Scam: Would you like to sell your home?

Note: PII has been changed for privacy reasons.

I keep getting text messages from realtors or real estate investors, all calling me “Mike” (not my name) and asking if I would be interested in selling my home at [address] in Sandy, Utah.

In addition to the name being wrong, I lived in the Salt Lake area for over 40 years, but have never owned any property that far south, and I haven’t lived in Utah since 2015. So today I did a bit more digging.

Tax records show that the property in question is owned by Mike [obscured], and a quick search at a data aggregator shows that this individual has several phone numbers listed, one of which is mine.

I’ve had this same phone number since the introduction of the cell phone, so I’m not sure how my number got associated with this Mike gentleman. I’ve petitioned the aggregation service to remove it, and we’ll see if this goes anywhere.

At any rate, here are the messages I received:

8/22/2019 – from (385) 250-0401
Hi Mike, I’m Nate and I know this is a shot in the dark but I saw your house at [address]. Would you possibly consider selling it?

1/29/2020 – from (435) 265-3414
Hi Mike! Mark here! I’m a local investor looking for properties in Sandy! Would you be open to an offer on your property at [address]?

4/6/2020 – from (435) 304-4355
Hello Mike this is Brenden. Sorry for reaching out in these uncertain times. I’m looking for a house to buy in the neighborhood. I’m curious if you are looking to cash out equity before a possible market shift on [address]. I’d love to see if we might be able to work together.

5/29/2020 – from 304-3769
Hello Mike, we’re looking to pick up some properties and was wondering if you’d be open to an offer on [address]? – Jake

Well, I chatted with “Jake” for a while as though I were “Mike” and might be interested. He asked about details on the house, and I asked him for his full name, the name of his agency, and the name of his broker. He responded,

I’m a local real estate investor – I’m looking for another rental or rehab project and I like the area.

Notice that he didn’t provide any of the requested information. I then laid out the entire situation for him and essentially asked him what his game was. His response?

When You Get Nothing But Crickets | Cult of Pedagogy

There are so many red flags surfacing around this chain of messages that I feel like Tootle in the meadow.

I have no idea what these people’s game is – I wish I knew – but I suspect it’s not on the up and up, especially given the fact that multiple individuals (supposedly) are contacting me regarding a property that is not even on the market.

Be careful out there. Never give out sensitive personal or financial information unless you know exactly who you are dealing with, and why.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Scam – Beware of Finetwo.com

This was brought to my attention by a friend of mine who got stung – apparently this outfit claims to have ample supplies of sanitizer and masks, but when you order you get shoddy merchandise or, in most cases, nothing at all.

The company claims it has been in business for 10 years, but Whois shows that the website was created on March 21, 2020. Because this website is operating from somewhere outside the USA, recourse is limited to calling your financial institution and asking them to reverse the charges; sometimes this is a major hassle as it involves having your credit card cancelled, issuing a new one, and then registering it with all the places you use for automatic payment, but at this point it’s all we have.

I’d like to blame China because they have all the ethics of a starving honey badger and the CCP turns a blind eye to such jiggery-pokery, but in all honesty it could be running from anywhere.

So be careful, and if you get stung – it’s easy to do, even if you’re on the lookout – don’t hesitate to call your financial institution.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Facebook Scammers and the “EESA Grant” scam

Be careful out there, the scumbags are still working in force to separate you from your hard-earned cash.

Got a message today from a Facebook friend:

Now, this friend doesn’t usually contact me from out of the blue, so I was immediately suspicious. Add to that the fact that the account was flagged as:

  • Using Messenger without Facebook (I know my friend has a facebook account)
  • Logged in using a phone number from the United States
  • Account was recently created (This friend has been around for quite a while)

All of these are red flags, and so I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was dealing with a stolen or cloned account. I proceeded to go down the rabbit hole to see what their game was today.

