Sunday, October 27, 2013

NFL Teams and Their Twitter Followings

In the United States, football is well-known for its devoted fanbase. When I hear fans of a particular team talk about them, they always refer to the team as "we" or "us", as if they were a part of the team themselves and not just a spectator. I always found this rather odd, but I'm sure that fans of other sports teams around the world do the same. Living in Hawaii, it often seems like the most devoted sports fans are football fans.

This got me wondering how this fanbase translated to Twitter followings. Certain teams are noted for their devoted - even fanatical - fanbases and I was curious as to how the teams stacked-up with each other in relation to Twitter followers and what I found was surprising.

I have two lists: one list separates the teams into their respective conferences and the other is the overall listing.

Listed by conference, with the team having the most followers (as of October 27, 2013) in bold:

Baltimore Ravens 383,590
Cincinnati Bengals 206,433
Cleveland Browns 204,235
Pittsburgh Steelers 632,155

Houston Texans 327,196
Indianapolis Colts 208,834
Jacksonville Jaguars 105,208
Tennessee Titans 154,718

Buffalo Bills 199,002
Miami Dolphins 267,389
New England Patriots 715,272
New York Jets 610,366

Denver Broncos 370,355
Kansas City Chiefs 215,431
Oakland Raiders 304,890
San Diego Chargers 243,150

Chicago Bears 377,786
Detroit Lions 277,409
Green Bay Packers 566,598
Minnesota Vikings 271,309

Atlanta Falcons 267,946
Carolina Panthers 194,873
New Orleans Saints 389,343
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 142,918

Dallas Cowboys 703,693
New York Giants 520,862
Philadelphia Eagles 365,680
Washington Redskins 258,255

Arizona Cardinals 71,937
San Francisco 49ers 506,090
Seattle Seahawks 301,360
St. Louis Rams 144,402

Here is the overall listing (as of October 27, 2013):
  1. New England Patriots 715,272
  2. Dallas Cowboys 703,693
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers 632,155
  4. New York Jets 610,366
  5. Green Bay Packers 566,598
  6. New York Giants 520,862
  7. San Francisco 49ers 506,090
  8. Baltimore Ravens 383,590
  9. Chicago Bears 377,786
  10. Denver Broncos 370,355
  11. Philadelphia Eagles 365,680
  12. New Orleans Saints 389,343
  13. Houston Texans 327,196
  14. Oakland Raiders 304,890
  15. Seattle Seahawks 301,360
  16. Detroit Lions 277,409
  17. Minnesota Vikings 271,309
  18. Atlanta Falcons 267,946
  19. Miami Dolphins 267,389
  20. Washington Redskins 258,255
  21. San Diego Chargers 243,150
  22. Kansas City Chiefs 215,431
  23. Indianapolis Colts 208,834
  24. Cincinnati Bengals 206,433
  25. Cleveland Browns 204,235
  26. Buffalo Bills 199,002
  27. Carolina Panthers 194,873
  28. Tennessee Titans 154,718
  29. St. Louis Rams 144,402
  30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 142,918
  31. Jacksonville Jaguars 105,208
  32. Arizona Cardinals 71,937
So, there it is. I am certain that these teams all have more fans than Twitter followers, so these lists are not actually indicative of each team's true popularity.

Duane Browning

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


It must cost some serious money to advertise on YouTube. I'm seeing ads for all sorts of things and one of them was Duvamis. Howver, I never thought I'd see an advertisement for an app you can download for free so you can read the Bible more often.

But, it's true
Hey, it's not like you can go to the Google Play store and download an app that sends you Bible verses everyday!

Oh, wait. You can and they are some of the most popular free downloads.

So, why go through all the trouble and expense of advertising a product that is already available?

I was immediately suspicious when I heard the narrator's voice: the exact same person narrating the video for the malware-infected app from Phenotrack!

I have no way to know if has malware in their app, too. But, given Phenotrack's known track record of not approving or outright deleting comments that even mention the malware, it wouldn't surprise me if had similar issues and they also wouldn't allow anyone to mention it on their comments sections.

My suspicions only deepened when I learned that is an anonymously-registered website, just like and both sites use the same servers.

But, why were these apps even made?

Well, if the goal was the distribute malware and steal information off people's computers, they've found good targets.

People who believe in the paranormal would really love a one-stop location to keep up on stuff like that and Phenotrack would seem like a dream come true. Bible readers (usually evangelical Protestants) could be quite likely to want an app that helps them read the Bible more. While they might already have such an app on their phone, they might still give dailybible a try to see if they like it better.

