Tag Archives: scams

Meow Wolf’s new Denver development is urban predation in sheep’s clothing.

Terra CottaDENVER, COLO- Alternatively, Santa Fe alt-art venue Meow Wolf is URBAN DEVELOPMENT IN CAT’S CLOTHING. Here’s the scam: Laud an arts collective of “creative types”. Let them pitch an arts space project to city planners for which you’ll supply the ownership investment. Let their non-profit creative-class cred prompt city leaders to provide otherwise unavailable land and the tax incentives and exclusions which come to cultural projects. Let them lead community fundraising to support art etc etc. You buy the land, you own the building, and you give them a 20-year lease. Their rent is subsidized by more community and city support. Cha-ching.

In the end, you’ve got another property, where you mightn’t been able lacking eminent domain. And you’ve roped in long-term tenants whose rent checks are backed by taxpayers. When your cronies lobby the city against that public support and their project is a bust, or when the lease expires, your sky is the limit! How can you lose?

Normally you pull this scam on locals, but art communities have their own MBA grads now. So how to subvert urban artists? Bring your own hicks.

In Denver, developers are using a New Mexico based band of bohemians called Meow Wolf as their shill intermediaries. Meow Wolf is a sort of Cirque du Soleil meets Halloween haunt house, in Santa Fe, who secured their own “permanent” leased space only last year with the backing of Game-of-Thrones creator George RR Martin. It’s the reverse of course, because Meow Wolf attracted the public subsidies for the pulp author turned property developer, who keeps the building.

Now someone has decided Meow Wolf can franchise their black-light immersive fun-houses everywhere that low-brow passes for art.

For 2018, Meow Wolf has rolled Denver for a new construction downtown. Except no, they and their public support get only a LEASE. Flush with praise for their success, the Meow Wolves admit they’re working on simultaneous metropolises across the west, even as they appear so fresh off the boat they hardly know what they’re doing!

They don’t, but their landlords do. Those crazy creatives!

Capital strikes again and again…

This is completely off the wall (street) but I had to laugh at it anyway.
There’s one of those K-Tel type commercials, if you don’t remember K-Tel then go ask your mommy, kiddo.
Now it’s “As Seen On TV” or, as I like to call it, a warehouse in New Jersey where they keep the money they freeze on your debit card, something like a hundred dollars if you order twenty dollars worth of crap (plus shipping+handling but that’s another story) and collect interest on your money for a month until they decide to finally process your order and take the hold off your account. All very legal and ethical if you have the morals of George Bush on crack.
This newest product is something called Slim Away Belt or something really lame like that.
It’s… a corset. An invention that was first marketed during the Dark Ages when torture was considered fun of some kind. So they take a thousand year old device to keep women from enjoying life, changed the laces out for zippers et voila ici, it’s still a corset. It would come in handy as a back brace in case you ever do real work. But when they talk about getting in shape without any effort you realize… never mind.
It does show a guy using it during exercise in order to sweat off water weight which somehow gives him sculpted muscles. Sorry, it just brings out my Inner Snotnose when I see what looks like an elaborate joke but costs money if you actually buy into it.
Aside from the moral tie in to the rest of Capital, which is an equal scam mechanism, like auctions which cost money even if you don’t buy anything

Fox puts $ where mouth is, admits phone whore best career chance

In one of their many late night commercials which seem to have a lot to do with sex products. It’s a recruiting ad for women to do “phone valet” work in the “telecommunications industry”.
Other ads, not as spicy, but just as hideously depressing “Yo Name TOBY, boy!” that show your destination to be eternal slave-level jobs… go to Tech School and be an entry-level nurses aid, orderly, grease monkey or similar Peasant Work.
All that “American Dream” crap they sell about deregulated Capitalist economics affording everybody a chance to become CEO of a multi-trillion dollar corporation… purest bullshit.
When it comes to what they REALLY believe your “career” opportunities to be, it involves coveralls or scrubs or a chambermaid uniform… or perhaps a whore. Glorify it how they will, they speak great words of “Land of Opportunity” if we only allow the Corporates to have their way… and then tell us how they really regard us in the commercials.
Republican Hypocrisy in action.

