I Stepped In It Again

Today I decided that some of my problems with a slow computer is the result of using Norton anti-virus protection. The decision was predicated on receiving an e-mail invoice from Norton reminding my subscription was up for renewal. Not trusting the e-mail request I went seeking the Norton web page where I could opt out. I lost a lot of time searching for the page. Frustrated, I finally decided to call their help number on the invoice. My bad, first I didn’t trust this invoice, and then I use it to try to solve my problem.

The sound of the agent’s voice was heavily accented and most likely from a foreign country. I explained to the agent that I wanted to unsubscribe from my subscription, and wanted a refund. She assured me this would be no problem and told me that I had to fill out a special form to do that. I explained that I could not find any such form on their website. She said she would help me get to it. After an hour of her help a new screen popped up on the screen flashing on and off from APPLE warning that my computer has been compromised. Oh no! Suddenly it all made sense. These people are sophisticated hackers who are in the business of stealing from unsuspecting naive dupes like me. I shut the computer off and hung up. I will deal with Norton another way.

I had to leave to drive my wife to a doctors appointment and when we came home I re-started the computer in safe mode. Everything seems to be working and I won’t know if I lost any data until I start looking for files.

What really bothers me is that they used Norton’s logo and made everything seem legit both in the email and while they were helping me. Maybe it was Norton I was speaking to, but I wasn’t taking any chances beyond what I already did.

This is another case for using artificial intelligence in the core of the computer to sort out the thieves. It also points out that companies that rely too heavily on computer automation to replace human contact, and those who hide from telling customers how to unsubscribe, and to get refunds is not really interested in protecting the customer as they are in taking their money. Buying a product like the Norton antivirus takes but a button push to make the transaction. The reverse should be equally easy.

Duped Again!

After writing a post eight days ago about the many scams I have encountered I was scammed again yesterday. This time the scam involves two really big companies. The scammer uses a loophole in Google Voice to steal identity. To get into the Google Voice program it needs your phone number and a control number. I don’t use Google Voice, but I have become aware of it through my Lions Club. Our Secretary uses that App for our club contact number.

Exactly My Experience

The second company involved is Facebook. I am a Facebook user. I became hooked on their Marketplace feature. It is a valuable tool for selling, or buying stuff. It is easy to use and they provide many groups that are online to spread the word about any item I want to sell. I’m still in a downsize mode so I am still getting rid of things which I have little or no use for. Currently, I have sixteen items for sale. This week I listed a number of things that I have been tripping over for months and need to eliminate. These items are still useful, just not to me.

One item is a pile of left over composite flooring. I recently finished a floor for which I ordered ten percent more material than was necessary in case I had a problem. It is enough to finish a small room. I was lucky that I didn’t make a lot of mistakes so I had boards left over. They were not in the original packaging so I couldn’t return them to the supplier, and I choose to find a buyer. I hit the finish button on Marketplace and within a minute I get a reply that someone was interested. This kind of response is not unusual, but it doesn’t happen for every item. I responded to the inquiry that the boards were still available. A lady named Sasha replied “Ok cell number please.” Still not strange, I thought she wanted to call me to discuss the item. I gave her my cell number. She replied “Ok, I want to purchase it, I sent a 6 digit google voice code. If your post is real, send me the code. Then I’ll call.”

A few seconds later I got, “DId you get the code?” in large letters. I thought it was a little strange to want this in such a hurry, but I was fumbling with my phone trying to retrieve the code she sent. I finally found it, and texted the code. While I awaited the next move I searched for Google Voice to learn more about it. While at that site, I saw the word scam attached to voice. “Oh no,” I said out loud. I knew immediately that I had been taken by a scam. I read the description of the scam and it was my experience to a tee. I never heard another word from the scam buyer. She got what she wanted my phone number and a code.

Smart Seller Shuts Down Scammer

I have been reading articles on how to undo this scam, but they are over my head. It’ll take a few more reads to understand all of it.

