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Guest Blogger: Lisa Black: Scambaiting

scam money tree

The email showed up in my Inbox one morning with the subject line: I have a genuine proposal of great benefit to you. 

Yeah, that sounds totally genuine.

And thus I entered the exciting and dangerous world of scambaiting. Except it’s more tedious than exciting, and not too dangerous when the perpetrators sit on the other side of the planet and can’t afford air fare.

I hate scammers. I hate Rachael from Credit Card Services who calls twice a day (though sometimes she’s Bridget, and sometime Scott, and once in a while she’s Carmen) trying to get me to hand over my credit card numbers. I hate the emails that tell me I won a lottery I never entered in a country I’ve never been to. I am just waiting for some kid to call me pretending to be a grandson I don’t have, asking for bail money to get out of some totally bogus charge in Greece. And the fake Microsoft people are still trying to convince me that my computer is sending out error messages.

So I declared war.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the Do Not Call lists, state or federal, do nothing. I continue to report each and every call to them in the hopes of making any charges they do someday press just that tiny bit more massive. The email scammers are almost always outside our borders, sending false phone numbers to your caller ID, and no one has time to track them down. Therefore, all you can do to strike a glancing blow for Cosmic Justice is: Waste their time. Every minute they spend sending you an email or sitting on the phone writing down fictitious credit card numbers is a minute they can’t spend scamming some poor soul who might actually fall for it.

scam person on phone

There are entire websites dedicated to people’s efforts to derail these scammers, and they are a font of good information and some great laughs. Following their advice I set up a new, free email account and instantly became Chloe, a pretty twenty-two year old, complete with a fetching photo from MS Office Clipart. (This wasn’t just wishful thinking—I thought her youth might explain her apparent naiveté in believing every story sent to her.) Chloe lives in a state I’ve never been to and works hard as a waitress at a Waffle House. I borrowed the phone number of Rachael from Credit Card Services, using the town it comes back to in a reverse lookup search—it doesn’t matter, since scammers won’t pay the long distance phone bill to actually call it. I invented a non-existent address on a real road with a real zip code.

scam you have mail

Then I started writing back. I copied the body only of the emails that came to my legitimate email address and responded—they send out too many at a time to notice one coming back from an address they didn’t contact. I told Ms. Liza Wong from Malaysia that I would be happy to help distribute the dead philanthropist’s money to those less fortunate, and MegaMillions winner Jim McCullen that I would accept the responsibility of disbursing his winnings. I wrote back to a helpful FBI agent in New York (though his IP address said Madagascar) who had found a package of 4.1 million dollars with my name on it (literally) and just needed me to fill out some forms to complete delivery. I found this so helpful of him. Who says the federal government is suspicious and obstructive and overly concerned with things like income tax payments?

A co-worker of mine drew the short straw and thus has been trained in the art of downloading computers to find stashes of child porn and other crimes. She has become my go-to person with tentative questions about How This Stuff Actually Works. Unfortunately whenever I ask her something she tends to burst into Swahili, throwing around terms like ‘data dump’ and ‘NTFS access’. I asked her about the IP addresses for the three emails above (the scambaiters’ site taught me how to find those), since the first two said they were in other countries but their IPs came back to the US and Canada. She said they can route through other people’s IPs. I always believed McGee on NCIS tracing an email that bounces through IPs all over the world to be Hollywood hyperbole, but it turns out to be somewhat accurate. My co-worker can’t do it, perhaps because my city can’t afford the cool flat-screens, but it can certainly be done. But, she said, they would need the cooperation of the host IPs. Aha, I said. Unless they hacked them, she said. Oh, I sighed.

