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Stupidest Scam of the Week – Your Real Life Superpower Revealed

The email is titled “Your Real-Life Superpower Revealed”.

So this is obviously either a stupid quiz or a stupid scam message and this one is a scam.

It begins:-



Imagine being able to bend the world to your will.

What if you could use your mind to create a reality that you desire in the same way that Neo did in the blockbuster movie The Matrix?

Believe it or not, some of the smartest, most successful and most educated people in the world believe we are living in a Matrix-like virtual world.

Movies like the Matrix are great fun and very creative but they are just movies. How we think obviously influences our lives a great deal, but anyone who thinks that they can create their own world using the power of their mind is either permanently day-dreaming or heading for a major mental problem.

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The Danger of Internet Connected Gadgets in Your Home

Some homes are now filled with dozens of appliances, devices and children’s toys which can be connected to Wi-Fi and some are useful while others are just for fun, but if they are not fully secure the consequences can be unpleasant .

Often set with a default password or no password, these devices can  provide an easy route for cyber attackers to get into your systems and look for confidential information.

The Internet of Things

The “Internet of Things” is a name for the adoption of Internet enabled devices in the home. The idea being that more and more household objects will communicate over the Internet. Common such items now include thermostats controlled by an APP, smoke alarms that phone you, toys that access Internet stories and music, the Alexa and Google Home devices that you can say instructions to and they use WI-FI to control other devices or find information or translate something. This also includes Internet-connected “wearable” devices, such as fitness bands which upload your GPS co-ordinates and telemetry to the Internet so you can access the data on your PC.

Many companies are working on more of these Internet of things devices.

These devices can give out information to interlopers that you may not consider e.g. the recent case of American Special Forces soldier wearing fitness bands and their location being broadcast on Google.  OOPS.

How to Make Your Connected Home More Secure

  • Secure the wireless network. Use the WPA2 protocol if your broadband router allows that option.
  • Give your Wi-Fi network an unusual name that doesn’t identify your address e.g. General Electric.
  • If guest access is enabled on the network – disable it.
  • If your router is capable of creating two separate WI-FI networks then use one for computer devices and a separate one for household gadgets.
  • Always use strong passwords that cannot possibly be guessed by anyone e.g. a string of random words.
  • Login name is often admin or administrator by default – If you are able to change the login name then change it to something that cannot be guessed.
  • Disable any remote access for gadgets. If you ever need it for allowing the supplier to fix a fault then you can re-enable it temporarily.

Some of these gadgets have appropriate Internet security and insist on strong passwords etc.  but others have little or no thought of security, so you must take care to plug any holes in security.

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G Has Problems with Scam Callers

G. received a phone call from someone claiming to be from BT.
The caller told him there is a very important and urgent problem with your Internet router and we need to replace it.
“We will send a new one out to you immediately.”

G. wasn’t impressed and said that he wasn’t interested and goodbye.
The caller tried again – being more insistent this time.
“Your Wi-Fi is sending out dangerous signals and needs to be fixed”.

G. is a courteous person and didn’t want to offend but again said he wasn’t interested. “Goodbye”. He hoped the caller would leave him alone.

But next day the caller was back again. This time claiming there were problems with the Internet line and replacement kit was on the way


G. still didn’t want to be rude to the caller so politely asked him to stop calling, said ‘Goodbye’ And hoped that would be the end of it.

But the caller continued to call 2 or 3 times per day.

G. realised something had to be done so he set-up Sky Talk Shield on his phone.

This service stops anyone calling his number directly.

When you phone his number you get a recorded message from Sky telling you the number you’ve called  has Sky Talk Safe and to say your name and press 2 on the keypad.

When you’ve done that, the service calls G. and plays back the name of the caller. He then chooses to accept or refuse the call.

This service does have a cost but it does seem an effective way of blocking all unwanted callers and solved G.s problem with the fake BT caller.

A quicker way of dealing with this type of persistent scammer is to tell them exactly what you think of them, using direct language – have a good shout, it does you good.

If you haven’t worked out how G. knew from the start that it was a scam call – he didn’t have a BT line, only Sky.

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Don’t Feel Guilty About Being Scammed

There are many crimes for which the victim is likely to feel angry, upset, threatened and so on but there are also crimes for which the victim may feel partially or completely to blame.

Fraud is one of those crimes that leaves many people feeling foolish for having fallen for it and this is a key reason why a high percentage of frauds are thought to go unreported.

A recent Barclays survey of 1,500 people who have been victims of fraud shows that one in four fraud victims has not even told their partner what happened. The same number feel that being scammed would be more embarrassing than doing a live performance or being stood up on a date.

The words “stupid” and “angry” are commonly used. Yet the survey also suggests that it happens to all of us. For this reason, Barclays ran a series of “Embarrassing Fraud Clinics”, in places such as shopping centres, where the public could talk about their concerns. The idea was to get the message out that we are all potential victims but there is no shame in being defrauded.

Barclays Advice on Dealing with Fraud

  1. Don’t feel guilty

Do not feel ashamed and guilty. Instead remember that fraud happens to people from all walks of life.

  1. Contact the police

Report it to Action Fraud and your bank (if relevant). The quicker you do this, the more likely you are to recover any losses.

