Sunday, May 29, 2011

How To Stop Spammers, Scammers & Hackers On Your Facebook Account.

The best way to keep bad people out of your Facebook account and life is to manually change your Facebook privacy settings.
You go into account setting, privacy, and  then go "custom".
You choose who you want to see your posts and who you don't.
I choose "friends only" for everything... which sounds ridiculous because I have a whole lot people I've never met from all over the world on my wall because of this blog.
You will note, however, there are not pictures of me plastered all over my wall.
None of my work product is posted.
Nor do I post when I am on vacation and my house is empty.
And I suspect if I lived somewhere other than in the middle of nowhere, accessible primarily by boat, then  down a long dirt road no one ever finds on first try, I would be a whole lot more private than I am.
On Facebook, I keep my quotes generic, my links entertaining.
I see the wall as a business vs a social tool.
It's up to you how much privacy you want, how much you are willing to give up.
Every single one of those gift, game applications, the ones that require you enter a door to engage, are stealing info from you with your permission.
That's why I don't use those or keep them on my wall.
And every person who friends you, or charms you, or instant messages you could be a wolf in sheep's clothing.
So many people pretend to be someone else.
They read your interest and say they have the same.
Worms worm their way into your world.
I think we can all agree, no one wants invaders/hacker entering their Facebnook domain.
Here's one sure-fire technique, I and many others use, to keep our Facebook pages under our control.
It makes us the masters of our own privacy by a simple change in the web browser window.
These instructions are easier than they sound.
Make this change today, spread the word, and our cyber world will be a wee bit safer.
Check your URL address (the very top box on your screen.) If you see "http:" instead of "https:" you DO NOT have a secure session & can be HACKED. 
Go to Account - Account Settings - Account Security - click Change. 
Check the "Secure Browsing" box, and click Save. 
FB has automatically set it on the non-secure setting! 
Do your friends a huge favor by copying and posting this in your Facebook Status bar."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What Facebook Is For

Facebook Predator Love Story

He was a lonely child and he was bullied in school by homophobic kids because he had a feminine affect and was clearly attracted to boys, not girls.
He lived in a rough town.
He'd been beaten up one time too many and he withdrew into himself.
His well-intentioned single  mother said she couldn't get the school to do anything.
She had no money, was on disability from when she fell off a ladder and broke her back.
There was a rods and bunch of screws in her spine.
They lived off food stamps, welfare.
She said because she has no money, she has no leverage.

Then one day, someone from her church gave her son a laptop.
After that, he figured out how to ride someone else's wifi waves free.
So at the age of 15, her son joined Facebook.
Within 6 months,  the predator started contacting him.
It started with a friend request.
It ended in written correspondence she laid out on the table in front of me.
Loads of letters written from various prisons he'd been moved between.
I am looking at his name and mug shot right now.
He is 42 years old,  looks younger.
To me, he looks like the guy who stepped forward a while back... confessed he was the killer of Jon Benet Ramsey and wasn't.
That guy got his 15 minutes of fame and then some.

The boy's mother gave me her son's stalker's picture and copies of the letters  after she asked if I could do anything.
"I have no money to pay you," she said, "but the police, they can't do anything. The prisons aren't helping. I don't know what to do."
After reading the letters... I said I'd help and that's what I am moving to next.
Prisoners are big into the internet,  on Facebook,  My Space.... posing as regular people and trolling the net for victims.
The prison versions of "Be My Pen Pal" sites get huge hits.

It won't take too much time to pull some documentation together to stir up the pot big-time.
Because the man writing her son is a convicted sex offender and has three assaults and robbery on his record.
He is also attracted to young men only... and he has targeted this particular young man....
let's call him Jason....
who is a minor.
He says he loves Jason at least 10 times in every letter.
His letters are a cycle of emotions -- from positive to negative, from promise to threat.
They are sexually graphic.
His letters say that nothing.... and no one.. not even the police.... or Jason's mother....
will keep them apart because God (who the convict discovered in prison) wants their heavenly union.

