Archive for the ‘Fraud Scam’ Category

Fear Less, Fraud Fails

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Excessive worrying is frequently time consuming and unhealthy. Fraud possibilities seem endless because they are. Knowing this can easily overwhelm worrywarts (for lack of better words) that will never even be real victims. Yet with technology today some try to reason the necessity for excessive worrying. If you are not one of these reasoners, and you are ready to overcome fears of fraud by means of insight and intelligence then please read on.

First, find comfort with the knowledge that fraudulent businesses fail. How else besides a bailout would they stay in business? Don’t listen to rumors or fabrications on fraud, look at the facts. Part of business success entails utilizing opportunities that the competition overlooks. If these opportunities are spelled out for all to understand then the business innovator reaps no rewards. The creative entrepreneur will find that the less creative entrepreneur will reach their success through copying their methods, and thus the desire to be creative greatly decreases.

More than likely a business reaches success because they provide a quality service at a quality price. This does not mean that a company providing a free service is a scam or involved with fake business. A good example of a legitimate and tremendously successful company with free services for many of its users is Google. The company provides free services to help the public and profits from those looking to market to the public.

When communicating via the Internet always remember your street smarts.

Remember to keep your Social Security number secure. Don’t provide it or other personal information unless you know the need for its actual necessity (rather than just a company claimed necessity). If a stranger approaches you on the road and makes some claims about past due bills or unexpected winnings, would you trust them and provide your personal information? If so, this article may not be able to provide the assistance you need.

Understand the meaning of an investment and what it is that you invest in. Investments do not guarantee returns, and as an investor though you hope for returns you cannot rely on them. Good marketers will sell all of their investments with sounds of brilliance, profit, and enjoyment. Ask yourself if it’s the business person or product that you believe in, and if you don’t answer both then you can count on the investment disappointing you.

Be prepared, be smart, be fraud conscious, but don’t search for fraud unless you want fraud.

Online reputation management

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Online reputation management

Protecting one’s online reputation – personal or professional – is extremely important in this day and age. The power of the Internet should never be underestimated. Dissatisfied customers, bitter co-workers and disgruntled employees alike have the potential to seriously damage one’s image on the web.

In order to protect one’s reputation, it is crucial to exercise self-control and censorship when posting content to the Internet. Social networks are an easy place to get carried away and share comments or opinions that might later be used against a person.

One should never forget that content published in an online platform such as Facebook, Twitter or blogs can be viewed by anyone: This means potential employers, recruiters and clients. Most networks are directly associated with one’s name and will come up in an online search.

Many forget that content posted online cannot only be found, but it has the potential to stay there permanently.

Personal censorship is an easy thing to control online. If it seems like something that could be potentially embarrassing or damaging to one’s reputation, it is probably best left unsaid. But what other people have to say about a person or business on the Internet is an entirely different and much more difficult situation to manage.

The beauty of the Internet – and its inherent danger – is that anyone has the power to post anything they want. This means that satisfied clients can rave about a business or its products, whereas cynics and disgruntled customers can just as easily blow off some steam in a blog or review.

Businesses should monitor such online conversations to find out what people are saying about them and to discover which issues need to be addressed. After determining which comments could turn into potential problems, the next step is to resolve them.

A common solution in dealing with online criticism is to simply delete the comments. Although this might be an easy short-term answer to the problem, it’s not always the best idea. In doing so, this conveys to the online community that a person or business has something to hide.

The best thing to do in this situation is to respond to the critical commentary in an apologetic and understanding manner. The customer is always right, and unfortunately, this translates to the social sphere as well. Most dissatisfied clients will appreciate the time and attention they received with a response to their issue, which may even lead them to remove the comment and gain a new perspective on the issue.

Another way to respond to negative online comments is through a blog. Creating a blog with one’s name in the URL will create favorable search engine result pages (SERPs) when people look up the name of a person or business. This will help to push some of the negative content down on the list of results and keep the blog at the top.

