The Scammers Keep Trying

Image result for sextortion

I don’t get much spam these days with Gmail, their filters are pretty good at sifting out the chaff. But I still have an account with another provider that lets a few things through.

The first one I saw this week was the old “Nigerian Prince” ploy, it amazes me that people are still trying this one.

Hello

I am contacting you to see if we can make a business together, My names are  Suvo  sarkar the Chief Executive Director of Emirates NBD  in United Arab Emirate  U.A.E. I discovered a dormant account with a holding balance of US$63M in the bank where I am working in United Arab Emirate U.A.E, Actually I do not have to involve myself officially because of my job and position in the bank, but I know what will be required to release the fund to you as I will present you as next of kin to the inheritance. I know all about the depositor who has passed away leaving no beneficiary to the account he deposited the funds.

Please get back to indicate your interest so I can give you the full details of the transaction for us to commence immediately.

Best regards,
Suvo Sarka

By now, everyone should know about this kind of thing – but just in case, this is 100% pure bull manure – there’s no money, you’re  not next of kin, and if you respond, there will be “taxes,” “fees,” “bribes,” “administrative stamps,” and other things to be paid until you run out of money, time, or patience.

These people are criminals, thieves, bad actors with no conscience and no morals. Many of them justify their theft by saying to themselves, “The White Man plundered our country, it’s only fair to take their money.” Others are just evil men with no conscience. Do not interact with them.

The second scam, commonly known as “sextortion,” was more interesting, I had not seen one of these before.

From: nightmarе <bogus_email@phoney.com>
To: <redacted>
Subject: You are my viсtim.

Hi, my prey.

THIS IS MY LAST WARNING!

I write you because I put a virus on the web page with pornography which you have viewed.
My trоjan caрtured аll your рrivate dаta аnd switсhed on yоur сamеrа whiсh rеcordеd thе act оf yоur solitаry sex. Just аfter thаt thе trоjаn saved your contact list.
I will erаsе thе cоmрrоmising videо rесords аnd informаtiоn if you send me 750 USD in bitcoin.
This is address fоr pаymеnt : 1PLtH8HPHQLboeFvrBN2XJPJz99TxayGCo
I give you 30 hours after yоu opеn my mеssаgе fоr making thе payment.
Аs sоon аs you reаd thе mеssаgе I’ll sеe it right аwаy.
It is nоt nесessаry to tell me that yоu hаvе sеnt mоney to mе. This аddress is connectеd to yоu, my systеm will еrased autоmаticаlly after transfer соnfirmatiоn.
If you nеed 48h just Opеn thе calculatоr on yоur desktор and press +++
If yоu don’t раy, I’ll send dirt tо all your contасts.
Let me remind you-I sеe what you’re dоing!
Yоu cаn visit thе policе officе but anybody cаn’t help you.
If yоu try to dеceivе me , I’ll know it immediately!
I dоn’t live in your cоuntry. So аnyоnе cаn not trаck my lосаtion еvеn fоr 9 mоnths.
byе. Don’t fоrgеt аbоut the shame and tо ignorе, Your lifе сan be ruined.

First:

This is sheer nonsense, blasted out to all and sundry with harvested or leaked emails in the hopes of catching a scared victim. Because some people do visit adult sites, and some people do have webcams, and it is possible for hackers to access these cameras remotely if people are foolish enough to download the appropriate malware.

Second:

  1. I don’t have a webcam, I don’t visit adult sites, and my computer is well-protected against malware, so all his noise about trojans and “compromising video records” are nothing but lies.
  2. Opening a calculator app and pressing “+++” could not possibly interact with an email program to let a scammer know that I needed 48 hours instead of 30 to send him his blackmail money.
  3. You can go to https://bitcoinwhoswho.com/ and look up bitcoin addresses like the one the scammer lists above. According to the report generated, this particular address has been reported multiple times for fraudulent activity, always the same sextortion scam but often with varying messages

Ransomware that encrypts your data is a different kind of beast, and it is more prevalent, and easier to be affected by even if you don’t visit infected websites. Don’t open attachments from unknown senders, regardless of how innocent or official they may look. Verify first.

