Stung by a Facebook Scammer

Back in August of this year, I ordered something that looked very interesting from an ad that appeared on my facebook wall:

“The Grand Orrery model of the solar system depicts the correct relative orbital speeds of the planets plus relative orbital movement of Earth’s moon. Historically, a Grand Orrery showed only the “naked eye” planets out to Saturn, as they were developed in the early 18th century.”

Beautiful product advertised

It looked gorgeous and intricate, and I thought I would love to have this on my desk. The total charge to an outfit called “acfantasy” was $48.06.

What I received today, after a wait of two months (shipped, of course, from China) was this:

Fecal replica – nothing moves

To say that I was stunned by the duplicity would be an understatement. True, I actually got something – a lot of these Chinese wankstains will take your money and not bother to ship anything at all – but sending out a cheap piece of scrap metal like this, which is not worth 49¢ let alone $49.00 is stunning in its audacity.

The company has a website (acfantasy.vip) and a contact email; I immediately shot off a demand for a full refund, but given the nature of the beast I sincerely doubt I will hear anything.

I have ordered things from Facebook ads before and been pleasantly surprised by what I would consider adequate quality and value for the money; this one certainly falls into the “Chinese businesses with all the ethics of a starving honey badger” column.

Facebook needs to do much better in vetting its advertisers. There are far too many scammers out there, about which I have written elsewhere. Despite being careful, I got burned this time. These people can sit on a very fragile glass cactus.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Fake Celebrity Endorsements for CBD Oil

This kind of thing enrages me.

It’s been going on for a long time, and it continues to spread via social media. And today I’m looking directly at Facebook, which seems happy to take advertising money for all sorts of spurious enterprises (see my earlier post about Chinese bottom-feeders trying to sell counterfeit Morgan dollar collections).

Today this showed up as a “promoted post” in my Facebook feed (on my Android, it should be noted; I use FBP on the desktop and almost never see an ad there):

“After loosing temper” was my first red flag. Great Mogg’s titanium teeth, people, learn the difference between “loose” and “lose.” But it turns out that the page you get to has nothing to do with the stated headline.

(I don’t even know if Artsy On knows anything about this. They seem to be selling books, but I frankly don’t have the time or energy to do a deep dive into their website metadata. It’s possible someone added a malicious link to their website and is using it to redirect to the seller’s page.)

If you hover, the link is listed as:

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.artsyon.com%2Fnews%2Fsure-behavior-in-relationships%3Ffbclid%3DIwAR0Eo2af2kqkNJ8wqg1r0znQUTBKBTppmYUUHlhPBCxsfeItT5-w-09plxI&h=AT3mQSgsZBHLOkDAcI5TvCnUi8Opo0H2VaNwgjOkDCux-vqA3ARB5yZCMYO2TrYwQCO27hJYRa-V5TlZb-7AqHj99md2idlAXWQPEdGr5fnTiiwixBIQ-VYwDkD_n4ZoYZN6pJx1YHCUlVw8sw&__tn__=%2CmH-R&c[0]=AT1LTRiOQCEjWHJNeZZWjDGzl-JQb5g2dv6dpRIQ88dt95O3_J5A8Nx9fYhP83_8pfh2lyUdHNERTrLBoFJS0OodULx3TpYYlYArzXUaK5mZu57pzJEchT7XuPycn7SgbE5oo3vixHXKTiJgX3gbgclfew

although the first bit about Facebook is invisible. But if you click the link, it takes you to:

https://flower-halibut-tb68.squarespace.com/news/sure-behavior-in-relationships

which is a farticle (fake article) implying that Whoopi is endorsing or promoting this garbage called Cheyenne Valley CBD Oil:

The advertisement is designed to look like a Time Magazine article. It’s not. And Ms. Goldberg does not promote or endorse this product. At all. In any way. The whole thing is made up out of whole cloth as an affiliate marketing scam to get you to the marketing page for this questionable product. ¹

The second paragraph in this scammy advertisement reads like this:

“When I started this whole thing back in 2020, it really was just a part-time passion project and a way for me to give back. After being given so much, I figured there was no better time to make Cheyenne Valley CBD Oil available to everyone, as it can help thousands of people experience life pain-free and live much happier lives.”

