Category: information

Online Watch Link

Online Watch Link known as OWL is an online service for Neighbourhood Watches, the Police and associated bodies involved in preventing and stopping crime.

It’s designed to keep people informed of what’s going on locally relating to crime prevention for both the public and the Police.

It’s used by a lot of the Neighbourhood Watches across the UK but not all so if you input your postcode in the Find a Watch scheme box on the home page – you may well get the message “Sorry that postcode is not covered by OWL”.

OWL has been featured on Crimewatch and is growing in popularity.

The website is https://www.owl.co.uk/

Q. How does OWL help?

Local authorities send out alerts via OWL about crime and local issues in your area. It can help to prevent burglary, find missing people, makes people feel safer and catch suspects.

OWL Has National Police Approval

There is some advice on the website relating to various categories of crime, but the website is all about the OWL service.

Searching the Internet shows that many communities have incorporated OWL into their local information websites and neighbourhood watches.

Owl was created by a British company based in Hatfield.

It seems a useful tool in crime prevention and the more communities and Watches that us it the more useful it will become.

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Clickbank Causes Spam

For much of this year, there have been huge numbers of spam emails relating to a Flight Simulator game and to Wood Working plans.

These message seem crazy as they are so frequent and sent to the same people and surely if someone wants to buy a Flight Simulator package they will have done so and why would anyone in their right mind buy thousands of wood working plans, supposedly to instantly start a carpentry business.

But these two products are very very popular on Clickbank.

Clickbank is a marketplace for people selling products online (mostly digital products) and people wanting to make money by helping to sell those products as affiliates of the seller. These people earn commission for each product sold.

Typically an affiliate will use a website (their own or other people’s) and send out emails to attract people to a website that sells the product (sometimes  called a sales landing page).

This marketplace works well for a lot of people but sometimes very high commission is offered on stupid products and the world fills up with spam.

e.g. Ted’s Wood Working Product offers 75% commission to affiliates getting people to visit Teds sales page and buy the product.

The original sales pitch is for thousands of wood working plans for $69 but then there’s an upsell and more sells and the average purchaser ends up paying over $125 in total.

Ted’s Wood working claims to be number one 1 in Clickbank’s home and garden category for 5 years running, so people flock to try to sell the stuff and the world is full of stupid emails claiming you can make huge money making wooden objects within days of reading the plans.

e.g. 2. Virtual Pilot 3D Flight Simulator offers 70% commission on sales and claims sellers make an average of $88 per sale including upsells and more sells.  They claim to convert page views to sales at the rate of 8% so eight in every hundred people visiting the sales page go on to buy the product.

Again, people flock to sell this product and the world is full of stupid emails claiming this software can make you a real pilot or is good as actually visiting the places depicted etc. Idiots use any line to try to get people to the sales page.

Oh to rid the world of spam!

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Neighbourhood Watch

In these day of everything going digital, does the Neighbourhood Watch still have a role to play?

YES!

Neighbourhood Watch can provide security and assurance that nothing online can offer.

The Neighbourhood Watch scheme began in the United Kingdom in 1982 and is a partnership intended to bring people together to make their communities safer. It involves the police, Community Safety departments of local authorities, other voluntary organisations and individuals and families who want to make their neighbourhoods better places to live. It aims to help people protect themselves and their properties and to reduce the fear of crime by means of improved home security, greater vigilance, accurate reporting of suspicious incidents to the police and by fostering a community spirit. It is claimed that over 3.8 million households are covered by a neighbourhood watch.

Objectives of Neighbourhood Watch

  • To improve community safety generally including e.g. fire safety
  • To prevent crime by improving security, increasing vigilance, creating and maintaining a caring community and reducing opportunities for crime by increasing crime prevention awareness.
  • To assist the police in detecting crime by promoting effective communication and the prompt reporting of suspicious and criminal activity.
  • To reduce undue fear of crime by providing accurate information about risks and by promoting a sense of security and community spirit, particularly amongst the more vulnerable members of the community.
  • To improve police/community liaison by providing effective communications through Neighbourhood Watch messaging systems which warn Coordinators of local crime trends which they can disseminate to their scheme members, and by members informing the police of incidents when they occur.

Neighbourhood Watch schemes are run by their members through a coordinator and are supported by the police and in many divisions, a local Neighbourhood Watch Association.

A volunteer resident coordinator supervises the scheme and liaises with the police, they receive information and messages to keep them in touch with activities and some have marker kits, alarms and other security items, which are available to members. The schemes are a community initiative, which is supported by the police, not run by them, so success depends on what the members make of it.

