Saturday, December 17, 2016

Working Hands Fingerless Gloves

I'm always on the lookout for comfortable gloves to wear while cycling. Sometimes, I take a chance on fingerless work gloves, only to be totally disappointed when they don't perform as expected.

Such was the case when I recently purchased a pair of Working Hands fingerless gloves at Walmart. They weren't too expensive and they felt so good when I put them on. I wore them everyday after I bought them and wasn't disappointed in how they felt when I wore them. No chafing, no breaking-in period. Just pure comfort.

Sadly, this came to an end after I put them in the wash for the first time. Normally, I prefer to hand wash my gloves. But, since I was doing laundry anyway, I figured that I may as well toss them in.

After the wash cycle, I hung them up to dry and left them up for a couple of days.

My love affair with these gloves ended when I put them on. The palm of the left hand had worn-through and began to fall apart even worse when I wore them anyway.

I don't know if they had begun to fall apart before I wash them. But, the damage was done. There was nothing I could do to repair or save them. So, at the end of my work day, I had no choice but to buy a new pair of gloves and discard these. 

I've never been so disappointed in a pair of gloves not working out. Perhaps if I'd hand washed them, they wouldn't have worn out so quickly. 

Working Hands gloves are so very comfortable to wear, but apparently also very fragile. 


Duane Browning

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Suspicious Call From 240-225-0876

At about 5:00pm on 12 December 2016, I received a phone call from 240-225-0876. When I picked-up, I heard a recorded message about some sort of scheme where I could make thousands of dollars every week. At the end of the recording, I was told to press 1 if I wanted to know more or to press 2 if I didn't.

I simply hung-up the phone and blocked the number. Later, I posted a tweet on Twitter announcing that I had received the call.

Being curious regarding whether the number was real or spoofed, I called back from a blocked number and was quite surprised to discover that the number was a valid land line. Again, I heard a recorded message which told me that I could make thousands of dollars monthly, weekly and even daily. If I wanted to know more about this self-described "money-getting system", all I had to do was leave my name, cell number and email address.

Despite asking me to supply them with such information, neither of their recorded messages informed me of the name of the person speaking, the name of their company (if any) or what their "money-getting scheme" is called.

I was not assured by their claims that it's not a multilevel marketing or pyramid scheme, because reputable companies don't try to get people to sign-up by calling them out of the clear blue sky.

Not being an idiot, I left them nothing but a message that they have violated the No Call List and that I have blocked them from calling me again. Curiously, they first called me at about the same time that phony IRS and Microsoft scammers used to call before the police raids in India. The number is registered in Maryland and it was a little after 10:00pm there when they called me in Honolulu.

Deciding to learn a little more about these people, I did a Google search and discovered other people who had posted complaints about receiving the call, most on the same day as myself. It seems that the scammers' use of the number had begun on the same day they called me.

The carrier for this number is CoreTel // Core Communications, Inc. out of Frederick, Maryland. I went to their website and found their customer service number, which I called to register my complaint. The very nice lady who answered asked me to send an email to their office, along with the date and time that I had received the call, which I did immediately after I got off the phone with her.

The email address where you could send a complaint message is service@coretel.net and make sure that you include the date and time you received the call.


Duane Browning


Saturday, December 3, 2016

On Transcendental Meditation

I was born in 1965 and - like many people in the United States of that generation - I grew-up listening to The Beatles. I was never as big a fan of the Fab Four as I was of Elvis Presley, but I have always enjoyed their music.

So, I have always known about their visit to India, where they met the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and studied Transcendental Meditation or TM, for short. Over the years, I've heard about TM but never bothered to learn more about it in-depth. I knew that it was a kind of meditation and that it got started by the Maharishi, but little beyond that.

So, when ads for TM began appearing in my Facebook timeline because two of my Facebook friends had "Liked" their page, I decided to correct my ignorance and learn more about it, maybe even take the course. I visited their homepage and did some Internet searches where I found websites and videos both supporting and critical of TM.

Besides, the David Lynch Foundation has been making the news a lot in recent months, with their ongoing efforts to have as many people as possible to learn and practice TM. I read about how many Wall Street companies are getting their staff to take the course, in the hopes it may lessen workplace stress and boost company performance. So, I decided to see what I may have been missing and consider taking the TM course myself.

But after doing some research and watching a lot of videos, my conclusion is that Transcendental Meditation isn't for me. Not only that, but I would discourage anyone I know from engaging in it. The following explains my reasons:

It Costs A Lot of Money

You wouldn't think that a course in meditation that lasts less than a week would cost nearly a thousand dollars, but it does. Currently, the price of the basic course is $960 in the United States. Nine Hundred sixty dollars to learn how to sit with your eyes closed and silently chant a mantra? Seriously?

The rationale given for charging so much is that half the money goes to the teacher, so that they can earn some sort of living from teaching TM. The other half goes to Transcendental Movement to help support its many programs around the world.

Okay. Fair enough. But, I'm wondering what kind of person learns how to be a TM teacher for the purpose of making teaching the technique their career? To each their own, I guess.

One reason given for charging so much is that people will continue the practice if they invested a serious amount of money to learn it, because people value things that they pay big money to get. I wonder if TM supporters who give that excuse remember the exercise machine fad back in the 90s, where people paid hundreds to thousands of dollars for exercise equipment that they typically used a few times and then gave-up on. I still remember all the Craigslist ads put up back in the 90s as they tried to sell-off their Bow-Flex that they hadn't used in years.