But in this article from healthmj, we see a very similar quote:

“This was a really, really difficult decision for me. When I started this whole thing back in 2015, it really was just a part-time passion project and a way for me to give back. Now here we are almost five years later, and Green CBD Oil has steadily grown into a full-fledged business that’s helped thousands of people become pain-free and much happier. My line gives me a chance to do something bigger than music, and I knew I would regret it for the rest of my life if I let that opportunity pass me by.”

Blake Shelton doesn’t endorse any sort of CBD Oil. Neither does Tom Hanks, for that matter, and he says so in no uncertain terms. These bottom-feeders will use anyone’s name to get people to their sales page. Once you get there, it’s the same tired old format that I’ve written about multiple times:

Of course, this is just the hook; buried deeply in the Terms and Conditions which almost nobody ever reads, is the catch:

Important Notes

Failure to cancel within the trial period will result in our subscription program and further charges.

The trial begins the same day you order. It doesn’t begin when you receive the trial in the mail.

Applicable sales tax may be applied to all charges.

We allow only 1 trial purchase per household.

As part of ordering a trial, you agree to join a recurring membership plan. You can modify your subscription anytime by contacting us.

This is not a free sample offer. We only offer as a trial, which turns into a subscription or individual bottles.

The most efficient method of contacting us is through care@buycheyennevalley.com. Please provide your name and phone number and we will get back to you as soon as possible

The trial period begins on day of order. To clarify, it does not begin when you receive the product.

By placing your order today you’ll be shipped a 30 day supply of Cheyenne Valley CBD Oil for only $6.89. This gives you the opportunity to try this remarkable product so you can come to a decision for yourself if this is the right product for you. If you are dissatisfied with the product, you must call 8774388714 within 14 days trial plus 3 days shipping (total of 17 days) from today to cancel your membership and avoid being charged of $99.89, which is the full price of the product. If you are satisfied with the product, you need do nothing else and upon the expiration of the trial period, you will be billed $99.89. The total monthly subscription charge of $99.89 includes shipping and handling for the full cost of the product. Thirty days after your trial period ends and every thirty days thereafter, we will send you a fresh monthly supply at the low price of $99.89 per until you cancel your membership. There’s no obligation and you may cancel your membership at any time by calling 8774388714 or by sending an email to care@buycheyennevalley.com. The trial period begins from the day of ordering the product.

Address the return package to:
PO Box 15911, Tampa, FL 33684

Everything about these scammy, barely-legal offers is based on lies. The celebrity endorsement, publication by a major company (TIME magazine, in this case), the price of the offer, the claim of “extremely high demand” and “limited stock,” all of the supposed endorsements from “satisfied customers” – it’s all lies. All lies.

So even if you take the bait, bite the hook, get reeled in, and pay $100 a month(!) for a tiny bottle of who-knows-what, what kind of quality do you think you might be getting from a company that resorts to such reprehensible tricks to get your business? I wouldn’t use it if you paid me a Benjamin.

Protect yourself from scams and don’t give your money to any company that does business this way. And please educate your loved ones who may be vulnerable to such tactics.

And Facebook, take note. Stop accepting ads from this kind of scammer. It makes you look worse than you already do.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Footnotes

¹ In the interest of full clarity:

For several years, Ms. Goldberg was a partner in a website called Whoopi and Maya, which was focused on providing high-quality medical cannabis to women as a relief for menstrual cramps. When she and her partner came to a parting of the ways, the business was dissolved.

There are rumors that she may be involved in launching a new cannabis-related enterprise. Whether this comes to fruition remains to be seen. All that said, she does not endorse this scummy “Cheyenne Valley CBD Oil” and never has.

As for me, I’m looking forward to seeing her as Guinan in the 2nd Season of Star Trek: Picard.

Thanks, Akismet

I’ve been running my blog long enough that Akismet pretty much knows which comments are spam and which are not. I haven’t actually seen a spam comment for approval in years.

