase articles that were critical of him they would almost surely reappear in other places on the web. Not just that, but the web can be so ephemeral that once one story was removed, ten anonymous replacements would take its place.

  • Geebo 10:00 am on January 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    Don’t buy a locked iPhone 

    Don't buy a locked iPhone

    Previously, we’ve discussed the inherent problems with buying an iPhone through a less than reputable site like craigslist. Whether it’s an old scam like wiring the money to a seller, or a new one like the cloned knock off iPhone, there is a minefield of traps you need to avoid when buying one of Apple’s most coveted products used.

    Recently, a man on Falls Church, Virginia, bought a used iPhone 8 off of craigslist and the phone seemed to pass all the tests in being a legitimate working iPhone. That was until he tried to activate the phone and found that the phone was blocked, or a more accurate term may be blacklisted. The phone was purchased through a payment plan with the phone’s carrier rather than being bought outright. The previous owner failed to make payments and when that happens the phone is immediately blacklisted and can not be activated ever.

    One of the things you can do to protect yourself is to try to activate the phone while the seller is there with you. Another is to check the IMEI or ESN numbers, a form of cell phone identification, with a number of websites that can check to see if the phone is blacklisted or not. Also, try using a more reputable site than craigslist. And as always, meet the seller at a police station. Not only does this go a long way in keeping you physically safe, but someone with a blocked phone may not be so willing to sell the phone where they can be recorded.

  • Geebo 10:06 am on January 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Alphabet, , , , ,   

    Facebook, Twitter, and Google to be called before Congress again 

    Facebook, Twitter, and Google to be called before Congress again

    Not too long ago, tech giants Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, were called to testify before Congress about their alleged roles in foreign meddling of the 2016 Presidential Election. Now those same companies are being asked to return to Washington to testify about their part in the dissemination of extremist propaganda. If you’ll recall, the tech companies did not do themselves any favors in their testimony over the Russian backed ads from the election.

    At that time, we asked if the CEOs of each respective company were afraid to appear before Congress themselves. It may appear that the answer to that question is yes, they are scared. Once again, instead of Larry Page, Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg testifying before congress about their platforms we’ll instead have the heads of each company’s public policy department. Even though they have the records of the disastrous performance of their companies’ last representatives, I doubt this new crop of underlings will fare any better.

    This also comes on the heels of Mark Zuckerberg himself stating that Facebook is ‘broken’ in his pledge to fix the platform. If he’s aware of the problems that have befallen his ubiquitous network then why is he uncomfortable to appear before Congress to make these same promises? As the saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Thee companies indeed have absolute power over most of our daily lives. To not be completely transparent shows that they probably have many things to hide.

  • Geebo 10:26 am on January 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    States taking up the fight for Net Neutrality 

    States taking up the fight for Net Neutrality

    When the FCC, along with Chairman Ajit Pai, repealed the Net Neutrality protections they also claimed the authority to prevent the states from creating and enforcing their own Net Neutrality legislation. This seems to fly in the face of the current administration’s supposed support of states’ rights. However, this hasn’t stopped some of the states from introducing their own legislation despite the FCC’s proclamation.

    Two states that you wouldn’t normally mention in the same sentence, California and Nebraska, have both introduced legislation intended to keep paid prioritized internet traffic, throttling and blockages out of their states. If these state laws were to pass, it would make it difficult for ISPs operating in multiple states to have separate networks for each state and may make them abide by Net Neutrality in each state.

    If the federal government really wanted to make an example of any state that enforced their own Net Neutrality laws, they technically could pull federal funding from any of the states. A state like California could more than likely weather that storm, but a state like Nebraska could be hurt significantly. The question is, does the current administration really want the PR nightmare that would come with cutting off state funding over Net Neutrality?

  • Geebo 10:02 am on January 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Human Trafficking Awareness Month,   

    January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month 

    January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

    For those of you who may bot have heard, the President has declared January National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. In that vein, Local News 8 in Idaho Falls, Idaho, published a story about Human Trafficking Awareness Month with a local outreach program known as Operation Shield.

    The article goes on to detail about how you can protect your children from human traffickers, and we’ll get to that in a moment, but we should also look at one of the misconceptions about human trafficking that many people have. Human trafficking is not just a big city, or inner city issue. It affects every ethnicity and financial designation. Victims can be from the biggest cities in the nation to the smallest towns in Middle America. Due to the influence of social media and sites like Backpage and craigslist human trafficking has become an issue that we all need to be aware of, and yes, it’s even happening near where you live.

    Now, getting back to the tips on keeping your children safe, the article linked to has some great tips such as keeping track of your children’s online activity and making sure they don’t have any social media friends they’ve never met in real life. One tip that wasn’t mentioned that is known trick of human traffickers is the modeling or talent scam. Many times traffickers will pose as modeling or talent agents telling teenagers they can make a lot of money modeling or singing. Too many victims have been lured into trafficking with the promises of money and fame only to be turned out on to the streets and Backpage by violent pimps and traffickers. Please educate your children to be aware of anyone who may approach them with promises of money as one of those things that are way too good to be true.

  • Geebo 10:31 am on January 5, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    What to do when your stolen stuff shows up online 

    What to do when your stolen stuff shows up online

    For some reason, the media loves to glorify stories about ordinary citizens who get their stolen goods back when they show up on places like craigslist or OfferUp. A majority of the time the stories are about bicycles because its something that the original owner can just ride away on once they locate it and meet the thief. Here’s an example.

    The problem is with these kind of homemade stings is that they can easily go wrong. For instance, two people in the Dallas, Texas area are dead after a man found his stolen camera on OfferUp. He confronted the seller and was able to get his camera back, however, an argument ensued which resulted in gunfire being exchanged. Tragically, both the man and the alleged thief were killed.

    Both craigslist and OfferUp are notorious for thieves trying to sell stolen goods on their platforms. If something of yours is stolen in any kind of burglary it’s a great idea to look on these platforms for your items. However, under no circumstances should you approach these thieves on your own. Always notify your local law enforcement. They may not work at the speed you wish they would. They may not even be able to get your stuff back, but no gadget or bicycle or any other material good is worth putting your life in mortal danger.

  • Geebo 10:12 am on January 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    Craigslist-like crimes overwhelming police 

    Craigslist crimes overwhelming police

    News station WKMG in Orlando, Florida, recently ran a report about crimes committed through online classifieds like craigslist and apps like OfferUp and LetGo have been overwhelming the detectives of the Orlando Police Department. One of their lead detectives says that robbery is the most common of the crimes committed, usually involving high-end smart phones since they involve a lot of money but are easy to grab. The detective goes on to name the usual suspects of which sites and apps these robberies are largely facilitated through and they are craigslist, OfferUp, LetGo and Facebook Marketplace.

    It used to be that meeting someone in a public place was enough to discourage any criminal activity from happening, but as time has progressed since the advent of online classifieds these rules have since changed since criminals have changed their tactics and have become more brazen. Now it is highly recommended to complete these transactions at your local police station as many of them have set up safe trading zones.

    Many of these classifieds sites and apps don’t offer this kind of advice or make it difficult to find. However, Geebo has a highly visible link in each of its ads to the SafeTrade initiative, where you can find a list of participating police stations across the country.

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