In addition to the basic course, which is the only one most people take, there are other courses offered under the TM organization and they cost hundreds to thousands of dollars each.

Who knew that getting enlightened could cost so much money?

Sure, TM supporters occasionally teach it for free and I understand that some scholarships and grants are available for people who can't fork over almost a thousand bucks. But, why would you make it so
expensive that people would even need a grant or scholarship? It's not like they're going to college.

While $960 would seem like a lot to some people, the basic course's price has actually come down. I've read testimonials of former practitioners who mentioned how the course had cost over three times what it does now. Apparently, the price was brought down in the hopes that more people would take the course. In fact, that is what happened and the TM organization has seen an increase in people taking the course, accompanied by increased revenue to the organization.

They Do Some Really Stupid Shit

While most people who do TM settle for the sitting with their eyes closed routine, there are a few people who want to go the extra mile and that means "Yogic Flying".

Remember the old Kung Fu movies where the hero walks in and sees an old monk meditating while hovering in the air? Well, levitating off the ground is supposed to be something you can do in TM if you're in a high enough level. Sadly, no one in the TM Movement has ever levitated or even seen someone else levitate and they've also never seen anyone make themselves disappear or fly through the air, which are other things you're supposed to be able to do. Most wannabe "flyers" settle for hopping off a padded mat while in a crossed-leg position. Here's a video of some Yogic Flyers
Now, tell me with a straight face that this isn't one of the stupidest things you've ever seen!

People pay money to learn how to do that. I wish I was joking, but I'm not.

Some former TM practitioners and other critics have claimed that the Maharishi even stated that people who attain a high level while practicing Transcendental Meditation would become physically indestructible and immortal. The obvious fact that the Maharishi died in 2008 puts that claim in the "Untrue" pile.

They Say They're Not a Religion, But They Are

TM supporters are very quick to claim that it isn't a religion and you don't have to change your religion to do it. Certainly, there are Christians, Muslims and Jews who do TM, but I wonder how many of them really know what's going-on when they get involved in Transcendental Meditation?

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi lived and taught from a Hindu perspective and he claimed that TM was a continuation of an ancient Vedic meditation technique. The Vedas are the holy books of the Hindu religion. You can't base something on a religious text without it being religious or religion-based. It's very simple.

Furthermore, during the TM instruction when a student is about to receive your mantra from the instructor, the student is told to bring some fresh fruit, flowers and a white handkerchief. These items are used during the puja ceremony, which is also a Hindu rite. While the student doesn't have to say any prayers (the instructor does that) the student brings the offering and stands as a passive participant in the ceremony. The actual words recited by the instructor are decidedly religious in nature. The fruit and flowers are offerings in honor of Guru Dev, the guru of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the ceremony is a form of reverencing the deceased, which is exclusively a religious observance. A picture of Brahmananda Saraswati (a.k.a. "Guru Dev") is on the altar during the ceremony and the instructor bows in front of the altar while performing the puja.

As if that's not enough, the actual mantras that instructors give to their students are the names of Hindu gods!

So, you participate in a Hindu ceremony and then you're given the name of a Hindu god/goddess to recite as your mantra.

For Jews and Christians, this violates the First and Second Commandments:
I am The Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, The Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.(Exodus 20:2-6)
From my not-trained-at-a-rabbinical-school perspective, it would seem that learning and practicing Transcendental Meditation is not kosher and would be considered unclean or an abomination - ("sheqet" in Hebrew or "treif" in Yiddish) - to an Orthodox Jew.

For Muslims, the prohibition of practicing any faith other than Islam would be forbidden  ("haram" in Arabic) and participating in a decidedly Hindu ritual would be considered idolatry or "shirk" (in Arabic) as repeatedly noted in the Qur'an:
“Surely Allah does not forgive that anything should be associated with him, and forgives what is besides that to whomsoever He pleases, and whoever associates anything with Allah, he devises indeed a great sin.” (Surah an-Nisā’ 4:48)

“Surely whoever associates (others) with Allah, then Allah has forbidden to him the garden, and his abode is the fire; and there shall be no helpers for the unjust.” (Surah al-Mā’ida 5:72)

“Do not associate aught with Allah; most surely polytheism is a grievous inequity.” (Surah Luqmān 31:13).

“And whoever associates anything with Allah, he devises indeed a great sin.” (Surah an-Nisā’ 4:48)
Bear in mind that, in addition to not graduating from either a schul or a seminary, I also have never graduated from a madrassah.

If someone feels the need to practice meditation, Judaism, Islam and Christianity all have rich histories that include meditative practices and are available for those who seek out instruction and you probably won't need to spend a lot of money.
They're Really Secretive

When a student receives their mantra from the instructor, they are told to never tell anyone else what their mantra is because doing that would make it powerless.

Okay, I'm in the dark here. If TM isn't religious, how can telling people what your mantra is affect it negatively? It's supposed to be a meaningless word, right? What's wrong with telling people what my meaningless word is?

As noted above, it's not a meaningless word, but the name of a Hindu god or goddess. Is TM trying to keep people from knowing how they choose mantras and what their reals meaning are? Maybe if outsiders knew the mantras TM was passing out, somebody might check to see what they mean, which they have.

