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I GOT SCAMMED BY BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH!!

5 Oct

The “push come to shove” on this scam happened two days ago, but it really started one week earlier.

On the 25th of September, I received a friend request on Facebook from a woman I know.  Because I hadn’t heard from her is so long, I did not realize she was ALREADY in my friend list.  So, thinking nothing of it, I accepted the request.   About an hour later, the woman whose Facebook account had been hacked messaged that it was indeed a scam and not to approve the request; alas, too late for me.  Facebook had removed the account, but a PUP had been downloaded to my computer.

What is a PUP?  The definition:

A PUP (potentially unwanted program) is a program that may be unwanted, despite the possibility that users consented to download it.  PUPs include spyware, adware, and dialers, and are often downloaded in conjunction with a program that the user wants.

What this PUP did was cause a survey to pop up when I accessed my Etsy account on-line the next time I used my computer after the Facebook scam, but I never identified one with the other; why would I?  The survey clearly stated it was being run by and for Etsy.  I don’t sell on Etsy anymore, but I occasionally need something I can only find there.  However, I haven’t been there for maybe a year, so it was plausible in my mind that Etsy would do this.  After I filled out the survey, I was offered a free gift for the cost of shipping only.  I said to myself, sure!  Fuck.  Now the scammers have my credit card number…or maybe not.  I might have used PayPal.  Can’t remember.

On the 2nd of October my laptop suddenly displayed the Blue Screen of Death, a term which is so prevalent in use that it has its own acronym, BSOD.  I have never had or seen a BSOD.  It was a blue screen, so it must be a BSOD.  The one I got looked like this and it looked real to me (people who really know say it’s the wrong color blue and the wrong font…this is way beyond my pay grade!):

fake-blue-screen-of-death-600x400

There is a phone number provided for technical support assistance, which directly follows a Microsoft website URL. Who do you think that phone number will get you?  Microsoft?

I rebooted and the BSOD appeared again…and again…and again…and again.  I could not access the internet, I could not enter Safe Mode, I could not do anything.  I tried various ways to get at least a little information before I became tired and frustrated.  That phone number was looking pretty good.  So I called.

In hind sight, I realize that the person who answered the phone did not offer the name of the company, he just said his name…garbled very badly by his heavily East Indian accent.  But aren’t we all used to dealing with indecipherable language barriers of customer service centers since they starting outsourcing to the Far East?  I thought nothing of it and tried to understand what he was saying.  This took all my concentration, and that aggravation made me agree to things I wouldn’t do in a calm, rational state of mind, because of course the first thing I understand is that he needs remote access to see what is wrong.

I have worked with Microsoft in the past, as well as Dell, and they have both used software to take remote control of my computer to fix stuff.  So I know this is a real, if not normal, technique and, yes, he gets remote access to my computer.  After researching this type of scam, I realize now how easy it is for scammers to run scripts on your remotely controlled computer that display things that aren’t real, like my computer is infected with the Koobface worm.  And about six foreign IPs are accessing my computer RIGHT NOW!  Aggravation turns into FREAKING OUT.

Now, the guy at the number I called says his company can’t fix the problem because it’s in my NETWORK, not my internet network, but my computer network, about which I know nothing.  He tells me I need a special virus removal company to do it and he can get someone on the line right away.  Which he does.

The new guy calls me and assures me he’s going to fix everything…all my data is safe…for $399.99…and that it would cost about $500 to have a local company do it.  In the meantime, the first guy has not relinquished remote control and the second guy just steps in and screens start flying.  The second guy calls me on the phone again and tells me everything is fixed, then hands me over to his manager to arrange payment.

Now I’m calmed down and the weirdness of this whole situation is starting to dawn on me.  The manager, who still has remote control of my computer, writes these elaborate instructions for payment and saves it as a .txt file:

Geek Base LLC

3524 SILVERSIDE ROAD SUITE 35B
WILMINGTON,
DE
19810

TOLL FREE NUMBER : 1-800-929-7218

Billing No:- 302-319-4872

Email : support@geekbase.us

Amount : $399.99
***********************************************************************************
1. Write the check under the name of GEEKBASE LLC
2. Put the check in a regular envelop
3. Paste the printed label on the envelop and write the fedex account number i.e. 216019890 on the envelop
4. Hand over the envelop to the fedex guy.

He even uses my computer to go to FedEx and schedule the pickup.

