Tag Archives: theft

Cruise Ship Health and Safety Website

ID-100156213Nothing beats a summer vacation except a summer vacation on a cruise ship. The cruise ship industry is a multi-billion dollars a year business. African-American spending on leisure travel and hospitality has been estimated from $40 billion to $56 billion. African-American travel in the U.S. is expected to grow 25% over this decade. In addition African-Americans can find cruise ship vacation packages tailored just for us. These cruise ship vacations feature popular black muscians, actors, comedians, athletes and other celebrities. One of the more popular of these cruises is the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage that is held annually aboard Carnival Cruise Lines.

Arnold Donald, CEO Carnival Cruise Lines

Arnold Donald, CEO Carnival Cruise Lines

In July of 2013 Carnival Cruise Line named Arnold Donald as the first African-American CEO of the company. Carnival Cruise is the worlds largest cruise ship line with more than 120,000 employees and 100 ships for the 10.5 million passengers who sail annually.

But the real issue of cruising has become the safety and health of cruise ship passengers. Cruise ships have become notorious for rapidly spreading illnesses, passenger safety issues, even crime.

Black people, like all cruise passengers, want to know that the ship they are on is clean and safe. If you plan to go on a cruise there are many questions you want to ask and have answered before you pay out your hard earned vacation money.

One place to start doing your research is a website known as Crusie Control. Cruise Control is a research tool for finding issues with individual cruise ships by searching for them by the ship’s name. According to Crusie Control there were over 1,700 passengers stricken by onboard illnesses last year. Other on board incidents include adults and children who have drowned, passsengers falling overboard, rapes and sexual assaults, theft and even murder.  You can read more about cruise ship crime here.

Cruise Control can give you the latest information on the cruise ship you wish to book passage on.  As a potential cruise ship customer you need to do the research to determne if the ship meets your specifications. Crusie Control provides the passenger shopping for a cruise vacation with the following information;

  • The year the ship was built and what company built it.
  • Total capacity.
  • Deck layout.
  • Nation of ship’s registration
  • Its current position and crusie description.
  • Health scores and inspection results with details.
  • Safety reports including serious crime and injuries as reported to the U.S. Coast Guard along with details of the incidents.
  • U.S. Coast Guard inspection with details of the deficiencies found.

Spending money on a crusie ship vacation is like anything else you buy; you have to know what you are getting for your money.  So doing your research before you set foot on board a ship is vital. Millions of passengers set sail on crusie ship vacations every year and they have a safe and enjoyable crusie with no issues whatsoever. But you can take an extra measure of caution by checking out that ship before hand. MarketWatch.com published a list of the cleanest crusie ships of 2014 to help you.

Now you know.

How Not to Buy Stolen Stuff

Everyone wants a good deal. Nothing feels better than getting a nice phone, tablet or laptop at a nicely reduced price. But on the other hand there are millions of these devices lost or stolen each year. Last year alone over 3 million smartphones were reported stolen. Would thieves continue to steal these devices if they were not easy to re-sell? I don’t think so.

So how can you avoid buying a stolen phone or other device? First let me tell you why you don’t want to buy a phone, tablet or computer from a dubious source. First of all you could be buying junk. If a smartphone is reported stolen you may be unable to activate it. Your service provider may have information that the phone is stolen and could report you as having it. Other times the service provider will simply refuse to activate the phone. You got a good deal on a useless product. Second, the device could be tracked and when the owner and the police catch up to it you get caught holding stolen property and could be charged. How do they know you aren’t the thief? Now you’re out the money and you need a lawyer.

A good deal is nice but let’s make sure you’re getting what you paid for and not a lot of regrets.

1) Be careful who you buy from. Make sure you are buying from an authorized re-seller. Cellphone service providers offer used and refurbished phones on their websites. These are nicely conditioned trade ins. You can also find good deals on Amazon, eBay, and Craigslist. But I would suggest being a little more careful on Craigslist since this is often the first stop for thieves to advertise their loot. Amazon and eBay offer profiles and seller reviews that make them more trustworthy than Craigslist. But even that is no guarantee so you have to do your homework. Check Swappa and Glyde for buying used phones as they have policies and safeguards in place for buyers.

