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International Grand Committee

Facebook came under fire from lawmakers from nine countries at the inaugural hearing of the “International Grand Committee on Disinformation” held in London.

The landmark event saw 24 representatives from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, Latvia, Singapore, and the UK meet to debate issues including data protection, online disinformation and fake news.

The social network’s founder Mark Zuckerberg was repeatedly asked to attend but refused and sent Richard Allan, the company’s vice president of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Facebook is under investigation in various countries for reasons including Russian interference in the American elections, data privacy issues, unfair treatment of companies competing with Facebook, secret deals and more.

Referring to a report from a Facebook engineer that Russian IP addresses were accessing three billion data points a day on the network, committee chair Damien Collins, asked Allen: “If Russian IP addresses were pulling down a huge amount of data from the platform was that reported or was that just kept, as so often seems to be the case, within the family and not talked about?”

Allen said that the claim was misleading and taken out of context, but Facebook later issued a statement confirming the issue was looked into and told The Guardian “the engineers who had flagged these initial concerns subsequently looked into this further and found no evidence of specific Russian activity”.

The New York Times recently published an in-depth investigation which claimed senior Facebook executives had “ignored warning signs” about the negative impacts of its social network, and in some cases even sought to suppress or deflect criticism about its practices.

A representative from each of the seven parliaments participated in a formal signing ceremony for a set of ‘International Principles for the Law Governing the Internet’.

It seems there is much to do to bring Facebook’s behaviour into the open and force it to become an honest company.

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The Biggest Car Scams

There are numerous scams involving buying and selling vehicles and the most common online are:-

Bait and Switch – An advertiser promotes one vehicle but when you go to see it – there is a problem. That vehicle is not available for some reason but the dealer has lots of other vehicles to show you. This is called bait and switch and you should walk away as dealers who practice this are likely to only provide bad deals.

Attrition – the dealer or seller will delay and delay and delay in the hope of wearing you down until you agree to a poor deal for any vehicle.

Leasing Deals – More people than ever are switching to lease deals as they can provide peace of mind and can be financially advantageous. However, you must read all of the details very carefully and not end up trapped in a long term deal that you cannot break. Also, many adverts for lease deals appear very cheap but  they are for  unreasonably small mileage and that is kept hidden from you till you are ready to sign.

Second Hand Cars – These can be great deals but unless you know about cars you may want to take out an AA inspection or equivalent by an expert to show exactly what you’re buying.

Craigslist – A very popular place for buying and selling cars. Fake postings are very common. Watch for unrealistically low prices and take those as a warning.  Buyers with stolen cheques or long stories of why they cannot view the car in person but can you ship it to them are commonplace. Anything out of the ordinary in dealings on Craigslist should make you think carefully before proceeding. Craigslist does have pages of warnings on its website if you want further details about the typical scams to watch out for.

Scammers on Craigslist also use the over payment scam whereby they send you a cheque for a much higher price than you asked then contact you with an emergency request that they made a mistake on the payment and can you return the over payment. This is a bad idea as given time, the scammers cheque would bounce leaving you out of pocket from the cheque plus the amount you repaid to the scammer.

Warning Signs

  • Cars are priced far below current market value.
  • The seller claims to be in the military and is stationed overseas.
  • The posting does not include a phone number.
  • The seller demands that you use an online escrow service of their choice (these are always meaningless).
  • Payment must be wired to or from another country. Western Union is often requested.
  • The buyer or seller is very anxious to conclude the transaction.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email

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Wrong Domain Names

Before explaining about wrong domain names, we’d better clarify what’s meant by ‘correct’ domain names.

Appropriate or matching might be a better description than ‘correct’ but you can choose your own descriptive word.

The internet domain name chosen by a business or organisation or individual should match whatever they are selling or publishing or what they are.

That’s simple to understand.

Suppose you know there is a UK company called Flowersby, you can search using a search engine to find their website or could guess e.g. www.flowersby.co.uk or www.flowersby.uk or flowersby.uk.com maybe.

If Flowersby is an international company then I might try www.flowersby.com

Business, organisations and individuals normally pick domain names that make it easy for them to be found.

If I’m a UK company then I should choose a domain name ending in .co.uk or .uk or .uk.com

If I’m a local cricket club then I might pick e.g. “.cricket” or “.club”.

If I’m a non profit organisation then I would probably pick a domain suffix “.org”

Make it obvious to people what you are.

The Fightback Ninja has the domain name fightback.ninja for obvious reasons and because people associate qualities such as stealth, silent and deadly, expert etc. with the word Ninja.

Is there any harm in people picking unexpected or unusual domain names or domain name suffixes?

NO.

You have a wide range to choose from and often it’s the need to standout that leads to the choice of domain name.

So, what is a ‘wrong’ domain name?

Many domain names have restrictions on who can buy them. This is to ensure integrity and to stop unscrupulous people buying up domain names they think other people will want then forcing them to pay over the odds for the name.  e.g. .ac.uk is only for UK academic institutions.

“Wrong” domain names are where scammers pick up whatever domain names they can get cheaply, using an automated system and without any restrictions on who can buy them.

e.g. “.bid” was very popular with scammers as it is cheap and available to all. “.icu” is a new domain name that is becoming very popular with scammers for the same reasons.

Say you get a message about some piece of farm equipment but it’s from an email address ending in diabetescure.icu then you should be suspicious as it looks like a scammer has changed from selling diabetes scams to selling farm scams.

Likewise someone offering a price comparison but the email address ends in .xyz

If the domain name doesn’t match the apparent company name or subject of the message then be suspicious.

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The 118 Call Redirection Scam

Disreputable 118 directories businesses have been buying up out of use phone numbers – they chose ones that are very similar to popular numbers e.g. one digit wrong from Marks and Spencer or numbers from well-known companies that have gone out of business  e.g. Toys R Us.

Why do they buy these numbers?

So they can put what is essentially an advert for themselves but cunningly made to look as if it is instructions from the out of business company.

e.g. you call a number you think is valid but get a recorded message telling you the number is no longer valid and you should call 118 …….  You call them and you will be talking to a directory service which then charges you for calling and asking for the right number and likely charges you for every minute you talk on that new number.

This can catch people out and they can end up with hefty bills that are unexpected. In some cases more than £50.

Power Tel that run the 118 023 service has been fined £200,000 by the Phone Paid Services Authority for this scam.

Do you have an opinion on this matter? Please comment in the box below.

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