I GoogleEarthed (you know what I mean) my three IPs and found that the US one sat on the edge of a closed Air Force base (yikes) and the other two bordered high schools. My co-worker said they were probably using the free wi-fi—the same reason you see cars in the Starbucks parking lot when the place isn’t even open.

scam check

Nothing all that exciting has happened yet. The FBI agent never wrote back about my box of cash. The other two put me in touch with their banker, who sent me a very professional looking email detailing how, since I live in neither England or Malaysia, I have to deposit a sum to open a ‘temporal account’ to which my large windfall can then be deposited. The UK bank wants $1200, and the Malaysian one a more reasonable $640. I pleaded poverty (it would take my 22-year-old months to save that from her Waffle House paychecks!) and put them in touch with my banker at my fictional savings & loan.  Chloe’s banker is an old family friend and looking out for the sweet girl’s interests, which is why he sent their bankers his own forms, which they must complete and return before they can be allowed to make a deposit at his fine institution. This will be difficult since the form demands to know things like your HBG number, which stands for “I Have No Idea, I Just Made It Up.” If they somehow work their way through this impossible task, then they may encounter further problems trying to fax it to another of Rachael from Card Services’ numbers.

Apparently both bankers found this daunting enough to give up on Miss Chloe, as neither she nor her bank manager have heard from them again. Jim McCullar gave up as well. Liza Wong hung in the longest with a forlorn, ‘have you heard from the bank, what’s going on?’ email.

I did have more success with today’s call from the persistent “Carmen” from “Credit Card Services.” They happened to call as I sat in front of my computer. Did you know you can Google “fake credit card number generator” and bring up a list of numbers for the major agencies? I kept a very polite representative on the phone for nearly fifteen minutes as she tried to ‘verify my balances’. I prepared to insist that, of course those are my correct credit card numbers, I’m looking right at them, but instead after a while she simply, quietly, failed to return from Hold.

But somewhere in the country, some other poor telephone owner got an extra ten minutes of peace this afternoon.

They’re welcome.

close to the bone 1

Close to the Bone hits forensic scientist Theresa MacLean where it hurts, bringing death and destruction to the one place where she should feel the most safe—the medical examiner’s office in Cleveland, Ohio, where she has worked for the past fifteen years of her life. Theresa returns in the wee hours after working a routine crime scene, only to find the body of one of her deskmen slowly cooling with the word “Confess” written in his blood. His partner is missing and presumed guilty, but Theresa isn’t so sure. The body count begins to rise but for once these victims aren’t strangers—they are Theresa’s friends and colleagues, and everyone in the building, herself included, has a place on the hit list.

Lisa photo

Lisa Black spent the five happiest years of her life in a morgue. As a forensic scientist in the Cleveland coroner’s office she analyzed gunshot residue on hands and clothing, hairs, fibers, paint, glass, DNA, blood and many other forms of trace evidence, as well as crime scenes. Now she’s a certified latent print examiner and CSI for the Cape Coral Police Department in Florida. Her books have been translated into six languages and one reached the NYT mass market bestseller’s list.

 

Crime and Science Radio: Going Undercover with NYPD Detective and Fiction Writer Marco Conelli

Marco_Headshot_2012

Jan Burke and DP Lyle spend a lively hour with NYPD detective Marco Conelli and dig into his undercover work as well as his fiction writing.

BIO: A twenty year veteran detective of the NYPD, his diverse career is highlighted by his work as an undercover where he was plugged into many investigations for the Organized Crime Control Bureau. Specializing in narcotic and gun seizures, Marco was successful in removing both from New York City’s mean streets, while gathering important intelligence that led to voluminous criminal arrests.

His adaptation of disguises and the study of deduction are featured prominently in the Sherlock Holmes International Exhibition as well as Crime Writing Conferences nationwide. He has shared his insight with many best-selling novelists and is a member of Lee Lofland’s Writer’s Police Academy team.

Marco has published three novels in his Matthew Livingston Young Adult series.

He is the recipient of the 2011 Silver Falchion Award for best crime novel. The Matthew Livingston series has revitalized the hard boiled battle between good and evil seen through the abilities of three remarkable teenagers. Marco has also contributed articles to publications on the subjects of crime solving as well as literacy in America.

LISTENhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2014/09/16/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-marco-conelli

LINKS:

Marco Conelli’s Website : www.marcoconelli.com

Matthew Livingston Books : www.amazon.com/Marco-Conelli/e/B002BLWHAM/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Marco Crime writing Article: www.amazon.com/Crimespree-Magazine-47-May-Jun-ebook/dp/B008H8I8E2/ref=sr_1_16?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405095782&sr=1-16&keywords=crimespree+magazine

NYPD Organized Crime Control Bureau: http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/administration/organized_crime_control_co.shtml

Mafia Is Down—-But Not Out: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304626804579363363092833756

Matthew-Livingston-And-The-Millionaire-Murder-by-Marco-ConelliMatthew-Livingston-And-The-Politics-Of-Death-by-Marco-ConelliPrisonofsouls

 

Samantha Cody Trilogy: Paperbacks Plus Free E Versions Available

My Samantha Cody books are available on a limited basis at 25% off—plus you can get free e versions if you purchase the paperbacks from Untreed Reads.

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ORIGINAL SIN: http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=7_48_697&products_id=1310

DP 200X300

DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND: http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=7_48_697&products_id=1308

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DOUBLE BLIND: http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=7_48_697&products_id=1309

Untreed Reads order info: http://www.untreedreads.com/preordersandprint/

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 1, 2014 in Writing

 

Book Review: Strong Darkness by Jon Land

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STRONG DARKNESS IS AVAILABLE TODAY

Caitlin Strong is back. Boy is she ever. STRONG DARKNESS starts with a bang and never let’s up. With nods to the infamous Judge Roy Bean and her ancestor Texas Ranger William Ray Strong and settings as diverse as Texas and Rhode Island, Caitlin confronts forces that test her skills and threaten her life. As with each Caitlin Strong story, the writing is crisp, and moves with break-neck speed. Jon Land has always known his way around a thriller and this is an outstanding addition to this series. Read this one. Read all of them. You will no doubt become a Strong fan. STRONG DARKNESS is a wild ride. Highly recommended.

Visit Jon’s Site: http://www.jonlandbooks.com

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 30, 2014 in Book Review, Writing

 

Military Book Fair Coming to San Diego Saturday November 8th

MBF JPEG

Don’t miss the Military Book Fair onboard the aircraft carrier the USS Midway. How cool is that?

It’s on Saturday, November 8, 2014, in San Diego.

Midway 2

Here is the info:

Book enthusiasts are invited to attend the Military Book Fair on November 8th from 10 am to 4 pm.  This book fair is unique because it will take place on the aircraft carrier USS Midway, located in San Diego Harbor. You will have the opportunity buy one or more books at the Midway/Fair bookstore and have them signed, as well as a chance to listen to the authors during panel sessions.  Just buy a $20 Midway ticket and you get the Fair along with a tour of the aircraft carrier.  The added benefit is that you will be helping our military, because all proceeds go to several veterans’ organizations.

Don’t let the title fool you. In attendance (other than myself) will be authors from various genres, almost fifty in total, including Catherine Coulter, Charles and Caroline Todd, James Rollins, Ted Bell, C. J. Lyons, T. Jefferson Parker, Jan Burke, D. P. Lyle, Iris and Roy Johansen, Amy Hatvany, Andrew Kaplan, and Dale Brown. The panels will start at 10 am with “Veteran Characters”; 11:15 am will be “Female Heroines”; 12:30 pm “Hot and Cold Wars”; 3 pm “Terrorists and Politics” and ending with “Guns and Needles” at 4 pm.

In addition at 2 pm there will be a Q/A with Hank Steinberg, the executive director of the television shows “The Last Ship” and “Without A Trace.”

Hank and all the panel authors will sign books bought ONLY at the Midway bookstore directly after the panel discussion.  For a small additional cost, you can purchase photo opportunities, fast pass tickets, and a personal written note from an author answering a question. Just go to the bookstore to pay for these fabulous extras.

USS Midway Museum: San Diego, California

If you want an “up close and personal” experience, buy a discounted ticket and you can join the authors after the book fair at a cocktail party on the Midway flight deck from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm. During the cocktail party, you can enjoy a performance from recording artist Jessica Sanchez, last season’s “American Idol” runner up.   At the cocktail party, you will enjoy a silent auction, food, drinks, prizes, an author five-minute heads up on “what’s on the horizon” regarding any future projects, and a meet and greet with most of the fifty authors.

