Posts tagged “scam”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] STRANGEco MR. SPRAY – Shepard Fairey [] – [I was not considering purchasing one of these original-artwork/advertising-appropriation figures in the latest limited edition by Mr. Fairey… until I read about the 4 points of articulation. $84.99] We're pleased to announce MR. SPRAY, a new limited edition vinyl figure designed by internationally renowned artist Shepard Fairey! Mr. Spray is an original character created by the artist in 2004 as a street-art appropriation of an advertising character design of the 1950s. Mr. Spray is the first original vinyl figure design by the artist in eleven years and will be released in mid-July 2010. Mr. Spray is a rotocast vinyl figure, 11 inches tall. 4 points of articulation and packaged with an OBEY mini stencil.
  • [from steve_portigal] Money in the Bank? No, Sandwich in a Can [] – An SEC lawsuit says that Mr. Wright promised returns of up to 24% on real estate investments, but that he put the money instead into Candwich development and other equally untried ideas. Along with sales of canned sandwiches ­ Pepperoni Pizza Pocket and French Toast in a can ­ Mr. Wright’s companies, under the banner of Waterford Funding, also invested in a company selling rose petals printed with greeting card sentiments and another selling watches over the Internet. Meanwhile, the Candwich concept perseveres. The president of Mark One Foods, Mark Kirkland, who said he patented the idea of putting solid food in a beverage container with the slogan, “Quick & Tasty, Ready to Eat,” said Mr. Wright promised full financial backing for Candwich production that never really materialized even as investors did. He said he believed that canned sandwiches would ultimately sell, and hoped to go into production later this year. The shelf life of a Candwich is excellent, Mr. Kirkland said.
  • [from steve_portigal] Reading in a Whole New Way [Smithsonian Magazine] – [Kevin Kelly reflects on the history of reading and the changes new technology has brought to this essentially fundamental activity] The amount of time people spend reading has almost tripled since 1980. By 2008 more than a trillion pages were added to the World Wide Web, and that total grows by several billion a day. Each of these pages was written by somebody. Right now ordinary citizens compose 1.5 million blog posts per day. Using their thumbs instead of pens, young people in college or at work around the world collectively write 12 billion quips per day from their phones. More screens continue to swell the volume of reading and writing. But it is not book reading. Or newspaper reading. It is screen reading. Screens are always on, and, unlike with books we never stop staring at them. This new platform is very visual, and it is gradually merging words with moving images: words zip around, they float over images, serving as footnotes or annotations, linking to other words or images.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Klaus Kaasgaard: Why Designers Sometimes Make Me Cringe [interactions magazine] – [A response to Dan Formosa's piece about marketing research] There is no doubt that Formosa has been exposed to a lot of bad market research in his career. So have I. But I have also been exposed to a lot of bad design research, whether dealing with qualitative data or quantitative data. I cringe at both. And while we should point out when the emperor has no clothes in our daily work situations, it is not the bad research that defines a discipline. I have been exposed to both good market research and good design research as well and, more important, some of the most compelling and impactful research combined different research techniques for a more comprehensive and insightful outcome. That, I suppose, leads me to my conclusion.
  • How many Kindles have really been sold? (And other interesting tidbits about ebooks) [Mobile Opportunity] – Some interesting numbers about the size and dynamics of the market: sales, usage, platforms, content. One highlight is the preferred device used to read ebooks
    -PC: 47%
    -Kindle: 32% (and rising in later waves of the survey)
    -iPhone: 11%
    -iPod Touch: 10%
    -Other smartphones (including Blackberry) 9%
    -Netbooks 9%
    -Sony Reader 8%
    -Barnes & Noble Nook 8%
  • Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy [SF Chronicle] – Altruism is the whole idea behind the new charity, called the Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy. It's the brainchild of Courtney Martin, a South of Market writer who dreamed up the idea four years ago in New York and has handed out a stack of her own $100 bills every year to select good-deed doers who agree to dream up unusual ways to use the dough. Jeremy Mende took a stack of cash to Union Square and offered pairs of strangers $1 apiece if they would have one-on-one conversations with each other. Then he videotaped the conversations and made a home movie. The strangers talked to each other about sex, fireworks, banana slugs, gin, orgasms and Marlon Brando. Some of the conversations were worth a lot more than $1. The best idea seemed to come from Martin's own mother. She used her $100 to buy 400 quarters and scatter them on a grammar school playground.
  • R.J. Cutler: What I Learned From Anna Wintour [HuffPo] – Some principles of management from the director of The September Issue. We watched the film this week and highly recommend it. I thought about work as well; the film offers up lots of provocation around collaboration, artistic vision, managing teams of people, power, prototyping, and more.
    (via Kottke)

This Is Your Brain On Hype

I’m so fed up with market research gimmicks that claim to produce an objective provable truth about what’s in someone’s mind. It really runs counter to notions of empathy, listening, and understanding that I feel so passionately about.