I subscribe to a YouTube channel that posted two videos where the speaker taught people what he claimed was the Transcendental Meditation technique. Both videos were subsequently hit with a trademark infraction and cannot be viewed inside the United States. I assume that the complainant was the TM Movement because they would be the only ones who could make such a filing with YouTube. But, if TM is simply the modern incarnation of an ancient Vedic practice, then it can't be trademarked or copyrighted. You could only do that if TM were an original work created by the Maharishi.

I get it that the TM Movement wouldn't want someone out there teaching their technique wrong and some TM instructors have claimed that teaching it wrong can do harm to the people following bad instruction, which is the same reason the Church of Scientology used when Wikileaks posted their material on the Internet.

But, I'd like to think that most people are smart enough to know that if you want to learn something properly, you go to an authoritative source. If you want to learn TM, go to a trained instructor. I've watched hundreds of science videos on YouTube and I know that it doesn't make me a scientist.

Let's say that you've gone through all the training and spent your money. You're happy with TM but you don't want to chant the name of a Hindu god because you're a Christian, Jew, Muslim, or whatever. What can you do?

I'm glad you asked! Welcome to Duane's Mantra Trade-In Emporium where you can bring in your old mantra and walk right out with a brand-spanking new one that you'll enjoy for years! You can even share it with your friends, your family and even total strangers! The best part is that it's absolutely free!

Okay, one advantage of Transcendental Meditation is their use of a one-word mantra. It's simple and easy to remember. So, just ditch the Hindu god's name for a simple word with a beautiful meaning: Peace.
  • For Jews, the word "shalom" is appropriate;
  • For Christians, you could use the Aramaic word "shlama", since Aramaic is the language Jesus actually spoke; or you could use "eirene" (pronounced eye-ree-nee), which is Koine Greek, the language of the New Testament; and
  • Muslims could use the word "salaam".
Celebrity Endorsements

I've never seen Mark Wahlberg or Michael Moore tell people how great Catholicism is and I've never seen William Shatner or Leonard Nimoy expound on the merits of Judaism. Yet, for some reason, the TM Movement seems hell-bent on getting as many celebrities as possible to publicly come forward and tell the world how great Transcendental Meditation is. Howard Stern, Ellen DeGeneres, Katy Perry, Russell Brand, etc all have videos on YouTube where they tell everyone how great TM is how much they've benefited from it.

Hey, I'm happy for them. But, what kind of idiot is going to get into something just because Hugh Jackman likes it?

I like to make my own decisions, thank you.

What Scientific Studies?

Going to the TM homepage, I noticed how they claim that hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies verify the benefits of Transcendental Meditation. When you see them listed on the site, it looks very impressive.

Very impressive, that is, unless you look a little more closely and know how to read a scientific study.

While the results look impressive on the surface, looking into the identities of the scientists who
conducted the studies and learning who paid to have the studies done makes a difference.

Looking through a few studies mentioned on the site, I noticed that they were usually paid-for by the Maharishi University of Management, which is a TM-based institution and/or the scientists involved were from that institution. You can't conduct a reliable study of anything if the people involved or who were paying for it have a direct interest in having a specific result come out of the study. This is funding bias and it calls into question the validity of any scientific study, much like when the tobacco industry paid for scientific studies to prove that smoking cigarettes doesn't cause cancer. A predetermined conclusion was the very reason for the study to be conducted. A 1980 study conducted in Germany didn't result in a glowing endorsement of TM, but I doubt if the results of that study would find their way onto the TM website.

The Appeal to Tradition

In terms of age, the Hindu Vedas are the oldest existing religious texts in the world. No other religious faith can claim to have the same documented continuity as Hinduism and no religious text can trace its history prior to or contemporaneously with the Vedas. These are facts.

However, TM practitioners claim that since TM is based on the Vedas, it is automatically legitimate and the best meditation technique in the world. That is an appeal to tradition, which is the claim that because something is based on ancient knowledge, it is therefore as good, if not better than anything that came after it. In fact, there are a lot of other religious teachers who have become quite popular in the West and who hold up their teachings' basis in the Vedas and Hinduism as a mark of their legitimacy. People like Sai Baba, Sadhguru, Jagad Guru, Osho, etc all have achieved  some fame outside of India while exposing doctrines firmly or partially based in Hindu and Vedic thought. Ancient knowledge isn't automatically good, simply because it's ancient.

The Mysterious Maharishi

Little is definitively known about the Maharishi's early life. The year he was born, where he was born, his family's caste, etc are not known with certainty. Mostly, this is due to Hindu ascetics' practice of renouncing their family name and status upon entering the life of a renunciate. But, before I embrace someone's teachings, I'd first like to know a bit about them. For example, we know a bit about Jesus' life and family before he began his ministry. We don't know a lot of other things (e.g. what he really looked like, what he did between the ages of twelve and thirty, etc) but these really aren't important details for most people. We know quite a bit about Muhammad, due to the Hadiths, which give us great details about him and makes Muhammad one of the best-documented religious leaders of the past two thousand years.

But, we know the family backgrounds of both Jesus and Muhammad, we also know the names of their family members, their families' social status and where both men were born. These men lived centuries ago and we know more about them than we know about the Maharishi, who lived much more recently and died only a few years ago.

It has been stated that the Maharishi came from a family that belonged to the Kayastha caste, a caste whose varna status historically places them in professions such as rulers, warriors and administrators. It is the Brahmin caste who historical function is as priests, teachers and protectors of sacred (Vedic) knowledge. So, while the Kayastha are a high-status caste in Hinduism, for one of them to teach a sacred doctrine would seem to be above their station.