In the mean time, I want to unload on Google and Facebook. Both companies are actively building new businesses daily. This Voice thing is such a service. With all the available phone services on the market how could they think theirs would be competitive. The reason is simple, they make it FREE. All things Google are free. It is their business model. The problem is that by making it free, they make it easy for scammers to steal from the public. Google and Facebook both have so many free apps that users like me will take advantage of them. The problem is that I am too naive to believe someone is out to steal my identity. The result is that all these free services become froth with theft and become a huge problem for the one being stolen from. Is it my fault that I didn’t know that the Google Voice app existed and is vulnerable? Is it my fault for using Facebook Marketplace in good faith and leaving myself open to thieves? I guess the answer is yes it is my fault, but I also believe that this problem is bigger than me. Thousands of unsuspecting souls are using these apps not suspecting for a second that Facebook, or Google doesn’t give a rats ass about the people who kidnap their processes to use illegally. I’m sure that these two companies are so large that we are just collateral damage. I’m sure that I am asking too much of them to fix these security issues. They are much to preoccupied by their First Amendment violations and affecting the outcomes of elections to want to fix mediocre scams like the one above.

As a final word, I can only advise you to be especially careful when dealing with people on the internet. It is my experience that too many of them are into picking your pocket and/or using your name to do things you can’t even imagine much less do. Never, never, never, never send your code for anything to anyone even if you don’t know what they are talking about.

PSA-220819-Book Report

This morning I finished reading a book titled “The Lies I tell” by Julie Clark. I opened GrumpaJoesPlace on WordPress to log the book into my booklist page. Surprise, surprise, my list has been corrupted. Some electronic gremlin has removed all of my 2022 reads and two thirds of my 2021 reads. No one ever looks at this list, except me. I use it to refer books I have read to friends. The page serves as a history of my reading. I show the title, author, the type of reading it is, such as fiction, history, etc. and my rating. Usually, if I like a book I give it five stars. I’ve noticed that many non-fiction books only have two or three stars. It tells me that I’d rather read stories than factual accounts. After fiction my next favorite class is history or historical fiction.

I’ve contacted the happiness engineers at Word Press to help me restore this file. I was able to locate a back up which has 28 entries for 2022. I read a book a week, and at this point I should be on number thirty, this back-up is not too far away. The good thing is I found the back up, the bad thing is I am too stupid to know how to actually restore it to the Blog site.

A few years ago, our library dumped the Dewey Decimal system of classifying books. I complained bitterly to the director, but my voice rolled off like water from a duck’s back. I had to join the modern age of computers they said. Since then I notice that the books come with a label that classifies the type of reading it is. Hmmm, it finally sunk in that putting books on shelves at random would only cause chaos. The moderns have finally realized that even computers need some classification scheme to help them locate material. Dumping Dewey has made it easier for library staff to shelve books. Shelving by a simple class and the author alphabetically removes the strain caused by trying to determine decimally which slot a particular volume fits into. Anyway, I have joined the moderns and have accepted their new system, I had no other choice.

I’ll end with a short synopsis of The Lies I Tell. Although it is fiction, it has to be based on history because the author has told a story about a lady conman with such detail that it had to be taken from an actual source. The principle character in this tale is a young lady who becomes homeless because her dying mother was desperate for funds, and fell prey to a man who stole her savings and her home, then evicted her and her grammar school kid. Mother and daughter wound up living out of their car. The mother dies and the daughter is left to her own choices, she chose to become a grifter. The story held my interest throughout simply because of the uniqueness of this grifter’s style. Her motives for selecting marks made me think of Robin Hood who stole from the rich so he could give to the poor. She picked on men who take advantage of women. She did it in a way that kept them from getting police involved. This is a five star read.

Mystery Solved

People who know me know that I am a gullible fool.