Today I just peeped into my spam folder to see what sort of things were being trapped by Akismet, and there were 35 “comments” there; below, a list of the comments and what was being linked to:


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Cialis online purchase

Parker Pen Store in Moscow (Russian – knockoff goods)

Fertilizer are intent with pus medications list (Phony advertorial with embedded links for CBD oil)

online prescription sildenafil citrate

Place your bets online! (Russian)

Completely vile conglomeration of pornography keywords

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There is certainly a great deal to know about this subject. I like all the points you have made. (selling Internet proxies)

I was able to find good advice from your content. (selling Internet proxies)

Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve visited this site before but after looking at a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely happy I discovered it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently! (selling internet proxies)

I just couldn’t depart your site prior to suggesting that I extremely enjoyed the standard info a person provide for your visitors? Is going to be back often to check up on new posts (Beauty supplies)

Its not my first time to go to see this web site, i am browsing this site dailly and get nice data from here every day. (Clicks for a YouTube video)

Which supplements help burn fat? (Hawking a worthless nostrum)

Today, I went to the beach front with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone! (Link to “fashion styles” website with many embedded ads)

Enjoy our scandal amateur galleries that looks incredibly dirty (Just what it says)

Cialis online ordering

Link to a malware website

I blog often and I genuinely appreciate your information. This article has really peaked my interest. I am going to book mark your website and keep checking for new information about once a week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well. (Selling internet proxies)

That is a very good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate info… Thanks for sharing this one. A must read article! (Selling internet proxies)

Multiple links to international online casinos (Russian)

Agrippina Keifer (Selling Online Proxies)

Cialis Over the Counter

Purchasing Cialis Online

Buy Cialis Online (Canadian Pharmacy)

Viagra

Retin-A Micro Gel

Unknown dead link


It is evident that blog comment spammers are still active, hoping for clicks and views at their disreputable websites. WordPress does a great job filtering this garbage out so a blog owner never sees it, but I have been to blogs and bulletin boards that have either been inactive for some time, or which don’t have a spam detector like Akismet, or which are relatively unmoderated – and they are full of literally thousands of junk comments like this hoping for wider internet exposure and search engine visibility. (I mentioned this 8 years ago in a previous post, but the algorithms and apps needed to blast out comments to every blog in the world are cheap and easy to obtain, so they’re still at it.)

If you have a blog, make sure you either have a good spam filtering process in place, or moderate it regularly. These people are the hqiz of hqiz-eaters; don’t give them any oxygen at all.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

China: Thanks for the intellectual property theft

If you’ve followed or read my blog for any length of time, you know that I have this gut-level aversion to spammers, scammers, sleazy advertisers, and just about anyone who takes money from others by way of lies or deception. I execrate these people with the fury of a thousand O-type blue-hot suns.

O-type Blue star – average temperature 25,000 K.

Say hello to the Rinne Corporation, two guys who put their heads together and invented a better mousetrap.

Sit this bad boy on top of a 5-gallon bucket, bait the top, and watch the vermin enjoy their last slip-n-slide. For what it’s worth, I just ordered one from them this morning.

Naturally, Chinese businessmen who have all the ethics and morals of a starving honey badger saw these things, and as countless thousands of them do, ripped off the idea, started manufacturing knockoff copies, and selling them all over the Internet (including Amazon).

Amazon listings for the Flip-and-Slide bucket trap. Only the first one, from Rinne, is genuine. The others are cheap knockoffs from China for which Rinne gets no benefit.

Amazon states for the record that they are “trying” to shut down illegitimate storefronts, but based on results they are not putting a whole lot of real effort into it, and every day these scumbags exist on their website, they’re making money – so they don’t really have a lot of incentive to do much about it.

And of course the Chinese Communist Party encourages this theft of Intellectual property. National industrial policy goals in China encourage IP theft, and an extraordinary number of Chinese in business and government entities are engaged in this practice. There are also weaknesses and biases in the legal and patent systems that lessen the protection of foreign IP.

As the new Chinese leadership settles in, IPR issues loom. The fundamental question is whether the new leaders will confront the major societal and policy forces that continue to work against IPR. The patent and trade-secret legal environments, for example, require reform. The patent system encourages Chinese entities to copy and file foreign patents as if these patents were their own, and seems to establish the right of Chinese entities to sue the foreign, original inventor that seeks to sell the technology in China.

2013, The IP Commission Report (The Report of the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property)

In 2021, based on what is being seen on the Internet and elsewhere, the problem is not only not being addressed, but is proliferating at an exponential rate. Facebook¹ doesn’t care; Google doesn’t care. They’ll happily take money from deceptive advertisers without a second thought.

