Learning from Baltimore's disaster, Florida city will pay criminals $600,000 to get free of ransomware attack

The city council of Riviera Beach, Florida has voted unanimously to pay $600,000 to criminals who seized control of the city's computers through a ransomware attack, after three weeks of being locked out of the city systems (the city has also voted to spend $1m replacing its computers). Read the rest

Google Maps is still overrun with scammers pretending to be local businesses, and Google's profiting from them

We bought a house in 2018 and have been renovating it pretty much constantly ever since: I've had to call out movers, emergency plumbers and electricians, find HVAC repairpeople, hire locksmiths, contract with a roofer, etc etc. Despite the longstanding and serious problems with fraud on Google Maps, I often start my search there, because I am an idiot, because 100% of the time, Google Maps sends me to a scammer. One hundred percent. Read the rest

Porno copyright troll sentenced to 14 years: "a wrecking ball to trust in the administration of justice"

For years, Paul Hansmeier terrorized internet users through his copyright trolling racket Prenda Law, evading the law through shell companies and fraud, until, finally, he was brought to justice and pleaded guilty last August. Read the rest

Weekend SIM-swapping blitz targets US cryptocurrency holders

SIM swapping attacks involve tricking or bribing a phone company into assigning someone else's phone number to you; once you have the number, you can intercept SMS-based two-factor authentication messages and use them to take over accounts. Read the rest

Amazon's facial recognition fear crusade ramps up: now they're paying Facebook to show you pictures of suspected criminals to scare you into getting a surveillance doorbell

Amazon's Ring doorbells are surveillance devices that conduct round-the-clock video surveillance of your neighborhood, automatically flagging "suspicious" faces and bombarding you and your neighbors with alerts using an app called "Neighbors"; it's a marriage of Amazon's Internet of Things platform with its "Rekognition" facial recognition tool, which it has marketed aggressively to cities, law enforcement, ICE, businesses and everyday customers as a security measure that can help ID bad guys, despite the absence of a database identifying which faces belong to good people and which faces belong to bad people. Read the rest

Cops responding to burglary call confronted by complete animal

What better joke about American policing could be made than demanding "let me see your hands" of a deer? Read the rest

New York City seizes 46 ice cream trucks

In a crackdown named "Operation Meltdown", New York City authorities have seized 46 ice cream trucks with unpaid fines.

To get away with not paying fines, the release said, the operators created dozens of "shell" companies and systematically re-registered trucks at the Department of Motor Vehicles under the names of different corporations. By the time the city's finance department would try to collect on a debt, there would be no trace of the offending company, according to the news release.

Previously in Ice Cream Wars:

· Ice cream truck drivers at war · Mr Yummy battles Mr Whippy in Blackburn Ice Cream War · The Glasgow Ice Cream Wars [links to the Wikipedia article] Read the rest

That woman who got fired for comparing Michelle Obama to an ape is now going to jail for defrauding FEMA

In 2016, Pamela Taylor lost her job as director of the Clay County (WV) Development Corporation when she posted a Facebook update that read, "It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I'm tired of seeing a Ape in heels." Read the rest

YouTube jackass sentenced to prison for giving homeless man an Oreo filled with toothpaste

Spanish YouTube sensation Kanghua Ren  (aka ReSet) thought it would be funny to give a homeless man an Oreo cookie with a toothpaste filling. The video showed the man eating the cookie and vomiting afterwards. Many people who watched the video were disgusted and ReSet found himself on the receiving end of a shame campaign. After trying to buy his way out of trouble, ReSet was arrested and tried. He explained to the judge that the cruel stunt wasn't really his fault, but that he was only giving his audience what they demanded: “I do things to mount a show: People like what is morbid,” he said.

From The New York Times:

Mr. Ren, who was 19 at the time, filmed himself in early 2017 replacing the cream inside the cookies with toothpaste after being challenged by one of his 1.2 million followers to carry out the prank. He gave them to the homeless man outside a supermarket, along with a €20 bill. The homeless man was identified only as Gheorge L., a man in his early 50s who was born in Romania and who once worked as a shepherd before migrating to Barcelona, according to the newspaper El País. The homeless man vomited after eating the cookie.

After the posting of the video prompted widespread condemnation, Mr. Ren replaced it with one in which he visited the homeless man again and offered him another €20 bill. According to the police, he later offered €300 to the daughter of his victim in return for not filing a lawsuit.

Read the rest

Assange "too ill" for court hearing, says lawyer

Julian Assange, imprisoned at Belmarsh on a 50-week sentence for jumping bail, was said by his lawyer to be too ill to appear by video link at a court hearing Thursday. The WikiLeaks founder is fighting extradition to the United States over the site's publication of classified U.S. government information.

According to WikiLeaks, Assange has been moved to the medical ward in jail.

A spokesman for the whistleblowing website said it had "grave concerns" about Assange's health. "During the seven weeks in Belmarsh his health has continued to deteriorate and he has dramatically lost weight," the spokesman said.

