Maria Callas, Patrick Guerin and other Snake Oil salesfolks – Update

Back in October 2009 I made mention of Maria Callas and other folks trying to extract money from folks who were suffering from hardship or financial problems – in essence – preying on the weak and poor of society. This is something I particularly hate. I was reminded of the Maria Callas post (Marie Callas – Clairvoyant and …. ? and Marie Callas and Snake Oil Salesmen) as the result of a comment posted today.

I wondered what had happened to the old fraud and decided that as I could not make a happy face with my breakfast I would do a quick bit of googling. Well, to my great amusement I noticed that in 2016 the “Feds” in the US busted Maria Callas, Patrick Guerin et al for International Mail Fraud (see Feds Bust Psychics in International Mail Fraud Scheme) proving that you can fool some of the people some of the time but don’t piss off the US Post Office!

Well done! The more of these fraudsters that are taken down the better. The  world has enough problems without these vultures feeding off the carrion of human misery!

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National Australia Bank Email Phishing Scam

I received the following email into my inbox this morning:

Attempt to phish made against Natiional Australia Bank customers - this is fraud folks, don't click it
Attempt to phish made against National Australia Bank customers – this is fraud folks, don’t click it

If you click the link (the “click here to view this message”) it will take you to a link purporting to be from the Children Dyslexia Organisation. It is not related to any Children’s Dyslexia organisation and all.

Following that link may result in a Trojan or similar payload being downloaded to your PC. You may then inadvertently have your identity stolen and/or your PC be used as a clone for spamming the rest of us.

DO NOT CLICK THAT LINK!

Today’s Scam Attempt

My winnings - huge!
My winnings – huge!

I received an SMS today. That’s it, over there on the right. Yep, seems that my number came up in the KIA Motors Promo draw. Wow! £550,000 pounds  That’s about SG $1,045,000. Wow again. I could buy a small condominium here AND a car. I’m sure I could get a condo for about SG $800,000 somewhere … maybe Woodlands ((are there any condos in Woodlands?)).

The sum is about AU $810,000 – not to be sneezed at I guess.

The only problem is that it is a scam. Yep. My number could not have come up as it never went in. Also, the notification of the winnings in UK pounds (I’m guessing they are UK Pounds) is being sent to my Singapore phone number.

Come on guys, if you are going to scam me, at least put in some effort!

Other issues? Well, for a start the SMS came from a Nigerian phone number (+234 is the Nigerian country code). Also, I can’t see the KIA Motors Claims Department using a Microsoft Live email address.

Really, poor effort. I’d score this one about 3/10. Better luck scamming next time!

Seriously, this is a new scam doing the circuit. Beware.

Marie Callas and Snake Oil Salesmen

One of the most commented on posts here at Thomo’s Hole is the one about Marie Callas the Clairvoyant and …?. Most of the comments say the same thing  – that the commenter believes that Marie Callas is a fraud. Whilst there are many unexplained things in the universe (like how Pelicans know there will be water in Lake Eyre) I do not believe that these “psychic” revelations of folks such as Callas are any more than an elaborate money-making scheme.

Beware of these folks. If you want some interesting reading, follow some of the links from this Google search ((I must admit, it appears as though she – if indeed she is truly a she –  has at least done some search engine optimisation. Raises the question “does a true psychic need to have good business practices?”))

More on Psychics and Clairvoyants

So there I was walking around Ashfield Mall today and on the middle floor there was a table with a couple of ladies selling their services as fortune tellers, tarot readers, psychic and clairvoyants. They were eating their lunch at the table, in amongst the lucky amulets and what-have-you. I then heard the following conversation:

Psychic One: “You have some food on the corner of your mouth

Psychic Two: “I know!”

Marie Callas – Clairvoyant and …. ?

So, it was some time ago but my Mum received a letter from a Clairvoyant (actually, she labelled herself “Clairvoyant, Medium, Numerologist, Specialist in Astrology and Tarot, Dowser ((for the uninitiated, Princeton defines a dowser as a water witch – someone who uses a divining rod to find underground water and a divining rod is a forked stick that is said to dip down to indicate underground water or oil – of course it may not only be the stick that is forked)), Author of numerous books and articles, Mage, Spirit – actually, a good dowsing never goes astray).

Well, the first thing I can say is the Marie Callas turkey ain’t much of a psychic otherwise she would have known that mum would just give me her letter to shred. So, the vision she very clearly saw of “several areas, a date, an amount” also would have shown her “a big bloke, a letter, a shredding machine”.

I really hate folks preying on those that are too trusting or not hard enough thinking in life and Marie Callas is one such raptor.

