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Posted by on Jul 28, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Personal, Rants and Raves | 3 comments

The Check-Deposit Scam

 

 

I’m holding a check in my hand for $6,850.12.

Unfortunately, it’s not even worth 12 cents.

This makes me the latest unsuspecting target of a popular scam that’s been going on for many years called the “Fake Check Deposit.”

Here’s what happened to me and typically how the scam works.

A few weeks ago, I scanned Craig’s List for odd jobs and temp opportunities to make some extra income.  Craig’s List and similar platforms allow people to post long- and short-term gigs doing all kinds of different tasks — from driving a car, to bricklaying, to joining a band, to webcam modeling.  Since my webcam modeling career is on a downswing right now, I answered an ad for a temporary chauffeur.

I sent a short e-mail listing my qualifications and also conveyed my 24/7 ability for the position.

The next day, I received a response from “Dr. Lee.”

Dr. Lee explained that he/she lived in Toronto.  He would be visiting Las Vegas to attend an upcoming conference.  Dr. Lee needed a private driver for one month.  He needed transportation between his hotel and the conference and also wanted to do some sightseeing.  His e-mail was well-written and certainly appeared that it could have come from a doctor.  Although still somewhat skeptical, I believed this job opportunity could be real.

I accepted the position which paid $800 per week, for four weeks, plus a small bonus awarded at the end of the assignment.  The pay seemed reasonable for the work and hours involved.

Next, in his follow-up e-mail, Dr. Lee explained he would need to rent a car which had to be a luxury vehicle.  He noted that he’d leased a Mercedes GLE in the past, which was an SUV priced at $53,000.  This month-long lease would be every expensive.

Dr. Lee informed me that he’d send me certified check by Federal Express.  I’d receive it the next day.  He told me to take the check, deposit it into my personal bank account, and then a few days later when funds were available to make the lease arrangements.  Dr. Lee would later provide the name of the leasing company.

This temp job started to smell fishy.

But I decided to play along.

The next day, a Federal Express envelope arrived at my doorstep.  The only item inside was a single slip of paper.  It was a check for $6,850.12 made payable to “Nolan Dalla.”

The check image can be seen in the image above.  Note that I’ve blacked out personal information and the bank account numbers.

The checked looked and felt very real.  It had a water seal embossed in the paper.  It was signed by someone, but it wasn’t Dr. Lee.  Perhaps this was Dr. Lee’s personal assistant.

I did some quick investigating.  I performed a bank account search, which can be done online within just a few seconds.  To my surprise, the bank ID number wasn’t made up.  It actually matched the name of the bank, listed as “City Bank N.A.”  The account number also appeared legitimate.  But the check also had some glaring peculiarities.

My check for almost seven-grand was drawn from a business account listed as “National Sorghum Producers.”  That company is based on a remote highway in Lubbock, Texas.  I don’t want to seem cynical, but this seemed like an odd financial arrangement that a small company in West Texas would be paying for a car and driver for a Canadian doctor soon to be visiting Las Vegas.

Here’s an image of the company from MapQuest, when I typed in “National Sorghum Producers” located at 4201 North Interstate 27; Lubbock, TX; 79403:

 

 

Well, shit.

My heart sank.  Gee, I guess I wasn’t going to be chauffering a doctor around Las Vegas, getting paid to drive a new Mercedes.

I’d been instructed to deposit this check immediately.  Time was critical since Dr. Lee was coming into town next week.  Within just a few days, my funds would be available.  I was told to keep $800 for my first week’s pay and then send the remainder to rent the car in advance.  I’d be given the details of where to send the money once I confirmed receipt of the check.

This thing wasn’t just fishy.  It was now as smelly as week-old sardines.

Dr. Lee emailed me that same day.  “Did you receive my Federal Express envelope with the check?” he asked.

I decided to play along and get clever.

“No, it didn’t arrive,” I replied.  “Maybe you got my address wrong.”

After a few back-and-forth e-mails, Dr. Lee informed me that he’d Federal Express another check which would arrive the next business day.

“Great!” I replied.  “I can’t wait to start driving for you!”

The following day, another Federal Express envelope arrived at my front door.  Inside was an identical check in the same amount.  Each “Priority Overnight” delivery cost the sender $17.50.  So, Dr. Lee was now on the hook for $35.00 in express delivery charges.  He was a doctor, right?  So, he could afford it.

“Did you get the check this time,” Dr. Lee wrote.

I waited a full day, and then responded as follows:

“Gee, I don’t know what’s the problem.  I’ve been waiting for the Federal Express envelope, but neither one arrived yet.  Can you check with National Sorghum Producers and see if they sent it out yet?”

Bada-boom!

I never heard from “Dr. Lee” again.