When I finally have control of my computer again, I am more than a little suspicious.  I immediately start researching “Geek Base” and see they have a BBB rating of “F” and are cited in many on-line scams.  I research BSOD scams and I start feeling very sick.  The scammers now have all my personal and financial data, have probably left another PUP to pop up another BSOD so I come back to them again under the “warranty,” and I am so fucked.

I had immediately re-started my anti-virus program (despite their assurances that I wouldn’t need it because I was now being routed through their SECURE NETWORK) and see that it quarantined FOUR items right before the fake BSOD; two PUPs and two Trojan Downloaders.  I immediately start in-depth scans using my anti-virus provider (ESET), Malwarebytes and SUPERantispy software.  A total of 1,671 “threats” were found…and eliminated.  I then ran IObit Uninstaller and uninstalled anything I didn’t recognize.  I set my personal network firewall in ESET to “interactive” so that I have to approve and set up a rule for EVERY outgoing and incoming communication.  Then I went from site to site revising ALL my passwords and added a master password.

Then I called the billing number and informed the man who answered that I wasn’t going to pay them anything for the scam.  He was really nonchalant, saying that was fine, he had 4,000,000 customers who knew he was legit, and he would cancel the pickup. He tried to guilt me by saying a scammer would have gotten the money up front, would I have paid Microsoft that much to fix the problem, etc.  Asshole.

I didn’t get to bed until 2 a.m., where I spent the night worrying about this major SNAFU.

Today I looked at my credit card statement and saw the charge for the “free” gift.  I called my USAA’s credit card fraud department and told the story in agonizing detail.  She assured me that this happens to smarter people.  She reverted the charge from the fake survey (although I did, in fact, actually receive the “gift”) because that part of the scam is to charge the card each month for a “subscription” they will say I agreed to, and the card was cancelled.

So now I know:

  • Etsy does not use on-line surveys, all their surveys are emailed.
  • Nothing is ever free on-line.
  • Real blue screens of death do not contain telephone numbers.
  • Scammers KNOW that we KNOW that scammers always get their money up front, so now they get their money afterward, and when they don’t get it, they’re not concerned because they know enough people will send in those fucking checks in good faith.
  • Scammers use FedEx to get your check because mailing it in the USPS is mail fraud.
  • They used every terror tactic in the book on me (read this blog for more).

Make sure this DOES NOT HAPPEN to you!

I need a drink.  Maybe two.  Hell, make that three!  Because I know this is not over yet.  I will be watching and worrying for months to come.

 

Duties of the Job: Can’t Pick & Choose

23 Jul

Political correctness, religious rights and discrimination pouncing have reached a new low of ridiculousness.

A woman interviewing for a job categorically states that she refuses to do one of the job duties.  Would you hire someone who clearly states they won’t do ALL of the duties required to do the job.  Aren’t the duties actually the job?

Well, she didn’t get hired (duh!) and now she’s suing the employer on the basis of religious discrimination.  WTF?  Oh, yeah, because she can’t sue on the basis that she refused to do the job as required.

She has a religious aversion to birth control pills, yet part of the job required her to write prescriptions for those who ask for birth control pills.  I’m fine with her religious aversion, but why would someone with such an attitude want a job that requires them to do the very thing they are against?

I have an aversion to the Hooters’ uniform.  One, I think it’s an ugly color and, two, they don’t have one big enough to fit me.  So, should I march my fat ass down to Hooters, ask for a job but tell them I refuse to wear the uniform (I’ll wear what I damn well please!), and then be surprised when they don’t hire me?  Of course not!  Instead of admitting that I can’t do all the job requirements, I’m going to sue Hooters on the basis of weight discrimination. And waste a lot of tax payer dollars while I’m about it.

Now, if I applied for the Hooters job, didn’t say anything about the uniform not fitting, in fact was eager to wear their humiliating uniform, and the manager told me, “We don’t hire people as heavy as you,” then my lawyer would definitely be in contact and my bank account would be looking pretty healthy.

As the article succinctly states:

[She] feels that a woman’s right to have access to birth control of their own choosing when going to a medical facility is trumped by her religious freedom to persecute women for taking such a proactive approach to their health, and that by not hiring her the clinic is violating her religious freedom to follow through on that condemnation.

The employer has the right to decide what skills, knowledge and abilities are required to do the job, as well as what makes up the duties of the job (as long as such duties are not illegal and birth control pills are legal).  If a job seeker doesn’t have the skills, knowledge or ability to do the job, they obviously won’t be hired.  And if a job seeker patently refuses to do any part of the job, well, obviously no job for that jobless idiot.  If her religious views hadn’t been known before she got the job and she then refused to do what she’d been hired to do (i.e., write birth control pill prescriptions), she would naturally be fired for non-performance.
The concept is the same.  Either way, no job for her and “imbecile” needs to be stamped on her forehead.MeanPharmacist-300x263Court dismissed!