If you receive a letter from her, bin it or shred it. Hey, if enough of us shred it, maybe, just maybe, she’ll get a psychic vision – at least of a shredding machine.

I think the most significant thing about this is if you Google up “Marie Callas” the first link that appears is from the West Australian Government’s ScamNet website. Obviously Marie needs to apply her psychic abilities to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)  😆

Delete, burn or shred her!

Update – 16 March 2019 – seems that the US Postal Service took action – see (Maria Callas, Patrick Guerin and othe Snake Oil salesfolks – Update)

Scams and Slavery I

There have been some recent articles in the press in Australia concerning the exploitation of foreign students in Australia. This comes on the back of Indian students claiming that racism was a motivating factor for recent robberies of Indian students. Living in Sydney and having some involvement with recent immigration arrivals to Australia, I wanted to record a couple of thoughts and observations. I will do this over a few days.

Firstly, I do not think that Australia is any more racist than it was 10 years or 20 years ago. In fact, I think it has become a little more laissezfaire in that respect over the past 20 years. The spate of robberies recently was not so much directed at the Indian students that were robbed, but rather at targets of opportunity in areas of Sydney and Melbourne that most locals consider unsafe areas to be in. In the case of Harris Park in Sydney, this area had been the subject of a number of complaints over many years, and many years before there was a large population of Indian students in the area.

I think the problem recently was that the Indian students were looking for a reason to have been robbed and using the excuse of “racism” somehow abrogates them of responsibility for their own safety.

The increase in student numbers was always going to cause some problems but it seems that a number of people are taking great advantage of these increases. The Sydney Morning Herald ran two pieces yesterday and today, namely, Foreign students exploited as slaves and Visa racket leaves foreign students exposed.

Basically, the crux of these is that there have been a number of vocational schools set up to train the likes of hairdressers and cooks. Perhaps these courses are also tied off with some general English instruction as well. Interestingly, both cooks and hairdressers are on the skills shortage list for immigration to Australia.

So, the scam works something like this.

You sell a vocational training course to someone in another country. They then apply for and have a student visa granted. They come to Australia. The training school is crap, doesn’t do the training. However, the school ties the student up with someone to certify that they have done the 900 hours work experience necessary. Of course, another fee is paid for this but at the end of it the student gets to apply for their Permanent Residence and never has to cut a hair. The Permanent Residence is approved and we all have longer messier hair.

Worse are the cases where the student is sent somewhere to work the 900 hours with no salary or where the student has to work and then still pay for the certificate.

This needs cleaning up and quickly. What also needs cleaning up is the variable standard of the private English language schools in Australia as well. Many are also just operating as a means for folks to come to Australia on a student visa and then work.

Worst of all are the companies that are preying on those students. The little manufacturing companies that are paying students $10 an hour, cash in hand – so no taxes paid, a salary that is less than the minimum wage and I would also bet that there are no worker’s compensation insurance payments made either. Then there are the companies that are not paying anything and having the students held to ransom for their 900 hour work experience certificate. To quote a cooking trainer (who wanted to retain his anonymity):

As for this 900 hours’ work experience, at least 60 per cent of my students were paying for it. It made a lot of Indian restaurant owners very rich

Expensive TV cables are a rip-off: Choice – Articles – Home Entertainment

Expensive TV cables are a rip-off: Choice – Articles – Home Entertainment.

I really love being ahead of the game, especially when it is both a newspaper and a non-profit organisation with more money to spend than I have. The reason I say this? See Changing Australia – or – how much should an HDMI cable cost? here at Thomo’s Hole back on 11 November 2008 where I note:

I was looking around the store [Dick Smith’s on George Street, Sydney] and my eyes strayed across some HDMI cables … I wandered closer and then gasped. $169.95 for the cable – and that was the cheap one. HDMI cables were listed in price ranging from $169.95 to $329.95. Now, I am not really known for being stingy but even I baulked at that cost. No sir, no HDMI cable for me.

And then later I’d found HDMI cables at places like Bunnings and K-Mart for prices ranging from $19.95 to $26.95. Even the more expensive Belkin cables at Officeworks was a mere $69.95 by comparison. I also noted that as the cables were carrying digital signals rather than analogue signals, the signal was either there, or it was not. With analogue you will get some signal loss maybe resulting in the snowy effect and so on.

Now, I will freely admit that as I was looking at this stuff, I was not  really paying attention to how long the cables were – although I suspect size is not that important in this case.

