Updates from March, 2019 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ,   

    Did prosecutors cherry pick victims to lessen Jeffrey Epstein’s registry requirements? 

    Did prosecutors cherry pick victims to lessen Jeffrey Epstein's registry requirements?

    Jeffrey Epstein

    In our previous post about Jeffrey Epstein, we discussed the sweetheart plea deal he got from former US Attorney and current Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta. In exchange for pleading guilty to minor state charges that involved trafficking underage girls, Epstein would only serve a 13-month sentence in the Palm Beach County Jail in Florida. That sentence also allowed the financier to go to work during the day and return to jail at night. That was a sentence for a man who allegedly had 40 underage victims. Also in our previous post, we mentioned how a US District Judge ruled the plea illegal since prosecutors at the time did not report the plea deal to Epstein’s victims. This was in violation of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act but unfortunately, under the act, there’s no clear punishment for those who violate the act. If you would like to read all the details about the Jeffrey Epstein case we highly recommend the Miami Herald’s report which they call Perversion of Justice. However, if you think that Epstein’s sentence was a slap in the face to his victims, wait until you hear how the terms of his sex offender status were determined.

    The Washington Post has reported that prosecutors allegedly intentionally chose a 16-year-old victim to apply Epstein’s plea deal. The youngest known victim of Epstein at the time was 14-years-old. The reason this is important is that if you’re convicted of an offense with a victim under the age of 16 your sex offender status becomes harsher. For example, according to The Post, Since Epstein only pleaded guilty to an offense against a 16-year-old girl he didn’t have to register as a sex offender in all of the states and territories where he claims to reside such as New York, New Mexico, and the US Virgin Islands. In the Virgin Islands, Epstein is even regarded as a low-level sex offender even though he allegedly trafficked in underage girls not only for his own pleasure but for the benefit of his connected friends as well.

    Speaking of Epstein’s connections, it probably didn’t hurt his case that Epstein was friends with such politically powerful men like Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. One can’t help but wonder if Alexander Acosta received his cabinet position as some kind of reward for allegedly crafting Epstein’s plea agreement. The legal system in our country should all people accountable whether rich or poor. Epstein’s continued disregard for how the justice system is supposed to work is an affront to every victim of a sexual predator.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Spokane,   

    Amazon job scam is permeating NW Washington State 

    Amazon job scam permeating NW Washington State

    Previously, we’ve mentioned how Amazon is hiring for new work at home positions and how job scams topped the BBB’s list of worst scams in 2018. Now, those two stories seem to have converged into one. One of the states where Amazon is looking to hire new employees is Washington. They are also looking to open a new fulfillment center in Spokane that promises an additional 1500 positions. Due to those factors. among others, scammers have decided to use Amazon’s hiring initiative in the are to embark on a massive fleecing of Amazon hopefuls.

    The scam appears to be overly elaborate but effective at the same time. It starts out with a robocall going out to local residents offering positions with Amazon that supposedly pay $27 an hour. The robocall directs victims to go to a website that has the Amazon name in the site’s address but isn’t an official Amazon website. Once there, victims are instructed to enter personal and financial information while the phony website makes it look like the victim is applying for a job at Amazon. More than likely, any unsuspecting victim of this scam will have their identity and possibly their finances stolen.

    Another aspect of the scam has the scammers trying to get their victims to pay the scammers money for phony employment fees such as processing fees or background check fees. The scammers will try to get this money through either requesting the money be wired to them or paid through gift cards, two of the most prevalent calling cards of a scammer. Amazon themselves have commented on this scam stating that they will never ask a prospective employee for financial information or request any kind of employment fee. These tips not only apply to Amazon but also to most major employers. If these tips are kept in mind hopefully your potential job search will be a relatively stress-free one.

     
  • Geebo 9:22 am on March 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , hospitality jobs, Virgin Hotels   

    New extravagant hotel coming to Dallas 

    New extravagant hotel coming to Dallas

    Virgin Hotels is set to open its third hotel in Dallas, Texas, already adding to its current buildings in Chicago, as seen above, and San Francisco. The hotel will consist of 200 rooms that Virgin refers to as “guest chambers” and is set to open later this year. Eight more Virgin Hotels are set to open across the country within the next few years. The hotel will also have Virgin’s signature dining experience known as the Commons Club which has been referred to a private club that’s open to all.

