Beware & Protect Yourself 02 (Jan 09 - Aug 10)

Beware & Protect Yourself 02 (Jan 09 - Aug 10)

Postby winston » Sat Jan 03, 2009 9:53 am

A True Story: It Happened to Us... It Could Happen to You By Dr. Steve Sjuggerud

"$32,000 is gone," I told my mother-in-law on Monday. "Did you authorize a wire transfer of $32,000 out of your account today?"

"No," she said.

Someone else got her information and used it maliciously.

We jumped on it as soon as we discovered it. We spent the rest of the day and night closing accounts and cleaning up computers. But I'm afraid the damage was already done... Her personal information and passwords are in the hands of a skilled computer hacker.

It could just as easily happen to you.

And if you don't discover it as quickly as we did, or know what to do, then you could lose a whole lot more money. Worse, you could spend the next few years with the difficult task of getting back your money when you don't know who you're chasing.

It all started innocuously enough...

"Steve, can you help me get into my e-mail?" my mother-in-law asked. "For some reason, my password doesn't work anymore." We're on a mini-vacation to the Florida Keys, so I'm the default computer guru.

"It seems like you changed your password," I said. She told me she hadn't.

I tried to request a new password online, but we couldn't answer the "security questions." This was strange... But at this point, we still didn't have a clue something was wrong. So we called her Internet provider.

We finally got a new password and checked her e-mail. And there was the wire transfer... $32,000 going OUT.

We immediately called the bank, got through to the fraud department, and they went to work on getting it back. (As of this writing, the money is NOT back yet.)

Then we tried to get back on her e-mail. Whoa! We couldn't get in. The hacker had changed her password again.

We called her Internet provider, asking to close the account immediately. Unbelievably, they wouldn't let us do it. We were informed that the Billing Department was now closed. They said we'd have to call back in the morning. (That, in my opinion, is a terrible business practice. Who knows what other vital information this hacker stole before the account was closed?)

So how did this happen?

It is my non-technical opinion that my mother-in-law was a victim of a newly discovered security "hole" in Microsoft's Internet Explorer. The flaw allows hackers to get your passwords... which means access to your personal information, bank accounts, etc. You're probably using Internet Explorer right now to read this e-mail. If so, you are likely vulnerable...

Microsoft says it's fixed the hole. But if you haven't gone to the trouble of updating your Internet Explorer with the security patch, you are still exposed to the exact same attack that hit my mother-in-Law. (You can read the details at

We updated Internet Explorer. But we also stopped using it. We're using Google Chrome as our browser now. (Go to to download it free.)

We've taken all the steps we know... For example, we placed a "Fraud Alert" through Equifax, which goes to all three credit-report agencies. But a little prevention sure would have been easier than chasing a thief.

A starting point for protection is the Federal Trade Commission's website. Go to then read the "Identity Theft" and "Internet Fraud" segments right there on the home page.

We've been assured we'll recover the $32,000. And we've closed all accounts and reopened them with new account numbers and passwords. But are we safe from more attacks? We don't know – this hacker has my mother-in-law's personal information.

Please, do yourself a huge favor. Remember the old "ounce of prevention/pound of cure" saying. Take more steps to protect yourself online than you ever thought you needed to. At least upgrade Internet Explorer or switch browsers immediately.

Identity theft is serious stuff. And you are likely at risk, right now. But you think, "Aw, that won't happen to me," until it does. Take care of yourself. Believe me. We wish we had.

Call it a New Year's resolution if you'd like. But promise to do something right now to protect your personal information... and your wealth.
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Re: Beware & Protect Yourself (Jan 09 - Jun 09)

Postby winston » Tue Jan 06, 2009 4:31 pm

Ok, no more KFC, besides the fact that is is AMERICAN ...


Beijing death sparks bird flu fears

A woman in Beijing has died of suspected bird flu, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing local health authorities.

Huang Yanqing died on Monday, Xinhua said in a brief dispatch that gave no other details.

