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  • Anatomy of an Ebay Scam

    Posted on November 11th, 2014 EEVblog 24 comments

    ebay-logo-scam

    So I get an Ebay email alert for something on my watch list. An item that rarely comes up, I was excited!, but then comes

    SCAM SIGN #1: The seller has zero feedback.

    Then comes
    SCAM SIGN #2: The seller is in Mexico. Not to offend any Mexians of course, but it’s not the US or the usual Ebay countries.

    Then comes
    SCAM SIGN #3: The item is priced vastly under what the going market rate would be. A “to good to be true price”, and the wording of the seller seems to indicate they know how much this thing is worth. But hey, it’s an auction, they might be relying on bidding frenzy (but how would a normal zero feedback ebayer know this game?)

    But hey, ebay and PayPal have an excellent buyer protection system provided you play the game by their rules, so I figured what’s the harm in bidding (the protection (and almost everything o ebay) sucks for sellers, but for buyers it’s a dream).
    Turns out quite a few people thought so to, and bidding went from a start of $99 into the 4 digit territory. But still very low for such an item, so clearly everyone was thinking the same thing, but still being cautious that it’s a scam. Otherwise the item would have gone for much much more money I’m sure.

    But like I said it’s rare this item comes up, so I was willing to play along with the buyer protection scheme. There was a reasonable chance it could be legit, so I searched for other similar items so see if they ripped off the images or text, but didn’t find anything. And the text in the ad sounded like a legitimate owner who needed to sell. If it was a scam ad, they certainly knew know what they were doing and how to market this thing.

    Turns out I won just a little bit under my maximum bid – awesome! Excited! But still knowing there is a very good chance this is a scam…

    So I go to pay for the item using PayPal through the usual ebay checkout system to ensure buyer protection.

    Then comes
    SCAM SIGN #4: The checkout fails! I get the following error from PayPal:

    “This recipient does not accept payments denominated in US Dollars. Please contact the seller and ask him to update his Payment Receiving Preferences to accept this currency.”

     

    At this point of course I know 100% that it is a scam. But I play along anyway just to see how they are going to do it…

    I send an innocent message and get a response:
    Clipboard03

    So I reply that it doesn’t work, and I’ve never seen this before etc. Then they send a reply:

    Clipboard04

    And on top of that the item shows up with the familial “Payment Received” icon in my ebay account!

    That message and the icon marking is of course confidence trick to make you think ebay ok’d this, when in fact any seller is simply able to mark any item they sell as “Payment Received”

    NOTE HOW EBAY WARN YOU AGAINST THIS EXACT THING!

    Then I find:

    SCAM SIGN #5: I get a manual PayPal invoice in my email inbox. It’s genuine of course, not a fake PayPal site that will steal my login (another variation on the scam!)

    Clipboard05

     

     

    So by now it’s clear how this scam works:

    • They set up new ebay and payapal accounts
    • A really good scammer would hack an existing ebay account, or increase the feedback by buying a ton of 99 cent items from other fake accounts of theirs etc, but this one was content with zero feedback.
    • List something exotic but one that would have high demand, and do a really good job with the listing making out they are the owner who needs to sell it because it’s not needed any more.
    • Deliberately set up the PayPal account in foreign currency so the (almost certainly US or other major country like Australia) buyers PayPal checkout will fail.
    • Make it out they have no idea what’s wrong and that they are sending an invoice manually, and try to convince you that ebay ok’d this.
    • Sucker pays the money and they vanish with it. Maybe they might complete the scam by sending you an empty box with tracking number, but they have their money, so they probably won’t bother.

     

    So there you go, ebay scams abound, and this is just one of them, and it’s simply a matter of using some common sense to sniff them out, and following ebays advice and systems.
    Don’t get caught up in the excitement of thinking you are getting that bargain or rare item you are after. Some even justify getting scammed by saying “well, I was willing to take the chance at that price”.

     

  • How Google Plus Screws Youtube Comments

    Posted on September 25th, 2014 EEVblog 21 comments


    I’m a full time Youtube content producer, and I like responding to comments, it’s a way for me to directly interact with my audience. It’s an important thing for a content producer to be able to do. Nay, essential. To say thanks, answer a question, respond to criticism, correct something, etc.

    Yet I cannot respond to some comments on my own freaking videos, and that really pisses me off!

    Take a look at this, here is an example of a post on one of my own videos:

    YoutubeComments1-arrow

    Note how there is no Reply button next to the first comment. No one can reply to it, not even the video owner!

    Notice how the REPLY button is missing on the comment! It is impossible for the video owner (or anyone else) to reply to that comment.
    Why?
    Well, the retarded Google+ integration with Youtube of course. To post on Youtube you must have a linked Google+ account. And in the settings menu for Google+ is an option that says “Who can comment on your public posts”.
    But because of this new fangled integration, Youtube comments count as Google+ “posts”.
    That means if you select “Only You”, which might sound like a good thing from a privacy point of view, then no one, including the video owner can reply to your comment on Youtube!

    It seems that many people are simply unaware of how this Google+ setting effects their postings on Youtube.
    Here is a DIRECT LINK to the settings page so you can change it to “Anyone”, which is what you need to do so people can reply to your comments onYoutube.

