Updates from April, 2019 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • 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.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Sentencing date set for former Backpage exec 

    Sentencing date set for former Backpage exec

    Backpage founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey

    We’ve previously discussed former Backpage executive Dan Hyer here. Back in August if last year, Hyer pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiring to facilitate prostitution. At the time it was reported that Hyer’s plea deal could see him be fined $250,000 and a possible jail sentence of five years. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors would drop fifty charges of facilitating prostitution and 17 money laundering charges.

    Hyer was originally supposed to be sentenced last November but the wheels of justice can move slowly. Hyer’s sentencing date has now been scheduled for July 29th of this year. Hyer was among many who were initially indicted last year but so far was the only one indicted to plead guilty. Backpage co-founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey are set to go to trial next year. While not named on the indictment, former Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer has also pleaded guilty to charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering and is expected to testify against other Backpage executives. Ferrer is looking at a maximum of five years in prison and forfeiture of his corporate assets. Ferrer’s sentencing has also been scheduled for July.

    Meanwhile, Backpage founders Lacey and Larkin are continuing to defend Backpage’s role in human trafficking as free speech. Previously, they have portrayed themselves as freedom fighters and political prisoners without any hint of irony. It’s hard to argue that they fight for freedom when so many of Backpage’s alleged victims had their freedoms violently restricted while Backpage earned close to half a billion dollars in prostitution-related revenue.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , child safety, , , , , ,   

    Craigslist to start charging $5 for cars, Kids in Ubers and Lyfts, and no trafficking in Robert Kraft case 

    Craigslist to start charging $5 for cars, Kids in Ubers and Lyfts, and no trafficking in Robert Kraft case

    What a $5 car may look like

    As of today, craigslist will start charging $5 for car listings. So as of tax day if you’re selling your car on craigslist it will cost you a fiver. While craigslist has not publicly stated the reason for the change, many speculate that the move will cut down on scam listings. It will be interesting to see if craigslist users will balk at the new fee and if scammers will be willing to pay the fee. Not to mention that it’s almost ironic that craigslist is now starting to act like so many newspaper classifieds that they helped close down.

    ***

    KATU in Portland, Oregon is reporting on a new safety concern when it comes to using ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber. Their investigation found that many minors are using the ridesharing services even though their terms of service require a passenger to be at least 18. Some drivers will refuse the fare if they know the passenger is under 18, however, there are many drivers who either don’t know the rules or don’t care. According to KATU, some parents are even ok with their older kids using an Uber or Lyft. If you’re a parent, would you be ok with letting your kid use an Uber or Lyft alone?

    ***

    Lastly for today, it was recently reported that the investigation that allegedly caught New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft using a massage parlor did not find any evidence of human trafficking. Critics have dismissed this investigation as a witch hunt of sorts and that police were just looking to arrest workers and johns. However, in many cases, those being trafficked are unwilling to testify against their traffickers due to fears of reprisal or threats of violence against their families. To refer to human trafficking as an overblown problem is to dismiss the safety and welfare of all those being trafficked against their will who are treated as slaves.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , ,   

    Amazon fighting porch pirates, Amazon Go to accept cash, and Amazon taunting Walmart 

    Amazon fighting porch pirates, Amazon Go to accept cash, and Amazon taunting Walmart

    Previously, when we’ve discussed packages being stolen from your porch or property we’ve been told to notify the police but in the long run, there’s not much they can do about the thefts. That is unless Amazon themselves get involved. According to Motherboard, Amazon worked with a number of police departments during last years holiday season in order to combat those who have been dubbed ‘porch pirates’. While these Amazon assisted sting operations didn’t take place in major cities like New York or Los Angeles, they did take place in fairly prominent urban areas such as Albuquerque and Jersey City. However, Motherboard was unable to uncover how many arrests actually took place during these sting operations.

