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Archive for December, 2009

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

MOVE YOUR MONEY

Tweek! Twits for the Week of 2009-12-27

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

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Tweek! Twits for the Week of 2009-12-20

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

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Att WoWers: Don’t Be Scammed!

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

This morning I received an email that claimed to be from wowaccountadmin@blizzard.com apparently concerning my World of Warcraft, or WoW, account.  Immediately I was circumspect.  The email had no graphics and the English was shoddy.  Still, I worried that some people may fall for it.

If you found this blog post by searching for info on the letter, you're already one step ahead - you checked it out before sending in your account info. 

Always do this!! I cannot stress this enough.  No company that does business online will ever ask for your personal account information via email.  Never.

If you truly believe your account with any company or agency is in jeapordy (this goes for bank accounts and credit card accounts, too), then contact the company/agency directly via email and/or telephone.  Ask them if they sent such an email and speak directly with someone about checking into the problem.

However, never click on the links in these emails.  They may take you to a fake website that looks like the real thing - just enough to fool you.  If you log into your account on this fake website, they have you.  A keylogger has just stolen your user name and password.  Do not call any phone numbers given in the email; this too could be a fake designed to get the information from you.  Instead, open your web browser and type in the address of the company/agency yourself, or Google it.  Never, ever for any reason click on links in a scam email - at the very least, the website that opens can download a worm, virus, or spyware onto your system.

The email may look legit - even with graphics and, sometimes, even citing the actual agency's Terms of Use or Privacy information (copied from the actual website).  However, if the email is asking for personal information, immediately be wary and do some checking.

You see, these scammer scumbags are masters of human engineering.  They use triggers to get you to do something you might not normally do.  You see a message, like this one, appearing to come from Blizzard (the makers of World of Warcraft) telling you that your account is in jeapordy.  They accuse you of trading or selling accounts; your first reaction is to panic.

"I'm not doing that!" you think.  At once, you want to rectify the situation and clear your name.

Then they hit you with the big fear factor - your account will be deleted and/or disabled if you don't act now.  The thought of losing an account - for people that have put literally hours upon hours of work into - is a frightful prospect.  The same if they are threatening to close or freeze a bank or credit card account.

Someone that does not know what to look for or does not know the scammer tricks might easily fall prey to this kind of scam.  It doesn't mean you're witless, so don't feel bad.  These mugus are masters of their craft.  They dupe people every day into giving up personal information, bank accounts, credit card numbers, etc.  The best you can do is to stay aware and learn what to look for.

For those looking for more information on this particular scam, which claims to come from Blizzard concerning a World of Warcraft (WoW) account, and for those of you that would like to know what to look for, here is the email I received:

Greetings!
It has come to our attention that you are trying to sell/trade your personal World of Warcraft account(s).
As you may or may not be aware of, this conflicts with the EULA and Terms of Agreement.
If this proves to be true, your account can and will be disabled. It will be ongoing for further investigation by Blizzard Entertainment's employees.
If you wish to not get your account suspended you should immediately verify your account ownership. If the information is deemed accurate, the investigation will be dropped.
This action is taken because we at Blizzard Entertainment take these sales
quite seriously. We need to confirm you are the original owner of the account.
This is easiest done by confirming your personal information along with concealed information about your account.
You can confirm that you are the original owner of the account by replying to this email with:

Use the following template below to verify your account and information via email.
* First and Surname
* Date of birth
* Address
* Zip code
* Phone number
* Country
* Account e-mail
* Account name
* Account password
* Secret Question and Answer
-Or-
WoW CD-Key
Show * Please enter the correct information
If you ignore this mail your account can and will be closed permanently. Once we verify your account, we will reply to your e-mail informing you that we have dropped the investigation.
We ask you to NOT change password until the investigation is fully completed.
Blizzard Entertainment Inc
Account Administration Team
P.O. Box 18979, Irvine, CA 92623
Regards,
Account Administration Team
Blizzard Entertainment

Another thing to look for - shoddy English.  Most of these scammers are overseas and English is not their native tongue.  Sometimes it's easy to catch, others it's not so obvious - but pay attention to subtle details in the grammar and word usage.  This is another tip that the email is from a scammer and is not legit.

Note that they, also, used Blizzard Entertainment's actual contact information.  Again, they will sometimes use actual text and/or images from the real company or agency's website to appear more legitimate.

If you were to respond to this email and give our your account name and password (which Blizzard will never ask for), you have just lost your WoW account.  The scammers will go in, change your password so that you cannot access it again, and then do whatever they want with it (use it for farming or sell it).

At that point, there is little you can do and that is why it is so important to pay attention to every email you receive asking for any kind of information from you.

Always be aware and alert - remember that not everything that comes through your inbox is legit and it's better to be cautious than sorry.  Trying to get your identity or account back after a scammer has stolen it is next to impossible and causes quite a lot of headache and money.  Learn what to look for and always think before hitting Reply.