    Of course, no luxury building can move into a city without a little bit of controversy. Some of the building’s neighbors are worried about the strain such a building will put on local infrastructure. However, many other businesses in the area see the new hotel as an attraction that will bring a new influx of revenue to the neighborhood.

    What’s not known yet is how many jobs are being brought to the hotel as the Virgin Hotel website is only currently accepting applications for positions in Chicago. However, if you’re looking for a hospitality position with the new hotel, keep your eye out for the inevitable hiring announcement. Unlike other luxury hotels run by a certain high-profile oligarch, you probably won’t have to worry about Virgin Hotels declaring bankruptcy.

     
  • Geebo 9:23 am on March 14, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: coupon scam, , , ,   

    Social Security Suspension, Fake Coupons, Florida is #1, and cancer patient scammed out of $32K 

    Social Security Suspension, Fake Coupons, Florida is #1, and cancer patient scammed out of $32K

    It’s that time again to bring you the scams of the week that are happening around the country that could eventually come to your area. This week, we also have one that is particularly heinous.

    First up is a new scam targeting senior citizens. A number of our more mature members of society are stating that they are receiving phone calls that tells them that their Social Security numbers are being suspended. Since many seniors rely on Social Security benefits they could be prone to fall for this scam. The FTC is warning seniors that Social security numbers cannot be suspended and to not give any information to anyone calling you pretending to be the government and that if there is an issue with your Social Security the government will contact you by mail.

    Next, we have an online coupon scam that seems to be circulating on social media. If you see a coupon for the pizza chain Little Caesars promising you three free pizzas for their 60th anniversary it’s a scam. If you click on any links regarding this phony coupon it could lead to malware being installed onto your system. Little Caesars themselves has even issued a warning to consumers to avoid this coupon at all costs.

    In scam related news it turns out that Florida is the scam capital of the nation but the victims aren’t who you might think. While many seniors either live or spend a lot of time in Florida they’re not the main targets of scammers. Instead, scammers are targeting people of the so-called Millennial generation. Victims have fallen prey mostly to debt collection scams which seems to track since many Millennials are burdened with outrageous student loan debt. Once again, consumers are being warned about making any kind of payment through wire service or gift cards as these are clear indicators that any collection calls they receive may be a scam.

    Lastly, we have quite the heartbreaking story out of Northern California where a man in the Sacramento area has been taken in by a scam to the tune of $32,000. What makes this particular scam egregious is that the victim is currently struggling with cancer. The man wanted to travel the country with his wife in a motorhome. Unfortunately, the man wired money to someone posing as eBay Motors. Again, wiring money is usually a sure sign of a scam as once the money is wired it’s almost impossible to get it back.

    If you feel like you’ve been the victim of an online scam it is recommended that you contact the FTC at their complaint website.

     
  • Geebo 9:05 am on March 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Quad Cities   

    Pet flipping seen at shelters 

    Pet flipping seen at shelters and NY to crackdown on pet stores

    Previously, we’ve discussed many times why Geebo does not accept ads for pets. Not only does it discourage pet scams but mainly the policy in place is to discourage puppy mills from proliferating and causing further abuses against the animals they produce with little regard for the animals’ health and safety. As an alternative option, we almost always recommend adopting a pet from your local shelter and we still do. However, now at least one shelter and possibly more are encountering some of the same problems we do.

    For example, there is an animal shelter in the Quad Cities area of Iowa and Illinois that’s been noticing a disturbing trend. They say that they’ve been finding some of the animals they thought they had found homes for turning up on Facebook and Craigslist as being either back up for adoption or up for sale. In some cases, the animals are being flipped like you would flip a house. In that case, the shelter is banning those people from adopting any more animals from the shelter.

    In other cases, people just don’t feel that the animal they adopted is a good fit and try to find a different home for it online. In turn that animal could be taken in by someone who doesn’t have the animal’s best interest at heart and could potentially be an abuser. The shelter states that they would rather see people who aren’t happy with their pet adoption to bring the animal back to the shelter as they are better equipped to find the animal a more suitable home.

     
  • Geebo 9:23 am on March 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    Amazon announces thousands of customer service jobs, but are they worth it? 

    Amazon announces thousands of customer service jobs, but are they worth it?

