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tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

About a decade or so ago, I got sent an email alleging to be from a legal firm in England. Apparently I had come into some money as part of an inheritance from a relative I had never heard of, and all I had to do was send them my bank details so they could get me the money.

The first thing I thought was "if this was legit, they would be sending me a letter, not an email. And my parents would probably have mentioned this."
So I flagged it as spam and want onwards with the thought that if it was real, they would send me a letter.

I also got some lady who tried to get me to sign up for a spa treatment when I was in college. "I have no money," I said. "Oh, you must have some," she said. "Just my tuition loan money." "Oh, just use that, then."
I gave her the stink eye, and finished eating so I could get to class; she wouldn’t believe me that I really couldn't spend that money on anything except what it was earmarked for, but it was true: the loan was from the government, who would have noticed if I went spending it on something else, and (I believed) if I had gotten caught doing that, I would have had to start repayment and been ineligible for any future loans.

I don't know if it would have been true, and I never had cause to find out, but the fear of it was enough to outweigh any interest I might have had in a spa day.

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tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

Most recent scam I've seen (besides the once-every-three-months spam text message saying to click here for money from a phone company I've never had a contract with) is the Fyrefestival schadenfreude.

Which means it's about time for PSAs about how to properly vet whether the brand new convention in your favourite fandom is legit / a good idea to go to.

Tips I've seen include:
* check the credentials of the people in charge - what experience do they have here? Is it their first time trying to do something like this? Have they worked at other conventions?

* check the venue - is it going to cost a lot for you to get there? If something goes sideways with the accommodations, are you going to be sol for finding somewhere to stay? If you need to leave after the first day - or sooner - are you going to be wrangling with airlines to try and change your ticket? Do you have to arrange your own hotel room or is that included? Are there actually any pictures of the venue or the accommodations? Are there legal issues that should be mentioned and aren't?

* what are the expectations being set by the convention? Is it "small gathering of like-minded folk, maybe an artist's alley and a cosplay contest" or is it trying to match or outdo established conventions?

* how are things like booking and money being handled? How much is being asked for? What's the refund policy? Has anyone been complaining that they haven’t been paid, or backed out of attending very suddenly for reasons that aren't family emergency or their health?

Basically, if it's further than a two hour drive or requires a plane trip to another country, give it second thoughts. If the organisers haven't done this before successfully? Give it second thoughts. If this first-year convention has a schedule you'd expect from a major, well-established one, give it third and fourth thoughts.
If artists and scheduled performers are bailing, give it a hard pass. If there's no real photos of where you're going to be sleeping, hard pass. If the venue is supposed to be somewhere in a tourist area and there's no mention of working with the local community, don’t go.

Remember: it's better to go next year, if the first year was successful, than to find yourself stranded somewhere and dealing with another Dashcon or Fyrefestival.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

Jeb Bush 2012 posted:

dashcon was a tumblr convention which went about as well as you'd expect from the words "tumblr convention"

fyre festival was supposed to be a high-end music festival, and was sponsored by a bunch of famous people, which ended up with a bunch of rich people turning up on an island where their "luxury accommodation" was FEMA disaster tents and their "gourmet catering" was like ham sandwiches and I think none of the actual acts turned up because the organisers didn't pay them

afaik both of them started out with incompetence, not scamming, but the organisers ended up pulling some illegal poo poo as they grew more desperate

From what I recall, Dashcon actually started out pretty sketchy but in ways that could be written off to incompetence or inexperience. They promised the guests of honour compensation for travel and that room and board would be arranged - which is pretty standard for a small convention, and is considered a basic courtesy at this point. Among the groups that were supposed to show? The cast and crew of "Welcome to Nightvale", which was a big deal at the time because this was a major coup for an unestablished convention; you'd expect to see them at something more well-known like DragonCon. (This was, at the time, equivalent to going "we have Rebecca Sugar and members of the Crewniverse attending as guests".)

