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

Four popular tourist scams in Europe

There are many ways to rip off tourists in Rome, Prague, Paris, and other beautiful European cities. Scammers have tried most of these cons on me. The best way to deal with them is to walk away without saying a word.

The Friendship Bracelet scam is where some guy starts wrapping string around your finger or wrist, effectively trapping you until they finish braiding an ugly bracelet and demand money for it:

In the Gold Ring scam someone will pretend to find a ring on the ground, give it to you out of kindness then suddenly insist that you fork over some money to reward their selfless generosity:

The Donation scam is where people, often pretending to be deaf come up to you and ask you to sign some kind of petition and then ask for money after you sign it. As a bonus, their confederate will pick your pocket:

In the Worthless Clothes scam some guy will try to give you crappy clothes under the ruse that they are very valuable then attempt to extort you:

Read the rest

Interview with a cryptocurrency scammer

Adam Guerbuez is a cryptocurrency evangelist whose Youtube channel is full of videos promoting cryptocurrency trading; when he got a Twitter message from a scammer promising to send him free Ethereum coins, he asked the scammer if they could talk about the scam. Read the rest

New sextortion phishing scam uses target's harvested password

A new twist on an old email scam making the rounds addresses its recipients by name and uses an actual password (hopefully deprecated). They attempt to blackmail victims, and it's definitely a little anxiety-inducing to see an old password written out. Read the rest

Beware of Uber vomit fraud

Uber passengers say they are being charged $100 or more for cleaning up vomit from inside of cars even though they didn't vomit during the ride. When they complain, Uber favors the drivers.

From The Miami Herald:

Several victims told el Nuevo Herald about their vomit fraud cases.

“I requested an Uber from Wynwood to the Edgewater area. At one point the driver told me a road was closed and that he could drop me off near my destination to avoid an extra charge. I agreed and got off,” Miami resident Andrea Pérez said about one trip last year.

But the next day Uber emailed her a bill with an additional $98 cleanup charge. It included a photo of vomit on the seat of the SUV she had used.

“I immediately contacted Uber through the app. I told them that I was alone, sober, that I was not carrying any drinks and that it was impossible for me to have caused that damage,” she said. “But every new email from Uber came from a different representative and always favored the driver.”

Despite several email exchanges, Uber never agreed to reimburse her the extra money. But she disputed the charge with her credit card company and got back her $98. Uber then canceled her account.

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Your phone company's shitty security is all that's standing between you and total digital destruction

Online services increasingly rely on SMS messages for two-factor authentication, which means on the one hand that it's really hard to rip you off without first somehow stealing your phone number, but on the other hand, once someone diverts your SMS messages, they can plunder everything Read the rest

Porn blackmailers supercharge their scam with password dumps, make bank

The porn extortion scam works like this: you get an email from a stranger claiming that he hacked your computer and recorded video of you masturbating to pornography, which he'll release unless you send him some cryptocurrency. Read the rest

Scammer who lived high life as fake Saudi prince gets outed by 🥓

If you’re going to pose as a billionaire Saudi prince (Sultan Bin Khalid Al-Saud, to be exact) who is interested in investing hundreds of millions of dollars in one of Miami Beach’s most legendary hotels, here's a pro-tip: first, bone up on important Muslim traditions. Read the rest

Gifted clarinetist's prestigious scholarship sabotaged by ex-girlfriend

Eric Abramovitz is a gifted musician, who can currently be found fulfilling the role of associate principal/E flat clarinetist at the Toronto Symphony: a position that thousands of musicians around the world would kill for. Back in 2014, he applied for another position that these same musicians would think kill-worthy, too: a placement with the Colburn Conservatory as a student. The conservatory is insanely hard to get into – only two students are accepted a year. When Abramovitz received an email from the Conservatory that denied him a spot with them, along with the scholarship he had applied for, he was gutted like a fish: music was his life and being able to study under renowned clarinet instructor Yehuda Gilad was a dream that was so close to coming true. To have it snatched away? Ouch.