    Amazon recently announced that they will be hiring 3,000 employees to work at home as customer service reps. The job is said to pay $15/hr. for 20-29 hours per week but those hours could increase to 60 hours a week with overtime pay. Health benefits would be provided after 90 days. Does it sound too good to be true? Maybe.

    The first catch is that you need to live in one of only 18 states and those states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming. While the $15/hr. rate is great compared to the cost of living in many of these states, a lot of these states are at-will states leaving employees without much recourse if they’re fired unjustly. You’re also required to have your own working computer and a reliable internet connection which could disqualify many people in these largely rural states.

    So you have a blazing fast internet connection, a top of the line computer, and you live in one of these states. That means you’re ready to start making money with Amazon right? Well, before you do that you may want to check the reviews of Amazon’s work at home program on job review site Glassdoor. While Amazon gets an overall positive recommendation from Glassdoor users, you may want to look at some of the negative reviews from current and previous Amazon employees. Many of them talk about the lack of training and the lack of managerial support which in a high-volume customer service position could mean even more potential pressure placed on customer service reps.

    We’re not saying that you shouldn’t apply for one of these jobs, however, you should consider all the options before committing yourself to work for Amazon.

     
  • Geebo 9:08 am on March 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
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    BBB: Job scams were the worst in 2018 

    BBB: Job scams were the worst in 2018

    The Better Business Bureau is reporting that in 2018 job and employment scams topped their list of riskiest scams. More people lost money to job scams than any other scam the BBB tracks last year. The job scams even beat out standard scams like the fake check scam, phony online purchases, and tech support scams. In most employment scams the scammers will try to get you to pay some kind of advance processing fee for things like background checks while most legitimate employers will burden this cost themselves. Any prospective job that asks you for money is almost definitely a scam and should be avoided at all costs. Not only could you lose money but your identity could be stolen as well.

    So why were employment scams so prolific in 2018? The BBB attributes most of the job scams to Amazon’s search for their second headquarters last year. Not that Amazon is to blame but scammers took advantage of Amazon being in the news so much by offering fictitious Amazon jobs to unsuspecting victims often using websites and social media posts that mimic Amazon in a very convincing way. Amazon has only one official job application portal that can be found at amazon.jobs.

    The BBB also issued warnings against the other typical job scams to be on the lookout for. We’ve already mentioned any job that asks for money in advance. There’s also the work at home jobs that you have to be wary of since many of them are scams. You should also be wary of any job that offers you an immediate position without arranging an interview first. No legitimate employer would hire someone sight unseen. Lastly, you should be on the lookout for anyone trying to charge you to get you a government job as all government jobs are posted publicly by the government themselves. In today’s job market where so many people are desperate to find ways of supporting their family, this desperation can lead to not thinking clearly when it comes to finding a job.

     
  • Geebo 10:05 am on March 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amtrak, Brightline, trains, , Virgin Trains USA   

    Is rail the future of travel in America? 

    Is rail the future of travel in America?

    If you’ve ever traveled by train in America your choice of carrier is extremely limited. You’re going to be using the services of either Amtrak or a regional rail service like SEPTA in the Philadelphia area or NJ Transit in the Garden State. Most of these services are government-run and in the case of Amtrak can be just as expensive as flying. While there are many great train stations in major cities like Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Chicago, train stations in smaller but still major cities leave a lot to be desired. However, a privately owned rail company is hoping to change all that.

    Brightline has its major station in Miami and is said to be an amazing experience for train travelers. They currently run lines to Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach with a future expansion planned for Orlando. The rates appear to be quite reasonable and the service aboard the trains is said to be outstanding. It also doesn’t hurt that Brightline has partnered with the Virgin Group and has rebranded as Virgin Trains USA. Virgin has its own history when it comes to commuter travel as they have been successful in both the airline industry in the US and the rail industry in the UK.

    Brightline/Virgin Trains USA hope to cash in on the rising trend of people ditching cars for ride-sharing services not to mention travel between destinations which are too long to drive but too short to fly. While the service is only currently in South Florida, there are plans to expand the service to other parts of the country such as having a line from Las Vegas to Southern California. Could we be seeing a travel by train renaissance in the US within the next decade? Hopefully so because current rail services and options are lacking at best.

