Tag: scam

TEDMED has forgotten Elizabeth Holmes

Sunday, 7 April, 2019

They say the internet never forgets and the maxim has proved costly to lots of people who thought those old tweets or videos had been cobwebbed forever. TEDMED seems to be an exception to the rule, though. It has forgotten Elizabeth Holmes. Let’s back up here for a moment. TEDMED is “the independent health and medicine edition of the world-famous TED conference, dedicated to “ideas worth spreading.”

And Elizabeth Holmes? She’s the Silicon Valley scam artist who founded a company, Theranos, at the age of 19, dropping out of Stanford University and raising hundreds of millions of VC dollars to create a device she claimed would change health care with a fingerprick of blood. From bedrooms to battlefields to laboratories, it would make medical information more affordable. In her brief career, Holmes became a feminist icon, rejoicing in her own triumph over the bro-dominated world of tech. She once ended a Theranos film by declaring, “I always say that next to every glass ceiling there’s an iron lady.” Inevitably, the media elevated her a superwoman fighting for human rights, and the huge wealth she temporarily generated was celebrated as a deserved byproduct of her brilliant mind.

Search the TEDMED site today and you’ll find no mention of Elizabeth Holmes, though. She’s been erased from its history. Still, YouTube has a clip of the talk she delivered at TEDMED in 2014. “I believe. The individual. Is the answer. To the challenges of healthcare.” No wonder TEDMED deleted it.


New scam: Scammers offering scam compensation

Tuesday, 16 May, 2017 0 Comments

The e-mail subject line is suspect: “Dear Beneficary.” The misspelling of “Beneficary” there should alert every potential beneficiary that something odd is afoot. The mail is from one “[email protected]”, who claims to be acting on behalf of the officiously titled “Barrister Dusman Diko, Solicitors & Co, Chambers,” in Benin, a French-speaking West African nation that’s famous for being the birthplace of the vodun (or voodoo) religion and home to the Dahomey Kingdom from 1600 to 1900.

Anyway, Dusman Diko, we are led to believe, represents an entity called the “United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) West Africa Regional Office, Fraud Victim Compensation Unit of Fidelity Insurance Plc,” which happens to be located in Benin. There is no such unit and the UN constantly warns people about scams implying association with its offices. And now, the e-mail:

Dear Beneficary

I am writing to inform you that your Scam Victim Compensation Payment is ready, sum of $1,200,000.00 USD is been granted to you by the Scam Victim Regulatory Authorities. The fund is ready to be released to you, I await your urgent confirmation as soon as you read this message. Secondly remember that you will be responsible for the registration fee of $55 only and be assured to receive your compensation payment as soon as you are able to comply fully with the payment release procedures.

Sincerely yours,

Barrister Dusman Diko, Solicitors & Co, Chambers

Office of the Attorney General, Division of Scam Victim Services
For: United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) West Africa Regional Office, Fraud Victim Compensation Unit of Fidelity Insurance Plc, Benin Republic, West Africa

Despite the criminality involved here, one has to acknowledge that it takes a certain level of roguish ingenuity to come up with a “Scam Victim Compensation Payment” issued by the “Scam Victim Regulatory Authorities”.

Note: Australians report losses of $300 million to scams in 2016.


What is the Finnish word for scam?

Saturday, 30 January, 2016 0 Comments

On 28 November 2014, we posted an item titled Jolla is pronounced “yolla’. It was about a Finnish startup, “which topped the crowdfunding target it had set for its Sailfish OS tablet in just two hours. Now, almost $1.3 million has been pledged and the campaign has 12 days left.” The Indiegogo crowdfunding platform said a total of $2,571,382USD was raised and the “Original campaign was 479% funded on December 9, 2014.”

And now? “Dear Jolla Tablet supporters and other Jolla followers, Happy New Year! Together, let’s make this an ever better one than last.” So began a post that appeared on the Jolla blog on Thursday. The date was 28 January, but Antti Saarnio (“your Jolla captain”), awakening from his Nordic hibernation, did not seem to think that it was a bit late in the month for greeting 2016. That should have raised a few red flags. The post was titled “Jolla Tablet: Aiming for Closure” and it contained the following disclosure:

“We have been analyzing different alternatives regarding the Jolla Tablet project situation. But no matter how you come at it, the tight financial situation remains a major constraint and therefore a main driver of the solution. Furthermore, due to the delays in the latest financing round it has simply become too late to produce all the tablets for the project. The supplier no longer has the needed components and many of them are no longer available. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done now to change this.”

Jolla said that it had shipped 121 of the tablets and it will deliver another 540 units next month and that will be the end of “the world’s first people powered tablet.” Everyone else will be offered refunds, but “Due to the financial constraints this will happen in two parts: half of the refund will be done during Q1/2016, and the other half within a year, our financial situation permitting.” Good luck with that.

Jolla

Note: The Finnish word for word for “scam” is huijaus (noun), and the verb to to defraud or embezzle is vedättää. This does not suggest that the Jolla founders intended to scam, defraud or embezzle, of course.