Updates from April, 2019 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Amazon offering first HQ2 jobs 

    Amazon offering first HQ2 jobs

    Amazon’s proposed development for HQ2 in Virginia

    Even though Amazon withdrew their plans for their second headquarters to be built in New York after a grassroots campaign drove them out, the retail leader seems to be all in with the Commonwealth of Virginia. Just recently, Amazon announced the first opening positions for the new headquarters that is planned to span through both Alexandria and Arlington. The first positions have already been posted to Amazon’s job website. This comes along with the promise of 400 more jobs by the ends of the year and an additional 25,000 jobs in the coming years. However, just as it was in New York, Amazon’s presence in Virginia does not come without controversy.

    Much like what happened in New York, Virginia and Arlington County have offered multi-million dollar incentives for Amazon to develop their headquarters there. While many politicians in Virginia supported these incentives, there have been detractors. These detractors are concerned that Amazon will not be hiring many local employees and instead will be hiring people from out-of-state. That, in turn, could potentially make the already strained housing market even worse, especially for lower-income families. Amazon’s proponents say that Amazon will bring Virginia a windfall of tax revenue, however, it has to be mentioned that Amazon has been accused of taking advantage of tax loopholes where they paid no federal income tax last year.

    Getting back to the potential housing crisis coming to Virginia, Amazon states that the median income of its HQ2 employees will be over $100,000. Many local leaders fear that the area will become more gentrified than it already is. This could potentially drive many lower-income families out of the area. However, with the proposed scope of the construction of the new headquarters that could result in thousands of construction jobs for several years.

    Are you from this part of Virginia? If you are, how do you feel about Amazon coming into your area? Do you think it will be an economic boon for Northern Virginia, or will it result in more economic inequality? Please let us know what you think.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Double craigslist scam and more 

    Double craigslist scam and more

    Previously, we’ve told you about gift card scams and phony check scams. Now, at least one scammer tried to swindle someone using both scams at the same time. A woman in Madison, Wisconsin was trying to sell an item on craigslist and she received a check for more than $1000 than what she was asking for. The scammers told her to deposit the check and return most of the balance in gift cards. Luckily, the woman did not fall for the scam. If she had, not only would she have been on the hook for the amount of the phony check but once the gift card numbers would have been given to the scammer, the funds would be virtually untraceable.

    ***

    Speaking of gift cards, a New York man was arrested after allegedly using stolen gift cards to withdraw money at an ATM. The man allegedly used the account information from the gift cards to withdraw around $9,000. While the report doesn’t clarify what kind of gift cards were used we would imagine that they were something along the lines of a pre-paid VISA gift card. This is another potential reason you may want to avoid using gift cards as presents. We have some great tips here on how to avoid being ripped off when buying gift cards.

    ***

    Lastly, you may be tempted to buy a device online that promises you unlimited access to free movies and TV shows. Devices comparing themselves to the Amazon Fire Stick are showing up claiming to be ‘jailbroken’ which allow you to circumvent copyright protection in order to stream movies and TV shows which you would normally have to pay for a service like HBO to view. As you can probably guess, these devices are not only illegal but they’re usually loaded with malware according to CNET. This malware could potentially hijack devices connected to your home network such as microphones and cameras and could also send your personal information to any number of identity thieves. In the long run, you’re better off paying for a legitimate streaming service.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: gig economy, , , strike,   

    Can Uber and Lyft survive strike? 

    Can Uber and Lyft survive strike?

    It appears that the gig economy is about to face a major milestone in its relatively short history. While some cities and taxi unions have opposed the invasion of ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, now it’s the ridesharing drivers themselves that are fighting back against the companies. On May 8th, Uber is set to issue its IPO. Some estimates put Uber’s valuation at between $80 billion and $90 billion. Meanwhile, many of their drivers earn less than minimum wage and plan to do something about it.

    On the same day that Uber goes public many Lyft and Uber drivers plan to go on strike for 24 hours in eight cities. Those cities are Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. These are all major cities that depend a lot on not only public transportation but also ridesharing services. Even just for one day, the strike has the potential to put a very inconvenient dent in a lot of people’s commute. This could get a lot of support for Uber and Lyft drivers.

