Frightfully clever crossover technology marketing

The picture below submitted to reddit by /u/golmal7 shows a flexi-disc CD by Kid Koala entitled “15 Blues Bits.”

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The top side of the CD comes impressed like a vinyl record, and the disc comes with a cardboard gramophone that you can play.

Here’s a video of the record being played with the included kit:

And here’s what it sounds like on a regular turntable:

I have no idea whether the music on the CD is any good, but that’s innovative marketing.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

“Content from the Web”

Most websites have them. Clickbait links that are randomly generated by affiliate marketing programs like Google’s AdSense. Here’s an example from one of my favorite news aggregators, Newser.com:

Content

This isn’t content; every single one of these are advertisements, and direct users to deceptive or disreputable websites.

These links lead to the following websites, from left to right and top to bottom:

1) Instantcheckmate.com: Flagged by WOT for spam and scam. Sample comment: “Started receiving huge amounts of spam immediately after they got my email. Luckily I did not give my credit card details to these scammers!

2) TotalLifeGuru selling a product called Test X180 Ignite. Your “free sample” will cost you $4.99 S&H, for which payment you will be required to provide your credit card information. Per their terms and conditions, you will automatically be enrolled as a “member” in their Test X180 Ignite VIP Membership Program. As a reward, 18 days later, and every 30 days thereafter you’ll get a new supply for only $79.95 plus $4.99 S&H plus tax. And you can be very, very sure that this program is either impossible or ferociously difficult to cancel. But they have your credit card, and those charges will keep coming, and coming, and coming, just like the Energizer Bunny.

3) Again, TotalLifeGuru recommending a penny auction site called Quibids. Flagged by WOT for scam, misleading claims or unethical, poor customer service experience, and others. Penny auction sites are a guaranteed money loser for all but a very few. From the AARP website:

“That $30 camera represents 3,000 bids. At a dollar a bid, the website could take in $3,000 on that auction item; not a bad haul for a $600 camera. However, even if you are the winner, you will likely end up paying more than the final sale price, depending on how many bids you submitted along the way. For example, if you placed 100 bids at a dollar each, your out-of-pocket will be $130. Still a good deal, but not as fantastic as it might appear at first.”

4) Weekly Financial Solutions recommending a loan program called “EasyLoanSite,” with the headline “

Little-Known Government Lending Program Offers Ridiculously Low Mortgage Rates!

EasyLoanSite functions much the same way as “Lower My Bills;” in other words, they will gather as much personal information from you as you are willing to provide, “recommend” a few mortgage loan affiliates, and sell your information to every marketer in the world and a few on Rigel V. A sample comment over at ripoffreport.com

Filled out all the requested information to get an estimate of what I would save by refinancing my mortgage…when I get to the final screen they say “sorry we’re not able to help you but here’s a list of mortgage companies (ads) we recommend you contact.”

5) Again, TotalLifeGuru selling a product called Probioslim. Your “free sample” will cost you $2.99 S&H, for which payment you will be similarly required to provide your credit card information. Per their terms and conditions, you will automatically be enrolled as a “member” in their Probioslim VIP Membership Program (sounds very similar to the program mentioned above in No. 2.) Similarly, 18 days later, and every 30 days thereafter you’ll get a new supply for only $69.95 plus $4.99 S&H plus tax. The most unsettling part of this agreement is as follows:

I understand that this consumer transaction involves a negative option and that I may be liable for payment of future goods and services under the terms of the agreement if I fail to notify the supplier not to supply the goods or services described.

This is legalese authorizing the company to bill you for future shipments, even if you failed to read the fine print. Companies that operate in this manner have the ethics of a hungry honey badger, and should never be dealt with. Their products are also, in all likelihood, ineffective garbage with no discernible value.