It was with some pleasure, therefore, to see the typically exuberant Wired run a story explaining that while lie detecting may be on the horizon,

My journey through the land of functional neuroimaging has helped me to understand how spectacularly meaningless these images are likely to be.

Most neuromarketers are using these scans as a way of sprinkling glitter over their products, so that customers will be persuaded that the pictures are giving them a deeper understanding of their mind. In fact, imaging technologies are still in their infancy. And while overenthusiastic practitioners may try to leapfrog over the science, real progress, which will take decades, will be made by patient and methodical researchers, not by entrepreneurs looking to make a buck.

Interview Request for “Leaders in Business Innovation”

This is a pretty hilarious scam. I know many of you have seen this, but I had to share. What is up with the FORTUNE brand? Such whores!

Dear Steve,
In current business conditions, most companies see a need for greater efficiency and effectiveness according to a study by Accenture Management Consulting, “The Innovator’s Advantage – using innovation and technology to improve business performance”.

As a producer for the Business and Technology Report on the “FORTUNE In-Flight Radio” Channel, I am personally extending an invitation for Portigal to be featured on our special in-flight radio broadcast of the “Leaders In Business Innovation” airing worldwide April 2007.

On this show, we will be interviewing corporate leaders of innovative businesses today and discussing topics surrounding: What tools, techniques and resources have helped in creating an innovative company? How has innovation delivered long-term value and competitive advantage to your organization? What systems are important for supporting innovation?

For helping us wrap-up the show and meet our invitational list deadline, we are offering our last two segments at a substantial discount- Instead of the normal rate card of $ 6,995, your discounted cost is only $2,995. This includes everything from scripting to production, placement of 3-minute interview on 2,880 flights to 700,000 thousand passengers, listing in Northwest World Traveler In-flight magazine, and rebroadcast rights for promotional uses.

We’d like to interview you for our show. The charge will be $2,995. Um, you want me to pay you? I guess that’d be an ad, then, wouldn’t it?

Broadband National Scam?

Broadband National Scam? I don’t know. I just got a phone call from this company (some sort of reseller or provider of well, broadband services). They had my number, obviously, my first name, and they claimed I did a search on their database yesterday for broadband services, and was I still looking. I did no such thing. I haven’t heard of this company or visited this site and I can’t imagine what I did online yesterday that would have sent my info to them.

Anyway, I told them they had the wrong person, but I was kinda shaken. Maybe it’s just a sales technique to convince recipients of cold-calls that they aren’t all that cold. I don’t know.

Update: Later today I got a recorded phone call from the same company, offering me a deal with Comcast High Speed Cable Internet. I reported them to the FCC for violating the Do-Not-Call registry. Very weird. I post this all here because someone will probably end up Googling this when it happens to them and maybe this provides some measure of reassurance, if not actual resolution.

Update: I received this email today

I have been forwarded your complaint regarding what appeared to be a “cold call” about broadband service. Broadband National manages 1200+ websites for various broadband service providers. This is how we received your name and number. As of today, we have since removed your name from all internal records and have placed you on our Do Not Call list. We do apologize for any inconvenience.

