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My search on Craigslist for a used car for sale from a private seller soon yielded some exciting results.  When I compared the listed cars to the appraisal value, they were selling for way under market value, by thousands of dollars.  According to the listings, these couple cars had low mileage, were about 6 or 7 years old, good brands, and had some nice features.  I wondered what was wrong with them.  Still, not wanting to pass up a possible good deal, I sent out emails asking for more information.  My number one question is the VIN #, by which you can purchase a vehicle history report through CarFax.com or AutoCheck.com.  AutoCheck’s unlimited subscription was cheaper than Carfax’s, so I went with them.  It was about $45.

 

One woman emailed back, explaining that she was about to ship out to Afghanistan, and so needed to ship the car quickly.  She included a link to more information about the car, including a list of features, and the VIN.  But her though her listing had said the car was in Denver, her email said it was in Nevada.  And when I looked up the VIN, the Vehicle History Report gave some different information about the car, even some disturbing things like accidents or salvage titles.  She said she wanted to use Ebay’s Buyer Protection program to complete the transaction, so we would both be protected.  But Ebay doesn’t offer buyer protection unless the sale is done on Ebay.  How would that work?

 

Then I got another email about another car that was a great deal on Craigslist.  This email sounded way too similar.  He was about to ship out to Afghanistan also, but from North Dakota, and wanted the money to buy military stocks.  He would us a Military Shipping and Sales Service to protect our transaction, and ship the car to me free of charge.  I ran a Google search on his Military Shipping and Sales service.  I’ve played around with making a letter look like official letterhead.  If you can get a picture of the official symbols and match the fonts, you’re doing great.  Add in a link to the real organization, and the website is a pretty convincing fake.  There are a couple different websites that come up for US Military Shipping.  Both look real enough, but are pretty vague on how they work.  They link to a real US military site, at the bottom, claiming to be associated with them.  But they aren’t.  If you look at other Google entries, they are known frauds.

 

So I went on Craigslist and flagged the second emailer’s listing as a fraud.  And then I emailed him, telling him that I wasn’t dumb and wouldn’t be sending money for a car that wasn’t real.  And then I emailed the first one, giving the benefit of the doubt and just telling her I wanted to complete a transaction locally because there are so many scams on Craigslist.  She wrote back!  As though desperate for me to purchase her car, she told me more, that it was all ready to be shipped and shipping had been paid because another buyer backed out last minute.  She told me “more” about how Ebay Buyer Protection would work, that it left no risk to me and she would have to deal with getting the car back if I changed my mind in the risk-free period.  Or if I wanted to do a transaction face to face I could go out to Nevada to pick up the (crated?) car myself.

 

What pressure!  But the pushing made me more suspicious.  I did a Google search on her name.  She is supposedly a doctor and a Colonel, and yet there was no record of her online.  So I searched her division in the reserves and found an email from way back in June, with a different name, virtually identical to the second email she sent me.  She is listed as a fraud.  So I flagged her listing as well, and emailed her that I was not falling for her scam.  (She even used the same gmail address she had used in the past.  These crooks are lazy!)

 

Some of the fraud websites suggested we report these scams to the FTC.  So I went to their website and filed a complaint with all the information I had on each person – probably not enough to actually find the real people and convict them – and gave a summary of what had happened and what other action I had taken (flagging as “prohibited” on Craigslist).

 

At the top of Craigslist I noticed alerts in red, that all offers to ship cars are fraudulent.  There are companies that ship cars, but it is not a good idea to do that via Craigslist, with strangers.  Nor should you wire any money for transactions.  As I continued my searches, I began to note likely scams in the listings (some used similar fonts on their vehicle images, had similar vehicle makes and years for way under value).  One big red flag is that they don’t put a phone number in the listing.  So I gave these people a chance.  I emailed asking for more information.  If they offered to ship the car, I flagged them on Craigslist and reported them to the FTC.  Afterwards apparently it scared the scammers off for a while.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

Below, for the purposes of anyone who happens to Google similar emails, is the text of every fraudulent email I received.

