Monthly Archives: November 2015

Online Holiday Shopping 2015 – Fake Charities

canstockphoto31830688Now that the holiday season is in full swing you maybe feeling the Christmas spirit. And part of the holiday season is giving to charities. And the crooks know it!

Holiday charity giving can be as much as 75% of the yearly donations most legitimate charities receive. But be on the look out for phony online charities, those collecting door-to-door and on street corners. Tis the season for the rip-off.

One of the hottest and most profitable holiday scams involves soliciting for homeless veterans. Many of these scams originate on your telephone so be aware when someone calls.

To avoid this phone charity scam check with the local Veterans Administration office. Ask if they have a list of legitimate charities for veterans. Give directly to the causes you know and choose to support. The words that should alert you are “I’m collecting on behalf of…” Don’t give money based on a heart breaking story someone on the phone tells you. Research and investigate charities and use Charity Navigator or other organizations that monitor the legitimacy of individual charities.

ScamBusters.org has a list of common veterans scams you should be aware of. The FBI also offers a list of tips to avoid charity fraud.  Another service you should know is the Wise Giving Alliance.

But holiday scammers come at you from every angle and the Internet is no exception. Cyber criminals are masters of the online holiday scams.

Twitter , Facebook and other social media websites provide tools for donating to nonprofits, and crowd funding sites like GoFundMe and Indiegogo Life provide a way to donate directly to individuals and families, as well as organizations. But keep in mind that crowd funding fraud is a real problem. The crowd funding industry is under regulated and scammers are exploiting every possible loophole.

Another holiday scam is the race based holiday scam. African-American, Latinos and other minorities are routinely targeted for holiday scams that claim to help people of color. These scams include phony coupons, job offers and package forwarding as an easy way to make money.  Some scammers play on religious beliefs and sympathies and still others prey on recent immigrants.

The elderly are also prime targets for holiday scam artists. Make sure the senior citizens in your family understand the dangers of telephone based holiday scams. Many elderly fall prey to heartbreaking stories or high pressure tactics. Another prime holiday scam preys on elderly people who may be lonely. Lonely hearts are especially vulnerable during the holidays and scam artists will use this against the elderly.  Make sure your parents or grandparents do not give their personal or financial information out to strangers.

Some of the top holiday email scams include the ‘new chip card scam.’ Scam artist will email victims with notices that look like they are from their credit card company and request the victim to click on the link to provide information to get the new chip card. Credit card companies and banks never send emails that ask you to click on a link and fill out personal information.

Another scam involves package delivery. This scam works because many people are expecting packages from online retailers or distant friends or family members. An email will arrive in your inbox regarding an important notice about your package. Don’t click on links or attachments in that email.  You will probably download malware or ransomware. Go to the delivery service webpage instead. If the package is a surprise or you don’t know who it is from ignore it. The worse that could happen is that it is returned to sender.

Social media is a hot bed for holiday scams. ‘ Secret Sister’ is a gift exchange scam making the rounds on social media.  This scam works by promising victims as many as 36 gifts in return for sending out just one gift.  Be aware and don’t fall for scams on social media.

Now you know.

App of the Week – See Something Send Something

See SomethingSadly terrorism has become a part of life. People are more aware than ever before of extremism for various causes. This atmosphere has resulted in a hyper state of alert for law enforcement and the average citizen. That is why See Something Send Something is the App of the Week.

New York state officials unveiled the app in an effort to enlist citizens in the effort to keep them safe and fight terrorism.  The app is designed to encourage citizens to report suspicious activity to the police.

See Something Send Something is not new and is currently in use in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Louisiana, Colorado, and Virginia. New York however seems to be the most inviting target for terrorist. Most recently the terrorist group ISIS released video of a suicide bomber with New York’s Times Square as a backdrop. The implication was clear.

Because of this threat and the past history of terrorists targeting New York the use of the app there will be its biggest test so far.

“It is important to remember that all New Yorkers have a role in keeping our state safe,” said state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner John Melville.

Police are however cautious about the app as it could be used to feed useless information based on prejudices.

New York Governor Cuomo said, “Of course, it’s also important to note that such apps are easily abused — particularly in times of extreme tension, users have been known to send in “tips” that are based more upon their own prejudices than legitimate concerns. When you ask for anonymous tips, you very well could get false information or information the person believes is true, but turns out not to be correct,” Cuomo admitted. “As such, significant vetting will be needed in order to ensure that the information being passed along holds water, and doesn’t simply flood the system with racist comments.”

See Something Send Something is free and available for Apple and Android.

 

 

 

App of the Week – PaidEasy

Save easyDining out is not as easy as it looks especially when you are dining with friends. You know the ones who look the other way when the check comes. Then there is keeping track of what everybody ordered and making sure the check, with tip, is correct. Then you have to take the risk of surrendering your card to a stranger who disappears and returns with the check and a smile. What happened to your card when it was out of sight? That’s why PaidEasy is the App of the Week.