Debbie Garrett
Consumer Products Manager

Audacious Scams

I was looking on Craigslist for a car, and I saw one listed in nearby Santa Cruz, so I wrote the seller with a question. Hilarious response (if scary)

Hello there,
Thank you for your interest in purchasing my car . First of all I must inform you that currently I’m in Zagreb, Croatia and the machine is here with me .My faher, who died two weeks ago was the first owner of the car. The machine is in great condition ,no damage,no scratches or dents, no hidden defects,keept in our own garage. The machine is an US model with US specs,it passed the test emissions and comes with all the documents you need to register the item. It has a clear title and it can be registerd into your name. I recently ordered a new car from a dealer down here and i need the cash in the next few days to pay for it. The price I hope to obtain is $10000 USD (this price includes the shipping and insurance) and if you agree with this price we can start to complete the transaction. I have to tell you that I have other serious offers that I have to consider and I will make a decision regarding this sale function of
time of payment and price. i will shipp the car using KLM 7-10 air days delivery, and i will cover all taxes. We can make this COD, but if you want to keep the car for you, then you have to make a down deposit with 1,500 USD. So email me back if you are intersted and you have the cash. The car will be shipped from Croatia and i will cover the shipping costs and insurance.You will not have to pay additional taxes,just only the price for it.
Let me know!

I think Zagreb is pretty much the cue that something is wrong wrong wrong here. Anyway, the posting has been taken down so obviously someone else discovered as well the ridiculous scam. Doesn’t it always involve someone dying? Fortune from misfortune? Silly.

In control, out of control

Another dispatch from a public Internet terminal. In this case, the Samsung e-lounge at the Hong Kong airport. We’re headed to Bangkok in an hour or so. Nice free service, but their custom browser blocks pop-ups, so I can’t check my email as I normally do via I can see the messages, I just can’t open ’em.
Anyway, we had one of those experiences that is so typical of what you hear when people travel overseas – a miscommunication, a rip-off, etc. We checked out early this AM, and planned to head to the train station (the Kowloon station) and take the Airport Express train back to the airport. We had prepaid (with an Octopus card) for return trainfare. It’s quite handy; you can actually check in for your flight at the train station in town and drop your bags and all that. The train is fast and comfortable.
We told the hotel dude that we were going to the train station for the Airport Express, he came out with us. The taxi driver asks us something, I say “Kowloon Station, Airport Express.” He says “airport?” I say, no, Kowloon station. The hotel dude has caught up at this point and says something in Chinese. We figured he clarified it and we were off. The driver is talking in Chinese to his mounted cell phone (set on speaker phone) and then he apparently is speaking to us. He waves some money around, says a phrase twice, and then shows me a number on a piece of paper. How much to get to the station? We can’t really tell what he’s written, and not sure why this is happening (I know we sound like total suckers here, but hey, it’s what happened. Does it help that it was 6:15 am?). I guess taxi drivers are the only segment of the service business in Hong Kong with no English.
Anyway, we pass the train station. He is taking us all the way to the airport. Instead of $35 or so (HK), it’s now going to be $XX00? We have no idea. What do we do? How do we clarify, or confront, as moments pass and the situation veers from what we had anticipated? How do we deal with our own social norms? Are we being ripped-off, or just a bad communication?
Other types of people would no doubt have pursued some sort of resolution. We didn’t. We felt helpless and frustrated and did nothing. It was vaguely expensive and we were lucky to have cash on hand to pay for the final fare. But really, we got to the airport, we lost a little money, we lost a little control. I kept thinking that as our trip proceeds through Thailand and then India this sort of willful? miscommunication and loss of control due to language and white skin and general foreigness will continue. This was trivial, but it felt traumatic. Perhaps a good lesson about dealing with the mishaps, or simply the haps, of the rest of our trip.

Serious Phishing Scam

ebayPhish htm 8 25 2005 1 33 01 PM.jpg
click to enlarge
Well here’s one I hadn’t seen – a fake “You’ve won” notification. An auction I didn’t participate in – sent to me seemingly from eBay, but of course, it’s not really from eBay. It’s pretty sneaky, if I was buying 30 things from eBay a week I probably would open this without thinking – at which point I dunno, they’ve got my password, or I’ve given them money or something awful.


EQ3 Store — Retro Flip Clock

hat a scam. This Retro Flip Clock at EQ3 is about $40.00 or something (no prices on their website – hmmm). They weren’t that much when they first came out, were they? And back then, they included a radio and an alarm clock as well. I’m all for hip and retro (maybe not, I like to think I am) but you just know this cost about $1.35 to make, and wasn’t that great a product the first time around. Do you remember adjusting the time on those things – one direction only so if you went over a minute you had to circle around 23 hours and 59 minutes – not too fast or you’d go over again. They’d click and make a loud noise when they’d flip the numbers over, etc. I’m drawn to it, but not at a price premium; that’s the part that seems outrageous.