If confirmed, it would be the first reported bird flu death in China since February.

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Re: Beware & Protect Yourself (Jan 09 - Jun 09)

Postby winston » Fri Jan 09, 2009 11:15 pm

China warns of hi-tech fake banknotes before holiday

BEIJING - China's central bank has issued a pre-holiday warning about high-quality fake banknotes that newspapers have said are so convincing even cash-detector machines cannot tell the difference.

'Though mostly counterfeit 100 yuan (US$15) notes are not too hard to make out, people should be careful as cash transactions during the Spring Festival are high,' it said.

The Chinese New Year holiday, also known as the Spring Festival, begins on Jan 26, a traditional time for buying new clothes and gifts for the family.

The fake money was discovered in more than 14 provinces.

'The fake notes start with 'HD90' and are aimed at cheating detectors, and some poor-quality detectors are easy to cheat,' Ye Yingnan, of the central bank, was quoted by the Beijing News as saying.

But he said there was no need for panic. 'Those with experience are bound to tell the difference.' -- REUTERS
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Re: Beware & Protect Yourself (Jan 09 - Jun 09)

Postby winston » Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:10 am

King Nut recalls salmonella-tainted peanut butter

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An Ohio-based food distributor has voluntarily recalled two brands of peanut butter after it was told salmonella found in an open five-pound tub sold under the King Nut label.

King Nut Cos, in a statement released Saturday, said it immediately contacted its customers and asked them to remove all King Nut peanut butter and Parnell's Pride peanut butter from the market.

The Solon, Ohio-based King Nut supplies peanut butter to food service companies that distribute the products to institutions like hospitals, schools, restaurants and nursing homes. The brands are not sold directly to consumers.

King Nut said it asked customers to stop distributing all peanut butter with lot codes beginning with the number eight and has canceled orders with the manufacturer, Peanut Corporation of America.

Officials for Peanut Corporation of America, based in Lynchburg, Virginia, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Martin Kanan, King Nut's chief executive, said, "because we don't manufacture peanut butter, we will do what we can to get this product out of distribution and will work with the manufacturer to inform others of this problem."

On Friday, Minnesota health officials issued a product alert for King Nut brand creamy peanut butter after finding a jar that was contaminated with a strain of salmonella linked to an outbreak across the United States.

Since September, the outbreak of salmonella food poisoning has sickened at least 399 people in 42 states and sent at least 70 people to the hospital, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC, Agriculture Department, Food and Drug Administration and state health officials are trying to trace the source of the outbreak.

An outbreak of salmonella was linked to Peter Pan brand peanut butter in 2007. ConAgra Foods Inc closed a Georgia plant after more than 300 people became ill in that outbreak.
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Re: Beware & Protect Yourself (Jan 09 - Jun 09)

Postby winston » Wed Jan 14, 2009 8:16 am

Vicks VapoRub can harm children under 2
By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Vicks VapoRub, a common cold remedy, can cause respiratory distress in children under 2 when inappropriately applied directly under the nose, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

They said using the Procter & Gamble Co product in this way can cause a young child's tiny airways to swell and fill with mucus, triggering severe breathing problems.

"The only problem we've seen is in a small child when it has been put under the nose," Dr. Bruce Rubin of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina, said in a telephone interview.

Rubin said the ingredients in Vicks can be irritants, causing the body to produce more mucus to protect the airway. And since infants and young children have airways that are much narrower than those of an adult, any increase in mucus or swelling can narrow them severely.

"The company is really clear it should never go under the nose or in the nose for anybody and it shouldn't be used in children under 2," said Rubin, whose study appears in the journal Chest.

While the researchers only tested the Vicks product, Rubin said similar products, including generic versions, could cause the same negative effects in infants and toddlers.

Rubin and his colleagues began looking at use of the medication after treating an 18-month-old girl who developed respiratory distress after the salve was put under her nose.

They studied ferrets, which have an airway anatomy similar to humans. In the animals with a chest infection, the product increased mucus secretion and decreased the animal's ability to clear mucus.