    ***

    If you’ll recall, Amazon Go was supposed to be a completely cashierless store. Customers were supposed to just walk into the store, grab what they needed and have their purchases billed to their Amazon accounts through their smartphones. No cash was ever supposed to change hands. But as the saying goes the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Many state and local governments have come out in opposition to cashless stores as they feel it further disenfranchises low-income families who may not have access to a bank account. New Jersey and Philadelphia recently outlawed cashless stores and San Francisco may be doing the same. More recently, it’s been reported that Amazon Go stores in certain locations will, in fact, accept cash for transactions. In these markets will cash transactions reduce Amazon Go to just another convenience store or will they still mostly attract those who would prefer to pay without cash?

    ***

    Lastly today, it seems the country’s two largest retail giants, Amazon and Walmart, have engaged in an almost schoolyard-like exchange of dares. It started out with Jeff Bezos publicly challenging WalMart to give their workers a better starting salary.

    “Today I challenge our top retail competitors (you know who you are!) to match our employee benefits and our $15 minimum wage,” Bezos wrote in a letter to shareholders.

    “Do it! Better yet, go to $16 and throw the gauntlet back at us. It’s a kind of competition that will benefit everyone.”

    WalMart has long been criticized for underpaying their employees but they didn’t take this lying down.

    On Thursday, Walmart’s executive vice president of corporate affairs, Dan Bartlett, tagged Bezos in a tweet which said: “Hey retail competitors out there (you know who you are 😉) how about paying your taxes?”

    This was in reference to the fact that Amazon has been accused of structuring their company in such a way and getting significant tax breaks that they pay little to no federal corporate income tax.

    Meanwhile, both companies have been long criticized for allegedly treating their most hard-working employees down in the trenches unfairly. Both corporations have been accused in the past of abusing their low ranking employees by creating a climate of inadequate pay and benefits combined with a climate of fear where employees are afraid to make any concern known without losing their jobs.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Canberra, climate change, , drones, Nipsey Hussle, , , Wing   

    Australian drones, craigslist funeral scalpers, and Amazon employees on climate change 

    Australian drones, craigslist funeral scalpers, and Amazon employees on climate change

    In the Australian capital of Canberra, a fleet of commercial delivery drones has officially been launched for service. The drones are owned by Wing, a subsidiary of Goole’s parent company Alphabet. The drones were tested in the area for a year before officially launching. At first many in the areas surrounding Canberra complained about the noise the drones made, however, the new fleet of drones are said to be quieter. That doesn’t mean that there have been safety restrictions applied to the drones’ usage. The drones can only fly during the day starting at 8am and are forbidden from flying over busy roads and crowds. So far, the drones have been only making small deliveries such as coffee and takeout orders. Are we one step closer to drone delivery becoming an everyday occurrence, or will they be more of a nuisance if deployed on a larger scale? Only time will tell.

    ***

    If you follow entertainment news at all, you may have heard about the unfortunate murder of L.A. based rapper Nipsey Hussle. He was gunned down outside of his own clothing shop in L.A. towards the end of March. The rapper was so beloved that there will be a memorial service for him at the Staple’s Center arena. The tickets to his memorial were given out free on a first come first serve basis. That hasn’t stopped scalpers from trying to sell the free tickets on craigslist for upwards of $500 a piece. Craigslist themselves have removed the ads scalping the tickets to the memorial. While we applaud craigslist for the move we have to wonder why craigslist doesn’t use this power more often when it comes to other questionable items for sale on their platform. If you did happen to buy a ticket to the memorial service on craigslist you may be out of luck. The tickets’ distributor says that the tickets are being distributed through a mobile app and are non-transferrable.

