Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Medical Alert Robo Calls

The "Card Services" people appear to have switched to a medical alert scam.  You'll get a call from a spoofed number saying, "Hello seniors," and it pitches a personal medical alert device.  I'm working on finding out who these guys are.  A previous company that did the exact same thing was supposed to have been shut down in November 2014 (http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/11/settlement-ftc-florida-attorney-general-stops-operations-used):

A settlement obtained by the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of the Florida Attorney General permanently shuts down an Orlando-based operation that bilked seniors by using pre-recorded robocalls to sell them supposedly free medical alert systems.
The settlement order bans the defendants from making robocalls, prohibits other telemarketing activities, and bars them from making misrepresentations related to the sale of any product or service. The order includes a judgment of nearly $23 million, most of which will be suspended after the defendants surrender assets including cash, cars, and a boat.
”This case is a great example of how federal and state law enforcement can work together to stop fraudulent telemarketing targeting older consumers,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC will continue to work with its state partners to protect senior citizens from pernicious schemes like this one.” 
“We must do everything within our power to protect Florida’s consumers. The scheme we have stopped allegedly targeted Florida’s senior citizens, and we, along with our Federal Trade Commission partners, have held these individuals accountable,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi.
According to the joint agency complaint, announced in January, the defendants violated the FTC Act, the Commission’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), and Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) by blasting robocalls to senior citizens falsely stating that they were eligible to receive a free medical alert system that was bought for them by a friend, family member, or acquaintance. Many of the consumers who received the defendants’ calls were elderly, live alone, and have limited or fixed incomes.
Consumers who pressed one (1) on their phones for more information were transferred to a live representative who continued the deception by falsely saying that their medical alert systems are recommended by the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the National Institute on Aging. In addition, the telemarketers falsely said that the $34.95 monthly monitoring fee would be charged only after the system has been installed and activated. In reality, consumers were charged immediately, regardless of whether the system was activated or not.
The court order settling the agencies’ charges also imposes a judgment of $22,989,609, the total amount consumers paid for monthly monitoring services for their medical alert devices. The judgment will be suspended as to all of the settling defendants once the individual defendants turn over cash and other assets valued at about $79,000, including $24,000 that was transferred in violation of a court-ordered asset freeze.
Assets that will be sold include a 2008 BMW, a 1984 Hans Christian sailboat, a 2004 Mercedes, and a 2008 Lincoln Navigator. In addition, defendant Joseph Settecase is subject to a second judgment of $39,300, which will not be suspended. This judgment reflects the funds that Settecase retained after selling his Ferrari in violation of the asset freeze and transferring a portion of the proceeds to another defendant.
The defendants subject to the settlement include: 1) Worldwide Info Services, Inc., also doing business as (d/b/a) The Credit Voice; 2) Elite Information Solutions Inc., also d/b/a The Credit Voice; 3) Absolute Solutions Group Inc., also d/b/a The Credit Voice; 4) Global Interactive Technologies, Inc., also d/b/a The Credit Voice Inc.; 5) Global Service Providers, Inc.; 6) Arcagen, Inc., also d/b/a ARI; 7) American Innovative Concepts, Inc.; 8) Unique Information Services Inc.; 9) National Life Network, Inc., and their principals 10) Michael Hilgar; 11) Gary Martin; 12) Joseph Settecase; and 13) Yuluisa Nieves.
One defendant, Live Agent Response 1 LLC, also d/b/a LAR, has not settled, and the FTC and Florida AG are seeking a default judgment against it. In May, the parties stipulated to the dismissal of The Credit Voice, Inc. as a defendant.

The State of North Dakota went after these guys as well. You can read the court filing here: http://www.ag.nd.gov/CPAT/AVC%5CC&DHilgar-EliteInfoSolutions-WorlwideInfoServices.pdf

The company that North Dakota sued is Elite Information Solutions, Inc.  509 S. Chickasaw Trl #393, Orlando, FL 32825 and 495 E. Semoran Blvd Casselberry Fl 32707.  They list a number of 888-522-4517, but be careful dialing it as it pitches some bogus gift card.  The company is owned by Michael R. Hilgar.

Indiana sued him as well:  http://kstp.com/kstpImages/repository/cs/files/Safeline%20Amended%20Complaint.pdf

It's strange that the 888-522-4517 still works....I'm wondering if these guys are still at it?




Friday, April 04, 2014

U.S.S. Cabot hit by Kamikaze: Remains of Propeller

My grandfather was the captain of a ship during WW II, and it was hit by a kamikaze.  The crew made an ash tray out of the propeller.  It reads, "Remains of Jap zeke shot down by U.S.S. Cabot.  Capt. SJ Michael, Commanding Officer, presented W.O. mess."

Unfortunately, when he was the commander of the Naval Air Station at Alameda, someone stole it.  I'm posting a photo of it here in the off chance someone owns it.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Google Glass Wearing Douchette Started Fight at Molotov's Bar

So the Chronicle had a story about Sarah Slocum, the woman that claimed she was attacked and rob just for wearing her Google Glass at a bar in the Haight.  As is clear from the video below, she baited the customers and was rude and obnoxious.  She's had a restraining order against her for videotaping a neighbor through a window, and even HER MOTHER got a restraining order against.   Google would be wise to vet their Google Glass guinea pigs a little better.

Buyer Beware: $3,800 to replace Hybrid Battery in Toyota Prius

Five different warning lights came on in my 2007 Prius with 154,000 miles on it.  I pulled out the owner's manual to see what each light meant, but it just said "see dealer" next to each light (so helpful!).  So I took my Prius in to the dealer and was informed that the battery needed to be replaced, for a whopping $3,800.  Mind you, that's just to replace the battery...not the transmission or the engine, which both probably have substantial wear and tear.

While I've liked my Prius, I would not buy another one, and I would warn anyone against buying a used one with high mileage.  In some states (including California) the battery is warranted up to 150,000 miles, but most states it's just 100,000.  It's not IF your battery will die, but when.  Why pay the premium for a hybrid, and take the risk of a costly repair, when many gas engine models get nearly 40 miles per gallon?  The answer is that you shouldn't.

Just another bit of advice from Dave.  You're welcome.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

History Exposed as Folsom Lake Water Level Drops

Low water levels near Damn

Random items found at old home site

Foundation of old home at Mormon Island

Low water levels

Piece of old boat

Gold Rush era bridge, normally under water







Indian grinding rocks next to American River (normally under water)



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Apple iTunes Radio Not Ready for Primetime

My first 24 hours with iTunes Radio are not encouraging.  With regard to desktop functionality on my Mac, there is no way to like or dislike a song. This is the key reason I use Pandora, and if they don’t add this lickity split there will be a problem.
 
On my iPhone, some of my stations allow me to select “play more like this” or “never play this song,” but others do not; the option appears, but nothing happens when you attempt to select it.  The big problem, however, is that songs play repetitively….I mean back to back.  I just heard Round Here by the Counting Crows three times in a row.  Other songs are replayed after just a couple of songs.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Converting a TIF to text

Let's say you scan a document and don't have the ability to save it as a pdf.  You have a TIF file.  Save it to your desktop.  Open Microsoft OneNote.  On the ribbon, choose insert, then picture, find the file, and select it.  Once it's in OneNote, all you do is right click over the photo, and then select "copy text from picture."  Then paste it into Word.  Note that you have to do this for each page of the document in OneNote.