Given Phenotrack's past behavior and the obvious link between the two, I advise against downloading the app from until all issues are settled.

Better yet, just ignore them entirely. There are plenty of free apps already available that aren't infected with malware.

Duane Browning

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Suspicious App on PHENOTRACK.COM

I kept seeing this video featured on YouTube "The Megalodon Is Real" and decided to finally watch it, even though I already knew that megalodon is real because of all the fossil evidence. I figured that this video had been put up by some idiot who thinks that megalodons are still swimming around out there. Here is the video
Anyone with computer access can go straight to the Wikipedia article and learn that scientists have known for a long time about megalodon and know much about its ecology, lifecycle and its most likely causes of extinction. Yet, this fucking clown seems to want people to believe megalodon is still out there, though likely swimming in deep water.

For anyone who thinks this: megalodon preferred warm water and deep ocean depths would be too cold for it to survive in, plus there wouldn't be enough food for an animal that size to survive for very long. True, sperm whales do hunt  in deep water for species giant squid, but if megalodon is still out there, it would result in severe competition for food between the two and there is no evidence of that.

The narrator goes on to claim that YouTube videos about UFOs that he had bookmarked were mysteriously deleted after a takedown order. Funny, but I have no problem finding videos about UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, etc. Odd that his favorites all get deleted, but I haven't noticed any such purging.

I'm not saying that it didn't happen, just that there's no evidence. It wouldn't be the first time that someone advertised a product and claimed the government didn't want such information available to the public.

Anyway, the video above serves primarily as an advertisement for a free app offered at PHENOTRACK.COM and claims to give real-time updates on reported paranormal activities around the world, such as UFO sightings. You may be thinking, "Well, there's no harm in that.", but there is the very real possibility of harm and this entire "offer" of a free app may be nothing more than a cover story for underhanded activities by the people behind PHENOTRACK.

First of all, the voice on the video reminded me very much of the narrator of the Duvamis video I blogged about earlier and the general style of the video is about the same. Duvamis seemed to be rather strange, but nothing seemed nefarious and there was nothing to download.

Second, their website is registered anonymously, though their IP address is known and  is out of New Jersey.

Third and most important: several people have reported that when they tried to download the app, their antivirus software detected information theft software - specifically ApplicUnwnt.win32.AdWare.FunWe
­b.DA@1 - which attempted to infiltrate their computer.

A video reporting this was posted on YouTube and you can view it here

The narrator mentions that when he posted a comment on PHENOTRACK's website, informing them of the malware, they deleted his comment!

So, PHENOTRACK is hiding the identities of the people behind the site and they deleted one comment (that we know about) warning about malware in the app.

Seems very suspicious to me and I advise everyone to steer clear of these guys.

UPDATE: I decided to personally try to post a comment to their video where I mention the alleged malware in their download. My exact quote was 
people have reported that your app contains malware. Have you fixed that yet?
All comments on the video are subject to approval by the account-holder. I was not surprised to discover that my comment was not approved.

Yeah, somebody has something to hide.

Duane Browning

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Vindale Research

I received this in my Spam box today. 

From: Vindale Research


Since I haven't heard from them before, I decided to see what's going-on and whether this is just another scam.

Well, they don't appear to be a deliberate fraud. But, the company's online reputation is rather tainted and I would advise against anyone signing-up for a membership.

First, I tried to do an IP trace of the email itself and discovered that the IP cannot be traced to its point of origin. Looks like someone is trying to hide.

Second, researching the company itself, I learned that their website can be found at and their contact information is
Vindale Research
243 Fifth Avenue, Suite 541
New York, NY 10016
Telephone: 1-855-VINDALE (846-3253)
Fax: 1-866-841-3898
The given address does not appear to be their physical address, but seems to be a mailbox at the UPS Store there. So, the "suite number" is actually their mailbox number. So, if you ever wanted to have legal documents served on them for some reason, you'd be out of luck.

Vindale is making use of social networking sites and you can visit them on Facebook and Twitter.

Vindale Research is a subsidiary by SayForExample, Inc.which also is the parent company of Paid Samples (website is offline) Survey 4 Profit (website and is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, though the BBB has a review of the company and has given them a C+ rating. I found it rather disturbing that there have so far been 22 complaints filed against SayForExample, Inc in the last year.

Nathanael "Nate" Ehrich is the Founder and CEO of SayForExamle, Inc.

Next, I Googled "Vindale Research" and found complaints against this company going back to 2008:
However, a fairly balanced review that presents both the good and bad points of signing-up for Vindale Research can be found here. He did a particularly good job of examining how the company works and explains it very well. I read this on his review which totally convinced me to have nothing to do with these people
The catch, if it can be called that, lies in the “evaluation surveys” (more about that later). Here the company signs-up members for a number of product trials and then later on passes a part of its own commissions to these members. This is followed by the dispatching of some stock surveys, which gives off the impression that you’re giving out useful feedback.

