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Shopper Beware

Any place thee is money – there will people there trying to steal it. Recently ran into two scams, one being based on the old Nigerian, “there is money left in your name, just send us money to get it to you” ruse, a second by a Internet employment board requesting $40 a month to access nonexistent executive level jobs. Most real companies have a Jobs board on their website. If they do not it is a red flag that something isn’t quite right. If the job isn’t listed on a company website, and is listed on an online one requiring you to pay membership fees…It 90% of the time is a scam. The most effective scams are based around playing on the victim’s greed and avarice.

Any website, that isn’t the US Government IRS or Social Security that asks you online for your SSN, or credit card number online…Is a Scam. Period.

In general – if it sounds to good to be true..It’s a scam.

Here’s a list of 12 scams from the Better Business Bureau and law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for as you hit the malls or shop online.

Fake shipping notifications: These can have attachments or links to sites that will download malware on your computer to steal your identity and your passwords. Don’t be fooled by a holiday phishing scam.

E-cards: Electronic holiday cards can be used to steal your data. Two red flags to watch out for are: the sender’s name is not apparent; you are required to share additional information to get the card.

Letters from Santa: Several trusted companies offer personalized letters from Santa, but scammers mimic them to get personal information from unsuspecting parents. Check with bbb.org to find out which ones are legitimate.

Temporary holiday jobs: Retailers and delivery services need extra help at the holidays, but beware of offers that require you to share personal information online or pay for a job lead. Apply in person or go to retailers’ main websites to find out who is hiring.

Unusual forms of payment: Be wary of anyone who asks you to pay for holiday purchases using prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc. These payments cannot be traced and cannot be undone. Use a credit card on a secure website; look for https in the address (the extra “s” is for “secure”) and the lock symbol.

Social media gift exchange: It sounds like a great deal; buy one gift and get 36 in return. But it’s aa variation on a pyramid scheme and it’s illegal, says the BBB.

Deceptive Advertising — Just like fake websites, fake apps are built at this time of year to target people who prefer shopping from their phones. Be especially wary of phone shopping apps; even those marked with an Amazon or Ebay logo could be fake. And, dangerous links, phony contests on social media, and bogus gift cards allow scammers to steal your personal information, says McAfee.com. Watch out for URLs that use the names of well-known brands along with extra words.

Bogus Charities — The holidays prompt us to donate to charities, but scam artists take advantage of this by sending emails for fake charities or sharing viral promos. Before donating, do your homework. Groups such as the Better Business Bureau, Charity Watch and even the Internal Revenue Service have tips to safely donate to charities.

Promotional Emails —The International Business Times says to treat all promotional emails that aren’t coming from a trusted retailer as dangerous material. Even if you open the email, do not click on any links inside.

Gift Card Scams — The popular gifts can be an opportunity for thieves, who copy the numbers off cards in a store, then check online or call the 1-800 number to see if the card is activated. Once a card is active, the thieves spend its contents online, and the rightful card holder has no money, says the Better Business Bureau. And never buy discounted gift cards sold online; scammers will keep your cash, and use the gift cards.

Use a Credit Card — Using a credit card is safer than swiping your debit card when shopping. Credit cards have more security features than debit cards and credit companies are more willing to replace your stolen money than most banks, according to IBT.

Package Theft — The internet is full of videos of thieves stealing packages left by delivery services on doorsteps. Police believe the criminals follow delivery trucks into neighborhoods, say Annapolis Police. To thwart thieves, require a signature for all packages. If nobody will be home to accept a delivery, have the package held at the nearest service location for you to pick it up.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2015 in American Greed

 

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Lying for Fun and Profit – Sandy Hook Hoaxers

The Internet enabling more gun freaks and the right wing trolls. The inmates are indeed gaining control of the asylum. This is the basis of domestic terrorism in this country, a class of people whose minds are so corrupted with hate they would seek to destroy grieving parents whose children have been murdered.

I think it is time to start developing some legislation to take away the financial incentive for these folks who make millions from weak minded right wing trolls and scumbags.

What Kind of Person Calls a Mass Shooting a Hoax?

A year and a half after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Lenny Pozner called to set up a meeting with Wolfgang Halbig. The 68-year-old security consultant was the de facto leader of a community of conspiracy theorists, known as hoaxers, who claimed that the shooting had been staged by the government. To the hoaxers, the 26 victims — one of whom was Pozner’s six-year-old son, Noah — were fictional characters.

Lenny Pozner in an undated photo with his son, Noah.