    The drivers are demanding

    • higher wages
    • clearer policies on wages, tips, how fares are shared and disciplinary action
    • employee benefits such as health care, disability payments and holiday pay
    • recognition and representation for drivers in Uber’s management structure

    It will be interesting to see how Uber and Lyft react not only to the announcement of the strike but the strike itself. One of the problems with the current economy is that employees in most industries have fewer protections than there have been in the past. This makes the gig economy attractive to many looking to supplement their current income. That means that there are scores of people looking to replace the striking Uber and Lyft drivers if those companies decide to retaliate. While it would be a major PR disaster for those companies, they’ve become such a convenience that it may blow over.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 25, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Will traffickers lure your kids on Snapchat? 

    Will traffickers lure your kids on Snapchat?

    Within the past few days, there has been a rumor surrounding the photo-sharing app Snpachat. The rumor that’s been circulating mainly on Facebook claims that there is a sex trafficking ring operating in Lawrence, Massachusetts that recruits young girls over Snapchat. The rumor purports that strangers are adding your kids as friends on Snapchat and once they do that the traffickers are able to ascertain your child’s location and potentially kidnap them. However, according to the Lawrence Police, there is no such trafficking ring operating in Lawrence and fact-checking site Snopes says the rumor is gaining ground due to a misunderstanding about how Snapchat works.

    Snapchat does have a feature where friends can see each other’s location if both friends agree to enable the feature called Snap Map. But if one of the users does not enable Snap Map their location cannot be found. It’s not an automatic thing that turns on once you accept somebody’s friend request.

    Now while there is not currently a sex trafficking ring in Lawrence, that doesn’t mean that traffickers don’t use social media to approach children. In typical cases, traffickers will target children who are having problems at home or have run away in the past. In many instances, those children will have exhibited some evidence on their social media accounts. This allows traffickers to start grooming them by telling them how they understand the child better than the child’s parents do. In some other cases, the traffickers will promise kids from low-income areas with promises of fame and money and convince the child to run away.

    This could happen on any social media platform and not just Snapchat. These grooming techniques are not a new thing and were even used in the MySpace days. One of the best ways to protect your kids from traffickers and other online predators is to talk with them about how these predators operate and how most strangers online probably want something inappropriate from them. Another good way is to keep tabs on the apps your children may use and who is on their friends list. If it’s somebody that they’ve never met in person that you don’t know it’s a good idea to have them remove that person from their contacts. Lastly, you may want to consider holding on to all your children’s device after they go to bed in order to keep an eye on any unusual messages they may receive.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Nashville,   

    Are secret shoppers and Instagram deals for real? 

    Instagram counterfeits, secret shopping jobs, and Amazon to open Nashville hub

    If you’ve ever been approached by a street vendor to buy a ‘genuine’ Rolex watch, you’re probably already familiar with the counterfeit market. With the advance of digital technology those type of vendors have moved online and seem to be particularly prolific on Instagram. According to NBC News, Instagram is full of phony vendors selling knock-off products while claiming to be such brand names as Gucci, Chanel, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, and Dior. NBC advises you should be wary of ads that contain the word ‘replica’ or vendors that instruct you to communicate with them over encrypted messaging apps.

    ***

    Previously, we’ve warned about secret shopper scams many times. In too many cases ads for these type of jobs are scams designed to get you to deposit phony checks and wire back the difference to scammers. Once the check is found to be phony by your bank you could be on the hook for the full amount of the check. So are there real secret shopper jobs out there? Yes, according to CNBC who direct you to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association. CNBC goes on to call the MSPA the BBB of Mystery Shopping. However, you should also be aware that secret shopper jobs are better suited for supplemental income rather than as a full-time position.

