fake http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/674/all en-US Quick Hack: How To Age a Digital Photograph in Seconds http://www.wisebread.com/quick-hack-how-to-age-a-digital-photograph-in-seconds <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/quick-hack-how-to-age-a-digital-photograph-in-seconds" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/Ye Olde Pig.png" alt="Ye Olde Pig" title="Ye Olde Pig" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="189" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Aging a photograph used to be quite a skill. In fact, only the best retouchers could pull it off convincingly. Computers made the process easier; and programs like Adobe Photoshop have &quot;actions&quot; that can make it happen ever quicker and easier. But now, all you need is your digital photo and one Japanese website that can do the conversion in seconds.</p> <p>As a professional in the ad industry, I'm often required to create visuals for presentations. This weekend, I needed to make a modern photo look at least 70 years old. I searched online for video tutorials that I could use in conjunction with Photoshop, and it looked like it would take about 30 minutes of my time. Then, just before I set about performing the task, <a href="http://labs.wanokoto.jp/olds"><strong>I stumbled upon a link</strong></a> that did the job for me in seconds. And when I say that, I don't mean 300 seconds. It's more like 3 seconds.</p> <p><a href="http://labs.wanokoto.jp/olds"><strong>The site is Japanese</strong></a>, but fortunately it comes with an English translation (look in the top right corner).</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u17/japengcorn_0.png" alt="" /></p> <p>You simply open the photo you wish to transform, hit the &quot;convert&quot; button and almost instantly your aged photo will appear on screen. Then you can save it and do whatever you need to do. The site costs nothing, the service costs nothing and the results are very impressive. For something that is as quick as it is, and completely free, I have to say it's one of the best links I have ever found for such a handy tool.</p> <p>Here are a few before and after photos. I did all three. Judge for yourself it you think it's a good tool. Personally, this one now has a permanent place in my bookmarks folder.</p> <p><strong>Piggy Bank - New And Aged</strong></p> <p><img width="300" height="450" src="http://i627.photobucket.com/albums/tt353/pmichaelwb/1194864109_cfbb2a0147_b.jpg" alt="" /><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u17/Picture_2_9.png" style="width: 307px; height: 454px;" alt="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Shuttle - New And Aged</strong></p> <p><img width="300" height="400" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u17/3547764663_8bc964d586.jpg" alt="" /><img width="300" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u17/Picture_4_4.png" alt="" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>My Girls And I - New And Aged</strong></p> <p><img width="300" src="http://i627.photobucket.com/albums/tt353/pmichaelwb/daddybook2.jpg" alt="" /><img width="300" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u17/Picture_5_2.png" alt="" /></p> <p>As yet, I don't believe the site has the ability to handle hi-res files, but this is a great start for bloggers, scrapbookers, card makers and journalists. Enjoy.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quick-hack-how-to-age-a-digital-photograph-in-seconds">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-ssn-can-now-be-accurately-guessed-using-date-and-place-of-birth">Your SSN Can Now Be Accurately Guessed Using Date and Place of Birth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-the-nasty-secret-of-the-craigslist-free-section">Beware, The Nasty Secret Of The Craigslist Free Section</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-a-deal-every-time-you-shop-with-these-tools">Get a Deal Every Time You Shop with These Tools</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sit-in-on-a-class-at-mit-for-free">Sit in on a Class at MIT for Free!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/search-online-for-a-fix-before-you-toss-that-broken-gadget">Search Online for a Fix before You Toss that Broken Gadget</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Technology age effect fake old online photo photoshop tutorial Tue, 18 Aug 2009 19:00:08 +0000 Paul Michael 3509 at http://www.wisebread.com The Awesome Art of Getting Great Deals Online http://www.wisebread.com/the-awesome-art-of-getting-great-deals-online <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-awesome-art-of-getting-great-deals-online" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/411453602_d56a3b88a4_o.