It was May 28, 2014, and Pozner, an IT consultant, was in Florida on business. He hoped to sit down with Halbig at a coffee shop near his home in Orlando, Florida. He wanted to talk to him face-to-face about Noah, who was his only son and never far from his mind. On December 14, 2012, the day of the shooting, Pozner had been the one to drop Noah off at school. As they drove, they listened to “Gangnam Style,” Noah’s favorite song. When they arrived, Pozner said, “Have a fun day,” and watched as his child headed inside, fiddling with his backpack and brown jacket.

Ever since his son’s death, Pozner had been dealing with the hoaxers. It was his habit to regularly post photos of Noah, a happy boy with soft blue eyes and a wide smile, on his Google Plus page. He would put up pictures of Noah hugging his twin sister, or playing on the beach, or showing off the tooth he lost less than two weeks before he was murdered. The hoaxers would see these images and offer comments: “Where’s Noah going to die next?” read one. Another commenter, seemingly believing that Pozner had been recruited to help perpetuate the myth of the shooting, asked, “How much do you get paid?”

Pozner was one of the rare Sandy Hook parents who confronted those who questioned his child’s murder. In response to their comments, he posted online his son’s birth and death certificates. He shared the medical examiner’s report and one of Noah’s report cards. The hoaxers said the records were counterfeits.

Pozner remained undaunted. He thought that perhaps if he could show Halbig the documents in person, he and the rest of the hoaxers might at last relent. “I wanted to be as transparent as possible,” Pozner says. “I thought keeping the documents private would only feed the conspiracy.”

When Pozner did not receive a reply from Halbig, he contacted Kelley Watt, one of the more aggressive hoaxers who showed up on his Google Plus page. Watt wrote back on Halbig’s behalf. “Wolfgang does not wish to speak with you,” her note said, “unless you exhume Noah’s body and prove to the world you lost your son.”

Giving up on a meeting with Halbig, Pozner looked to engage in some sort of dialogue with the people who, around this time, made him their chief target. (One video montage that started making the rounds showed images of Noah set to a soundtrack of pornographic sounds.) In June 2014, Pozner accepted an invitation to join a private Facebook group called Sandy Hook Hoax. He told its members that he was willing to answer their questions. “I think I lasted all of eight minutes,” he recalls. One participant said, “Man, I’m gonna have to coach you up if you wanna go on TV and make money Lenny.” Another typical attacker proclaimed, “Fuck your fake family, you piece of shit.”

Pozner eventually realized that, for Halbig and his brethren, this was a game without end. His efforts to combat them became a mission. “I’m going to have to protect Noah’s honor for the rest of my life,” he says…

Yet even amid this terrible canon, the conspiracy theories that sprang up after Sandy Hook have been exceptional. Less than a month after the shooting, a video called “The Sandy Hook Shooting — Fully Exposed” had received 10 million views on Youtube. Driving some of these hoaxers, in part, was a panic over new firearms restrictions. An infamous conspiracy theorist named James Fetzer called the Newtown attack a “FEMA drill to promote gun control.” The National Rifle Association laid the groundwork for such sentiments. In February 2012, Wayne Lapierre, the group’s executive vice president, described then-first-term President Obama’s hidden agenda: “Get re-elected and, with no more elections to worry about…erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights and excise it from the U.S. Constitution.”

In the wake of the massacre, Halbig started the website sandyhookjustice.com. He touted his credentials as a former security director for schools in Seminole County, Florida, and claimed he worked on the official investigation into the mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999. He said his knowledge of security protocols and procedures provided him with a singular ability to analyze what happened that day in Newtown, and highlight what he believed to be the government’s many lies. Other hoaxers rallied around Halbig’s alleged resume, and donated tens of thousands of dollars to his Gofundme account. On his show, Alex Jones championed him as a “leading expert” on Sandy Hook…Read the Rest Here

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2015 in Domestic terrorism

 

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Yet Another Tea Bag Busted in Stolen Honor Ruse

I have seen guys try this before, especially at some bar trying to impress the other guys. Guys who really did serve in the Armed Forces, and especially those who served in one of our many wars know exactly what those ribbons and medals mean, and the human and physical costs of earning them. This pastor appears to be a little whack for even the Liberty University religious right wing crowd. Especially after the old – “a black guy robbed me” ruse…

Pastor caught lying about ‘black robber’ busted again for pretending to be a Navy SEAL

A U.S. Army veteran noticed a curious thing at a recent convocation event at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. A graying man was wearing military dress uniform and badges that indicate what seemed like an impossible accumulation of achievements and commendations.