Blogs also give the receiver of negative commentary a chance to defend him or herself in a respectable and legitimate online platform. Frequently updating the blog will help the positive content to be viewed before the criticisms. Google responds well to fresh content, and by tagging keywords that are relevant to the issues that need to be resolved, the content of the blog will be more visible in search engine results.

Ideally, all potentially reputation-tarnishing issues online could be resolved via direct communication with the person or organization that originally posted the comment. However, there are unfortunately a lot of people out there who are bitter and quick to jump at the opportunity to criticize.

If a problem can be solved through an apology or explanation, this is the best way to handle it. When you’ve exhausted all other avenues, however, the best way to increase your positive presence online is to create new, engaging content.

WORKS CITED:

Berline, Amanda. “How To Protect Your Online Reputation” Forbes.com http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/01/online-reputation-protect-leadership-careers-networking.html Accessed 10/17/11

Carracher, Jamie. “4 Ways to Protect the Reputation of Your Small Business Online” Mashable http://mashable.com/2011/10/15/protect-small-business-reputation-online/ Accessed 10/17/11

Weinberg, Tamar. “Manage Your Online Reputation” lifehacker http://lifehacker.com/357460/manage-your-online-reputation Accessed 10/17/11

Steve Jobs’s death provokes Internet scams

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Whenever tragedy strikes, Internet scammers are close on the trail with a new ruse to reel in the unsuspecting.

Fraudulent donation funds followed the natural disasters of the Haiti earthquake and the Japan tsunami. Amy Winehouse’s death in July prompted a slew of fake Facebook pop-ups. Most recently, Steve Jobs’s passing has given virtual conmen new fodder to work with.

Within just a few hours of the news breaking about Steve Jobs’ death last week, cyber criminals were hard at work littering the Internet with new scams. Facebook is a popular platform for such fraudulent activity, targeting users that are click-friendly and unwary of being duped.

One such Facebook scam involving the Apple co-founder announced the giving away of 1,000 iPads in commemoration of Steve Jobs. As with most scams on Facebook, users are asked to click on a link which then shares the post on their wall.

In order to be eligible for the iPad drawing, people on Facebook were redirected to an advertising site. Each time a visitor went to the site, the scammer’s earnings increased.

Another variation of the Steve Jobs scam asked users to complete an online survey before they could receive their free iPad or other Apple device. The survey required sensitive personal information, such as birth dates and even credit card numbers for shipping purposes.

The deceptive sites also infected computers with malware when users clicked the links. Some of these websites worked on commission, and with an increase in traffic, came an increase in revenue.

Most Internet scams work in the same fashion: They get people to click on links, share the post with others, and give away their sensitive information.

The Better Business Bureau put out a warning against the Steve Jobs Internet scam, and they urged people to be suspicious of any posts advertising free products and asking users to complete online surveys, especially those on Facebook.

Scammers often target Facebook users because of their click-happy and social nature. Facebook is considered to be somewhat of a community where friends share things. If a friend shares a link for free iPads, most assume that they can trust their judgment and sign up for the free stuff as well.

It’s unfortunate that evildoers out there prey on unsuspecting and trustworthy Internet users. To use someone’s death for monetary benefit is a disgraceful act, but it continues to happen each time a newsworthy event occurs.

Facebook has 800 million users, and in the eyes of scammers, they’re all potential prey and sources of income.

In order to steer clear of such situations, it’s important to follow a few key guidelines. Don’t ever give out credit card numbers or personal information, be wary of anything that looks suspicious, and above all, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

WORKS CITED:

Hart, Janet C. “BBB: Watch Out for Internet Scams Related to Steve Jobs’ Death” BBB http://charlotte.bbb.org/article/BBB-Watch-Out-for-Internet-Scams-Related-to-Steve-Jobs-Death-29901 Accessed 10/11/11

“Steve Jobs’ death spawns scams” channelnewasia.com http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/technologynews/view/1158287/1/.html Accessed 10/10/11

Facebook and Spotify: Two, together

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Facebook’s been gearing up to take on the biggest challenge of all: your taste in everything.

