Wikinews investigates: Advertisements disguised as news articles trick unknowing users out of money, credit card information

 Notice — May 19, 2010 This article has been judged, by consensus of the Wikinews community, not to meet Wikinews standards of style and neutrality. Please see the relevant discussion for details. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Internet has already brought great things to the world, but has also brought spam, phishing, scamming, etc. We all have seen them across the Internet. They promise money, weight loss, or other things a person may strive for, but they usually amount to only a lighter pocket. Online advertising has become something that the increasingly Internet-reliant society has become used to, as well as more aware of. As this is true, online ads have become more intricate and deceptive in recent years.

However, a certain type of advertisement has arisen recently, and has become more deceptive than any other Internet ad, and has tricked many users into credit card charges. These sites claim to be news websites that preach a “miracle product”, and they offer a free trial, and then charge the user’s credit card a large amount of money without informing them after the trial ends. These sites appear to be operating under one venture and have caught ad pages of high-traffic websites by storm. In this report, Wikinews’ Tjc6 investigates news advertisement sites.

These Internet ads work in different ways:

Hypothetically speaking, a reader is browsing the web, and then happens to come across something that they believe is too good to be true. A link on one of these high-traffic pages promises white teeth, weight loss, or huge profits from working at home part-time. Out of curiosity, they click on the link.

This is the way that people are attracted to these fake news sites on the internet. The domain owners draw in customers by purchasing advertising on some of the World Wide Web’s most visited pages. Curious users click and are led to what they believe is a news article. From anti-aging to shedding weight, these “articles” from non-existant newspapers and television stations depict a skeptical news reporter trying a product because they were instructed to by a superior.

As the user reads on, they find that the “reporter” miraculously achieves significant weight loss, teeth whitening, or other general health and beauty improvement. The reporter states that the reader can get the same results as they did by using a “free trial” of the product.

Next, the user looks to the bottom of the page, where there seems to be a set of user comments, all of them praising the product or products that are advertised — this is where we first see something suspicious. Across several of these false articles, the comments appear to show the exact same text, sometimes with even the same usernames as other sites.

There is obviously some kind of correlation. Although this appears to be true, most users who purchase these products do not look at multiple versions of these similar pages of what appears to be a fast-growing network of interconnected fake news sites.

Once customers have convinced themselves into buying the product, they are led to a product (or products) website which promises a free trial for a very low price. What they do not know about this, however, is that they are giving their credit card data to a company that will charge it automatically after the trial ends. In about 14 days, the user receives a charge on their credit card for an excessive amount of money, usually from about $80 to $100 (USD). All attempts to contact these companies and cancel their shipments usually prove to be futile.

What these sites have is a large amount of legal copy located at the bottom of each site, stating their right to charge the user. This site, a fake news article claiming to offer teeth-whitening benefits, has several paragraphs of fine print, including this: “…Upon signing up for the 10 day trial membership you will be charged up to $4.97 depending on various shipping and initial offer promotions at that time but not more than $4.97 upon signing. If not cancelled, you will be charged $89.97 upon completion of the 10 day trial period. Monthly thereafter or 30 days from the original order date, the charge will reoccur monthly at a total of $89.97 until cancelled…,” the site says.

Practices like this have alerted the Better Business Bureau, an American organization that studies and reports on the reliability and practices of US businesses. In a press release, a spokesman from the BBB spoke out against sites like this. “Many businesses across the country are using the same selling model for their products: They lure customers in with claimed celebrity endorsements and free trial offers, and then lock them in by making it extremely difficult to cancel the automatic delivery of more products every month…,” said the report that denounced the websites.

When a user looks at several of these sites, they notice that all of them have the same exact structure. Because of this, Wikinews decided to look into where some of the domains were owned, and if they were all in fact part of one company.

However, the results that Wikinews found were ones that were not expected. Out of the three random websites that were found in Internet ads, all using similar designs and methods to attract the customers, came from three different locations in three countries and two separate continents. The first came from Scottsdale, in the United States, while the next two came from Vancouver and Hamburg. There is no location correlation, but surely, there has to be something that connected these sites together. We had to look even further to try to find a connection.

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There is some correlation within the product’s contact information. A large amount of the teeth-whitening products analyzed actually shared the same phone number, which lead to a distribution center located in St. Petersburg, Florida, and several other similar distribution centers located across the Southern United States. But, that explains only one of the categories of products that these websites cover, teeth whitening.

What about the other products? The other products such as weight loss and work-at-home kits all trace back to similar distribution centers in similar places. So, what do we make of all of this?

There is obviously some company that promotes these products through the fake news advertisements, but that company is nowhere to be found on the websites. All contact information is given on the product pages, and websites are copyrighted under the name of the domain, not a company. Whatever company has been the setup for these pages has been very good at hiding themselves from the Internet, as there is no information across the web about that mysterious large advertiser.