    ***

    A group of Amazon employees that number in the thousands have called on the retail giant to do better when it comes to affecting climate change in Amazon’s daily business. While Amazon has promised to “reach 50 percent of all Amazon shipments with net zero carbon by 2030” some Amazon employees say that’s not enough. 4,520 Amazon employees have signed an open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos asking for better environmental protections during Amazon’s daily proceedings. If you scroll through the names of the signatories of the letter you might notice that the majority of them are technical engineers and managers and not many warehouse workers. Amazon has been widely criticized in recent times for their alleged mistreatment of workers in their distribution centers. One has to wonder where the open letter is for that.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 10, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    YouTube’s livestream of hate speech hearings was flooded by hate speech 

    YouTube's livestream of hate speech hearings was flooded by hate speech

    In the wake of the deadly mass shooting that took place in Christchurch, New Zealand by an alleged white nationalist, the US House Judiciary Committee held a hearing about hat speech online. If you’ll recall the gunman in the Christchurch shooting that left 50 victims dead not only livestreamed his attack on Facebook but also posted a hate-filled manifesto online. Facebook and Google were called before the committee to address what steps they were taking to combat the problem. Both Facebook and Google defended the practices they use in order to prevent online hate. However, Google, who owns YouTube, may have spoken too soon.

    The hearing was being livestreamed on YouTube and about 30 minutes into the livesstream many YouTube users were leaving racist and anti-Semitic comments in the stream’s live chat and comment section. At that point, YouTube shut down the chat and closed the comments section but by then the damage had already been done. Committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, was handed a sampling of the hateful comments and read them aloud during the hearing. “This just illustrates part of the problem we’re dealing with,” Nadler said.

    Unfortunately, just because YouTube clamped down on one livestream doesn’t mean the hate speech went away. Instead, they just relocated to other livestreams of the hearing. At least one recognized hate group ran their own livestream of the hearing and even raised money for themselves through YouTube’s own platform. Because of social media, there hasn’t been a surge in hate groups like this since the days of the civil rights movement. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are over 1,000 organized hate groups in the US alone. Violence committed by some of these groups has also been on a sharp rise in the past few years as well.

    What remains to be seen is if these social media platforms can actually develop effective safeguards to screen for hate speech or will it just remain business as usual? Hate speech has been a problem since the early days of the internet and no major platform has been able to tackle it convincingly.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on April 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , FDA, glucose meters, hate groups, , , , test strips, , video doorbells   

    FDA warns about test strips, video doorbells being stolen, and Airbnb to ban hate groups 

    FDA warns about test strips, video doorbells being stolen, and Airbnb to ban hate groups

    If you happen to have a condition where the use of glucose meters and test strips are required, the FDA has issued a warning about using pre-owned test strips that you may find for sale online. While there has not been a report of these strips impacting anybody’s health negatively yet, the FDA warns against the practice of purchasing pre-owned strips as they could potentially give out incorrect readings which could lead to imbalances in the delicate measurement of medicine required to aid in keeping your condition under control. While it may seem like a way to save money, the FDA is also saying that some of these strips have been banned from the US as they’ve been known to cause infections. The mixing and matching of meters and test strips is something the FDA has been trying to discourage for years.

    If you have a video doorbell designed to keep thieves away from your front door, you may be facing a new issue lately. it’s now being reported that a rash of video doorbell thefts have been occurring in many major population centers across the US. Even though the higher-end doorbells have been recording the thefts, there haven’t been an equal amount of arrests. This is due to the fact that either police do not have the resources to track down every doorbell thief or that the thieves are disguising themselves before stealing the items. As can be expected with most stolen items, they can end up for sale online. Both of the major manufacturers of these types of doorbells, Ring and Nest, both have programs to assist customers whose devices have been stolen. However, it is always recommended that you contact the police first.

    Gizmodo is reporting that Airbnb is actively trying to dissuade and in some cases outright banning hate groups from using their service. A convention being held by hate groups as designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center later this year. Gizmodo brought it to the attention of Airbnb that many attendees of the convention had planned to use Airbnb while participating at the convention. Airbnb has said that these hate groups violate their community standards and will look to enforce that policy and have already banned several well-known members of these groups. How Airbnb will choose to keep these groups from using their services in the future remains to be seen.

     
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