Although this tactic is entirely legal, there’s no denying about its deceptiveness as it doesn’t conform to accepted market research methods. Similarly, the payouts advertised by the company are also smartly inflated.

For instance, as a member you might be offered a 10-day trial run at an internet dating site. Say you are charged $30 by the dating site for the given trial period and at the end of it, Vindale Research remunerates you $45. Now although you end up being paid only $15, the company says it paid you $45.
Vindale Research is not an outright scam. But, I don't like how they do business and will never sign-up for a membership.

Duane Browning

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Awakened to Textspam

While trying to get some sleep, I received five text messages in just a few minutes:

Subject:Message id:CZZC
CentralPacificBan.k CWGG alert 597567.Please call [515]309-6975

Subject:Message id:CQQM
CentralPacificBan.k AWQG alert 123759.Please call [515]309-6975

Subject:Message id:FZJD
CentralPacificBan.k FRQL alert 565497.Please call [515]309-6975

Subject:Message id:FZEX
CentralPacificBan.k QQNG alert 977814.Please call [515]309-6975

Subject:Message id:HPYH
CentralPacificBan.k QAGM alert 713353.Please call [515]309-6975
Doing a reverse lookup revealed the number given as registered to a customer of cellular provider Windstream, a company formerly known as Paetec. Getting through to a real person at customer service was a bit difficult, but eventually I spoke to someone who asked me to send my complaint to
and I paused only long enough to post this information on my blog.

The reported goal of the spammer is to get you to call the number, then you'll be told that your credit card has been blocked. You will then be directed to enter your card number to unblock it. Of course, it's just a phishing scam and the scammers are just trying to steal your credit card information.

Duane Browning

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A More Realistic View of Mother Theresa of Calcutta

Many in the West have long viewed Mother Theresa as a selfless advocate for the poor and wretched of the world. However, the Truth is that Mother Theresa was demonstrably a self-serving religious fanatic to did little to nothing to reduce suffering anywhere.

Here are two documentaries on YouTube that you can watch and come to your own conclusions

Mother Teresa - Hell's Angel 

Penn & Teller's "Bullshit - Holier Than Thou"

I was inspired to write this entry after reading this article "A new exposé of Mother Teresa shows that she—and the Vatican—were even worse than we thought" and I decided to post this entry with information and links gathered from the 'Net.

A truly damning expose of Mother Theresa's hypocrisy was "Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict" by Aroup Chatterjee. However, that book is difficult to obtain, even from, but it is available online and you can read it here. Mr Hitchens also responded to a criticism of his book in this letter to the editor in The New York Review of Books.

As far as published works, Christopher Hitchens wrote "The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice" and is easily available from the link to the Amazon page I provided or from a nearby bookstore.

There's also "Hope Endures: Leaving Mother Teresa, Losing Faith, and Searching for Meaning" by Colette Livermore.

On the other side of this, the Vatican has already fast-tracked Mother Theresa to become canonized as a saint in the near future. A dubious "miracle" was used as evidence for her beatification, so it looks like she'll be Saint Mother Theresa is a relatively short time.

I think that one rationale for all this hype is that the Roman Catholic Church has been taking quite a beating in the public eye over the past few years, with scandals reported in the media in graphic detail. The Church needs a public figure to be held up for the masses to idolize and Mother Theresa seems to fit the bill. After all, even though they've got priests molesting children, they've also got Mother Theresa, for whatever that's worth.

Duane Browning

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Oxford Memo Book

There's nothing particularly fancy about the Oxford Memo Book in the picture. It measures 6 1/8" x 3 3/4", has 72 ruled pages with a simple brown carboard cover. These are the favored notebook of the Honolulu Police Department, the Hawaii Department of Public Safety, some security guards and a number of ordinary people who prefer it to the exclusion of any other notebook.

Some time ago, Oxford decided to stop making these, much to the chagrine of devoted fans. I've seen web postings by people frustrated with the company for its decision and there are a number of people seeking them independantly.

Another company, Roaring Springs, began making them and sells them via their website, but you have to buy a case of 144 notebooks because they don't sell them any other way.

Here in Hawaii, you can buy them singly for $1.90 each at Fisher Hawaii. A friend of mine in California asked me to pickup ten of these for him and mail them over. Naturally, he'll pay for the books and postage. He's a friend, not my brother. Another shocking level of devotion for a notebook! Where will it end??