“i have something to shear whit you ?” My friend is an educated American, not someone who sounds like a third-grader or a Nigerian prince. A quick Google shows that EESA stands for Eastern European Study Abroad, but that’s probably not what I’m going to hear. So let’s take this a little further.

He’s “so confused that I haven’t heard anything about it.” Well, isn’t that special. The EESA exists, but in 2008 it created the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program to purchase toxic assets from banks. In short, it was the bank bailout, and had nothing to do with grants to individuals.

These Nigerians love to use strange names. “Christopher Wisdoms,” “Martins Tanjul,”and the like. The grammar continues to be blatantly non-English.

Anyone who calls you “dear” who isn’t in your intimate circle of friends is without question going to be a scammer, and most likely Nigerian. They don’t understand that “Dear Sir” is part of a formula, and not something to be used indiscriminately.

So now I have a phone number to text, probably an accomplice or the same drone. Let’s see what we get.

  • “some other lucky communities”
  • “all beneficiaries name was chosen randomly through a computer ballot for fans of face-book who surf it frequently”

Grant programs don’t work like that, you cretin.

And now they want personal information. At this point I was about to shut things down. But the Facebook scammer (most likely the same individual) got impatient (another red flag – why would this “friend” care if I reach out to “Mr. Wisdoms” or not?)

If I had given “Mr. Wisdoms” my name and email address, things would probably have progressed to the point of “You need to send me $2500 for taxes and fees to collect your grant” or some other similar nonsense. But I wasn’t about to share even that with these criminal drones. Instead, I hauled out my stock response, and sent it both via Facebook and text message:

An “onioburu” is a gong-farmer (otherwise known as a nightsoil handler, someone who empties excrement buckets for a living.) Not a nice thing to call someone, but these are not nice people. The fact that he responded with “Lol” and then went silent was proof enough that he got the message.

Be so very careful out there. Any time a friend or contact starts talking about money, unless it’s someone you know and trust, assume it’s your money they want and break off communication.

Stay safe, and watch out for your loved ones who may be elderly or vulnerable.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

GoDaddy goes after affiliate marketers

I have often posted about snake oil vendors on the internet and the operation of scummy affiliate marketers that flood our inboxes and search results with come-ons for worthless products that hook vulnerable people into giving up credit card numbers and signing up for endless refills of overpriced trash.

After some brilliant internet sleuthing, GoDaddy just killed 15,000 spammy domains that hawk these products. The article is worth the read if you’re interested in protecting your loved ones from bogus marketing and scams.

It certainly won’t be the end of the problem, but it’s a good thing and I give them props for the effort.

Even if torpedoing 15,000 domains won’t put much of a dent in one of the most pervasive scourges of the web—as Miller-Osborn fully acknowledges—it at least shines a light on the problem. You can’t clear all the rats out of the sewer, but you can at least remind them that you’re there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

More sextortion

People who send things like this out are the dung of dung-eaters. Please never fall for these shady extortion efforts.

From: “Ava Avila” <ava.avila@qwod.cia-gov-it.ga>
To: [redacted]
Subject: Central Intelligence Agency – Case #45693781

Case #45693781
Distribution and storage of pornographic electronic materials involving underage children.

My name is Ava Avila and I am a technical collection officer working for Central Intelligence Agency.
It has come to my attention that your personal details including your email address [redacted] are listed in case #45693781.
The following details are listed in the document’s attachment:

  • Your personal details,
  • Home address,
  • Work address,
  • List of relatives and their contact information.

Case #45693781 is part of a large international operation set to arrest more than 2000 individuals suspected of paedophilia in 27 countries.
The data which could be used to acquire your personal information:
Your ISP web browsing history, DNS queries history and connection logs,
Deep web .onion browsing and/or connection sharing, Online chat-room logs, Social media activity log.

The first arrests are scheduled for April 8, 2019.

Why am I contacting you ?

I read the documentation and I know you are a wealthy person who maybe concerned about reputation.
I am one of several people who have access to those documents and I have enough security clearance to amend and remove your details from this case. Here is my proposition.