QuiBids internet racketeers threaten Not My Tribe with scam legal letter

McAfee and Taft OK Super LawyersGame On QuiBids. We received a letter today from an Oklahoma law firm, on behalf of “QuiBids LLC,” apparently the preeminent of “penny auction site” confidence scams, who took exception to our earlier look-see into their rip-off operation. Frankly, I assumed our cries of foul were latecomers, while someone more responsible was ringing the OK attorney general. As QuiBids has the temerity to threaten “whatever action is necessary,” I’ll make the call personally. As it is I already feel duped for reprinting the letter below, because it reads like typical QuiBids fake advertorials. Name-dropping Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, yada yada. And of course: “Sadly, the same cannot be said about some of QuiBids’ competitors,” the we’re-not-like-the-other-con-artists routine. The phoniest passage pretends that QuiBids “was forced to file suit against another online penny auction site for its unlawful activities.” HAHAHA. Unlawful activities are prosecuted by the state, you flunkies. As you’ll learn presently.

Actually I am 100% certain that charges are already filed, and this aggressive PR is a smokescreen. I’ll post all ensuing developments.

By the way, consumers can contact BBBs to register complaints, but a business membership does not imply endorsement. Same with the Chamber of Commerce. And WHO considers the chamber any kind of arbiter of ethical business practice? That mindset comes from someone who didn’t stray beyond the business school building. Hohoho. Who does QuiBids take us for? Their marks?

To be clear, QuiBids and the “penny auction” ilk are neither auctions, nor gambling sites. Whether or not they deploy shill bidders or mischievous software, the QuiBids money-for-nothing scheme is fraud.

A penny auction website pretends to offer “dibs” to the last customer who puts money in the pot, and proceeds to collect “bid” payments for a virtually unlimited time span, until the last desperate player decides he’s lost enough.

Whether or not the victim is entitled to purchase the item at full retail price, as a consolation, does not mitigate the fact that they were duped.

Look no further than QuiBids’ own protestations. QuiBids differentiates itself from “the other penny auction sites” which it asserts without a hint of irony, are inherently guilty. Oh do go on, QuiBids, expound for us on the illegality of your competitors…

Add to the fraudulent transaction, the deceptive methods used to promote QuiBids. And now, contriving a legal threat to fain legitimacy. McAfee &Taft appears to be a significant law firm, why does this letter read like a QuiBids promotional blurb? We need to forward this to the partners McAfee and Taft themselves, to show them the sophomore crap being circulated under their letterhead.

At the risk of simply spreading the Quibids PR drivel, here it is.

McAFEE & TAFT
A PROFESSIONAL CORPORATION
10TH FLOOR – TWO LEADERSHIP SQUARE
21 NORTH ROBINSON – OKLAHOMA CITY, OK 73102-7103
(405) 235-9621 – FAX (405) 235-0439
www.mcafeetaft.com

Ryan L. Lobato
Attorney at Law

September 3, 2010

VIA EMAIL AND CERTIFIED MAIL RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED

Eric Verlo
editorial @ notmytribe.com
Not My Tribe
29 E. Bijou, Room 222
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Re: Trademark Infringement

Mr. Verlo:

We represent QuiBids, L.L.C. (“QuiBids”) in intellectual property and other matters. It has come to our attention that on June 19, 2010, you authored an article on your website titled “Scriptmatix ‘penny auctions’ such as Quibids are less scams than pure fraud.”

QuiBids takes great exception with your article, which calls QuiBids a “scam,” “patently dishonest,” and a “con game.” Your allegations are manifestly untrue. QuiBids presently has a ‘B+’ rating from the Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau rating will improve to an ‘A+’ rating once QuiBids has been in business longer than a year. QuiBids offers its services in a forthright and moral way and works hard to distinguish itself from its less-ethical competition. QuiBids does not use shills or bots to drive up the price or decieve consumers, and QuiBids strives diligently to ensure customers know exactly what is going on at all times, without hidden fees or rigged competitions. Sadly, the same cannot be said about some of QuiBids’ competitors. In fact, QuiBids was recently forced to file suit against another online penny auction site for its unlawful activities such as inducing customer confusion and employing deceptive advertising techniques.