6) Leads you to a long, noisy whiteboard presentation for Pimsleurapproach.com, about which I have already written on two occasions. The Pimsleur approach as marketed by Simon and Schuster is great. I love it as a springboard into a language. Pimsleurapproach.com, however, uses the same ghastly marketing techniques of offering you a cheap intro, followed by a membership program that will send you a new “evaluation” course every 60 days, for each of which you will be billed only four easy installments of $64.00 unless you cancel – which will be very hard to do. This bottom-feeder company thrives on those who don’t read the fine print and who won’t understand why their credit card is being billed for so much and so often.

7) One more TotalLifeGuru shill page for a vitamin called “GetAwayGrey.” A mix of common ingredients mixed with wild claims, this vitamin compound claims to reverse grey hair.

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Stay away from such rubbish. It’s like taking sugar pills, but very expensive ones: $29.95 plus S&H for a month’s supply of worthless trash.

8) Lastly, another TotalLifeGuru web page hawking Kerafiber, junk you put on your head to minimize the look of balding. A recent user review at Amazon:

Clumpy, powdery and a waste of money. Would never leave the house with this on. Nothing natural looking about it.

At least this website doesn’t sign you up for a recurring and annoying autoship program without your consent. Regarding TotalLifeGuru, I wonder how many junk products his website shills for, and how much they get for redirecting traffic to these worthless products?

The bottom line is that every one of these “Content from the Web” links are worthless, deceptive and, to my way of thinking, unethical. Companies that value their reputation would do well to stay away from programs that inject such garbage onto their websites.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Check out this totally non-bogus book – Fun with Dude and Betty!

Some time ago I found a page from this book on reddit and thought it was hilarious. I must have posted about it on Facebook, because some time later, as part of a surprise package from a good friend in Virginia, along came a copy of it. I was delighted, because it’s such a delightful homage to an era that I grew up in (although as an eastern boy, this language never was part of my ideolect.

Most people from my generation will remember Dick and Jane; here I present to you Dude – Fun with Dude and Betty.

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I’d copy the whole thing for you, but that would really be bogus; as the copyright notice states,

“No way can any part of this book be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever unless you get written permission, ’cause that would be fully dropping in, dude. Although you can use short quotations in, like, critical articles and reviews.”

And we don’t want to be bogus. So I’ll give you, like, just one page – the one I found the funniest:

dude

“Bud is harshing on Dude’s mellow” made me laugh harder than it should have. But the whole book is like this, with language and feel straight out of the 60s surfer scene. Tubular, dude!

There’s even a glossary of terminology in the back, for those non-cool dudes and dudettes who didn’t dig this scene as kids. Wait, that may be mixing a bit of 50s beatnik terminology in there, but it’s cool.

If you want to score a copy of this book for yourself, you can find it at Amazon.

The Old Wolf has, like, spoken, dude.

To Protect Yourself from Common Scams, Do This

FIRST:

Be Very Careful with Cashier’s Checks!

Secret Shopper Bogus Check

These are extremely easy to forge on pre-printed forms available anywhere like Staples, Office Max, etc. All the criminal needs is a laser printer.

NEVER send money to someone who has sent you a cashier’s check until you have verified with your bank that it has cleared. If the check is bogus, you can also be arrested for passing fraudulent documents. This is a rare occurrence, but it has happened and probably will happen again.

SECOND:

Do Not Use Money Transfer Services with Unknown Persons

Generic_MoneyPak_Front

We’re talking here about Western Union, MoneyGram, and Green Dot MoneyPak cards, or anything else like it.

If you send money to a criminal with Western Union or a similar service, it’s gone. You can’t get it back. If a criminal asks you to buy a Green Dot MoneyPak card and send him/her the PIN, do not do it. Your money will be gone, and you won’t get it back.

These services irresponsibly enable fraudsters all over the world to perpetrate their scams on vulnerable or unwitting people. They should be regulated in much the same was as pawn shops.

THIRD:

Do not believe everything you read on the internet, or in your email box.

Scams are rampant. Criminals all around the world want your money, and they will stop at virtually nothing to get it. An example received just yesterday.

FOURTH:

Do not click on links in emails.