    ***

    Amazon is set to open a retail operations hub in the Nashville Metro area. This has not been without controversy as Amazon has been promised a $17.5 million incentive package by the Metro Nashville Council in exchange for 5,000 jobs. This appears to be a routine tactic for Amazon as they previously pulled out of New York City after many vocal opponents of the plan objected to the incentives that the city and state were promising Amazon as they felt the funds could be better spent elsewhere. It remains to be seen if this will start to become a trend elsewhere in the country.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    Cook County Sheriff goes after Backpage’s attorneys 

    Cook County Sheriff goes after Backpage's attorneys

    Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart

    Tom Dart is the Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is the 2nd largest Sheriff’s Office in the country with Los Angeles County in California being the first. Sheriff Dart has long been an outspoken adversary of the now-defunct Backpage.com. Some may say that Dart was one of the main driving forces behind the push to prove Backpage was just a thinly veiled operation designed to facilitate human trafficking. However, now that Backpage has been seized by the Federal Government, Sheriff Dart doesn’t appear to be done with them.

    In a pivotal moment in the fight against Backpage, Sheriff Dart wrote to the major credit card companies and urged them to stop accepting payments for Backpage transactions. The credit card companies complied and cut Backpage off from a major source of revenue. Since Sheriff Dart wrote those letters as the Sheriff of Cook County, Backpage sued Dart claiming that their First Amendment rights had been violated. But after Backpage was seized CEO Carl Ferrer admitted that the lawsuit was a hoax. Not only was the suit dismissed, but Sheriff Dart asked that Backpage be punished for abusing the court system but also asked that Backpage’s attorneys at the time be punished as well. Dart argued that Backpage’s attorneys should have known that Backpage was lying to the court but a judge denied that request.

    More recently, Sheriff Dart has renewed his bid to have the Backpage’s former law firm punished as new information is said to have come to light. Dart asserts that testimony given by Ferrer indicates that the law firm was well aware of Backpage’s criminal activity. According to Ferrer, the law firm that represented Backpage allegedly advised them on a number of legal issues including advice on handling cryptocurrency which Ferrer previously admitted to was part of Backpage’s money laundering operation.

    Is Backpage’s former law firm just collateral damage in the legal fight against Backpage or did they have knowledge of what Backpage was really up to?

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 22, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , paycheck scam,   

    Paychecks, DNA tests, and Newscasters: Your latest scams 

    Paychecks, DNA tests, and Newscasters: Your latest scams

    Today, we have three new scams for you to be aware of on this Monday morning.

    This first one is more out of your hands and could be targeting your HR department. Overseas scammers are now posing as employees of a company and trying to get HR departments to reroute an employee’s direct deposit for their paycheck. They’re also posing as company CEOs and CFOs in urgent need of changing their direct deposit as well. The scams are all done through email with email addresses that come from outside the company. Most companies are wise to this scam but if you have a small company you may want to let your HR person know to be aware of this particular scam.

    The next scam involves medical DNA testing. Authorities are warning people that seniors are being targeted in this scam where people are offering to perform medical screening DNA tests. They’re not trying to steal your family’s DNA but instead are looking to gather enough information to steal your family member’s identity. In other aspects of the scam, these phony DNA testers are looking to bill Medicare and Medicaid for unneeded medical tests. The scammers will pose as legitimate medical companies but you shouldn’t take part in these tests unless done by a professional your doctor has referred you to.

    Our last scam for today comes to us from the Raleigh, North Carolina area where residents have been receiving texts and phishing emails claiming to be from a local newscaster. The messages state that the recipient has won a contest but in order to claim the prize they would need to purchase $200 in various gift cards then send a picture of the cards back to the person who sent the message. This is just another twist on the gift card scam where scammers try to pressure you into sending them the serial number on gift cards so they can drain the money from the cards and leave you out of a substantial sum of money.

    Hopefully, none of these scams will find their way to you, but if they do now you’re prepared.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Mueller Report,   

    Mueller Report states craigslist used by Russians during election 

    Mueller Report states craigslist used by Russians during election

    It’s been no secret that Russians tried to influence the 2016 Presidential Election. Their attempts to use social media to try to sow discord among Americans has been well documented. Facebook, Twitter, and many other platforms had to deal with the army of bots used by foreign actors leading up to the election. With the release of the redacted Mueller report, we can see for ourselves the lengths Russians went to in trying to interfere with the election. But would you believe that one of the tools they used was craigslist?

    TechCrunch is reporting that in the Mueller Report it states that Russia used craigslist in the US in order to recruit people for their misinformation campaigns.