Transfer exactly $10,000 USD (ten thousand dollars – about 2.5 BTC) through Bitcoin network to this special bitcoin address:

3C36DiGhcf4LvznzC6B2MWduPrL9rakgRp (note: this is a scam bitcoin address, never use it for anything.)

You can transfer funds with online bitcoin exchanges such as Coinbase, Bitstamp or Coinmama. The deadline is March 27, 2019 (I need few days to access and edit the files).

Note: I didn’t see this email until April 9, 2019 – thus far I haven’t been arrested by the CIA. 🤣😜🤣

Upon confirming your transfer I will take care of all the files linked to you and you can rest assured no one will bother you.

Please do not contact me. I will contact you and confirm only when I see the valid transfer.

Regards,

Ava Avila
Technical Collection Officer
Directorate of Science and Technology
Central Intelligence Agency

The executive summary: “I’m a corrupt CIA agent, and if you bribe me $10,000 I’ll make your child-pornography file go away.”

Look at this email address: ava.avila@qwod.cia-gov-it.ga – it’s from a domain in Gabon. These people are dumber than a pile of bricks.

Never fall for scummy tricks like this. Never give money to scammers. Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Snake Oil from the 1890s

I saw this today over at Teresa’s Frog Applause strip, and thought I’d share it just because I found it fascinating.

Phytolacca Decandra, if you were not sure, is pokeweed – a toxic plant with no known legitimate medical uses and a host of applications in folk medicine.

It’s poisonous. That’s all I need to know about it. Unlike the fugu (puffer fish of Japan) which is supposedly delicious if prepared properly and fatal if not, this stuff really has no compelling reason to eat it unless one were starving, much like the pioneers in Utah who survived on sego lily bulbs after their arrival in the Great Salt Lake basin. It did keep them alive, but I’ve never been tempted to try them.

As I mentioned in earlier articles, thanks to cable television and the internet, there seems to be a new “hot” thing every year or so, hawked by the likes of Dr. Oz and a horde of affiliate marketers – green coffee extract, garcinia cambogia, exogenous ketones, chitosan, bromelain, coral calcium, the list is endless.

Take a pass on any remedy that claims to allow you to lose weight effortlessly. Just don’t waste your money. None of them work. It’s a sad fact that most of us love to eat, that the most comforting foods are high-density carbohydrates (often cooked in delicious, satiating fat), and that pounds are frightfully easy to put on and frightfully hard to take off. The only way to release weight consistently is to live with a caloric deficit, even a slight one. Eat a healthier, more balanced diet, burn more than you eat (exercise helps in a lot of different ways, but pushaways are the best dinner-table exercise you can do), and you will drop pounds.

Stay away from the snake oil.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Affiliate Marketing – How many lies can they cram in?

I’ve written before about affiliate marketing, and what a plague it is on the internet. I just had a tab pop up on my browser – despite two ad-blockers being active – and I thought I’d share an image or two.

Health experts recommend losing between 1-2 pounds a week for healthy weight release. This claim amounts to close to 1 lb per day. Ain’t gonna happen, unless you’re eating 500 calories per day and burning 3,500. In addition, this claim is not backed by Fox News (as disreputable as they may be in other areas), the NY Times, Today, Oprah, Style Watch, or Redbook.

This is not going to happen in 22 days. Look, children, this is what we call “a lie.”

Limited time only: Lie
Only 4 Bottles Still Available: Lie
40% discount: Negated at the purchase page.
Offer ends Today: Lie

Countdown timer at the bottom of the page: Another Lie.

Let’s look at the purchase page:

This page claims to send you free bottles: Lie
Only 241 promotions left: Lie
Endorsements: Lie
Lose weight without exercising: Lie

So if you want that free product and provide your information (which, by the way, will be sold to every marketer with two coppers to rub together), you get this:

Oh look, you’re being charged $59.95. That’s not free, nor is it the 40% discount promised on a previous page. And if you don’t notice that the 6-bottle option is checked, the charge on your credit card is going to be horrendous.