If you’re curious about a link in an email, type the address in your URL box directly, like this:

walmart1

If you click on a link directly in the email, you may be redirected to a bogus site:

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In this example, the link that looks like it will go to a legitimate Walmart site is actually taking you to a questionable internet marketing website that is being used by criminals.

FIFTH:

Do not click on attachments in emails unless you know who sent them.

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This email looks like it has attached a .PDF file. However, any attachment can be deceptive. TXT files, DOC or DOCX files, PDF files, XLS or XLSX files, and many others – all can actually be .EXE files in disguise.

If you do not know who is sending you an attachment, never click on it.

SIXTH:

Never pay money to collect a prize.

This just goes without saying. You can’t win a lottery or sweepstakes you didn’t enter. Legitimate lotteries or sweepstakes, and there are precious few of these, will never ask you for up-front money to collect a prize. Again, never send money to a stranger hoping to get a large payout. If you do, you are being robbed.

SEVENTH:

There is no Nigerian prince or government official who wants you to help get money out of the country.

nigerians

This is the “419” fraud, so named for the section of the Nigerian legal code that makes this sort of scam illegal. None of the above schemes will work if people avoid sending money to strangers using Western Union or MoneyGram or other methods. This also applies to “reshipping work” or “lonely hearts” scams. At some point, all of them will ask you to send money somewhere. Don’t Do It!

There are more ways to get scammed and one post can’t cover them all, but if everyone would follow these few simple steps, the incidence of fraud would decrease dramatically. Protect your loved ones. Educate them, or watch over their finances. Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

“Walmart” Secret Shopper Scam

Today’s scam email:

From: “Walmart .” <appstore_–itunes@outlook.com&gt
To: [obfuscated]
Subject: Part time Job

Hi there,

Will you like to make extra cash, click the link below for more details.

http://www.walmart.com/job_requirement_000032.html

Thanks
Walmart
Note: Do not reply this email follow the link if you are interested.

It should be painfully obvious that this email is not from Walmart. It comes from an address that is totally unrelated to Walmart; most large companies have their own domains, and never use mail aggregator services like Yahoo, Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, Rogers.com, and the like. Not to mention that the English is poor: “will you like to make extra cash,” “do not reply this email,” etc.

But let’s see where that link goes.

One of the prime tenets of Safe Computing is that you never click directly on links in emails. My email client, the old but still-faithful Eudora 7, warns you if the link you’re clicking on goes somewhere else, like this:

redirect

Notice that this link redirects to somewhere called “moziawomensnetwork.com,” which is definitely not a Walmart link. If you type the link as seen directly into your URL bar, you get this:

404

In other words, 404: Not Found. Walmart has no such link.

If you are foolish enough to click the link, thinking that this is a real job offer, here’s what you get:

scam

So, in addition to the noise about being a secret shopper, and giving your personal information to filthy criminals, the money shot is here:

  • You will be mailed a cashier’s check for $1950. It will be bogus, and even though your bank might give you the money, it will bounce and then you will be in debt to your bank.
  • You are being asked to buy a Green Dot Moneypak card, probably in the amount of $1750 or so, and send the PIN to the scammers. In other words, you are sending your own hard-earned cash to scum-sucking descendants of pigs, and you will be responsible to pay that money back to the bank.

DO NOT DO THIS!

Be very afraid of cashier’s checks, and never send money via Western Union, MoneyGram, Green Dot MoneyPak card, or any other untraceable, unrecoverable method to people you do not know personally.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Cats of Sydney Harbor Bridge

I happened across this picture on reddit today and wondered about the backstory:

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The post intimated that this cat was named George. A little digging intimates that it’s not impossible, but that there were several cats who lived on or around the bridge, some of which never came down. I find that a bit hard to believe, but you can judge for yourself.

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These images were found at Purr-n-Fur – there’s an article there with more information on the cats.

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From the The Sunday Herald, 29 July 1951

Related: Below, an image of the bridge under construction in 1930

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