Granted, Buddha was born into this caste and some Hindus do revere him. but mainstream Hinduism considers Buddhism to be outside traditional Hindu teachings, mostly because Buddhism doesn't rely on the Vedas and is a non-theistic religion.

Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad all willingly lived simple lives, without wealth or by accumulating great possessions. Likewise, Brahmananda Saraswati, Maharishi's own guru, lived in caves as a recluse for much of his life and only reluctantly accepted a position of authority. In stark contrast, while the Maharishi called himself a simple monk, he lived an opulent lifestyle which included a personal jet and helicopter.

In light of this, it may be understandable that when Brahmananda Saraswati wrote his will and named potential successors, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's name wasn't on the list.

In Conclusion

I'd like to state for the record that I have nothing against Hindus or Hinduism. What I have a problem with is a religion-based meditation system claiming to not be religious, especially when practicing that meditation system could violate the tenets of some practitioners' sincerely-held religious beliefs. If someone is atheist or agnostic, it seems to be a way to deceive people into performing a religious act against their own belief system.

Of course, there are people who practice Transcendental Meditation and derive benefit from it, either from a small or to a large degree. If so, I'm happy for them.

But, don't try to sell me something while claiming that it isn't a religious practice, when it is and don't tell me that if I get to a "high enough level" in my meditation that I'll be able to do things like fly through the air, be in two places at once or levitate off the ground, and live forever when there's absolutely no evidence that such things have ever happened.

Trying to sweeten the pot by telling me that lots of famous people practice TM has no effect on me whatsoever.

Just put it all out there for me to look at critically and I can make my own decisions. Be honest with what it is and what it isn't, because I don't like being lied to by people claiming to want to help me while secretly wanting me to spend my hard earned money on something of questionable integrity.


Duane Browning

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Scammers Seeking More Victims

About five years ago, I posted a blog regarding an attempt by scammers to pose as the Grameen Foundation. Grameen soon discovered that their name was being used in attempt to defraud people and even learned about my blog.

Scammers have attempted to run scams while posing as various charitable organizations and it seems that their latest effort involves posing as Alwaleed Philanthropies.

On 13 November 2016, I received this text message on my iPhone:
Subject:Congratulations !!!
Our foundation picked you as beneficiary; send a message from your private email to :-  al_prince_96611@hotmail.c
The sender wasn't another phone number. Instead, the used an email address belonging to a faculty member of a local university. I don't even want to think about what kind of angry responses that person was subjected to by outraged recipients. I haven't posted that person's email address because I don't want her to receive any further communications from angry recipients of the scam text. The only email address that is actually valid is the one they want me to contact: al_prince_96611@hotmail.com
I decided to send a reply to the address they gave and see what kind of reply I would get. Alwaleed Philanthropies' email would be sent from alwaleedphilanthropies.org, not hotmail.com. A few days later, I received a response. I was surprised to see that it was sent from the same address:
Greetings To you

We are highly distinguished and honoured to be in contact and thanks for directing your responses to us. We believe strongly that you can help our humble course. Through our foundation you were picked as a beneficiary, knowing you are capable and competent enough to handle this transaction and offer of ours.

Our philanthropies and our humanitarian activities are without limits, I want to use this medium to send warmth greetings to you and your family. We talk less of ourselves, although we know each other for the first time. I'm writing to you on behalf of our foundation owned by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal.

We have decided to make this donation for you and your family. You can read about him on the Wikipedia link I have provided to you: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Alwaleed_Philanthropies
Alwaleed Philanthropies - Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia
en.wikipedia.org

Alwaleed Philanthropies; Founded: 1980 (according to the "Letter from the Founder" at http://www.alwaleedphilanthropies.org/who-we-are#block-views -annual_letter-block

Also for personal view and more details about his philanthropies

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/saudi-prince-alwaleed-bin-talal-will-donate-entir e-32bn-fortune-to-charity- 10358806.html

Note: We do not make a public show of our philanthropic activities, we kindly advise this letter is confidential and should be kept personal,As you have also read in the link above that '' philanthropy is a personal responsibility'' This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for you and your family. If at any point in time you do not intend to complete this offer for personal reasons best known to you, please you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this e-mail.  Please kindly send a disclaimers message /notification via email immediately as feedback.  You are hereby notified that disclosing, copying, distributing or taking any action in reliance on the contents of this information is strictly prohibited.

I want to believe you have read the link provided above. Our foundation has been involved in a lot of charitable and philanthropic activity for community services and educational benefit. Supporting philanthropic activities is part of our humanitarian mission to promote ethical social change and foster a universal sense of responsibility regardless of race, colour, ethnicity as we are all humans. We support and initiates projects around the world, regardless of gender, race or religion. We collaborate with a range of philanthropic, governmental and educational organisations to combat poverty, empower women and the youth, develop communities, provide disaster relief and create cultural understanding through education.

We have decided to touch the life of as many persons in your community, using you as a medium.  If you are reading this letter it means you have been picked to receive a donation ceded to you and your family and the entire community as a way of returning back to the public and to say thanks for your support directly or indirectly.  We may not know you, but in our family it is our culture and believes that as human we are all equal and that everyone has the right to work for a living, to support their families. Our offer to you may be little but we kindly advise that you put the funds to good use, so you can support your family and community directly or indirectly.