  1. Get advice from your bank (if relevant) e.g. Barclays say they are happy to offer such advice.
  2. Talk about it with friends, relatives, colleagues. Spreading the word raises awareness of fraud and helps other victims to deal with it.

Advice on Protecting Yourself Against Fraud by Scammers Caliming to be from Your Bank

  1. Never give your online banking PIN, passcode or password to anyone, even a caller claiming to be from the police or your bank.
  2. Your bank or the police will never ask for your details by text, email or phone, or request that you transfer money or make a payment to a “safe” account.
  3. Don’t rely on the caller display on your phone or SMS messages claiming to be from Barclays – fraudsters can manipulate these.
  4. Always cover your PIN to prevent anyone from seeing it, and don’t let anyone distract you during a transaction

Stay safe!

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The Damaged Roof Scam

This is a doorstep scam that has been happening in the Hampton area of Surrey recently, but is common in many areas.

One or more men knock at your door and say they have damaged your roof accidentally and are willing to fix it free of charge. They usually claim to have been working on next door’s roof when the accident happened.

Doesn’t sound like a scam so far, BUT they will need something that requires a deposit such as scaffolding. They had the cheek to tell one resident that he would need to pay £2,500 deposit for scaffolding for just a few hours.

Fortunately he recognised the scam, as otherwise they would have taken the money and disappeared.

They may claim the roof is damaged or the guttering is broken or in some cases they offer a free check of your roof tiles. Once on the roof they deliberately cause damage and demand an exorbitant price to fix it.

One resident says:-

This exact scam happened to me some months ago. “I am sorry, my ladder accidentally caused your roof damage. I will repair it at no cost”. It sounds like the same gang. Foolishly I allowed him to go up and he then caused damage which I had to get repaired. Yes, follow them and get vehicle number, but do not let them spot you as they then know where you live.

A local roof tiler says:-

“I was called to a job last week where two guys offered a free inspection and once on the roof removed ridge tiles and then refused to put them back unless the owner of the house paid them £350

He told them to come down and reported them to the police.

He then called me and I re-cemented the ridge tiles back and changed some broken tiles at a reduced fee as the

The various residents involved have all reported this to the Police, who already knew about the fraudsters and they have been caught.

However, there are numerous other gangs who also operate this scam.

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

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PDFs Are Not as Safe As You Think

We are all used to having to be careful opening certain emails, zipped files,  WORD, EXCEL and other types of files in case they contain some kind of malware – virus, ransomware, Trojan etc.

But most people feel safe opening PDF documents.

However, scammers are using PDFs more and more as attachments in email or malicious downloads on websites.

PDFs can contain javascript programming which can have malicious intent and they can contain links which of course could go to any website.

Microsoft Malware Protection Center released a list of PDF filenames that are commonly used in malicious emails and websites. Scammers keep making new names of course.

  • pdf_new.pdf
  • auhtjseubpazbo5.pdf
  • avjudtcobzimxnj2.pdf
  • pricelist.pdf
  • couple_saying_lucky.pdf
  • 5661f.pdf 7927
  • 9fbe0.pdf 7065
  • pdf_old.pdf

Q. How can you protect yourself against malicious content?

Most of the PDF exploits use Javascript so if you disable that then a large part of the problem is blocked.

However, common sense goes a long way in protecting you.

  1. Do not open an email or download anything that is sent to you by someone you don’t know
  2. Make sure your email settings are on high protection and your anti-virus and anti-malware programmes are working
  3. If there’s a file on email you really want to open but aren’t sure then save it and then scan it (usually you right mouse click and select scan – depending on which anti-malware solutions you use)

Of course, you should run regular scans of your computer to ensure no malware has been installed.

How to Turn Off Javascript in PDFs

If you use a programme other than ADOBE for opening PDFs then you’ll need to check how to disable Javascript. If you use ADOBE then see below:-

  1. Start Acrobat or ADOBE
  2. Select EDIT then PREFERENCES
  3. Select the Javascript category
  4. Uncheck the Enable Acrobat Javascript option
  5. Save and exit

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Neighbourhood Watch

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


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.

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

The Wangiri Phone Scam

This is the call back scam, which has risen to epidemic levels in Ireland.

Ireland’s phone operators say that tens of thousands of scam mobile phone calls are sweeping across Ireland in an “unprecedented” surge.

The calls, often have international prefixes including +231 (Liberia), +269 (The Comoros Islands), or +43 (Austria) and are intended to trick people into phoning back at premium rates.

The numbers are high cost international numbers and the fraudsters will get paid for each call back. The fraudsters will try to keep you on the line for as many minutes as possible.

The scam is known as a ‘wangiri’ call, (means one ring) because the mobile phone typically rings just once or twice.

The scammers hope that people will automatically call back without looking too closely at the number.

The telecoms watchdog admits there is no easy way to identify such calls but advise not calling back unless you know the number that called you and certainly do not call back if left a blank message.

Some mobile operators do block these scam numbers as they are identified and that stops them  from calling their customers and blocks their customers from returning the call.

If your receive such calls, then notify your phone company of the calling numbers.

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