So it was an equally major scandal when the WTNV crew went "we haven't been paid, and there's no accommodation set up for us. We're hoping that will be resolved quickly, but if it isn't, we're going to pass on being at Dashcon." The organisers threw out a bunch of excuses - that the WTNV crew was actually demanding more money, that the payment must not have gone through - and the attendees ate it up and there was a brief backlash against WTNV as a result. WTNV did not end up making an appearance at the con, which turned out to be for the best even if they had spent money to travel there.

The next problem was with the hotel Dashcon had booked for the venue, where the attendees were supposed to be staying. Well - allegedly booked. Turns out there were issues there too! The story from the organisers was that the hotel was suddenly demanding more money, and it needed to be paid by a certain time or the whole convention would be kicked out. There was outcry, there was an influx of money - a lot of it, as I understand, in the form of cash dropped into a paper bag being passed around by one of the organisers with no receipts or other proof of where the money had gone - and a lot of warnings on Tumblr going "no, don’t give your money to this, this isn't how any professional convention works".

And then some/many of the events got cancelled, with promises for an "extra hour in the ball pit" for the attendees who’d been inconvenienced by this. (Yes, there was an actual ball pit. It was an inflatable kiddy pool full of balls, and it apparently got punctured at some point during this. I remember rumours that someone had peed in it, but I don't remember how true that was. The photos of a ball pit at Fyrefestival? That's the Dashcon ball pit shopped in.)

The attendees were all mostly rich or upper middle class white kids in high school or college - young enough to be easy targets for this sort of thing, and with the ready access to mommy and daddy's credit cards that was necessary for the rest to work. I think the estimate for how much the attendees got shaken down for was around a couple thousand bucks; I know there were writeups of exactly what happened, but I'm on my phone right now. I do remember that there was an attempt at a kickstarter by the same organisers, and a lot of warnings about not giving any money to it.

Fyrefestival is (as mentioned) currently in the news, and there were major warning signs about it. The lead organiser is a notorious con artist, and not only were none of the musicians paid, none of the staff has been paid; last I'd heard, they were having to start looking at whether they want to take legal action against the employer because they were being asked to stay on and work for free. There’s a particularly good writeup about what happened behind the scenes by one of the people who was in charge of contacting the bands and getting them to come, ending with the words "they didn't make me sign an nda".

Other warning signs included the fact that the attendees were lied to about the location (they were told it would be a private island, but it's actually a major tourist destination); and the utter lack of any kind of contact with the local tourism group. Also the fact that there were no photos of the accommodations; the most that was provided was a drawing of what the attendees were to expect.

The schadenfreude sets in once you find out that most of the attendees were rich white dudebros, who were expecting something like Coachella but more exclusive. (Also, no one actually got hurt or anything, just scammed and disappointed. The nearest town was actually a reasonably short walk away.)

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

Josef K. Sourdust posted:

A dark lord offered them rings of power but they didn't read the small print in the contract and ended up losing their souls for eternity? Or were they complaining because they didn't get that?

Ooh. No, I read about that one. It got linked in a psa about how to avoid convention scams. The guy running this particular scam actually started a cult.

Twice.

The first time, it was based around channeling hobbits! And he ended up bilking the woman who wrote "When A Fan Hits The poo poo" out of about 10k, because he'd convinced her to cover airfare and I think hotel rooms for the celebrities who were going to be attending the LOTR convention he was organising. The convention got called of at the last minute because of (if I remember right) health problems on the guy's part that turned out to just be a moneybeg, and she had to cancel a whole bunch of airplane tickets. She spent years dealing with the financial aftermath of that, and understandably bears a grudge for it.

The second time, uh, ended with a girl dead because he convinced her that it was a really good idea for them both to move in with her physically aggressive, unstable ex. The ex shot her, and then himself; the scammer-cult leader got shot in the foot in the process (bullet went through the door of the room he was hiding in, when the girl got shot).
He then organised a memorial hike on the gatdang Trail of Tears, and got people to fund it, and went on this hike with two other cultists. Who he 'encouraged' to get married afterwards.

