Nice try, but no cigar

I found the following in an email account I had set up for a specific purpose. This account is not used for anything other than that purpose and since I wasn’t wearing my glasses when I set it up, I misspelled my name. No matter, Dr James still sent me this message.

Attn E-mail Address Owner,
Spam
Dr Kevin James <k_james90@>

Feb 5

Attn E-mail Address Owner,

Website:
Address: Plot 1261, Adela Hopewell Street CO/B/REP, Republic Of Benin.

Email:

( 0022966850550 )

Attention: E-mail Address Owner,

Sequel to the meeting held today with Federal Bureau of Investigation, The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is compensating all the scam victims and your name and email address was found in the scam victims list.

However, we have concluded to effect your own payment through Western Union® Money Transfer, $5,000 daily until the total sum of your compensation fund is transferred to you.

This is your first payment information:

MTCN#:8412393243

Sender’s First Name: Richard

Sender’s Last Name:Michel

Amount Programmed: $5.000

You are advised to get back to the contact person trough the email below for more direction on how to be receiving your payment

Contact person: . . SIR. INNOCENT JOHNSON
Email address: . .
Tell phone: . . . +22966850550
Thanks,
SIR.INNOCENT JOHNSON
Director Western Union Money Transfer,
Head Office Benin Republic.

Click here to Reply or Forward
0.12 GB (0%) of 15 GB used

I’ve removed any email addresses strictly because I’ve had an account shut down by WordPress in the past when I tried to post a similar message with too many links.
Let’s take a look at it. First, it was addressed to “E-Mail Address Owner”, despite the text saying my name had come up in their investigation. Good clue it is a phishing expedition. The poor spelling and grammar are also good indicators the sender does not have you best interests at heart.

There is no mention of just how much money has been allotted for me (although I can guess it is really zero), nor exactly how I got scammed. Since I either delete this type of message or, as in this case, use it as fodder for a blog, I doubt I’ve been scammed by a Nigerian or Benin prince.

Should you choose to actually try to contact “Sir Innocent Johnson”, I’m quite certain you would find him anything but innocent.

Something else in these always acts as a warning to me and that is the fact that so many of them mention they are working with the FBI on resolving the issues. Well, I’m not an American, and could honestly not care less what the FBI does or doesn’t do. I doubt strongly they would really do anything for the benefit of someone who wasn’t an American citizen. So, as I wrote, Dr James: nice try, but no cigar.

If you receive any message of a similar nature, just delete it. The only enrichment taking place will be to the benefit of the senders of the message, not you. It could be your identity, your information, or the contents of your bank account. In any event, just say “no”.

Cat.

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Do it your way

Every once in a while, someone will look at some of my photos, or read something I’ve written and suggest that I should teach photography and/or writing. That presents a problem for me.

I’m sure that each of you is very good at some pastime that gives you a sense of accomplishment. But, how would you go about explaining to somebody else just how you do it? That’s the problem with my photography and writing. Oh, I could probably teach each, but the course would be twenty minutes tops. I’ll try here to explain how I do what I do.

Photography: My philosophy is simple – if something catches your attention, snap it. You may look at the image on the camera screen and not see what you expected, but wait until you get it up on the computer screen when you process it. (I do digital photography, so my comments are restricted to computer processing.) The larger image may show you something surprising that you can turn into a beautiful photo. The photo at the top of this is an example of a photo I thought was “okay” until I saw it on the monitor, then it went up in my estimation.

Take advice if offered. I’ve had some free-lance photographers give me some advice that I think is worth passing on. First, remember that a digital camera darkens an image about 30 – 40% from what you see with your eye. You’ll want to restore that brightness before anything else. This of course wouldn’t apply if you feel the darker image is more effective.

Next, a free-lancer told me to avoid weddings if at all possible because you’ll never please everyone.

Finally, if you want to be a free-lance news photographer, the best advice I was given for this was “f8 and be there”. You can’t take the shot if you aren’t at the scene and an aperture of f8 will give you a decent depth of field.

As I said, I do digital photography and process my own work. There are many photo processing programmes available. My personal preference is a Corel programme called “Paintshop”. Some people prefer Adobe’s Photoshop. I’ve used both and prefer Paintshop. If you can, try as many as you can – some places offer free trial copies – before spending your money on one.

The choice of camera is up to the user. Many of my best work was done with a Canon point and shoot, including the header photo. I currently use a Canon DSLR, but depending upon my plans for the day, I have often used the camera in my phone. The quality of phone cameras has improved greatly.

I’m torn about suggesting photography courses. Yes, I can see the benefits for some people, but when I told an artist friend it had been suggested I take one, her comment was “Why? That would only ruin you. The course would only teach you to take photos the way the instructor does.” If you feel you’d benefit from one, go for it. As my friend said, if you feel competent, save your money.

In photography the most important advice I was given was that you have to have imagination and the ability to think outside the box. Photography is as much about feeling as technique.