This is an example of a ransomware scam:

From: “Troy Almaguer” <bogusmail@bitbucket.com>
Subject: Wire Transfer
To: <redacted>

Did you authorize a wire transfer to our accounts?
We have acquired a sum of USD $2000,00 from your bank account and we do not understand what the funds are for.
We do not have any purchases with your firm that we know about. So why are you generating settlements to us?
Please see the attached remittance files and double check with your corporation and bank.
Password is 1234


[Attached Document with clickable link]

It looks really official, and an administrator, or assistant, or secretary might be easily fooled into clicking on that innocent-looking attachment. Don’t ever do it, you’ll likely end up with all your data encrypted and no way to get it back unless you have robust backups.

There are a lot of scumbags out there. Be careful, practice safe computing, and don’t let the criminals win.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

War is War and Hell is Hell

This image from the AP shows smoke rising over an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. Far better minds than mine have wrestled with the ongoing violence in the Middle East for lifetimes, so I’m not really qualified to make pronouncements as a political pundit. That said, a comment I saw over at reddit resonated loudly with me:

Hawkeye: War isn’t Hell. War is war, and Hell is Hell. And of the two, war is a lot worse.

Father Mulcahy: How do you figure, Hawkeye?

Hawkeye: Easy, Father. Tell me, who goes to Hell?

Father Mulcahy: Sinners, I believe.

Hawkeye: Exactly. There are no innocent bystanders in Hell. War is chock full of them – little kids, cripples, old ladies. In fact, except for some of the brass, almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander.

This conversation from M*A*S*H was probably contrived by a scriptwriter, but I’ve quoted Alan Alda before and it wouldn’t surprise me if he had come up with it himself or at least had input.

Gaza is home to 1.7 million people, living in ghetto-like conditions that are difficult to comprehend for anyone not living in a war zone. 

Without any cognitive dissonance or hypocrisy, one can be completely in favor of Israel’s existence and security but still believe that the campaign of Palestinian suppression, ongoing settlement building in the West Bank, and the rejection of a two-state solution in the Middle East on the part of the Israeli government is inhuman and wrong. Sadly, voicing such an opinion almost always results in accusations of anti-semitism, but that can’t be helped.

Bibi Netanyahu has said:

“If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more ‎violence. If the Jews put ‎down their weapons ‎today, there would be no ‎more Israel’‎”


I think that’s completely accurate, but I also think that what is being perpetrated on the Palestinian people rises to the level of crimes against humanity, and somehow it has to stop.

In the name of all that’s holy, it has to stop.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Cannabis: the case against decriminalization

Cross-posted from Livejournal and updated 11-8-2018

☞ The executive summary is, “Because it doesn’t go far enough.” ☜

A photo gallery at Time Magazine brought this issue to the front of my mind again, where it has been many times. Swirling around in the mass of insignificant facts and rabid squirrels that inhabit my brain are thoughts that keep coming back to me over and over again, many of which have to do with the overwhelming societal cost that we are paying for a failing war on drugs.

If recent statistics (CDC, 2009) are to be believed, 6.6% of people over 12 were using marijuana at least once a month – a total of 23.1 million people (minus the ones under 12). That’s us. We’re the ones who are funding the carnage in Mexico as drug cartels battle for turf and slaughter countless people in their quest for American drug dollars.

Prohibition is Ineffective

We saw how well Prohibition worked… all it did was put the country’s alcohol revenue into the hands of the criminal element. Whenever money is to be made, the bad guys will be there in force, because they don’t care how they get it.

“Although consumption of alcohol fell at the beginning of Prohibition, it subsequently increased. Alcohol became more dangerous to consume; crime increased and became “organized”; the court and prison systems were stretched to the breaking point; and corruption of public officials was rampant. No measurable gains were made in productivity or reduced absenteeism. Prohibition removed a significant source of tax revenue and greatly increased government spending. It led many drinkers to switch to opium, marijuana, patent medicines, cocaine, and other dangerous substances that they would have been unlikely to encounter in the absence of Prohibition.” Cato Institute Policy Analysis

The Social Costs are considerably less than those associated with tobacco and alcohol

The societal costs of alcohol are enormous, whereas the social impact of cannabis use is significantly less.

“In terms of (health-related) costs per user: tobacco-related health costs are over $800 per user, alcohol-related health costs are much lower at $165 per user, and cannabis-related health costs are the lowest at $20 per user.” (Cannabis, Tobacco and Alcohol Use in Canada)

I can’t recall the last time I heard of some high-flying husband beating his wife and children; it’s hard to be aggressive when you’re giggling. That’s said somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but in all my life I have never encountered an angry pot user, whereas the number of bar fights that go on in cities and towns all around America, followed by nights in the slammer and subsequent taking out of infantile anger on innocent domestic partners and children is beyond anyone’s ability to count. The same holds true for violent crime, sexual assault and date rape.