    YoutubeComments2-Arrow

    Your Google+ settings page. You have to set this setting to “Anyone”

    So if you are wondering why I don’t respond to your comments on my videos, this could be the reason why. It’s not me, it’s a setting in your Google+ account.

    Not allowing a Youtube video owner to respond to comments on their own videos is nothing short of retarded. Google really need to fix this shit, seriously.

  • Australian Crowd Source Equity Funding Report

    Posted on September 22nd, 2014 EEVblog 2 comments

    I have been made aware of this Australian government requested report on crowd sourced equity funding, and associated suggested legislative framework to promote it.
    Original DOC file is HERE
    PDF version HERE
    I have not digested the 244 pages of it yet!

  • So Who Is Altium Buying?

    Posted on September 5th, 2014 EEVblog 20 comments

    Today came the news from the ASX that Altium shares have been put on a voluntary trading halt:

    “Pending an announcement by Altium in relation to a proposed capital raising by institutional investors”

    Now, this is very interesting indeed for several reasons:

    1. Altium have not taken investment since they originally publicly floated the company 15 years ago in 1999 in order to raise capital to buy several companies and their technology in order to get into the embedded system/FPGA space (which they ultimately failed at as everyone but them expected).
    2. Altium has always, and continues to have essentially zero debt.
    3. Altium has plenty of cash in the bank, $22M of it or so.
    4. Altium is about to announce their new FREE (+ low cost) package and enter the low cost PCB tool market as they have promised.
    5. Altium has record sales, and the highest share price in over a decade.AltiumSharePrice10years

     

    So why does a company with zero debt, a lot of cash, record sales, a new product about to (hopefully) shake up a new market, and no real history taking money, want with a sudden influx of money from institutional investors?

    Expansion

    Companies take money in order to expand into bigger markets and/or buy companies to enable that to happen. So it can’t be because they want to hire more staff, they could easily do that with the cash to hand. And that would of course be a silly reason for any institution to invest in them. And it can’t be because they want to buy some small-time company, they could also do that with the cash to hand.

    So what’s left? Well, it seems pretty obvious that Altium is gearing up for a big acquisition (or two?).

    Someone Knows

    It seems that someone has caught wind of this in the last week or two, because the share price has rocketed just before the trading halt.
    I wonder is any other related company has also jumped? Hmm…

    AltiumSharePrice2014

     Who?

    So who is Altium going to buy with all this influx of new institutional cash?
    Whoever it is I certainly hope they don’t blow it like they did with several acquisitions on the past (*cough* 15% of the company for Morfik *cough*).
    But is seems Altium are much more level headed these days, so I think they will do something good with it.

    Altium does have several weaknesses in key areas needed to enable their push into the higher end of the market as they have promised investors. Things like signal integrity, auto routing, simulation, thermal analysis, and you can no doubt think of other areas.

    Polar Instruments immediately comes to mind. That would give them the signal integrity solution they badly need.

    An Autorouter that actually works would be high on the list too.

    Altium Designer has great 3D CAD integration, but no 3D CAD editing capability. So it wouldn’t surprise me if they bought a 3D CAD tool company for better integration there.

    And before anyone mentions it, no, I’m pretty sure they are not buying Eagle or another low end player. Because Altium really do have their own free / low cost package coming out soon to compete head-to-head with Eagle and others. It’s real, I’ve been given a sneak peek at it, because they wanted my feedback on it after my rant shook them up a bit and helped them change direction (for the better):

    Not only that, but Eagle wouldn’t be for sale, it is far too strategically important to Element 14. Forget that.

     

    There is lots of interesting stuff in Altium’s latest Investor Presentation, but not much we haven’t seen before. And nothing that really hints at who they are going to buy or why.

    One thing that does scare me is the further emphasis on the Internet of Things and Web 3.0, and all that cloudy stuff. They call it a “Mega Trend”. Can you hear the groan from here? I sure hope they keep focus on the core PCB tool (as they have promised), and not go off on some silly adventure buying a cloud services company or some such. But hey, I wouldn’t put it past them.

    A component search and integration company wouldn’t surprise me though, that is another key emerging area. And/or perhaps with the new push into the Maker market they want to own and tie in a PCB manufacturer and assembler? That would make sense from a strategic point of view.

    One thing is for sure, Altium know who they want to buy and would have pitched this to the institutional investors. I can’t see anyone giving them money for just “whatever” future use they haven’t thought about yet.

    What do you think?
    And who do you think Altium will or should buy with all this new money?

  • uBeam Ultrasonic Wireless Charging – A Familiar Fish Smell

    Posted on August 7th, 2014 EEVblog 17 comments

    In the last day there has been some buzz about the uBeam wireless energy charging device, which of course, like all great new inventions, does not actually exist yet, it  just needs the magic input of money.

    It ticks all the media story hype boxes though – designed by a female graduate (in Astrobiology, of course), gets $1.7M venture capital funding from no less than Marissa Mayer (Yahoo’s CEO) and is about to get more, and solves all of our first world problems with charging our gadgets – it’s the “WiFi for energy!
    And damn, they have patents pending, 18 of them, it must be a goer!

    Read the rest of this entry »