So, if you're a fan of the now-discontinued Oxford Memo Book in Hawaii, go to Fisher Hawaii and buy as many as you want.

By the way, please don't get mad at the clerks at OfficeMax because the store doesn't stock them (You know who you are).

Duane Browning

Sunday, June 2, 2013

What's the Truth About Duvamis?

While trying to watch a Youtube video, I saw an ad for something called "Duvamis". It's supposed to be a way for people to find-out "who they really are" and the ad - which has a long version and a short one - reminded me very much of Scientology, both for its content and its production quality.
You can see the long version here

Being a curious guy and having nothing else to do, I watched the entire ad and then tried to find their website.
The site wasn't hard to find with a simple Google search, but there wasn't much content.

Duvamis also has a blog at which claims to offer users a place where they can "express their inner selves" or some bullshit like that.

A quick WhoIs search informed me that is an anonymously-registered domain and its IP address is out of Sofia, Bulgaria.

Now, my instincts began to warn me of a potential scam. Why Bulgaria - a country whose law enforcement abilities against Internet crime are not exactly stellar, mostly because they have no law applicable to the Internet - and not the United States or Western Europe? If they have nothing to hide and only want to help me "find-out who I really am", why hide behind a cloak of anonymity?

Hey, it's entirely possible that these guys are on the level, but too many questions about Duvamis are left unanswered.

As a side note, I found it rather interesting that "Duvamis" is also the name of a fictional person in World of Warcraft. Duvamis was an 80th level gnome mage who was last active on WoW in July 2010, which is only a few months before the domain was registered.

I found that to be particularly interesting.

Personally, I'd advise anyone to stay away from these people.

Special thanks to a reader who did more thorough  background research into Duvamis than I had the time or opportunity to do. With his permission, I have added it to the body of this blog:

A friend asked me to look into this. Message I sent to him below.

"It is definitely weird. The WhoIs information for Duvamis is private but the WhoIs information for the site they're hosting the CSS information on is not.

Which lead me to:

WhoIs information for that opens up a connection between them and:

Both Bulgarian Innovation Projects and Eagle (formerly Orel) Invest look like private equity firms focused on investing in technology. It isn't really suspicious that a fledgling social media site with enough money to launch a relatively high profile ad campaign on Youtube would have investors, and these sorts of companies create shells within shells within shells in the US to dodge regulations, not sure how it works in Bulgaria though.

What is suspicious is that all the names listed under the WhoIs are aliases, two out of three of which seem to share a naming convention with a Youtube commentor named Dragomir Dmitrov with a brand new account that's affiliated with Duvamis.

The person for is Atanas Rakov, and the person for is Atanas Dimitrov, there's a third name on that doesn't fit the convention. All names listed under WhoIs appear to be aliases with no internet history at first blush.

In addition both and share the same real world address, which appears to be an apartment complex, not office space, although I'm not overly familiar with Bulgarian architecture and zoning so don't quote me on that.

The only thing that makes me hesitate to call this an out and out project with malicious purposes is that everything not directly associated with Duvamis has been around for more than a few years and there isn't any chatter about past scams that I'm seeing. So maybe legit, maybe not, I don't think there's anything else for me to find without engaging in dirty tricks."
Since the posting of this blog entry, I haven't seen any more ads for Duvamis on YouTube. I'm not saying that one had anything to do with the other. Looking through the comments sections of both of their videos, I discovered that I wasn't the only person who had doubts about it.

Signing-up for an account reveals Duvamis to be a sort of social networking site. As of right now, there's very little in the way of content on the site and very few users, most of whom aren't active beyond setting-up their homepages or "Visions" as Duvamis calls them. The website even has its own way of telling time (too complicated to explain, but it's weird) and they use odd terms for the various sections.

I'm not sure if Duvamis is a social networking site that's trying to be a religion or a religion trying to be a social networking site.

Either way, it's too weird for me.

Duvamis' ad campaign is the perfect example of doing it wrong.

Duane Browning

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What Chemtrails Are Really All About

If you're in the dark about what chemtrails really are, you may want to have a look at this video. There's no scientific mumbojumbo, just a plain-speaking man who tells it like it is.

Duane Browning

Attempt to Hijack My Computer

I received this email today:

From: Henry Michael
To: ""
Sent: Thursday, May 16, 2013 5:17 AM

I have just sent the money this morning as you requested yesterday but this will be the last time I will be sending money to Nigeria because I  had to go with a friend of mine before getting this money to u and every necessary information you need to pick the money up has been attached and the senders name is Debbie  Hamilton,  mtcn : 662:623:6744 . so get ur fucking ass down here or else am not going to send any more money.
Love U

Contained within the email, made to look like a Western Union document was an EXE file which likely contains malware designed to hijack my computer and subvert it to use as part of some criminal enterprise or simply to gain access to my files.

