Eat This Food and Double Your IQ in Minutes!


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Just got an email telling me that I could eat a certain food and “double your IQ in minutes”.

Uhhh…. Seriously? That would put me – and and an awful lot of other people – right up there with the highest IQs ever recorded.

The highest IQ scores ever recorded:
William James Sidis (IQ score: 250-300) — This is probably not true, but rather a great exaggeration by his family.
Terence Tao (IQ score: 225-230)
Marilyn Vos Savant (IQ score: 228)
Christopher Hirata (IQ score: 225)

Since 50% of adults are clustered in the 90-110 point range, doubling those scores would put them way over Stephen Hawking and Einstein. (And remember, too, the impact of standard deviations.)

Kim Ung-Yong (IQ score: 210)
Edith Stern (IQ score: 200+)
Christopher Michael Langan (IQ score: 190 – 210)
Garry Kasparov (IQ score: 194)
Albert Einstein (IQ score: 160-190)
Stephen Hawking (IQ score: 160)

By golly, I should eat that food and get smaht. Of course, the email forces you to click on a link to find out what it is.

I’m definitely smart enough not to do that!

The moral of this story is, of course, if it sounds too good to be true… it probably is.


Porn Blackmail Scam – Don’t Fall For It!


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So I get up this morning, head in to the bathroom along with my phone, and as I’m scanning through my emails, the one below pops up.  Argh!  Like everyone else, I hate these assholes.  Get a real job, or volunteer for the elderly, homeless, or disabled, or plant trees in barren areas… do something with your worthless life.  Hopefully karma is real, and you will get yours…

The only truly scary thing in this email is that the guy (presumably a guy) has an actual password I used for several professional sites a decade ago.  Obviously at least one of those sites was hacked.  (I keep a record of every password I’ve ever used.)

Here’s the blackmail email:

—-“ is your password. Lets get directly to point. You may not know me and you are most likely wondering why you are getting this email? There is no one who has compensated me to check you.
actually, I actually setup a software on the X videos (porn material) web-site and there’s more, you visited this website to experience fun (you know what I mean). While you were watching videos, your internet browser initiated working as a RDP with a keylogger which gave me access to your display as well as cam. after that, my software collected your complete contacts from your Messenger, FB, and e-mail . Next I made a double video. First part displays the video you were watching (you’ve got a nice taste hehe), and second part shows the view of your web cam, yeah it is u.
You get two solutions. Why dont we explore each of these solutions in details:
Very first choice is to neglect this message. Consequently, I most certainly will send out your actual videotape to all your your personal contacts and visualize regarding the disgrace you will definitely get. Do not forget if you happen to be in an intimate relationship, exactly how this will affect?
Latter option would be to compensate me $7000. We are going to call it a donation. As a result, I most certainly will straightaway erase your videotape. You can carry on with your daily life like this never happened and you will never hear back again from me.
You’ll make the payment by Bitcoin (if you don’t know this, search for “how to buy bitcoin” in Google search engine).
BTC Address: 1FdbtXUuxdppEgxd2GNCyDB5moKaNjmWV9
[CASE-SENSITIVE, copy and paste it]

If you may be curious about going to the cop, very well, this message can not be traced back to me. I have taken care of my steps. I am just not looking to ask you for a huge amount, I just want to be rewarded. I have a specific pixel within this e mail, and now I know that you have read through this email message. You have one day to pay. If I don’t receive the BitCoins, I will, no doubt send your video to all of your contacts including members of your family, colleagues, and so on. Nonetheless, if I do get paid, I will destroy the recording immediately. It’s a nonnegotiable offer, thus do not waste my personal time and yours by replying to this mail. If you need evidence, reply with Yeah and I will send out your video to your 7 friends.

Here’s an article on the topic, explaining how it all works (and doesn’t work):

Danger, Will Robinson! (A Repost from Our Heritage Collectibles Blog)


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WARNING! Danger, Will Robinson! – or – If It Seems Too Good to Be True…

The “science” of scamming is fascinating – both from the perspective of the gullible victim, and from examining the tactics of the perpetrator.  As a nearly life long social worker, and as someone who’s had multiple scammers attempt to steal from my businesses (real estate/property management, and retail) over the years, I’ve studied these crooks – and even taught a couple of classes on the subject.