QuiBids’ reputation for being above-board is the driving force behind its success. Within the course of a year, QuiBids has become the largest online penny auction website and it continues to grow. QuiBids closes more than 6000 auctions per day and is a member of the local Chamber of Commerce. QuiBids is, in short, a valued member of the community and is not a “scam” or a “fraud.”

In view of the above, we are writing to ask you to retract your article. Publishing false, malicious and defaming material about a business is against the law. Damages for such conduct include actual and punitive damages, for which you may be held personally liable. It is precisely because QuiBids cares about its good name and reputation that QuiBids will, if need be, take whatever action is necessary to protect it. It is sincerely hoped that such further action will not be required, but instead a speedy and amiable resolution can be reached.

Please let me know within seven (7) days of the date of this letter your intentions with respect to deleting, removing or retracting the above-referenced article. I would be happy to speak to you personally about this matter should you so require.

Sincerely,

Ryan L. Lobato

Consider this certification of our receipt dude. You have my number. All communication will be recorded and forwarded to the appropriate authorities.

Scam auction site Swipebids poses French celebrity Melissa Theuriau as generic newsperson all over the web

Penny Auction Swipebids ads feature fake newsPenny auction scammers know their audience. Stupid Americans aren’t going to recognize one phony news reporter over another, even if it’s French anchorwoman Melissa Theuriau. Imagine if Lisa Hartman’s misnamed image popped up in embedded advertorials.
 
Not only are fake “penny auction” news pages posing the A-list celebrity as a generic TV spokesperson, but ads have been placed across the internet, on authentic media like MSNBC. Certainly the banner ad managers of MSM websites know that Theuriau is not shilling for penny auction scammers.

Filipina teenage actress allegedly has Botox for role

That’s… taking things a bit far. OK, it’s taking things WAY too far. Teen actress Charice has “anti-aging” treatments including Botox, WHY?
The encouraging of young girls as young as toddlers to wear makeup, when makeup is designed specifically to make you look YOUNGER, that’s a marketing scam worthy of note, and people have noticed it.
So the notion of injecting Poison into your skin to look like a Teenaged girl, understandable in somebody who’s much older than teenaged, seems kind of redundant in a child.
Imaginary Conversation in The Sandbox “yes, dahling, this makeup takes years off my appearance, now instead of looking 18 months I look like a newborn, only, you know, not as tiny. However, the diet regimen my beauty counselor has me on will take care of that part as well”
“Oh, yes, I can see the results… that one over there, though, she’s 4 and looks 5… perhaps she could use the benefit of your counselor?”
Our society is SO screwed.

The whole scenario is like something I saw on Alfred Hitchcock long ago, where a lady is having a home beauty treatment (although from the plot “lady” wouldn’t be the proper word, “bitch” seems more appropriate) and the beautician, who has been abused by her for years, assures her that the treatment will keep her looking young forever.

Tetra-ethyl lead, the ingredient in Gasoline that nobody uses anymore, toxic, people who can remember back that far or watch a lot of older TV shows remember “Regular or Ethyl?” then it became Regular (with the lead) or Unleaded. Yeah, people used to pump your gasoline for you at service stations.

Also a preservative once used in mortuaries. Beautician wasn’t lying about that part, by the time she got around to telling the Extra-Abusive client she was already paralyzed from the lead.

Another currency scam, like the Bass Brothers pulled in the 70s

There’s an infomercial on TV right now, for the “presidential dollar coin” collector series. Seems, according to the Sellers, who have apparently bought up a huge amount of these coins…
Are warning us that there’s a conspiracy run by unscrupulous coin dealers to buy up huge amounts of these coins in order to manipulate the currencies market by saying that current buying trends on these coins indicate they would be a Hugely Profitable Investment…
But they fail to mention, only if enough people fall for their scam.
The Bass brothers did that in 1977-78 with the silver market, buying up just enough of the available silver, starting a rumor that some powerful Multi-billionaire investors were buying silver, thus driving up the price of silver… then dumping it en masse on the market.