 

Hello,
First of all I would like to thank you for your interest in my car. This 2004 Nissan Maxima 3.5 SE  Sedan with 72,765 miles runs and drives excellent. This car has been extremely well maintained with a full service history. It has no leaks or drips and does not smoke at all. I am the first owner of this car with a clear title free of encumbrances and liens. All regular maintenance was performed at an authorized garage.
I have dropped my price to $2,676 (purchase price), since this is an Urgent Sale! At the moment I’m stationed at Nevada Air National Guard from Reno/Tahoe IAP(ANGB), making final preparations before deploying to Afghanistan. If you’re interested to conclude this purchase in a timely manner email me your name and shipping address to open a case with eBay’s Buyer Protection Program and they will contact you to explain the entire procedure. The financial part will be managed by them, which means that you will have a 5 days inspection period before committing to buy the car.  In this way both, buyer and seller are 100% covered during the steps of this transaction.

For more details and pictures click on this link: https://sites.google.com/site/2004nissanmaxima35sesedan/

Hope to hear from you soon.


Col.(Dr.) Michelle Branning
Reno/Tahoe IAP(ANGB)
Nevada Air National Guard
152nd Airlift Wing

——————————————————————————————————–

Good afternoon,

The car is already at the shipping company, crated and ready to go from Reno, NV. So you can either come pick it up yourself today or I can take care of the shipping for you. I had another customer who said it will buy and after I made all the necessary arrangements in advance and paid for all shipping & handling fees, changed his mind because didn’t have all the money. This is why I need to ship it since all transportation charges have already been paid by me. Shipping may take anywhere between 4 to 6 business days depending on the destination. All documents you need for ownership, title, manuals and bill of sale will be provided along with the car.
As I know that my current situation is pretty special I want the deal closed only through eBay’s Buyer Protection Program. They will keep your money into a protection account until you get the car and will release it to me ONLY AFTER inspection period is over and you agree to keep the car. So, this is not a blind transaction, you can physically see the car before committing to buy and to eliminate any concerns you will have 5 days to inspect the car. If you decide not to keep it eBay will refund you the money, no questions asked, and shipping back will be my concern. I think this is more than fair for both of us.
I’ll start the official procedure, and eBay will contact us about this in less than 24 hrs.
If you are interested in buying it just mail me back with:
– Your Full Name – Required by eBay (You’ll receive important guidelines + instructions from them);
– Your Shipping Address and Phone Number – Required by the Shipping company (They will call you with delivery/pickup instructions 1 day ahead so you can communicate what time schedule work best for you to receive the car).
Again I want to point out that because I am going to Afghanistan this sale is my top priority and I am after a fast transaction, with no delays. That is why I decided to lower the price, to avoid wasting time with negotiations and find a buyer as soon as possible.

Thanks, hope to do business with you soon!

Col.(Dr.) Michelle Branning
Reno/Tahoe IAP(ANGB)
Nevada Air National Guard
152nd Airlift Wing

————————————————————————————————-

Hello,
This 2004 Toyota Camry XLE V6 AUTOMATIC with 54710 Miles has a clear title. The general condition is excellent with no cosmetic complaints really worth comment. Both remote keys are present and are in working order,no electrical issues.
Everything  work perfect!
Price was reduced to $2700 (URGENT SALE) as I need to sell it in 2 weeks because I will leave with other troops in Afganistan and now US Army give us the chance to
buy some shares at BNSF RAILWAY.Co at half price and for this reason I need a fast transaction .
In order to sell my car, I will use US Army Shopping Service. This service was made only for US ARMY members to helps US Army memebrs to sell goods online !
So we can close the deal by US Army Shopping Service you must send the money to our Financial Department and after that the logistics department will shipp you the car and all the sale documents!
If you’re really interested in buying my car, make sure that you really have the cash available!
At the moment I’m stationed in our US Military AFB in NORTH DAKOTA making final preparations before deploying to Afganistan with the U.S. Convoy !
The car is already at our Military Logistic Department in our military base in NORTH DAKOTA , crated and ready to go.
The shipping is free because all the US Army members have 1 free delivery per year anywhere in US !
If you have any questions or if you want to buy my car just let me now and I will get back to you with more details about this transaction that will be done by US ARMY SHOPPING SERVICE !
I wish prefert to talck all the transaction details by the phone but right now I`m in a military base, getting ready for Afganistan and for this reason I will not have access to the phone for the next 2 weeks !
PICTURS ARE AVAILABLE IF YOU WANT ! JUST TELL ME AND I WILL SEND YOU THE PICS !

