Updates from May, 2018 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 9:12 am on May 31, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , deployed military, , sob story   

    Avoid the sob story when it comes to classifieds 

    Avoid the sob story when it comes to classifieds

    One of the most prolific ways online scammers try to prey on their victims is by tugging at their heartstrings. As long as online classifieds have been around con artists have been trying to fleece victims out of their money by posing as people who are generally trusted by their communities. For example, in many communities where many of its people are religious, con artists will pose as missionaries who are out of the country then try to either get you to pay them through a wire transfer or try to pay you with a phony over-the-price check. Another pervasive scam is someone posing as a member of the military.

    Recently, the Minneapolis StarTribune reported about a scam that hit almost all the sob story checkboxes. The scammer posted a craigslist ad that claimed to be selling a boat. When a prospective buyer contacted the scammer, the scammer not only claimed they needed to sell the boat by May 30th because they were supposedly being deployed overseas, but they also claimed to be going through a divorce. The scammer also claimed that the boat was being kept at an eBay warehouse and all transactions would be handled through eBay. If the sob story and rush to payment weren’t enough red flags, the eBay warehouse should be a dead giveaway. While vehicles can be bought and sold through eBay, they do not have warehouses. More than likely the scammer would have sent a fake email that would have looked like an official email from eBay, but in reality, the email would link to a website that looks like eBay but is a fake designed to get your money and your personal information.

    While there are many people out there who are in dire need of some kind of financial assistance, there are unfortunately those who look to prey on our spirit of generosity. Always do your research when coming across these situations online as a mistake could leave you in financial straits.

     
  • Geebo 9:06 am on May 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , prepaid VISA card, , stun gun   

    Bizarre OfferUp robbery in Oregon 

    Bizarre OfferUp robbery in Oregon

    A man and a girl were violently robbed in Tualatin, Oregon, after responding to an OfferUp ad for two cell phones. The buyers were instructed to bring the money in the form of a $1200 prepaid VISA card. When the card wouldn’t work the buyers and sellers went to a grocery store to try and withdraw money from the card which also didn’t work for some reason. Usually, when it comes to transactions like this through marketplace apps, prepaid VISA cards are used more for over the phone type scams.

    Possibly out of frustration, the sellers allegedly used a stun gun on the man and held the girl at knifepoint robbing them of whatever possessions the buyers had on them. At the time of this post, the suspects have yet to be apprehended. There was obviously some malice of forethought here since the sellers ended up robbing the buyers, but there were some red flags that something was not right with this proposed transaction.

    First off, anytime someone gives some kind of prerequisite on how they want to receive payment in a face to face transaction, there’s probably a scam in play especially when it comes to any type of prepaid VISA or gift card. Secondly, you should never travel to a secondary location on anyone’s insistence. Thieves usually use this tactic to get their victims away from the public eye and have resulted in tragic consequences. Lastly, meeting in a public place just isn’t the safeguard it once was as scammers and thieves have become increasingly bolder in recent years when it comes to their crimes. You should always insist on meeting at a police station as more police departments are encouraging people to use their monitored parking lots and lobbies as meeting places for these kinds of transactions. If the person you’re dealing with doesn’t want to meet their then more than likely they’re up to some kind of scheme where you could lose your money, be hurt, or worse.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Is there a new site trying to usurp Backpage’s trafficking throne? 

    Is there a new site trying to usurp Backpage's trafficking throne?

    Recently, one of New York’s less than trustworthy and more opinionated newspapers ran an article claiming online sex trafficking hasn’t changed since the federal seizure of Backpage. The article claims an ‘unnamed source’ within the NYPD saying there has been no slow down since Backpage was shuttered. This newspaper seems to be one of the outlets that believe the ‘consenting adult’ myth as they quote a john who said that prostitution should be legal since gambling and marijuana are legal in some places. The problem with that analogy is marijuana and casino chips aren’t being repeatedly sold against their will.

    However, the article then goes on to not only mention a new website but links to the new site as well that is supposedly the sleazy heir apparent to Backpage. We’re not going to link to the article, the website, or mention the website by name, but the site looks like it’s trying to copy Backpage even right down to its site design. The ads on this new site seem to be even more blatant than the usually coded ads that appeared on Backpage. This new site also has the usual disclaimer that ads related to human trafficking will not be tolerated asking ad posters to click on a button that says ‘I agree’. They’re even trying to be more shifty than Backpage was. In my research, I was unable to find any information regarding who owns the new platform. Their social media presence is almost non-existent, however, I was able to find some information that the site does business in Texas although reports say the website itself is allegedly hosted in Canada.

