The FBI is writing to me

… from Benin.

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Riiiiiight…

To: undisclosed-recipients:

Attn: Beneficiary,

All the people that have their names in the list would be inset in our website any moment from now because we are charged to wipe away all the fraudulent transactions being held on the internet in which many people have lost their lives and properties. So it will be better for you to update us on the actual date in which you would be able to make the payment of $85 Usd to the agency over there in Benin for them to issue the FRAUD CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE to you because that is the only guarantee that would make us believe that your name and ID was really forged and not real as claimed because the German Business Man has contacted all the Crimes Agency on this matter and it was your ID that he has placed in all the Crimes Department for a search of you.

This Certificate will be attached along with the previous Clean Bill Certificate so that the attorney who is handling this process could get everything mandated as you have only 48hours to co-operate with this directives and this last Certificate as stated by the issuance department would cost you the sum of $85 Usd and this fees should be paid within a short while from now on.

The payment should be sent through either Western Union Money Transfer or Money Gram Transfer with the below details:

Receivers Name: Simeon Ekwe
Location: Cotonou Benin Republic
Text Question: WHAT FOR
Text Answer: GOOD
Amount: $85 Usd.

The payment details should be sent once the payment has been sent and don’t forget to include the Senders Name and Address and the MTCN NUMBER.

This is our advise to you and we do hope to get a positive feed back from you as soon as possible.

BEST REGARD

JAMES B. COMEY
DIRECTOR FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI)

Never fall for these scams. Never send money via Western Union to a stranger, especially in a foreign country, especially in Africa. Just don’t do it.

Be careful out there

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The watercolors of Beth Trott

I get pleasure out of sharing and promoting things which I enjoy. Yesterday on reddit the husband of watercolorist Beth Trott shared this lovely image:

Livvy and the Zombie

It would be difficult for me to love this picture more than I do.

Ms. Trott is also a very serious artist:

From a window in venice

Venice is one of my favorite cities in the world – I spent a night in what was once Tintoretto’s studio (or at least, one of them) so this picture captured my attention immediately.

See more of this lovely work at bethtrott.com. I have dreams of being able to create such lovely things, in perhaps a million years or so.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Playgrounds

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“A Safe Place to Play,” says the caption. That’s what the playgrounds I remember used to look like.

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Awesome rope swing

Old-Playground-Equipment

Don’t forget the merry-go-round, that could fling you off with great force.

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Look at this beautiful old slide from the NYU playground project.

Swings

And, of course, the swings.

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Wow. We never had anything like this. And still, somehow, we survived. There was the occasional bump and bruise. Someone would show up at school with a broken arm, and everyone would ooh and aah over the cast, as happened to my own son after he fell off a jungle gym. It happens. We didn’t even think of calling a lawyer.

Even as late as the 1980’s, playgrounds could be awesome:

a-very-awesome-playground

Sadly, even looking at pictures like this is enough to give tort attorneys an orgasm thinking about all the billable hours they could earn, which is why modern playgrounds look like this:

crappy-no-fun-play-equipment

Safe and boring.

Thanks, legal profession.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

How the Search Engine Scammers Get Your Money

Earlier I posted a warning about the “Search Engine Registration” scam. As a follow-up, here’s an illustration of what happens if you happen to fall for this camel ejecta.

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Of course, the email you received includes a coupon code. Wow. Such deal.

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Not only are they offering you a worthless service, something that happens automatically with the largest and most-used search engines, they’re asking you to pay $97.00 to make “nothing” happen even faster.

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Good, you’ve taken the bait. Let’s see how far they can push you. For $197.00, they’ll keep offering you “nothing” forever.

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Not content to scam you out of $300.00 thus far, they now want you to shell out more money to “register” your website. Bang goes another $97.00.

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But wait! There’s more! Not only will we charge you $97.00 to make “nothing” happen to your website, we’ll also charge you $49.95¹ to do “nothing” every month. Thanks for being such a fine sucker!

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Now that we’ve squeezed your cojones so hard that you’re singing soprano, we’ll finish off by kicking them through the top of your skull. For another $297.00, we’ll send 10,000 “visitors” to your website. These, if they even happen, will likely convert into zero additional sales.