The scam was reported to authorities.  I also contacted my bank, which confirmed these scams do often happen.  The problem, I was told, is that some people really believe these checks are real and mistakenly think they have no liability.  The truth is — if a check is deposited and gets returned, the account holder is fully responsible for the funds.  Some banks have been known to close the accounts of people who have fallen prey to this scam, even if from naivete.  Older people, students with little financial experience, and poor people, often desperate for any chance to earn income are particularly susceptible to this scam.

Indeed, I learned the scam does sometimes succeed.  How and why?  Laws require that funds be released to customers and made available in a timely manner, sometimes in as little as a few days.  I could have done precisely as instructed — deposited the check, kept $800 as my payment, and then transferred $6,o00 to the “rental car agency,” who was actually the scammer eagerly awaiting the fruits of his heist.  By the time the check was found to be fraudulent and bounced, which might take weeks, the scammer would be long gone with my money.  I’d be 100 percent responsible for making up the lost $6,000.  Who knows — maybe the scammer really does drive a brand new Mercedes, paid for by unsuspecting victims of the fake-check swindle.

There’s an old saying that goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

We should all learn ways to protect ourselves.  One of the best ways to dissuade scammers is to play along and get them to invest time and money digging down an empty hole.  So, my advice is to make things as costly as possible for them.  Milk them dry, even if it’s just for the cost of a Fed Ex express delivery.  Make them pay.  Then, report the incident to proper authorities.

Now, it’s back to Craig’s List again.  Let’s see what other exciting opportunities I can find and trouble I can get into.

_________

 

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Posted by on Feb 11, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Rants and Raves | 2 comments

Morsels of My Madness IV

 

 

Random thoughts that came to me while eating sour lemonade and drinking a ham sandwich…..

 

[1]  If asked to describe my social media account in just five words or less, I’ll go with this:     OLD MAN YELLS AT CLOUD.

[2]  Actor “Rob Lowe” was trending last week.

My first thought was:  Did he die?
My second thought was:  Sexual harassment?
My third thought was:  Another old blackface photo?

This is the world we now live in.

[3]  I don’t want to sound sacrilegious, but The Bible is boring.  It’s a terrible book.  Hint:  If they want more readers, hire Stephen King to do a massive re-write.  If there’s a movie, toss in a few car chases.

[4]  I’m waiting for Five-Thirty-Eight to do a detailed study on the inverse relationship between aging and the number of current hit songs someone can name.

[5]  Someone posted an early draft of the Green New Deal, which contains some crazy-sounding stuff.  Okay, whatever.  Let me remind everyone that Sir Paul McCartney’s first draft of a weird song that started out as “Scrambled Eggs” eventually became a rock masterpiece titled, “Yesterday.”

[6]  Has anyone checked to see if Matthew McConaughey actually drives a Lincoln Navigator?  I really want to know.

[7]  Too bad Rep. John Dingell died last week at the ripe young age of 92.  He was almost old enough to run for president.

[8]  I’m done playing in poker tournaments because I’m fed up with all the table changes.  I always get moved off my starting table straight into the parking lot.

[9]  Has anyone ever approached the seating host at a restaurant and said, “I’m starving — oh, and I’m here with the Donner Party?”

[10]  If children got screwed by clowns as often as they get doodled by priests and preachers it would be against the law to take your kids to the circus.

[11]  Not sure who I’d rather see doing hard time busting rocks in a prison yard — Donald Trump or Sheldon Adelson.  Here’s an idea:  Handcuff the two shitbags together.  That would make one helluva’ reality television show, wouldn’t it?  Gives The Defiant Ones a whole new meaning.

[12]  I’m curious about something.  In 1969, we landed a rocket on the moon using computers the size of a gymnasium.  Now, fifty years later, how come I can’t get a fucking internet connection in Downtown Summerlin?

[13]  Why are so many old extremist Right-wing White men scared of a relatively powerless 29-year-old freshman socialist congresswoman of color?

[14]  When you wash your car at one of those do-it-yourself places, isn’t handling the scrubber kinda’ like using someone else’s toothbrush?

[15]  The timeline of every rock band:

  1.  Struggle
  2.  First Hit
  3.  Pop Stardom
  4.  Drugs and alcohol
  5.  Fights
  6.  Breakup
  7.  Recovery
  8.  Boredom
  9.  Bankruptcy
  10.  Reunion tour

[16]  I’m genuinely curious.  How can people with no original thoughts and utterly nothing interesting to say somehow get 450,o00 twitter followers?

[17]  Am I the only person alive still using Windows 98?  Shouldn’t I get a lifetime achievement award or something?

[18]  Though it does take creativity, I figured out how to live totally rent-free.  My new home address is an IKEA store.