Mobile ads presented on a search for “tip bucket mouse trap original

The first company (feelmoob.com, great name right?) has its mailing address in Reykjavik, Iceland, with tech support listed in Burundi, according to ICANN. The second, “Find Good Gear” makes no attempt at misdirection but is registered in China. The third one, Kellyys.com, appears to be an identical copy of the first one with only the name differing. All three websites have the following somewhere:

MADE IN USA –  We are a very small family-owned manufacturing company which started out in our home garage. We now own a large warehouse where we manufacture and hand package our products. Support American Business

Even with access to a Roget’s Thesaurus (both in hard copy and online), I do not have words enough to express how badly this kind of repugnant jiggery-pokery enrages me. Sales by theft of property, sales by outright lies and deception are the hallmark of China’s business model, and there’s not a thing honest businesspeople can do about it. Our government works so ponderously that by the time anything is done (and what is done will be a pathetic, watered-down version of what should be done), the criminal enterprises will have made a fortune, disappeared into the mist, and reappeared under a new name selling a new pirated product.

The only thing consumers can do is take the time to make sure they are buying from American companies, and preferably the originators of products they see. It takes time and effort, but if we’re ever going to turn the tide against conglomerates who outsource everything overseas, it will be worth it.

The Old Wolf has spoken.²


Footnotes

¹ The following is an example of a Facebook ad that I see almost daily:

Every single one begins with a variation of “We are sad to announce that we are closing our collection.” This is the purest horse 💩, and people fall for it in droves. This is similar to the signs I see periodically – there used to be an outfit in San Francisco’s Chinatown that had one of these on their storefront for years:

They’re closing their collection all right… and they’ll be back next week under a new name, peddling the same cheaply-made and overpriced stuff that they are now.

And that’s not to mention the ever-present teeshirt vendors who photoshop celebrities into their ads for products with stolen, unauthorized artwork. As the linked website says,

When those products are infringing on copyrights, or are misappropriating celebrity images, it’s incumbent on Facebook to crack down on them.

But they’re not, because it hurts their bottom line when they do.

Pissed off!

² if you don’t like what I’ve said here, complain on your own blog. This is not a place for debate.

Please be very careful with promoted posts on Facebook

Edit: Went back to check and as of 4/29/2021, the “wewinns” shop was nowhere to be seen.

Vanished into the mist

For “promoted post,” read “advertisement.”

I’m using as an example one that showed up in my newsfeed yesterday, from a company which calls itself “wewinns.”

They are offering a complete date set of Morgan silver dollars for $199.99 (reduced from $699.99!)

Beautiful, right? The Morgan really is a gorgeous piece, especially in uncirculated condition. Notice the first description:

Morgan Silver Dollars are an excellent way to own a piece of history, while concurrently investing in the physical precious metal silver.  Morgan Silver Dollars are composed of 90% silver and 10% copper.  They weigh 26.73 grams.  This equates to approximately .7734 Troy ounces of silver and approximately .1 ounce of copper per coin. Uncirculated collectible coins.

Next, we have coin highlights:

Coin Highlights:

Arrives inside of a protective plastic slab courtesy of the NGC or PCGS!

Struck from 1878 to 1904!
• Contains .77344 Troy oz of actual silver content.
• Bears a face value of $1 (USD) backed by the federal government.
Issued a Grade of Mint State 66 by the Professional Coin Grading Service or Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.
• Obverse features the effigy of Liberty.
• Reverse includes the American bald eagle.

When I was a kid, collecting coins was much less complex. Coin grades were:

  • Cull
  • Fair (F)
  • Good (G)
  • Very Good (VG)
  • Fine (F)
  • Very Fine (VF)
  • Extra Fine (XF)
  • Almost Uncirculated (AU)
  • Uncirculated (Unc)
  • Brilliant Uncirculated (BU)
  • Proof (P)

“Cull” was a damaged coin with no value, and “Proof” – as today – are specially-created strikes for collector. In between, coins were graded largely based on the subjective opinions of countless coin dealers.

Now, things are a lot more complicated, but a lot more formalized. The PCGS that this advertisement invokes has a very detailed designation and a numerical grading system by which coins are qualified. According to their website, MS66 is defined as “Well struck with a few marks or hairlines not in focal areas.” In other words, a pretty, uncirculated coin.

