Startup that raised $197 million appears to have plagiarized the words, images, and design of a competitor

A well-funded startup called Hims, which sells subscriptions to generic viagra and cialis, launched a digital doctor's visit service so people can get a prescription without having to visit a doctor. Weirdly, it looks like they lifted almost everything from the website of a competitor, called Roman. Check out the Medium article that's loaded with examples of the swipes here, which was written by the cofounder of Roman. Read the rest

Report: UK "Ransomware consultants" Red Mosquito promise to unlock your data, but they're just paying off the criminals (and charging you a markup!)

Last month, Propublica published a blockbuster investigative report on companies that claimed they could help you get your ransomware-locked data back, but who were secretly just paying off the criminals -- one company got so good at it that ransomware criminals started to refer their victims to them. Read the rest

Samantha Bee looks at Facebook propagated multilevel marketing

Multilevel marketing companies are legal pyramid schemes that screw over gullible, desperate people who believe they'll make money by convincing other desperate people to convince other desperate people to fork over money to the people at the top of the pyramid. Samantha Bee does a great job exposing these shady outfits who happily ruin people's lives. Read the rest

Chase credit cards quietly reintroduce the binding arbitration clauses they were forced to eliminate a decade ago

Binding arbitration is a way for corporations to force you to surrender your legal rights as a condition of doing business, relegating you to seeking redress for breaches and harms by going before a paid arbitrator who is in the employ of the company that harmed you, and who almost always sides with their employer. Read the rest

Federal lawsuit calls college textbook/ebook packages a "scam"

The Virginia Pirate Corporation is a startup that brokers sales of used textbooks at colleges; they're suing North Charleston, SC's Trident Technical College over its inclusion of textbook fees in tuition, meaning that students will have already paid for new textbooks when they pay their tuition. Read the rest

Grifty "information security" companies promised they could decrypt ransomware-locked computers, but they were just quietly paying the ransoms

Ransomware has been around since the late 1980s, but it got a massive shot in the arm when leaked NSA cyberweapons were merged with existing strains of ransomware, with new payment mechanisms that used cryptocurrencies, leading to multiple ransomware epidemics that locked up businesses, hospitals, schools, and more (and then there are the state-level cyberattacks that pretend to be ransomware). Read the rest

The eyeglass industry is a ripoff, with "markups often approaching 1,000%"

I buy my eyeglasses online, paying about $30 a pair (I use Optical4Less, though there are many other online prescription eyeglass stores with equally low prices). I've always suspected brick and mortar eyeglass shops to be a ripoff, and this excellent LA Times article by David Lazurus confirmed my suspicions.

[E. Dean Butler, the founder of LensCrafters] said he recently visited factories in China where many glasses for the U.S. market are manufactured. Improved technology has made prices even lower than what Dahan recalled.

“You can get amazingly good frames, with a Warby Parker level of quality, for $4 to $8,” Butler said. “For $15, you can get designer-quality frames, like what you’d get from Prada.”

And lenses? “You can buy absolutely first-quality lenses for $1.25 apiece,” Butler said.

Yet those same frames and lenses might sell in the United States for $800.

Butler laughed. “I know,” he said. “It’s ridiculous. It’s a complete rip-off.”

Image: Iryna Inshyna/Shutterstock Read the rest

The TRUE Fees Act: legislative proposal to force cable/ISP companies to advertise the true cost of their services, inclusive of surcharges

The Truth-In-Billing, Remedies, and User Empowerment over Fees Act [TRUE Fees] has been introduced by Rep Anna Eshoo [D-CA] and Sen Ed Markey [D-MA]; if passed, it will force ISPs and cable operators to advertise the true costs of their packages, including all surcharges. Read the rest

A service to help airline passengers get compensated for lost bags, delays, cancellations and overbookings

Airhelp is a service that helps airline passengers in 30 countries file claims (for delays, lost bags, overbookings, and cancellations) structured to increase the likelihood of paying out; the bots have made $930m in successful claims to date, and the company behind it only collects a commission when a claim succeeds. Read the rest

Charter slashes network spending by $2B, but makes up for it by charging its customers more

When Trump FCC Chairman (and former telcoms executive) Ajit Pai murdered Net Neutrality, he told us the slaughter was necessary, otherwise the ISPs wouldn't invest in their networks. Read the rest

Cut the cord NOW: Cable bills are up 50% since 2010

My local cable monopoly is Spectrum, part of Charter, and I refuse to get anything except internet service through them (alas, my city, Burbank, will not sell me access to our amazing, 100GB/s fiber network, which runs directly under my house, because they have a deal with Charter not to connect any non-commercial-zoned properties to our muni fiber). Read the rest

US Customs is seizing refurbished Apple batteries and calling them "counterfeits"

Louis Rossman is one of the highest-profile independent Apple repair technicians, famous in part for fixing devices that Apple has declared to have reached their end-of-life, diverting these devices from landfill and keeping them in the hands of the people who paid good money for them. Read the rest

Apple investigated by CBC news for overpriced repair charges

Canada's CBC News went into Apple Stores with hidden cameras and discovered that the Geniuses there were especially smart when it came to ripping off customers who brought their equipment in for repair. In some cases the Geniuses told customers that they should buy a new computer, phone, or iPad rather than fix their broken one, even though the repair was a lot cheaper. In this video, we see an Apple Genius tell a reporter that a repair would $1100 and $100 in labor. The reporter took the computer to an independent repair technician, who removed the case and fixed the computer by straightening a bent pin. Read the rest

Predatory journals aren't just a scam: they're also how quacks and corporate shills sciencewash their bullshit

Inside the Fake Science Factory (German/English subtitles) documents Svea Eckert and team's years of investigation into predatory journals and the criminals behind them. Read the rest

Florida's prisons change tech providers, wipe out $11.2m worth of music purchased by prisoners

For seven years, Florida state inmates could buy a $100 MP3 player from Access Corrections, the prisons' exclusive provider, and stock it with MP3s that cost $1.70 -- nearly double the going rate in the free world. Read the rest

AT&T stands to make $800,000,000 more by sneakily tripling a bullshit "administrative fee"

When the DoJ greenlit the merger of AT&T and Time-Warner, they blessed a union that would see one of technology's most notorious monopolists get even bigger, with the presumption that scaling up to unimaginable size would curb a terrible company's worst abuses. Read the rest

It's often cheaper to pay cash for your prescriptions rather than the co-pay, but the pharmacy is legally prohibited from suggesting it

America's health care is totally screwed up, Part Ten Gazillion: in many cases, the medicines your doctor prescribes are cheaper than the co-pay your health insurance charges, which means that if you just buy the meds instead of charging them to insurance, you save money. Read the rest

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