[19]  The word “FUCK” is the most creative word in the English language.  Think of how many derivatives there are and different ways it can be used.  Even the way “FUCK” is said aloud can mean completely different things. “FUCK!” said one way can mean, “this is terrible!” yet can also mean “this is wonderful!” based solely upon the inflection of one’s voice.  Whoever invented the word is a fucking genius.

[20]  You haven’t really stood up for much in life unless you have at least a few haters.  It’s good to have haters.  Hate from those who are ignorant is a currency as valuable as gold.

 

Want more?  Previous “Morsels of My Madness” here:

NOW A TRILOGY:  MORSELS OF MY MADNESS

EVEN MORE MORSELS OF MY MADNESS

MORE MORSELS OF MY MADNESS

__________

 

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Posted by on Feb 10, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Politics, Rants and Raves, What's Left | 1 comment

Why Do They Lie So Much About Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

 

 

Frantic to deflect our attention away from the malady of Trump and his voluminous crimes, the far-Right has resorted to flinging a ceaseless bombardment of demonstrable falsehoods, hoping they’ll stick.  With Hillary Clinton fading into the past, they desperately need a new bogey-woman — and now appear to have found her. 

Here’s to exposing their lies with facts and telling the truth….     

 

Why do they lie so much?

That’s the big question I’ve been asking myself since the unexpected and unprecedented rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 29-year-old newly-elected congresswoman from New York who’s made quite the political splash in Washington.

Ocasio-Cortez’s has become so well-known, so fast, she’s now known by a simple three-letter moniker, “AOC.”  Her appeal among progressives is well-justified.  She’s young.  She’s energetic.  She’s genuine.  She’s fearless.

AOC’s meteoric rise onto the national stage has also made her into an inviting political target.  She’s become the victim of outright fabrication.  Already, there’s a vast disinformation campaign underway which intends to discredit her.  The far-Right’s assembly line of lies has been cranked into action.  The hate machine is going full blast.  Like a doomsday machine that can’t be shut off once it’s been programmed, this is only the beginning.  The deceptive anti-AOC narrative has been artfully crafted.  Eventually, it becomes impossible to alter first impressions and change stubborn simple minds.  Political disinformation campaigns work. 

Take a look at all the activity related to AOC spewed across social media platforms this past week.  She’s become the poster girl for extremist Right-wing backlash.  Frantic to deflect our attention away from the malady of Donald Trump and his voluminous crimes, the conservative movement has resorted to flinging a ceaseless bombardment of demonstrable falsehoods, desperately hoping they’ll stick.  With Hillary Clinton fading into the past, they desperately need a new bogey-woman — and now appear to have found her.

For example, here’s just one of many social media outlets blasting AOC with completely made-up accusations.  Some troll calling itself “The Patriot Conservative” somehow has several thousand followers.  The Facebook page is percolating with attacks on AOC.  Let’s be quite clear — political criticism is certainly fair game.  However, complete disregard of the facts and outright fabrication is not.

Check out this deceptive post at “The Patriot Conservative.”  It mocks AOC (and several other Democratic congresswomen) for allegedly not standing up during Trump’s State of the Union Address at the instant a 10-year-old girl was introduced to the crowd and lauded for overcoming brain cancer.  Here’s a snapshot of the false post:

 

Falsehoods from the far-Right aren’t the exception.  They are now the rule.  Their toxicity has gone viral, infecting an army of faithful foot-soldiers.  Impressionable followers, numbering in the thousands, are willing to gobble up any lie.  Too lazy to fact-check anything, they share this garbage and litter the social media landscape with lies.

Again, here’s clear evidence.  Hundreds and perhaps thousands of memes exploded all over Twitter and Facebook in recent days, hammering AOC for “not standing.”  Here’s just one of the countless examples of fakery:

 

 

The meme looks really bad, doesn’t it?  Allegedly, AOC didn’t even stand up nor applaud when the young cancer survivor was recognized by Trump during his speech.  The photograph even shows AOC scowling.  [Oh, and by the way, the memes can’t even get the girl’s age correct.  She’s not 8.  She’s 10.]

There’s only one problem.

The meme, the photo, the entire incident — all are demonstrably false.  It’s completely made up.  It’s garbage.

Don’t take my word for it.  Here’s proof.

I went back and carefully watched Trump’s introduction of the young cancer survivor.  It took one click on YouTube and about 3o seconds to realize what was being reported was a total lie.

Here’s the screenshot I took of AOC and other Democratic congresswomen (mostly dressed in white, which makes them easy to identify).  This image shows AOC at the very instant the young girl is introduced to the crowd:

 

 

Note who standing up at the second Trump makes his introduction.  In case it’s not clear, that’s AOC in the row behind the table.  That’s her — STANDING UP.  That’s her — APPLAUDING.