"Defence lawyer for Assange, Per Samuelson, said that Julian Assange's health state last Friday was such 'that it was not possible to conduct a normal conversation with him'."

Has anyone ever conducted a normal conversation with him? Read the rest

No apology from lawmaker charged with punching wife in face

Douglas McLeod, (R-Lucedale), a Mississippi state representative accused of punching his wife in the face after she failed to quickly undress for sex, has released dual his-n-hers statements in which he does not apologize and in which she doesn't "claim to be perfect."

He complains of "fabrications and misrepresentations", but doesn't deny what he's accused of:

I would like to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to the friends, family and neighbors who have reached out in support and have offered their thoughts and prayers in this matter. While I would like to respond to some of the many fabrications and misrepresentations being reported and published by select media outlets and on social media, I will reserve addressing these until after the process is complete. Our family appreciates your continued thoughts and prayers and ask that our privacy be respected until such time as the facts are known.

The way Michele McLeod's much longer and more elaborate statement accepts some blame—"While Doug nor I claim to be perfect, the twisting of information has misrepresented me and the truth"—is especially creepy.

The Sun Herald cites the police reports, which cite Douglas McLeod himself.

The Sun Herald first published the contents of the sheriff’s report taken after the incident at their house last Saturday night, May 18. According to the investigative report, a drunken Mcleod punched his wife in the face, bloodying her nose. He told officers he felt it was taking her too long to undress for sex.

Read the rest

Just look at this suspect's gun that turned out to be a banana

Just look at it.

(Thanks, Mom!) Read the rest

Mexico City residents carry fake iPhones to turn over to muggers

An increase in armed muggings have caused a spike in sales of dummy smartphones that on first glance look real. (You can buy one from Amazon for around $20.) Apparently they were first sold as display items to electronic stores wanting to protect their real inventory from smash-and-grabs. From the Associated Press:

Axel says he sells three or four dummy phones a week out of his stall in a downtown electronics marketplace, next door to a colonial college building that dates to 1767.

Axel, who asked his full name not be used for fear police would accuse him of selling fake merchandise, said all of his customers know they are buying fakes.

“It’s useful for robberies, the large number of muggings happening in Mexico City,” said Axel. “They say ‘hand over your cellphone, give me everything’, and people know now they have to hand over the phone quick, in a matter of seconds, so they hand over these phones and often the thieves don’t realize it.”

But Axel admits the victim would be in trouble if a thief caught them handing over a “dummy” phone.

“Obviously there are problems, because if the criminals search it or find out ... there is going to be a problem.”

Because of that, some try a different strategy, spending a little more to buy a cheap but real second phone.

Read the rest

Internet fraudster stole 750,000 IP addresses, say prosecutors

A Charleston man was charged with fraud this week [justice.gov] after investigators unraveled an elaborate scheme to take control of IP addresses. More than 750,000 were snagged, reports the BBC, then sold on.

The US Department of Justice claims that Mr Golestan "fraudulently" won control of the net addresses by using many different shell companies. It alleges that he created websites for fake companies and invented the names of the people who purportedly ran them as part of his scheme. Mr [Amir] Golestan was charged with 20 counts of wire fraud in a US court this week. He has yet to respond to a BBC request for comment. The net addresses were handed over to Mr Golestan by the American Registry of Internet Numbers (Arin) - one of several regional administrators that dole out the few remaining addresses. It is claimed they were then resold allowing him to cash in.

Golestan appears to have attracted attention because he sued ARIN (!) after it failed to transfer control of one block of addresses. Thereafter someone with a three digit IQ finally looks at the paperwork and the FBI gets called in. Read the rest

Tesla car captures the gentlemen vandalizing it

Tesla cars have a "sentry mode" feature that amounts to dashcams pointed hither and yon: useful for video-recording accidents, road ragers, and vandals.

Entire right side of car keyed and dented. Merica

The vandals' self-satisfied grinning really makes it. According to Reddit's crack team of investigators, it was at this location in old Town Sacramento and they were driving a Silver or Grey Dodge Ram pickup. Read the rest

DOJ accuses Verizon and AT&T employees of participating in SIM-swap identity theft crimes

The DOJ has indicted three former Verizon and AT&T employees for alleged membership in a crime-ring known as the "The Community"; the indictment says the telco employees helped their confederates undertake "port-out" scams (AKA "SIM-swapping" AKA "SIM hijacking"), which allowed criminals to gain control over targets' phone numbers, thereby receiving SMS-based two-factor authentication codes. Read the rest

British jury ignores judge and frees self-represented climate activists based on the "necessity defense"

In 2017, climate activists Roger Hallam and David Durant painted the words "divest from oil and gas" on a wall at King’s College London in chalk paint; they were facing £7,000 in fines and up to 18 months in prison, and did not qualify for a legal aid lawyer. Read the rest

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