The social media giant is growing older and maturing. With 800 million users worldwide, it’s still the top site of its kind, but some changes may be due to its need to stay relevant and compete with the Google+s of the world.

Unveiled in June of 2011, Google+ now has 20 million users – still a far cry from the global domination of Facebook, but its numbers are steadily climbing.

Some changes to Facebook are simply aesthetic – a new “Top Stories” feature, extending the 500-character post limit to 5,000, and an overwhelmingly up-to-date news ticker about all Facebook friends’ activities all the time.

Probably the most important change to Facebook, announced on September 22nd at the F8 developer conference in San Francisco, is their partnership with almost a dozen different music services – including Spotify, Slacker Radio, Soundcloud, Earbits, Vevo, Rhapsody and others.

Launched in 2008 in Sweden, Spotify has gained massive popularity in the past few months, thanks in part to its promotion by Zuckerberg. The new partnership will surely further the music service’s success and possibly establish them as the social media music service of choice.

Integrated to Facebook’s Open Graph app platform, Facebook users can use Spotify to share songs and playlists with friends in real time. Endorsed by Zuckerberg as an excellent way for users to make new musical discoveries and further share interests with friends, Spotify is indeed the most prominent of Facebook’s new batch of musical partnerships.

Facebook users can expect to see play buttons to start popping up on their pages, seamlessly connecting them to music shared by friends and allowing them to stream it on the spot.

Instead of developing their own music service, Facebook decided to be a host to others. By not having to deal with licensing and expansion, the service can continue to focus on its number one priority: growing its user base.

There has been some controversy surrounding Facebook’s partnership with Spotify, but the biggest debate has been over Spotify’s new necessity for users to belong to Facebook in order to create a new music account.

When a user goes to the Spotify page, they are required to have a Facebook account and are prompted to create one if they don’t already. Similar to the game service Zynga’s growth – which was linked to the success of the social network – Spotify is now connected to Facebook in more than just sharing music.

Before their partnership with Facebook, Spotify was its own entity and required no connection to another service. But, now one cannot exist without the other; It’s become a symbiotic Internet relationship.

Whether or not Spotify will rise to such web stardom as its new partner will depend upon Facebook users’ abilities to willingly accept the new integration. At this point, however, it seems like it’s just a matter of time before Spotify does assume a leadership role in the music streaming industry, eventually ousting competitors like Rdio and Grooveshark thanks to it being Facebook’s default music service of choice.

WORKS CITED:

Butcher, Mike. “Controversy as Spotify requires new users to be on Facebook first” TechCrunch http://eu.techcrunch.com/2011/09/26/controversy-as-spotify-requires-new-users-to-be-on-facebook-first/

Roettgers, Janko. “Facebook teams up with Spotify, Turntable.fm to let users share music” Gigaom http://gigaom.com/2011/09/22/facebook-teams-up-with-spotify-turntable-fm-to-let-users-share-music/

Warren, Christina. “Spotify Comes to Facebook” Mashable Entertainment http://mashable.com/2011/09/22/facebook-music-spotify/

Social Media and the Hurricane

Monday, August 29th, 2011

In this day and age, there could never be a natural disaster without a significant amount of social media commentary. According to a recent article by USAToday, people waiting for its arrival and those already affected by Hurricane Irene took to Facebook and Twitter to post comments and share information with the online world.

Some posts were used to share updates about power outages, road closings and other trouble cause by Hurricane Irene. Dozens of pages on Facebook were dedicated to the storm. People took to social media to express concern, inform loved ones of their safety, and show remorse for those who lost their lives.

Yet others chose to use social media to express emotions of a different sort related to the hurricane; irritation. Category 1 was one of the top trending topics on Twitter this past weekend. Posters on Twitter accused the media and local and state officials of blowing the hurricane out of proportion and overreacting, calling it a Category 2 storm instead of Category 1.

Twitter posts from residents of New York City talked about the inconvenience of shutting down the city. The mass transit system in NYC was closed down for the first time in its history to prepare for the hurricane’s landfall upon the city.