The good ones know how to suck us in, and appeal both to our innate greed (desire to get something for little effort), emotions (desire to be helpful) and gullibility (desire to believe in the goodness of others).  They don’t generally hit you over the head with their methods, but rather, reel you in until you’re screwed.

When Scam-Boy hit me up via text a couple of weeks  ago, I immediately knew exactly what was happening.  This guy – unlike the one of a month or so ago, who gave up immediately when he realized I wasn’t falling for it – seems kind of stupid and bad at the whole thing.  I’m not going to give away everything he did wrong here, because there’s no sense in educating perps-in-training, but maybe you can figure it out.

And you can see how much fun I’ve been having with this jerk.

Here are the texts to date:

Saturday, July 23.  9:08 am
(702) 550-1171

Scam-Boy:  “Live – Love” Settee, Handcrafted – $248 (Lewiston)

S-B:  Live – Love Settee by Local Artisan – $248 (Lewiston)

ME:  ????

S-B:  Can i send you a cashiers check for the item and once check clears my movers will come for pickup

ME:  Once payment is received you can of course have the item. 

S-B:  Okay..Text me your name and mailing address to mail the check to asap

ME:  Make the check out to What a Great Event. The mailing address is P O Box 282 Auburn ME 04210. With tax the total is $261.64. 

S-B:  Okay…note,i will include the movers fee to the payment so once you have your cash,rest will be for the movers so pickup can be done,

S-B:  thanks.

Later that same morning (my iPhone didn’t record the time)

S-B:  Got my previous text  ?

ME:  Yes

S-B:  i will keep you posted

I did not respond.


Saturday, July 30 (one week later).   3:10 pm

S-B:  electronically via ATM,mobile deposit or bank and get back to me with when you want pickup done,thanks.

S-B:  Sorry i got back to you late.Here’s the tracking # 9405501699320088902930 i got from usps. Once you have it, kindly have it deposited

I did not respond.


Monday, August 1.  11:32 am

(402) 295-5764  (Note the different phone number.)

S-B:  Good morning,check delivered.

I did not respond.

S-B: Your item has been delivered and is available at a PO Box at 8:56 am on August 1, 2016 in AUBURN, ME 04212

S-B:  kindly deposit and advice on pickup,thanks.

I did not respond.


Monday, August 1st.  1:15 pm.

I went to the post office and picked up the check (see below), which was in the amount of $1,750.00. Although visually it appeared to be a real check drawn on a CitiBank account, the paper it was printed on was not check paper, and there was no stub or notation at all.  The return address on the USPS mailer was Miami.

And remember, the total for the item with tax was $261.64.  This was rather a lot more. Ahh, what was it that Scam-Boy said?  I was to use the excess to pay the “moving agent”. Seriously, this item could be shipped for $200 or thereabouts. To pay a “moving agent” what would amount to somewhat under $1,500.00 is patently absurd.

I then went straight to my bank and asked to speak to someone in the fraud division. They called CitiBank, and were told CitiBank would not verify funds over the phone, but my bank could fax them a copy of the “check” and they’d verify the funds then.  CitiBank did not respond to the fax by the time I had to leave for one of my social work clients.

As I left the bank, I called the FBI and was directed to their Internet Crimes website, which lists a number of scams including one similar to this one, and which is reprinted at the end of this blog.


Tuesday, August 2.  9:00 am

I went into my bank this morning and was given the faxed response from CitiBank which said in essence that they do not verify funds.  This was after the initial call in which they said they would verify via fax.  (See copy of return fax below.)

Seriously?  All banks verify funds.  But CitiBank won’t?  After they had said the previous day that they would?  So I looked up CitiBank’s policy, which you can find on-line here:

  • According to this site, in order to verify funds with CitiBank, one must physically go into a branch and present the check to a teller, along with proof of your own identification.  (This is different than my bank was told.)  Although there are ATMs nearby, there appear to be NO Citibank branches in Maine, and none even within 50 miles of Maine’s southernmost tip.  So, verifying funds from a CitiBank account is not available to Maine residents, unless one wants to spend hours traveling out of state and back.