As a possible subplot within this scheme, it's written in such a way that a potential reader may come to think that an innocent person is being scammed and will then try to warn the sender that they didn't request any money to be sent. The only thing that would come of that is that the well-intentioned person would simpky have their email address added to the scammers' database.

It's a nice try, but no catch here.

Duane Browning

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Buying A Midori Traveler's Notebook in the United States

It seems that this simply designed notebook has become something of a sensation, if you can make such a determination according to YouTube videos and assorted blog posts.

While Midori Traveler's Notebook seems to have what may appear to be a fanatically-devoted following for a stationary product, they are by no means alone in having such, as you can see from people who use products like Moleskine Notebooks, Field Notes and Filofax, among others. There are people who devote time and energy to posting videos and blog posts telling the world how much they love these products and how much other people should use them too.

But, while the other brands I've mentioned seem to be widely available, a frequent complaint among MTN devotees is how hard it is to get one if you live in the United States. According to one video I saw, there are only four or five vendors in the USA where you can get one.

The Truth is that, while products like Moleskine are quite easy to acquire, MTNs are not impossible to find from American vendors. Here is the list I have put together, so far: offers them for a reasonable price and you can see Midori's Amazon page here.

I live in Honolulu, Hawaii and my first thought was to try to find them at Shirokiya in the Ala Moana Shopping Center. While Shirokiya does stock many products from Japan, they do not yet sell the Midori Traveler's Notebook. The only store in Hawaii that sells them is Hakubundo Books, at the Ward Center. Visit their website here.

You can purchase them at one of several Maido Stationery & Gift stores. They have locations in San Francisco and San Jose. Their sister company Kinokuniya Stationery has locations in Los Angeles and New York City. Visit their website here.

Baum-kuchen seems to do its business solely via the Internet and does not appear to have a brick-and-mortar store. Their website can be found here.

Resor Shop is located in Miami, Florida and seems to have the MTN as its primary product for sale. The site looks good and you can see it here.

OMOI is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and their website is here.

The Goulet Pen Company is based in Ashland, Virginia and their website is here.

This list is as complete as I can make it, with the limited information I have and there may well be other store in the USA that sell the Midori Traveler's Notebook that I am unaware of at the moment. If you know of others, please post their information in comments.

If you simply want a traveler's notebook of the same style as the MTN, but either don't want to spend that much or a brand name is unimportant to you, there are a number of people who make and sell them on and their products could be of the same quality as those made by Midori. The closest in appearance and function to the MTN is made by someone in Canada, known as Zenok Leather and you can browse their collection of products on their shop page.

That's it for now. I'll add more when I can.

Duane Browning

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Craigslist Housing Scam

 Checking Craigslist for available apartments to rent, I found this ad:

Reply To:

$645 / 1br - waikiki -Ala Wai Condo for Rent (2609 Ala Wai Blvd)

Posted: 2013-05-10, 8:33PM HST

Clean 1 bedroom, 1 bath on 8th floor of 12 story secure condo building, partly furnished, secured covered parking, large lanai, newer cabinets, carpet, tile floors and refrigerator. Near zoo and Kapiolani Park with slight view of Diamond Head from living, dining and lanai areas. Coin-operated laundry in building basement. Includes water. Cable ready, Pets. One month securty deposit required at lease signing with first month rent. Six month lease
  • dogs are OK - wooof
  • Location: 2609 Ala Wai Blvd
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Posting ID: 3798100454

Posted: 2013-05-10, 8:33PM HST

A quick Internet search for the email address provided showed several other ads that had been placed by this person in the recent past, but which had all been flagged and removed. So, I had immediate doubts as to the authenticity of the ad and its author. Nevertheless, I sent an inquiry to the provided address and received this reply:
From: Edra Edward Satromino
                  Thank you for the most eloquent response to my listing, I'm the owner of the apartment you are making inquiry of. Actually me and my wife  resided in the apartment, before i lost My Wife in a ghastly  motor accident so i had to decide to let it out since i alone can not live alone in my apartment and i have just been transferred to Cincinnati Ohio  State due to my work so i don't want my apartment to be there without no one living in my apartment that's why i intend renting out my apartment to whoever is interested in renting my apartment and It includes  utilities like hydro, washer and security, I have my furniture in the apartment. if you which to move in with your furnished items there is a storage area where you can move my furniture's, no problem. Please i want you to note that i am a kind and honest  young man and also from the photos you should know that i must have spent a fortune on the property that i want to give you for rent, i will want you to take absolute care of my apartment and I want you to treat it as your own, as trust is the most important thing but i want you to keep it tidy all the time so that i will be glad to see it neat when i come for  check up.All utilities included except electric (Heat, A/C, Gas, Cable, High Speed, Internet, Water, Sewer, Trash Removal).