You are to receive the sum of  2,600,000 Usd directly to help foster our mission, to enable you to support your family, also carry out a community project and also support the less privilege, this is why  we have decided to contact you directly. It is important that you help carry our-our mission of making the world a better place, Together, we can build bridges for a more compassionate, tolerant and accepting world

Kindly send the below information so we can make adequate preparation for the disbursement of the funds to you and your family.

FULL NAMES:
ADDRESS:
AGE:
SEX:
PHONE NUMBER:
OCCUPATION:
COUNTRY:

With this information, all necessary papers needed for the disbursement of the funds will be prepared by our attorney and deposited with our affiliated pay out finance house. 

We expect to read from you as soon as possible

Thanks
Leila Al Solh
Just reading the email reply showed me that English isn't the first language of the sender, though it's better than most scam emails that I have received. An organization as large as Alwaleed would obviously have staff who could write emails in better English than this.

I sent another email in reply to this, asking for a contact phone number. Apparently, the scammers aren't as stupid as I had hoped, because they gave me Alwaleed's real phone number by which to contact them. Calling Alwaleed to ask about my "grant" would waste their time and mine, since no grant is coming my way.

Running a trace of both emails indicates Germany as their point of origin, not Saudi Arabia.

Both emails were signed with the name Leila Al Solh who is a real person and she serves at the vice-president of Alwaleed bin Talal Humanitarian Foundation. It is typical of scammers to pose as a real person associated with a charity they are impersonating.

It should be obvious that Alwaleed Philanthropies does not send out texts to people using addresses of people not attached to their organization. They don't offer money to people they don't know.

This is a scam. They have no intention of sending you any money.

Feel free to ignore any future text messages they send out to you.


Duane Browning

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Is Cohen & Beck A Real Law Firm?

I found this posted in a Facebook group I belong to:
BEWARE OF THE NEW SCAM!!!  I AM SHARING THIS SO THAT NO ONE GOES THROUGH ALL THE STRESS, ANXIETY, AND CONFUSION I WENT THROUGH.
This past Thursday 6/30/16, I got a call  on my cell from 872-444-2777 saying she was a from a company that tracks people down.  She wouldn't give me any information except to confirm my name and tell me to call 1-800-659-0702 with a supposed case number.  When I called, the lady identified herself as from Cohen & Beck a law firm (The Offices of Cohen & Beck, 414 West Grand Blvd. #424, Corona, Ca. 92878.  She confirmed my identity by stating(she told me, I didn't share anything)  my name (which was my maiden name), my SSN!!, DOB, and my mailing address and phone number!  She explained that I had an unpaid AT&T bill from 1999-2001 of $300+ and that it had grown to a larger amount.  They are starting a civil case in the County of Honolulu and that I could be liable for more than just that amount, it could be attorney and collection fees as well.  After asking as many questions as I could think of, I told her to send me proof.  Here are the problems with their story;
PROBLEM #1- I HAVE NEVER HAD AT&T
PROBLEM #2- I HAVE NEVER RECIEVED ANY NOTICE FROM ANYONE ABOUT AN AT&T ACCOUNT, NO MAIL OR CALL
PROBLEM #3- I SAW MY CREDIT REPORT WHEN I TOOK OUT THE MORTGAGE AND NOTHING OUTSTANDING WAS ON IT
PROBLEM #4 I RECEIVED THEIR WRITTEN DOCUMENT THAT SHE SAID WOULD SETTLE THE CASE OUTSIDE OF COURT AND IT DOESN'T LOOK LEGIT. IT SAYS (TO PUT IT SIMPLY)THAT IF I SIGN IT, I CANNOT HOLD IT AGAINST THEM IN THE CASE OF ME NOT REALIZING THE FACTS ARE NOT RIGHT. 
PROBLEM #5 THE CREDITOR IS LISTED AS THEM, NOT AT&T LIKE SHE STATED!
PROBLEM #6 I CALLED AT&T AND THEIR BILLING DEPT SEARCHED AND SEARCHED AND DID NOT FIND ANY RECORD OF ANYTHING UNDER MY INFO
PROBLEM #7 I LOOKED UP COHEN & BECK AND THE YELP REVIEWS SAY THAT THEY BELIEVE ITS A SCAM TOO!  Gotta love YELP!

The largest problem is that my husband also received a phone call from the supposed tracking people too.  Our conclusion is that someone that had access to our mortgage paperwork leaked our info.  It is the only time that all our info was together and shared with anyone!  Spooky!  We had to call the credit report companies and put a 90 day notice of possible fraudulant activity and we are not both paying a monthly fee for monitoring.  Horrible Horrible people!
 Being somewhat familiar with how debt collectors operate, this looked like a typical, aggressive company which made threatening and intimidating phone calls, with the goal of making as much money as quickly as they could. However, when the victim pointed out their side, I had a feeling that something wasn't right here.

So, I decided to look up Cohen & Beck to see what I could find. It wasn't easy. Aside from some negative reviews on Yelp, they have almost no Internet presence.

I called the California Bar Association to see if Cohen & Beck was even a real law firm. But, they couldn't help me without the name of a specific attorney, which the victims hadn't provided.

I did find the website Cohen & Beck at cohenandbeck.com but it's such a barebones website that
it wasn't helpful either. No names are provided of any of the attorneys. Just a toll-free contact number and a link to make payments.