They scored billions of bucks, paid a few million in fines and served not a single minute in jail or in handcuffs for this massive ripoff. Much like the Real Estate investment scams that are being ramped up once more, “buy foreclosed homes at pennies on the dollar with (yeah, we’ve heard this before) GOVERNMENT guarantees on the mortgages, then “flip” them for HUGE profits! Attend our seminar to find out how… only a thousand dollars per day for a week-long seminar. But Hurry! This is a Limited Time Offer (umm… I’m familiar with elementary physics, there’s nothing infinite, not even time…)
and you must hurry before The enraged people realize that they’ve been had and run us out of town on a rail err… umm… The market tanks again due to these blatant manipulations err ummm… before they close the loophole or some other unseen force like the laws of physics, simple economics and maybe good common sense occur on a massive scale and we just simply won’t be able to offer it anymore, yeah, that’s the ticket…

Scriptmatix “penny auctions” such as Quibids are less scams than pure fraud

Shell games tempt only the gullible, don’t they? So long as YOU don’t fall for them, what’s a little income redistribution among wretches? That’s an attitude shared only by the uninitiated. So-called internet “penny auctions” exploit human vulnerability like trust and avarice, leaving victims to blame their own stupidity or greed. You may shrug off getting burned as a lesson learned, but all confidence tricks count on that. Websites like Quibids and Scriptmatix’s PennyAuction are neither novel discount methods, adventure shopping, gambling scenarios or lotteries. They are con games that lead you to believe you are getting something for your money, until you don’t.

Just because YOU can figure it out -from an objective distance- doesn’t mean Quibids is not patently dishonest. US laws governing fraud are enforced by local statutes, but common law is enough to define this internet scam as representation of falsehood with the intent to profit. Whether or not the auctions use shill bidders, or fail to honor unprofitable outcomes, as have been accused by disgruntled victims, the websites are misrepresentations. The former are obvious illegal practices. The latter is fraud. Or are we so cynical that we accept this kind of scam as merely “predatory capitalism?”

Wikipedia defines fraud in layman’s terms:

1. a representation of an existing fact;
2. its materiality;
3. its falsity;
4. the speaker’s knowledge of its falsity;
5. the speaker’s intent that it shall be acted upon by the plaintiff;
6. plaintiff’s ignorance of its falsity;
7. plaintiff’s reliance on the truth of the representation;
8. plaintiff’s right to rely upon it; and
9. consequent damages suffered by plaintiff.

In particular this scam begin with what’s known as the advance-fee fraud except this buy-in is ongoing and lasts until a mark is tapped-out.

Quibids and ilk call themselves “penny auctions” as if there is such a thing. Onlooker suspicions are assuaged by the inherent implication that if a business scam has a name, it must not be a crime.

Are penny auctions a veritable thing, besides the self-defined new crook on the block? Well, yes, but. The “penny auctions” of yesteryear had nothing to do with these pay-to-play auction schemes where bidders buy vouchers for the privilege to ante into a bidding pool. Penny auction refers to the Depression era strategy of sabotaging farm liquidation auctions by forcing the auctioneer to accept bids in increments of one penny. Aided by cooperative neighbors, bankruptcy victims were able to grind their creditor’s actions to a halt, for a time, because collusion was itself unlawful. Obviously this is a far cry from the neo penny auctions which require customers to buy “bids” with which to place dibs on a desired item, increasing its auction price by a penny each time and prolonging the bidding for another fixed period.

On Quibids, price and time increments can vary between auction items to confuse watchers trying to do the math. As an average, a bidder might pay 60 cents each time he wants to put his name on the desired item, raise its price a penny, and extend the auction expiration by another ten seconds. The last person to cease paying money to keep the auction up in the air gets the item for the final price. But the final cost includes of course what he paid to play.

