Back in April we brought you the story of James McCormick, who was found guilty in a British court of selling fake bomb detectors to several nations, including Iraq. When I was traveling in Iraq I saw his useless products, based on a novelty golf ball detector, being used at checkpoints everywhere. McCormick endangered the lives of countless people, including myself, and I’m glad to report that he’s now serving ten years in jail.
Well, not totally glad. A life sentence would be far more appropriate, but corrupt businessmen so rarely end up behind bars I’ll take what I can get.
Now another UK businessman has been sent to jail for peddling fake bomb detectors.
Gary Bolton, 47, of Chatham, Kent, has been sentenced to seven years in prison for selling what he claimed were sophisticated electronic devices. In fact, they were simply little plastic boxes with handles and antennae. The prosecution proved that Bolton knew they didn’t work yet his company Global Technical Ltd. sold them for thousands of dollars apiece to numerous security and law enforcement agencies in half a dozen countries, including Mexico and Thailand. Bolton also claimed they could detect drugs, cash, tobacco and ivory.
It appears Bolton may have been inspired by the success of McCormick’s bogus device, as one of them was found in Bolton’s home.
Who’s up for a good, old-fashioned tarring and feathering?
More and more adventure travelers are discovering Namibia, a nation in southwest Africa that offers deserts, beaches, safaris, and hikes. Unfortunately this rise in tourism has led to a rise in tourist scams. Namibia’s Mines and Energy Minister, Isak Katali, has warned miners to stop selling fake gems and minerals to tourists. Mining is big in the country, and many miners are independent prospectors who scratch out a difficult and hazardous living from the rock.
One way to make extra money is to sell their finds to tourists. This has proved too tempting for some, and they’re using their specialized knowledge, and the average tourist’s cluelessness, to fob off colored glass as precious stone. While most miners are honest, buying minerals and gems in Namibia has become a tricky game. Mr. Katali says this has already hurt tourism and the country’s reputation.
Namibia is certainly not the only country where cheap imitations are fobbed off to unsuspecting visitors. People will fake pretty much anything if they think it will sell. When visiting the ancient oasis city of Palmyra in Syria, I was offered a “genuine Roman coin” made of aluminum! Back in 2008, Italian police broke up a gang selling fake Ferraris.
Have you ever bought something overseas only to discover later it was a fake? Share your tale of woe in the comments section!
[Image courtesy Arpingstone]
The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission has uncovered a massive scam/scheme in which 1.8 million riders were overcharged.
The scheme netted 36,000 drivers an extra $8.3 million in cab fares, charging passengers about $5 too much for each ride.
The overcharging wasn’t even that hard for them to pull off – the cabbies would simply change their meter to a higher per-mile fare, reserved for rides in the Nassau and Westchester area.
When activated, the meter would show the new fare code, but I doubt anyone sitting in the back would actually notice. Sadly for the cabbies, the taxi commission did notice – and thanks to recording equipment and GPS tracking, they have been able to determine exactly which drivers were involved.
One driver – Wasim Khalid Cheema overcharged his passengers 574 times in one month, and has now lost his taxi license.
Of course, the cabbies are fighting back, claiming it could all just be one big misunderstanding. According to Bhairavi Desai of the Taxi Workers Alliance, the meters are to blame. Other cabbies join her – mentioning how easy it is to press the wrong button, complaining how small the buttons are on the meter.
Soon, New York taxi’s will be outfitted with updated fare warning systems, which will alert riders to the higher fare, and make them acknowledge the fare change on the rear displays mounted in New York Taxi cabs.
Imagine sitting at home and getting a desperate email from a friend asking for help after they lost their wallet on an overseas vacation.
The email address matches that of your friend, and the request sounds legitimate. But before you start sending them cash, be aware that you have probably just become the potential victim of a scam.
It’s the newest craze on many web based email sites (mainly Hotmail). The scammers hack their way into the email account of your friend, usually by guessing their password, and start sending out the “cry for help” to everyone in the address book. Eventually they’ll run into someone who falls for the trick and sends cash using a wire service.
The emails almost always start with “i misplaced my wallet on my way to the hotel” and you’ll notice that they don’t address you directly by your name.
So, if you get an email from a friend in need, call them, make sure they are OK, and let them know that their email account has probably been hacked. Let this also be a reminder that “password” is not a sufficiently strong enough password for your email account.