Spurious collect call charges – a new scam?

What a freakin’ scam…this just happened to me. This company called OAN (aka Nationwide Conn.) somehow submits fraudulent bills for collect calls that never happened. They don’t bill you directly, they add it to your local bill (Qwest, Verizon, or in my case, SBC). For me, it was $5.41. It took me noticiing it, doing a websearch, then making a couple of calls and spending time on hold (!) to get this taken care of (assuming that it is indeed taken care of). It’s hardly worth it, and yet this company (and others presumably) continue to “cram” – to knowingly bill falsely through the carriers, knowing that most people won’t notice it or have the comfort to dispute it. Which is just so shockingly immoral…the web page I link to shows a huge number of people who have also been scammed and realized it, many who report it to the government.

How come this is allowed to continue? SBC told me they are legally required to pass these charges along.


Strange package sizes

There’s obviously some packaging scam going on here that I can’t quite sort out. Breakfast cereal seems to come in two sizes, say 16 oz and 21 oz. Visually, the two are almost equivalent, perhaps the larger size will be less than an inch taller and not visisbly wider when looking at the retail shelf. The price for the larger size can be very small; yesterday I saw a 20c increase for the larger size. Why would anyone, therefore, buy the smaller size?

If you ignore promotions (half price, 2 for 1) on either size, what is the purpose of the two sizes in the line? Is it a tactic to gain more shelf space by offering more product choices? That’s my best guess, but that just seems to ridiculous, I don’t want to believe it’s true. Any insights, please leave a comment!

Portion Control to Major Tum

Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs are a brilliantly simple packaging and branding innovation. Give people more control over what they eat by packaging a fixed calorie amount.
100 calories seems like a harmless enough amount to snack on and it’s an easy number to help tally your daily intake. Portion control is a complex aspect of dieting, with endless confusion about what is a portion? What is a serving?
The 100 Calorie brand takes precedence over the ingredient brand (although some of those such as Oreo Thin Crisp are special-to-this-product-line extensions, with presumably lower-cal reformulations).

Nigerian Spam of the Week



I am Barrister Elvis Martins.I represent Mohammed Abacha, son
Of the late Gen. Sani Abacha, who was the former military Head
Of State, Following the release of Mohammed Abacha
The son of late Gen. Abacha who died in power in 1998, by the
Federal Government of Nigeria and the Agreement reached by the
Abacha family and the Federal Government of Nigeria, I write to
Propose to you this urgent operation that will be of mutual
Benefits to both parties involve. The Federal Government of
Nigeria has proposed to the Abacha family to release over one
Billion US Dollars (US$1 Billion) in their possession to the
Government and the government in return will withdraw all the
Charges against them and give them 100 Million US Dollars in as

Son of More Monster Madness

Here’s an email from someone claiming that I never returned their call. Nice job. I’ve obviously never heard from these folks. And the zaniness continues!

Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2001 13:49:47 -0800
From: “mara ablang”
To: steve at
Subject: Follow up letter A- Mr. Chatham

December 06, 2001

Your resume has been received here at JobFinders International, Inc., and was assigned by our screening committee to me for review. I called you seeking to set an appointment for an interview. Unfortunately, I was unable to reach you by phone and you have not called back.

We have a tremendous backlog of executive and professional job opportunities posted with our firm, and I felt confident in looking at your resume that one of these, or one of the new jobs being posted with us almost daily, would be a great fit for you.

Our staff contacts companies continuously to find the highest quality openings for our clients in the unpublished market. The response from these companies has been outstanding. We currently have over 1,500 well paying, stable positions as: CEO, President, VP, GM, COO, Controller, Division Manager, Plant Manager, IT and MIS Managers and on through line managers; as well as variety of professional positions such as Engineer, Staff Attorney, RN, etc.

My efforts to speak with you by telephone have not been successful. If you have already accepted a position, I would surely appreciate the professional courtesy of a telephone or e-mail response advising me of that fact. That will allow us to remove your resume from our database and direct our attention to those who are still in the job search mode.

You may call me at (925) 930-8940 x202 to set an appointment for an interview or to discuss your situation if you are still in the job search. To delete you resume, please call me at the same number.

Best Regards,

Robert Chatham

Vice President


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