He's apparently still active and has moved fandoms; last known, he was focusing on Teen Wolf and Supernatural, but people are keeping an eye on him and doing their best to warn the communities about him.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

With regards to providing links proving the Yelp thing has actually happened: http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/m/episodes/2014-2015/online-reviews-faking-it

CBC Marketplace did a piece a few years ago where they tested whether reviews on sites like Yelp and Google could be trusted. If I remember right, the verdict for every site they checked was "be careful, they might be buying fake positive reviews or being flooded with fake negative ones, it's best to actually read the reviews and see if you trust what they're saying".

I mostly remember it because I had an argument recently on r/legaladvice with someone who seemed convinced that Yelp would never post fake reviews and kept demanding I provide proof sufficient for the ever-shifting goalposts he had.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

Got a call at 6 am the other day, and answered to get a robocall that claimed it was calling on behalf of the Canada Revenue Agency to inform me that I'm being sued for tax evasion.

The robot called me back several times, because I hung up on it as soon as it started claiming it was calling for the CRA. (They don't call people and they sure as hell wouldn't use a phone call to inform me about litigation or issues with my taxes.) It even kept going when I hung up on it and it left a voice mail message with a contact number.

Unfortunately, the assholes called my mother-in-law too, and she thought it was legit for long enough to have actually given them her real address. So that's going to be interesting.

I also keep getting calls in Chinese (the only bit I understand or recognize is "ni hao"), and I have no idea why. I think it's also a robocall, since there isn't any reaction when I try and go "you have the wrong number" or "I can't understand you".

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

ianmacdo posted:

its a Chinese recording right? If its the same one everyone else is getting, I put it on speaker phone for a chinese co-worker. Turns out its the classic scam; you've won some Chinese lottery, but you just need to pay some legal fees (because you are not in china right now) and then you can get your winnings.

classics never die.

I assume it's a recording, since I've tried "I don't understand you" a couple times and the voice on the other end hasn't even paused or acted like it heard me.

I also assumed it was someone looking for the previous owner of this number, though, because as best I can tell, she dropped off the face of the earth; forgetting (or "forgetting") to update your number with loan payment people is one thing, but normally you tell your daycare provider that your number has changed. So an upgrade to "and now someone from China is chasing after this lady for money" wouldn't have been that surprising.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

Found out today that my parents have been getting PoAs set up for my grandparents, and rearranging the bank accounts to reflect that.

My grandfather is completely on board with this, since it was prompted by him getting scammed out of at least $700, possibly more, and nearly getting his identity stolen. Turns out mom and dad walked in right as the scammer was trying to pressure grandpa into scanning copies of his driver's license and passport; dad yanked the phone line and internet connection to keep that from happening, which was good thinking on his part since grandpa wasn't convinced he was being scammed until his credit card company's fraud department explained that the money he'd been trying to deposit was actually a cash advance from his own credit card.

Apparently it managed to get that far because the scammer was telling him that there was a problem with his bank account and money has been deposited wrong, and he had to withdraw it and go deposit it at a different bank. Which meant that grandpa was already primed to distrust the bank employees trying to warn him it was a scam. The only things stopping it from being worse is that one of the banks told him the account he was supposed to deposit to was closed, and his health meant that he got tired quickly and had to go home and rest - which meant that there was time for my parents to walk in during the middle of all this.

Grandpa is pretty embarrassed about it, since he's used to being the guy who's financially savvy - and my dad and uncles are shocked for the same reason. I think they all expected that if anyone got caught like that, it'd be my grandmother (whose memory is definitely going).

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

Jobbo_Fett posted:

Hi hello I would like to ask/know what the thread opinion is on STAR CITIZEN

Thanks and namaste

Just about the only thing I can think of that's scammier than bitcoin. At least with bitcoin, you have a thing that will theoretically be worth what you paid for it or more. Star Citizen doesn't even give you that much, it just gives you the promise of a thing and claims that it'll totally be worth the price when you get it.