Making little headway, I did a WhoIs search on the site and learned that it is registered anonymously. Furthermore, it was only recently created. The site came online in February 2016, which contradicts their site's claim that the firm has been around for years.

Having a strong suspicion that Cohen & Beck isn't even a real law firm, I decided to find out if they are even registered as a business, which all law firms are required to do. Finding this information wasn't difficult and I soon found the names of all law firms registered as a business in Corona,
California. To make this plain for you: as far as I can tell, the Law Office of Cohen & Beck is not registered as a business in California.

Unless Cohen & Beck can prove otherwise to me, I am convinced that this law firm does not exist and calls the victims received were part of a scam.

After looking into the legitimacy of the supposed law firm, I decided to have a look at the physical address itself, which appears to simply be a mail drop. Mail drops are commonly used by shady operations to hide their true location from people who may wish to serve them with a subpoena. But, it isn't unknown for one underhanded operation to share its address with another.

Other companies that claim the same address as Cohen & Beck likewise are involved in the legal profession in some way. Such as legal document preparation, process serving, mediation, etc. Companies using the same address include, but are not limited to:
ADR Group http://www.adrdocs.com
and Sentry ADR Services http://www.sentryadrservices.com

 Given that all of three companies use the same address and do the same kind of work, it is possible that they are run by the same people.

IMPORTANT: Unless you live in a jurisdiction where the law firm of Cohen & Beck is licensed to practice law, they would be unable to file any lawsuit against you. The debt collectors would have to contract with a law firm in the jurisdiction where you live to file any case against you.

I called the toll-free number for Cohen & Beck a few days ago and heard a voicemail recording as if I was calling a real office. I was calling after business hours, so this didn't surprise me. But, today I called both numbers and the first number (from the "investigators") is no longer in service, while Cohen & Beck is using a generic voicemail recording. In a perfect world, it would be because too many people have called "Bullshit!" on these clowns.


Duane Browning

Monday, May 30, 2016

Another Computer Virus Scam

While reading an article, my computer suddenly froze and this message popped-up, along with a recording

The message reads:
**YOUR COMPUTER HAS BEEN BLOCKED**
Error 268D3
Please call us immediately at 844-576-0464
Please do not ignore this critical alert. If you close this page, your computer access will be disabled to prevent further damage to our network.
Your computer has alerted us that it has been infected with a virus and spyware. The following information is being stolen...
> Facebook Login
> Credit Card Details
> Email Account Login
> Photos stored on this computer
You must contact us immediately so that our engineers can walk you through the removal process over the phone. Please call us within the next 5 minutes toprevent your comuter from being disabled.
Toll Free 844-576-0464
Needless to say, it's been longer than 5 minutes since I saw this bullshit and my computer is still working fine.

This sort of thing is caused by a piece of malware being inserted into a website that causes your browser to freeze, with the accompanying pop-up and recording starting to play. Trying to close the browser by clicking the little X at the top or trying to switch windows won't work. The only ways to close the browser are to
  • right-click the box at the bottom of your screen and click "Close";
  • you can type on the ALT and F4 keys; or
  • you can simply turn your computer off. 

I ran a CCleaner scan after closing my browser, to make sure there was no residual malware on my computer.

What happens if you call the number?

Well, you'll be told that it's Microsoft Support and that they received an alert that your computer had been infected. While Microsoft is very good at creatingnew computer technology, they cannot monitor the entire Internet, looking for malware infections. They can't and no one else can, because the Internet is too vast. It's the same reason we can't remove the plastic polluting our oceans. It's ust too big and the prblems could be anywhere.

Considering how much damage viruses and other malware cause computer systems around the world, if Microsoft could find it all, don't you think they would have done it by now?

I don't even need to call the number to know what will happen if I do. I'll get somebody with an Indian accent answering the phone who will then ask me what kind of computer I have. If I tell him/her, they'll begin what they'll tell you is the "virus removal process", which is actually their attempt to get you to give them control of your computer. It's a bit complicated to explain, but there's in no virus hijacking your computer, it's a simply, annoying program that convinces you to call them so that they can con you into giving them control of your computer.

So, you don't have anything to worry about. Just don't call that number from your own phone.

If you want to hit them back, here's my suggestion:
1) write down the number they gave you to call;
2) go to a pay phone and call the number. It's toll free, so it won't cost you anything;
3) when they answer, tell them that you got the pop-up and recording. Make sure they identify themselves as the people the pop-up told you to call, because the scammers may abandon using the number at some point and you don't want to victimize an innocent person;
4) when they begin asking you for your computer information (type of computer, model number, etc), tell them "FUCK YOU!" over and over again. See how many times you can tell them "fuck you" before they hang-up. Try to say it to them 100 times. If you make it to a hundred, let me know in the Comments section below.
5) since it's a toll-free number, you can call them anytime you want. Call them and start abusing them whenever you need to let-off some steam. Just remember to use a pay phone, so that they can't call you back.

Moving on.


Duane Browning
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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Dr Okosun Curing Tinnitus With Magic?

