Fraud and Deception

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Flappybird Photo Hijack

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Hoax Etiquette, Legal Issues

In case you think the risque photos on your Android phone are secure…


Hackers plotted fake Flappy Bird app to steal girls’ photos from Android phones
by Graham Cluley
September 6, 2014

Next time you install an app on your phone, you’d best think twice if it asks permission to access your photos.

As The Guardian reports, following a tweet from security researcher Nik Cubrilovic, the very same hackers who merrily collected naked photos of more than 100 female celebrities, including Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence, had plotted a variety of dirty tricks to increase their haul.

At least one hacker openly posted on the AnonIB image board, proposing what he called a “genious” idea: (more…)

Eavesdropping via Fake Cell Towers

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Filed under: First Amendment Issues, Fraud and Deception

Can you hear me now? In case you still thought you had personal privacy…


Fake Cell Towers Allow the NSA and Police to Keep Track of You
By Lauren Walker
Newsweek
September 5, 2014

phony-towers-425

The Internet is abuzz with reports of mysterious devices sprinkled across America—many of them on military bases—that connect to your phone by mimicking cell phone towers and sucking up your data. There is little public information about these devices, but they are the new favorite toy of government agencies of all stripes; everyone from the National Security Agency to local police forces are using them.

These fake towers, known as “interceptors,” were discovered in July by users of the CryptoPhone500, one of the ultra-secure cell phones released after Edward Snowden’s leaks about NSA snooping. The phone is essentially a Samsung Galaxy S3 customized with high-level encryption that costs around $3,500. While driving around the country, CryptoPhone users plotted on a map every time they connected to a nameless tower (standard towers run by wireless service providers like Verizon usually have names) and received an alert that the device had turned off their phone’s encryption (allowing their messages to be read). Read the rest of this article here.

The Art of Human Hacking

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fraud and Deception

Patrick Howell O’Neill reports from Def Con 2014 in Las Vegas, where he witnesses an odd sort of game: Social Engineering Capture the Flag.


Inside the Super Bowl of Lying
by Patrick Howell O’Neill
The Daily Dot
September 2, 2014

Nobody can find a seat, the room is so packed. The boisterous audience, undeterred, crowds against the walls and lies down on the floor at every edge of the room to catch the action. A line of people stretches out the front door.

Social engineering capture the flag

via social-engineer.org

This is the 2014 Def Con hacker conference at the Rio Casino in Las Vegas. The people are in one of the tiniest rooms in the casino to see the Super Bowl of lying.

The Social Engineering Capture The Flag contest was launched by Christopher Hadnagy in 2009. This year, nine teams of two players each are given a long list of goals that can only be accomplished through skillful lying and manipulation. The contest has been going on for five years, but most of the crowd, listening in rapt attention, is experiencing it for the very first time.

Hadnagy has another name for social engineering: “The art of human hacking.” While almost all of Def Con is dedicated to the art of computer hacking, this event targeted the mind. (more…)

World Class Literary Deception

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Literary Hoaxes

Celebrity biography readers beware. David Cay Johnston catalogs how one best-selling author, C. David Heymann, who wrote books of historical significance about world leaders and A-class celebs, filled his pages with inaccuracies and downright scurrilous fabrications.


C. David Heymann’s Lies About JFK and Jackie, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor
by David Cay Johnston
Newsweek
August 27, 2014

C. David Heymann’s Lies About JFK and Jackie  Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor-425

He had been dead for over two years, but he still had a magic touch with readers.

When best-selling author C. David Heymann’s latest (and last) book, Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love, came out in July, it received the kind of reviews most authors would kill for. The Columbus Dispatch called it an “engrossing portrait.” The Christian Science Monitor and the New York Post raved. Kirkus Reviews said it was “a well-researched story” revealing the “profoundly unethical behavior of the medical and mental health professionals who dealt with [Monroe].” The popular Canadian magazine Maclean’s praised Heymann’s research, finding “his sources credible.”

The publisher, a subsidiary of media behemoth CBS, says Joe and Marilyn tells “the riveting true story” of the lusty, tempestuous and brief marriage between the Yankees slugger and the iconic actress. In this and his previous 10 books, Heymann served up intimate details no other celebrity biographer could match. It was often titillating and sometimes shocking stuff. In Joe and Marilyn, Heymann wrote that DiMaggio beat Monroe, wiretapped her home and stalked her by skulking around in disguises, wearing a fake beard and for hours holding up a copy of The New York Times so no one would notice him in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria hotel.