Also, not sure whether or not it's a cult these days. It might be a cult, but the last time I heard anything about Star Citizen was at least a couple years ago.

As far as the "you don't need to know what we do" call center job goes, if whatever's going on there isn't actually illegal, then it's probably at least sketchy as hell and might be one of those things that's only not illegal because the law hasn't caught up yet. People are joking about how all call center jobs are sketchy, but I worked at a call center for a while and they were completely up front at every point that what I and my coworkers would be doing was inbound customer service for a cellphone company. I won't say it wasn't exhausting and soul-crushing to work there, but at no point did my bosses or managers try to be even a little bit vague about what kind of work we were doing.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

RenegadeStyle1 posted:

Yeah why would they devote resources or even care to increase the storage on a service almost no one uses.

Especially when they can charge you extra for increased storage, if you want more room for voice mail. (Because lol, if you need more than 3 voicemails kept for 3 days, you're going to have the money to spare for that extra space right?)

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

I've been getting calls from someone my phone is identifying as Scotiabank from a US location. It's a robocall, claiming to be calling for me about a "personal banking matter" and asks me to input my birthdate for security purposes.

(I haven't done that, of course. I hung up as soon as it got that far.)

I just blocked and reported the number, because it has been the same number each time, but I'm planning on talking with my bank to check wtf is up, just in case this was someone trying in a really dumb way to get hold of me.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

FrozenVent posted:

It’s 2019, how do you not have tap-and-go and chip and pin credit card payment loving everywhere?

Last I checked, they don't even have payment terminals that can be brought to the table at restaurants. You expect them to have tap-and-go or chip and pin when they don't even have the ability to keep their credit cards in sight when paying at a restaurant?

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

Tubgoat posted:

I'll tell any brainwashed schlub whatever they need to hear to work toward the common good. Turns out you can use the bible to justify literally anything.

You realize this only makes you sound more like a hypocritical dick who's trying to bait people into an argument so you can strawman them, right?

If you want to jerk off to Jesus, have fun. No one likes it when they're being evangelized at, and it's honestly pretty gross considering the history of forced conversion.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

I've been getting the Chinese embassy scam call, and a "this is your bank trying to contact you" scam call. (I can tell that's a scam because it's for a bank I don't have an account with.) I also got a text trying to scam me into thinking there was a problem with a previous phone bill, after I paid it, which was Fun.

I nearly got taken by that one; I was tired and blew off the fact that it was from F1d0, not Fido.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

Dumb Lowtax posted:

Who makes the decision of where and to whom your organs go? It's not all automatic right? Is jumping line in the waiting lists a thing like I've heard it is?

From what I'm aware of (which is pretty much just what I've read, I have no personal experience here), things like donation chains - where Alice's family will get tested to see if anyone is a match for Bob, in exchange for Bob's family getting tested for matches to Carol, whose family gets tested for matches to Emily, and so on down the line - are certainly real, with the agreement that anyone who can get a match and a willing donor gives up their spot on the list for whoever is immediately behind them.

I don't think that the donation matching process is automatic, but there is a pretty short window for how long organs will stay viable outside the body without a whole set of supports, and those supports aren't workable outside the controlled environment of the hospital room. So my best guess is that there's a real quick test to see if the organs are usable, and then they pull up the list of who needs, say, a new heart or kidneys and is also within a specific range of the hospital.

The decision for who makes it on that list is made well before the organs are harvested, and has a whole bunch of factors in play. How old the patient is, why they need an organ transplant, whether they're going to live long enough to make it worth the risk of surgery and immunosuppressants, etc. Moral character can come into play, too. A teenager who volunteers at the soup kitchen every weekend and needs a new liver before of cancer is more likely to get approval than an elderly alcoholic whose drinking has trashed their liver.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

I got a text saying that my Netflix payment hasn't gone through, please click here to fix it.