The man identified himself as Mark Joston, the Friendly Atheist reports. Joston had insignia on his uniform identifying him as a Navy SEAL with four purple hearts, an Afghanistan and Iraq veteran, and rear admiral for the CIA’s special ops.

Turns out, those unbelievable achievements were just that — unbelievable.

The man was none of those things, nor was his name Mark Joston. He was Pastor George Hunley of Louisa, Virginia, who earlier this year was arrested for falsely reporting to police he was robbed and shot by a black man.

Veterans were quick to detect inconsistencies in Hunley’s story.

“This guy made a big mistake by putting on that Navy Cross if he did not earn it because there are only a dozen or so who have earned the distinguished Navy Cross during the war on terror,” writes Michael Swaney at Popular Military. “There is no Mark Joston or “Josten” to be found on any list of Navy Cross recipients. However, there are three unidentified Navy SEALS who earned the Navy Cross during the global war on terrorism. So we cross referenced his name with the Navy Silver Star recipients and there is also no Mark Joston or Josten.”

After Swaney wrote about Joston, his readers pointed out a Raw Story post from February in which Hunley led police on a fabricated story that he’d been robbed and shot by an interracial couple he’d pulled over to try and assist on the road. His story fell apart at that time because police couldn’t find any evidence Hunley had been shot, and also found his wallet and checkbook, which he claimed had been taken in the incident.

Another case of a delusional right winger duping Faux News into believing he was a CIA expert is progressing in the courts.

 
 

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Texas Man Fakes Anti-Police BLM Vandalism to Pro-Police Truck

This is how things started, stirring up the right wing with a pleas for money. Of course this hit the right wing media such as Brietbart, who couldn’t resist throwing the right wings racial boogeyman, the New Black Panthers into the mix. Other white supremacist conservative rags followed suit to maximize the whiterage. Fox News 4 fell for the scam with a fluff piece about the man’s son dreaming of becoming a policeman, and playing up the “fact” the man is supposedly as disabled veteran.

After an investigation, police found the man vandalized his own truck, in a bid to scam the public… He had raised $6000 on Go Fund Me, as well as garnered support from local repair shops and dealerships who volunteered to fix his truck for free. He really wasn’t after getting the truck fixed though…

Playing to right wing racist hate in this country has become a box office business.

 

 

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Scamming the Black Poor and Sick – Lead Paint Settlement Scam

Children poisoned by lead paint exposure suffer lifelong difficulties.

For decades, we’ve known that exposure to high levels of lead can damage the nervous system in children, causing problems that range from hearing loss and seizures to unconsciousness and death. More recent research has demonstrated a link between even relatively low levels of exposure and a variety of subtle cognitive problems including learning disabilities and decreased intelligence.

Children are more sensitive to the harmful effects of lead than adults, because more of the lead they swallow gets into their bloodstream. Children also are at greater risk because they often play on the floor or ground, where lead-contaminated dust or soil is found. And they are much more likely than adults to put this material in their mouths.

This one oddly has a connection to Freddy Gray…

Structured Settlement companies have targeted Baltimore – some of them are crooks.

 

How companies make millions off lead-poisoned, poor blacks

The letter arrived in April, a mishmash of strange numbers and words. This at first did not alarm Rose. Most letters are that way for her — frustrating puzzles she can’t solve. Rose, who can scarcely read or write, calls herself a “lead kid.” Her childhood home, where lead paint chips blanketed her bedsheets like snowflakes, “affected me really bad,” she says. “In everything I do.”

She says she can’t work a professional job. She can’t live alone. And, she says, she surely couldn’t understand this letter.

So on that April day, the 20-year-old says, she asked her mom to give it a look. Her mother glanced at the words, then back at her daughter. “What does this mean all of your payments were sold to a third party?” her mother recalls saying.

The distraught woman said the letter, written by her insurance company, referred to Rose’s lead checks. The family had settled a lead-paint lawsuit against one Baltimore slumlord in 2007, granting Rose a monthly check of nearly $1,000, with yearly increases. Those payments were guaranteed for 35 years.

“It’s been sold?” Rose asked, memories soon flashing.

She remembered a nice, white man. He had called her one day on the telephone months after she’d squeaked through high school with a “one-point something” grade-point average. His name was Brendan, though she said he never mentioned his last name. He told her she could make some fast money. He told her he worked for a local company named Access Funding. He talked to her as a friend.

Rose, who court records say suffers from “irreversible brain damage,” didn’t have a lot of friends. She didn’t trust many people. Growing up off North Avenue in West Baltimore, she said she’s seen people killed.

But Brendan was different. He bought her a fancy meal at Longhorn Steakhouse, she said, and guaranteed a vacation for the family. He seemed like a gentleman, someone she said she could trust.