Do Neighbourhood Watches Help to Reduce Door-to-Door Scammers?

The anecdotal evidence is that they do reduce this type of crime. This is largely because people are more aware of possible crimes and do keep an eye out for unexpected visitors to their doors. Also, door-to-door crooks tend to avoid areas where there are any signs of organisation against crime and Neighbourhood Watch areas are usually identifiable by stickers on homes and buildings.

If there is a Neighbourhood Watch in your area, then consider joining.

If there isn’t one, then consider starting one.

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Dodgy Business Loans

The big banks and lenders give business loans but there are also a lot of small operations that claim to offer business loans and sometimes how they operate seems very dodgy.

A recent email from social-credit.co.uk tells us that says we are eligible for funding options.

“We help you gain access to rates as low as 4.9% for Unsecured loans and 2% for Secured Loans (indicative).”

“Gain access to funds in 24 hours”.

There is a website social-credit.co.uk which isn’t about loans but about getting your ‘social credit report’ on a subscription basis.

There used to be a UK company called Social Credit Report but it was opened and closed by Jason Jamie Roberts in 2016.

He is currently a director of four other companies.

The bottom of the email says copyright 2017 loans2grow.co.uk so you might assume that is the actual lending company.

Loans2Grow is  not a UK registered company.

There is a website loans2grow.co.uk which lists the name Intatrade Data Network Limited at the bottom of the home page.

This is not a UK registered company name.

At this point I give up on trying to find a genuine company name – but I would certainly not want to have any business dealings with a business that seems to hide behind aliases.

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The Banks and Your Tax Residence

You may receive a strange letter from your bank or from a bank you used to have an account with, anytime from 2015 onwards.

There are endless phishing emails and calls from scammers pretending to be your bank. Mostly these are very amateurish and easily spotted but some are more sophisticated, look genuine and are harder to recognise as fake.

But the banks are sending out these unexpected letters about your tax residence and they are genuine.

These letters are in response to a piece of legislation called “Common Reporting Standards” which requires all banks to confirm their customers place of tax residence and report that to HMRC.

If you receive one of these letters, it may just mean that your account had an overseas phone number or address included or any other reason to question your tax residence.

If you are no longer a customer of the bank but did have an account with them since January 2015 then they have to ask the questions, even if the balance on the account is zero.

This is all part of a global crackdown on tax evasion.

If you do receive such a letter and you are unsure, call the bank in question using the telephone number listed on the back of your bank card or on its website.

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FEMA Concentration Camps

There are a lot of spam emails warning about FEMA concentration camps and offering ways to avoid ending up in such a camp e.g. buying specific guns, survival techniques and camouflage etc.

There are conspiracy nuts who believe that there are these camps across America and some even believe they are also across Europe and elsewhere .

Now, there is an organisation named FEMA in America and it stands for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and it is a United States government agency tasked with the management of major emergencies within the country, including ensuring the continuity of government during a large-scale disaster such as a nuclear war.

So, the camps exist – but they are storage for times of emergency. FEMA is also the largest flood-insurer in the United States in areas where private insurance companies don’t offer flood-insurance.

FEMA has been the focus of a lot of conspiracy theories, such as :–

1.     Shadow Government

FEMA is the shadow government which will run the show after the current government dissolves, through a series of executive orders issued by the President.

FEMA supposedly has the power to declare martial law and round up half a million American citizens into the concentration camps.

2.     Removal of Guns

Many believe that FEMA intends to take away all guns from private ownership. The sheer quantity of privately held firearms in America makes this an impossibility.

3.     North American Union / One-World Government

The camps will be used to detain dissenting US citizens after the consolidation of the North American Union in preparation for the establishment of a one world government or New World Order.

The Evidence

There are numerous photos and videos of these camps and some websites list over 800 such locations.  Some are FEMA camps and some are everything from National Guard training centres to Amtrak repair stations.  Plus, anyone can photograph or film these centres which doesn’t exactly make you feel they are anything secret.

The reason you don’t have private access to the camps is that they’re on military installations, which are generally not open to the public.

If you receive any emails about FEMA then just delete them.

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38 Degrees Campaigns

https://home.38degrees.org.uk

38 Degrees is one of the UK’s biggest campaigning communities, with millions of members.

Campaigns

10,891

Total actions taken

39,649,749

 

38 Degrees say they are independent of all political parties. They are driven by issues and outcomes, and judge all politicians by the same standards regardless of what party they belong to.