I’m waiting your answer !

———————————————————————————————-

Hi again,

I have received your email regarding the 2003 Nissan Maxima SE with only 44,000 miles.
The car is in perfect condition,with no scratches on it,no damage, clear title.
The price for the car is $2,850 with shipping included.The car was my husband`s as he loved it very much, but he did not enjoy it as he died in a IRAQ 3 month ago. It brings very bad memories to me, I want to get rid of it.
The buyer will receive the car with all papers and receipts that he needs to register it to his name.
Shipping will be done whit DAS and it will take no more then 2-3 days. I have a friend there who will manage me a low price shipping and I assumed that it is my duty to pay for shipping it.It will be delivered directly to your address.Anyway, I have to let you know that I want a fast deal so if you are really interested in buying it,please reply with the following information’s:
-Your full name;
-Your shipping address.(street,city,state,zip code)
The transaction will close only through eBay so we both will be protected.
I want eBay because as they are the biggest company on the Internet I think that we can close this deal fast and safe for both of us. Also I am not very familiar with the Internet transactions and eBay is the only one I know.I will look for your email,so that we can move forward with this deal!
Let me know.
Regards,

Amanda

 

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An interesting question came up when I was with friends the other day.  We were demonstrating unfair arguments to use when fighting.  Most people, at least the married ones, I guess, have heard the rule not to bring up old fights when you’re talking about a present conflict.  But this is even more important.  Don’t bring mothers into it. 

As if in-law relations are not already touchy enough, and as though a wife does not already feel the contrast she makes to the mother of her husband, why go and use these sainted women as part of your argument?  Example: Your mother is crazy!  You’re just like her.  Or the slightly better: Your mother is crazy; at least you aren’t as bad as her! 

Can’t you just sense the bristling tempers when you provoke an opponent by insulting their mother?  I have a sense of indignation and no one has even directed these comments at me or my mother. 

There are – you’ll learn something here, I promise – Latin phrases describing invalid arguments and logical fallacies, commonly used in debate.  Latin used to be used a lot more when the French were more popular (they introduced most of the Latin roots to English), and old books and the intelligentsia still boast the incomprehensible (literally) attribute of italicized foreign phrases and words that no one in the world uses any more.  They may have presented important concepts concisely and memorably, but not memorable enough, since I do not know them. 

One phrase still in use is ad hominem.  This is, as I understand it, when you attack the person and not their argument.  If I am speaking to a dunce and he is arguing that two plus two is four, I cannot point to him and criticize his intelligence to win the argument.  Two plus two will still be four.  Truth is not relative to the deliverer.  Anyway, the official definition for ad hominem is:  “asserting that an argument is wrong and/or the source is wrong to argue at all purely because of something discreditable/not-authoritative about the source or those sources cited by it rather than addressing the soundness of the argument itself.”  Wikipedia says so.  Now, you cannot fairly argue that simply because Wikipedia has an in-credible reputation, we must reject its definition.  Nor can you say that I am ugly, and thus it is impossible for me to correctly communicate the definition. 

