Saturday, October 13, 2012

Scam News: Ransomware gets fined big time

Recently there was big news that FTC shut down an international scareware ring that puts fake warnings on computers to scare people into buying their software to make the warnings go away.

However, scareware is relatively harmless, as the warnings look scary but in general does NOT damage your computer. The scammers rely on your lack of knowledge and fast talking into thinking your computer is doomed and only they can save you.

Here's a couple in Australia, whose twin daughters were murdered, and one such scareware vendors called her up and convinced her to pay HUNDREDS to "save" her priceless photos and videos of her daughters.

Scammers, in this case, tapped into fear as the prime motivator. You can't afford to take the risk of losing the items in question, so you may just pay up instead of doing more research and/or start over.

There is something even worse worse though: ransomware.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cognitive Bias: Continued Influence Effect

Once you believe something, even when you've been told that this "something" was wrong, you may continue to believe in it for a while and ignore the corrections, esp. if the issue is emotionally charged. This is known as the continued influence effect.

In a recently published study, people were first presented with a fake bit of news about a warehouse fire believed to have been caused by improperly stored materials. They were quizzed on their retention of the facts. Then they were shown an explicit retraction and correction. Then after a little while, quizzed again. Only 50% remembered the retraction and correction.

[ Read more about continued influence effect ]

There is also a related phenomenon known as the backfire effect, where after being exposed to the "correct" information, instead of correcting the wrong information, the believer actually believes the "wrong" things even more.

[ Read more about backfire effect ]

Both effects are HEAVILY relied upon by scammers to keep you believing in the scam so they can extract every last penny out of you, and/or have you refer ever more victims.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Zeek Update: Receiver submits liquidation plan (and clawback) to judge

Jordan "Ponzitracker" Maglich wrote a piece for that the receiver in the Zeek ponzi has submitted a liquidation plan. Here are some interesting tidbits:

  • There are 2.2 million unique Zeek user ID's. 
  • Out of that 2.2. million, only 1 million are PAID users
  • There are 293.7 million dollars currently in Receiver's custody
  • Clawbacks are coming very soon
You can read Mr. Maglich's coverage here:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Four Smartphone Apps to protect you from scams

Fox Business Morning
Fox Business Morning (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fox Business has a list of 4 apps that'll protect you from scams.

One's just general "internet security", one's BBB app, but the real gem is the free "Scam Detector".

Read the article at:
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Monday, October 8, 2012

Skepticism Tool:

Logo used from the start of the Chrome project...
Logo used from the start of the Chrome project until March 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia), which is basically "rebutter" (a person who rebuts) is a tool that lets people know about resources that rebuts a particular page's topic.

Right now this only exists as a Chrome browser plug-in. Basically, you install it, and in the toolbar you see a new icon for RBUTR, which shows how many "rebuttal" pages are there for a particular webpage.

Clearly, users need to ADD these pages.

For example, if you browse to a webpage that sells some super-juice, and you've seen webpages before that debunked the super-juice myth, then on the "pro-juice" webpage, you can use RBUTR to generate a link to the anti-juice page. Only people who use RBUTR will see the link.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Guess what: 65% of Americans do NOT trust stuff on the Internet

English: There are no symbols that represent s...
English: There are no symbols that represent skepticism. This is one symbol that can be used to represent skepticism in atheism, or how skeptical inquiry, critical thinking, critical inquiry, and truth-seeking lead to atheism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Did you know that 65% of Americans surveyed says they do NOT consider web content to be reliable?

Content Science did a survey involving 800 people in early 2012, and the results were published in March. The results are surprising: 65% of people surveyed says web content is "hit or miss" or "unreliable".

That's good, because people are skeptical. However, the survey also revealed that people rely on secondary sources to validate and filter what they find, and those are:

  1. Recommendation from an expert
  2. References
  3. Recommendation from someone you know
  4. Author / publisher / source