But here’s the thing: Abramovitz was accepted into the program, scholarship and all. His girlfriend at the time, fellow musician Jennifer Lee, didn’t want him to leave her to further his education. So, she did what any young sociopath in love would do: she accessed his email account and deleted the acceptance message from the Colburn Conservatory. Next, she opened up a fake Gmail account in Yehuda Gilad’s name and used it to write to Abramovitz, saying, more or less, "tough shit, keep playing music, but you won't being doing it at the Colburn School." Pretending to be Gilad, Lee offered her sweet baboo the chance to attend one of Gilead’s other classes at the University of Southern California, knowing full well that he would not be able to afford the tuition required to do so. Read the rest

Tech support scammer actually caught, gets slap on wrist

A man who helped bilk elderly Americans out of millions as part of a "calling about your Windows" tech support scam must pay $136,000 in fines to the FTC--and may never offer tech support again. Behold the merciless justice of the federal authorities.

Under the settlement, Brar — who operated Genius Technologies and Avangatee Services and does not admit or deny the allegations, according to court documents — “is permanently restrained and enjoined from advertising, marketing, promoting, or offering for sale, or assisting in the advertising, marketing, promoting, or offering for sale of Technical Support Services.”

The settlement was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, and must still be signed by that court’s judge.

Phone-scamming seniors is and will remain a lucrative line of work in America, for those whose stomach for it. Fortunately for them, they can count the relevant regulators in that group. Read the rest

Scammy phone company Centurylink: "No one can sue us because we don't have any customers"

Centurylink is a giant, scammy telco notorious for larding its customers' bills with fraudulent charges, and instructing its customer service reps to do everything possible not to waive those charges; they also open fake accounts in their customers' names, a la Wells Fargo, and then rack up charges against them. Read the rest

The .cm typosquatters accidentally exposed their logs, revealing the incredible scale of typojacking

.cm is the top-level domain for Cameroon, and the major use-case for .cm domains is typosquatting -- registering common .com domains as .cm domains (like microsoft.cm or apple.cm), in the hopes of nabbing traffic from users who fatfinger while typing a domain, and sometimes serving them malware or directing them to scams. Read the rest

Don't use Venmo for merchant transactions, example 1,001

If you have something to sell, and a buyer asks to pay using Venmo, you could lose both your money and your item. Jennifer Khordi is one of many who got scammed and wants to help others avoid her fate. Read the rest

In-depth investigation of the Alibaba-to-Instagram pipeline for scammy crapgadgets with excellent branding

Artist Jenny Odell created the Bureau of Suspended Objects to photographically archive and researched the manufacturing origins of 200 objects found at a San Francisco city dump; last August, she prepared a special report for Oakland's Museum of Capitalism about the bizarre world of shitty "free" watches sold through Instagram influences and heavily promoted through bottom-feeding remnant ad-buys, uncovering a twilight zone of copypasted imagery and promotional materials livened with fake stories about mysterious founders and branded tales. Read the rest

New York Times profiles a sleazy Twitter follower-farm, the sleazy serial liar who made millions on it, and the celebs, politicians, sports figures and "influencers" who paid him

Devumi is a sleazy Twitter-bot farm founded by German Calas, a serial liar who buys wholesale Twitter bots from even scummier bottom-feeders than him, and pays a series of low-waged patsies to direct them to follow people who want to seem more popular and influential than their actual Twitter follower-count suggests. Read the rest

The science of carnival game scams and tips to beat them

Former NASA-JPL engineer Mark Rober explores carnival scam science and has a few tips on how to win, at least occasionally.

Read the rest

Quaker Apples & Cinnamon has "35% less sugar" because they've cut the portion size by 35%, while the price remains 100%

Ever since I read Michael Pollan's advice to avoid any food whose packaging makes any nutritional claims, I've been a happy man -- but never so much so as I realize that this rule means I would never fall prey to the latest shitty scam from the Quaker oats people. Read the rest

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