                                             ========  RENT APPLICATION FORM ============
                                                                    PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL

Also,Pls answer these questions below:
* 1)Your Full Name__________________________ ____________
2)Present Address(where you reside now) & Phone
Number________________________ ______
3)How old are you _____________________________
4)Are you married ______________________________ _____
5)How many people will be living in the Home__________________________ _
6)Do you have a pet ______________________________ ___________
7)Do you have a car ______________________________ ____________
8)Occupation ______________________________ ___________________
9)How long are you willing to stay ______________________________
10)When do you intend to move in ______________________________ ___________
11)Rental Payment plan ranging from 1 month, 3 months or 6 months or 1
year...(indicate most convenient
option)_______________________ __________________

12) Pictures of all the Occupant that will stay in my
13) Copy of Photo ID..(Optional)*

Looking forward to hear from you with all this details so that i can have it
in my file incase of issuing the receipt in your name and contacting
you.Await your urgent reply so that we can discuss on how i  will get the
documents and the keys to you.please I  am giving you all this based on
trust and again i want you to stick to your words,i am putting everything
into Gods hand,so please do not let me down on this property of mine and God
bless you more as you do this.

The obviously self-made "application" is a big Red Flag for me, as well as the flowery language used as well as an appeal to sympathy by the mention of a supposed wife tragically killed in an auto accident. Notice that no phone number is provided.

An IP trace indicates that the message originated from the East Coast of the Untied States, not Ohio, although it's possible that Rocketmail could mask your IP.

For the record, an apartment in this building will normally run about $2000+ per month and utilities are typically added on top of that. Asking less than a thousand dollars a month is a sweetheart deal that's simply too good to be true and so, therefore, isn't. Nobody is going to rent-out a two million dollar condo for less than $700 a month! Besides, an out-of-state condo owner would employ a rental agent to handle matters like this, rather than doing it all via the Internet themselves.

This looks like a scam.

Duane Browning

Monday, April 29, 2013

Scam: Fake Housing Ad on Craigslist

While looking for a new place to live, I found this ad:

- $450 1 bedroom, 1 bath, Quiet Side Street. (honolulu)

1 bedroom, 1 bath, Quiet Side Street. Nice neighborhood. . Nice walking area. Convenient access to anywhere. Newer kitchen, modern bath. Nice yard. White Expanded Colonial Cape with Black Shutters and Architectural shingled Roof with attached garage. a single family home , brick front walk. Lots of windows, bright, open design, in excellent condition. Main bedroom large enough for queen bedroom set with cathedral ceiling, but too small for king bed. (17'x13+'). Excellent room bedroom (12'+x10') with long walkin closet and optional use of washer/dryer hookups. Open kitchen areas all hardwood floors (18+'x14+') with lots of windows. Tiled bathroom with shower. Total square footage estimated to be 800+- square feet. If you are looking for a nice quiet place to live, this apartment would appeal to you. Nice residential neighborhood side street, Nice walking/biking area. Clean inside and out. Attached garage for shared common storage space . Off-street parking for up to (2) cars. pets ok. Utilities extra, but economically as each room has thermostat control. Depending on your usage,the house are quiet working professionals staying around. Available to show with 24 hours notice. Available to occupy April 1st. $450/month plus utilities.

  • Location: honolulu
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
This offer seemed to be too good to be true! A nice location and the rent is dirt-cheap. I sent a reply and received this response:
The house is located at
 (address deleted for privacy of tenants)

Price: $450
Status: For Rent
1 Bedrooms
1 Bathrooms
1,375 sqft
Single-Family Home
Rent: $450
Deposit: $600
Air Conditioning
And it cost $450 per month.
Let me know if you are interested so that i can forward you the pictures of the house
and the interiors and you can equally go over to the location to check if it is to
your taste.
I await your response
John Padilla
The reply was sent from an anonymous email address, provided through the Craigslist system. I assume that Craigslist provides the email-masking in order to prevent people from being unwillingly added to spam lists. However, it seemed rather odd that a prospective landlord wouldn't provide me with a direct email address in order to contact them. I sent a follow-up email, requesting a physical address, with the explanation that I'd like to come over and discuss the lease agreement. I received this response:
Attached to this mail are the pictures to the house, i am currently out of town now with my daughter here in Colorado, I am a man with disability. I can't walk as i am on a wheel chair. I am the landlord of my house. So you can go over to the house and look up the surroundings and and the house equally through the window and get back to me if you still interested in renting the house. Call me on (602) 832-8763