Tuesday, August 2.  1:38 pm.

(281) 529-5093 (This is the 3rd phone number the guy has used.)


ME:  No need to yell. I also work full-time as a social worker and I am pulling 110 hour work weeks. I am with a client right now. Will get back to you soon.

S-B:  when will you be able to check your mail box and have the check deposited ?

Later that afternoon, when I didn’t respond…

S-B:  Got my previous text ?

I did not respond.

Wednesday, August 3.   8:55 am
(917) 631-7338  (This is the 4th phone number the guy has used.)

S-B:  Good morning,have you been able to deposit the check yet  ?

ME:  Our policy is to always verify funds prior to deposit when the amount is over $500. Your bank refuses to verify. If you would kindly authorize them to release that information I would appreciate it. 

S-B:  My banker adviced you are to deposit the check and wait for your bank policy for check to clear and funds are available in your accoun

S-B:  t before we proceed with the pickup

ME:  Oh, we will be delivering in your area so can handle that as well. Our typical charge (please see shipping policy on our website) is 79c per mile which would add up to a significant sum, but because we can combine this with several other simultaneous shipments, we’re willing to do so for the difference between the cost of the item and the amount of your check. 

ME:  So as soon as your bank verifies funds, we will deliver the item to you. The full amount of your check will cover everything and you’ll be guaranteed a timely, quality delivery!

S-B:  i have a mover agent who will come for pickup

S-B:  All you need to do is deduct your item fee + $40 extra and send the rest to the movers so pickup can be done thereafter,thanks.

ME:  That makes little sense as we’ll already be in your area, but that’s your decision. In any event, just have your bank verify funds and the item is yours. Otherwise, I do have someone here in town who has asked for the item. 

ME:  I’m about to go into my daytime job and won’t be available again until tomorrow. I’m at the bank ready to deposit this if you would just verify funds.


Wednesday, August 3.  10:38 am

S-B:  check deposited ?

ME:  No. You didn’t respond and I had to go to work. Am in a meeting. Will be unavailable to address this for the rest of the day, as previously noted. Sorry.


Thursday, August 4.  9:30 am

I should have heard from Scam-Boy by now.  Or has he finally caught on that I’ve been messing with him?  My next step is already planned out, but perhaps he’s gotten cold feet?  It may be time to reach out to him, since all along, I’ve let the guy contact me and that is likely a tip off that I think he’s full of horse puckey – I’m showing no urgency on my end…


Thursday, August 4.  10:28 am.

ME:  So…??

A while later.

S-B:   Good morning.

A while later.

ME:  Sorry.  Customers in the shop.  Where did we leave this?  You were going to have your bank verify funds availability, right? 


Friday, August 5.  7:15 am.

Scam-Boy did not respond yesterday.  I messaged my husband that “Wah… my friend doesn’t want to play any more”, and considered just dropping it and finishing this blog, but this morning decided to try one last time to see if I could keep him going and sent off the following:

ME:  Okay.  I’m willing to do business with you but need something more from your end. 

It’s unlikely that he’ll respond; I suspect he’s figured out that there’s nothing happening here.  (That should be obvious, right?)

So I’ll publish this – and if there are any new developments, will let you all know!

For anyone who’s tempted to cash a “check” for far more money than what you’re owed… seriously, think about it!  Why would some guy send me 7 times the cost of the item?  For his movers?  Really?   This guy is going to pay movers nearly $1500 when I could ship the item for $200?

Just be smart, and don’t get caught in this crap because you will lose.

UPDATE:  I messaged CitiBank, forwarding them a copy of this blog.  Here’s their response:

Hello and thank you for your message. Citibank does not provide account specific information to third parties without customer’s consent. – Yuriana C.