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ah, the modern marvels of being able to type a few things in, click your mouse, and have a desired object delivered to your place in a few days. Even tumultuous economic conditions don't mean so-called ecommerce is going away; rather, it stresses being a savvy, frugal shopper, and opens up opportunities for businesses to attract your attention.</p> <p>Whether it's buying or building, <strong>being resourceful helps you score the same great stuff at lower prices, and possibly faster delivery</strong>. (Think MacGyver marrying the A-Team.) The following isn't an exhaustive guide to each and every to-do under the sun, but it <em>is</em> experience-worn advice which I'll gladly impart for your benefit. It mainly concentrates on buying in the US of A, but the principles are mostly true worldwide. I'll also specify for the scope of this article, by &quot;Stuff&quot;, I mean possessions you can carry (like a microwave) or at the most, can transport around (like a car) &mdash; so, not a new house.</p> <p><em>Let's dive in with the spirit of Scrooge McDuck, then!</em></p> <h2>Know where you're looking</h2> <p>Some questions have very easy answers. If you're looking for books and other sundry merchandise, you'll almost always go right with Amazon.com. Yes, I know it has competitors &mdash; as well as other sellers which've partnered with it &mdash; but 2 special things call it out:</p> <ol> <li><strong><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/subs/primeclub/signup/main.html/">Amazon Prime</a></strong> - If you're a shopaholic, even a thrifty one, it's currently US$80/year for free 2-day shipping. Other details apply, but if you buy frequently enough &mdash; say, at least a dozen times a year &mdash; this will have you covered both cost- and convenience-wise. Of course, they do this to make you buy more! So don't spend just because you want to, but consider how it fits your lifestyle, and try their free 1-month trial.</li> <li><strong>Amazon's service</strong> - It's not just about the raw dollar, it's about the smile on your face. I've had questions about my orders and confusion about pricing, and I've consistently received timely, pleasant replies. That peace of mind pays for itself, and serves as a model of what you should expect elsewhere.</li> </ol> <p>I give the obligatory disclaimer that I'm not professionally affiliated with Amazon &mdash; just a happy customer many times over that cites them as an &quot;example megahub&quot; for many goods.</p> <p><em>Let's open it up&hellip;</em></p> <p>You'll want to be familiar with the major deals sites. There are <em>many</em> out there which duplicate the same style and deals, so here are a few I check daily &mdash; they're all stored as bookmarks in my Firefox toolbar, <strong><em>highly</em> recommended for saving time via &quot;Open All in Tabs&quot;</strong>:</p> <ul> <li><strong><a href="http://www.woot.com/">Woot</a></strong> - I was drawn to their flavorful copywriting. Aside from their famed &quot;Woot-Offs&quot; and &quot;Bags of crap&quot;, they sell ONE thing a day. Sometimes it's what you're looking for. Often it's not. But they're full of whimsy and fun, and fill a great niche.</li> <li><strong><a href="http://dealspl.us/">DealsPlus</a></strong> - Some deals site make the horrendous mistake of piling on more text than you'll care to parse. DealsPlus is very visual, providing thumbnails and a quick-browse summary of each deal.</li> <li><strong><a href="http://www.dealhack.com/">Dealhack</a></strong> - In the &quot;More text but not so much that it makes your eyes fall out&quot; dept., they also provide a very thumbnail-ish view, with a vertically-designed navigation. So get your scroll wheel ready and skim down.</li> <li><strong><a href="http://dealnews.com/index.html?sort=hotness&amp;view=large">dealnews.com</a></strong> - Again, good use of thumbnails (I find they make browsing a <em>lot</em> easier). Wider layout than Dealhack, and as you gain experience, you'll notice when the same popular deals appear on different sites. But what I like here is the quick summary of the hottest stuff at the very top.</li> <li><a href="http://forums.slickdeals.net/forumdisplay.php?f=9"><strong>SlickDeals.net Forums</strong></a> - Disparate deals sites have forums. Among the best is SlickDeals. They also have their own front page, but I heart their forums because of the unadulterated spontaneity of excitement that punches through the hype. You can smell it in the air &mdash; like the inevitable scramble for cheap hard drives before they're OoS (Out of Stock)! And to make this sound more like a restaurant guide, be sure to check out the offerings of the legendary <a href="http://forums.slickdeals.net/sdsearch.php?mode=forum&amp;showposts=0&amp;starteronly=1&amp;searchuserid=65229&amp;forumchoice[]=9">Selma</a>, a gothy deal-sharer who's posted 50,000+ times. If you feel lost, look for the thumbs-up ratings and # of thread views you can sort.