Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A Questionable Job Offer

I had a friend who was job hunting and had applied to various ad postings.  He got a response from one and it seemed to be going well with a telephone interview and them saying he was hired.   Then a couple things made him suspicious that this might not be what it seemed to be.  So he contacted me stating “Hey Bill. You're kind of my resident scam expert. I'm pretty sure someone is trying to fraud me on a job offer. It has all the telltale signs of a fraud but with a couple differences that just make me interested enough to investigate.”

So I took on the challenge.  The job was with some construction company called White Developments.  They hired him to run an office that was setting up in his city.  They sent him a cheque to buy office supplies.   The weird thing he noted was that the cheque was for a very specific amount, down to the penny.   I agree that it was very odd and kind of raised a red flag.

Looking at the website of the company didn’t bring about much information about it.  It lacked a lot of information.  It included some stock photos.    I did a wider search of the company name and found another one with a similar name in another province that had already gone out of business.   This led me to wonder if this was one of these businesses that go from place to place, make some quick bucks from unsuspecting consumers and leave with the money.  Now it is possible that these are indeed two different companies with the same name as they could’ve been just registered in their own province and with a plain name like White Developments, someone else with the same name would not be unheard of.

I then did a search on the address of the home office in Toronto.  The address brought up a space where you can rent meeting rooms.  This seemed odd for an expanding multi-city construction/development company.  Couldn’t they afford their own office?   I still had no smoking gun though.

I then decided to look up the reviews.   There were two on the website.  Searching the names didn’t bring up a lot of info except of a someone who died a year earlier.  OK, so not everyone has an internet footprint, but one would think that a development company would have some notable review.  I decided to see if the people posted their review anywhere else so I searched that.   Now I entered an interesting rabbit hole...

I found pretty much the exact same wording on various websites (I stopped counting at 500) for various other businesses, but these others had different names attached to the reviews, namely Jodi Black and John Smith.  All these websites had a similar layout and feel.  They all used the default settings on a lot (including photos) and didn’t bother to change much, if anything.   They were all created using a website template provider.  The huge irony is the website template places states “set yourself apart” when in reality all your competition then looks the same.

Comparison of the reviews from construction company and martial arts school

Just one of the website template sites

Comparison of layout including same picture between church and construction company

So I advised my friend to avoid this place as they are not exactly who/what they say they are.  While some of the smaller businesses (like the martial arts one) are real businesses who were wanting a website and obviously are not that knowledgeable enough to do it well (although the martial arts one did put it some more time and thought and their own pics), this White Development company should’ve had a proper website, with real reviews and real photos.  This company still could be legit (although I have huge doubts), but there is no denying that they are not honest in their depictions.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

An Earful on EarSeeds

"Lend me your ears!"

Earseeds are very bizarre...um...er...devices that are based on acupressure.  Acupressure is an offshoot of acupuncture, with the difference being non-invasive (no needles).  Both follow the wonky idea of vitalism or life energy flowing through meridians.  Meridians and acupuncture points have never been shown to actually exist and neither has this supposed “life energy” been measured.  I have had some people try to show me that some meridian lines and acupuncture points do line up with nerves in the body.  That is not surprising that some will happen to by chance because there are over 2000 claimed points.  I stress again, with that many points one is bound to have some hits that line up with nerves.  If one can’t measure the supposed life energy, then any random lining up is meaningless.  You can see more from the fine folks at Science Based Medicine here: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/acupuncture-doesnt-work/

I hadn’t heard of EarSeeds until just two days before writing this post.  By the name I thought maybe people were putting things in their ear canal.  Thankfully this isn’t so.   EarSeeds are tiny seeds, metal pellets or crystals (some plated in 24 karat gold) that are placed on acupressure points on the ear, held there by tan adhesive tape.  The metal pellets are held in place with clear tape for some reason that is not explained except saying it “is less conspicuous.”

At the bottom they of course have the standard disclaimer “All material on earseeds.com is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical treatment. The statements on earseeds.com have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, nor are they intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”   I’m not sure how it’s educational to learn about this stuff except in the context of learning about bunk and quackery.  This disclaimer also discredits their claims (including testimonials which they allow and thus I consider an endorsement of medical claims) on their website of helping with earaches, headaches, back pain, stress and to quit smoking.  One claim clearly states “They cured my neck pain.”

Another interesting statement they make shows that acupuncture/acupressure points are not points at all.  “Although you do want to get very close to the designated point, the location of the point shown in each condition-specific kit is indicative of that general area.”  This is such a red flag that it amazes me that anyone takes this idea seriously.

A key point in noting is that the EarSeeds are not reusable.  This makes it very expensive.  While the actual plant seeds not being reusable, I can understand.  You have to store them in a cool, dry place.  You don’t want them growing.  So once on your ear, they will come in contact with moisture and bacteria.  Yeah you don’t want to reuse those as they would be hard to clean.   The metal and crystal ones, I don’t see why you couldn’t clean them.   Especially the crystal, gold-plated ones because they are costly starting at $32 for a refill 40 pack.  That may seem like a good deal for gold plated crystals, but don’t forget these are small and you need tweezers to put them on.

In a bizarre statement they warn that one should consult a doctor before using if one is pregnant.   Is this just a statement to make it seem like that these have some actual medicinal properties?  That is just silly.

So if one chooses to wear these as fashion accessory, then I can see a point.  If doing it for a medical reason, that just doesn’t make sense.  It also begs the question about people with piercings. Do they have less stress aches and pains?   One would think that some would be near enough to the general area to do something (if acupressure was an actual thing).  Of course this is not the case.   Buyer beware.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Red Lobster Free Entrees Anniversary Scam

Be warned. This is a scam. The first thing that tipped me off that this was "fishy" was that giving away 2 entrees to everyone is a lot of lost money. Second was that it was redeemable for a whole month. Again, that's a lot of lost money for the company. On looking it up, Red Lobster is celebrating it's 50th this year (https://www.redlobster.com/news-press/press/article/2018/01/18/red-lobster-celebrates-50th-anniversary) . I didn't find anything at snopes, hoax-slayer and other sites that show scams so I contacted Red Lobster. They got back to me pretty quick and this is their response:
"This is not a legitimate Red Lobster offer. Our internal team is working on investigating this further. Sign up for our Fresh Catch Newsletter to have our coupons emailed directly to you, or join our Fresh Alerts by texting “JOIN” to 67766 from your smartphone or tablet. http://ms.spr.ly/FreshCatch"