Would it have helped to have known that there was indeed enough money in that account to cover the $1,750 “check”? Likely not…. but then, that’s not the point. CitiBank should be on the alert for fraudulent activity using their bank, and should have been interested to learn of a possible fraud being perpetrated.  They were not.

I did hear back from Scam-Boy yesterday after my probe above.

ME:  Okay.  I’m willing to do business with you but need something more from your end. 

Friday, August 5.  7:18 am.

S-B:  Okay..i’m all hearz

ME:  The item costs $248 plus tax. It would only cost you about $300 for shipping and handling via Fed Ex.  That’s a total of less than $600, which is $1150 – or one-third of what you sent me.  No reasonable person wants to spend three times what they have to for an item. So you send me a money order for $600 and once it clears I will ship the item to you.  No need for a moving agent who’s going to overcharge you.

I did not hear back from him after this; nor did I expect to.  I continued to play the straight man on this, just to mess with him.  Unless he reads this blog, he’ll never know for sure whether I was stringing him along, or if I was just a stupidly earnest business owner.

From the FBI’s Internet Crimes website:

The counterfeit cashier’s check scheme targets individuals that use Internet classified advertisements to sell merchandise. Typically, an interested party located outside the United States contacts a seller. The seller is told that the buyer has an associate in the United States that owes him money. As such, he will have the associate send the seller a cashier’s check for the amount owed to the buyer.

The amount of the cashier’s check will be thousands of dollars more than the price of the merchandise and the seller is told the excess amount will be used to pay the shipping costs associated with getting the merchandise to his location. The seller is instructed to deposit the check, and as soon as it clears, to wire the excess funds back to the buyer or to another associate identified as a shipping agent. In most instances, the money is sent to locations in West Africa (Nigeria).

Because a cashier’s check is used, a bank will typically release the funds immediately, or after a one or two day hold. Falsely believing the check has cleared, the seller wires the money as instructed.

In some cases, the buyer is able to convince the seller that some circumstance has arisen that necessitates the cancellation of the sale, and is successful in conning the victim into sending the remainder of the money. Shortly thereafter, the victim’s bank notifies him that the check was fraudulent, and the bank is holding the victim responsible for the full amount of the check.

Fraud 3 Fraud

Dear Petty Thief


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This was first published on the website/blog of our arts & antiques shop (Heritage Collectibles) but I thought it also belonged here.


Dear Thief,

I know our little flower beds outside our shop weren’t doing so well, and looked kind of sad.

I’m sure you meant well by pulling up the remaining plants – more than likely you thought they deserved a better home with you than in our wretched little space.

However… we were putting in a fair amount of time tending to that tiny garden, and had plans to add more colorful flowers later.

Now we won’t bother.

Seriously, what ails you, anyway?  What makes you think it’s okay to steal from us?  And yes, pulling up our plants is stealing.  It doesn’t matter what the value of something is, or where it’s located, taking something without permission that doesn’t belong to you is stealing.

Okay, we get it.  We understand that sometimes people want something and for whatever reason, can’t have it.  We’ve been there with a budget so tight that paying bills is a desperate challenge each and every day.

We’ve been there trying to figure out when – and if – we’ll ever be able to pay back those to whom we owe money, and wishing we could afford things that other people have.

But other than the stupid teenage pranks that many of us pulled (and which we grew out of but still cringe over), we have never once deliberately taken something from another person with no intention of paying them for it or reimbursing the expense.

Yes, the little garden was pretty forlorn-looking.  And now it’s just plain pathetic.

But it was ours.  OURS.  Not yours. And you had no right.

Is Your Courage Better than Mine?


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I just saw a nasty meme on Facebook of three soldiers – one injured – that compared their courage to Caitlyn Jenner’s.  It was, of course, not kind.

My response is below:

Oh for crying out loud…

There are many kinds of courage. There’s the courage of the poverty-stricken family where the parent struggles to get ahead while working at a minimum wage job and also taking care of a disabled child.

There’s the courage of the kid who’s bullied every day at school, yet continues to go, no matter what.

There’s the courage of the abused woman who gathers her children and few belongings and walks out, despite death threats.

I see the above kinds of courage every day, over and over.