Bubble Gum Thoughts

20 Mar

Odd questions occur to me while I’m brushing my teeth; here’s yesterday’s connundrum:

Trident gum commercials claim that it is recommended by 4 out of 5 dentist for their patients who already chew gum.  The ad doesn’t claim that 4 out of 5 dentists recommend that all their patients should chew gum.

Does this mean that chewing gum is not recommended by dentists?  Is it a case of Trident claiming to be the lesser evil for people who already have a habit that dentist’s discourage?

I hated and despised my marketing course in college, and I still hate and despise the wiggle wording used by the advertising agency.  I think advertisement jockeys are unethical, well-paid liars.

Obviously I find brushing my teeth to be totally boring!

Lying Pinocchio

 

Baseball Spits!

18 Sep

My Grandmother loves to watch sports on TV, especially baseball and basketball.  She follows the Colorado Rockies and the Utah Jazz.  Sometimes I will watch the Rockies with her, and I haven’t yet found a single player, including among their opponents, who does not spit.

What they are chewing and what they are spitting is of little relevance to me.  I can’t stand to watch them do it!  And they do it everywhere.  The pitcher’s mound, the bull pen, the dugout (don’t get me started on what else has hit the floor there; it’s a veritable pig’s pen of trash), while playing on the field, running through the bases, or watching from the side lines.  No place is exempt from gobs of disgusting saliva of varying consistency and color.

The players, for the most part, look like pretty decent, fairly clean men…until they spit.  Is it a nervous thing?  I’ve noted some of the weird rituals the players engage in, from the way they swing their bat before bringing it to bear on the ball to the finger licking, head pounding, ball rubbing, cap adjusting and shoulder shrugging of different pitchers, to say nothing of the mitt-over-the-mouth conferences on the mound.

I’d like baseball a lot more if the guys would keep their spit to themselves!cheersign

Utah: So Many Wrongs, Too Little Rights

3 Sep

I’m tempted to say that what’s wrong with Utah is Mormons, but it’s not actually the people, it’s their church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (or LDS).  I now find myself living in the sovereign Country of LDS (known also as Utah).

I have actually lived in Utah before.  I attended East Elementary School for Kindergarten and the 6th Grade, I attended Cedar City Junior High for grades 7 through 9, and I attended Cedar City High School for grades 11 and 12.  Then I did a year of study at Southern Utah State College (now Southern Utah University).  Having spent at least 3 years as a semi-adult in Utah, one would think I’d be better informed about the laws and politics that govern here.  Not so, grasshopper!

If you think the laws and politics of your particular piece of the United States of America is screwy, think on these gems that recently came to light for me (and no, these were  not miraculous visions):

First,  the LDS has forbidden its members to consume alcohol.  Personally, I’ve seen many an Elder of the LDS Church riding along the lonely dirt roads that criss-cross the dusty desert that is Cedar Valley, grimly clutching a brown bag tightly twisted at the neck, eyes bleary and driving skills questionable.  We called these men Jack Mormons:  they stood up in Church every Sunday and gave their Testimony, outwardly appearing holier than thou non-LDS cretins, their guilty secret locked away until their next forage into the land of demons.  So, yes, some Mormons drink, and they drink alcohol.  Beer is sold in convenience stores, grocery stores, and Wal-Mart.  Those establishments are most probably owned by Mormons, but they are not owned by the Church or the State.

If you want to buy alcohol that’s not beer, some queer rules come into play.  If an eating establishment has a liquor license, you are not allowed to imbibe any liquor until you have (1) been seated and (2) placed an order for food.  If there’s a waiting period for a table and a server, you have to bare-knuckle the time DRY.  No quiet cocktail while you patiently wait.  Personally, if I have to wait to be seated and served, I want a damn drink (or two).  Now, if you do not want to suffer through the restaurant/liquor nightmare, you are free to consume liquor in your own home.  Simply visit your local liquor store.  As in singular liquor store.  Which is owned by…the State.  Yes, you read that correctly:  State owned, run and operated.  The State of LDS alcohol-hating Mormons.  Who condemn liquor as evil on one hand and then profit from it on the other by selling it to the heathens.  It’s interesting being a heathen here in the Country of LDS.