"We were able to document changes that we think explain this," Rubin said.

David Bernens, a spokesman for P&G, said the finding came as a surprise. "Vicks VapoRub has been proven safe and effective through multiple clinical trials. It has been in the market for over 100 years," Bernens said, noting that the label says the product should not be used in children under age 2 without a doctor's advice, and not under the nose.

"We warn people not to do that," he said.

Since the initial episode, emergency doctors at the medical center have begun asking all parents of children in respiratory distress if they used the Vicks product in a similar way and they have seen two more cases, Rubin said.

"I recommend never putting Vicks in, or under, the nose of anybody -- adult or child," Rubin said in a statement, adding that he would never use it in a child under age 2.

Dr. James Mathers, president of the American College of Chest Physicians, said in a statement that parents should consult their doctor before giving any over-the-counter medication to infants and young children, particularly cough and cold medications, which can be harmful.
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Re: Beware & Protect Yourself (Jan 09 - Jun 09)

Postby winston » Thu Jan 15, 2009 4:46 pm

Lead, pesticide finding sparks tea caution

Some tea samples have been found to contain excessive levels of lead and pesticide, the Consumer Council said.

A sample of tea taken from Choi Wan Hin Seafood Restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui was found to contain 9.6 milligrams of lead per kilogram, almost double the limit of five mg.

A Shen Long brand of Tikuanyin tea was found to contain 0.34 mg of the pesticide dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, better known as DDT, which is over the 0.2 mg limit.

But the council eased consumer fears, saying there was no immediate health risk unless diners and shoppers have been drinking up to 10 litres of the teas in question every day.

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Re: Beware & Protect Yourself (Jan 09 - Jun 09)

Postby kennynah » Thu Jan 15, 2009 4:59 pm

now tea cant drink.... f**k man...what's the world becoming...Image 8-)

The Day The Earth Stood Still....might not be far away....Klatu will visit us soon...
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Re: Beware & Protect Yourself (Jan 09 - Jun 09)

Postby winston » Fri Jan 16, 2009 9:34 am

China warns of more health scares amid slowdown

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese food and drug makers struggling in a declining economy could be tempted to cut corners and ignore quality standards, a senior Chinese official warned as the country awaits court verdicts in a tainted milk scandal.

China has been rocked by a number of scandals in recent years involving unsafe food and drugs which have sometimes killed people and prompted global recalls of Chinese-made goods.

At least six children last year died from drinking milk formula adulterated with melamine, an industrial compound used to cheat nutrition tests, and more than 290,000 fell ill with kidney stones. China has put on trial a number of company officials and farmers accused of producing and selling the toxic milk.

Shao Mingli, a senior official from China's food and drug safety watchdog, said that the country was on "high alert" as the impact of the financial crisis began to hit home, Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying late on Tuesday.

"Some enterprises might conduct production in violation of standards and regulations in an attempt to ease their financial burdens," Shao said.

"On the other hand, conflicts and disputes arising from some companies' regrouping or merger and acquisition might impact production and quality management," the official added, calling for tighter supervision of all levels of the supply chain.

The watchdog had dealt with 297,500 cases of "illegal drugs and medical equipment" with a value of about 600 million yuan ($88 million) last year, Xinhua said, in an indication of the seriousness of the problem.

The report comes amid an investigation into a health scare involving a foreign brand of dog food, which local media have linked to the deaths of dozens of pets.

The China Daily on Tuesday said that at least 30 dogs had died from liver complications after eating a brand of dog food which the state newspaper said was tainted with aflatoxin.

The paper quoted vets who said a number of dogs had been diagnosed with liver damage after eating the pet food, and a local supplier that had stopped selling it.

But China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said it had neither approved the food for import, nor had border quarantine units ever allowed its import, Xinhua said, casting doubt over the product's origins.

In 2007, pet food made with Chinese ingredients tainted with melamine killed a number of dogs and cats in the United States.
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Re: Beware & Protect Yourself (Jan 09 - Jun 09)

Postby winston » Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:52 am

Maybe you want to organize something like this in your city ?