And Jason's mother said her son told her she's all wrong about the convict...
Jason said the guy is really a good guy who is just misunderstood.
He told his mother he loves his prison pen pal.
She thinks Jason will run off with him if he gets parole.

The last letter written said:
"I've got my next parole hearing in three months. I've been a very good boy and when they let me out, I'll come straight to you, wherever you are. You always feel accepted and loved. I will protect you. No one will keep us apart."
I got that visceral feeling I always have when danger is imminent.

Jason wasn't home when his mom told me all this.
I was there on another matter.
It just so happened she trusted me enough, or was desperate enough, to share all this with me.
And it just so happened it bothered me enough  that I agreed to help him.. and her.

Mom discovered the letters while "cleaning" his room.
She was changing his sheets and saw a little piece of paper peeking out from beneath the mattress.
Then the whole file folder came out.
Her response to the correspondence was probably a lot like mine, only tenfold....
because it was happening to her kid, not mine.
She was aghast, anxious, angry and terrified.
Her son clearly had been engaging this man in correspondence for almost a year.
When she confronted her son, he told her he was in love.
When she called the police, then the prisons, then her senator and everyone else she could think of... she said they treated her like a nutcase.
She said one man told her that her son would be 18 soon. Let it go.

It was hard for me to imagine no one would take a prisoner writing a minor seriously.
However, the mother's affect was not one I would call consistent and credible.
She had her own issues, a whole lot of anger...
and her rage could accelerate from 0 to 60 in just a few seconds.
She cursed worse than a sailor.
No wonder, I thought, her son wanted out so badly.

And so I open a case file on this guy.
I will assemble and study the correspondence.
Develop the time lines,  trace the path he's moved from prison to prison.
Figure an angle to completely cut the kid off from him that will make the kid believe it is the right thing to do.
Because mom's response to the letters was to take his beloved laptop and throw it on the floor.
That's when he discovered internet cafes, internet at libraries. Mom said that's where he's been all day instead of school.
He stopped showing up for school shortly after the letters were discovered.
He refused to go back and said he'd get his GED online.
And even though no more letters arrived at the house... she is convinced the two are still in touch.

The whole thing is one big mess and he turns eighteen soon.
Based on the letters , the older man is so in love with this kid, he's got the kid convinced he's the only one in his life who cares. He's planning to take him to Mexico.
All the kid sees is beaches, sunshine, a sugar daddy lover and definitely not a child molester.

My plan here is to step things up a bit. To shake the tree. To contact the prison he's at and have a talk with the warden about the letters. To make sure the parole board knows about what he's up to.
I also got off the phone with an attorney, on a weekend no less, who agreed to help, pro bono...
because he too has children and a big heart. We will all work through the attorney.
The attorney is the key to actions like these.
Attorneys add direction, power, credibility.
They open doors by mere mention of legal action.

Still, I don't know if we will be able to do anything to stop the overcrowded prison system from releasing him.
Sooner or later he will get out.
And no one, ultimately, will stop Jason from doing whatever he wants when he is an adult.
What concerns me is how easily the prisoner found him on Facebook.
What concerns me even more is Facebook is saying they are primed and poised to target a younger market now... even though they're already at it.
Kids 11 and younger.

May I say (and excuse my french) WTF?
Facebook is no place for kids.  It is a hunting ground filled with predators.
That might sound hypocritical considering I  am one of those people with loads of people I don't know on my Facebook page.
Then again, I am a grown-up. I am old. I am wise. I am cynical.
And I am using my Faceboook and this blog for business vs. social purposes.

Today, young people are socializing this way, on the net, through networks.
Primarily Facebook and  MySpace.
Unless they are monitored closely by their parents (which most aren't), kids on social networks are ripe for the picking by pervs and perps who target them by both pictures and profiles.