(more…)

Celebrity Scammers Hiding In Plain Sight

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception

In one of its trademark listicles, Cracked spotlights five famous frauds who have been pretty much forgiven by the public.


“5 Successful People Who Everyone Forgets are Exposed Frauds”
by Sammy Trujillo
Cracked.com
August 25, 2014

James O'Keefe

James O’Keefe (via Getty Images)

“Making a career out of ripping people off takes a special kind of asshole. But to make a career out of defrauding the general public, get exposed as a fraud, and then keep right on defrauding people as if nothing ever happened takes a special kind of asshole with balls of industrial steel. Either that, or a sociopathic lack of self-awareness. Here are five people who just can’t stop making shit up (and are inexplicably rewarded for it).”

Swatting Ringleader Meets His Demise

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Phone Pranks, Pranksters

People do a lot of things with phones. Some are harmless and potentially amusing. Others can get you tossed in the slammer.

Photo by Eric Richardson

Swatting falls into the latter category. It involves providing an emergency service like 911 with a false tip that provokes an armed police raid on the home of an innocent (and likely terrified) person, be it a personal enemy, a celebrity, or just some guy. These hoaxes are a particular menace for the LAPD, since they happen so often to Hollywood stars.

On Tuesday, Jason Allen Neff pled guilty to running a ring of swatters in various locations. Neff, as it happens, has a long and storied career of hacking activities dating back to the ’90s. He awaits sentencing and faces five years in federal prison. The hostage faker seems poised to become a hostage of his own making.

photo: Eric Richardson, Creative Commons

Political Hacktivism, Iran Style

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Political Challenges

Iran Is Using a Neocon to Hack Its Foes
Daily Beast
by Eli Lake
May 29, 2014

John Bolton, the former U.N. ambassador under George W. Bush, is playing an unexpectedly prominent role in an Iranian cyberspying campaign.

john-bolton-hacked-425

In Iran’s intelligence war against America, the regime has a new weapon: “John R. Bolton.”

No, Iran has not turned President Bush’s former ambassador to the United Nations into a sleeper agent. Instead, hackers believed to be connected to the Tehran government are posing as Bolton on social media platforms in a scheme to get human rights activists and national security wonks to hand over their passwords and user names.

Read more here.

Facebook Fraud

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception

From Emanuele: Veritasium takes a break from his wonderful science videos to dig into the realities of Facebook “likes.” Finally, someone provides insight into ever declining user engagement with Facebook. Is this the somber sound of a social network death knell?


Watch the video:

Flappy Bird Fakes

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Fraud and Deception, Hype

From Joe King: Flappy Bird game creator, Dong Nguyen, unceremoniously removed his hugely successful app from app stores, however, Graham Cluley reports: Criminals appear to be selling fake flappy bird games. This is probably a bigger threat to western civilization than NSA’s encroachments.

flappy-bird

Regardless, speculation abounds about why he removed the game from play.

  • ‘Flappy Bird’ creator cites ‘addiction’ for pulling game, USA Today
  • Then, there’s this from Jefferson Graham, also of USA Today:

    Watch the video:

    Ask The Fiddler #22: Costly Cures for Imaginary Illnesses

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    Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Satire

    fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


    Dear Fiddler,

    I have a headache that starts in my toes, I’m allergic to my allergy meds, and my boomerang won’t come back. What remedy do you suggest?

    Barry in D.C.

    Dear Barry,

    Obviously you need a hearty dose of that legendary scourge of internal corruption, Dr. Fiddler’s Electro-Cleanse Elixir, completely recyclable and manufactured under strict sanitary conditions when circumstances permit, available at the side door at the conclusion of this essay. Two dollars for the bottle.

    stethescopeOn the other hand, you could undoubtedly improve your condition if you would quit watching TV medical ads and cease asking the Internet for a diagnosis.

    Those ads and questionable posts can be hazardous to your health. Experts say “exposure to advertising that sells a fantasy of flawless health, perfect skin, clockwork bowels, extended youth and perpetual cheerfulness in the face of disappointment, aging, money woes” … “can create expectations and perceived needs that lead to unnecessary and expensive drug consumption.”

    Of course the drug companies argue that their ads are educational. The U.S. and New Zealand are the only countries where drug companies can advertise directly to consumers. It is estimated that every ad dollar spent by Big Pharma yields a four dollar boost in sales of prescription drugs. (more…)

    Fiddle File #10

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    Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Prank Busters, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

    fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


    The Fiddle File #10

    Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

    Kentucky & Etc: Take it off? You got a gig serving burgers and fries. Now the restaurant manager is ordering you to submit to a strip-search. Here’s the history of a very bizarre hoax, pulled time and again.