    While the New York tabloids may be decrying that online sex trafficking has continued unabated since the closure of Backpage, it’s still too early to really tell. It’s only been less than two months since Backpage was seized so it’s still too early to say that it’s business as usual. At its height, Backpage was responsible for 80% of all online sex trafficking in the US by most reports and had the financial backing of a media company. In today’s post-FOSTA world it will be almost impossible for a website to be as lucrative as Backpage was at its zenith.

    The online sex trafficking trade has been severely splintered. While it may continue to exist it will never be at the level it was when Backpage was running things. This is a good thing despite protests to the contrary as it causes fewer victims to be trafficked against their will. While the fight against online human trafficking is a constant battle, there will be fewer casualties in the future.

     
  • Geebo 9:31 am on May 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , banned, , returns   

    Amazon banning customers for too many returns 

    Amazon banning customers for too many returns

    Amazon offers a lot of incentives to get customers to try to use their service extensively. For example, Amazon offers its Prime membership to its users so the customer can have free shipping for the length of their membership, usually paid in an annual fee. Another one of those features was Amazon’s easy return policy. However, while Amazon wants you to order as many items as possible they’ll send out for ‘free’, don’t send back too many or you may not be an Amazon customer anymore.

    Reports came out this week that Amazon was banning customers who made excessive returns. Amazon claims it’s to prevent fraudulent returns but many customers say they were banned even though they made reasonable returns. Like too many tech companies, Amazon relies on an algorithm to identify potential abusers and only worries about false positives if the banned customer calls to complain. Apparently, Amazon lives by the edict that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

    Let’s be honest, mistakes happen in all retail spaces. Sometimes you get the wrong order or the product wasn’t exactly what you imagined when you received it. Now let’s translate Amazon’s policy to brick and mortar space. For example, Walmart has a very generous return policy. You can almost return a half-eaten fish stick to Walmart without a receipt and still get a refund. Now imagine you returned too many things to WalMart and you were not only banned from your local store but also from all the other Walmarts in the country.

    Amazon would do well to remember who it is that allows them to make all those billions of dollars in profit before customers start leaving their service without being banned.

     
  • Geebo 9:08 am on May 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Facebook: Our monopoly keeps you safe 

    Facebook: Our monopoly keeps you safe

    This past Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the Parliament of the European Union to address concerns about user privacy among other matters. To the EU Parliament’s credit, they asked much more poignant questions to Zuckerberg than the sometimes clueless US Congress did. However, much like he did with Congress. Mr. Zuckerberg was largely evasive when it came to the big topics raised by the EU?

    One of the major topics that Mr. Zuckerberg seemed to constantly avoid was that of ‘is Facebook a monopoly?’ Zuckerberg would name platforms like Twitter and Google, but as one Parliament member pointed out, that would be like saying a car manufacturer that has a monopoly telling people they could take a plane instead. Mr. Zuckerberg closed his appearance stating that Facebook would respond to many of the EU’s concerns in writing and that they did, sort of. In addressing concerns that it is a monopoly Facebook issued a statement claiming that its dominance in the social media and messaging space keeps its users safe.

    The company answered Wednesday in an online post, saying there are “many consumer benefits” to having Facebook control so much of the world’s communication. “By working together we have been able to improve safety across all these services,” the company wrote. When Facebook sees spam, exploitative images or illegal content, for example, it can obliterate it on all platforms at once.

    Forgive us for beating a dead horse, but this sounds almost exactly like the claim Backpage used to make that they were a leading tool in the fight against human trafficking. A platform cannot be both the cause of and solution to a problem. As far as obliterating harmful content across all of its properties, Facebook can barely handle that as many people who have complained about harmful content are told that the content in question doesn’t meet their vague community standards for deletion.

    The European Union has a history of taking a dim view against corporations that appear to violate their antitrust guidelines and have ruled against companies that ended up having worldwide ramifications, just ask Microsoft. Could we see a similar blow made against Facebook? If history is any indicator, we will.

     
  • Geebo 9:51 am on May 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , facial recognition,   

    Is Amazon watching us? 

    Is Amazon watching us?

    Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos not looking Orwellian at all.

    Ever since George Orwell published his dystopian novel 1984 it’s become a cliché to accuse whatever political party you’re opposed to of being Big Brother. What if it’s not the government you have to worry about surveilling us without our knowledge? Instead, what if it’s one of the largest corporations in the world? Amazon has found itself amid a controversy lately after many civil liberty groups have called upon Amazon to stop selling its facial recognition software called Rekognition to police departments around the country.

    Now the advantages and drawbacks to law enforcement using such software can be debated ad nauseam. However, when you combine this Amazon technology with some other aspects of Amazon’s business a disconcerting picture starts to form. For example, how many of us have Amazon Echo’s in our homes with its microphone always listening for the command word from its user? Amazon claims the units aren’t recording our ambient conversations but that could potentially change at any time with just a firmware update.