As a result of customers buying the products and having unauthorized charges on their credit cards, a large volume of complaints are currently present on awareness sites, complaint sites, and even the Better Business Bureau. Several customers point out that they were not informed of the steep charges and the company made it extremely difficult to cancel their subscription, usually resulting in the loss of several hundred dollars.

  • The trial offer was to pay for $3.95 for the cost of the shipping for one bottle. I noticed shortly after placing the order I had a charge on my credit card for $149.95. Unknown to myself the company charges for a membership if you don’t cancel within 14 days, I cancelled within 18 days…When I called the customer service number they told me the decision has been made and my refund request was denied. When I questioned the person on the other line about what I was getting for my $149.95 she told me I was not getting anything because I cancelled the membership.
?“Tamara”, in a post to the Ripoff Report
  • This is a “free sample” scam: Pay only postage and handling and get a free sample of a tooth whitening system, they say. I looked for the “catch,” something that would indicate that there’d be hidden or recurring charges, but didn’t see anything, and ordered. Sure enough, a couple of weeks later, I see a charge for $88.97 on my bank statement…When I called, the guy answering the phone had obviously answered the same angry question many, many times: “Why has your company charged $88.97 to my card?” “Because you didn’t cancel your subscription in time,” he said tiredly.
?“Elenor”, in a post to the Ripoff Report

One notable lawsuit has occurred as a result of these articles. Some of the articles about work at home kits specifically advertise things like “work for Google”, or “job openings at Google”. However, Google asserts these claims as false and has taken the case to court, as it is a copyright violation. “Thousands of people have been tricked into sending payment information and being charged hidden fees by questionable operations,” said Google in a statement.

The BBB has received over 3,000 complaints about products such as the ones that Google took offense to. The lawsuit has yet to begin in court, and no date has been set.

Second round of Bonn UN Climate Change negotiations continue

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 16) negotiations continued this week in Bonn, Germany. The 4,500 attendees include government delegates from 182 governments, representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions. COP 16 is scheduled to take place November 29 – December 10, 2010 in Cancún, Mexico.

Luis Alfonso de Alba, Mexico’s special representative for climate change, told Reuters, “Mexico does not want to raise false expectations but we certainly are ambitious”. He criticised the outgoing head of the U.N.’s climate secretariat, Yvo de Boer, and the European Union’s climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard for their scepticism.

Negotiating under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the next negotiating session is scheduled to take place in August, followed by another, final one-week intersessional meeting, before Cancún. The talks were designed to discuss issues that were not resolved at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in Copenhagen.

The two working groups are the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex (AWG-KP). These groups were specifically designed to negotiate a long-term response to climate change.

The AWG-LCA is the negotiating group tasked to deliver a new “COP16 negotiative text” ahead of the June negotiating session. The AWG-KP is to focus on emissions reduction commitments for the 37 industrialised countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol for the period beyond 2012.

There are also two UNFCCC standing committees meetings, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI).

The conference is officially referred to as the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 16) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 6th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties (CMP 6) to the Kyoto Protocol.

The Business Of Loaning Money

By James Copper

Most lending institutions are in the business of loaning money for home buyers or businesses, and have no desire to go through the repossession process for someone who has defaulted on their mortgage. The process of booting someone out of their home or commercial process can be long and costly procedure and working through financial problems with the current owner is often cheaper and easier than taking ownership of a property.

However, in many situations lenders find that repossession may be the only option they have in securing repayment on the defaulted loan and begin the steps to claim the property as their own. Once the process has begun, there are avenues for the debtor to follow in the courts to attempt to retain ownership, but the stipulations are spelled out ion law, and without meeting those requirements, the borrowers will have trouble maintaining rights to the property.

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Typically, once a foreclosure order has been sought by a lender, the borrower will have a set amount of time to bring the mortgage up to date, before the entire unpaid balance comes due and payable. Once that time has passed and the mortgage remains in arrears, the entire balance must be paid to stop the repossession proceedings. Since this is unlikely to happen, the courts sometimes give the owner time to sell the property, if it can show that selling the property will provide sufficient funding to satisfy the mortgage agreement.

If the deadline to sell is not met, the borrower can appeal the foreclosure proceedings, but if that fails, repossession of the property is usually granted to the lender and the borrower is evicted from the property. Once vacated, the lender is considered the legal owner of the property and has all legal recourse to collect the balance due on the loan as well as any costs incurred during the process. This can all be avoided however, if the borrower keeps in close contact with the bank.