The mother-attack reminded me of this fallacy, ad hominem, so I looked up at my friend, who is a genius, and, assuming he knew Latin, being a genius, asked him to alter the phrase to represent source attack mother variety.  However, he is also a computer genius, and did the highly intelligent thing: Google.  (You’ve no idea how entertained I am that all these urban-knowledge websites are occurring in this article!)  Apparently, we are not the first to desire a name for this ridiculous habit of insulting mothers in an attempt to win an argument.  Suggestions for the Latin fallacy are:

“ad mominem” codified at the (content advisory) Urban Dictionary.   

ad urmomumYou might want to read this whole article. 

 I don’t know why we use italics for foreign phrases.  Google reveals merely that it is conventional and thus stylistically correct, but nothing more.  Latin and Italics, I am interested to note, both claim Italy as their home country. 

This is mostly irrelevant, but came up as I followed my friend’s research.  What are those P’s and Q’s we’re supposed to mind?  

Didn’t you learn something? 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I Laugh at Myself.

One of the good ways I’ve found to maintain a joyful attitude is to laugh. I laugh at myself. That way if anyone else laughs at me, I’ll be laughing first and won’t feel bad. Besides, I can’t help it. Sometimes I’m so ridiculous.

My family and friends help the ridiculousness. For example:

Saturday night I was making my own marinara sauce. I don’t eat marinara sauce, but wanted to bring some to serve with the strombolis I was making for a Christmas party. Why make it from scratch? First laugh track inserted here. My culinary skills had recently made me feel inferior, so I was trying to make up. No one knows if you have inherent skill, watch the food network all the time, borrowed your mom’s skill, or googled instructions on mincing garlic and chopping parsley. I did the latter.

While I was mincing garlic per instructions found on Google, my brother found a Youtube video of parsley preparation. Actually while peeling and slicing garlic, I improvised my own technique once, only to discover that garlic sliced the wrong direction can have the same effect as an onion. I cried. Anyway, the parsley video involved a large knife, a bunch of the parsley leaves (no stems required or desired) rolled into a “piece,” and a flat counter. I had a smaller dull knife and a counter that curves up on the edge. So I observed that, while the technique appeared simple on the video, the chef’s parsley stayed where he left it, meaning that the “piece” stayed in form while he chopped at it, which never happens when I slice something soft. (We need to sharpen our knives.) Unbeknownst to me, my siblings were all suppressing laughter at this comment, reason to be revealed later.

Finally I had enough garlic minced, and was ready to try the parsley. But when I looked at the counter to grab the parsley, it wasn’t there. I thought I’d left it on the counter. I didn’t throw it away with the garlic skin? “Where did I put my parsley?” I asked. “It didn’t stay where you put it?” my brothers taunted, the laughter finally bubbling over. And then my mom spotted it, like a child’s “what’s wrong with this picture” where the fish is in the tree: my parsley was on the couch in the other room. Before I even mentioned that parsley does not stay where I put it, my siblings had pilfered my greens.

We laughed so hard. I cried. Again.

Laugh at how hectic your life is, at the silly things you do or say, at a bad hair day or the irony of snow when you are going somewhere and fine weather when you want to go sledding. Laugh at the foolishness of playing a game you know sounds dangerous, Grounders:

On a playground near a friend’s house, we go at night. The game is like tag. It tries to tag non-it. It can be on the ground or the playground platforms. Non-it can become it if, while on the ground or platforms, It calls “grounders.” Oh – and It must have their eyes closed. So just as one of my compadres was commenting that my family was seldom It, I hit my stride, being rather constantly It. We were playing with pros at the game, people more familiar with the park, and Marines. I think I had a disadvantage. At least I wasn’t wearing a skirt this time; last time I played, I was. I believe I would be bad at this game even if my eyes were open. But with my eyes closed, I did something very foolish. Standing under the monkey bars just above my fingertips, I was trying to tag a non-it scooting on top of the monkey bars. I had to jump. So I did, jamming my thumb hard into the side of the monkey bars. It’s still swollen. But it had to be funny.

One of my friends who was there reassured me: This is the sort of game you only play if you don’t mind looking stupid. So maybe to lighten up your life, you should intentionally play games where you look stupid. Just don’t jump if you don’t know what’s over you.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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