Ask any emergency-room doc, nurse, or EMT: alcohol use contributes to reckless behavior and serious injuries, and it is highly associated with emergency room visits; such visits directly associated with cannabis would hardly make a blip on the radar.

Take the Money Away From the Criminal Element

Drug tunnels like these, as well as illegal farms in national forests and elsewhere, with all their associated risks to innocent citizenry, would become a thing of the past if cannabis were freely available, regulated and taxed in the same way tobacco is.

“The libertarian Cato Institute just issued a detailed statistical analysis on how ending prohibition – a favored term for supporters of pot reform – could help America’s budget woes. According to the much-discussed study, legalizing all illicit drugs would save the government $41.3 billion a year in law-enforcement costs and generate some $46.7 billion in tax revenue; marijuana would account for $8.7 billion of the savings, and another $8.7 billion in taxes. Legalized marijuana would certainly help fatten state coffers in debt-crippled California, where pot is the biggest agricultural crop, with $14 billion a year in sales that never appear on tax returns.” (Newsweek, “The Conservative Case for Legalizing Pot”).

Further thoughts on the tax advantages appeared in the LA Times on 8/27/10.

Prosecution of recreational THC users and those who require it for valid medical reasons is wasting billions of tax dollars directly and indirectly, and taking valuable law enforcement hours away from issues that are significantly more important. Based on everything I’ve seen, heard and read, legalization will have a negligible impact on usage which is already there, and will have societal benefits far greater than any potential increase in disadvantages.

I’m by no means for blanket legalization of all illicit drugs, but at this point marijuana appears to be a no-brainer in terms of cost-benefit analysis. The usage is already there. In a sense, not legalizing it is an immoral act, given how much blood and carnage is resulting from the activity of the Mexican cartels which we are directly funding.

If people could walk down to their local package store for some quality-controlled, legal cannabis, who in their right mind would risk buying it from illegal sources? The illegal marijuana market would simply dry up.

There will be those who question why I’m taking such a position, especially in light of my own religion’s stance on the use of things as mild as tea and coffee, let alone alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs. Make no mistake: I’m convinced that if people would give up the use of all harmful and/or addictive substances, the physical, emotional and spiritual health of our nation would rise dramatically, and countless billions of dollars would be saved. That said, I am simply looking at the numbers. Legalization would save lives, free up law-enforcement resources, and redirect funds from the criminal element to other critical social needs. I can’t look at it any other way.

Progress is being made. Canada has legalized marijuana, and just this week they experienced a severe legal problem: there isn’t enough of it.

In the United States, the non-medical use of cannabis is decriminalized in 13 states (plus the U.S. Virgin Islands), and legalized in another 10 states (plus the District of Columbia and Northern Mariana Islands), as of November 2018. (Wikipedia)

It’s time to get cannabis out of the hands of criminals, and good people – who have committed an offense no worse than a three-martini lunch – out of prison.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Marketing by Deception Threedux

I’ve written about the auto dealer “You’ve Won a Prize” scam before. Today I happened to be driving past Rockland Ford in Thomaston, Maine with one of their flyers in my hand, and since a $5.00 WalMart gift card is better than a sharp stick in the eye if I’m in the area anyway, I dropped in.

ford

(Click image for a larger view)

The flyer states pretty plainly that I’ve won a “car, hotel and gas card.” But as usual, the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away:

The number  that you matched does not give you a choice, but an opportunity to win a prize.

If you’re not sure, this means “the number you scratched off means nothing at all.” The only number that means anything is the one after “official registered #”, which in my case is 129,280. Odds of winning the WalMart gift card are 499,994:499,999, meaning that’s what you’ll get. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the $500.00 one. It isn’t.

The salesman I spoke to insisted that the advert wasn’t deceptive at all, and I should just read the fine print. Well, I’ve lived long enough to know that bait-and-switch is a scummy tactic, and is usually covered up with the most barely-legal douchebaggery the attorneys can dig up.