It seems that whenever I write blog about any scam product that touts itself as a tinnitus cure, I get a comment posted about some supposed miracle worker in Nigeria. His name is Dr Okosun and here is the post I've been finding in comments:
SPECIAL THANKS TO DR OKOSUN FOR THE TINNITUS CURED HE
RENDER TO ME.
I'm giving a testimony about Dr. OKOSUN the great Herbalist man, he has the cure to all manner of diseases, he cured my Tinnitus Ear virus, though I went through different website I saw a testimonies about this herbalist, I was like: 'Many people have the Tinnitus virus cure why are people still suffering from it?' I though of it, then I contact Dr. OKOSUN via email, (doctorokosunspelltemple@gmail.com) I didn't believe him that much, I just wanted to give him a try, he replied my mail and Needed some Information about me, then I sent them to him, he prepared the (CURE) and sent it to Airfreight Online Courier Service for delivery, he gave my details to the Courier Office, they told me that 3-5 days I will receive the package and i took the medicine as prescribed by him and I went for check-up 1 week after finishing the medicine, then the Tinnitus was no there, if you are suffering from Tinnitus virus you to contact him on his via email address: doctorokosunspelltemple@gmail.com or call him +2348107584479,
 
He can also cure you from others sickness such as.
ALS cure.
you need your EX husband back.
you need money ritual.
DIABETES
CANCER
Asthma
STROKE
INFERTILITY
HEPATITIS B
HEART DISEASE
HAPATIS C
Thanks for taking time to read my post, again his email on DOCTOROKOSUNSPELLTEMPLE@GMAIL.COM or call or whatsapp him on +2348107584479. wish you good luck

I decided to find out a little more about this guy. A quick Google search reveals this exact post, word for word, has been posted numerous times across many forums and there are several Google + accounts which seem to exist solely for the purpose of advertising him and I've seen many posts on Facebook on his behalf. It's pretty obvious that the individual(s) posting these messages don't speak English very well, which is obvious from the poor spelling and grammar. They don't seem to be medically informed either, since tinnitus isn't caused by a virus.

Since these idiots have pestered me before, I sent him an email and received this reply
You are welcome to DR OKOSUN home is a great temple which has been in existence for the past 67 year and it has been past from generation to generations.
What I do here is 100% guaranteed and no matter what the problem is, my spell must work for the power behind it is very powerful and secured, no harm and very easy, And this temple is a place of seriousness what I want here is real people who really want their problems to be solve and not a playing ground. And in this temple there are rule that can never be violated: {1} Do not tell anybody about the spell until you have seen result {2} Do not work with me and the same time work with another spell caster it is either you make a choice {3} Do not come here for jokes or take spell casting for granted 

This are the rule and regulation you must follow in other for a good spell casting and to get good result of 100% guaranteed. But before i start with the cure your info will be needed,As the info you will provide below will be fine and OK.
YOUR NAME:
YOUR SEX:
YOUR COUNTRY:
YOUR STATE:
FORUM WHERE YOU FOUND OUR ADVERT: 
YOUR MOBILE:
AGE 
YOUR PICTURE:
ADDITIONAL INFO NEEDED FROM YOU: 
If I get the detail I will proceed with the cure, for you have make the right choice for contacting. 

Hope to hear from you. Best of luck 

Attention:
I actually had to clean up the above reply that he sent to me because it had sentence breaks everywhere and it looked like he just copypasted it and sent it out without checking it first. Notice, it says "Attention" at the end? At the footer of some of his emails to me, I noticed that he had sent it out using his Blackberry phone, which explains the sloppiness.

The name "Okosun" is a real name that seems to be rather common in Nigeria and searching for a Doctor Okosun turned-up several legitimate medical doctors. There's also a famous evangelical preacher, Sonny Okosun. Aside from a Google + page and a Twitter account that hasn't been used in a long time, this guy doesn't have an Internet presence, aside from his people posting anywhere and everywhere. I'm certain of two things:
  1. he's not a doctor or even a witch doctor;
  2. "Okosun" isn't his real name
I had asked him if he had the cure for tinnitus and he sent this short follow-up to the first email:
My child I have the cure
Knowing a bit of how magic is supposed to be done, the requests for my name, gender, age and picture don't seem to be unusual. But, why would he need my mobile number? My picture could likely be used as part of some other scam or to tell falsely people that I'm one of the people he's cured.

I sent another email, asking if he needed me to travel to him so he could work his magic with me there and if he required some sort of financial "donation" before he could get to work. I received this reply
hello my child,
i am going to prepare the herb and send it to you in your country through coral service, so before i can proceed forward you have to provide the details needed.
hope to hear from you soon.
best regard.
I think he meant to say "courier service", not "coral service". Aside from the obvious fact that English is not his first language, he didn't seem to read my email all the way through the first time and had to later send this response to whether a financial donation was required
You are paying 200 $ only to purchase the items, that will be used to prepare the herb.
Being curious as to how I would send him the $200 he's asking for, I sent him a reply with some bullshit information I made-up. I told him that I didn't have a mobile number because tinnitus made me deaf in both ears. I also didn't send him a picture. I figured that he'd let those slide in anticipation of my sending him 200 dollars. Here's what he said
Hello my child,
now that i have receive your information i want you to know that your sickness will be cure with my herbal medicine okay?
so my child i don't ask money for me to cure you but after i have prepped the herbal for you,immediately after using it you will go for
a test and you shall be tested Sickness negative okay.but you are only going to pay for the herbal items. which i am to use to prepped the
cure of your sickness okay?
items needed
1. Essin Atalodo
2. Udurele
3. Owewe
4. Upakensi
5. Ogili and Umelen
total is 200usd
as soon as i get this herbal items i will prepped the cure of your
sickness, so that you can leave a peaceful with your love once okay.
Which was soon followed by this
Alright my child, so I will start working immediately so I will send you the items am to buy so that I can prepare the herb and send it to you
Not surprisingly, the entire email he sent to me is an almost exact copy of a post from a forum that was placed several months ago by a user called kelvin Marty on January 19, 2016. I was somewhat surprised that he didn't press me for a mobile number, but I suppose the story I gave him was convincing.

