Genealogist Discovers Man has been Using Dead Baby’s Identity for Decades

A Pennsylvania man has been using a dead person’s identity for more than 21 years. Authorities got involved after a relative of the deceased used to put her family tree together. The woman was searching for family information on Ancestry last year and her nephew Nathan Laskoski popped up. She saw he got married and he moved around the country, from Texas, to Mississippi, to Tennessee and eventually to Pennsylvania.

But the problem is Laskoski died in 1972 when he was just two months old.

Authorities say 44-year-old Jon Vincent, back in 1996, escaped from a halfway house in Texas, went to a cemetery to find someone born around the same time he was.

Beware of the Transparency Market Research Report Now Available: “Genealogy Products and Services Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2016 – 2024”

It is difficult to measure the size of the genealogy marketplace. Obviously, genealogists spend millions of dollars every year, but nobody seems to know how many millions. Now Transparency Market Research (TMR) has issued a report claiming to measure the marketplace. However, a quick glance at the company’s announcement of the report raises more questions than it answers.

TMR states that the report, titled Genealogy Products and Services Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2016 – 2024, offers a comprehensive overview of the genealogy market. It focuses on the growth of the global genealogy products and services market across various geographical and application segments and the factors influencing it. The description goes on and on describing the “genealogy products and services market.” However, the description of the report seems to focus mostly on DNA testing and then gives some passing remarks about traditional (non-DNA) genealogy research, such as looking at original records on paper, microfilm, or computer screens.

The announcement of the report states:

Beware the Flash Drive Scam

Did you see an advertisement for a flash drive with 1 terabyte of memory or some other large amount of storage selling for about $10? If so, don’t fall for the scam. It isn’t what it claims it is.

Hackers in China are listing flash drives for sale on eBay and elsewhere claiming the drives contain huge amounts of storage, 500 gigabytes, one terabyte, or even more. Prices are unbelievably low, typically $10 or so. There is but one problem: it is fake.

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


  • 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 Under State Review After Complaints. The article is still available at 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, 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 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, 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.