Scams

Pssst! Want to Buy Your Family’s Coat of Arms?

CoatOfArmsIn many shopping malls across America, you will see pushcart vendors selling reproductions of coats of arms, claiming to be the “proud history and heritage of your family name” or similar words. These merchants sell coats of arms on parchment paper, suitable for framing. They also may sell coats of arms on t-shirts, sweatshirts, golf jerseys, stationery, coffee mugs or even key chains.

Similar “businesses” exist on the Web. A number of Web sites proclaim that they can sell you “authentic” copies of your family’s coat of arms. One Web site says, “What is your Name? What was it’s origin? Was it taken from the name of a village? Was it taken from the Bible? A clan name? An Occupation? An ancient landmark? Who were your historical namesakes who bore your fine family name in the homeland of your ancestors?” Sometimes they also claim to sell “gifts of lasting heritage.”

I have one thing to say to these con artists: “Balderdash!”

Plagiarism Raises Its Ugly Head Again within the Genealogy Community

Here is a quote from Plagiarism.org:

ACCORDING TO THE MERRIAM-WEBSTER ONLINE DICTIONARY, TO “PLAGIARIZE” MEANS

  • to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own
  • to use (another’s production) without crediting the source
  • to commit literary theft
  • to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source

In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else’s work and lying about it afterward.

Plagiarism has been found in genealogy books and magazines for probably a century or more. However, with the explosion of publishing on the Internet, plagiarism appears to be more popular than ever. Sadly, one individual has been caught before in the act of republishing other writer’s words without crediting the source. In fact, he was even sued for doing so although the case was later settled out of court. Even though already being notorious for such actions, he continues the practice even today.

The National Records of Scotland Genealogy Service Has Been Closed Until Further Notice Due to a Computer Virus

The public search rooms, at New Register House in Edinburgh, were shut on Wednesday 23 March
It followed the discovery of “ransomware” in an admin file. A spokeswoman said the virus, which can restrict access to files and then demand payment for them to be released, was caught before it could do any damage.

The damage apparently is limited only to the public search rooms, not to any online databases of the records from the National Records of Scotland. Also, the announcement clearly states that the virus “was caught before it could do any damage.”

Newspaper Archive Inc. pays $100,000 for Deceptive Online Practices

NA_LogoStackedIn the June 24, 2014 newsletter, I published an article entitled Heritage Microfilm and NewspaperArchive.com Under State Review After Complaints. The article is still available at http://goo.gl/zU9Jvt. Newspaper Archive Inc. provides online access to digitized newspapers from across the country. The company’s customers are mostly genealogists, historians, and others interested in retrieving old newspaper articles. The article stated:

“Heritage Microfilm and NewspaperArchive.com, 855 Wright Brothers Blvd., Suite 2A, [Cedar Rapids, Iowa] are accused in dozens of complaints filed with the state and the Better Business Bureau of not allowing subscribers to cancel services, refusing to grant refunds and failing to answer calls or emails.”

It took a while but the case has now been settled.

Protecting the 2020 Census from Fraud

Census2020-1The U.S. national census in 2020 will be the first to rely primarily on the Internet for collecting census data, thereby creating new avenues for fraud and disruption. A new report from the JASON scientific advisory panel describes the problem and outlines some solutions.

The report says, “Several distinguishable types of fraud against the census must be considered, including: hacking the census for fun or bragging rights; social media attempts to discredit the census and reduce cooperation; mimicry of the census forms or apps for purposes including phishing; city or district-level attempts to changes population numbers or distributions; large scale attempts to affect apportionment of the House of Representatives; individual mischief and anti-government protest.”

I Received a Fake IRS Telephone Call

I received a phone call this week from the Internal Revenue Service. At least, the caller on the pre-recorded message said she was calling from the officer of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) in regards to my case of being in default for payment.

In the pre-recorded message, “Officer Julie Smith” asked me to call a certain telephone number to make immediate payment. She said I could pay by a prepaid credit card over the phone or by a direct wire payment from my bank. She also warned that if I did not take action immediately I would face court action and possible imprisonment.

I laughed.

Heritage Microfilm and NewspaperArchive.com Under State Review After Complaints

Here is an extract from an article written by Erin Jordan and published in The (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) Gazette:

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office will investigate a Cedar Rapids company that digitizes newspapers and other documents after complaints from across the country about “deceptive and misleading” practices that include charging subscribers for involuntary donations to a charity run by the company’s founder.

Heritage Microfilm and NewspaperArchive.com, 855 Wright Brothers Blvd., Suite 2A, are accused in dozens of complaints filed with the state and the Better Business Bureau of not allowing subscribers to cancel services, refusing to grant refunds and failing to answer calls or emails.

Beware the “Microsoft Windows Virus” Scam!

I received a Skype phone call this morning that made me laugh. The caller had a very thick accent and announced that he was calling from Microsoft Support. He claimed that Microsoft had detected a virus in the Windows Registry of my computer and that he was calling to help delete the virus.

I found that amusing because I use a Macintosh! Macs don’t have a “registry” of any sort and almost never get viruses.

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