The next statement from the “wewinns” website reiterates the condition of the coins you will supposedly get:

Each of the Morgan Silver Dollar Coins offered by us in this product listing is available to you in Mint State 66 condition from either the PCGS or NGC. Coins in Mint State 66 condition are five grades below the perfect grade of 70 on the Sheldon numeric scale. A coin with an MS66 certification has minimal, but apparent, detracting marks or hairlines.

Following more generic information about Morgan dollars, the sales website goes on to say:

In this product listing, we guarantee you a Mint State 66 condition Morgan Silver Dollar.

Now things get interesting. After some more description of the beauty and rarity of the Morgan dollars, we see this:

Each Morgan Silver Dollar is presented in circulated condition with most major design details visible, and is protected in an archival crystal-clear case that allows for easy and safe viewing of both sides.

“Most major design details visible.” To me, that sounds like an F-12: “About half of detail now worn flat. All lettering remains visible.”

But then in the next bit, we go right back to the shiny new coins you thing you’ll be getting:

Year: 1878 to 1921
Grade: Choice BU
Strike Type: Business
Denomination: $1.00
Mint Location: “S” – San Francisco
Metal Content: 0.7734 troy oz
Purity: .900
Manufacturer: US Mint
Thickness: 3.1 mm
Diameter: 38.1 mm

I have no idea what “Strike type: business” means, unless it just implies general circulation coins and not a proof.

I was curious enough to click the “Contact Us” link on the bottom of the page:

Email:[support@wewinns.com]
Phone: +86 181 2462 2758

Is anyone suprised that country code 86 is China? My email to the support staff read as follows:

I am interested in your offer, but I am confused.
Your ad says the following things:
“Uncirculated collectible coins.”
“Issued a Grade of Mint State 66 by the Professional Coin Grading Service or Numismatic Guaranty Corporation.”
“Each of the Morgan Silver Dollar Coins offered by us in this product listing is available to you in Mint State 66 condition from either the PCGS or NGC.”
“In this product listing, we guarantee you a Mint State 66 condition Morgan Silver Dollar.”
“Each Morgan Silver Dollar is presented in circulated condition with most major design details visible.”
“Grade: Choice BU”
So, are these coins that you are offering uncirculated, with a grade of 66, or are they circulated and in generally poor condition? You are aware, are you not, that a full set of Morgan dollars in grade 66 typically sells for over $125,000?
I look forward to your speedy response.

But I will be surprised if there is any response at all. [Edit: there was not] If you get anything at all from this outfit, I’m pretty safe in thinking it will be a collection of very poor-quality coins, and that their website will be gone – only to resurface the next day with a different name.

Now I won’t go so far as to say that every advertisement promoted by Facebook is painfully deceptive or outright dishonestly false… but in my experience, a vast preponderance of them are just that, and a large percentage of them come from China. And Facebook continues to happily take their advertising dollars, and countless people are defrauded by unscrupulous enterprises.

It is worth noticing that the current PCGS quoted price for a complete date set of Morgan dollars in MS-66 condition is $165,605.00, and a complete date set in F-12 condition (Fair) is quoted at $1,272.00.

At one point, the Danbury Mint was offering a 28-coin date set for $2,238.60, but that was a limited-time offer and is sold out. [While Danbury is a legitimate company, please be aware that – like the Franklin Mint and other specialty “Mints” – what they sell is fairly overpriced and unsuitable for investment, but they do have pretty things. Just expect that you or your heirs will probably not even recoup what you paid for them if they ever try to sell.]

So heaven only knows what you might get if you drop $200.00 into this Chinese bank account; most likely a bunch of counterfeit coins, or nothing at all.

Be very careful with these ads. Discuss this with vulnerable loved ones, particularly the elderly who might be more susceptible to greasy advertising techniques like this.

Edit: Another, very similar ad page is found at
https://www.silver-ccoins.com/products/1878-1921-morgan-dollar-silver-coin-lx-1, and it uses almost identical wording, with a lot of additional promotional fluff added. The company behind this one is Vankin Co. Ltd. in London. Beware.