Joke's on them, I don't have a Netflix account.

The text saying my phone company owes me money did make me squint for a moment, though, but I blame being tired for that one.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

Just got a text from someone alleging to be from Canada Drives, saying it's been a while since we talked but she can get me a great rate on a car loan.

I don't even have a valid driver's license right now. And I'm drat sure I've never talked to anyone from Canada Drives.

(Googling turned up that they are a real company, but they're considered predatory af. I just blocked the number anyway.)

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

I've been getting a lot of calls from what's claiming to be "[cellphone company] Chinese voice department". Which would be a hell of a lot more convincing if not for the fact that I used to work for the cellphone company, and I know for a fact that they don't have a Chinese voice department.

A department with translators for Mandarin and Cantonese? Sure. But they sure as hell aren't going to contact you, you need to call them. And you're not going to get them calling a customer whose primary language is English.

The fact that it goes into Chinese robocall immediately after doesn't help either.

I'm starting to wonder if I should change my number to a local one, just to get out of so many Chinese scam calls.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

computer angel posted:

I've (fingers crossed) managed to stop the avalanche of daily calls and texts from debt collectors who think I'm someone named Nayla. Still get Chinese scam calls though despite having a local number.

Good luck. I'm still getting the occasional call from people seeking the previous owner of my phone number, three years in. Doctor's offices, mainly, not debt collection.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

I'm cultured vegies.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

Mister Kingdom posted:

This is a new one: I got an email that told me they had my passwords for all the porn websites I am a member of. They hacked my webcam and will send copies of my masturbation videos to eight random people on my contacts list unless I send them $3,000 in Bitcoin.

I have 24 hours.

What WILL I do!?!?!

Hah. I got one of those a while back, too.

Didn't do anything except change that password. Nothing came of it.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

Wrex Ruckus posted:

oh yeah, I never reply to those. I don't even bother blocking the numbers since it's a different one every time.

I rarely block them, for the same reason. I did block one recently, since it kept calling and I got fed up after the third call in as many minutes.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

BiggerBoat posted:

I bought a Kenmore refrigerator from Sears less than a year ago

Well, there's your first problem. Sears is dead and has been for a couple years now.

For content: I've been getting scam calls from a robo-caller claiming to be "the legal department from Service Canada". It's a B.C. number, which basically just means it's almost definitely a scam or a telemarketer (I haven't gotten around to changing my number to a local one), but it's probably a spoofed number.

It'd be funny if it weren't so obnoxious. Saying you're calling from Service Canada is like saying you're calling from the DMV of the United States.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

shame on an IGA posted:

Don't change your number, you have a perfect setup for IDing spoofs right now

Yeah, it's the only reason I haven't switched it yet. Switching it might make it easier to get jobs and interviews, though - having an out-of-province number looks a little odd when I'm sending in applications for somewhere local.

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tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

Captain Monkey posted:

Why? For those of us who aren’t maritime competent. It doesn’t look too much less stable than a pontoon or something. In shallow water it’d be fine, right?

Among other issues, it's a rectangle - which is pretty much the least ocean-going shape you can pick, because it means you're plowing into the waves no matter what direction you go in.

It's also a rectangular glass box, that's intended to cope with flooding and sea storms. If the winds and debris don't shatter the windows, it's probably going to capsize as soon as it gets hit by waves in the wrong direction...and at that point, it's probably a rectangular glass death trap. I don't think it'd need to be particularly strong waves, either; it might capsize in light chop, or even just an ambitious breeze.

There's a reason why traditional houseboats emphasize the boat part and leave the house part for last. Keeping the dwelling from sinking or turtling is a higher priority than lots of windows or an abundance of floor space.

Also, the way all the photos show only the water-facing side and not the dock-facing side, especially in combination with how none of the above-water parts seem to make contact with the waterline at all, gives me no confidence in the ability of that deck's implied promise of being a stabilizer.

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