Monday, December 27, 2004

retailers beware- another nigeria scam.

Happy Holidays. Go midnight mass ! Merry Christmas. Good Whatever-holiday-it-is-you-celebrate.

This is not your typical retail story...As if insulting our email inboxes was not enough, Nigerian fraudsters are at it again. It's like the Amazing Race or something.

We all know about the 419 scams. The Federal Trade Commission has entire websites dedicated to their swarming existences. Little notes appear constantly at your email address promising you thousands of dollars if you'll help these Africans move BIG money out of their country. (Bush's next project, a Do Not Spam list ...)

Now, storeowners in southeastern Pennsylvania are talking about the newest hoax- a little scam perpetuated via Federal Express.

You're a retailer that wants to remain anonymous. You're not Gwen Stefani , so money don't grow on Christmas trees. The week before the big holiday, a call comes in. Wow, an eleven hundred dollar sale if you'll Fed-Ex an assortment of electronic gizmos to Lagos, Nigeria. One thing... the call comes in via TTY, a relay operator-service supposedly available only to deaf people.

The caller types his/her words into a website, and an operator reads them aloud to the person on the other end of the line.

The caller gives a credit card number- is evasive to any questions- and insists you run through the sale amount on the card immediately. Tack on 300 dollars and ship it to Denis Obasangjo in Lagos, Nigeria. Do it now, do it today.

The small retailer isn't having as good a Christmas season as was hoped. Maybe, for a moment, idealism overtakes reason and the retailer promises to ship the package. The charge goes through. A promise is made by the retailer to email the Fed-Ex tracking number to a yahoo address for a man who claims he's in Los Angeles- Dennis Summers (he might as well say Jude Law ).

Several hours goes by, reason sets in. Calls are made to the merchant/credit card association, calls are made to Fed-Ex. Of course, the scam is revealed to be a hoax. The credit card owner is a woman in the Mid-West, she lost her card weeks ago at a gas station outside Cheyenne.

Interestingly, a Fed-Ex operator makes the following comment:

'We've seen this A LOT. So now, when any such shipments are made, we require payment upfront- at the door, when the delivery person comes to collect the package. We're not allowed to talk about this, though...'

The TTY operator adds:

"Sure, this happens all the time."

Anybody angry about their credit cards rates this holiday season? Fraud, fraud, fraud...

Sunday, December 26, 2004

andy martello: coming soon to the house of bitch!

Andy Martello is a GENIUS. Not only because he's wisely decided to include my link on his blogsite-- but because writers like him don't come around very often.

And another thing. He doesn't know it. Regarding his writing, he has half the ego I do, and about ten times the talent (it could be the booze talking...)

Martello's a comedian by trade, a live entertainer. When he writes, he slides effortlessly between humor and poignancy. That's a skill few people have and many try to imitate- the result is exquisite.

If he's this good on paper, you gotta see him live, if you're ever in Chicago.

Visit his blog to keep in tune with "andy-happenings" on a day to day basis, and read his stuff over at TheCheers.

AndyMartello- coming soon to

Friday, December 17, 2004

do they make bowties small enough for a...?

I want to have Raj from The Apprentice's baby. But where would I find red velvet bottoms to fit a toddler? I wonder when Raj's parents okay'ed dry clean only pants.

He's a nice enough looking guy... Trump's assistant Robin went for coffee with him. Why didn't Raj win the big contest? A friend said Trump has to have the biggest personality in the room.

In the end, he picked the candidate whose toughest challenge was where to paint a logo in the grass-- and a surprise thunderstorm. He fires the chick who had to find a last-minute, high-profile MC for a charity basketball game--- and, AND magically come up with a generator to support the videogame habits of seven-foot-tall, pampered children (with sz 20 feet!!!)

More power to Jen. Kelly has a boring existence ahead of him... a boring, rich existence.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

journalism under fire

Anyone who knows me knows of my love for all things Bill Moyers. Maybe it started with The Power Of Myth, maybe it was his interview with Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe.

Journalism's been dealt a blow with the news of his retirement. He was on the sidelines of every worthwhile event that's happened in the last thirty plus years. He documented much of his insights on the PBS program NOW.

Visit this site for the text of a speech Moyers delivered to the SPJ annual convention in September. It addresses Freedom of Information issues that many journalists continue to struggle with.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

michael moore & marilyn manson engaged in mutual masturbation- ahem, admiration

Ladies And Gents, If I am to believe my MBC superiors, this was my most read SSOB column. I think it was due to the popularity of Michael Moore's name in search engine results at the time. Follow the link, if you dare!

Anyway, here is perhaps the most important blurb in my whole story... It's about how many parents, following Columbine, blamed Marilyn Manson for the killers' states of mind.

Michael Moore: If you could talk to the people of Columbine, what would you say to them?

Marilyn Manson: I wouldn't say anything. I would just listen, because that's what nobody did.

Monday, December 06, 2004

i luv dr. suess

Someday I'll tell y'all about Dr. Seuss and his activist past. How his imagination expanded into his life and he even re-wrote, re-imagined parts of his own biography... Someday, but not today. Margie has to get to writin about some of Bush's new cabinet picks for a spec story.

Before I run off, this is a GREAT story that appeared during the summer on the front page of The Oregonian. Quite an outcry followed because the writing technique wasn't what readers were accustomed to. Somehow, I missed this the first time around.

Tell me what you guys think... isn't this an apt approach to a story about Seuss? Isn't this the kind of thing that does him justice?

Saturday, December 04, 2004

News graveyard


"...where news goes to die."

    [Oct '06]