2)Investigate. Regardless of the site investigate the device thoroughly. The ad should have basic information about the phone and its condition such as color, correct model number, and storage capacity. Also check the overall quality of the device. eBay will have conditions listed and you can see them here.   They are an excellent standard to go by. If possible make sure the picture is of the actual smartphone rather than an official photo taken from the Internet of that phone model. If you can contact the owner directly and they are not too far away ask to come by and see the phone. If they are too far away then ask for additional photos of the phone to make sure it matches the description. Ask for things like the original box it came in, manuals, the re-charger etc. If the seller does not have these things there is a problem; move on. Also ask for the original carrier if the phone is advertised as unlocked and  IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) or the serial number of the device. Sometimes these numbers are altered. You can run a check on that number at the IMEI.info website. If the seller is unwilling to share this info then again; move on.

For buyers of Apple devices Apple offers  a new service on iCloud.com called Check Activation Lock Status. This lets the potential buyer quickly see if a device was reported stolen or missing. Just enter the IMEI or serial number of the device you’re thinking of buying. You will immediately know if someone used the Find My iPhone app to implement the Activation Lock. Activation Lock was first introduced in iOS 7 and it completely locks down the device rendering it useless until the proper Apple ID and password have been entered. So if you make the mistake of buying an Apple device that was stolen, you won’t be able to use it. And don’t even dream of getting your money back. You can also check the remaining warranty on the device using the serial number.

3) Can you return it?  Ok, you’ve done the homework and believe that the device is legit. Don’t hand over the money just yet. If you’re buying the phone off Craigslist ask the seller to meet in a public location like, say, the carrier store so you can activate it following your purchase, with the seller there. This the best final step. If the phone does not activate keep your cash. Another thing; if they already gave you an IMEI or ESN, you’ll want to double check that it matches up before handing over any cash. And if they didn’t give you that information before, you can check the serial number with one of the sites we mentioned above once you have it in hand. With Amazon and eBay they have strict requirements for the seller on their sites and the seller must provide a return policy or state all sales are final. If you see that then just go with another seller. Always make sure you have a safety net. Remember;  Caveat Emptor, let the buyer beware.

Now you now.

Ok, so now what do you do with the old phone?

Video: Avoid Credit Card Fraud

Life is good. You have great dinner and whip out that credit card to pay for it. That sexy watch at the mall; break out that card. And of course drinks with the boys. All these purchases require you to surrender your card to a stranger for just a few minutes and in that few minutes you may get ripped off.

Credit card fraud is a fast growing crime that is very profitable. American credit cards are easy to duplicate because they only have a magnetic strip. Unlike European cards that have a chip embedded in them. Thats coming to the U.S soon but until then focus on protecting yourself.  Welivesecurity.com provides this excellent video to educate you on how to avoid credit card fraud.

Zeus Malware


Courtesy of Stuart Miles

Zeus Malware is the most notorious and successful malware ever to strike the banking industry. So successful that many other malware products have copied it. But lets keep this simple, Zeus malware on your computer can permit cyber criminals to clean you out!

This website is dedicated to keeping black people safe online. And this is a good example of something the African-American community needs to know about.

 Zeus is a Trojan horse.  That means it will disguise itself as something else to get into your computer, smartphone or tablet. Remember that malware, like viruses, require you to do something to allow it into your computer. Software can stop a virus or clean it up after its done it’s damage but no software can stop you from downloading it in the first place. That where education come in. That’s what I do at AACR.

Once Zeus infects a machine, it remains dormant, sometime for months, until you visit a web page with a form to fill out. Zeus’ most powerful feature is that it permits the criminal to add additional fields to forms in the browser. That’s right! This malware has the power to modify online forms in your browser. Some malware can re-direct you to a fake website. Zeus won’t do that. Instead Zeus will show you the legitimate website. Thats where this malware works its evil magic. Zeus might ask you to fill in an additional blank that it created itself. That’s how it steals information; banking information, passwords and user names.