But wait, there’s more!

Buried deep on the purchase page in light gray print is the link to “terms and conditions,” which very few people will bother to read. If they do, they’ll find a wall of text, which includes these hidden gems (there’s a lot more of it)

Terms
SCOPE & APPLICATION
1.1 You expressly agree and accept the Conditions set forth herein unconditionally as a binding contract (“the Agreement”) enforceable by law… (How well this load of BS would stand up in court is an open question)

PRODUCT AND BILLING
2.1 All product purchases made from this website are required to be paid in full. For more information about our products, please visit http://www.ketopurediet.com.
2.1.1. The prices for the products are as follows: $199.99 or $28.57 each for the 7 bottle package;$149.95 or $29.99 each for the 5 bottle package; $99.99 or $33.33 each for the 3 bottle package and $69.99 each for the 1 bottle package, plus $7.95 shipping and handling. Shipping and handling is non-refundable.
2.2 You authorize us to initiate a one-time charge to your credit card as indicated upon your purchase. (So, not free at all)

This next one is a real treasure:

16.7 I also acknowledge that I understand that by placing my order of Keto Pure Diet, I am automatically enrolled in the Keto Pure Diet health community program. I further acknowledge that I understand that my membership in Keto Pure Diet is included in my product purchase, that my complementary membership will remain active for as long as I remain an active custom of Keto Pure Diet, and that once I am no longer an active customer of Keto Pure Diet the membership dues shall, at my option, become my responsibility. I hereby grant authorization for the monthly membership dues to be charged to the credit card or debit card used to complete the purchase of Keto Pure Diet. I further acknowledge, agree to, and accept the Keto Pure Diet Privacy Policy, the Keto Pure Diet Website Use Terms and Conditions, the Keto Pure Diet Terms and Conditions, and the Keto Pure Diet Health Coin Terms and Conditions. I acknowledge that I understand that my Keto Pure Diet my Keto Pure Diet membership can be canceled at anytime by calling 1-888-628-6284, by emailing support@ketopurediet.com. Your Keto Pure Diet membership entitles you and your household dependents to consultation fee free calls with licensed doctors 24-hours per day, 365-days per year, as well as access to thousands of dentists with typical savings of 50% off regular bills, vision care savings, and prescription savings at most pharmacies in the US. To learn more value to the included Keto Pure Diet program, go to http://www.ketopurediet.com, and look for emails explaining the programs and services included in the membership.

Notice that if you stop ordering this product, you have just given permission for monthly dues to some worthless program to be charged to your credit card, and nothing is ever said about how much those monthly dues are until you’ve bitten the hook.

There’s a lot more legal noise in those terms and conditions, which mostly assure you that the company has all rights and that you have very few.

But what about the product itself? Is it any good? will it work? Wow, it’s so easy:

The ketogenic diet has been around for a long time. There is a massive body of information out there about it, some positive and some negative. While the marketeers would have you believe that exogenous ketones (i.e. the stuff that comes from outside your body) can put you into a state of ketosis in minutes, that’s highly debatable. So if you want to release weight with a ketogenic diet, follow step 2 above (but be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before beginning any program of this nature.) Step 1 can be safely replaced with:

  • Singing opera 10 minutes a day
  • Painting with Bob Ross
  • Learning to speak Turkish
  • Taking homeopathic weight loss drops
  • Not taking homeopathic weight loss drops
  • Standing on your head and spitting nickels
  • Anything
  • Nothing

… and you’ll get exactly the same results, whatever those are.

The Internet is awash with pages like this, because most affiliate marketers will say absolutely anything to get you to buy the product, for which sale they get a commission. And most affiliate marketers have the ethics of an angry honey badger.