I fall for scams regularly. During my time blogging I have been trying to answer a question that has plagued me. Just how does a politician making $178,000/yr retire a multi-millionaire? Even if a Senator serves for thirty years his lifetime earnings are five million three hundred and forty thousand dollars. If he is as honest as we are expected to believe, he pays taxes which generously cuts that by 28% or down to three million eight hundred thousand dollars. How about having to live in two towns? If he keeps a separate home in his home state and one in Washington he cuts it down to two million seventy-two thousand dollars. At this point we have to wonder if he eats because that amount of money over thirty years gives him $69,066 dollars a year to travel between homes, provide sustenance for his family and and the expenses of running two households. Don’t get me wrong, a huge number of people living in the United States never earn that much in a single year, yet they survive, they raise families, they own cars, and sometimes go out to dinner. So with this simple analysis of a politicians lifetime salary, the mystery of how in the world he retires a multi-millionaire has been revealed.

That answer came to me over the news this week. It seems that poor Joe Biden, who was forced to use public transportation to commute to his job in Washington, has been running a simple scheme that is padding his pocket. Once it was exposed, I am satisfied believing that many politicians are using the same procedure. The rumor is that Joe was selling his influence as Vice President to foreign nationals by booking appointments and meetings through his son’s company. There was never a link to the politicians until now. It is against the law to take money from foreign governments by US politicians who may or may not give them information that may or may not be classified. If, however, the politicians is booked by a third party, the politician is absolved of wrong doing. The politician gets paid by the third party and not by a foreign government. There is never any linkage to the politician to the foreign government. The ruse is so simple I firmly believe every politician in Washington is using it. It also gives the politician total deniability because he simply claims there is no evidence that he met with the foreign government. I only wish my own ethics and morals were so decayed as to have thought of a similar scheme to have exploited my long term employer. Actually, I can’t make myself believe I could do such a thing.

That is why I am so gullible, I truly believe that every one is as simple as me when it comes to honesty and character. I am finally beginning to realize that the world is loaded with people who have no morals or scruples, but I believe they do. That is why I am an easy mark for a scam.


Wal-Mart Supercenter Torreon

Wal-Mart Supercenter Torreon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First things first, Thank You Mike for sending this warning, I am forever grateful. We all know how careful we must be during the Christmas shopping season. Parking lots are creeping with predators hungry for our cash. Be very aware.

Women often receive warnings about protecting themselves
At the mall, parking lots, etc.
But this is the first warning I have seen for men,
And I wanted to pass it on in case you haven’t heard about it. A ‘heads up’ for those men who may be regular customers at Lowe’s, Home Depot, Costco, or even Wal-Mart.
Last month I became a victim of a clever scam while shopping. Simply going to get supplies turned out to be quite traumatic.
Don’t be naive enough to think it couldn’t happen to you or your friends. Here’s how the scam works: Two nice-looking, college-aged girls will come up to your vehicle as you are putting away your purchases.
They both start wiping your windshield with a rag and Windex, with their breasts almost falling out of their skimpy T-shirts.
(It’s impossible not to look). I should have known better because it was 30 degrees outside.
When you thank them and offer them a tip, they say  ‘No.’ Instead, they ask for a ride to McDonald’s. You agree and they climb in the vehicle and start undressing. Then one of them starts crawling all over you, While the other one steals your wallet. I had my wallet stolen October 4th, 9th, 10th, twice on the 15th, 17th, 20th, 24th, & 29th. Also November 1st & 4th, twice on the 8th, 16th, 23rd, 26th & 27th, and very likely again this upcoming weekend.

 Wal-Mart has wallets on sale for $2.99 each. I found even cheaper ones for $.99 at the dollar store and bought them out in three of their stores.

Also, you never get to eat at McDonald’s. I’ve already lost 11 pounds just running back and forth from Lowe’s, to Home Depot, to Costco, Etc. So please, Send this warning to all the older men that you know and warn them to be on the lookout for this scam.

(The best times are just before lunch and around 4:30 in the afternoon.)