That said, it made sense and seemed harmless to me when Facebook decided to target the 50+ market.
I thought it would be a great way for older folks reconnect with the past and market their businesses or network.
I am, however,  extremely unimpressed with the notion of skewing Facebook younger than the college market it was originally intended for.In fact, I think expanding and marketing to minors is irresponsible and dangerous.  Reprehensible even.
And it's a social and criminal tsunami already building momentum.
Check out this article from 2010.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Re: End of The World

I had an older "end of the world" video up this morning.
However, a few of my trusted sources told me it was tacky.
One even said it was not the least bit funny.
That was all it took for me to take it down.
I like to be funny where the end of the world is concerned.
Otherwise, the subject of our planet's demise can get a bit depressing.
And blogs being what they are.... fluid works of art, always in motion.... I came to three conclusions:
1. The preacher who predicted the world would end yesterday is a few beers shy of a six-pack and definitely got his dates wrong.
2. The Mayans aren't the only ones who called a different date. Twitter knows the truth too.
They're already prepping for it.
3. I had to take the You-Tube down and replace it with the one below.
It's from a few years back, so you can imagine the work they've done by now.

Twitter and the end of the world 2012

Saturday, May 21, 2011

P.I. Drive By

Use to be, I was eager to tell people I am a P.I.
Brought me business and conversation...
A degree of mystery.
I was the delight of dinner parties and campfires.
And after a life time of writing.... about others lives...
and others' adventures...
suddenly I had my own adventures to tell.

Now it's all different.
I want to be invisible.
Just do my job and go home.

As a self-employed Private Investigator,  working mostly for attorneys, every day is different.
There is no morning a P.I. wakes up and can know, with any predictability, what and who the day will bring.

This can tick those who are close to the P.I. off because: social occasions are missed; plans are canceled at the last minute; and the hours we keep are often when others sleep. No one can predict when a crisis will happen.

We deal with lawyers as clients (best and easiest).
Or we deal with the general public (hardest and most treacherous).
The former (lawyer) affords investigator/client privilege.
The latter (general public) opens us up to a world of unhappy and occasionally dangerous physical, and legal, perils.
The investigator hired by and going through, an attorney, on a specific case... has all work product protected.
Not so when you work for an independent person without legal protection.

Right now It's Saturday night almost 10:00 pm.... the sun just set in Seattle.
The alleged end of the world didn't happen tonight at 6:00 pm.
That's a definite plus.

I recently got back from an Indian reservation after a case came in unexpectedly.
For privacy reasons I can't write specifically about the case, and have to change identifying factors about what happened.
I can say it was bad.
The DEF's pick-up had two people in it... both drunk, one driving.
They were headed around a bend and swerved across the double yellow line head-on into a sedan with one driver, dad... his wife beside him... and their five year old in the car seat behind dad. They were  all stone-cold sober. They were all headed out for a day of sight seeing,
The DEF/drunk car hit the sober car head on at a high rate of speed, yet the family's car's airbags did not deploy.
There was little damage to the drunk car, however, the family car  went spinning into a tree and one person was killed instantly.
That dead person was the mother, the passenger.
And she was my client.
Speaking for her would be her husband, who survived.
The five year old son also survived.
Also her  grieving mother and father were present at our initial meeting.

I went to their house, where she lived for 30 years.
Then to the road-side cross, where she died in an instant...a heartbeat... a chest to the steering wheeel. On the scene, I squatted down with my camera in hand... and read all the deep, emotional and private words people write on those hastily and artfully erected roadside memorials.
I photographed the scene... the sentimental items delicately wrapped around the crosses and flowers beside them,  from jewelry to pictures and poetry.I am always struck by the reverence of death.

I've been encountering quite a few of these dramatic and traumatic cases lately.
They all seem so important to me.
And  investigating on behalf of the victim, or the victim's family... gives me a sense of value that being a criminal defense investigator never did.
Instead of making excuses, I am making things happen with statements, photos, police reports, records releases... whatever it takes to convince an insurance company....or jury... when an injured person is hurt by someone it else, it is indeed life-altering.
Someone has to pay the bills.
I believe it mustn't be the innocent victim.