Edit 2: This report focuses on an individual who was conned into buying counterfeit silver dollars (made of steel); the report ends by indicating that these bogus dollars were likely mass-produced in China. One more red flag that this particular deal and ones like it should be run away from at great speed.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Please be very careful ordering from Facebook ads

My wife passed me this item to look at – and it looks like a really good idea. We have a small flock of chickens so we don’t worry about composting much, but there are things like potato peelings and bones and such that the girls (and Pongo¹) won’t eat, so it would be nice to have something to reduce these scraps to something usable.

Amazing price, given that the most popular composter on Amazon runs for about $400.00.

I mean, who could turn down an offer like that?

Just for fun, I put one in my cart to see what shipping for a 22-lb (10kg) item would cost from California.

Any guesses?

$4.95.

Ok, with anything else discounted, this whole deal would fall into the “Too good to be true” category. So let’s do just a bit more research. Going to Scamadvisor.com, we find this summary:

Add this to a 1% trust score overall, and that’s more red flags than Tootle was confronted with when he jumped the tracks to play with the butterflies.

From “Tootle” – a Little Golden Book

Notice that the original ad claimed that there were only 65 left in stock. When I checked earlier this morning, it was down to 34. Now, it’s not beyond possibility that they got a new shipment within the last few hours, but the odds are better that these numbers are randomly generated to give the appearance of desirability and scarcity.

I suspect people who order this will never receive anything, or will be shipped cheap slum² that functions poorly and breaks quickly. Whatever the case,

“The bitterness of poor quality lasts long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

Source: Unknown. Attributed to Benjamin Franklin or Aldo Gucci without verification.

Who knows, I might be passing up on the deal of a lifetime, but this is not something I’m going to gamble $35.00 on.

For what it’s worth, a large percentage of ads that appear on your Facebook wall are put there by spurious companies for spurious merchandise. Stolen artwork and intellectual property are high on the list; teeshirt companies that pop up, sell stuff with Peanuts™ or Calvin and Hobbes™ or something else that’s not licensed, promoted by photoshopped images of Carl Sagan or Bill Nye or Neil deGrasse Tyson, vanish into the mist before they can be prosecuted, and pop up the next week with a different name (and most of these outfits are, predictably, in China).

The takeaway here is Be Very Careful when ordering merchandise from an ad on Facebook.There are legitimate concerns out there, but far too many of these ads (which Facebook is more than happy to accept advertising dollars from) will burn you badly. Do your research (that doesn’t mean watch some sleazy YouTube video) and protect your loved ones.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Footnotes:

¹

Pongo

² “Slum” is what carnival hucksters call the cheap trash that you win when you play their midway games. As opposed to the major prizes that are very difficult to get.

Those Medicare Ads

Sounds great, right? So you click the ad, and they want your age, your birthdate, your name, your zip code, and your phone number, which you happily provide.

But before being able to submit your information, you have to agree to their terms. Which are these:

By clicking ‘View My Results’, I expressly consent by electronic signature to receive marketing communication, including via calls using an automatic telephone dialing system and artificial or pre-recorded messages, emails, and text messages (SMS), from insurance companies or their agents, the owner of this website and its agents, representatives and affiliates, and partner companies to the phone number provided (including any wireless numbers). I understand that my consent to receive communications in this manner is not required as a condition of purchasing any goods or services, my telephone company may impose charges for these contacts, and I can revoke my consent at any time. If you are Medicare-eligible a representative may call you about a Medicare Advantage plan, Medicare Prescription Drug plan, Medicare Supplement plan or other Medicare plans. Not affiliated with the United States Government or the federal Medicare program.

By clicking ‘View My Results’, I further agree to receive SMS notifications from Assurance short code 71953. Message and data rates may apply. Message frequency varies. You may receive alerts until you choose to opt out of this service by texting “Stop” to 71953 or replying “Stop” to any of our messages. Text “Help” to 71953 for assistance. Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy and Do Not Sell My Personal Information

And those “partner companies” mentioned above? Here’s the list:

