Updates from July, 2018 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 9:43 am on July 31, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    Pet leasing is another reason to avoid the pet store 

    Pet leasing is another reason to avoid the pet store

    It should come as no surprise that we are animal lovers here at Geebo. In the past, CEO Greg Collier has discussed why Geebo does not accept ads for pets. In too many instances, online ads for pets can be an outright scam or they can be from abusive puppy mills. We also often recommend not going to a pet store as many of their pets can also come from these mills. Now, there’s a predatory lending practice being used by some pet stores that should give you another reason to avoid them when it comes to purchasing pets.

    CBS News reports that pet leasing is a new practice used by some pet stores that get consumers to pay way more for a pet than it may be worth. In the example shown in the CBS article, one woman ended up paying $5,000 for two dogs through a lease that she could have bought for $1500. The fact that some pet stores and leasing companies are engaging in this practice really shows how little they care for the animals in question. If they are charging such exorbitant leasing rates that means they’re expecting to repossess a number of these animals. What happens to the animal then? Are they trying to flip the animals like one would a house? What happens if the animal ages out of adoption as many people would rather adopt a puppy than a grown dog?

    As usual, we always recommend going to a licensed breeder if you have your heart set on a certain breed. However, we very much encourage going to your local pet shelter to adopt a pet as the fees are much more reasonable and affordable. You may also want to consider adopting a full-grown pet as sometimes it’s harder for them to find a home. If you choose to pursue a new pet through either of these avenues you won’t have to worry about someone coming to your home looking to take your family’s new member back.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on July 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    Facebook sued by shareholders over after stock plunge 

    Facebook sued by shareholders over after stock plunge

    As if losing $150 billion in last week’s stock drop wasn’t enough, Facebook is now facing another threat to its bottom line. A number of class action lawsuits have been filed against the social media industry leader by major shareholders of the company. The lawsuits allege that Facebook misled shareholders in the time leading up to last week’s biggest ever stock drop in US history.

    Three lawsuits have been filed in New York while one has been filed in California. These suits allege that Facebook understated the cost of complying with the EU’s GDPR privacy laws, and the lack of disclosure over the monetization of Instagram Stories which the lawsuits claim Facebook allegedly overstated its success.

    It also doesn’t help Facebook that many of its top executives sold off large amounts of their stock during the second quarter of the year, the same quarter where Facebook earnings fell causing the historical stock drop. Some of those executives include Mark Zuckerberg himself and COO Sheryl Sandberg. While these sales were not considered to be insider trading, the timing of the stock sale couldn’t be more inconvenient for Facebook.

    Whether or not these lawsuits will have any major financial impact on Facebook remains to be seen. After the stock dropped last week, many financial analysts were urging new investors to jump on the stock after the drastic price decrease. Before we know it, it could be business as usual again at Facebook in little to no time.

     
  • Geebo 9:04 am on July 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    New indictment against Backpage founders show how involved they were in trafficking 

    New indictment against Backpage founders show how involved they were in trafficking

    Backpage founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey

    This past Wednesday, a new federal indictment against Backpage and its founders was filed. In this new indictment, the charges of money laundering and facilitating human trafficking remain the same but bolsters the accusations with new evidence. While it was no secret that Backpage was allegedly a willing participant in the sex trade, this new indictment is said to show the lengths that Backpage’s operators would go to in order to make money at the expense of those trafficked.

    AZ Central has a very in-depth article that goes into great detail about the new indictment. What really got to me was how much Backpage was allegedly willing to disregard obvious signs of child sex trafficking. According to the indictment, Backpage once hired an internet safety firm who were said to have found out that ads that contained the phrase “new in town” meant an underage victim was being shuttled from town to town where the victims wouldn’t know anyone and couldn’t get any help. As you might expect, Backpage was said to have ignored this and other warnings.

    Previously, I’ve stated that I don’t think Backpage founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey would ever see the inside of a cell even if they were convicted. However, my mind has changed a little on that after reading more about their alleged money laundering. The indictment alleges that Lacey transferred $16.5 million to an overseas bank in an effort to conceal funds. If there’s one thing the Federal Government never wants to miss out on, it’s taxable income no matter how it was made. It was how the feds got Al Capone after all. So maybe there is some hope for justice after all.

     
  • Geebo 9:08 am on July 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    Facebook loses market value over privacy but not in the way you might think 

    Facebook loses market value over privacy but not in the way you might think

    Yesterday, during an earnings call Facebook announced that the company fell short of projected earnings. While Facebook’s revenue grew by 42 percent over the same time last year they fell short of their $13.3 billion projection by ‘only’ making $13.2 billion. That mere $100 million loss caused Facebook stock to dive around 20% and cost the company close to $150 billion in value. One could rightly assume that the market loss had to do with Facebook’s many privacy and security issues since the 2016 Presidential Election, but many analysts say that’s not the case.