If you have any questions please see our website:  www.militarybookfair.org

or contact Elise Cooper at elisecooper516@gmail.com.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Writing

 

Frankenstein and Creativity

Dr. Frakenstein

An interesting article recently appeared in The Atlantic on the origins of creativity and whether it is innate or can be learned: “Can Creativity Be Learned?” by Cody C. Delistraty. It makes for interesting reading and raises some intriguing questions. For example, creative folks tend to have more grey matter in the right posterior middle temporal area of their brain. Is this what makes them creative or does this result from them flexing their “creative muscle”? Chicken or egg?

Temporal Lobe

The author uses Mary Shelly and her classic horror story Frankenstein to underline his points.

In a past post on this blog I briefly talked about how Mary Shelly’s classic story came about. Here is an except:

On a literary and historical note, Frankenstein might never have been written had it not been for a volcanic eruption on the other side of the world. In 1815, Mount Tambora in Indonesia erupted with such force that it filled the air with millions of tons of ejected particulate matter. This rose into the high atmosphere, dropped world temperatures for many months and resulted in 1816 being called the “Year Without Summer.” Snow fell in New England in July!

During that summer, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, her lover and future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Byron settled into Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva. The summer was so cold and wet that they spent much of their time in the villa talking and telling stories. They decided to have a writing contest and see who could write the best short story. Mary’s story evolved into the classic Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus.

There has long been controversy over how Mary came up with such a story, She said it came to her in a “waking dream,” but some have suggested that her father had told her stories of a doctor who did such experiments and others have suggested that she and Shelley had actually visited Castle Frankenstein, the birthplace of Johann Conrad Dippel, a physician and alchemist who did indeed perform reanimation experiments on corpses. Either way she wrote a kick-ass story that has survived for nearly two centuries and will survive for many more.

The full post can be found here: http://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2009/09/14/more-decapitation-and-reanimating-the-dead/

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 22, 2014 in Forensic Psychiatry, Medical Issues, Writing

 

Crime and Science Radio: From Firefights To Fiction: An Interview With Military Surgeon and Author Dr. Jeffrey Wilson

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Join Jan Burke and DP Lyle in a discussion of combat surgery and fiction writing with Vascular and Trauma surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Wilson.

BIO: Jeffrey Wilson has at one time worked as an actor, a firefighter, a paramedic, a jet pilot, a diving instructor, a Naval Officer, and a Vascular and Trauma Surgeon. He also served numerous tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a combat surgeon with both the Marines and with a Joint Special Operations Task Force. He has written dozens of short stories, won a few fiction competitions, and currently has a 3 book deal with JournalStone Publishing for his novels. His first novel, THE TRAITEUR’S RING, was published in 2011. His second book, THE DONORS was released in June of 2012 and won a Gold Medal in the sci-fi/fantasy/horror category from the Military Writers Society of America. FADE TO BLACK is his third novel from JournalStone. Jeff and his wife, Wendy, are Virginia natives who, with children Emma, Jack, and Connor, call Tampa, Florida home. He still works part time as a Vascular Surgeon and as a consultant for the Department of Defense when not hard at work on his next book.

me hind

LISTENhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2014/09/09/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-jeff-wilson

Dr. Jeffrey Wilson’s Recommended Reading:

Service by Marcus Luttrell

Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell

American Sniper by Chris Kyle

LINKS: Website: http://www.jeffreywilsonfiction.com/index.html

Annals of Surgery: Combat casualty and Surgical Progress: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1570575/

How Stuff Works: What Equipment Do Army Combat Surgeons Have?: http://health.howstuffworks.com/medicine/army-medicine/army-combat-surgeon-equipment.htm

You Tube: 212th Combat Field Hospital (Warning: Graphic Content): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Qvt3YSAHpE

You Tube: Battlefield surgery PART 1 2 Survival: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOI3oBQxxRc

Fade To Black on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Fade-Black-Jeffrey-Wilson/dp/1936564858/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407420070&sr=8-1&keywords=Fade+to+black+by+jeffrey+wilson

Fade To Black at B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fade-to-black-jeffrey-wilson/1115405616?ean=9781936564859

You Tube: 212th Combat Field Hospital (Graphic): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Qvt3YSAHpE

You Tube: Battlefield Surgery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOI3oBQxxRc

FTB

 
 
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