Category Archives: Deception

Update your iPhone right now

iPhone Update Version 9.3.5A chain of Zero-day exploits was used to target a human-rights defender in the United Arab Emirates.  The researchers describe the process of simply texting a link to an iPhone, allowing them to remotely install malicious spyware to any iPhone from iOS 7 to the brand new iOS 9.3.4! Remotely jail-breaking an iPhone from a link or SMS is about the worst kind of exploit you can have.

And there is, of course, no doubt that OUR government makes use of these kind of back-doors all day long, but with this one being discussed in the wild, it is only a matter of time before it spreads like wildfire. Apple responded promptly to the notification given by the research team, and have pushed iOS 9.3.5 in response.

Anyway, go to: Settings->General->Software Update and get 9.3.5!

 

The best eFax alternative: FaxZero

Fax Zero - The best eFax alternativeIf you’ve ever tried using eFax, you’ve probably learned to hate it by now. Between their unscrupulous billing practices, and their outrageous price for fax services, they are now labeled as nothing more than a huge scam in my book.

These days, I only need to send a fax two or three times per year.  Nobody I know owns a fax machine (let alone a copper telephone line to send it over).  The biggest problem, however, was that until recently, there was no good alternative to eFax.

Now, like a bright ray of light descending from the heavens, we have faxZERO.com. Not only is their process simple, clean, quick and easy, but it is also…. FREE! No trial periods, no hidden fees… just FREE for faxes that are 3 pages or less.  If you have more than 3 pages to send, the cost is a fixed $1.99 per fax.

I do not make any commision with this post… I am just a happy customer after using their service for the first time today.

I can’t wait for the day that fax machines exist only in museums, but until then, just save yourself a HUGE hassle with eFax and use faxZero.

 

How to get your money back from eFax

eFax is a huge scam. That isn’t news to anyone. Between the harassing calls from eFax and their shady billing practices, I’m not sure how they are still in business. After trialing their service, and then cancelling within my trial, I received a cancel confirmation email. But this didn’t stop eFax (J2 Global Inc) from charging my credit card 15 days later (charge appeared as “J2 *EFAX PLUS SERVICE 323-817-3205 CA”).

efax_charge

The chat and phone support provided by eFax is awful, and you won’t get anywhere by contacting them. If eFax scammed you, here’s how to get your money back very quickly:

  1. Document any contact with eFax support. I saved the chat logs, and all emails from them.
  2. Request a refund with eFax: If eFax wrongly charged your card, request a refund via their online chat. Save this chat log by copying and pasting. If you’d rather call, the number is 800-287-3499. Keep in mind you can not legally record the conversation without telling the other party on the phone.
  3. Submit a BBB complaint: You need to do this on the local BBB site. For J2/eFax, it is the LA office. First, look up the company using this information: J2 Global, Inc – 6922 Hollywood Blvd. Suite 500, Hollywood, CA 90028. Phone: 888-760-1112. Be very detailed. Outline the date that you signed up, the date that you cancelled, and when your card was charged. Demand that the company issue a full refund and close your account as a resolution.
  4. Do a charge-back: After submitting the complaint, I got a full refund to my card the very next day. If you do not get any results with the BBB after a week, or if you don’t even want to bother with any of it, just contact your credit card company and dispute the charge. If you have a half-way-decent credit card (Amex), they’ll just refund your money without too many questions.
  5. Small claims court: If you really want to screw with this company and have a well-documented case, consider a small claims case. You can file in your local court (you don’t need to fly to California). Small claims courts are designed to proceed without lawyers, so just bring your documented case. The company may ask for the case to be moved to a higher-level court, but it will at the very least create a headache for them.

Here is the response received from eFax within 24 hours of filing the BBB complaint:

Our customer contact data shows that the consumer had contacted eFax® support via chat on December 18, 2012, and requested to close his account. However, due to anomaly the cancellation was not completed and the consumer mistakenly incurred a charge. We have since corrected the error and completed the closure of the consumer’s account. Additionally, we processed a refund of $16.95 (consisting of all charges incurred) to the consumer’s affected credit card. The Collection Number for the reimbursement is XXXXXXX. The refund should be reflected on the consumer’s account shortly and is dependent on the consumer’s credit card provider. We apologize for any misunderstanding and any inconvenience it may have caused. We appreciate the consumer’s patience, as well as understanding in this matter.

How to nuke someone’s DropBox

dropboxDoes your worst enemy have a Dropbox account? This nasty trick may be your path to digital revenge, if your revenge is worth 800 dollars. This information is for hypothetical argument.  Do not do this in real life.

  1. Go get a DropBox for Teams account.
  2. Invite your enemy to the Team account… they will be enticed by the 1+ TB space. If they don’t accept the invite, you’re SOL.
  3. After they accept the invite, log in and revoke their access to your team. This will delete not just their team account, but their entire personal dropbox account as well! 

This is not a bug, hack or exploit, but rather a documented function of how this is supposed to work. Use at your own risk…. if your revenge is really worth $800.

Sign up for eFax, get harassing calls from 323-860-9200

eFax is a ScamLast night I signed up for a free trial of eFax. I only needed to receive one fax, so the free trial seemed like a good option.

This morning, at 7:30am I started receiving calls from (323) 860-9200. I didn’t answer any of them, and each call resulted in a voicemail about 30 seconds in length, of someone in a call center breathing.

