|January 20, 2011||Posted by admin under News In General||
By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette
Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 — My primary e-mail address has been the same for more than 14 years. In that amount of time, you can imagine the number of e-mail SPAM lists that have included my address. Fortunately, SPAM filtering does a good job of catching the bulk of the e-mails hawking viagra, cheap student loans, dating sites, etc.
But those who create SPAM are pretty creative in their methods, and invariably, some SPAM gets through the filter. The Nigerian scam artists seem rather adept at getting their message through the filter.
What is the Nigerian scam? It typically involves an e-mail plea of some sort — a dying widow with millions of dollars who wishes to give it to someone, or a former finance minister of an African nation has millions in an account, but he needs your help getting the money out of the country. If you will only send him your contact information and bank account info, he’ll gladly give you a hefty percentage if you’ll assist him with the transfer the money out of his country. The transaction requires the payment of fees, bribes, taxes, etc., all of which the victim will be asked to pay in advance (hence the alternate name for this fraud as an “advance fee scam”).
VARIATIONS ON A THEME. There are a long list of different versions of this scam. Sellers on eBay may get an offer from a foreign buyer to pay for an item with a money order made out for a huge amount of money; the seller is directed to take the money order to their bank, cash it, and then send the scammer the rest of the money.
Dating sites now routinely have warnings about foreigners who use the site to request money or to initiate some other variation of the Nigerian scam.
The various Nigerian scams are based primarily on a human character trait — the temptation to get rich quick, to score a huge windfall with a minimum of effort. Those who respond to these e-mails wind up being asked to send money to cover fees, bribes, taxes, etc., required to move the transfer of funds to the next stage. Scammers are known to stretch this out for months if they have a willing victim.
One woman I heard from recently lost hundreds of dollars she thought would buy her a purebreed puppy: She sent hundreds of dollars initially (a bargain considering the breed), only to be asked to send more for some additional fees, licensing, etc. Sadly, she sent additional money, hoping to recoup her original investment in order to receive her puppy. The seller asked all funds to be sent via Western Union, which cannot be traced. She will soon discover there will only be requests for more fees; the only certain part of this transaction is there will be no puppy coming from the seller.
Why do they send out these mass e-mails to thousands of people? The simple truth is that they work. Scammers send out thousands of these e-mails at one time.
A Bardstown woman, Rosie Powers, was recently indicted for her role in taking part in a Nigerian scam. She apparently received funds from other sources and sent that money — nearly $20,000 — to an individual in Nigeria. The details of what was promised in the scam haven’t surfaced yet, but the truth is that while Powers is accused of a crime, she is also a victim. Unfortunately, the Nigerian perpetrator of the crimes against her will never be brought to justice.
MILITARY ANGLE. The variations of the pitches used in these scams constantly evolves as the perpetrators try to lure more victims into taking part.
I received the email below overnight last night, and it introduces a different twist on the Nigerian scam. If the scammer’s use of English were a little better, the pitch might find more takers, given that it is allegedly written by a member of the U.S. military.
Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2011 06:53:21 -0600
Subject: Business Proposal
From: “Sgt. Kenneth Dickey” <email@example.com>
Based on the United States legislative and executive decision that we must evacuate Iraq immediately for Afghanistan, we are now in Afghanistan military base and I will be redeployed to my country’s military base soonest. Our mission is to help beef security in terrorist targeted states, mostly the United States and the European Union on the war against terrorism.
On the other hand, I want to inform you that I have in my possession the sum of 25 million U.S.D, which I got from crude oil deal here in Iraq. I deposited this money with a Red Cross Agent informing him that we are making contact for the real owner of the money and it is under my power to approve whosoever comes forth for the money. I want to invest the money in a good business as soon as I am redeployed, anyway you will advise me on that since I am not a business oriented person.
Where we are now we can only communicate through our military communication facilities that are secured so nobody can monitor our emails, then I can explain in details to you. I will only reach you through email, because our calls are being monitored, I just have to be sure whom I am dealing with.
If you are interested, please send me your personal details as listed below and if you are not interested do not reply to this email and please delete this message, if no response after 3days I will then search for someone else.
I wait for your contact details so we can go into action. In less than 5days, the money should have been in your possession and I will come over for my money. I will give to you 30% of the sum and 70% is for me because I know that nothing goes for nothing I hope I am been fair to you.
I wait for your full details information:
1. Full name
2. House Address
4. Direct telephone number
5. Scanned Copy of your ID
Sgt. Kenneth Dickey
While this e-mail has “scam” written all over it, the message illustrates the point that the scammers are continuously searching for new ways to separate people from their money. Those who fall victim to their desire to get rich quick have little recourse; it is believed many victims never report their losses to police simply to avoid embarrassment.
The best advice to remember from any pitch — be it via e-mail, telephone or in print — is that if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
|January 1, 2011||Posted by admin under Bardstown, News In General||
Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011 — One of the facts of life of being a native and resident of a small town is how the community has its longtime “givers” — those individuals whose constant contributions have added immeasurably to the quality of life here in Bardstown and Nelson County. I can name a long list of men and women I’ve know that fit in this category, but the one that is foremost in my mind is Nelson County Clerk Phyllis Mattingly.
I have known Phyllis since my youth, having tagged along with my Dad every year when he renewed the license tags on his car. My first direct contact for her services was when I registered my first car, a 1971 Volkswagen, in 1976. It was a big deal at the time: my uncle — who owned the car — and both my parents and I were at the office. The question at the time was if we could transfer the car without paying taxes since it was a transfer from one family member to another. I don’t recall what taxes were paid, but the personal attention to service and her effervescent personality made the experience a memorable one.