PaidEasy is the new comer to the mobile payments arena but the rookie has got game. The PaidEasy app is described as  “the quickest way to discover merchants, search offers, and open and close bills.”

This payment app uses iBeacon technology to swing into action the second you walk in the door syncing with the merchant’s point-of-sale (POS) system. This rapid fire sequence allows the waitstaff to immediately add items to the bill without having to disappear with your credit card after the meal is finished.

And for those  freeloading friends of yours separate checks is really easy for everybody concerned. The customer can pay immediately with PaidEasy or, get this, just walk out the door knowing that the tab will close within 45 minutes (and include a tip).

But the miracles don’t stop there. PaidEasy provides the merchant with improved table management giving restaurants the ability to address walk-ins and cut down on table turnover.

Want more? The app integrates with Uber, Yelp, and Apple Pay easing the trip to the restaurant. Paid Easy allows customers get to the restaurant, place there order, and choose their payment method. PaidEasy even takes the surprise out of the price by allowing customers to view their bill at any time during the meal.  The final glorious benefit of PaidEasy that the app encrypts the customers credit card data so payment information never visible to the merchant.

PaidEasy is free and currently only available for Apple.

 

 

Celebrity Cyber Report – P-Diddy, Rihanna and Drake

P-Diddy’s New Album

p-diddy-in-suit

Sean “Puffy” Combs

That rapper with many names, P-Diddy, Puff Daddy, Puffy, or just Diddy, is releasing his latest mix tape on iTunes this Friday. The new collection, entitled ‘MMMfor “Money Making Mitch”, was released free on November 4th. Both rapper and businessman, Sean Combs has decided to celebrate his 46th birthday by getting back to his roots, New York, and its unique hip-hop sound. In addition to the mix tape Combs also released a black and white documentary explaining how the new release took him back to the streets of Harlem where he got his start in the hip-hop genre.

P-Diddy surprised his many fans by releasing ‘MMM’ on Spotify and Apple Music for his 46th birthday. “MMM is a thank you to my fans and is just the beginning, a prelude to what will be my final album, No Way Out 2.”  Final album!  Wait…what?

Diddy brought together  a super star collection for the ‘MMM’ release that includes collaborations with Future, Travis Scott, Big Sean, Wiz Khalifa, Pusha T, French Montana, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil’ Kim, Jadakiss, and others.

Combs interviewed with Billboard magazine and explained that ‘MMM’ is his way of “reintroducing himself” before he puts out his next full-length CD. “MMM is returning back to my roots and my style of production, hip-hop soul with that R&B side and flavor to it.  A real New York hip-hop sound.”
No release date has been announced for what maybe Combs final work but look for it in 2016. The question remains; is this really his final album? What’s his next career move? Only the ‘Puff Daddy’ knows.

Rihanna’s New Album

RiHanna

Rihanna

Singer, song writer, actress and sex symbol Rihanna is coming out with her latest album on Friday…allegedly. But where can you find it? The new release entitled “Anti” is coming exclusively to Tidal music service. Tidal is the troubled music service purchased and managed by Jay-Z and owned jointly by many different artist. The songstress has not named an official release date.

Along with the new album release is a new mobile only website called ANTIdiaRy that allows her fans to hear short clips of the albums tracks.

Although the track list has not been officially released it is rumored that her most recent single cuts including Bitch Better Have My Money, FourFiveSeconds and American Oxygen are likely to be on the new album. Rhianna has also announced a U.S. and European tour in the spring and summer of 2016.

Drake Ain’t Dead

DRakeIf it’s one thing the Internet is good for and that is spreading bad information. The latest Internet lie is that Drake, the Canadian born singer, rapper and music producer is dead. He ain’t!

No one is sure where the lie originated but the sad part is that many legitimate news sources have fallen for the hoax including Yahoo News. The lie was originally found on the Buzzfeed Community post. The site has since pulled the story. It gets even more ridiculous when you find out that a Facebook page sprang up named “R.I.P Drake” and received more than a million likes! Really?

 This not the first time Drake was declared dead and probably not the last. Oh, and did you hear that Lamar Odom is dead? No he’s not! African American Cyber Report rule # 10; Everything on the Internet is real; just not always true.

Juniper Networks Names African-American To CTO Post

kevinwalker_867008

Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker was named as the Security Chief Technology Officer or CTO for Juniper Networks on November 12th.

Walker comes to Juniper from Walmart where he served as vice president and assistant Chief Information Officer or CIO. Walker has more than 25 years experience working at some of Silicon Valleys’ biggest tech companies. His former employers include Cisco, Symantec and Veritas software.

Juniper Networks designs, builds and operates corporate computer networks and provides security products and solutions for those networks. The company employs 8,800 people in 46 countries.