Still, as some cared to share their irritation or blast their media over the hurricane, some took to the social media airwaves to urge others to take it seriously. No matter what category the hurricane was or how it compared to storms in the past, Irene still caused billions of dollars of damage up and down the East Coast, left hundreds of thousands without power, and killed at least 24 people.

It’s no surprise that social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were flooded with comments and posts about Hurricane Irene. Any monumental event such as a natural disaster will provoke social commentary, and the easiest way to share your opinion with the world these days is via social media. If our country was being bombed to pieces, there would still be people running from the path of destruction with a smartphone in their hands, trying to type out a message about the inconvenience of it all with buildings blowing up left and right and jets flying overhead.

The nature of social media is that anyone can post anything they want at any time. This means that we must take the good with the bad. Certain people decided to use Facebook and Twitter to provide useful information to the rest of the world about the hurricane, such as its path of destruction, road closing, power outages, and refuge shelters for those stranded.

But of course, others like to abuse the access and wide broadcast of social media to complain about the media coverage or the inconvenience of having to evacuate. Social media represents all spectrums of society, and if we are going to subject ourselves to the content, we must hear what everyone has to say.

Facebook Modifies Privacy Features

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Once again, Facebook has modified its privacy features. After multiple complaints of accidental oversharing and too much accessibility by people other than your friends to what is posted on Facebook, the social media giant has decided to make some more changes.

According to an article from the New York Times, the company announced Tuesday that the new features will help users control what they share and with whom. These new tools to be introduced on Thursday will include specific icons that will appear when adding new content. Pictures, comments and content to profile pages will all be subject to the user’s specifications on who they would like to share it with.

As of right now, users must go to a separate page in order to set controls on who they share with. Facebook hopes that by integrating the sharing options into each new instance of content creation, it will help users become more aware of who they are sharing with and allow them more control.

Recently, the use of facial recognition to identify people in photos was a big concern among Facebook users. Not to mention that when somebody tagged a photo of you, it automatically popped up in you profile images.

With the new changes, any tagged photo of you will require your approval before it is posted to your page. It will still appear on the page of the person who tagged you but not on your own page without consent.

This is an appealing new feature, especially if you have ever been the victim of an embarrassing tag. Perhaps you don’t want that photo of you with your arm around someone other than your girlfriend emerging on Facebook. Or maybe you don’t really care to share that photo of you doing shots at the bar with your parents or employers.

With more than 750 million users, the new changes will make an impact. Facebook denies that the privacy modifications are intended to keep up with the competition that is Google+. Google’s new social media service lets you establish groups of friends that you would like to communicate or share certain things with. With Facebook, if you don’t pay a whole lot of attention to your privacy settings; your info is just out there for the whole world to see.

Oversharing and surprise-tagging can be big sources of embarrassment on Facebook, and in certain cases might even get you into trouble. The simplest solution to this dilemma is to not act like an idiot when you are out in public. Or if you are really worried about your social media image but insist on being an idiot, then maybe you should just not have a Facebook page. Now there’s a crazy concept.

The Patent Battle Continues

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

You may recall a recent social media spat between Google and Microsoft over the issue of patents. Last month, Nortel Networks (a Canadian telecommunications equipment maker) sold its patent portfolio to a consortium of companies including Microsoft, Apple, RIM and Sony. In total, this included more than 6,000 different patents.

As these companies are all rivals of Google, it’s needless to say that the search engine giant was probably not too enthusiastic about this situation. In fact, in a blog post by Google’s chief legal officer, it was written that the consortium was a “hostile organized campaign” against Google, accusing them of buying up “bogus patents.” In response, Microsoft tweeted an image of an email showing Google declining an offer to join them in the buyout of the patents from Nortel Networks.

This month, the patent battle continues with Google at the helm. According to a recent article by the New York Post, Google is in the process of acquiring Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. This move would come with a massive portfolio of 17,000 patents and 7,000 more pending. As long as the deal is okayed by the Federal Trade Commission, this would give Google an upper hand in protecting themselves from patent lawsuits and in developing new hardware.