Writing: I’ve always written, at least back as far as Grade 5. I was fortunate in having teachers who encouraged my writing and have since received advice from others. There are many courses in creative writing available through community colleges that you can take. My ex-partner was part of a group of writers who would meet once a week and present short stories for criticism. Some members were published authors; some were taking courses and others just sat down to write. Through the members of this group (I was a casual member since they often met at our house) I learned the proper format for submitting stories, but that’s about all.

Most often, aspiring writers are told “write what you know”. That is fine if you’re writing factual articles and stories. I have a blog and frequently write opinion pieces that I laughingly refer to as “rants, raves and reasoned discussions – reader’s choice.” The main exception to that is a series of blogs under the general title “Bring him to justice”. This series concerns the attempts by the Toronto Police Service to arrest a man charged with several counts of aggravated sexual assault. This series is factual and, full disclosure here, I’m doing it because I know several people he dated.

For my fiction, it’s rather difficult to write fiction strictly sticking to “what you know”. If I’m writing fiction, the process usually starts with me asking myself “what if…?” then writing a piece to answer the question.

Perhaps the best advice the writer me was given was “write the way you speak.” If you don’t use multi-syllable words as part of your usual vocabulary, don’t use them in your writing. I sometimes paraphrase this as “if you don’t use ten dollar words all the time, don’t use them in your writing, even if you get them half-off. You’ll probably mis-use them.” Something else – spelling counts. Spell-check is great in most cases, but if you use a homophones – and yes, I had to check the definition of this – such as “hear” or “here”, spell-check won’t catch it. Proofread, then proofread again.

There. My courses on photography and writing are finished. As the title suggests “do it your way.” Class dismissed.

Remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

This time she’s not playing

I was away for a couple of days and upon my return found this in my gmail spam:
Mrs Vivian Douglas <.it>

04:26 (22 hours ago)

to

Attn,

I have to inform you again, that we are not playing over this, I know my
reason for the continuous sending of this notification to you, the fact is that
you can’t seem to trust any one again over this payment for what you have been
in cantered in many months ago, but I want you to trust me, I cannot scam you
for $49 it is for bank processing of your payment, the fees of $49 is clearly
written to you before, I did not invent the bill to defraud you of $49 it is an
official bank payment processing fee, and the good part of this, is that you
will never, ever be disturbed again over any kind of payment, this is final,
and the forms from there becomes effective once we submit your payment
application processing fee and pay the form fee of $49 I don’t want you to
loose this fund this time, because you may never get another such good
opportunity, the federal government is keen and very determined to pay your
overdue debts, this is not a fluke, I would not want
you to loose this fund out of ignorance, I will send you all the documents as
soon as bank payment processing fee is paid, you have to trust me, you will get
your fund, find a way to get $49 you will not loose it, instead it will bring
your financial breakthrough, find the money and send it to our bursary. The
reason why am sending you this because I want you to receive your USD1.8M
immediately we are trying to round up for this payment program.

The processing charges which was initially on the high price has been cut down
by the payout bank considering the poor economic situations that make it
difficult for the middle class citizens to meet up with the processing charges
of their entitlement. Upon the confirmation of your processing charges you will
get your $1.8M into
your account within 15hrs.

Here is the payment information through western union money transfer only,
finally my advice to you is not to abandon this transaction because of the
requirement of ($49) send the fee through western union or money gram.

Receivers name:Prince Egbo
Location address:Cotonou Benin Republic
Text Question: When
Answer: Today
Amount required: $49

Sender’s Name:
MTCN Number#:
Sender’s address:

Sender’s full banking details to avoid wrong transfer:
NAME AND ADDRESS OF BANK:
ACCOUNT NAME:
ACCOUNT NO:

As soon as the payment is received today, you will receive your $1.8M the same
today without any delay.

Yours Faithfully,
Mrs Vivian Douglas
Email:@gmail.com
+22961129879

I’ve deleted most of the mail addresses just to keep from running afoul or WordPress policy – again.

This is interesting in many ways. First, despite her assertion she’s been sending me these emails for a while, that is not so, otherwise I would have written of it before. Second, although she is talking about a “prince” in Benin, the email was sent from an Italian (.it) website and the response is to go to a gmail address.

A few more red flags: The addressee has been left blank, as has the “attn” line. If you don’t know my name, why are you contacting me with this offer? And learn to use the correct word. It should be “lose” not “loose”.

Then there’s the information they ask for. What the hell is an “MTCN” number?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but if you are foolish enough to actually send the forty-nine bucks and the information, you’ll have lost not only the $49, but probably everything else in your bank account. If you receive this email, or anything similar, delete it. Answering it will not result in you becoming a millionaire.

Since it’s Friday, enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

Hello. old friend

I finally broke down and bought new toner for my laser printer.  I had the manuscript for my autobiography (no, it isn’t finished yet – I’m still alive, aren’t I?) as well as two collections of short fiction I wanted to print.  Just because I can’t find a publisher doesn’t mean I can’t have copies on my bookshelves.  And living on a small government pension pretty much eliminates the idea of self-publishing, so the trusty laser and corner copy shop for binding it is.