Yes, as long as the “final deal” is spelled out somewhere, they can claim that customers had access to all aspects of the promotion and it’s legal. But I ask you: how many people walk away from the encounter disappointed and with a sour taste in their mouth about the dealership? How likely are they to want to buy a car from a dealer that uses such tactics to get people in the door? People who run these enterprises ought to give that a thought.

But they won’t.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Text spammers know what we think about them.

Received in my text inbox yesterday from 201-429-3058 (almost certainly spoofed).

Reply YES for Web-page link. See Visual proof and exact blueprint for generating $13K per/month, in 45 to 90 day. Guaranteed! A rated-BBB

My response: Anatomically impossible suggestion.

Instant reply: Okay, I am deleting you from my contacts at your request. You will not be getting anymore messages. Sorry to disturb you.

Whoever is blasting spam get-rich-quick messages to the world must have a database of possible negative responses, including the one I sent. Clearly, it was expected. Clearly, he doesn’t care.

Screenshot_2018-10-11-11-48-08

The “A rated-BBB” cracked me up. As if the Better Business Bureau would give a scummy pyramid scheme a good rating.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

It sure is a scary time for men

At least, according to the thermonuclear bowel evacuation currently disgracing the Oval Office. (Yeah, I’m talkin’ ’bout you, Donny).

He had no problem mocking Dr. Christine Blasey Ford for her “unfounded allegations.” He has no problem claiming that George Soros is paying all these democratic protesters (read: Women) to protest. He has no problem apologizing to Brett Kavanaugh for the anguish he was subjected to during the orchestrated circus the GOP called a hearing and investigation. And he has no problem saying that this is a “scary time for men,” worried that they might be unjustly accused and their lives ruined on a whim.

Well, isn’t that just special?

The damage inflicted on our nation by execrable, hateful, power-drunken despots like 45 and Mitch McConnell and their congressional sycophants will continue for decades, generations even. But if the catastrophe spawns a sufficient storm of outrage from average Americans, specifically women, and specifically the young, and specifically minorities – all groups targeted by Cheetolini for particular disdain – and they get to the polls in 2018 and 2020 to vote, our nation may yet survive as the republic which the founders envisioned.

There is hope. A song written by Lynzy Lab and posted to YouTube has already garnered half a million views in three days.

Lyrics:

Hi, I wrote a song and it goes like this:I can’t walk to my car late at night while on the phone
I can’t open up my windows when I’m home alone
I can’t go to the bar without a chaperone
I can’t wear a mini skirt if it’s the only one I own
I can’t use public transportation after 7 PM
I can’t be brutally honest when you slide into my dms
I can’t go to the club just to dance with my friends
And I can never leave my drink unattended…

But it sure is a scary time for boys, yeah
Gentleman band together make some noise
It’s really tough when your reputations on the line
And any woman you’ve assaulted could show up any time
Yeah, it sure is a scary time for guys
can’t look at any woman or look her in the eyes
It’s so confusing, is it rape or just being nice
So inconvenient that you even have to think twice

I can’t live in an apartment if it’s on the first floor
I can’t be wearing silk pajamas when I answer the door
I can’t have another drink even if I want more
And I can’t make you feel invalid on the scene or ignored
I can’t jog around the city with headphones on my ears
I can’t speak out against my rapist after 35 years
I can’t be taken seriously if I’m holding back tears
And I can never speak earnestly about all these fears cuz…

It sure is a scary time for dudes
Can’t text a girl repeatedly asking for nudes
Can’t make a girl have sex when she’s not in the mood
And what gives her the right to give you attitudeIt sure is a scary time for men
Girls like to act like you’re to blame and they’re the victim
Her dress was short and she was drunk she’s not so innocent
Thank god your dads a judge and you won’t be convicted…

Oh that’s right… oh yeah, yeah;
It’s not such a scary time for boys
They’ve always had the upper hand, they’ve always had a choice
It’s time for women to rise up use our collective voice
The day to vote is Nov 6th so let’s go make some noiseGo vote

Mad props, Lynzy. The future of our nation is in your hands and the hands of young people like you.

dia7nbzvmaafhwx.jpg

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Zumwalt-class Destroyer

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Currently under construction at Bath Iron Works in Maine, the second Zumwalt-class destroyer being readied after sea trials. The first, the USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) was commissioned 15 October 2016, and this one – the Michael Monsoor – is slated for commisisoning in January 2019 (Estimated).