  • 1st Century
  • Accuquote
  • Adsparkx Digital
  • Advocator Group
  • Agentra Healthcare
  • AIG Direct
  • AIS
  • Aliera Healthcare
  • All Web Leads
  • Alliance
  • Allied Insurance Partners
  • Allstate
  • Alphatech Resource Holdings s.r.o
  • Alpine Digital Group, Inc.
  • American Adventure Insurance
  • American Income Life Insurance Company Family
  • American Insurance Company
  • American Insurance Organization, LLC
  • Americare
  • Ameriquote
  • AmeriSave
  • Angelic Marketing Group
  • Answer Financial
  • Apollo Interactive
  • Art Institute
  • Auto Insurance Guide
  • Avendia
  • Avenge Digital
  • Bantam Connect
  • Bayside
  • BE Marketing Solutions Inc.
  • Benefit Advisors
  • Black Optek
  • Blue Nile
  • Blue Summit
  • Bright Home Energy
  • BRXTN Digital Media
  • Caliber Home Loans
  • Capital Health Advisors Inc.
  • Cege Media
  • Choice Direct
  • Citizens Disability
  • Clean Energy Concepts
  • ClearLink
  • Click 2 Call Network
  • Commercial Insurance Center
  • CompareInsuranceQuotes
  • Connect Insurance Brands
  • Connect Plus
  • Contactability
  • Coverage One
  • CS Marketing
  • Debt.com
  • Digital Market Media, Inc.
  • Direct General
  • Disability Advisor
  • Discount Insurance Quotes
  • EasyMedicare.com, an affiliate of e-TeleQuote Insurance, Inc
  • easyMedicare.com, an affiliate of e-TeleQuote Insurance, Inc.
  • Efinancial
  • EPIQ
  • Esurance
  • EverQuote, Inc.
  • Excel Impact
  • Exclusive Digital Media
  • Finalexpenseassistant.com
  • First Family Life
  • FirstQuoteHealth.com
  • Florida Blue
  • Florida Plan Advisors
  • Fortegra
  • Freeway Insurance Services
  • Get Seen Media
  • Globe Life
  • Globe Life Insurance Company of New York
  • GoHealthInsurance
  • Goji
  • goMedigap
  • Green Home Advantage
  • Guidestar Marketing Group LLC
  • Guidetoinsure
  • Hannigan Insurance
  • Health Benefit Center
  • Health Benefits One
  • Health Center Marketing
  • Health Choice One
  • Health Insurance Innovations
  • Health Insurance Services
  • Health IQ
  • Health Plans of America
  • Health Solutions One
  • HealthCare, Inc.
  • Healthcareassistant.com
  • HealtheDeals
  • HealthMarkets
  • HealthPlanOne
  • HealthPlanOne, LLC
  • Heard and Smith
  • Heritage Life Insurance Company
  • Home Insurance King
  • Ideal Concepts
  • Inboxed LLC.
  • Independent Insurance Consultants
  • Innovate Financial Group
  • Innovation Direct Group
  • Inside Response
  • InsuraMatch
  • Insurance Care Direct
  • Insurance Quotes Now
  • Insurance Services
  • Insurance Solutions LLC
  • IPA Direct
  • iWebQuotes
  • Kanopy Insurance
  • Kelly Klee
  • Leadnomics
  • Legacy Insurance Solutions
  • Legends United Insurance Agency, Inc
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Liberty National Life Insurance Company
  • Lighthouse
  • Loan Depot
  • Mercury
  • Mercury Insurance
  • Momentum Solar
  • Morty Inc.
  • Moss
  • Mutual of Omaha
  • MVX Sales
  • My Health Advisors
  • National Disability
  • National General
  • National Income Life Insurance Company
  • National Plan Advisors
  • Nationwide
  • NetQuote
  • New Age Health
  • New American Funding
  • NextGen Leads, LLC
  • Nexus Enterprise Solutions
  • Open Market Quotes
  • Outlook Advisors
  • Palisades Media Group
  • Pay Per Call Market
  • Pay Per Call Transfers
  • PEMCO
  • PFP
  • Ping Leads
  • Platform Advertising
  • Plymouth Rock
  • Policy Scout
  • PolicyScout
  • Precursor Media
  • Premier Disability
  • Presidio Interactive
  • Priority Insurance
  • Progressive
  • Prudential
  • Purple Dog Marketing LLC
  • Q3MInsuranceSolutions
  • Quantum3media
  • Quicken Loans
  • Quote Engine
  • Quote Manager LLC
  • Quote Velocity
  • Quotehound
  • QuoteManage LLC
  • QuoteWizard
  • Rank Media Agency
  • Rayosun LLC
  • RCPT2
  • RevPoint
  • S.B. Fintech Ltd
  • Sales Data Pro
  • Selective Healthcare
  • SelectMyPolicy.com
  • SelectQuote
  • Senior Life
  • Senior Market Quotes
  • Smart Energy Direct
  • Smart Health Options, LLC
  • Smart Match Insurance Solutions
  • SolidQuote, LLC
  • Spring Health Plans
  • Spring Insurance Solutions
  • State Farm
  • ‘Stone Tapert
  • Stone Tapert Insurance Services
  • STRINGBIT inc.
  • Support First
  • Synergy Insurance Marketing
  • The Insurance Center
  • The Lead Company
  • The Zebra
  • Themedicareassistant.com
  • The-Solar-Project.com.
  • Tiburon Insurance
  • Tranzact
  • Travelers
  • TrueChoice Insurance Services
  • TrustedConsumer
  • Underground Elephant
  • United American Insurance Company
  • United Insurance Group Agency, Inc.
  • United Medicare Advisors
  • Velapoint
  • Vital One Health
  • ZQ Auto Insurance