It has been a while since I looked at the fiction and I found that reading these was, in some cases, like finding a new author.  I’d forgotten some of them, so each page seemed like a brand new story.  And I must admit, some of this stuff is really good, even if I must say so myself.

Once I’ve finished and have added them to the bookshelves, I’ll have something else to read, and some of the shorter pieces may find their way onto this blog under the general heading “weekend fiction”.  That way, you can decide if they are as good as I think.

Enjoy your day, try to stay warm and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

It isn’t necessarily accurate

I haven’t picked on commercials in a while, so I think it’s time I did.  Three targets today – one television, one radio and one from Facebook. Let’s start with the TV ad.

Recently the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has been running ads touting the joys and ease of using on-line banking to pay bills.  One such spot shows someone getting out their chequebook, some stamps and envelopes in preparation to paying their monthly bills – you know, that thing we all do once a month.  The ad also shows their identical twin sitting at their laptop doing the same thing and finishing much faster.  CIBC is pushing this so hard you would think this is a new concept and the “best thing since sliced bread” (what really is the best thing since sliced bread anyway?  Just asking.)  News flash for CIBC: while I know you were the first to computerize your account records back in the ‘60s, I’ve been paying my bills on-line through my bank for a couple of years.  Time to join the 21st century.

Radio next.  I’ve been hearing an ad for Pearle Vision (did you know they’re part of the Lenscrafters group).  At one point the woman voicing the spot mentions something to the effect they consider eye care a “sacred mission”.  Don’t know about you, but anytime someone says something is a “sacred mission” I run the other way.  Everyone’s eyes are different – different problems, prescriptions, or whatever.  If these people are fanatical enough to consider eye care a “sacred mission” I worry whether I’m going to receive what I need, or what they think I need.

Finally, Facebook. If you have a profile, you have seen all those annoying ads running down the right side of the screen. Sometimes I think these are written by people who have only the barest knowledge of English. The other day I happened to glance at one that suggested I could buy a vehicle with bad credit today.  Now why on earth would I want to buy a vehicle that has bad credit?  My credit is pretty good so why would I want to buy something that’s going to ruin my record?  A few more minutes working on the text for the ad would have been well spent and cleared up any possible misunderstanding – such as what I wrote here.  Perhaps that I was educated back in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, when teaching English was taken seriously accounts for my “language police” attitude on occasion, so I blame the education system.  A sidebar on this one.  About three months ago, a man and his son applied for passports and that was when the man discovered his son couldn’t write his name.  Cursive script is apparently not taught in  Durham Region schools any longer. Printing yes, but actual handwriting?  Don’t be so silly.

Enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

By the way, I usually write these postings in longhand, then enter them.

C.

I don’t need it

The following ad popped up on my gmail today:    Free Spell Check Toolbar – http://www.DictionaryBoss.com – Avoid Spelling Mistakes with Free Spell Checker – Download for Free!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t word processing programmes such as Word and WordPerfect come with spell check built in?  I know for a fact WordPerfect does because I sometimes use it, in fact I’ve got it set for Canadian English. I got Microsoft Word Starter as part of Windows when I got this system and yes, it too has a spell check feature (I just checked).  So why would anyone need to download a spell check programme from some outside source?

My concern with this particular programme being advertised is that I probably couldn’t make use of it for I suspect it is an American programme and would constantly correct words like “colour”. As I said, I don’t need it since I don’t use the American lexicon.  Another concern is this: what did they use as a source for their spellings?

Cat.

My head hurts

Following are two comments caught by WordPress spam filter.  These were intended for “Stick to the topic” (which seems to have become spammers’ favourite target on my site) and the other thing they have in common is that although they were under different names, they came from the same IP address.

I am shocked via the company’s written content with the web log. I just read content material using bated respir, and then I feel starving, because there are too little! Create concerning!

Suitable strike the niche tackled. Earlier this week When i talked over using this peers about this idea and even put forward the proposition when camping for the reason that I really don’t currently have. When i posted them to this web page, changed their particular scene on the condition.

My head hurts because I made the mistake of trying to translate these two examples of bafflegab into reasonable English.  I have no idea whatsoever what point either of these two comments are trying to make other than hope I’ll post them and give their websites some free publicity.   Well, that ain’t gonna happen.  Instead I’ll use them as material for another posting.

It appears to me these were originally written in some other language, then translated through some online programme into something resembling English, but don’t quote me on that.  They could truly be examples of the spammer’s knowledge and command of English.  I use the singular of spammer because these were from the same source.  I must admit I really can’t believe some of these people expect there messages will be posted when the language is so bad.  Then again, there are people for whom the use of a spam filter is a foreign concept, so yeah, perhaps the spammers are justified in their efforts.  But since most email providers have built-in spam filters and they are available free online for other applications, it makes no sense not to have one.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

I’m going to take something for this headache.  C.