Apparently , Google was primarily interested in only acquiring the patents, but since Motorola Mobility has been losing money, they coerced them into buying out their entire organization.

As of right now, Samsung and HTC are the biggest manufacturers of Google’s Android-powered products, such as smartphones and other mobile devices. Upon purchasing Motorola Mobility, Google will have access to their own hardware manufacturer, which poses a threat to their existing manufacturers and to competitors such as Microsoft and Apple.

As indicated in the article in the New York Post, the move to buy up Motorola Mobility’s patent portfolio was for defense against lawsuits. But if Motorola starts making the best phones for Google when they are owned by Google, this poses a monopoly to other hardware engineering companies such as Samsung and HTC.

Apple, Microsoft, RIM and Sony may believe that they made a smart move in acquiring the patents from Nortel Networks, but the fight has just begun. It seems that Google is on a path for technological world domination, with this recent move and with their launch of Google+ to compete with Facebook.

It will be interesting to see how this whole situation pans out.

Google and Microsoft Engaged in Bitter Online Feud

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Google and Microsoft have been in competition with each other for a while now. It makes sense. They are both tech giants, offering similar services and products. Google has Chrome, Microsoft has bing. Google has the Android, Microsoft has its own Windows-based mobile devices. They are beasts of the same nature, and therefore they must compete for the title. Sometimes the battle can get ugly. This past week, both Google and Microsoft have taken to the social media airwaves to speak out against each other. This time, the feud is over patents.

According to a recent article in the Associated Press, Microsoft teamed up with Apple and Research in Motion to buy a large number of patents from Novell and Nortell Networks. Nortell Networks is a Canadian telecommunications gear manufacturer that went bankrupt and is now selling off its business, including thousands of patents.

According to Google, Microsoft is in cahoots with the other companies to compete against Google’s Android operating system. In order to keep Google from developing new software, Microsoft went ahead and bought up all the patents.

In a recent blog post, Google’s chief legal officer went so far as to say that Microsoft, Apple and others are in a “hostile organized campaign” against Google, and that’s the only reason they went ahead and bought all of the “bogus patents” from Novell and Nortell Networks. Instead of competing by building new devices, said Google, they simply want to make it harder for other manufacturers to sell the Android devices.

In response, Microsoft took to its own social networking platform of choice, Twitter. Microsoft’s communications chief tweeted an image of an email sent to Microsoft from Google, declining to take part in the purchase of all the patents from Novell and Nortell Networks. Google blasts at Microsoft with a blog post, and Microsoft comes right back and slaps them with a tweet.

The nature of this feud demonstrates how dependent upon and obsessed with social media our culture has become. It adds a new element to everything that goes on in the world. If it weren’t for blogs and Twitter, the only people that would know about this spat would be the people that read the technology section of the newspaper every day; that is to say, computer geeks.

But since everyone is so involved with what is posted online, we are so much more aware of what goes on and what other people have to say about it. Recent examples of how society is influenced by social media concerning news events have been the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal, Jackass star Ryan Dunn’s death and its response in Twitter, and the outcome of the Casey Anthony trial and all that anyone and everyone has to say about it.

It’s a global community these days, and if you are not involved in everyone else’s business via Twitter, Facebook or various blogs, apparently you are out of the loop.

Fake Apple Stores Busted in China

Monday, July 25th, 2011

China has a long history in producing knockoff goods; they are famous for it. You can go to any major metropolitan area in the United States, go downtown to Chinatown, and pick yourself up some cheap, counterfeit goods.

The knockoff goods shipped to the US from China include everything from Polo shirts to DVDs, and in China these knockoffs encompass an even wider variety of products. Although recently the Chinese government has been trying to shale this image of being a knockoff nation, the problem persists and in certain Chinese cities you can even purchase things like counterfeit auto parts, motorcycles, software, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

The problem here is that you are buying the label, not the quality product it represents. The fake Energizer batteries will wear out in a couple days and that knockoff Polo will probably fall apart in the stitching or start to fade in a matter of weeks. As rampant as the problem with knockoff goods is, the situation has gotten even worse in one Chinese city.