In other words, you provide critical personal information to “updatedmedicareplans.com,” and they sell that information to over 208 other companies which may or may not have anything to do with Medicare coverage, and many of whom will sell that data onward to other marketing firms… and you agree to allow these companies to spam you with phone calls or text messages.

This is essentially the same business model used by “Lower My Bills,” and from where I sit it’s a bad deal. If you’re looking for improved Medicare Advantage plans, I suggest you call a reputable local insurance agent with whom you can deal in person, instead of opening yourself to a deluge of marketing calls, many of which will be spurious in nature.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Farticles and Advertorials are Old News

I’ve written often about affiliate marketers who use advertorials and farticles (advertisements designed to look like news articles) in their never-ending hunt for clicks and commissions. It’s an ongoing plague, but one that seems to have become an inextirpable part of the internet landscape.

As annoying as it is, this technique is not new. Here, an example from the Iowa City Daily Press from 16 May, 1905 (page 2). The snippet below is from a section of the paper entitled “News In Brief” and shows two advertisements shoehorned into the section dedicated to short news articles:

It just goes to show that historically, the journalistic drive to ethically bring the news to people has always been intermingled with a desire to earn as much revenue as possible, regardless of how it’s done.

In today’s world, the mad rush for clicks, eyeballs on ads, and sales conversions has turned the Internet into a wild west of unreliable or downright deceptive pages and advertisements, and it’s a true challenge to sift and sort the wheat from the tares. Teaching kids how to tell one from the other would be a valuable class in any high school or college.

The Old Wolf has spoken

Please do not patronize these knockoff companies.

I followed a link from Facebook to a CNN article about Roger Stone on my phone yesterday. Almost invariably when I follow links, despite the fact that I own a Pixel phone I’ll choose the option that says “Open in Samsung Internet” because that app includes an ad-blocker that makes my mobile browsing experience infinitely less annoying (no, I’m not a paid shill.) But this time I didn’t for some odd reason, and this is what I saw:

These shirts and many like them are advertised heavily on Facebook and other places. This particular article repeated the same advertisement four times – with the headers “Star Wars,” “Star Wars 2,” “Star Wars 3,” and “Star Wars 9.”

It seems that the way targeted advertising campaigns work is that the page owners – in this case, CNN – either have no control over or don’t care what ads get served up on their site, as long as they get paid for eyeballs and clicks. So whatever algorithm was being used here, it has been heavily skewed in favor of this one company.

Aside from being annoying in general, these web ads for teeshirts have a darker downside: almost all of them use stolen and unauthorized intellectual property. While I can’t say for certain, my bookie assures me it’s a sure bet that these are Chinese companies who change their store names on a daily basis, saturate the internet with ads for shirts of dubious quality using pirated IP, sell a mess of teeshirts and then vanish before they can be tracked down, only to appear the next day under a different name.

And of course, concerns like Facebook are happy to rake in their advertising dollars without a care in the world.

There are many legitimate shirt companies out there. They purchase artwork or license it from its creators. Woot! is one that my wife and I are shamefacedly addicted to, but there are any number to choose from. ¹

Don’t give these pirates your money. Stick with legitimate companies, preferably ones that manufacture their goods here in America.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ Nope, not getting paid for this recommendation either.

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.