    FaceBook: What makes you click? Here are some hoax headlines that have steered the curious into a marketing scam: Huge plane crashes into bridge? – Terrible roller coaster accident! – 99% Can’t Watch More Than 15 Seconds – Half Girl Half Snake! – Terrible accident with pencil! – HUGE pimple explodes – Shark eats living man! – Spider lives under skin!

    plane-crashes-bridge

    FaceBook, email: Here’s another example of the “What makes you click?” hoax. (more…)

    Fiddle File #9

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    Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Prank Busters

    fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


    The Fiddle File #9

    Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

    superstarEverywhere: Got what it takes to be a supermodel? There are plenty of sharks out there to assure you of that, all you need is some up front money. Article is from a Canadian perspective but the advice is universal.

    Cleveland: The nice stranger will give you half the proceeds if you let him cash a check using your debit card. Sounds like an easy way to pocket some loot. And it is, for the scammer.

    Staten Island: Ah, for a good night’s rest. WTF, the bed’s on fire. And your “prankster” roomy is facing a handful of charges.

    Baltimore: Looking to make a few extra bucks? Become a hoaxer bounty hunter. Coast Guard offers $2000 for the right info on this trouble-maker.

    FaceBook: What are friends for? Overseas con artists think they’re for exploiting through impostor accounts set up using your info.

    (more…)

    Fiddle File #8

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    Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Prank Busters

    fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


    The Fiddle File #8

    Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

    Los Angeles: Poor dear, is an evil curse keeping you from finding true love? No problem, for something just short of a million bucks this psychic will fix you right up. Think so?

    Your Computer: The email says your package is on its way. But you didn’t order any package. Well, better check. Nope, better not, unless you want to be phished for personal and banking info.

    Atlanta: Whew, sure glad Home Depot has public restrooms. Whoa, sure hate that some jerk decorated the seats with glue.

    Your Computer: You’re active in online communities like Facebook, MySpace, Flickr and LinkedIn. Yum, scammers love you.

    Everywhere: A good selection here, “The Twelve Scams of Christmas,” nefarious activities by scammers which you may encounter this season.

    (more…)

    How (Not) to Fake Your Own Death

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    Filed under: Fraud and Deception, How to Pull Off a Prank, Instructionals

    Bogus death for big bucks: 7 dumbest mistakes
    by Celia Seupel
    CNBC
    17 October 2013

    fakedeath-200For years, faking your own death has been an escape scheme of the desperate and a get-rich scam of the foolish. Some scammers hope to get rich quick on life insurance fraud; others try to escape the law when their other schemes go wrong. CNBC Prime’s “American Greed: The Fugitives” reports on one of the latter: Aubry Lee Price, a preacher turned day-trader, defrauded investors out of millions, then allegedly faked his own death by disappearing off a Key West ferry. Although Florida issued a death certificate, the FBI suspects that Price is still alive.

    But insurance companies have wised up, according to Dennis Jay, spokesman for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. Not only do they investigate suspicious life insurance claims vigorously; they also find that it’s hard for people to stay off the grid year after year. Here are some of the dumbest ways that the bogus “dead” have resurfaced and gotten caught.

    1. Don’t use a corpse of the opposite sex

    Molly and Clayton Daniels faked Clayton’s death to keep him out of jail and to collect on his $110,000 life insurance policy. They dug up a corpse, dressed it in Clayton’s clothes, then burned it in a car crash. However, DNA testing revealed that the corpse was female.

    (more…)

    Fiddle File #4

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    Filed under: Fraud and Deception

    fiddler-75Editor’s Note: Ask The Fiddler is a lifestyle advice column that aims to remedy more chaos and confusion than it creates. Questions may be submitted to us here at Art of the Prank, and good luck.


    The Fiddle File #4

    Here we go with another madcap roundup of hoaxes, scams and damn fool idiocy making the rounds these days. Take heed. Some of these fiddles may soon be showing up on your computer, phone or even up close and personal. Check it out:

    Beverly Hills: Great idea, bust in on your buddy pretending to be armed robbers. A real hoot, until your buddy starts breaking noses.

    Everywhere: Congratulations, you’ve won tons of money in an automated FaceBook lottery. Whoops, sorry — no money just lots of bad stuff loaded on your computer.

    St. Louis: Here’s an airline ticket, please fly to St. Louis and I’ll give you $19,000 for that ring you advertised on CraigsList. You really don’t believe this story has a happy ending?

    (more…)