In most cases, the property is put on the market for sale, or put up for auction and once sold the previous owner is liable for any portion of the balance not covered by the sale of the property. If the sale nets more than what is owed, the lender is obligated to forward the balance to the previous owner. Although this is a rare occurrence, if the property appraisal is high enough, and has built up untapped equity, it is entirely possible.

Most people view repossession as an end to their financial life and accept the probability that they will never be able to own property again. However, once their financial obligations are dissolved and they have rebuilt a positive credit history, there are alternative lending sources that may be willing to take the risk of offering another mortgage in the future. There are many ways to go about rebuilding credit and a wise financial advisor can help with the challenging task. Credit scores are quite important and it is worth the time and effort to repair them for the future.

About the Author: James Copper is a writer for

any-loans.co.uk

Source:

isnare.com

Permanent Link:

isnare.com/?aid=200593&ca=Finances

Colleges offering admission to displaced New Orleans students/OH-WY

See the discussion page for instructions on adding schools to this list and for an alphabetically arranged listing of schools.

Due to the damage by Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding, a number of colleges and universities in the New Orleans metropolitan area will not be able to hold classes for the fall 2005 semester. It is estimated that 75,000 to 100,000 students have been displaced. [1]. In response, institutions across the United States and Canada are offering late registration for displaced students so that their academic progress is not unduly delayed. Some are offering free or reduced admission to displaced students. At some universities, especially state universities, this offer is limited to residents of the area.

Contents

  • 1 Overview
  • 2 Ohio
  • 3 Oklahoma
  • 4 Oregon
  • 5 Pennsylvania
  • 6 Rhode Island
  • 7 South Carolina
  • 8 South Dakota
  • 9 Tennessee
  • 10 Texas
  • 11 Utah
  • 12 Vermont
  • 13 Virginia
  • 14 Washington
  • 15 West Virginia
  • 16 Wisconsin
  • 17 Wyoming

Deadly illegal sexual enhancement products appear on the Singaporean market

Friday, April 11, 2008

New ‘deadly’ sexual enhancement products have been found in Singaporean markets and can cause serious side effects on users.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) announced the presence of the illegal drugs, known as Power 1 Walnut, Santi bovine penis erecting capsule, Zhong Hua Niu Bian and fake Cialis, which have been discovered over the past 3 months. Santi bovine penis erecting capsule has been found to contain high amounts of glibenclamide, a potent drug used to treat diabetes. The tablets also contain sildenafil and tadalafil – potent western medicines used to treat erectile dysfunction. Zhong Hua Niu Bian also contains sildenafil and glibenclamide.

High consumption of the tablets can be potentially deadly as the glibenclamide in the capsules can lead to drastically reduced blood sugar levels which can lead to seizures, stroke, coma or death. Consuming half of a Power 1 Walnut capsule has led to unconsciousness and frothing at the mouth.

Consumption of Power 1 Walnut has led to the death of a middle age man last week who fell into a coma. Currently, one death and two cases of coma have been reported from the total of 89 hospitalised cases linked with the consumption of the illegal drugs. It has been revealed that patients obtained the drugs by purchasing them from illegal peddlers located in various parts of Singapore.

The HSA has advised people to stop consuming the drugs and to report on any cases of consumption to them.

Uber suspends self-driving car program after pedestrian death in Arizona, United States

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

On Monday, the United States ride-sharing company Uber announced suspension of its experimental self-driving car program after one of the cars fatally struck a 49-year-old woman pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday night.

The company characterized the suspension of the program — in the Phoenix area and also in Pittsburgh; San Francisco; and Toronto, Canada — as a standard response in the wake of the accident. Uber released a statement that “Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident.” According to a spokeswoman, the company is also conducting its own investigation. It was reportedly the first time someone died in an incident involving a self-driving car.

Elaine Herzberg was hit at about 10 pm local time (UTC -7) on Sunday when she walked into the street with her bicycle about 100 yards or less from a crosswalk. She died later in hospital. The Volvo car was operating autonomously. Sylvia Moir, chief of police in Tempe, told the San Francisco Chronicle that according to the human operator in the vehicle — Rafaela Vasquez, 44 — “it was like a flash”, there was no time to override the computer to take evasive action, the first indication was the sound of impact.

The police stated the car was three miles per hour (mph) over a speed limit of 35 mph. According to Moir, recordings from the car’s video cameras indicated it would have been “difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode”. Moir told the San Francisco Chronicle that while she “[wouldn’t] rule out the potential to file charges” against Vasquez, “preliminarily it appears that the Uber would likely not be at fault in this accident”.

Uber started its Arizona self-driving test program in February 2017, using vehicles that had been banned in California due to safety concerns. The next month one was involved in a collision while in self-driving mode after another car failed to yield the right of way; the Uber SUV rolled on its side.