Walker will take on the job of guiding Juniper Development and Innovation expanding the company’s security product development. Walker will also help to lead Juniper’s security strategy both internally and externally with investors, partners, influencers and customers. 

In a press release Walker said, “Juniper Networks has always challenged conventions in the networking industry and has maintained its focus on cyber security as a core function of how it continues to innovate and transform. I am excited to apply my professional and personal passion to help guide the company in delivering technologies to customers that enable them to stay secure amid today’s evolving landscape.”

 

Online Holiday Shopping 2015 – Is That Website Trustworthy?

Bad SantaAfrican-Americans all over the county are about to dive into the holiday  season to exercise close to a trillion dollars in buying power.  And you can bet a lot of that money will be spent online this season. So the question black people should be asking is; Is that website trustworthy?

Internet holiday shopping scams cost Americans more than $50 million in 2014. Much of the holiday scams involved phony sales from dubious websites. These websites offer hard to believe prices. The old rule still apples; if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.

So how can you tell if a website is real or not? First lets start with one of the oldest tricks in the book, fake or replica websites. Cyber criminals are very, very good at creating websites that look exactly like legitimate online stores. You may find one by accident or it may arrive in you email inbox. Cyber criminals will send out emails that lure unsuspecting consumers to their fake website that look exactly like Walmart.com or Amazon.com  or any of the popular online stores. The email may say that you have been selected for a special sale for a limited number of customers. You will find prices you won’t believe and you may even click on the link. Here is where you get taken. That link will take you to a website that looks exactly like Walmart.com but it won’t be. Look closely; the URL or website may read Wall-mart.com or Wallmart.com or Amozon.com or something very similar to the real site but designed to trick you. Be aware! Examine the URL or web address of the website carefully for anything that does not look right. Hover you cursor over the ink and look at the web address that pops up. This is a classic scam that robs thousands of people every holiday season.

If you enter your credit card information into one if these fake websites you can bet your card will be maxed out in a matter of hours.

Smart shoppers will explore the Internet for the best bargains. And these consumers will find good deals but may question the website’s trustworthiness. Fortunately there are websites that specialize in measuring website trustworthiness. Start by learning how to identify a trustworthy website here.

logoOne of the top website trust services is ScamAdviser.com. The site is easy to use and interpret and can save you money and headaches. Simply enter the web address into box and click on ‘Check It Now’. The site will return a grade on a sliding bar that will tell you exactly how trustworthy the site is. You can see what other people have been checking by clicking on the ‘Recent Checks’ menu tab. Click on the ‘Risk Sites” tab and see instantly the websites that have been labeled risky or untrustworthy. If you have a question or interest you can find answers under the ‘Forums’ tab .

Be aware that the FBI has already warned consumers that cyber scammers will be out in force this holiday season. And again the FBI warns about deals that seem too good to be true.

The FBI warns consumer of some very common tricks. These include, as was mentioned earlier, sending phishing emails advertising hard-to-get items. If you get caught in this scam it could end up costing you more than money. You could see your holiday season go down the toilet by having all your personal and credit card information stolen. And beware of  social media traps. These traps work by offerings free $500 gift cards seemingly posted by a friend. The truth behind this trap is that your friend’s account has probably been hacked and the hacker is looking for more victims.

 Now you know.

 

 

 

 

Online Holiday Shopping 2015 – The Death of Black Friday

ID-100350359

Courtesy Stuart Miles

Everyone has a story about Black Friday. Sometimes its about a great deal on a flat screen TV or a horror story about the ugly crowds and inhuman behavior. Thankfully Black Friday is dead.

More and more online retailers are offering Black Friday deals throughout the holiday season. Amazon, one of the worlds’ largest online retailers, announced it’s Black Friday Deals Store . The store is open for all Amazon customers but Amazon Prime members will get a 30 minute head start on 30,000 of Amazon’sLightning Deals.”

On of the biggest selling items during the holiday season is consumer electronics. Everyone is wishing for a giant flat screen television, laptop or tablets and other electronic goodies. Online retailer Newegg is one of many retailers killing Black Friday.

Newegg is calling this month Black November as it prepares for the holiday season war for tech dollars. Although the company has not announced specific sale details it has outlined plans to kick off deals on more than 900 products that include sales all through the month and more deals on Cyber Monday.  Retailers are jumping on the band wagon describing their holiday sales plans minus details but with promises for more specific sale information later.

America’s store, Walmart, is also offering Black Friday prices online including Apple products like the iPad Mini. The trend for many retailers is to get Black Friday deals into the stores as early as possible for as long as possible. Smart shoppers will be walking the aisles early in November and getting the same or better deals than people waiting in line at 4:00AM Friday morning. The best deals with the best selection and availability are being offered now!