They don’t take money from political parties, government or big business.  The campaigns are powered by small donations from thousands of 38 Degrees members averaging about £12 per donation.

If you have an idea to make your community, or the country, a better place, Campaigns by You helps you make it a reality. 38 Degrees let everyone create petitions, organise meetings, and win campaigns on the issues close to their hearts.

38 Degrees launched in 2009 and now has over 3 million people involved in the campaigns.

Highlights

  1. They helped stop the government’s plans to sell off our ancient national forests.
  2. They stopped plans for a massive mega-dairy in Lincolnshire.
  3. They stopped Donald Trump’s plans to build a golf course at the expense of families in Menie, Scotland, who were at risk of eviction.
  4. They also helped convince the government to sign up to the EU Directive on human trafficking.
  5. They forced the 2012 Olympic sponsors not to dodge their tax.
  6. They stopped eBay from selling illegal bee-killing pesticides.
  7. They helped make sure plans to cover up investigations into MPs expenses were scrapped.

Current campaigns

38 Degrees members campaign on a variety of different issues all year round – from keeping privatisation out of our NHS, to keeping libraries open, to stopping Murdoch’s power grab of BSkyB. We’re concerned with defending fairness, protecting rights, promoting peace, preserving the planet and deepening democracy.

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Beware Dynamic Pricing

If you go shopping at your local shops, then you expect the prices of goods will stay basically the same. Inflation means there will be upward movement and sometimes special offers, but usually there are consistent prices.

Buying petrol is a difficult game as the price is set each day and petrol stations near each other will often change their prices to compete but there is usually at least a tiny difference in price for each petrol station you pass. You can fill your tank expecting the price to go up but it might go down instead.

Airlines have operated demand pricing for some time – the price fluctuates depending on the level of demand so passengers on the same flight may well have  paid a wide range of prices for the same seats from the early bird prices to higher last minute prices.

But what about online giants such as Amazon?

Amazon operate ‘dynamic pricing’ which means they will change prices frequently depending on demand and changing circumstances – this can be multiple times in a day but is more usually once or twice a week for many goods.

The weather forecast changes and the prices of some items changes accordingly. Monday and Tuesday are the least popular days for online shopping so there are more bargains to be had whereas the weekend is more popular so the prices go up.

Anything that potentially changes the level of demand can trigger price changes.

So, how do you deal with this?

It can be difficult to know whether prices for what you want are likely to go up or down but it can be advisable to watch the price of items for a while and see if you can get a good deal.

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Research on Mass Marketing Fraud

There is a project led by Professor Monica Whitty of the University of Warwick and it involves a number of Universities, enforcement agencies and private sector businesses.

Project Outline:

The DAPM (Detecting and Preventing Mass Marketing Fraud) project will develop novel techniques to detect and prevent online mass marketing fraud (MMF), a major and growing problem that generates significant social anxiety and psychological impact. DAPM will establish new foundations for:

  • Detecting assumed identities and persuasive messaging used by fraudsters
  • Delivering much needed insights into the psychological and technical factors that lead to poor decision-making on the part of existing and prospective victims of such frauds

Through a multi-disciplinary approach and close focus on co-designing solutions collaboratively and testing them ‘in the wild’, the project will generate not only new scientific understanding of the anatomy of MMF, but also tools and techniques that can form the basis of practical interventions in tackling such fraud.

Importantly, this work brings together academic and non-academic partners. Each organisation has different knowledge to share and can tackle the problem using different methods. Combining academic research with technical knowledge provides much greater capability to prevent and detect MMF.

The outcomes of this project will enable:

  • Increased trust in the digital economy by citizens due to developed science around MMF detection and prevention
  • Improvements in public safety and fewer victims of MMF crime.

Changes in industry tactics and public policy around detection and prevention of MMF

This sounds impressive and potentially very useful in the fight against scammers.

Background

Mass Marketing Fraud is a serious, complex and organised crime. Examples include foreign lotteries, advanced-fee scams and romance scams. Some are low value, one-off scams involving large numbers of victims; others involve developing a relationship where money is defrauded over time. The internet has opened up a vast array of opportunities for criminals to target potential victims and to trick people into making financial transfers in the name of charity, investment or love.

In the UK Action Fraud estimate that less than 10% of victims actually report this type of crime. Victims are unlikely to recover losses, offenders are often not caught and many victims are affected psychologically – often to a degree outweighing the financial loss.

Go to https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wmg/research/csc/research/dapm/ for further information.

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