Imagine musical chairs except you pay 60 cents for every successive measure, an unlimited number of party-goers circling a solitary chair. So long as somebody pays the piper, everyone gets to stay in. Except they’re not “in” are they? Only the last person who put money in gets to take the chair.

The music stops when the next to last person refuses to ante up.

On the internet, the victory or loss is experienced alone. Your embarrassment is “shared,” but anonymous. Now imagine a convention hall, full of sidelined bidders who dropped out as they realized the insanity of paying into a potentially endless kitty whose real value to them represented a diminishing return. Imagine dozens or scores of former adversaries looking on as the last man standing gets the chair, everyone else leaves empty handed and empty pocketed, while the house rakes in the pot worth many times the value of the chair. Think that scam would fly in a non-virtual world?

In the real world, marks who’ve fallen victim quickly learn that there’s a racket of onlookers quick to step in and silence any complaints. Try to warn off the next bystander who looks like they’re about to fall prey and you’ll see exactly what criminal muscle lurks behind the charm of the charlatan.

Oh, it’s a silly, silly hook this penny bidding scheme, and online it’s hard to tell how many dupes are actually taken in. We have only the Quibids customer relations departments to assure us that none of the other bidders are phantom bots or paid shills. It would be so easy of course for the javascript to be otherwise. The same voices explain that Quibids can afford to offer its auction items at these unbelievable discounts due to the income derived from its inventive bid-selling process.

Simple math suggests they could award a winning lot several times over and still keep a tidy profit. Yet their FAQ explain that 50% of their transaction result in an operational loss. If indeed this is true, that percentage is factoring the auctions they offer for packages of “bids,” where customers place bids to win more bids. One can only hope that buyers are given the upper hand on these transactions. Otherwise the 50% percentage tabulates the auctions by number and not their dollar value. Quibids’ losses are phantom, worthless bids sold at a fraction of their worthless value, versus their profitable ones, where $200 consumer goods net $1000 or more.

That kind of scheme resembles a lottery where more tickets are purchased for a fixed-sum reward. Quibids deflects categorization as a gambling scheme by explaining that auction losers have the option to apply their losses toward the retail price of the item, if they elect to purchase it as consolation. How many players take them up on such an offer, only they know.

Upon losing the Christmas raffle, would having the option to buy the turkey at above retail price be reassurance enough for you to prove the affair wasn’t in reality an unregulated raffle?

First of all, the sites use very clever software, and a money-changing scheme to defy the average grasp of math. But the trap mechanism well oiled, the more duplicitous energy goes into the promotion. Quibids is using social networking and email to expand the reach of the news outlets they ensnare. Our attention was drawn when this week the Colorado Springs Gazette directed its readers to this exciting new discount website.

A scan of the various “penny auction” websites would seem to indicate they are using identical software. That opens a whole other can of worms, doesn’t it? This could be an installation one can license, just as one would WordPress or Zen Cart. In fact there is a PHP setup marketed by Scriptmatix who charge $1,250 plus for an installation. First they nail people greedy enough to want Nikon D90s for next to nothing, then they turn their dupes into willing con artists themselves.

Here’s a screen grab from the Scriptmatix brochure, where they explain what kind of return eager entrepreneurs can expect on their $1,249 investment.

It might look like a safer legal recourse to franchise the “penny auction” scheme and let client operators do the defrauding and ultimately face the authorities. Maybe selling the blueprint to a confidence trick does not constitute a crime. Unless of course you are pretending to peddle a fully legitimate business model that you know is actually against the law. We’re back to fraud.

Of course the key to convincing users that your site is not a ripoff lies with successful PR. It’s very likely that many of these multiple installations are Quibids figuring out how to outrun Google searches of Quibids+Scam. Aptly-named rival Swipe-bids for example looks more to me like a designated heavy, meant to make Quibids appear to be honest by comparison. Who knows how many websites this operation has used to elude tar and feathers.