There’s also the courage of soldiers who deal with nightmares every day.

And then there’s the courage of someone like Caitlyn Jenner who faces the world, knowing that she’s going to get shat on over and over and over by condescending memes like this, by television and newspaper reports, and filthy blogs.

We all have our own kinds of courage. Yours is no better than mine.

Sexual Predators – The Financial Cost to Society Should Scare You


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Fair warning to those sexual predators who can’t keep it in your pants… both male and female.

You know what you’re doing is wrong, no matter how much you try to justify it. It’s wrong because it damages children. It DAMAGES them. They go through so much emotional pain and agony because of your obsession and need for a few minutes of relief, that it’s impossible for them to bear. They are just children, after all.

That emotional pain and agony lasts far longer than the physical insult to their bodies… it’s there for the rest of their lives. And not only are they damaged, but their families become damaged as well, as do others who might get close to them over the years.

The expense to society for your inability to control your own impulses – and I do not give a rat’s ass what happened to you, to cause you to have these impulses – is phenomenal. Do you have any idea how much it costs society to have kids in group homes, in crisis and/or in juvenile detention centers for days, weeks, months… even years on end?

Do you have any idea what it costs to have staff in homes for dozens of hours every week, to have the police called over and over, and to have kids taken to emergency rooms because of their out of control behavior, which can be traced back to YOU?

Do you have any idea of the damage you’re causing marriages, siblings, schools and others who come in contact with your victims?

If I ran this world, you would be in jail of course, but you would be working 18 or more hours a day at very hard labor to earn the money needed to pay for all the costs you incur on society. You’d have to pay for my time as a social worker, and that of every other professional who came in contact with your victim. You’d have to reimburse the family for the loss of income because one parent can’t work, and the state for having to provide disability and other income to those families. And you’d have to pay for your own meals, your room & board, your own medical expenses, and everything else you need in order to stay alive while in jail.

You’d have to work so hard you’d want to cry because your muscles hurt so much, but even then it would be nothing like the injury you’ve inflicted on your victim.

You had the chance to stop the cycle of abuse and you did not.

For that, I have no sympathy for you and would gladly spit on your grave.

Pigs Give You Bacon Because You’ve Been Good?? Seriously, Arby’s??


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I know die hard meat eaters will take issue with this and that I’ll get a lot of eye-rolling and probably some boorish comments…. but seriously, Arby’s… pigs do NOT give you bacon because you’ve been good.

Pigs have their bodies torn apart so you can indulge in eating their muscle and fat – and I rather suspect they don’t do so willingly.

So for Arby’s to put some kind of Pollyanna-ish spin on this by saying pigs “give you bacon because you’ve been good” makes me sick. If you choose to eat meat, I guess you can go for it. That’s your choice. But call it what it really is.

“You Don’t Have to Give Me an Attitude”, she said…


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The following is from an email I just sent to Cumberland Farms’ customer service department.  I’ve redacted certain identifying information.

Yesterday, 09/12/2015, I was at your [x] Maine store with a teenager and her mom.

The teenager – who doesn’t have a lot of money but loves your “Big Chill” (?) drinks – happily put together her usual concoction of several different flavors, then paid for it.  Outside, standing next to the sign that announces the “all summer” 49c special, she said she’d been charged 99c, not the 49c she expected to pay.

We went back inside.  I was asked by the teenager if I’d talk to the clerk because the teenager is very shy.  The clerk [xx] said – somewhat shortly (not quite abruptly, or curtly, but certainly with no apologetic tone) – that the special was over after Labor Day.  I said that the sign was still up. [The clerk] said, “It is? Where?” and the teenager answered that it was outside as one would walk in. [The clerk] started to say something at the same time that I started to respond that since the sign was still up, she’d have to honor it.

At that point, [the clerk] turned to me and said “You don’t have to give me an attitude”.

I responded quietly that I was not giving her “attitude”.

She gave the teenager a refund (I don’t remember that she said another word) and we left.

On the way out, we looked carefully at the sign and could see that in fine print at the bottom, it did say something like “until Labor Day”.