Should you suspect I doctored this photo, or believe it’s from a different part of the State of the Union speech, watch for yourself in real time.  Click the short clip below.  You can fast-forward to the 2:20 mark, which is when Trump makes his introduction and AOC and the others stand and applaud:

 

 

Seriously, do these people have no shame?

What to make of the social media sewer that manufactures this fakery and the willful idiots who spread their lies?

Unfortunately, it’s too late now.  Many more people will click and share the false AOC meme than will ever read this column.  No one bothers to verify its accuracy.  Moreover, this is just one of the countless other examples of grotesque disinformation floating around the internet intended to malign AOC.

This does raise a more poignant question.  If AOC’s ideas about economic inequality, universal health care, and global warming are so wrong, why then do they ridicule her appearance, question her patriotism, deride her background from modest economic means, and fabricate bullshit?  Why don’t they just stick to the issues?

Is this yet another despicable example of misogyny?  Is it racism?  Perhaps, somewhat.  But I think it’s much deeper than that.  The far-Right knows they can’t win on the issues.  Their only hope is to demonize the most convenient messenger-target and if necessary, make stuff up.  The mudslinging is working.  Apparently, about 40 percent of the country swims away with the juicy bait — hook, line, and sinker.  They’ve become the pupfishes of political deceit.

Next time you see another anti-AOC meme, ask yourself one simple question — why are they attacking a 29-year-old female congresswoman with relatively little voting power compared to the vast arsenal of political and economic heavyweights who have sewn so much discord?  Why do they feel so threatened by this young lady?

Why do they make up lies?

__________

 

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Posted by on Feb 8, 2019 in Blog, Essays, Rants and Raves | 3 comments

Now a Trilogy: Morsels of My Madness

 

 

Can’t stop the madness:  Crazed lunacy or revelation?  You decide.

 

[1]   I don’t want to come across as being too judgmental, but some people disgust me just by what they order to eat.

[2]   Why is it when I deal with Scandinavian people, they speak and write English — which is their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th language — far better than most Americans?

[3]  Three Important Facts of Life:  1.  Barbecue is meant to be served in giant portions.  2.  Rock n’ roll is meant to be played really loud.  3.  Anyone who serves wine at room temperature shouldn’t be allowed to serve wine.

[4]   True Story of What Happened Last Sunday at a Casino Super Bowl Party in Las Vegas:  A customer became so outraged at being charged $8 for a hot dog that he slapped the vendor.  That’s just wrong.  Next time, use the entire fist.

[5]   Eugene Levy is the John Cazale of comedy.  Everything he appears in is good just because he’s in it.

[6]   I’m proud of myself.  This week, I stepped onto the treadmill four times.  Now, if I could just figure out where the button is to turn the damn thing on.

[7]   If a homeless man somehow gets elected to the House, does that mean he’s not homeless anymore?

[8]   If binge drinking causes short-term memory loss, what does binge drinking do?

[9]   Bible people believe that all women on earth originated from a man’s single rib.  Does that mean there’d now be 12 women for every man if he’d forked over a full slab?

[10]   How do you stop eating salsa and chips at the Tex-Mex place whatever comes first — they run out or you die?

[11]   Meditation is 50 percent telling your brain to shut up; 30 percent trying to recall which day was your dentist appointment; 15 percent trying to remember who co-starred with Michael Keaton in Night Shift; and 5 percent actually meditating.

[12]  If I blurt out what kinky sex acts I want to do with Alexa, will she think I’m a pervert?

[13]  When he dies, if Sheldon Adelson decides to get cryogenically frozen, will anyone notice he’s deceased?

[14]  Just once, I’d like to pick the right checkout line at the grocery store.

[15]  I can’t watch Family Feud anymore.  Last time I turned it on, the answers were so bad I wanted to punch out both families.

[16]  My goal this year is to get completely out of debt.  Now, if someone can just lend me $230,oo0 I’ll be all set.

[17]  Who the fuck wears white tennis shoes?  Seriously.

[18]  Quit bitching, fellow liberals.  We should all be thrilled the dufus in the White House is working only 3 hours a day.  Imagine the damage he’d do if he was both incompetent and hard-working.

[19]  So far, one of the great accomplishments of my life is not being able to name one song or lyric by Kanye West.

[20]  I find comparisons between Trump and Hitler to hysterically inaccurate.  Take just a couple of differences.  Hitler was reasonably smart, loyal to his country, loved animals, and faithful to his wife.

 

Note:  Previous “Morsels of My Madness” here:

EVEN MORE MORSELS OF MY MADNESS

MORE MORSELS OF MY MADNESS

__________

 

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