    Yet the most ominous aspect of Amazon’s business holdings is the fact that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns one of the country’s most respected media outlets in the Washington Post. Jim Morrison once said that “Whoever controls the media controls the mind” while Orwell himself said “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” While we’re not ones to usually indulge in conspiracy theories, separately these actions by Amazon can be seen as benign, but when looked at as a whole it shows a potential future where corporate monoliths can become so overreaching into our lives they could have almost unparalleled influence in our daily lives.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Samaritan, ,   

    Startup app hopes to better connect homeless to the public 

    Startup app hopes to better connect homeless to the public

    Most startup apps hope to accomplish one of two things. The first is to try to innovate some new social trend that existing social platforms haven’t thought of yet. In the crowded social space, those innovative ideas are few and far between. The other things most startup apps try to do to is to be bought out by a larger company like Facebook, Google, or Twitter in hopes of making a quick fortune. Rarely do we hear about a startup app that’s trying to help those less fortunate in society, but now a startup app out of Seattle is trying to help one of society’s most marginalized people.

    The way the Samaritan app works is that someone who is homeless can get a Bluetooth beacon from any one of Samaritan’s outreach partners. This beacon allows its holder to share their story through their app so they’re not just a faceless person holding a cardboard sign. Many of us have reasons why we don’t give money to homeless people. Some of us don’t carry cash while others have social anxieties that prevent them from talking to people they don’t know, and of course, there are some of us that don’t believe some of those needing help are truly homeless. The Samaritan app helps with a lot of those problems as money can be donated directly to a homeless person in your area who the app notifies you about. Once you receive a notification on the app, you can donate money to that person directly electronically. Users of the beacon can then use the money to get foods and services at many partnered locations, however, alcohol cannot be bought using the Samaritan service.

    So far, the app is available for both iOS and Android devices, but currently, the program is only running in Seattle. They hope to expand into 100 cities within the year. So far, the results in Seattle have been nothing short of amazing, helping people not only to get money to find food but others have been able to find housing and employment through the program. Startup culture and angel investors need to start cultivating more apps like Samaritan and fewer apps that are highlighted by some form of Kardashian.

     
  • Geebo 9:04 am on May 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: extortion, , mugshots.com   

    Owners of exploitative website arrested 

    Owners of exploitative website arrested

    If you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of being arrested, you know how much of a harrowing experience it can be. Between prohibitive bail costs and court fees, worrying about your family, and how the arrest might affect the rest of your life, an arrest can be very devastating. Now imagine you’ve been arrested, but the charges are later dropped. The problem with that is your mugshot is still out there and a matter of public record. Sadly, there are websites out there looking to take advantage of that whether or not you’re innocent or not.

    One of those websites is Mugshots.com. The website would scour public databases looking for mugshots then would post them on their site. If you wanted to have the mugshot removed Mugshots.com would ask you for a nominal fee to have the mugshot remove, allegedly exploiting an already financially charged situation. If this sounds a lot like extortion to you the California Attorney General agrees, as the alleged owners of the site have been arrested and charged with various crimes from extortion to money laundering.

    Not everyone who’s been arrested deserves our scorn. More people are probably arrested for minor incidents such as minor traffic offenses and the like than major crimes. A lot of these people are just trying to get through their lives to put food on their family’s table and having their mugshot online like that could prevent them from doing so. So it’s only fitting that these profiteers of misfortune are about to have their mugshots plastered across the internet.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 17, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Geebo is the best craigslist alternative 

    Geebo is the best craigslist alternative

    We’d like to thank Nate Sterling of Magnum Star News for selecting Geebo as one of the top craigslist alternatives. In his article entitled ‘5 Best Alternative Sites to Craigslist’, Mr. Sterling states that in his opinion Geebo is one of the best classified websites. With all due respect to our esteemed competition mentioned in Mr. Sterling’s list, we like to think that we are the best.

    In the close to two decades that Geebo has been in business, we’ve been an industry pioneer in many aspects. For example, we are very proud of the fact that we manually review our ads in order to greatly lessen the possibility of scams and illegal content. Geebo has always prided itself on not only being the safer community classifieds but also being a family friendly classifieds. While some classifieds sites have made their money through illicit means, Geebo has refused to follow that path.

    And while the other classifieds sites mentioned in Mr. Sterling’s list have their own good qualities, a number of them still have personal ad sections. As craigslist and Backpage have shown, unmoderated personal ads can be abused by online predators and human traffickers. As an industry leader, Geebo removed its personal ads section in order to avoid putting our users in danger years before it became an issue with other websites.

    While some see us as a craigslist alternative, we see ourselves more as the standard bearers for the online classifieds industry.

     
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