Tweek! Twits for the Week of 2009-12-13

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

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Uganda Bill To Kill Gays

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

As you may have heard – or maybe not as the mainstream media hasn't been giving it much press – The Republic of Uganda in East Africa wants to kill gays.
Those blunt words aren't used as mere inflammatory rhetoric; I'm quite serious.  A bill that may – and likely will – be passed in early 2010 in Uganda seeks further punishment, which includes the death penalty, for homosexuals.

Already homosexuals suffer from few rights and harsh penalties under the anti-gay government.  In a land caught between a surge in evangelical Christianity (which believes homosexuality is a sin) and a nightmarish AIDS crisis (which has killed over 19 million Africans, 3.8 million of them children; of the 34.3 million people in the world infected with HIV, 24.5 million of them are in sub-Saharan Africa), homosexuals are seen as a dire threat.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, authored by lawmaker David Bahati, therefore, has garnered more support than ire in this ominous environment.  Bahati claims the legislation is about "promoting family values".

Punishments under its directive are severe; not only for being gay but for anyone who supports or hides/helps homosexuals and it seeks, also, to obstruct any sort of aid or advocacy for LGBT rights.  The bill imposes seven year prison sentences for even discussing homosexuality or advocating for LGBT rights and life imprisonment for homosexual acts with death meted out for a second offense.

Wording of the Ugandan bill is as follows:

A person who aids, abets, counsels or procures another to engage in acts of homosexuality commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for seven years.

A person who purports to contract a marriage with another person of the same sex commits the offence of homosexuality and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for life.

A person who … who acts as an accomplice or attempts to promote or in any way abets homosexuality and related practices; commits an offence and is liable on conviction to … imprisonment of a minimum of five years and a maximum of seven years or both fine and imprisonment.

The full text can be read at Box Turtle Bulletin here.

If a person is accused – and found guilty – of gay sex and is, also, found to be HIV-positive or infected with AIDS, the sentence will be changed from life imprisonment to death under the charge of "aggravated homosexuality".  The charge also applies to those who are convicted of homosexual acts more than once; the penalty, again, is to be death.
While Uganda's president, Yoweri Kaguta, has not "formally" endorsed the bill, he is said to be happy with it and has allowed it to pass through Parliament.  Many of his top officials have spoken out about the bill; mainly to express their approval.  James Nsaba Buturo, the Ethics and Integrity Minister, feels "joy" over the bill as he believes it will "provide leadership around the world".  Whatever that means.

A three year prison sentence will also be set for those who are aware of another person's homosexuality or become privy to homosexual acts and fails to report it or turn the homosexual(s) in within 24 hours.  Reaching even farther, the bill also intends to punish Ugandans who engage in homosexual acts in foreign countries.  Even escaping the oppressive, anti-homosexual regime does not make a gay Ugandan safe it would appear.

As horrifying as all of this may seem, it may be a placating thought to imagine this is all happening in a land far away; a barbaric country being fueled by the fear of a major AIDS crisis and delusions from a very powerful evangelical Christian community.  The truth of the matter is, however, that America has played a part in this travesty.  In fact, conservative American Christian leaders who visited Uganda earlier this year helped lay the groundwork for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

From the Box Turtle Bulletin article, "Anonymous Ugandan Blogger Wants Answers From American Anti-Gay Activists":

An anonymous Ugandan gay blogger — gay bloggers are well advised to remain anonymous in Uganda — provides a fairly comprehensive backdrop against which three American anti-gay activists will be stepping. Nazi revisionist and Watchmen On the Walls co-founder Scott Lively, Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, and Caleb Lee Brundidge of Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation will be conducting a seminar on homosexuality in Kampala next weekend. The conference is being organized by Stephen Langa, Director of Kampala-based Family Life Network.

It goes even deeper.  In "Follow the Money: The American Connection to Uganda's Death Sentence for Gays" over at Box Turtle Bulletin it is revealed that David Baharti, author of the bill, is part of the now infamous Family, outed this past year in Jeff Sharlet's inside-look and tell-all book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and a preacher of "dominionism" (taking over dominion of the world through Christ, essentially), who also attended the conference has refused to officially denounce Uganda's impending bill.

Some of the organizations tied to the conference in Kampala have come out denouncing the bill; others have not.

While we may view what is going on in Uganda with horror and disbelief, we also need to realize that there are people in our midst – in our churches and in our government – who believe in what is happening over there.  These same people, if they thought they could get away with it, would be – without a doubt – attempting to pass the same type of legislation here in America.

Under the guise of Christianity, these pseudo-pious individuals make a mockery of everything Jesus Christ stood for and what the Christian church is supposed to represent.  Love thy enemies?  No, instead, let's just kill them.  Wait – doesn't that go against one of the 10 Commandments?  That's okay, because these ignorant bigots and xenophobes are just making it up as they go along – letting their "faith" take them whichever way gives them more power.

Tweek! Twits for the Week of 2009-12-06

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

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