[This photo was taken on a lighthouse-viewing cruise out of Boothbay harbor. Not pictured is the Security tug floating very prominently between us and the ship, making sure our boat didn’t get too close.]

A lot of information about this class of ships can be found at Wikipedia.

The military funding and procurement process is a byzantine labyrinth that few can understand, fraught with politics and pork-barrel legislation and contractors vying for a slot at the government trough. But the story behind this project beggars the imagination, given that the Navy originally wanted 32 of these destroyers, and ultimately settled for three, with $9.6 billion in R&D costs spread over all three ships for a total cost of $7.5 billion per ship.

As if that weren’t bad enough, this class of vessel was designed around an Advanced Gun System, but the Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) that was the only projectile usable turned out to be so expensive after the scale-back of the destroyer program, between, $800,000 and $1 million per shell (per shell!) that the program was cancelled altogether.  Designing a new shell would involve retrofitting the AGS, also unfeasible, and the Navy was left struggling to figure out how to re-purpose an obsoleted multi-billion dollar ship.

For what it’s worth, the ship does have some intriguing qualities, including its ultra-low radar profile, but one is left to wonder how such massive fiscal cock-ups could be allowed to occur.

According to Ed Prince, a political pundit who worked on numerous campaigns, there are five basic reasons for cost overruns in defense contracts.

  1. Congress/military keeps changing the specs. Nothing increases the costs like having to make changes mid-way through production. It also delays the production which increases prices.
  2. Conflicting needs missions of the armament. In an attempt to keep costs down, weapon systems will have to do multiple duties to meet the different demands of the military so instead of a clean, straight-forward system, a much more complicated one gets authorized even if it more costly.
  3. In an effort to curry favor with Congress, weapons manufacturers scatter the development and manufacturing process to as many Congressional districts as possible which is hardly an efficient way to build things and invariably causes over-runs.
  4. The current system often relies on former military personnel who have retired and then gone to work for the defense industry where they can earn many multiples of their military salary. It does not make for efficient oversight.
  5. Reality. If a program is going over-budget, what can the military do? Cancel the project? Presumably, they still want it. That would delay it even longer and that’s assuming that there is another contractor capable of producing the system.

Clearly, there may be a whole host of other reasons, but these seem reasonable to the layman’s eye. And since I’m neither an economist nor a military strategist, I really have no solutions to offer – but as a taxpayer, I know that this kind of expenditure, along with failed projects that have nothing to show for the money spent, rub me the wrong way. (The F-22 Raptor, close to $80 billion spent on 187 aircraft, has seen some service, but remains fraught with operational and training problems.)

Lately, despite 45’s tax cuts (which have been definitively shown to favor the wealthy over the course of the next 10 years), I keep feeling that tax season is creeping more and more in this direction:

2018 Tax Form

Now I know taxes are necessary in any republic the size of the USA, but I wish taxpayers had the right and privilege of indicating where their taxes were going. I’d be tempted to give all my taxes to the arts and education, and let the Navy hold a bake sale for their next advanced technology program.

No, that’s not practical, and the Constitution provides for the Common Defense, so a certain amount to maintain our armed forces is necessary, but I wish our legislators had more fiscal responsibility toward their taxpayers than to the lobbyists and corporations that fill their re-election war chests. That’s why it’s important for concerned citizens who favor progressive government to get their fannies into the voting booths this November, and henceforth forevermore.

In that vein, I realized that just a couple of tweaks to a famous song recorded by Nancy Sinatra makes it very relevant to today’s political landscape (with apologies to Lee Hazelwood!)

You keep saying you got something for me
Something you call yuuuuge but confess
You’ve been a’messin’ where you shouldn’t ‘ve been a’messin’
And now someone else is getting all your best

These booths are made for voting
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these booths are gonna vote all over you.

You keep lyin’ when you oughta be truthin’
You keep losing when you oughta not bet
You keep samin’ when you oughta be a’changin’
Now what’s right is right but you ain’t been right yet

These booths are made for voting
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these booths are gonna vote all over you.

You keep playing where you shouldn’t be playing
And you keep thinking that you’ll never get burnt (HAH)
I just found me a brand new box of matches (YEAH)
And what he knows you ain’t had time to learn

These booths are made for voting
And that’s just what they’ll do
One of these days these booths are gonna vote all over you.

Are you ready, booths? Start start votin’!

The Old Wolf has spoken.