ICE - In case of Emergency, Please Call .... by Jenny Thompson

It's a scenario most of us would rather not think about.

According to the CDC, in 2006 more than 1.5 million emergency room patients in the U.S. were so incapacitated they couldn't provide emergency contact information to medical personnel.

But ICE could change all that.

ICE (which stands for "In Case of Emergency") is a program started in the UK to help hospital personnel contact family members in cases where patients are unconscious and can't provide information.

To participate in the program, just include in your cell phone's stored numbers a listing such as this: "ICE Mom" along with mom's number. Apparently, most hospital personnel are becoming aware of the program, so they regularly check cell phones for ICE numbers.

In fact, you can go one step further by putting an ICE sticker on your cell phone, which immediately alerts ER personnel that your phone contains an emergency contact number. You can read more about this program and place an order for ICE stickers on the website

Please pass this information along to family members and friends. As more and more people put this program to use, the more well known and effective it will become.
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Re: Beware & Protect Yourself (Jan 09 - Jun 09)

Postby Musicwhiz » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:27 am

An article from BT today (originally from New York Times) about "Mini-Madoffs" for reading pleasure. The greed in human beings is ingrained and even outrageous claims can draw amazing amounts of money, which shows people are always looking out for that shortcut method to instant riches !


Business Times - 29 Jan 2009

Many more mini-Madoffs popping up all over the shop

(NEW YORK) Their names lack the Dickensian flair of Bernie Madoff, and the money they apparently stole from investors was a small fraction of the US$50 billion that Madoff allegedly lost of his clients' savings.

But the number of other people who have been caught running Ponzi schemes in recent weeks is adding up quickly, so much so that they have earned themselves a nickname: mini-Madoffs.

Some of these schemes have been operating for years, and others are of more recent vintage. But what is causing them to surface now appears to be a combination of a deteriorating economy and heightened scepticism about outsize returns after the revelations about Madoff.

That can scare off new clients and cause longtime investors to demand their money back, which brings the charade tumbling down.

'There is no way for a Ponzi to survive given the large number of redemptions and a lack of new investors,' said Stephen J Obie, the head of enforcement at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The agency has experienced a doubling of reported leads to possible Ponzi schemes in the last year, and its enforcement caseload has risen this year.

On Monday, at a suburban New York train station, Nicholas Cosmo surrendered to federal authorities in connection with a suspected US$380 million Ponzi scheme, in which investors paid a minimum of US$20,000 for high-yield 'private bridge' loans that he had arranged.

Cosmo promised returns of 48 per cent to 80 per cent a year, and none of his investors apparently minded - or knew - that Cosmo had already been imprisoned for securities fraud. In the end, 1,500 people gave him their money, often through brokers who worked on his behalf.

And in Florida, not far from the Palm Beach clubs where Madoff wooed some of his investors, George L Theodule, a Haitian immigrant and professed 'man of God', promised churchgoers in a Haitian-American community that he could double their money within 90 days.

He accepted only cash, and despite the too-good-to-be-true sales pitch, he found plenty of investors willing to turn over tens of thousands of dollars.

'The offices were beautiful, and I was told it was a limited liability corporation,' said Reggie Roseme, a deliveryman in Wellington, Florida, who lost his entire savings of US$35,000 and now faces foreclosure on his home.

According to federal regulators who have accused him of operating a Ponzi scheme, Theodule bilked thousands of investors of modest means, like Mr Roseme, out of US$23 million in all, and put US$4 million in his own pocket. This money helped pay for two luxury vehicles for Theodule, a wedding, a lavish house in Georgia and a recent trip to Zurich that federal authorities are now investigating. The fate of the other US$19 million is still unknown.

Investors in Idaho say they lost US$100 million in a scheme that promised 25 per cent to 40 per cent annual returns. In Philadelphia, a failed computer salesman tried his hand at trading nonexistent futures contracts for 80 investors and surrendered to federal authorities this month after losing US$50 million.