John Padilla
Look through the window? It was also a giant red flag that the "landlord" is supposedly in Colorado, while using an Arizona phone number. A Google search of the number found nothing. A friend who sent an email in reply to an ad posted a couple of weeks ago for this same property received this reply

The house is located at
 (address deleted for privacy of tenants)

Price: $450
Status: For Rent
1 Bedrooms
1 Bathrooms
1,375 sqft
Single-Family Home
Rent: $450
Deposit: $450
Air Conditioning
And it cost $450 per month.

Let me know if you are interested so that i can forward you the pictures of the house and the interiors and you can equally go over to the location to check if it is to your taste.

I await your response

When he asked for a contact telephone number, he got this reply
It still avaialable here is my number call me anytime (720) 257-9159
The ad he replied to was flagged and removed by Craigslist shortly after this exchange. But, it does show that this scam has been operating for awhile. The change of names and phone numbers also hints that past victims have been trying to contact the scammer in an effort to recover thier lost money.

It didn't take long to realize that the ad was a scam. No respectable landlord is going to have people scouting the property and having to resort to peeking through a window at a house they hope to rent.This is why a legitimate property owner hires a rental agent, whose job it is to show people the inside of a house.

A quick search informed me that the house is actually being managed by Property Profiles, Inc and the contact person is Joan Kashimoto, not "Jose Padilla" or "Pam". Rather than the $450 per month rent mentioned in the ad, the actual monthly rent is $1700 per month, which is not unreasonable for a house this size and in this neighborhood. The Craigslist ad is definitely a scam.

But, that's not the only fake ad I've found for this property. Another suspicious ad can be found here, which incorrectly states that the asking rent is $650 per month, less than half of what the real rent is supposed to be.

I contacted Joan Kashimoto and informed her of the fake ad. I was also informed that the house has been rented-out. I feel badly for the unfortunate renters who may find people peeking through their windows and walking-around the property, thinking that they're scouting-out their future residence.

I was also informed that housing scammers are quite active on Craigslist, offering houses and apartments for rent at rates much lower than could really be offered on the market, duping people into signing fake leases and swindling people out of their money. The scams are quite well organized, with scammers sometimes even going to the properties, changing the locks and giving their victims the keys. When the real owners show-up and find the places occupied, the victims are left with no option but to vacate, losing their money (rent and deposit) in the process, as well as expenses incurred in moving into and out of the residence in a short period of time, rendering them homeless until they can find a new place to live, made even more difficult by the loss of the money they already gave to the scammers.

I really hate scammers, especially when they victimize people who just want to find a place to live.

It is my hope that by posting this blog entry, I can prevent anyone from being a victim of this scumbag.

Duane Browning

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Dr Mehmet Oz and the Holy Grail

Well, it appears that a hacker is making the rounds and even managed to compromise my email account. I managed to change my password before too much damage was done. At least, I hope so.

Anyway, this asswipe compromises accounts for the purpose of mass-mailing people in an attempt to get them to visit a website. SInce they went through the trouble to get my attention, I decided to spend a few minutes looking them over.

The initial link that is sent out is
which redirects to this website

The site is  registered in the United States to
Brendan Reville

800 5th Ave, ste 101-396
Seattle, WA 98104
Telephone: (206) 228-2307

The site where the actual advertisement is posted is also registered in The USA to
Edward Johnson
top ave 19-06
los angeles, 12345
Telephone: (738) 357-4736

Edward Johnson also owns numerous other websites, most of which seem to be related to weight loss products.

So, what is so earth-shaterring that they wanted to hack my email account in order to advertise it to everyone in my address books?

The product is called Garcinia Cambogia, a plant native to southeastern Asia and is closely related to the purple mangosteen, which is another plant being marketed for its alleged weight loss properties. The fruit is used in preparations of curries and is also used in traditional medicine as a purgative (i.e. it makes you defecate) so it isn't an uncommonly-used plant in its native habitat.

As far as its use as a weight loss supplement, it has been tested and the results were not encouraging. The chief evangelist of this latest bullshit product is Dr Mehmet Oz, who has been taken to task for his use of flimsy evidence or no evidence in his never-ending quest to separate people from their money.