     
  • Geebo 10:21 am on March 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Motel 6   

    Facebook sued by human trafficking victim 

    Facebook sued by human trafficking victim

    Social media has long been a tool that human traffickers use to approach their victims. Even going back to the days of MySpace pimps and traffickers would use social media to groom underage victims to come to work for them. These predators look for any vulnerability in their victims to exploit to get their victims to believe in working for the pimps. Most pimps offer a lifestyle of money and luxury while others promise them a better life than what the victims parents are currently providing. So, the question that needs to be asked is should social media platforms be held responsible for the messages sent between traffickers and their underage victims?

    An attorney in Houston thinks the answer to that question is yes. She is suing Facebook on behalf of Jane Doe #19 claiming that Facebook allowed the traffickers to message the then 12-year-old girl for six months before convincing the girl to meet them at a local Motel 6. She was then put up for sale on Backpage where she, unfortunately, was forced to meet with multiple johns. In response to this suit, Facebook released the following statement…

    “Human trafficking is abhorrent and is not allowed on Facebook. We use technology to thwart this kind of abuse and we encourage people to use the reporting links found across our site so that our team of experts can review the content swiftly. Facebook also works closely with anti-trafficking organizations and other technology companies, and we report all apparent instances of child sexual exploitation to NCMEC.”

    Backpage and Motel 6 have also been named in the suit and on those instances, we think the suit has merit. Backpage for the obvious reasons and Motel 6 because they allegedly told the girl’s parents that the victim wasn’t there. However, we’re not so sure that Facebook should be held responsible in this matter. For one, while we sympathize with the victim, no 12-year-old girl should be on Facebook as their terms of service state that a user must be 13-years-old to use their service. I know that sounds like splitting hairs but it’s almost guaranteed it will be brought up by Facebook’s attorneys. Secondly, Facebook, in this case, is just a form of communication. If the girl had been texted by her traffickers should the phone company be sued for allowing traffickers to text her? Then if Facebook starts to monitor messages between users there will be another backlash against Facebook over privacy issues.

    While we hope this girl is able to receive some form of justice with her suits against Backpage and Motel 6, we believe the suit against Facebook holds no merit.

     
  • Geebo 10:00 am on March 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Homeland Security, , , , , , ,   

    Tax collection, Homeland Security, and yet another puppy scam 

    Tax collection, Homeland Security, and yet another puppy scam

    It’s time again to bring you some more scams that are happening around the country that could ultimately impact your area and possibly someone you know.

    First up is a twist on the typical IRS scam. In the typical IRS scam, someone will call a victim on the phone pretending to be from the IRS trying to pressure the victim into making an immediate payment on a tax bill that doesn’t actually exist. The flaw in this scam is that the IRS rarely calls a taxpayer to settle any taxes owed. Instead, the IRS is known for mailing out any delinquent tax notices. That’s where this new scam being reported out of Sullivan County, Tennessee takes it up a notch. The scammers are mailing out letters claiming to be from a “Tax Enforcement Department” which then directs potential victims to call a phone number to make a payment. If you receive a letter like this and you feel like you may owe the IRS some money always call the IRS directly at (800) 829-1040.

    Speaking of government agencies, our next scam involves possible the most fear-inducing branch of the government and that’s the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS recently released a warning stating that scammers were calling people posing as the DHS by spoofing official DHS phone numbers. That way when someone receives the call it appears to be from DHS itself when in reality it’s just a scammer. The scammers are said to be claiming that the people they call have been victims of identity theft and ask the victims for personal information or threatening people with immigration offenses if they don’t make a payment right then and there. Some of these scammers are even sending out emails using an uscis.org email address. That is similar to but not the web address of DHS which is actually uscis.gov If you receive one of these phone calls or emails, the DHS requests that you call them at 1-800-323-8603.

    Lastly, we have an online puppy scam that has an added level of cruelty added to it. Luckily, no puppies actually exist in this scam if you can call that lucky. An online puppy scammer is said to be taking money from victims over PayPal as a deposit for a purebred puppy. The phony breeder then directs all of their victims to an address in Atlanta, Georgia to pick up the fictitious puppy. According to FOX 5 Atlanta, people have driven from as far away as Detroit. The man who lives at the Atlanta address has had to tell all the people who showed up on his doorstep that they’ve been scammed. Buying puppies online is always a risky venture as there are a plethora of scams involving puppies, some of which end up with puppies being bred in backyard puppy mills. When searching for a new pet for your family you should always deal with a locally licensed breeder or your local shelter. You’re less likely to run into scammers this way.

     
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