Here’s the SWIPE-BIDS website whose main page stream a promotional video, actually for a competitor, as if it was its own. On watchdog sites, Quibids cries foul, but it’s hard to tell what argument is authentic.

Does “swipe” seem a term well chosen to inspire trust? It’s as obvious as a black hat in a wrestling match. Of course “Quibids” is the most poetic choice for truth-in-tradenames. “Qui” is French for who and doesn’t that account for the mysterious identity of who is bidding against you?

And the watchdog websites sprouting up to monitor the penny auction eruption are themselves shadow operations. Any “penny auction watch” that prefaces their posts with the concession that some auction sites are good and some are bad, is obviously shilling for someone. They may be a village idiot with no concept of the scamming afoot, or they’re innocent at all. But this is speculation.

By all appearances, these sites are reaping Keystone times six, and simply drop-shipping the goods.

A legal indictment of Quibids can precede a formal investigation based simply on their of self-promotion. Theirs may look like expertly crafted PR, and these days of diminished expectations about the objectivity of our media, it may suit many to congratulate the charlatans on their savvy, but Quibids’ self-promotion documents their intent to defraud.

Layers of press releases and paid editorial columns appear to shore up a single real news item which the Quibids outfit eked from an Oklahoma news team earlier this year.

At right are stills from KWES NEWS9 reporting about Quibids, as far as they were told, a home-grown auction website.

Quibids hasn’t chintzed on PR, but they do appear to lack for real faces to front their operation…

According to their own site, Quibids was the brainchild of Oklahoma City entrepreneur Matt Beckham, joined by Shaun Tilford, Jeff Geurts, Josh Duty, Bart Consedine, and spokeswoman Jill Farrand. The 27-year-old Beckham’s identity is confirmed by the Quibids.com domain registration.

Have a look at who NEWS9 is interviewing for the so-called customer testimonial. The kyron reads “Zach Stevens” who purports to be thrilled with the deal he’s gotten on Quibids.

Do we know whether this interview footage was pre-packaged for the NEWS9 team? The distinction is unimportant, but we might note that the cuffed sleeve does not belong to the female reporter.

This TV segment streams on the upper right corner of the auction sites, serving as a de facto suggestion of the site’s legitimacy. The footage streams in a very small window.

But enlarged in these captures, a closeup of “Zach’s” laptop and username reveals this “customer” is none other than Quibids’ owner Matt Beckham, smiling like he has no idea the perp walk that awaits him.

Obama talks of lowering the deficit even as he does the opposite

ponzi-schemeObama sure knows how to talk out of both sides of his mouth at once! And that’s exactly what makes him and the Democratic Party so dangerous to the American people. With the Republican Party of Open Violence everybody knows what’s coming down, but with the Democrats it’s quite different.

Here’s the latest Obama-con as the mass media hits us with… Obama Seeks to Halve Deficit to Half Trillion Per Year by 2013 all timed to hit us with headlines across the nation in the corporate dailies’ Sunday issues today.

So how is Obama, with as corporate loaded a Cabinet as ever was, going to reverse course from his new give outs to the corporate big guys, and now tax them as he says he will? How is he going to cut the military spending even as he sends 17,000 or so new troops into Afghanistan? How is he going to tax corproations more even as he gives out more tax refunds to everybody right away? Barack Obama surely is the guy who can talk out both sides of his mouth at one and the same time, isn’t he? It’s amazing! Slick Willie and his triangulation abacus had nothing ever at all that the duo team of Barack and Hillary we now are stuck with for 4 years can’t match and even double in shenanigans.

We should all be very concerned with this double talk. Barack is setting the deck for a ruling class attack on what the rich call ‘entitlements’, but what we know as social programs… programs like Social Security… for just one example. Yes, General Barack is not going to cut the real billion ton gorilla entitlement program that is known as the US military, but is going to go after social programs, even as he double talks to us about expanding them! We are being scammed. The Democratic Party with Barack Obama at the helm might just be running the biggest ponzi scheme of them all on the American public?

How does it all work? Well just study the cartoon picture that leads this commentary off. Say one thing and do another.