One day soon after, a notary arrived at her house and slid her a 12-page “purchase” agreement. Rose was alone. But she wasn’t worried. She said she spoke to a lawyer named Charles E. Smith on the phone about the contract. She felt confident in what it stated. She was selling some checks in the distant future for some quick money, right?

The reality, however, was substantially different. Rose sold everything to Access Funding — 420 monthly lead checks between 2017 and 2052. They amounted to a total of nearly $574,000 and had a present value of roughly $338,000.

In return, Access Funding paid her less than $63,000…

But to critics, Access Funding is part of an industry that profits off the poor and disabled. And Baltimore has become a prime target. It’s here that one teen — diagnosed with “mild mental retardation,” court records show — sold her payments through 2030 in four deals and is now homeless. It’s here that companies blanket certain neighborhoods in advertisements, searching for a potentially lucrative type of inhabitant, whose stories recall the legacy of Freddie Gray.

Before his April death after being severely injured in police custody, before this hollowed-out city plunged into rioting, the life of Freddie Gray was a case study in the effect of lead paint on poor blacks. The lead poisoning Gray suffered as a child may have contributed to his difficulties with learning, truancy and arrests — all of it culminating in a 2008 lead-paint lawsuit and a windfall of cash locked inside a structured settlement. By late 2013, Gray was striking deals with Access Funding…More here…

When my mother was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the scam artists seemed to know to call her. These guys prey on the weak, sick, and uneducated…

Too bad they almost never go to jail.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2015 in American Greed

 

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Conservative Down – Yet Another Con faces Criminal Charges

So far this week we have seen one Republican Governor indicted in Va for taking bribes…

A Republican Governor in New Jersey under Federal investigation, in what started as a case of political payback, and has now expanded to corruption charges, and even meetings with a purported Mafia Capo…

And now, one of the formerly shining voices of the right, Dines D’Souza being indicted for election fraud.

I mean…It’s only January, and you have two guys formerly touted as potential Presidential material, and a highly influential voice on the Christian Right potentially looking at jail time.

How bad is it? You even have Glen Beck apologizing!

This should be a TV reality show.

The latest conservative icon to face charges is Dinesh D’Souza. Author of “Illiberal Education“, the controversial “The End of Racism“, and the Anti-Obama hate Movie

2016: Obama’s America” which was a major hit with the racist conservative sector.

Dinesh D’Souza’s Series of Unfortunate Events

Author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza was indicted for encouraging fraudulent campaign donations—just the latest in a spiral that has all but sunk his career in the conservative movement.

Conservative author, filmmaker and provocateur Dinesh D’Souza was indicted Thursday on charges of using straw donors to make illegal contributions to a college classmate’s 2012 campaign.

The indictment, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, accuses D’Souza of “willfully and knowingly” surpassing the $5,000 limit for individual campaign donations by directing others to donate to the campaign of Wendy Long, who unsuccessfully challenged New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012. According to the document, D’Souza and his then-wife, Dixie, each contributed $5,000 to Long’s campaign, and he reimbursed others for $20,000 he had encouraged them to donate.

D’Souza worked with Long on the infamousDartmouth Review, an edgy conservative newspaper at Dartmouth College known for launching smart young right-wingers to prominence. In 1990, the pairapologized for printing an anti-Semitic quote from Hitler’s Mein Kampf in an edition of the publication distributed on Yom Kippur—an antic typical of theReview’s ethos of deliberate provocation. Long went on to become an attorney at several conservative institutions, including the Claremont Institute. She made her first run for office in 2012, and lost in a landslide to Gillibrand, New York’s incumbent Democratic senator.

According to the New York Times], Long raised about $785,000 in the race, with D’Souza hosting one of her fundraisers. D’Souza’s lawyer denied any criminal intent in the apparent plot to reimburse donors to Long’s campaign, saying it was “at most … an act of misguided friendship.”

The indictment is just the latest in a tangle of personal and professional difficulties that swarmed around D’Souza at what was arguably the height of his success: the popularity of his 2012 anti-Obama documentary 2016: Obama’s America. The film, which was released in the summer of 2012 and became a slow-burn hit with conservatives in the run-up to the presidential election, earned over $33 million at the box office and was the highest-grossing documentary since 1982. But just a couple of months into the film’s promotion, D’Souza was out of a job: he resigned his lucrative position as president of the King’s College, a small evangelical Christian school in Manhattan, over reportsthat he was engaged to a 29-year-old woman while still being married to his wife of 20 years.