I Googled the names of the items he says that he needs and only one came back with a result. "Owewe" is the word for "cannon", so I'm guessing it's not some sort of herb or plant. While it is possible that all of these things are real herbs and these are simply the names they are known by locally, I think it's more likely that the names are made-up.

It didn't take long for this guy to smell blood and that the moment had come for him to cash-in. Shortly after he received the information I sent to him after pulling it out of my ass, he finally sent this
Hello you are to send the money through western union money transfer, these are the details you are to send to Receivers name: Ebhohimen innocent Receivers Country : Nigeria Receivers State : Edo State Security questions : My favourite colour Security answer : RedAfter sending you send down the following Sender full name..........Sender country.......Sender state..........Amount sent.....MTCN pin......Text questions....Text answer....
At this point, it's pretty clear that there is no "Doctor Okosun". It looks like the name of the person I've been corresponding with actually is named Ebhohimen Innocent. This name does appear to be rather common and I found several people on Facebook with it, all of them Nigerians. I'm not accusing any of them of running this scam, though.

How this scam was supposed to play-out, as the scammer had initially planned it was:

  1. I contact him and ask for his help;
  2. He replies and asks for my information, not including my mailing address;
  3. I send him my information;
  4. He sends his thanks for my info and tells me to send $200 to him via Western Union while he gets to work on brewing the potion;
  5. I send him the money;
  6. He asks me for my home address so he can have it delivered to me;
  7. I send him my address;
  8. He tells me the potion is on its way;
  9. When it doesn't arrive, I contact him;
  10. He tells me to wait a few days;
  11. When it still doesn't arrive, I contact him again;
  12. He probably tells me that there was a problem with shipping and asks me for more money to hire a different courier service;
  13. When it still doesn't arrive, I contact him again;
  14. He probably tells me that it was lost and asks me for more money so he can start all over again;
  15. and so on.

Where my personal information winds-up is anybody's guess, of course. At the very least, if I just give-up right away, he's still got $200 of my money burning a hole in his pocket. If he notices that I've given-up on him, he'd likely use the information I've given him to pester me into giving him another try

This isn't something new for him, either. While he's been using the name "Okosun" recently, he's used names like Lano, Suku, Dibia Agbakor, Ezomo and many others.

At least with Tinnitus Remedy, Tinnitus Miracle and Tinnitus Terminator, you'll get something for your trouble. A book, some CDs or a digital download. They're all useless, but you're actually getting something for your money and none of them costs as much as Dr Okosun's magic formula.

My "Witch Doctor"Collection

It seems that either Dr Okosun is running scams under other cover identities or some other con artists have followed his lead and set-up shop for themselves. The following is a list of other "witch doctors" who have either spammed this blog (those comments get deleted) or have contacted me privately. I'll add more as they become known to me. I am listing them alphabetically.

24hourslovespell
24hourslovespell@gmail.com
whatsapp +2347059073543

Joseph Alberto
josephalberteo@gmail.com

Dr Azuka
dr.azukasolutionhome@gmail.com
WhatsApp +2348132777335

Doctor Dada
drdadaspellhome@gmail.com
Whatsapp him +2349053287581

Dr Enato
dr.enatosolutionhome@gmail.com
Whatsapp (+234) 8158836717

Dr George
drgeorge2580@gmail.com

Dr.Lewis Hill
drlewishill247@gmail.com

Dr Kemi
kemilovespelltemple@gmail.com
mobile number +2349066484033
whatsapp +2349039545297

LOVE RE CONCILIATOR
payospiritsshalospells@yahoo.com

Dr Luka
lukagozorspellhome@gmail.com

Dr Miracle
miraclespellhome@yahoo.com

Dr Odinaka
dr.sunshineherbalhome@gmail.com
odinakaspiritualtemple@gmail.com
whatsApp +2349051208634
call him +2348147673395

Dr. Ogudo
dr.ogudoherbalspelltemple@gmail.com
dr.ogudoherbalspelltemple@hotmail.com
dr.ogudoherbalspelltemple101@yahoo.com
Whats App +2349031726182

Dr.Ogudugu
GREATOGUDUGU@GMAIL.COM

Dr Okosun
doctorokosunspelltemple@gmail.com
Whatsapp +2348107584479

Dr Omoa
dradanikesolutionhome@outlook.com
Telephone  +2348141309378

Dr BABALORIXA
babalorixaharbalhome@gmail.com

Dr Osas
doctorosasherbalhome@gmail.com
osasspellcaster@gmail.com
Telephone +2349036919200

Dr, Sebi
drsebicellfood1@gmail.com
Telephone 19147094469
WhatsApp 2348158836673

Dr.Agbazara Temple
agbazara@gmail.com
whatsapp +2348104102662

Dr Kpelede Temple
kpeledesolutiontemple@gmail.com
Telephone 2347038111854

Dr Uze
druzespellhome@gmail.com
Telephone: + 2348126257125

Dr Wafe
drwafesolutioncenter@gmail.com
Telephone +2348158836717

Dr William
drwilly37@gmail.com

Dr Williams
drwilliams098765@gmail.com


Duane Browning