Black Friday is not what many shoppers believe it to be. First of all most deals on this ugly shopping day are extremely limited in price and quantity. For example last year a major retailer advertised a Black Friday sale on a particular microwave oven for $99 when the regular price was well over $300. Thousands of people lined up all over the nation for the bargain. The harsh reality is that each store was allotted only 15 of the appliances. Consumers who read the fine details of those sales flyers will see the disclaimer “limited quantities” written in small print.

Another Black Friday deception consumers need to be aware of is the inflating of prices. Many retailers will offer products at inflated prices only to slash the price on Black Friday creating the illusion of a great deal.

Retailers are well aware that many shoppers running through their stores looking for a great deal will find something they did not come there for. Impulse buying is a big money maker and the more eyes in the store the more items will be sold.

Most of the best Black Friday sales will be found online. TheBlackFriday.com website has an extensive listing of stores and products that are selling at Black Friday prices today! Shoppers can sign up for Black Friday price alerts sent to their email.

Another website pushing early Black Friday deals is BlackFriday.com (different from the one above). This site also offers pre-Black Friday prices for products and advertisement for online sales and email alerts as well.

DealNews.com offers list of the Top 5 Best Black Friday Deals Online that is heavy with the electronics retailers but of course Walmart is among the five.

Holiday Shopping; Now you know.

App of the Week – Capitan

CapitanKeeping a grocery list can be a hassle. And many grocery apps are helpful but you can still forget things. But what if your grocery app could learn your shopping habits product preferences? That is why Capitan is the App of the Week.

Capitan is a grocery list app that possesses a form of artificial intelligence that can help you by learning how and where you shop and what you buy.

Capitan’s simplistic interface allows the user to create and share shopping lists with family members or roommates. It can learn where the products are in the store  to make your trip to the store more efficient. The app has the ability set up notifications when you are near a store you normally shop at or alert you if something from your current shopping list is being sold. These notifications can also be sent to the users smartwatch.

Capitan is free and available for Apple and Android.

 

Operation KKK

anonThe hacker group Anonymous has released the names of over one thousand KKK members. The group launched Operation KKK in response to the hate groups threat to use force against peaceful protestors after a a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.

A Twitter account for Operation KKK posted a link to a Pastebin account with the names of  individuals the group believes are members of the Ku Klux Klan.

In previous days other hackers have claimed to have hacked Klan websites and social media accounts to gather names of Klan members. Some of the names released were of prominent politicians including members of the United Sates Senate. Anonymous distanced itself from that release of names and the politicians implicated have strongly denied the accusations.

The hacker who released the names, Amped Attacks, also denied any connection with Anonymous and has offered no definitive evidence of his accusations.

Anonymous followed through on a promise to release the names on November 5th also known as Guy Fawkes Day in Great Britain.

For more information please read:

Operation KKK is Beginning to Unmask Hate Group Members

 

 

Celebrity Cyber News – Jay-Z, Erykah Badu

JayZ

Jay-Z

In another bold move it seems Jay-Z is going hard into streaming content with the release of  two original television programs through his Tidal service. 

Money and Violence, is about criminals in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood, turf familiar to the New York native. The show’s creator and star is Moise Verne. The show itself has a significant following  on YouTube. Tidal will have exclusive rights to the show for a week before it is released for wider distribution.

Tidal’s second show is a standup comedy venture named No Small Talk. According to host Cipha Sounds the show, like Def Comedy Jam, will highlight up and coming comedians “My goal is to help new guys get known,  Sounds told Variety magazine.

Since Jay-Z purchased the Tidal music streaming service earlier this year he has seen some serious set backs. His original intention was to offer a music streaming service that was owned by some the biggest artists in the music industry.

It has been a rocky beginning with the streaming service losing several executives. But the rapper/businessman/entreprenuer is not backing down from the fight to be a relevant force in the online streaming game. Recently Jay-Z was seen leaving the headquarters of Samsung Research America in Silicon Valley leading to rumors of a potential blockbuster deal with the tech company and Apple’s biggest rival.

Streaming content, be it music, television or movies is a cut throat business with some serious heavyweights fighting for supremacy. Its obvious that Jay-Z is not afraid of a good fight.

Erykah

Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu recently Periscop-ed her latest single “Phone Down” to a live audience using the Periscope app.  

So what is Periscope? Twitter’s Periscope app allows users to live broadcast their lives to an Internet audience.  Users of the app can stream live video from their smartphone allowing viewers to look at what’s happening anywhere at any given time. Video can be viewed either on a mobile device, through the app, or on a laptop or computer, via the Periscope website.

Badu broadcast herself driving around Las Vegas singing along with her new song as it blasted from the car’s speakers and talking with people on the street.  If you missed it  you can watch a replay of the stream hereBadu is working on a new mixtape called “But U Caint Use My Phone”