Eurovision ’73 winner Anne Marie David discusses her four-decade career and the Contest, past and present

Monday, February 16, 2009

In the 1970s, she was one of the most popular female vocalists in France, and became well-known internationally. Anne Marie David, from Arles in the south of France, parlayed her initial success from playing Mary Magdalene in the French production of Jesus Christ Superstar into taking home the “grand prix” at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1973. Her winning song, “Tu te reconnaîtras” (You will recognize yourself), became a Europe-wide hit that spring.

At the height of her popularity, David perfomed world tours, and even lived abroad in Turkey for a time. In 1979, she tried once again to win the Eurovision, and placed a respectable third. Her song “Je suis l’enfant soleil” (I’m a child of the sun) became similarly popular across France and in the Francophone nations.

As time went on, however, her place in the French music scene became less certain. Touring the world had taken a personal toll, and David decided to retire from music completely in 1987. However, with the help of her fan base, she was coaxed out of retirement in 2003 and is returning to a part of her life that she tried to leave, but never left her. Celebrating four decades in the music scene, David is looking forward to adventurous new projects and a newfound zest for life.

Anne Marie David corresponded with Wikinews’ Mike Halterman about her eventful career, her personal anecdotes regarding living abroad, her successes in past Eurovision contests and her grievances with the way the show is produced today. This is the second in a series of interviews with past Eurovision contestants, which will be published sporadically in the lead-up to mid-May’s next contest in Moscow.

DaimlerChrysler to sell Chrysler Group for $7.4 Billion

Monday, May 14, 2007

The DaimlerChrysler Corporation has announced that the corporation is divesting itself of the Chrysler Group by selling it to New York City-based private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management for US$7.4 billion. The companies’ names are announced to be changed to Daimler AG and Chrysler Holding LLC. DaimlerChrysler has sold 80.1% of its stake in Chrysler, retaining the other 19.9%, for joint ventures and other agreements and partnerships.

Cerberus has agreed to take on billions of dollars in pension and retiree health care costs at Chrysler. Cerberus also led a consortium that acquired the majority stake in April of last year in GMAC, the financing arm of GM, and is said to planning to invest in auto parts giant Delphi.

Buzz Hargrove, the president of Canadian Auto Workers said he had been assured that the collective bargaining agreement with Chrysler would remain and that jobs would not be eliminated.

The name change of the German company DaimlerChrysler to Daimler AG is pending shareholder approval at the next meeting, scheduled for fall 2007.

Wikinews interviews Joe Schriner, Independent U.S. presidential candidate

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Journalist, counselor, painter, and US 2012 Presidential candidate Joe Schriner of Cleveland, Ohio took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews in an interview.

Schriner previously ran for president in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but failed to gain much traction in the races. He announced his candidacy for the 2012 race immediately following the 2008 election. Schriner refers to himself as the “Average Joe” candidate, and advocates a pro-life and pro-environmentalist platform. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles, and has published public policy papers exploring solutions to American issues.

Wikinews reporter William Saturn? talks with Schriner and discusses his campaign.

President of Guinea-Bissau assassinated

Monday, March 2, 2009

According to officials, João Bernardo Vieira, the president of Guinea-Bissau, was shot to death on Monday in his palace by renegade soldiers.

“President Vieira was killed by the army as he tried to flee his house which was being attacked by a group of soldiers close to the chief of staff Tagme Na Waie, early this morning,” Zamora Induta, a military spokesman, said to Agence France-Presse, insisting that “this was not a coup d’etat.”

“We reaffirmed our intention to respect the democratically elected power and the constitution of the republic,” he said. “The people who killed President Vieira have not been arrested, but we are pursuing them. They are an isolated group. The situation is under control.”

Induta also said that the president was “taken down by bullets fired by these soldiers,” and that afterwards they looted his home. “They were taking everything they could carry, his personal belongings, the furniture, everything,” Induta said.

The assassination is believed to be a revenge for a bomb blast that killed one of Vieira’s rivals, the army chief of staff General Batista Tagme Na Waie, just a few hours earlier.

The constitution says that the nation’s parliament chief, Raimundo Pereira, is to succeed Vieira in the case of his death.

Jean Ping, the chief executive of the African Union, said that the assassination of the president was a “criminal act”.

Guinea-Bissau, located on the western coast of Africa, has had a history of coups, and is one of the world’s poorest countries. It is notorious as being a transit point for the cocaine trade between Europe and South America.

João Bernardo Vieira, born in 1939, came to power in Guinea-Bissau during a coup in 1980, but was forced out in 1999 when a civil war started. In 2005, he returned from his exile in Portugal to participate in the nation’s elections, and won the vote.