Zeus can be fully customized to steal information and credentials from banks in specific geographic areas, like your city or county. It can be distributed in many different ways, including email attachments and malicious web links, also known as the drive by download. Once infected, a PC can be recruited to become part of a botnet. Remember what I said; there is no software to stop you from clicking on the wrong link or downloading an attachment.

Zeus is a professional malware product. It can be purchased on the black market and it is easy to use. You don’t have to be a computer geek to purchase the technology then use it to carry out cyber crimes. According to a 2010 report from SecureWorks, the basic Zeus package starts at about $3,000. Additional modules, which can cost as much as $10,000, are available for specific tasks.

Now you need to know how to find and remove the Zeus malware if you have it. First of all don’t think for a second that you don’t have it. Its a good possibility that you do. Because a Trojan horse malware built with a Zeus toolkit is adaptable and so many variations are out there. Zeus Trojans are often missed by even the best anti-virus software applications. According to Trusteer, a leading security vendor, 77% of the PCs infected with Zeus Trojans have up-to-date anti-virus software. So it doesn’t matter that you have the best anti-virus software available, you could still have it.

But you can download free Zeus removal software from numerous sites. And I suggest you do so as soon as possible. You will find the list of sites with free Zeus Removal software at the end of this article.

Another serious issue with Zeus and other malware is that people think they don’t have it on their computer.  Since no money is missing from your accounts or no fraudulent charges show up on your credit cards you think you are safe. You are so wrong!

First of all not all malware steals financial information. Sometimes malware is designed to simply collect information. Keep in mind that you have a lot of information that can be sold on the Internet black markets. And there is a lot of malware designed specifically to collect your sensitive information.

2014 Trustwave Global Security Report showed 45 percent of data thefts in 2013 involved non-payment card data.  What data? Information such as your username and passwords for websites, personal or family confidential documents, address books and email contacts, social security numbers, pictures and other personally identifiable information. Malware can steal anything that can be converted to cash via re-sale, wire transfers, identity theft or even extortion.

Another known malware labeled Pony not only steals banking credentials, but also all other user names and passwords on your computers. Hackers use the information to hijack your email, social network accounts and any other online accounts you have. Pony malware can also steal crypto-currency like Bitcoin. All this information and more allows criminals to rapidly rake in the cash or do other damage to your life.

What kind of damage? Cyber criminals use non-payment card information to initiate additional attacks against you, the victim. They steal your email address lists. This information is pure gold to spammers. They use these email adresses to send billions of spam messages, enticing offers that spread malware and find more victims. Black people love to forward prayers to spread the word of Jesus. You get them in your inbox or on your Facebook page all the time. And it will tell you to pass it on to five more people or ‘Like’ it. This could be a tool of information theft or just a spammer collecting email addresses. Remember there is no software to stop this. You have to know whats happening.

You can be the victim of an online extortion scam. Cyber criminals use specialized malware to extort money directly from you. Blackshades malware can hijack the webcams on your computer. The cyber criminal can then collect embarrassing pictures and videos of you and your family. Since they have stolen your email contacts and social media user name and passwords they can threaten to send the images to everybody you know. This includes your employer and everybody you work with; unless you pay. And it can sometimes be in the thousands of dollars!  Ransomware like Cryptowall will freeze your computer or encrypt your valuable data. The cyber criminal then demands payment to release your computer and data. 

There is a lot of malware floating around the Internet. Its all looking for the you to slip up and click on something you shouldn’t. Remember, a virus or other malware needs you to do something to help it work. Learn what not to do.

Now you know.

The following links will help you find and remove malware and viruses from your computer.

AVG Zeus Removal Tool

CNET Zeus Trojan Remover

Bitdefender Zeus Trojan Remover

TrendMicro Housecall