    The Russian influence operations included things like recruiting individuals to walk around New York City “dressed up as Santa Claus with a Trump mask” (the relevant section is on page 32 of the Mueller report). Craigslist may have also been used in other schemes — like hiring a self-defense instructor to offer classes sponsored by a Russian operative working under the persona “Black Fist” to teach African-Americans how to protect themselves in encounters with law enforcement.

    This should come as no surprise as craigslist has long been a haven for hate speech and political agitation. Material that craigslist does little to discourage. As we have seen, many platforms allow this kind of behavior from users since it’s believed to increase engagement. Facebook has been accused of using similar tactics to keep users engaged as their userbase is reportedly plateauing.

    Was craigslist a willing tool for the Russians. No, not at all. However, craigslist has a history of turning a blind eye to foreign placed ads.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , charity scam, , , minimum wage, Notre Dame Cathedral,   

    Hold off on Notre Dame donations, Facebook’s latest privacy accident, and an Amazon employee puts Bezos’ boast into perspective 

    Hold off on Notre Dame donations, Facebook's latest privacy accident, and an Amazon employee puts Bezos' boast into persepctive

    By now, we’re all familiar with the events that took place in Paris where fire ravaged the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. While multitudes across the globe were moved to the point where they were willing to dedicate money you may want to wait on doing so. The BBB of Canada is warning consumers there to beware of phony donation scams on social media and crowdfunding sites. The BBB suggests that you wait until there is an official Notre Dame rebuilding fund donation program if you’re so inclined.

    ***

    Facebook is finding itself in yet another privacy kerfuffle as they claim that they ‘unintentionally’ harvested the email contacts of about 1.5 million of its users during the past three years. When new users would sign up for a Facebook account, Facebook would ask for your email password. Anybody who gave that information to Facebook would have their entire contacts list harvested. Facebook says this practice, which has since ended, was used to “help build Facebook’s web of social connections and recommend other users to add as friends.” If your contacts were harvested, Facebook will reportedly contact you.

    ***

    Last week, we posted about how Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos taunted WalMart on Twitter for not paying their employees $15/hr. WalMart fired back asking when Amazon was going to pay its fair share in taxes. More recently, the news blog Splinter has received an email from an anonymous Amazon employee who works as a customer service agent. It seems that the wage increase may have come at the expense of other benefits. According to the anonymous employee, Amazon took away incentive bonuses and stock grants leaving the bottom rung of Amazon’s corporate ladder basically in the same place they were when they started.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , north dakota, , , ,   

    OfferUp user assaulted outside of police station, BBB warns of car scam, and Amazon’s board to vote on facial recognition 

    OfferUp user assaulted outside of police station, BBB warns of car scam, and Amazon's board to vote on facial recognition

    As we always say, when meeting someone for an online transaction you should always make the transaction at a local police department. It can go a long way in helping to ensure your safety. However, that was not the case for a man in Albuquerque. This man was meeting someone through OfferUp to sell a camera. The suspect posing as a buyer lured the man out of the view of the police department’s security cameras before trying to rob the man. The victim was dragged about 20 feet after the suspect drove off while holding on to the camera. If someone tries to get you away from the police station it may just be a trap.

    ***

    The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota is warning residents of the two states to be aware of phony car scams that are proliferating in the area. They’re reporting that there are a number of phony car dealerships who are advertising cars on craigslist for a price well below market value. The phony dealerships then ask for the money to be wired to them before cutting off all contact with the victim. When buying a car online from a dealership, always do a web search to make sure such a dealership exists and money should never be wired for a transaction under any circumstance. It’s too easy for scammers to make off with your money while remaining anonymous.

    ***

    Previously, we’ve discussed how high-ranking Amazon employees have called Amazon’s environmental practices into question. Now it seems that shareholders are also getting ready to decide on another one of Amazon’s business practices. Next month the board will vote on whether or not Amazon should ban the sale of their facial recognition software called Rekognition to governments and governmental agencies. We’ve posted before about how a number of civil liberty groups complained about Amazon trying to sell Rekognition to police departments as the tool could be easily used to violate civil rights. Combine Rekognition with all the Amazon Echoes in people’s homes and Jeff Bezos’ ownership in the Washington Post and you could see how some board members may view this all as a privacy overreach on Amazon’s part.

     
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