    Many market analysts say that Facebook’s improvement to privacy and security has caused the loss stating that Facebook can’t make money from privacy. It also doesn’t help that the number of Facebook users has leveled off. While it still holds the lion’s share of social media users in the world many are leaving the platform and Facebook isn’t bringing in new users as many young people becoming new users to social media are foregoing Facebook.

    That’s not to say that Facebook is on the verge of bankruptcy by any means. Facebook also owns the widely popular apps of Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, which many end users don’t really consider as being a part of Facebook. As Slate points out if Facebook can survive this year’s election cycle without a major scandal, and that’s a mighty big if, they could be back on the road to profitability. Whether or not Facebook can strike a balance between privacy and profit remains to be seen. It seems that if there was a new social network ready to make Facebook its MySpace, now might be the time to strike.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on July 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    Single father taken in craigslist car con 

    Single father taken in craigslist car con

    If you try to buy a used car on craigslist, chances are you’ll run into any number of con artists. Some of the used car scams we’ve brought to your attention are ones involving phony car titles and stolen rental cars. That’s only the tip of the iceberg as used car scams can take many forms including the gift card scam as shown in the video below.

    Recently, a single father from Houston, Texas, found himself out of $3,000 that he borrowed from his sister so he could purchase a used car off of craigslist. The man met with the seller in a store parking lot and the seller just basically drive off with the man’s money. Reports say this particular scammer has allegedly performed the same scam in New Mexico and Nevada.

    Again, if you’re going to buy anything from a classifieds site we recommend meeting the seller at a local police station as they’re becoming the de facto place to meet in case of con artists. However, when it comes to cars we also recommend meeting the seller at your state’s DMV so you can go in and make sure the title is a legitimate one before buying. We also recommend using Geebo instead of craigslist as the vast majority of our car ads have the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) listed in the ad. That way you can check the history of the car even before going to see it in person. Many states have an online service where you can check the VIN and there are a plethora of paid commercial options as well.

    A car is a major investment and can mean the world of difference to someone who has difficulty getting around their area. It could mean the difference between having a job or losing one. So please take the extra time in researching any used car before making such a possibly life-changing purchase.

     
  • Geebo 9:05 am on July 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , vomit fraud   

    Uber drivers accused of using sick scam to fleece riders 

    Uber drivers accused of using sick scam to fleece riders

    Ride-sharing service Uber is no stranger to controversy. From its former CEO having to step down amid accusations of harassment against female employees to a driver who was recently live streaming his passengers without their permission, Uber has been a PR nightmare for the past couple of years. Now, a report out of Miami says some drivers are committing a scam that leaves customers sick to their stomachs.

    According to the Miami Herald, some drivers are committing what’s been dubbed ‘vomit fraud’. An Uber driver can claim that a passenger was physically ill in the driver’s car and add a hefty cleaning fee to the passenger’s bill. Driver’s try to get away with this by sending photos of the ‘evidence’ to Uber who add the charge to the customer’s fee. Often these pictures are fake and customers who try to dispute the fee find themselves entangled in a customer service nightmare trying to get the charges taken off as Uber usually sides with their drivers.

    Mashable takes the Herald’s report even a little further by reporting on Uber drivers who claim to have committed the fraud on an anonymous Reddit board for Uber Drivers. While some drivers are said to do it just for the money, others say they do it out of spite to rude customers.

    So if you want to avoid fraudulent charges like this if you use Uber, keep a close eye on your debit or credit card statements and don’t be afraid to wage an uphill battle with Uber’s customer service. If that doesn’t work you can always dispute the charge with your credit card company or bank.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on July 23, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Crimson Hexagon, , , ,   

    Facebook is facing yet another privacy problem 

    Facebook is facing yet another privacy problem

    Once again Facebook finds itself embroiled in controversy over the possible abuse of user data. If you’ll recall, Facebook was admonished by both the US and UK governments when it was discovered that analytics firm Cambridge Analytica had improperly obtained the personal data of 87 million Facebook users. Now, Facebook has suspended a research firm from accessing its data over surveillance concerns.

    Over the weekend, Facebook suspended its contract with research and marketing firm Crimson Hexagon. This was in response to a Wall Street Journal article that claims Crimson Hexagon has contracts with entities that have ties to US and Russian government agencies. Facebook has suspended Crimson Hexagon’s access to user data over fears that the data is being used to conduct government surveillance on Facebook users. Crimson Hexagon denies this claim and says they only get their information from public Facebook posts. However, it is a bit disconcerting that Crimson Hexagon has over 1 trillion of these posts in their databases.