D’Souza’s departure from the King’s College was the symbolic end of his career in the institutional conservative movement, which had grown increasingly exasperated with his string of conspiratorial books that failed to live up to his reputation as a star of conservative scholarship. (One advanced the notion that America’s moral decadence led to 9/11; another launched the meme, which has long since become a political punch line, that Obama was a “Kenyan anti-colonialist.”) D’Souza’s tenure at the King’s College was fraught with conflict, as some faculty members viewed him as a name-brand hire who lacked appropriate academic credentials and who was more interested in his own money-making projects than in fundraising for the college.

The conflict came to a head in October, when the evangelical magazine Worldalleged that D’Souza had shared a hotel room with Denise Odie Joseph, a young woman who had written a fawning blog about about him, and introduced her as his fiancée despite still being married. The college had apparently been aware of D’Souza’s marital problems, but decided to end its relationship with him once news of the scandal engulfed the school.

Despite that flameout, D’Souza’s prospects seemed as bright as ever: his wildly successful documentary was one of the most profitable projects of his career, at least since his hagiographic biography of Ronald Reagan was published in 1999. D’Souza had discovered the lucrative business of hitting the sweet spots of the conservative movement with a mixture of Christian apologetics, celebration of conservative heroes, and paranoid attacks on liberals. Even if it was unlikely he would continue to be given quasi-scholarly positions in conservative institutions, the financial prospects of political propagandizing had never looked better.

But even the glow of his documentary’s success was interrupted by legal headaches. While the King’s College scandal was erupting, D’Souza was sued by Douglas Sain, the producer of 2016: Obama’s America. Sain alleged that D’Souza had mismanaged funds from the movie and kept his partners out of crucial decisions about the film’s marketing and distribution. A judge eventually threw out the suit, concluding that the charges “lacked specificity.”

D’Souza was last seen in an informercial for a friend’s artificial Christmas tree

 

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Charter Failure and Corruption

Another conservative failure – privatization of schools.

The Charter “Movement” never was about better education for kids – it is all about lining folks pockets and destroying politically influential teacher’s unions.

So…when is someone going to step in and stop this criminal farce?

The truth about charter schools: Padded cells, corruption, lousy instruction and worse results

Imagine your 5-year-old boy went to a school where he was occasionally thrown in a padded cell and detained alone for stretches as long as 20 minutes.

Or you sent your kid to an elementary school where the children are made to sit on a bare floorin the classroom for days before they can “earn” their desks.

Or your kid went to a school where she spent hours parked in a cubicle in front of a computerwith a poorly trained teacher who has to monitor more than 100 other students.

Maybe you don’t have children or send them to private school? So how do you feel when you find out the local school that you pay for with your taxes is operating a scam that diverted millions of dollars through fake Medicaid billing?

Or the school used your tax dollars as “grants” to start up other profit-making enterprises … orpay lavish salaries – $300,000, $400,000 or more – to its administrators … or support a movement linked to a reclusive Turkish cleric being investigated for bribery and corruption.

Welcome to the world of charter schools.

Are there wonderful charter schools doing great things for kids? Probably. Are all these cumulative anecdotes an unfair representation of the value that charter schools can bring to some communities? Maybe.

But neither of those questions matters because of what the charter school movement has come to represent in the landscape of American education.

 

Charter schools have been relentlessly marketed to the American populace as a silver bullet for “failed” public schools, especially in poor urban communities of African-American and Latino/a students.

Politicians in both parties speak glowingly of these schools – which, by the way, their children seem never to attend.

Opening charter schools has become the latest fad for celebrities including athletes and rap stars.

Huge nationwide chains – called education management organizations (EMOs) – now run many of these charters. A recent study by the National Education Policy Center found, “Students across 35 states and the District of Columbia now attend schools managed by these non-government entities.” These for-profit and nonprofit EMOs – such as K12 Inc., National Heritage Academies, Charter Schools USA and KIPP – now account for nearly half of the students educated by charter schools.

Substantial, well-funded nationwide organizations have rapidly developed to lobby for these schools. One such organization, the Alliance for School Choice, recently received a $6 million gift from the Walton Foundation, of Wal-Mart fame.

Slick marketing campaigns have been rolled out in communities across the country to tout the coming of new charters.

The actual academic results of these schools seems to hardly anyone, despite report after reportshowing that these schools tend to do poorly on state and national tests and fail at providing equitable education to underserved students.

Yet lobbying for more of these schools continues unabated with more money funneled into the campaigns of politicians who support charters and more efforts to press state lawmakers to lift any provisions currently in place to regulate how these schools operate and are held accountable to the public. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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