In one meta-analysis, the extract did no better than a placebo. So, save your money. You'll also be saving your liver, since liver toxicity from garcinia products has been reported. Quoting from the abstract
There is a growing number of case reports of hepatoxicity from the widely marketed weight-loss supplement Hydroxycut, which contains the botanical ingredient Garcinia cambogia. These case reports may substantially undercount the true magnitude of harm. Based on the past experience with harmful dietary supplements, US regulators should assume the more precautionary approach favored by Canada and Europe. Lacking effective adverse event surveillance for supplements, or the requirements to prove safety prior to coming to the market, case reports such as those summarized here assume added importance.
Dr Mehmet Oz makes his living by shilling for various products that claim to help people lose weight. However, despite actually being a physician, his specialty is cardiothoracic surgery,  the medical field  involving surgical treatment of diseases affecting organs inside the thorax (i.e. your chest) such as treatment of conditions of the heart and lungs.Despite his lack of specialty-specific qualifications, Dr Oz gives advice relating to diet and weight loss. People interested in weight loss should be consulting a dietician, not a thoracic surgeon.

Sadly, he also gets other medical doctors in on the game, having them as guests on his infomercials. Personally, I'd rather not have anything to do with any physician who appears on one of Mehmet Oz's programs, because I'd be wondering if they would be trying to sell me something I didn't need, rather than trying to really help me get better.

In my opinion, Dr Oz takes advantage of some people's desire to lose weight without watching what they eat or exercising. Essentially, marketing products to the lazy and uninformed.

Duane Browning

Monday, March 25, 2013

Help Wanted Scam Letter

I saw a Help Wanted ad posted multiple times on a classified ads website seeking a personal assistant. It was posted so often that I became curious about it and sent a reply. I wish that I had saved a copy of the ad itself, but I post the reply I received here:
From: Brian Parker

Subject: Personal Assistant Position PT

I'm looking for someone who can handle my business & personal errands at his/her spare time. Someone who can offer me these services:

* Mail services (Receive my mails and drop them off at UPS)
* Shop for Gifts
* Bill payment (pay my bills on my behalf)
* Sit for delivery (at your home) or pick items up at nearby post office at your convenience.

Let me know if you will be able to offer me any or all of these services.

I will love to meet up with you to talk about this job but I am currently away on business. I am in Australia so there will be no interview and that is why i stated that I need a trustworthy individual . I will pay you in advance to do my shopping and will also have my mails and packages forwarded to your address. If you will be unable to stay at your house to get my mails, I can have it shipped to a post office near you and then you can pick it up at your convenience.

When you get my mails/packages, you are required to mail them to where I want them mailed to. You don't have to use money out of your pocket. All you have to do is have the package(s) shipped to wherever I want and do my shopping. You are allowed to open the packages to reveal its content.

The content of the packages are Art Materials and Paintings, clothing, business and personal letters. All expenses and taxes will be covered by me. You will work between 15 to 20hrs a month.

The pay is $500 weekly. That is not a bad offer is it? I need your service because I am constantly out of town. I just bought into an Art Gallery here in Australia and would be here finalizing the buy and smoothing rough edges but I will be returning to the US as soon as this is done so this process will be on going till then and I will meet up with you when I return and then we can talk about the possibility of making this long term.

I will email you the list and pictures of what to shop for when I am ready. No heavy package is involved! You  can do the shopping at any nearby store. You will be shopping for Electronics and clothing.

I will provide you my personal UPS account number for Shipping. All you have to do is provide my account number to UPS and shipping charges will be billed to the account.

I will provide clear set of instructions for each task I need done as well as the funds to cover them.

If I were to mail you money to do my shopping plus upfront payment for your services, where will you want it mailed to? How should your name appear on the payment?If you are interested,Kindly provide me with the following details listed below to :

Full Name:
Full Address:
Zip Code:
Home Phone:
Cell Phone: For SMS alerts Only

Well, let me know if you are able to handle the position and I hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you,

Brian Parker
I think that this is a scam and here's why:
  1. the reply was sent to me with the "To" field empty, as is often done when a scammer sends an email to multiple recipients while not wanting them to realize that they are just one of many getting the same message. Likewise, the email did not address me by name;
  2. the domain is anonymously-registered website with servers based in the United States. Attempting to go to that site takes you to and not to a legitimate website. The address in an undeveloped website which has been created solely for a scammer to use as an email address to give the appearance of legitimacy;
  3. However, there is a legitimate website and that URL takes you to a website registered in Australia with servers located in that country.It's obvious that the scammer set-up the fake domain in an attempt to impersonate the legitimate one.
The Help Wanted ad is obviously part of a scam, most likely attempting to steal your personal information.

Duane Browning