I don’t know what this is about, but there is absolutely no reason for this company to be calling me at 7:30am roughly 10 hours after I signed up for a FREE 30 day trial.

My amusing chat with them this morning:

You are now chatting with ‘Stanley K.’
Stanley K.: Hello, David. Welcome to online Fax support. I am Stanley Kox, your online Live Support Representative. How may I assist you?
David: I’ve been receiving repeated phone calls from an eFax number this morning, since signing up for my free trial. 
David: What is prompting these early morning (7:30am) phone calls from your company?
Stanley K.: I absolutely understand your concern and sincerely apologize for the difficulty that you have encountered.
Stanley K.: We need to make verification to make sure that the accounts belong to the customer or not.
Stanley K.: If the account does not belong to you then we go ahead and close the account to avoid any future issues.
David: So, you need to do this in addition to all of hte information and valid credit card information I’ve already provided? 
David: no other company in the world that I’ve ever dealt with does this
Stanley K.: We are sorry, that you received the calls in the early morning.
Stanley K.: We will make sure that it will not happen again.

I think I’ll just cancel. It isn’t worth the early morning wake up call!

Walmart.com Cancels ALL SWTOR pre-orders

Like the procrastinator that I am, I didn’t pre-order SWTOR (Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG) in time to get it from my usual source, Amazon.  This left me with only several options to get my hands on a copy of the Collectors Edition. I chose Walmart and I chose poorly.

On October 21 I made my purchase. They mailed my early access game code, and I’ve already registered it with my account.  They changed my card the FULL amount of the game at that time.

Without having received email notification, or ANY kind of notification for that matter, I saw that my order has been cancelled on Wamart.com.  How nice.

Right now, many folks in the SWTOR forum thread created about this are calling it a computer glitch that will be rectified by the 9th, but we shall see.

I ordered another copy just now through Newegg.com, but I don’t have high hopes for either situation – how can Newegg still have copies to sell? Are they going to do the same thing?  Will update as I get more info.

 

Carnival Cruise Voucher Scam

Carnival Cruise Voucher ScamGot this letter today, and at first glance it looked fairly legit. This scam company even used the Carnival Cruises and US Airlines logos. The letter claimed that I have been “personally chosen” to receive a free cruise, including airfare. Of course, this is a scam. Stay far away.

When I called the number listed, 877-242-0043, there were many rings, and finally a woman answered the phone. I don’t recall her using a company name to answer the phone. Anyway, she told me that the letter I received was from a local time-share company (Tranquility Travel). She asked me about 4 or 5 questions about me to made sure I qualified, then tried to schedule an appointment for a 90 minute timeshare presentation. That’s all I needed to hear. Knowing full well that these high-pressure sales pitches are usually run by crooked companies and dishonest people, I said no thanks and hung up the phone.

After doing some more research on the company responsible for this letter, Tranquility Travel, it is clear that this is all just one big rip-off. Save yourself the time and money. If you receive one of these, you’re better off shredding it.

Here is a transcript of the letter:

[NAME]

Congratulations! Pack your bags. In celebration of our Anniversary, you have been personally chosen to receive at your request a COMPLIMENTARY 8 DAY / 7 NIGHT CRUISE for 2 adults, leaving from many major ports across the United States!!

Your room, meals, snacks, activities, and entertainment are all included while on board.

Call Now!

1-877-242-0043

Monday-Sunday 8am – 9pm

 

Tracking Number: 3810

 

Please Verify our records by responding within 48 hours and you will also receive 2 Complimentary Airfares to anywhere in the Continental U.S.!

AVG Thinks Portal 2 is a virus

Portal 2 VirusEither GLaDOS is messing with me, or I need to replace my antivirus software.

After doing some digging, turns out that AVG is just reporting it as a false-positive.

Nothing else on my system was infected, and this game wasn’t pirated, so there’s no way this could be a real threat.  I’ve done just fine with AVG for quite a few years, but this really bugs me. Time to check out Avast!

7 Ways to spot a fake review

The spread of fake online reviews of products or businesses is becoming a real problem, as outlined in a recent NYT article.  There are sites popping up that offer a pay-for-review service, where for a fee, they will add a positive review to Amazon, Google, Yelp, etc.

How to spot a fake reviewHere are seven ways to spot a fake review:

1.  Look at the history of the user posting a positive review – Did the user post other positive reviews of businesses unrelated to the one you’re looking at? If there was only one glowing review for a single product or business, it is most likely a fake review. Dig even further and look to make sure the account history makes sense.  Reviews for business in many different geographical location should also set off your fake-review alarm.

2. The review states who they were with – Research has shown reviews that start out by telling the reader who they experienced the product/business with are more often fake.

3. The review explicitly states the name and location of the product or business –  Reviews that contain sentences like “this was our first time visiting Taco Time in Mobile, Alabama” have a higher likelihood to be fake.

4. The review uses “I” and “me” – Fake reviews tend to overuse the first-person singular.

5. Too many adverbs – The overuse of the words “very”, “really” may indicate a fake review.

6. Too many verbs in the review – This one may be tough to spot, but overuse of verbs (“go”, “eat”, “wait”, “get”) in general happens more often in fake reviews.

7. Use of “!” or “!!!!” – Doing this, and adding positive emotion into the review may give away a fake review.  Research shows that real reviews contain less positive emotion than fake ones.

The source of this information is a paper published by Cornell University department of Computer Science.