And so tonight.... I return to the blog and share the thoughts in my compartmentalized mind...
with the intent of doing so on a more frequent basis.
I will soon be writing a book and will use this space as a place to hone my skills...
provided people still read it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

NozzleRage: Attack of the Pump - Brutal

Crime Rate Goes Up With Gas Prices

I posted  a link to my FB wall this morning re gas prices.
Now I added another to blog because I figure it will be a fine counter-balance to the animated gas price statement below.
It comes from "The Commonwealth of  Kentucky."
According to Wikipedia: "Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth. The others being Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts".
People don't think about Kentucky much when they think about gas.
Yet people in Kentucky sure are thinking about gas prices, as are we all.
Next time you're on the freeway, look around.
You'll find yourself surrounded by road warriors like me, people who earn their living by driving from case to case, or client to client, or job to job.
Many of us not only have to come up with gas money up-front for later expense reimbursement, we're being confronted at gas stations by druggies or crooks who want some of our "black gold... texas tea."
It's a high octane jungle out there.
Watch your step. Be ever vigilant... and fiscally conservative.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Mother's Day Musical Interlude

Found these two cool You Tube clips just before heading out the door.
Won't be back again until this day has passed... thought these would be fun to leave in my wake.
Truth is, I wouldn't be here at all were it not for my mom.
Nor would you.
Good, bad, ugly, indifferent, insufficient...
without moms, there is no us.
And sometimes, I think it's the flaws in our upbringing that hone us. 
Fine tune the chords.
Make us more able to cope.
Call your mom....
or say a prayer for her today.

Blast from the past.

Scientific Mother's Day Melody

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bad Guy, Private Eye: Anthony Pelicano

Anthony Pelicano used to be the man in the Hollywood PI world.
He was known as" PI to the Stars."
However, his star fell out, exploded, imploded, whatever... when his secret world, his dark chambers were discovered and exposed.
He broke almost every law in the book.... violated privacy, laws, rights, expectations...  and ended up in jail. I know someone who knows Pelicano.
Talking about the shamed PI this morning with him,  prompted me to post the Pelicano story in this blog today, for those who may not know it.
The You Tube that follows is best summary I could find.

Anthony Pelicano

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Powerful Speech, Powerful Nation

I've been looking for this particular cut of this particular video every chance I've had since I first heard  it on a talk radio show two days ago.
I finally found it tonight.
The visual is not good.... however,  the message is what it is all about.
That being pride in our people, our soldiers young and old.
Pride in a nation built on blood sweat and tears...
tolerance and diversity.
Pride in a job well done.
The  response was impromptu...unstaged...passionate....
the enthusiasm is infectious.
Belated Kudos to America's heroes.

US Naval Academy Commandant's Speech After Bin Laden's Death

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sia - I'm In Here

We hear you.

You are not alone. We hear you. I hear you.
If you feel you are not being heard,  step up, speak up, maybe a little louder.
Ask questions.
Ask for help.
Do not give up without unlocking the thoughts in your head and letting them loose.
You might unleash a box of demons, or you might free them and rid them from your life.
Key is, if you live alone, inside your head, 24/7...
and those thoughts turn dark,
they  can indeed on themselves and you or others.
So the key is to communicate, not isolate.
Reach out, don' t cut yourself off.
And don't let anyone else cut you off either.
The first thing someone who tries to control you does is isolate you... from family and friends.
They attempt to take all your power.
Do not hand it over.
Do not give up.

Today's investigations which begin in a few moments when I race out the door for the boat...
are on behalf of those who refuse to give up.   Who are speaking up. Who are fighting back.
We, the attorneys, the investigators, the criminal and civil justice system are your voice.
Just open up...
do let anyone... including... yourself, cut you off from help.