Tuesday, September 15, 2009


This is going to be short and sweet (finally a short article).

I and my friends have been scammed three times in a very short period of time.

I thought I would share with you because, I feel, this is interesting and also highlights how real this "recovery" really is.

Scam 1.
My friend received a ticket, while his car was parked on a residential street. Originally we thought that the ticket was for some kind of an illegal parking, and as we walked to the parking spot the next day we could not see any signs that would state no parking or permit required.

I was very familiar with the street and knew that it was legal to park there, and it is a small, quiet residential street.

Walking a bit further (a block, actually) I noticed that one tree (one tree only!) had a paper sign on it that stated that from such-and-such day to such-and-such day for these hours parking is prohibited.

These are called "temporary tow zones" and are because of an upcoming parade or a marathon or some such event.

This, being a small, side street, there is no chance that such an event is likely in the near future.

Needless to say the government thugs show up after people go to work in the morning (after people leave for work) or at night, the notices of "no parking" are plastered on a few trees haphazardly, or are found on the ground, they are hard to spot in any case, and the tow trucks and police are waiting with their fangs bared for the exact minute when the tired, after-work motorists park their cars as they always did, legally, for years on end, on the same home street, waiting for the time when it is, per the "tree" notice, illegal to park there (say, 5AM or 7PM).

Read up on this and see the "tree notes" on the theexpiredmeter.com site, worth a quick look.

Scam 2.
Another Chicago motorist story.

A friend received what we thought was a parking ticket, but it wasn't.

Illinois has draconian laws, and one that just changed is a ticket for having tinted windows.

The fine went from $25 to (wait for it...) $250.

It was, of course, passed UNANIMOUSLY by every single alderman (their care for the safety of the citizens endangered by mildly tinted windows which protect from the sun glare is touching).

There is no test applied by a police officer to spot if a window is tinted legally or not, nor any method of measurement used.

Simply put, the law puts the decision squarely on a policeman's shoulders.

Needless to say, ANY tint on your car windows WILL result in you supporting Daley's Olympic adventure (and his real estate builder buddies who are itching to build useless stadia and apartment complexes, especially in this horrible economy, all paid by for us, the taxpayers) and Stroger's big family, ALL of whom are employed in state government in various positions, making an annual average $100,000... each (Stroger's big family all of whom are basically employed by the local government is a legend in Chicago).

Violation is 9-76-220 (a) or (b), with the letters standing for moving or parked violation.

$250... you have been warned.

Scam 3.
I noticed on my grandma's cell phone account that she was paying $15 more than usual. I checked it out and lo and behold, in the Other Charges section there was an entry entitled Love (?) Soulmate (?) and then an 800 number.

I called the cellphone provider and told them about it.

The nice lady at the other end of the line informed me that this is a premium texting service, all quite legal, and that my grandma has enrolled herself in it.

I asked her how my grandma could manage that and the nice lady told me that my grandmother went to an internet web page, applied there, and THEN sent a text back to them with a special numeric code.

Which is somewhat funny as my grandmother does not have a computer nor does she know how to get on the internet, and also the fact that she never texted anything on her cellphone to anybody... ever.

The official lady was quite adamant that it must have happened this way, but as I talked to her and fished for information (basically very nicely interrogating her) she let slip that:

* the cellphone companies work hand in hand with the so called premium services, going so far as to give them their clients information (perhaps they look for older folks, hmmm?)

* there are various ways to enroll in this scam, for example, calling American Idol and voting automatically enrolls you in such service (there is yet another reason to hate that haltura show).

Of course, I was told to pay my cell phone service provider the full amount, and the lady told me that I have to call the scammers myself and stop the service myself.

I countered (very nicely) that I will only pay what I owe for the service, and that the service provider better cancel the service NOW and also that she better apply for a refund for this scam ASAP.

Which was done, although I was told that the provider may cut my service if I don't pay the full amount (which includes the scam amount), as the refund may take a month to clear... or more (or who knows when the scammers will deign to return the stolen money).

To which I replied that in that case I would start a class action lawsuit, because this has been going on for a while and my family is not the only victim of this bullshit.

If they force me to pay for this scam I will switch providers - in fact, I should do that anyway, as this cellphone company works hand in hand with scammers providing them with their clients' information (hey lady, guess what - this phone call is RECORDED for YOUR protection, ALSO).

Bonus Scam: Can't prove it's a scam but I just know it is scam
Vapsup virus.

I have (had, actually - past tense) a free anti virus called PCDoctor. Running its scan at 6PM, as usual, it got a bunch of hits with low threat rating, mostly cookies and such.

Lo and behold, one entry I got was a medium threat called VAPSUP trojan.

Trojans are bad news, as they are basically a means for a third party (black hat hacker) total access to your computer, including installation of keyloggers that will steal your credit card numbers and passwords, as well as them getting all the info you keep on your computer.

Trojans are bad news.

I did what I always do when I discover a virus on my PC, I googled.

I got a lot of hits, two pages worth and more.

Interestingly, they ALL led to pages which claimed that PCDoctor will detect this trojan, but that to remove it one better purchase the full version of this software.

EVERY web page that had VAPSUP trojan information led to a commercial/ad to buy/download PCDoctor (which is, or in my suspicious mind was, a legit antivirus software, pretty good in fact).

There was even a short film on a webpage, with an English accented guy talking about how to remove this trojan.

And would you believe it... he recommended PCDoctor.

EVERY SINGLE PAGE that dealt with removing VAPSUP led to PCDoctor as the solution.

No other products (such as the superb malware bytes - highly recommended, free scanner, best on the market in my opionion, nor Avast, nor AVG, nor Kaspersky) mentioned this mysterious, new Trojan - only PCDoctor can cure it... once you purchase it.

Of course, I am just paranoid and stupid and much too much suspicious...

All of which leads me to my final point.

These are desperate economic times, in fact, these are desperate times.

People are not paying their balances, are foreclosing their homes and walking away from it all, their credit rating be damned.

There is no recovery (more on that in my next post, which should be HUGE... a typical americangoy doozy of a post) except for the rally / bubble in the stock market, artificially pumped up by politically connected private firms (like Goldman Sachs) who use complicated computer programs (algos) to squeeze ordinary Joe Schmoe investors / daytraders puts and shorts and use High Frequency Trading to pump up the volume and gains.

Again, next article will be a bombshell explaining about HFT, the "recovery" and how things work - the no bullshit version of what's happening now, goy style (stay tuned).


syoung27 said...

Most of the temporary parking signs going up in Chicago right now are for tree limb trimming. I'm not saying this is what happened in your case, but that is one reason why they pop up in low-traffic neighborhoods.


Frankly, its the entire operating system which your computer is running which is a scam. Switch to Linux (as I have for already 9 years) and forget about virusus, trojan, disk defragmentation, anti-virus software, rescue disks and all of the rest of the crazy useless idiocy of the Windows world.

Oh, and Linux with its 25'000+ applications does not cost you a penny. Try Ubuntu for starters - its easier to use than any other operating system out there.



AmericanGoy said...

Thanks for your comments, syoung27 and saker.

I have to use Windows because of a piece of software from work on my home computer.

And yes, tree pruning makes sense...

Rocket said...

TY Americangoy for the link to my consumer scam section. My apologies for not spotting it much sooner. Cheers and great blogging.