Grifter steals dead peoples' houses in gentrifying Philadelphia by forging deed transfers, then flipping them

At least six empty houses owned by the estates of Philadelphians ended up in the hands of William Ernest Johnson III, a violent felon currently on parole; the houses were then sold on to developers who renovated and flipped them. Read the rest

Gofundme jumpstarts a golden era of snake oil as desperate people raise millions for quack homeopathy cancer "remedies"

In Patients' crowdfunding campaigns for alternative cancer treatments, published by researchers from Simon Fraser University in The Lancet Oncology (Sci-Hub mirror) we learn that thanks to Gofundme, 13,000 people have raised $1.4 million to help 200 desperate cancer patients pay for ineffective homeopathic "treatments." Read the rest

Minnesota Attorney General's suit catalogs the many lies of Comcast

Late last year, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson sued Comcast for lying and lying and lying and lying and lying to the people of Minnesota, all the time, because Comcast is a garbage company, universally loathed by every person who has ever come into contact with them, with the sole exception of FCC Chairman, noted coward, and former telcoms exec Ajit "Fucking" Pai. Read the rest

How Amazon's crackdown on dirty sellers has made it easier for dirty sellers to kill good sellers' accounts

Josh Dzieza's deeply reported story on the dirty tricks used by Amazon's third-party sellers to beat their rivals is an outstanding read, and an important contribution to the debate about how automated systems that police user conduct fail at scale. Read the rest

Malaysia charges Goldman Sachs with criminal complicity in multi-billion-dollar 1MDB fraud

In 2015, a scandal involving the state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund brought down the country's authoritarian government, amid allegations that the disgraced ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak and his retinue embezzled $4.5 billion from the fund. Read the rest

Wells Fargo blames "computer glitch" for its improper foreclosure on 545 homes

According to Wells Fargo, a "computer glitch" caused the improper denial of 870 loan modification requests, which led to 545 foreclosures in which Wells Fargo customers lost their homes; the bank is now offering those former homeowners -- some of whom saw the breakup of their marriages as the result of the stress of foreclosure -- insultingly small sums, like $25,000. Read the rest

Malware authors have figured out how to get Google to do "irreversible takedowns" of the sites they compete with

When a rightsholder complains to Google about a website infringing its copyright, Google will generally delist the site, but allow the site's owner to contest the removal through a process defined in Section 512 of the DMCA. Read the rest

Learn how to spot a fake painting from art forgery experts

Would you know how to spot a fake painting?

In this Wired video, forensic scientist Thiago Piwowarczyk and art historian Jeffrey Taylor of New York Art Forensics go through their five-step art authentication process to determine if they have a legit Jackson Pollock or not. Spoiler alert: it's not, though watching their discovery methods is fascinating.

(Nag on the Lake) Read the rest

Here's how the Pentagon swindled Congress with $21 trillion worth of undocumented, untraceable, unaccounted for expenditures

Remember when the Department of Defense's own internal auditor revealed that the agency had committed $6.5 trillion in accounting fraud in just one year? Read the rest

Cops catch Canadian clairvoyant and charge her for creeping on clients

Our current news cycle pushes out stories, scandals and tales of catastrophe faster than shit through a goose. There's no keeping on top of it all anymore. With this being the case, it's little wonder that we managed to miss the fact that a Canadian woman was charged with what amounts to witchcraft this past October.

From Vice:

This weekend police in Milton, a small town in Ontario, arrested 32-year-old Dorie Stevenson who was running a psychic business out of her basement. She was charged with extortion, fraud over $5,000 [$3,813 USD], and witchcraft/fortune telling. If you’re thinking, whoa, Canada has witchcraft laws? Well, the answer would be yes, but they’re probably not exactly what you think.

It's covered under section 365 in the Criminal Code under the title “pretending to practice witchcraft.” It focuses on anyone who “fraudulently” gets paid to tell fortunes, “pretends to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment, or conjuration,” or using their “skill in or knowledge of an occult or crafty science” to find where lost things are.

Stevenson was picked up by Halton Regional Police after it was discovered that she was running a business, selling psychic insights to folks out of her basement. That's fine: there's plenty of folks in Canada doing much the same. What the cops took exception with, after a months-long investigation, was the fact that Stevenson was preying on her customers while they were in a vulnerable state. According to the police, Stevenson was routinely telling her customers that she could foresee terrible things happening to them if they didn't bring her cash, jewelry and other expensive bobbles that would help her to divert their encroaching disaster. Read the rest

Wells Fargo: We can't be sued for lying to shareholders because it was obvious we were lying

Wells Fargo has asked a court to block a shareholder lawsuit that seeks to punish the company for lying when it promised to promptly and completely disclose any new scandals; Wells Fargo claims that the promise was obvious "puffery," a legal concept the FTC has allowed to develop in which companies can be excused for making false claims if it should be obvious that they are lying (as when a company promises that they make "the best-tasting juice in America). Read the rest

Security chips have not reduced US credit-card fraud

The US credit card industry was a very late adopter of security chips, lagging the EU by a decade or so; when they did roll out chips, it was a shambolic affair, with many payment terminals still not using the chips, and almost no terminals requiring a PIN (and some require a PIN and a signature, giving rise to the curiously American security protocol of chip-and-PIN-and-swipe-and-sign). Read the rest

Two Goldman Sachs bankers charged in multibillion-dollar Malaysian money-laundering scam

In 2015, the Malaysian government collapsed after a scandal involving embezzlement from the state-owned 1Malaysia Development Berhad fund; the scandal shows no sign of slowing down, with fresh accusations against the country's business and political leadership surfacing regularly and one prime suspect, the financier and "tabloid party boy" Jho Low going on the run, a fugitive believed to be in China. Read the rest

Gwyneth Paltrow plagiarized the fictitious "ancient Chinese" practice of vaginally inserted jade eggs UPDATED

Gwyneth Paltrow's insanely profitable empire of quack remedies has had some serious lowlights: it wasn't just squirting coffee up your asshole, or vaginal steaming and smoothie dust: really, the lowest of the lowlights was a concerted effort to convince women to insert $66 jade eggs into their vaginas because, supposedly, this was a widespread practice from "ancient China."

Update: An earlier version of this article credited Ms Paltrow with inventing the fictitious ancient Chinese practice of keeping jade eggs in one's vagina; it turns out that this legend was plagiarized from other sources." Read the rest

Rep Steve King spent $18,000 at private GOP club, sent taxpayers the bill

Steve King is a virulent, ardent, violent, authoritarian member of the Read the rest

SEC lawsuit: Elon Musk committed securities fraud

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit against entrepreneur Elon Musk alleging securities fraud. The complaint hasn't yet been made publicly available, but likely centers on his harebrained tweeting about taking the company private with foreign money.

Tesla shares are down 5.7%, reports Reuters. That's about $307, as of 4:20 p.m. Eastern time today.

AMAZING UPDATE:

Read the rest

Anonymous stock-market manipulators behind $20B+ of "mispricing" can be tracked by their writing styles

In a new Columbia Law and Economics Working Paper, Columbia Law prof Joshua Mitts uses "stylometry" (previously) to track how market manipulators who publish false information about companies in order to profit from options are able to flush their old identities when they become notorious for misinformation and reboot them under new handles. Read the rest

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