But the oddities don’t end there.  Let me illustrate for you the principle of “separation of church and state” in the Country of LDS.  You have heard the phrase “separation of church and state”, haven’t you.  You may recall that the Puritans left England in 1609 so they could practice their choice of religion.  The 1559 Act of Uniformity required all British citizens to attend services and follow the traditions of the Church of England.  The Puritans strongly disagreed with some aspects of the Church of England and so were executed for disobeying the Act of Uniformity when they practiced their Protestant religion.  Although King James eventually ended the practice of executing Puritans, the Puritans still found themselves hated by society.  The Act of Uniformity is the ultimate combination of Church and State, wherein the ruling body (in this case royalty) governed not only the legal system, but also the spiritual system.

The freedom to practice one’s religion was firmly established by the First Amendment to the Constitution, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. ”  Neither the Constitution nor any other founding document of democracy in America contains the words “separation of church and state,” so where did the phrase originate?

In 1801, the Baptists heard a rumor that the Congregationalist denomination was about to be made the National denomination, which distressed the Baptists, as it should have.  After firing off a letter to President Thomas Jefferson voicing their concern, Jefferson wrote back on January 1, 1802, assuring them that “the First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state.”  His letter explained that the First Amendment prevented the government from establishing a national denomination; further, it protected the church from government control.  Later the Supreme Court identified potential activities, when occurring under the name of “religion,” allowing government interference, such as human sacrifice, bigamy or polygamy, the advocation of immorality or licentiousness, etc., since such activities were deemed to threaten public peace and safety.  Bottom line:  The Government would not interfere with orthodox religious practices.

And what’s good for the goose is good for the gander:  if religion is protected from government control, the government is protected from religious control.  This is why there is such a hullabaloo about the inclusion of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, President George Bush’s promotion of his “faith-based initiative” along with his overtly religious tone, the claim that “America is a Christian nation founded on Christianity,” and whether “In God We Trust” should appear on our money, as well as whether “God” should be referenced in federal oaths, and other things of this nature.  Throw into our melting pot of a country that religions other than Christianity exist, are orthodox, and are practiced by millions just to make the hullabaloo a bit louder.

In the Country of LDS, however, there are no prohibitions against mingling church and state.  A case in point is a government-produced, government-funded and mailed newsletter for Enoch City that arrived in our mailbox a few days ago.

The short story is that the City of Enoch has decided to raise taxes, “Because our city has a shortage in excess of $350,000 to cover just the basic services that are now provided, it has necessitated the need for an increase in property tax to offset this shortfall.  Our city can no longer afford to use monies from their savings account to cover this shortfall.”  Understandably, many Enoch citizens are unhappy about this and started a petition to put the budget on hold at the 2012/2013 limits until November 2015.  The governing body of Enoch, our City Council Members, issued an “URGENT NOTICE FOR ENOCH RESIDENTS!!” warning them away from this petition.

Councilman Mike Olenslager went so far as to go on record with the following admonition:

With all the contention going on about the tax issue there are a lot of lies being spread on social media.  We all know how to find and know the truth of anything if we seek out the answers in the scriptures and find counseling from our spiritual leaders.  Lies and hate destroy neighbors and undermine the love and peace we strive for in our community.  Please seek out the truth before you judge.

Essentially, a government official, in an official government communiqué, is telling us that the answers to the issue of raising taxes in Enoch, Utah, is spelled out in the the scriptures of God from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including the Holy Bible and Book of Mormon.  I’ve read both of these pieces of literature and, surprisingly for Councilman Olenslager, none of the authors of these works of literature had the foresight to insert a word or two about raising taxes in Enoch City in the year 2014.  However, I am certain that the spiritual leaders of the Country of LDS are surely able to “counsel” anyone unwise enough to let someone else tell them what to think.

And what about that dipping into the City’s savings account?  Why are they dipping into a savings account that is meant for emergencies, not “basic services”?  What exactly is going to be lost if property taxes aren’t raised?  Here’s the list provided by the URGENT NOTICE:

  • Snow removal and road maintenance
  • Remediation of drainage problems
  • Street lights
  • Parks
  • Library
  • T-ball, coach pitch, soccer, and other recreational activities
  • Fourth of July fireworks and Fun Run
  • Public safety and animal control

In my humble opinion, parks, t-ball, coach pitch (whatever the hell that is), soccer, other recreational activities, fireworks and a “fun run” are not basic services.  Neither is “chip sealing,” where a thin film of heated asphalt liquid is sprayed on the road surface, followed by the placement of small “chips,” when less expensive crack sealing will suffice, rewarding residents with credit on their utility bill for winning “Yard of the Month,” funding a “beautification day” to collect yard debris and weeds, and using a government newsletter to send a religious message.