In the years since, Phyllis has been the one who has answered the many and varied questions I’ve had over the years — and there have been plenty.
My brother and I were among the few requests at the time for an Amateur Radio license plate; due to the fact that the plate listed the FCC licensee’s official call letters, a copy of the license was required to be given to the clerk when applying. When a requested plate failed to show up at the clerk’s office, Phyllis called a Frankfort office, handed me the phone and I dictated the license information to the individual at the other end of the line. The plate was at Phyllis’ office in less than a week.
In my duties as a newspaper reporter and later with the Nelson County Gazette, Phyllis and her deputy clerks have been helpful in my search for information and filings through her office. It’s long been clear to me that Phyllis’ devotion to customer service sets an example for all of her employees.
MATTINGLY ON WBRT. I felt truly honored to have the opportunity to serve as host on of an hour-long show on Friday, Dec. 31st on WBRT that brought Phyllis, incoming clerk Elaine Filiatreau and former deputy clerk Janet Bradley to the studio to talk about her years as an elected public servant.
In the days before copy machines, Phyllis, who was a deputy clerk before being elected clerk in 1973, said the office retyped deeds when a copy was requested. The clerks office originally was located in the old courthouse on Court Square.
The office moved to the then-new Sutherland Building in 1971, and has had room to expand as its records have grown. In addition to recording deeds, the clerk’s office records mortgages. At one point in the housing boom, the office was recording mortgages at a rate that would fill a 600-page record book every three days. Bradley said there are more than 900 mortgage record books in the deed room in the basement.
The hour flew by, with Mattingly sharing stories of her time as clerk, punctuated by input from Filiatreau and Bradley. It was an emotional time in the studio as Mattingly closed the broadcast by thanking her staff and the public for having confidence through the years to keep her as Nelson County Clerk.
Phyllis’ chief deputy clerk — Elaine Filiatreau — won the election and takes over as county clerk when the office opens Monday. Elaine campaigned on a platform that echoed the type of service the office has given the county for decades. Judging by the outcome of the primary and general election, its simple to see that voters cast their votes for continuing that same level of service.
I was quite a way to end the year and prepare for 2011 — or as Phyllis said at the end, “It’s time to go, there’s a ballgame coming on!”
|December 23, 2010||Posted by admin under Bardstown||
Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010, 9 p.m. — I was in town a couple of days ago at a government-owned building and noticed the No Smoking sign as posted at the building’s entrance. The building is located in the Bardstown city limits and subject to the smoking ban, which requires businesses to post prohibitions against smoking on the entrance points of the building.
Actually, being a government-owned building, those were made smoke-free some time ago, which I don’t have a problem with. But the thing that caught my eye about the sign was the labeling. If you click on the image, it will enlarge to better show what I’m talking about.
The international symbol is at top, then the wording in English noting that the building is smoke-free. But note that below the English there are two lines of Braille. And if you look closely, you’ll notice the Braille — raised symbols that vision-impaired people can “read” by the feel of the characters — is positioned behind the glass window in the door. I’m not an expert, but I’m betting that someone who reads braille cannot do so through wire-reinforced safety glass.
Of course, we may be looking at the result of using a sign that’s on hand versus paying more — taxpayers were footing the bill, remember — for a different sign. Even so, for the wise-acre in me, this sign qualifies as a “Braille Fail.”
|December 20, 2010||Posted by admin under Newspapers||
Monday, Dec. 20, 2010 — I seem to be on a “YouTube-videos-about-newspapers” theme here in The Editor’s Notebook … It isn’t that I’m out to trash the print newspaper industry (well, not all of it, anyway), but some of these videos are spot-on. As a long-time media watcher, I’ve long believed we are in a time of “creative destruction” in the print news business. How people get their news continues to evolve, and newspapers have struggled for 15 years to find their place in the now not-so-new Digital Age.
While there will likely always be a need for print publications (that’s my prediction), these folks have produced a video about how you, the consumer, can help print journalists deal with the changes in their industry.
|December 18, 2010||Posted by admin under Newspapers||
By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette
Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 – I’m re-creating this post after losing the entire blog (thanks to an errant mouse click — damn you user inteface!), so bear with me if you’re seen this.
This video is an interesting look at how new and old media types might mix in the workplace … it’s a pretty funny send-up for someone who has a foot in both worlds like I do. And of course, it isn’t entirely accurate in its depiction of the print newspaper business.
It’s not far off the mark in how clueless some newspaper people have been in the past about the Web. I hope print journalists and their corporate wigs have come around, though there’s reason to believe that the last hold-outs are probably in corporate offices of some newspaper chains.
In his final Editor & Publisher column, Steve Outing pointed out how too many corporate folks in old media companies still didn’t “get it” when it comes to new media and the Internet. I would argue that the lower you go in the corporate ladder — the closer you get to the true newspaper journalists — the greater the media savvy. But I digress.
Below is this send-up, crafted by the folks at TheLandline. To this “old print guy” its pretty funny stuff.
|December 1, 2010||Posted by admin under Newspapers||
By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette
Thursday, July 22, 2010, 3 p.m. –– While I will always consider myself a print journalist, I have watched newspapers try to find their place in the online world for more than 15 years. Newspapers overall have been hit hard by the loss of ad revenue, including classified advertising. While these drops aren’t solely due to the availability of the Internet, it plays a part.
I stumbled across this animated film short titled “STOP THE PRESSES: HOW TO SAVE NEWSPAPERS” by award-winning cartoonist Ted Rall. I found it rather amusing, and hope you will too. Click the screen shot below to view the video on You Tube.