Monday, October 04, 2021

Being Bombarded: ACCC reports Australia has seen an 89% increase in fraud this so far this year

 Men write many fine and plausible arguments in support of monarchy, but the fact remains that where every man has a voice, brutal laws are impossible

 - Mark Twain

Banks Around World Are Suffering Big Outages, Leaving Millions of Customers in Lurch At Worst Possible Time

Twenty banks (some suffering repeated outages), six countries (one in lockdown), five continents, tens of millions of unhappy customers.

Continuous Sidewalks

This video highlights one of the ways in which the Netherlands makes their streets safer for pedestrians: continuous sidewalks. Instead of sidewalks ending at the curb and picking up on the other side of the street, many sidewalks in Dutch cities continue across roadways, at the same height and using different surface materials, forcing cars to slow and signaling to drivers to be alert for pedestrians.

It’s hard to describe how much nicer it is to walk in an environment like this. It feels like the people walking are in control and that drivers are a guest in their environment, not the other way around.

Profoundly Unequal” US is Unprepared for the Next Pandemic

Ed Yong: We’re Already Barreling Toward the Next Pandemic. The US is throwing too little money at high-tech, ultimately private sector solutions but much of the problem comes down to our underfunded public health system and “profoundly unequal society”.

“To be ready for the next pandemic, we need to make sure that there’s an even footing in our societal structures,” Seema Mohapatra, a health-law expert at Indiana University, told me. That vision of preparedness is closer to what 19th-century thinkers lobbied for, and what the 20th century swept aside. It means shifting the spotlight away from pathogens themselves and onto the living and working conditions that allow pathogens to flourish. It means measuring preparedness not just in terms of syringes, sequencers, and supply chains but also in terms of paid sick leave, safe public housing, eviction moratoriums, decarceration, food assistance, and universal health care. It means accompanying mandates for social distancing and the like with financial assistance for those who might lose work, or free accommodation where exposed people can quarantine from their family. It means rebuilding the health policies that Reagan began shredding in the 1980s and that later administrations further frayed. It means restoring trust in government and community through public services. “It’s very hard to achieve effective containment when the people you’re working with don’t think you care about them,” Arrianna Marie Planey, a medical geographer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told me.

Speaking Portraits’ Make It Unsettlingly Easy to Turn Still Photos Into Animated Deepfakes 

Gizmodo: “Earlier this year, social media was briefly taken over by seemingly everyone using MyHeritage’s Deep Nostalgia feature to bring old photos to life. The company whose AI technology powers Deep Nostalgia, D-ID, is taking that technology one step further, turning still headshot photos into videos that move and say whatever a user wants. As impressively lifelike as the results from MyHeritage’s Deep Nostalgia often were, the feature had its limitations. After a still photo of a person was uploaded, their orientation in the shot was analyzed to determine which direction their head and eyes were looking, at which point a matching video from a small collection of ‘driver videos’ was selected to be used as a reference to create the AI-generated movements. Users had no control over the movements in the generated video, and the subject made no attempt to speak. At the recent TechCrunch Disrupt 2021, D-ID revealed a more advanced version of Deep Nostalgia called Speaking Portraits that can make still photos appear to move and talk based on either a source video, just an audio clip, or even a text file with a pre-written script…”

 Los Angeles: Four from China indicted for laundering gift cards bought by scam victims at Target; from victims of social security frauds; used them to buy goods at their stores


For most people, the ping of an incoming SMS will induce some level of excitement — or mild intrigue at least. But with SMS scams on the rise, many may now be meeting this same sound with trepidation.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) ScamWatch website, scams delivered via “phone” or “text” this year far outnumber those sent through any other delivery method, including social media or email.

Delivery and postal scams are particularly common in SMS scam campaigns, with Australia Post even hosting a dedicated scam alerts page on its website. Other forms of fraud encountered via SMS include premium-rate text fraud, tax demands, fake contact-tracing messages and smishing (SMS phishing).

While eliminating the threat might be difficult, there are some simple ways you can avoid becoming the next victim.

ACCC reports Australia has seen an 89% increase in fraud this so far this year
  • Most of it phone related
  • Fake invoices for antivirus and other goods supposedly ordered a huge part of this
  • Fake parcel delivery emails a special problem
Scam Advisors host Global Online fraud summit on November 3 & 4; information on agenda and how to take part; free to scam fighters
People make good decisions.  What we found doing advertising at the FTC is that given good information people make really good decisions.  Thus when we made people end deceptive claims for products the products generally vanished from the shelves, even despite efforts to continue advertising them. In fact, the concept of trusting the people is central to the American experiment.  There were those who thought that ordinary people could never be trusted to make decisions and those should be left to experts or aristocracy.   So the American public is pretty bright, and I’d urge all my media friends to focus on facts and not put their thumb on the scale for any political point of view.
BBB Studies. Here are links to some of the study topics: puppy fraudtech support fraudromance fraud money mulesapartment rentalcrooked moversgovernment impostersonline vehicle sale scamsrental fraudgift cards and job scams.
Fraud News Around the worldHumor FTC and CFPB  Virus Benefit TheftBusiness Email compromise fraud (read BBB study)Ransomware  Bitcoin and cryptocurrencyIRS and tax frauds ATM skimmingRomance Fraud and Sextortion (read BBB romance fraud study)