So let’s sum up: If you’re a big sucker, you’ve spent $737.95 (plus another $49.95 monthly) to do something that would have happened automatically for exactly 0¢. Probably not the best expenditure of your hard-earned money.

Stay away from scams and cons like this, run by people who have the morals of a honey badger.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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¹ If you’re really old, like me, you’ll recognize this as the price of that charcoal-grey suit you keep getting icky-sticky gook all over.

Those dratted robocalls

Got one today from 906-209-8746, and as usual, no one was there.

I have written about this scam before at “The FTC vs. The Hydra,” but an excellent description of these calls was left at 800notes.com by user NAS about one of those never-sufficiently-to-be-damned “credit card services” calls. It was valuable enough I thought I’d repost it here to give it wider exposure.

Unsolicited/Nuisance/Fraud/SCAM/Prank telephone calls are here to stay.  Robotic calling technology is readily available and unscrupulous people will exploit it.  Get a life and deal with it.

Being on the National Do Not Call Registry will NOT stop these calls.  Most of them come from overseas operations that are spoofing numbers in the United States.  They are outside of US laws and jurisdiction.  Your government is NOT the least bit motivated to protect you from this kind of harassment, either on your land line or cell phone.  The Registry only blocks a very tiny percentage of potential callers.  The legislation was written to protect political interests, not your privacy.  It is basically worthless.

Do not be surprised (or upset) if/when the caller hangs up as soon as you answer.  When your phone rings, they have completed their job.  These callers are NOT interested in talking to you.  They get paid for each phone connection made.  Any engagement of you in conversation takes away from their time to call other numbers.  What they are doing is compiling a list of “live” numbers so they can sell it to other scammers.  They are also looking for “dead” numbers to spoof for their future calls.

A hang-up call can also be an overseas “one ring scam” to get you to call back and sock you with exorbitant international or premium service call fees.  Typically those scams target cell phones, and originate form area codes 242, 246, 264, 268, 284, 345, 441, 473, 649, 664, 758, 767, 784, 809, 829, 849, 868, 876, and 869.  (You don’t have to dial a country code to call these international numbers.)  If you don’t recognize who is calling, forget about it.  Don’t answer.  DO NOT call back, unless you’ve got $20.00 per minute to burn!  If it’s important they’ll leave a message and/or call again.

What can you do?

1) Block the calling number.  Most cell phone service providers (and some cell phones themselves) have blocking services.  Many land line phone providers also have blocking services.  Contact your service provider (cell or land-line) to find out how to do it.  For a nominal one-time investment you can purchase a simple plug-in add-on device that allows you to manually block numbers to your land-line (Google “call blocker”).  Note that these callers don’t use a number very long before they switch to another and hit you again.  Get used to it.  It’s an unadvertised perk of having phone service.

2) If you do answer a call and get a real person talking to you, you have established a “business relationship” which takes you out of any Do Not Call Registry restrictions with them….as if they were abiding by those regulations anyway.  Engage them in non-committal conversation as long as you possibly can.  Act VERY interested.  Mess with their minds.  Give them phony credit card numbers.  Give them fictitious addresses.  Make up names.  Consume as much of their time as you can.  While you are taking up their time they cannot harass someone else, so you are performing a vital civic service.  When they do finally hang up, block their number on your phone.

3) DO NOT call them back!  DO NOT select the button that is supposed to remove you from their database.  These actions only registers your phone number as valid so they can add it to their list to sell to other scammers.  Such action also establishes that you have “done business with them before” which takes you off of the Do Not Call Registry for them….as if they would even consider abiding by the law anyway.

4) Telephone communications are regulated by state and federal governments.  Carry a card with the phone number of your State Attorney General (who has the responsibility of enforcing telecommunications laws).  When you get an unsolicited call tell them that they have caught you on a phone that can’t be used for personal use (or they’ve caught you on your cell) and ask them to call back on a different number.  Give them the Attorney General’s number, hang up, and immediately block their number on your phone.

The Old Wolf has spoken.