This past week, Chinese officials in the southwestern city of Kunming encountered five fake Apple stores. They suspended two of the stores, and the other three are still under investigation. They received the tip about the fraudulent shops from a blog post by an American woman living in the Chinese city that shared photos and descriptions of the stores.

The fake Apple stores were modeled after the real ones, including the standard spiral staircase and blue t-shirts worn by staff members. Knockoff products are something that we expect from China, something we have grown up with, but knockoff stores are taking it to another level. There are currently only four Apple company stores in all of China; two in Beijing and two in Shanghai, in addition to various official resellers throughout the country.

For the consumer that wants the brand name product but doesn’t have an extra five hundred bucks to blow on a Coach purse, knockoff Chinese goods are a godsend. But the problem with most counterfeit products is that they are unreliable, and in some cases even dangerous.

Fake Chinese auto products are a big problem. The machinery that goes into building an automobile must be reliable. If a manufacturer is purchasing parts that they believe to be the real deal when in actuality they are counterfeit, this will surely pose problems in the future. You don’t want your transmission falling out or your engine blowing up in flames because someone wanted to save a few bucks by going with the knockoff goods.

When you walk into a knockoff Apple store, can you even trust that it’s safe? Is the roof going to cave in on you? Are the electronics going to blow up? Is the spiral staircase going to buckle? If the counterfeit goods made in China are inferior products, then a fake retail shop must also be shoddy. For a nation trying to get past the reputation of producing counterfeit goods, it seems like China has their work cut out for them.

Phone Apps Used for Illegal Purposes

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Phone apps these days are pretty cool. They allow us to play countless different games in the palm of our hand, have access to unlimited information on the web, make cool noises and connect with friends. But as with most other advancements in communication and technology, people have found a way to create and use certain apps for illegal purposes.

One of the most controversial apps that recently came under fire is the DUI checkpoint app. Available from a few different companies, this program alerts drivers of speed traps, red-light cameras and police sobriety roadblocks. Under pressure from Congress, Apple announced last month that they will ban these types of apps in their online store.

Many people argue that they like to use the DUI apps for personal safety and in order to avoid traffic, but Congress argues that it simply allows more drunk-drivers to avoid getting into trouble. Although Apple has vowed to ban these apps, there are always ways around it, and the software can be found for purchase and download on clandestine and alternative sites.

In addition to the DUI checkpoint awareness app, a recent article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times discusses some of the other controversial and potentially illegal apps out there, and some of them are quite ridiculous. Even though Congress likes to persuade certain companies to get rid of or ban these types of apps, the programs are still protected along with books, movies and music by the First Amendment which allows for the freedom of speech.

One of the questionable apps discussed in the LA Times article was one that provided fake ID software for users of mobile devices. In just a few clicks, anyone can have access to realistic licenses from all fifty states. Although the company declares that it is strictly for entertainment purposes, they are basically just cutting out the fake ID middleman. I wish it were that easy when I was in high school.

The Secret SMS Replicator goes above and beyond the invasion of privacy by allowing users to have texts from someone else’s phone forwarded to their own. This is actually legal as long as the other party gives permission to do so. Without permission however, this can be viewed as illegal wiretapping. Although access to the other person’s phone is necessary, it can be installed in just a few moments and done secretly. Any suspicious parent or jealous girlfriend would love this app.

Here’s a good one; the Stalqer. This app lets people keep track of all their friends on Facebook and know their exact whereabouts at any point in time. It obtains location data from Facebook and plots them on a map. Combine this with the text message-obtainer, and parents and spouses will never have to wonder again.

Some of the other and more ridiculous apps mentioned in the LA Times article include the iBlunt, which displays an image of a joint and “puffs” out smoke when you blow into it, and the Police Light app which replicates the sound of a squealing police siren.

Apps can be fun, and apparently quite illegal. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.