Obviously there are lots of minor problems with this scenario… a) the sign was still up nearly a week after the special ended, b) the end date of the special was less than 6 inches off the ground, and who – walking into a store – will take the time to read the entire sign, and c) the sign said “All Summer Long”, but summer doesn’t end the day after Labor Day, it ends when fall begins, which is September 23.

The real issue is not the sign.  The real issue is the clerk’s inappropriate response to me which was not only rude, but also could have reinforced to this shy teenager that she should never speak up for herself.  That was certainly her initial reaction as we were getting in the car; she was upset by the incident.

Her mom and I were able to process the incident with her, and explain that as inappropriate as the clerk was, there was surely a reason why she reacted as she did… she could have had a bad morning, tough things could be happening at home, she could be poorly trained by Cumberland Farms, she could hate her job… the list is endless.  It was a good teachable moment and the teenager was able to understand that she does not have to own another person’s unhappiness.

I’m a trained social worker and this teenager’s mom has excellent insight into human behavior, and we could process the incident with her.   However, how many other people have faced this same individual and walked out thinking, “I’ll never go back to that store again”?

Thank you for listening.

Linda Snyder

And Here I Thought I Got It…


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I’ve always believed I had a reasonably good sense of how difficult it is to parent a child with a disability… my work in the field has given me some great insights, and over the past few decades I’ve had the opportunity to talk to lots of parents about their children and their own lives, and how their kids’ disabilities impact every last little aspect of structure and daily living – sometimes even when those kids are grown up.

I thought I understood when I would gently – or sometimes not so gently – remind other staff that if a mom can’t get the morning dishes done by noon, it’s not a failing on her part; if a medication gets missed, it’s not because the parent is incompetent; or if dinner consists of pizza three nights in a row, it doesn’t mean the parent is lazy.

Yet, until now I really hadn’t had even the smallest taste of what it must be like to live with an illness or disability that demands constant attention.

Our dog Millie, a 42 pound bundle of energy, was impaled by a stick in the woods on Wednesday a week ago. A huge segment of skin was torn back, and she sustained a puncture wound in a chest muscle. She has two dozen metal staples in her chest.

We spent hours at the emergency vet that night, three more hours on Saturday, and had a visit with our own vet this morning. That’s in addition to half a dozen phone calls, a trip to get another round of medications, and the non-stop monitoring to make certain she doesn’t lick, bite or scratch herself, and is kept as quiet as we can keep her. She has a cone around her neck, and wears a t-shirt and socks to limit access to the wound. She has meds twice a day and alternating hot & cold packs 5+ times a day.

I’ve missed hours of work, have transported her to an angel of a friend who’s been able to doggie sit her a few times, and have worried and cried over her. She’s my dog and we love each other fiercely.

It’s only been a week, but I am emotionally exhausted from it all.

It’s been a good lesson that no matter what my education and work experience have taught me, I can never truly understand what it’s like to live with a child with a disability, to be unable to work because of the need to care for that child, to always be scared of what could happen next… even to find it challenging to take a shower or to clean one’s house because of the need to keep an eye on that child or otherwise attend to his or her medical, emotional and behavioral issues.

It’s a personal reminder to never judge someone else unless you’ve been there, and once you have been there, you probably won’t judge anyway.

It’s also been reinforced from this experience (as well as other recent experiences very close to me) that when a so-called professional has no sympathy or empathy, or when a medical office staffer says “Well, what do you expect us to do?” that I will not let it go. I will complain. And if they think I’m a witch, tough poop. Treat me and those I love with the dignity and respect we deserve and you will get it right back. Otherwise, we will make your life miserable, even if only for a few minutes.



All I Want to Do is Window Shop!


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It continues to irk me that I can’t look at some websites without first providing them with my email address.

I don’t care that I can later go in and delete the account. The point is I want to window shop first, just as I would at any bricks & mortar retail shop.

Sorry, Zulily. Just not that interested in your products to be taken hostage by such tactics.

It’s perhaps not surprising how quickly a bunch of friends agreed with me when I posted this on Facebook.