Don’t be taken in by “offers” like this from sleazy, irresponsible salespeople. Stay away from any product that claims to help you lose weight fast.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The scammers are getting desperate

A friend of mine in Finland just got one of these, it falls into the same category as the sextortion scam about which I have already written: desperate bad guys blasting out millions of emails to the entire world, hoping to catch the handful of people who *do* visit adult sites, have unsecured webcams, a guilty conscience, and very little education.

In this case, they’re hoping to snare the fearful and gullible segment of the world’s populace. It astonishes me that people could be so foolish as to fall for these kinds of scams, but if it didn’t work at some level, the bad guys wouldn’t do it.

But the takeaway here is the same as always: This is a scam, there’s no truth to it, and you should never send money to criminals. Please keep your loved ones, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, educated and protected.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The “computer services” refund scam

A new sort of scam call has been infesting my phone in the last week or so. The number calling is 405-493-8251.

If you answer, you hear a recorded voice with a heavy female India accent telling you that “our company is closing and you are due a refund for computer services. Please press 1 to speak to an executive.” If you call back, the ringtone changes to an international-sounding one, and you are put in touch with someone in an Indian boiler room who asks you how much you paid for computer support last year.

Following the scam down the rabbit hole, I told the individual that I had paid $495.00. I was told, “I will refund you that amount right away.” I was then given step-by-step instructions to download and run either Supremo or TeamViewer, which would give them complete access to my computer.

It goes without saying, never do this! If you allow criminals to have total access to your computer, they would steal information or upload malware or ransomware to your machine. Any legitimate organization would not need remote access to issue a refund for something.

These drones are targeting anyone gullible or uninformed, but specifically people who were scammed by a previous con for fake computer assistance.

Be careful out there. Protect your elderly or vulnerable loved ones, and make sure they understand that things like this are the worst kind of scam.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Dear Beneficiary

I often post scam emails that I get, but this one came to a friend and I saw it show up at his virtual home on Facebook. Posting it here just as a reference in case anyone gets something similar and wonders if it’s real.

It’s not. It’s a scam. Don’t answer. Serously. You could lose every penny you have.

Dear Beneficiary,

I hope that this correspondence is received with the urgency and expediency required.It has come to the notice of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Reserve Bank here in Washington, D.C. that your present inheritance claims application being handled by the Remitting Bank in Nigeria is experiencing some man made irregularities. To this effect, it has become necessary for the Board of Trustees to assign trained Fund Transfer Specialists from the United States to resolve and regularize your fund release with immediate effect.

We at Deborah L. Hayes & Corporate Affairs have been duly consulted by the FRB Board of Trustees. We have been fully informed about how the staffs of the remitting bank has been taking advantage of you by telling you to pay unnecessarily exorbitant charges which will only make your fund payment a long drawn out process.
Due to this development, we have been assigned to step into the immediate processing of your fund transfer to enable your funds to be transferred to you within the shortest possible time. To implement this, you are to get back to us immediately without needing to pay all the huge sums of monies that are being demanded from you by the previous handlers at the remitting bank.
All processes to have your funds paid to you immediately through the CBN’s Liaison Remittance Office in New York have been initiated to cut out unnecessary costs.
You are advised to treat this communication with the urgency and seriousness required as the Board of Trustees of the Federal Reserve Bank has mandated us to resolve this fund payment within the next three working days independent of the office of the Remitting Bank in Africa.

Furthermore,you are hereby advised to pay no further fees or charges to the Remitting Bank in Nigeria as they shall no longer be handling your payment process.
We shall await your immediate correspondence with your direct telephone numbers to my private email address at (deborahhayes11111@gmail.com) for re-confirmation so that we may conclude your payment immediately.
Yours Sincerely,
Deborah L. Hayes
Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs

It surprises me that scam emails of this nature continue to be a thing. The only reason they continue is that they must, somehow, inexplicably, be profitable. I guess if there are people stupid and evil enough to make a living this way, there must be people stupid and gullible enough to send them money. But if posting things like this can save even one person from being taken advantage of, the effort is worth it.

The Old Wolf has spoken.