Anyway, to summarise the findings of Choice:

“Although the results were slightly in favour of the more expensive brand for longer lengths, the differences were not enough to conclude any brand delivers a significantly better result,” the report said.

“Results for the digital audio cable were even more conclusive, with no advantage to be gained through the use of more expensive cables for better performance.”

To be fair to the Sydney Morning Herald, they almost caught up with me as on 13 November 2008 (two days after my blog post) they had an article titled, “Would sir like a $200 cable with his new plasma?” This article noted:

Australian shoppers are being duped into spending hundreds of dollars on so-called “high performance” HDMI cables when they are buying new home entertainment equipment.

However some technical experts argue that there is very little to distinguish a cable priced at hundreds of dollars from one that costs $20, and urge buyers to be on their guard against slick sales pitches that claim otherwise.

Robin Braun, a professor of telecommunications at UTS says that, because the HDMI cable carries a digital signal, most of the built-up “noise” that affects more traditional analogue cable images is absent, meaning that most short-range HDMI cables will give a perfect image every time, regardless of their price.

Definitely a case of caveat emptor.

I shall now consider buying the $20 cable 😉

New Scam – Independent Funds Manager

It even comes through Skype now. I cannot believe that there are still enough people in the world soft enough in the head to fall for this type of scam but there must be as there are still idiots trying it.

Anything that turns up in email, chat client, VoIP client, fax machine or even a letter through the letterbox that looks or sounds like this is a scam. Simple. Trash it.

What came to me was this:

[23/01/2008 4:22:08 PM] Tim McCarron says: Asset Managment Plan

I am Mr.Tim McCarron, a freelance independent Investment Funds Manager for Fidelity Investment International.The World Largest Funds Management Company with over $1.2Trillion Capital Investment Funds.Nevertheless , as Fidelity Funds Manager, I handle all our Investor’s Direct Capital Funds and my position afforded me the opportunity to secure 1.2% Excess Maximum Return Capital Profit (EMRCP) per annum on each of the Investor’s Magellan Capital Funds.

As the fund manager skilled in Database Management and Administration, I was able to make over 25m pounds from the Investor’s EMRCP via Online Trade Investment and hereby looking for someone to trust who will stand as an Investor to receive the funds as Annual Investment Proceeds from Fidelity Magellan Capital Funds.All confirmable documents to back up the claims will be made available to you in the cause of this transaction.

Meanwhile,I have worked out the strategies and technicalities whereby the funds can be claimed in any of our 6 Clearing Houses without hitches.Our sharing ratio will be 50-50 in case you are interested,Please email me on my private email below, your direct telephone number for discussion of this transaction in further details.

Sincerely.

Mr. Tim Mc Carron (MSDBA, OCP, ISO)

For: Funds Manager of Fidelity

Investment International

Email: timmc11201970@yahoo.com

www.fidelity.co.uk/wealthmanager/fundmanagercvs/pdfs/TMcCarron

Now – if the Fidelity link is clicked then you do go through the Fidelity, but to a page that does not exist. That is, it is missing from Fidelity’s server.

So, how do you go about testing the veracity of an email like this, after all, we’d all like 50% of 25m pounds now wouldn’t we? Well, let’s use Thomo’s four point check!

OK, check number 1.
The English. “I am Mr.Tim McCarron.” There are not many people who would introduce themselves that way in the UK, US, Australia or any English speaking developed country.

Check number 2. Genuine Appearance. To appear genuine, scams like this will have a web URL, in this case, http://www.fidelity.co.uk etc etc. Following that link will take you to Fidelity UK’s website but the full link indicates a missing webpage.

Check number 3. Commonsense. Who in their right mind is going to offer you 50% of 25m pounds to just receive money? Hel-lo! Wakey, wakey!

And best, Check number 4. Google. If it ain’t in Google it doesn’t exist. Well, that’s how it seems to me so let’s check Google. This particular text is reasonably new but still in Google there were a couple of links, one already indicating it was a 419 Nigerian scam. Go on, try it. Cut and paste “I am Mr.Tim McCarron, a freelance independent Investment Funds Manager for Fidelity Investment International”, the first sentence above (no need to use the quotes), into Google search. You’ll see something like the search results displayed if you click here. One of the links displayed, http://www.repository.izone.me.uk/repository.pl?action=search&month=May&year=2007&type=business, indicates that this particular text has been used for scams since May 2007, and this page lists hundreds and hundreds of scam texts – er, and that page is only listing those from May 2007. MSN Search and Yahoo Search will turn up the same results – although Yahoo tends to be a little on the slow side.

So, get smart. Check out those strange things first. Don’t be soft in the head!