    Besides the fact that this may be another case of Facebook being unable to keep track of who has its data, there’s another concern here. Facebook is only reacting to these potential breaches only after its brought to their attention by the media. By the time Facebook becomes aware of the problem, the data is already in questionable hands. Is Facebook not properly vetting these data collectors, or does Facebook just not really care about our privacy as long as they’re being paid for our information? Then again, the Cambridge Analytica scandal didn’t seem to hurt Facebook so it’s unlikely this latest kerfuffle will either. What will it really take before the American public realizes that Facebook’s only interest is in itself?

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on July 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    Social Security phone scams on the rise 

    Social Security phone scams on the rise

    You may be familiar with the IRS scam that plagues your phone. Someone calls purporting to be an agent of the IRS claiming that there’s some kind of issue and you need to give them your personal information. Often they try to intimidate you into giving the information by claiming you’re in danger of running afoul of the law. The problem with this scam is that the actual IRS doesn’t call taxpayers if there is a problem. They will contact you by mail instead. But what if you’re contacted by someone claiming to be from a government agency that does call people?

    According to this report by Forbes, the Acting Inspector General of Social Security, Gale Stallworth Stone has issued a warning saying that there has been an increase of con artists posing as employees of the Social Security Administration. As the Forbes article points out, the SSA does sometimes reach out to Social Security recipients in certain but rare circumstances.

    This is a particularly egregious scam since it mostly targets the elderly. So what should you do if you receive one of these unsolicited calls? Hang up immediately. Do not engage the caller, and if it’s a recording do not press any buttons except to hang up. If you answer any of their questions, even with an automated recording, it could give the scammers information that could result in more phone calls at the least and your identity be stolen at worst. Even if you feel the call may be legitimate hang up and call the SSA directly at 1-800-772-1213.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on July 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
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    The false dichotomy of fighting fake news on Facebook 

    The false dichotomy of fighting fake news on Facebook

    Previously, I’ve posted about how Facebook is used in countries like Myanmar and Sri Lanka to not only discriminate against religious minorities but to also commit violent acts against them. More recently in India, a carefully edited video that spread on Facebook-owned WhatsApp has led to the brutal mob murder of a man who people thought was a child kidnapper.

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come out and claimed that Facebook will be taking steps to remove fake news from its platform that could potentially incite violence in these areas. However, in the same relative time frame, Mr. Zuckerberg said that Facebook groups that espouse the belief that the Holocaust from World War II was a hoax are allowed to remain on Facebook. Holocaust denial could be considered the modern origin of fake news that could incite violence yet that’s allowed to remain on Facebook.

    Once again, Facebook is trying to be all things to all people while holding two opposing viewpoints at the same time. In the George Orwell novel 1984, this practice was known as doublethink. Considering the global reach of Facebook, the comparison of Mr. Zuckerberg to the fictional Big Brother seems more than apt. However, as I mentioned in my last post about Facebook, Holocaust deniers are exactly the kind of users that Facebook seems to covet more since groups like that keep people more engaged in the platform.

    The decision to fight hate speech and disinformation on Facebook is something that should have happened years before it got to the point where people were being killed around the globe. Now, it’s too late and Facebook refuses to enact any real change to make a difference in the matter.

     
  • Geebo 9:40 am on July 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Josh Hawley, missouri   

    Another state seeks damages from Backpage 

    Another state seeks damages from Backpage

    Another state government is looking to make Backpage pay for its lies and claims of ‘free speech’ when it facilitated an untold number of victims being trafficked for sex. Previously, a judge in the state of Washington sanctioned Backpage and ordered them to pay $200,000 to trafficking victims after the attorneys for the victims argued that Carl Ferrer’s admission of guilt contradicts Backpage’s earlier stance of having done nothing wrong. Now, another state is seeking financial recompense from Backpage.

    Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is seeking sanctions and damages against Backpage after Backpage tried suing the state to allegedly try an impede a state investigation into the website. In the lawsuit, Backpage claimed its usual tirade about free speech and how they weren’t aiding in the sale of women and children into sexual slavery. The suit was thrown out after a federal judge ruled that the federal government should not interfere in state investigations. Now, after Backpage’s admission of their role in human trafficking, Attorney General Hawley wants a pretty good chunk of change out of the now defunct website. Hawley is seeking damages for court costs, legal expenses and some amends for the victims of trafficking in the state.

    As I mentioned in my previous post about Backpage, this is the only true way to punish Backpage as I believe it to be highly unlikely that any of the Backpage higher-ups will ever see the inside of a jail cell. Backpage was driven by nothing but greed, now the states are coming to collect. Hopefully, more states will seek sanctions and damages against Backpage so the company’s death can be through a thousand financial cuts.

     
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