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

Foxconn promised it would do something with the empty buildings it bought in Wisconsin, but they're still empty (still no factory, either)

The Verge's Josh Dzieza continues his outstanding coverage of Foxconn's shell-game in Wisconsin, where the company -- promised billions in subsidies and tax-breaks by former governor Scott Walker, a Koch darling, and by Trump, who used Foxconn's promise of a major new Wisconsin factory to claim his policies were working -- has lived up to its reputation for overpromising and underdelivering by absorbing billions in subsidies but never delivering on promised jobs. Read the rest

Fentanyl execs found guilty of racketeering, face 20 year prison sentences

Five senior execs at Insys Therapeutics (manufacturer of Subsys, a type of fentanyl), have been convicted of criminal racketeering and fraud charges stemming from the company's practice of bribing doctors to overprescribe their incredibly addictive and dangerous product, and for defrauding Medicare in the process. Read the rest

When Steve Bannon & co spent $1,000 on booze at Mar-a-Lago, taxpayers picked up the tab

On April 7th, 2017, a group of Trump advisors and co-conspirators converged on Mar-a-Lago (one of Trump's properties) for a night of drinking and dining, while Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping were having dinner in a separate room at the hotel. In attendance were Steve Bannon, Joe Hagin (then Trump's deputy chief-of-staff) and others. Read the rest

Notre Dame's new spire might be copyrighted and blocked by EU filters

There's a proposal in the works to replace Notre Dame's spire -- which was a relatively modern addition -- with a new, starchitect-designed "statement" spire, which will be copyrightable under the same French rules that prohibit commercial photos of the Eiffel Tower at night (and other French landmarks). Read the rest

Thanks to the 2008 foreclosure crisis, a Kuwaiti ponzi schemer was able to single-handedly blight cities across America

After the 2008 economic crash and the ensuing foreclosure crisis, AbdulAziz HouHou ran a ponzi scheme that bilked other Kuwaitis out of millions that were spent buying and flipping foreclosed houses across America, particularly in hard-hit rustbelt towns like Buffalo and Rochester. Read the rest

Pepsi is suing four Indian farmers for growing a proprietary "Lays" potato, seeking $150,000 each in damages

Pepsi has confirmed that it has files lawsuits against four farmers in India who grew a variety of potato that was registered as being for the exclusive production of the company's Lay's potato chips. Read the rest

The sovereign nation of Iceland has finally invalidated the European trademark on "Iceland," formerly held by a British discount grocery chain

In 2014, the British discount grocers Iceland Foods (so named for their pioneering role in selling frozen food) was granted an EU-wide trademark on the word "Iceland" by the EU Intellectual Property Organisation, which apparently saw no risk in giving a British grocer a monopoly over the use of the name of a sovereign nation that was also a member of the European Economic Area. Read the rest

Dentistry's evidentiary vacuum allows profiteering butchers to raid our mouths for millions

Dentistry has always been medicine's poor cousin, lower in prestige and funding, with much less definitive research; this means that it's harder for someone to point at a procedure and definitively say, "That was unnecessary." Read the rest

The weird grift of "sovereign citizens": where UFOlogy meets antisemitism by way of Cliven Bundy and cat-breeding

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the "sovereign citizen" movement/conspiracy theory (previously) has grown by leaps and bounds, thanks to a combination of the rise of antisemitism (long a dogwhistle in the movement, now out in the open), an increase in financial desperation and a sense of betrayal, and the movement's ability to realize real cash for its members, who have systematically defrauded the underfunded and resource-strapped IRS of move than $1B. Read the rest

How hedge funds, Goldman Sachs, and corrupt executives used Gymboree's chaotic bankruptcy to cash out while destroying the careers of loyal employees

Gymboree is one of the many companies acquired by Mitt Romney's Bain Capital, through a "leveraged buyout" through which the company was loaded up with debt so that the hedge fund could cash out; the company was left with massive debts and cycled through a succession of incompetent, inexperienced grifter CEOs who eventually ran the company into bankruptcy. Read the rest

Study finds 95% of all Bitcoin trading volume is fake, designed to lure in ICOs

A report from Bitwise -- an investment firm lobbying for FEC approval for a cryptocurrency based exchange-traded fund -- found that 95% of the trading volume in Bitcoin was fake, ginned up through techniques like "wash trading" where a person buys and sells an asset at the same time. Read the rest

The Vessel: a perfect symbol for the grifter capitalism of New York City's privatized Hudson Yards "neighborhood"

Hudson Yards is a notorious (and spectacularly badly timed) new "luxury housing development" in New York City: a massive, gated, privatized "neighborhood" in Manhattan, a city that has been literally hollowed out by runaway luxury real-estate speculation, to the exclusion of working people and mere millionaires alike. Read the rest

Man stole $122m from Facebook and Google by sending them random bills, which the companies dutifully paid

Last week, Evaldas Rimasauskas of Lithuania plead guilty to US wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering charges, admitting that he had stolen $99m from Facebook and $23m from Google between 2013 and 2015. Read the rest

Electronic Health Records: a murderous, publicly subsidized, $13B/year grift by way of shitty software

In 2009, the bipartisan HITECH Act pledged $36 billion to subsidize the adoption of Electronic Health Records throughout America's fragmented, profit-driven health system, promising that the system would modernize American health care, save $80 billion (and countless lives), and deliver a host of other benefits; a decade later, the EHR industry has blossomed from $2B to $13B, and adoption is up from 9% to 96%, and it's a catastrophe. Read the rest

A detailed analysis of American ER bills reveals rampant, impossible-to-avoid price-gouging

For more than a year, Vox's Sarah Kliff has been investigating hospital price-gouging in America, collecting hospital bills from her readers and comparing them, chasing up anomalies and pulling on threads, producing a stream of outstanding reports on her findings. Read the rest

Schadenflying: the super-rich are getting ripped off like crazy on their private jet billings

Private jet companies generate a flurry of impenetrable invoices for their customers, with separate bills for crew, catering, fuel, airport fees, etc, and these represent a bonanza for scammy invoice-padding (like billing $5,300 to deliver 240 nonexistent sushi boxes to an empty plane). What's more, the gougers victims are so rich the often don't even notice the overbillings: a third of private jet owners are worth $500,000,000 and up. Read the rest

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