A Ponzi scheme in Atlanta that promised investor returns of 20 per cent every month through something called '30-day currency trading contracts' was shut down this month after losing US$25 million. And on Tuesday, Arthur Nadel, a prominent money manager in Sarasota, Florida, and philanthropist turned himself in to the authorities. He had disappeared this month, just days before the Securities and Exchange Commission charged him in a US$300 million investment fraud that may be a Ponzi scheme.

Investors in many of the schemes were told that their money would go into stocks, foreign currencies and other investments and earn above-average returns - a deception backed up with what appeared to be legitimate monthly statements and fancy offices. Now, Ponzi-related losses are adding up to hundreds of millions of dollars.

The SEC does not keep statistics on Ponzi fraud, but it has brought cases involving losses of over US$200 million since the beginning of October last year, including one against the disgraced Democratic donor Norman Hsu. Hsu was accused of using money from a US$60 million Ponzi scheme to make campaign donations to leading candidates, including President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Obama and Clinton later donated the money to charities.)

Regulators, chastened by failing to uncover the Madoff scandal, are focusing more on such swindles. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, for instance, has established a new Forex Enforcement Task Force to prosecute Ponzi cases in which investors were told that their money was being invested in foreign currencies. In 2008, the agency prosecuted 15 Ponzi schemes and expects that number to increase this year.

Last Thursday, Senators Charles Schumer, and Richard Shelby, who are both influential members of the Senate Banking Committee, introduced legislation to provide US$110 million to hire 500 new FBI agents, 50 new assistant US attorneys and 100 new SEC enforcement officials to crack down on such crimes. 'Ponzi schemes are against the law,' Mr Schumer said in an interview. 'But we have not had enough law enforcement officials. Madoff should have been stopped. Our proposal would not just provide more resources, but it would work like a posse to go after this fraud.'

Lawsuits brought by bilked investors and federal regulators are piling up in courts.

One case brought by the federal government against a North Carolina company called Biltmore Financial describes an apparent US$25 million fraud going back for 17 years that drew in more than 500 investors, many of whom were members of a Lutheran community in that state.

For an investment of as little as US$1,000, investors were told they were buying packages of mortgages with 10 to 20 per cent annual returns. In reality, the money went to buy an Aston Martin convertible, a US$1 million recreational vehicle and vacation and rental properties for the head of the company, JV Huffman, who was charged by the SEC last November.

Last week, the SEC charged James G Ossie of Atlanta with taking US$25 million from 120 investors - who had to invest a minimum of US$100,000 with him. Ossie even held periodic conference calls describing his trading strategy, which promised 10 per cent monthly returns.

In the South Florida Haitian-American community, Theodule turned to churches, where he would use a flip chart to make his investment pitch and talk about how the money would finance new ventures in Haiti and Sierra Leone. His scheme, however, fell apart last November when 40 investors showed up at Theodule's office to try to get their money back.

'Theodule had been the king and lived in the community, and then one day he vanished,' said Mr Roseme, the investor who lost US$35,000 in savings.

He described Theodule as 'friendly, someone you could trust, a real positive guy,' and conceded he had been drawn in by his sales pitch 'so I would at least have a secure platform in terms of my financial needs'. Nerline Horace-Manasse, a 31-year-old Haitian immigrant with six children, saw her life's savings of US$25,000 disappear - money she had set aside for a downpayment on a house.

Bogus statements showed that her money had grown to US$90,000, but when Ms Manasse began to ask questions of Theodule, 'he advised he could not tell me where he was putting the money because there were a lot of copycats out there and he'd go out of business'. Now Ms Manasse and Mr Roseme are part of a class-action suit against Theodule.

Theodule's attorney, Matthew N Thibaut, did not return a call for comment. But in court papers, Theodule denied all the charges but one: 'Theodule admits he has told persons that he wants to help build wealth in the Haitian community.' - NYT
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