But, of course, this is the sovereign country of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and you just don’t question or argue with God.  Unless you’re a heathen and a pagan.  We question and argue every chance we get!

So if you’re living in this “state is church/church is state” soup and it ain’t to your liking, be ready to put plenty of salt (and probably a bit of lemon) in your bowl or, better yet, eat a lot of wholesome, green salad (like the faeries).pissedoffsign

A&F CEO Mike Jeffries: One Uncool Dude

17 May

I’ve never seen, much less been in, an Abercrombie and Fitch store, and I’m pretty much against “politically correct” mania, but even I can agree that the “current” CEO of A&F, an advertising nightmare named Mike Jeffries, recently exercised his fugly facial muscles and expelled into the world a foul breath of pollution that wasn’t just politically incorrect, but also insanely stupid.  Spitting in the faces of 80% of the world’s population is a very poor marketing strategy, especially when his own less-than-charming appearance puts him smack dab in the middle of that 80% (take a look at this mug!):

CEO

I’m not the only one who finds this dude disgusting; Kirsty Alley is spitting mad.  The gentleman in the following video, however, has hit upon the perfect way to send this uncool dude an unforgettable message:

Some people are just too dumb to be merely stupid; this dude is clearly “deaf” to reality, but he’s not actually as “dumb” as I’d prefer.  Obviously, someone should have hit his “mute” button, right before they kicked his loser butt to the a filthy street; Skid Row probably wouldn’t even take him.  Poor “current” A&F CEO jerk; can’t wait to see who replaces him.

AFCEOSign

IRS E-File Security Improves

19 Feb

Last year I was a victim of tax return fraud, and through the IRS’s Taxpayer Advocate Service (blessed as I am by both Disability and Financial Hardship) I was able to clear up the matter and receive my refund before the end of summer.  I have read that some people have waited two years or more, or are still waiting.

The thief who vandalized my TurboTax return was able to do so by the method I described here.  If you forgot your 5-number PIN, which is required to submit your return electronically, all you had to do was enter a zero as the first number and any other 4 numbers of your choice!  I know this was done to my 2011 tax return because TurboTax data shows the thief first submitted the return with a PIN that was rejected, and within minutes re-submitted the return with five zeroes as the PIN.

I complained about this idiotic IRS-mandated solution (according to TurboTax) to every level of the IRS I could reach.  Why, I asked, were PINs not governed by the same security measures as are used by every website on the Internet that uses passwords?  At no other website would I be able to enter zeroes (or any other substitution) in place of my password and be able to gain access to my account!  Indeed not!  Questions are asked to previously supplied answers and the password (or the ability to change the password) are sent to the email address on file.  Why should a tax payer not be required to undergo the same security measures to get their forgotten PIN?  The question is so ludicrous, it seems impossible that the IRS irresponsibly allowed the practice.

When I filed my taxes this year, not only was I required to input a special Identity Protection PIN provided by the IRS as a result of the theft in 2011 (this PIN is totally separate from the PIN referred to above), when I reached the section where the old 5-number PIN would have played its role, I was required to send information to the IRS via a web form or to call them for help.  Because the web form required information from last year’s return, and since the fraudulent return was received first, the fraudulent information had to be entered.  Since I no longer had my notes on what the thief had used as my address  and email last year, and most importantly did not have the AGI amount from last year, I could not avail myself of satisfying the requirement electronically.  I had to call the IRS.  After interminable treatments of elevator musak and being passed to special agents who never answered, I finally chanced upon an IRS employee on my third attempt who provided me with the bogus information (but only after I satisfied her that I was, indeed, who I claimed to be) needed to jump the final hurdle.

Returns submitted with the extra Identity Protection PIN will ensure that the IRS actually looks at my submission to see if it is a forgery before processing the return, no matter how the return was submitted.  This is a comfort, certainly, but why does the IRS not do this automatically for all returns?  Certainly, at the very least, critical data (like name, address, SSN and dollar amounts) should be electronically checked against the IRS records and forms submitted by employers and banks, etc.

And just think, the IRS finally plugged this security hole after only twelve years (IRS e-file became operational nationwide and 4.2 million returns were filed electronically in 1990) and the loss of who knows how many millions of tax payer dollars.  Have stupidity and incompetence actually been replaced by intelligence and proactivity?

Only the IRS response to the next method of theft will tell that tale, because we all know thieves are one step ahead of the game and can turn a ounce of protection into an opportunity to cause havoc, commit mayhem and steal our money.TaxFairy

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