</li> <li><strong><a href="http://www.fatwallet.com/deals.php">FatWallet</a></strong> - Finally, a site without &quot;deals&quot; in the name. They tend to broadcast deals which are broadly advertised by stores themselves (as opposed to &quot;secret coupons&quot;). Part of the reason behind this is that they offer <a href="http://www.fatwallet.com/cash-back-coupons.php">cashback &amp; coupons</a>. I haven't really used their cashback, but I think FatWallet's a fine overview of the more commercial (for lack of a better term) bargains.</li> </ul> <p>Be brave to explore beyond these, and let me know what gems you uncover and have missed! For example, <a href="http://www.redflagdeals.com/"><strong>RedFlagDeals.com</strong></a> reigns surpreme in Canada. The jungle o' deals is thick, indeed.</p> <p>By immersing yourself in deals sites, you'll become familiar with which stores are favored by veteran dealhunters. E.g., you'll often see <a href="http://www.buy.com/">buy.com</a> and <a href="http://www.newegg.com/">NewEgg</a> mentioned for computer gear. And a sensible way to get a grasp on various stores is to see their customer feedback on eBay (if they have a presence there), or search <strong><a href="http://www.resellerratings.com/">ResellerRatings</a></strong>. Don't zoom in on outliers (the occasional bad review), look for <em>consistency</em>.</p> <p>Beyond mere observation, <em>do</em> chat up with your fellow dealhunters &mdash; especially those who know a lot more. They'll save you dollars and hardship.</p> <h2>Know what you're looking for</h2> <p>Were you expecting something less obvious? That's coming up soon! But for now, I'll say&hellip;</p> <p>It's fun to browse bargain sites. It's also time-consuming if you do it too much, and while it may inform you of what fair prices are for various items, it also tends to be unfocused.</p> <p>Give yourself a direction, and at the very least, <strong>take advantage of the &quot;deal alerts&quot; most bargain sites make available</strong>. These come in varying forms, but tend to work like this: you enter keyword(s) and frequency of when you want to be notified. They'll ping (via onsite notice, email, and in some cases SMS) you when new deals are available.</p> <p>This is useful, by the way, if you just missed a substantial rebate on an item and are waiting for it to come around again. Chances are high it will (unless an item's being discontinued). If you don't really want a gadget, don't fall for ad pressure to &quot;ACT NOW BECAUSE SUPPLIES ARE LIMITED!&quot; because if something's really in demand, they'll want to sell more of it. I rebate-waited and got my Logitech diNovo Edge keyboard for US$50 cheaper &mdash; a price that'd command a fair meal!</p> <p>Emphasis on <em>rebate-waited</em>, because&hellip;</p> <h2>Mail-in rebates will make you wait</h2> <p>a LONG time. Not always, but often enough for it to be a point of consideration, especially if finances are tight. You may see estimated expectations of &quot;6-8 weeks&quot;, and these tend to be pretty common. Thankfully, some companies like Logitech do email you to check your rebate status online, along with an estimated mail date for your cheque.</p> <p>That's why <strong>if you can't wait, don't depend on mail-in rebates</strong>. And be wary of companies that've been called out by expert dealhunters as scams, because while the majority aren't, lack of communication does create that perception. Thus, my fave kind of rebate is the instant rebate.</p> <p>You may be wondering then, besides the understandable processing time, why so long a wait for MIRs? <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebate_(marketing)">Wikipedia has the backstory.</a></p> <h2>Be smart about coupons &amp; price comparison</h2> <p><a href="http://retailmenot.com/"><strong>RetailMeNot.com</strong></a> isn't just a beautiful site, it makes it very easy to look for discount coupons. I've regretted not checking here in the past because I discovered a substantial savings <em>after</em> I bought something &mdash; talk about buyer's remorse! So whenever I have a significant (obviously relative, but a good rule of thumb is above US$200) purchase, I fire up RetailMeNot and do the groundwork.</p> <p><strong>For price comparison, </strong><a href="http://shopzilla.com/"><strong>Shopzilla</strong></a><strong> and </strong><a href="http://www.pricegrabber.com/"><strong>PriceGrabber.com</strong></a><strong> are your friends.</strong> Use them and if they're really useful, you'll keep using them.</p> <p>Major search engines, like Google, also have their own price comparisons, and links to <em>many</em> others. Through experience, naturally find what works for you.</p> <p>After practicing coupons &amp; price comparison for a few weeks, odds are high you'll spot diminishing returns. For instance, it's not healthy to spend half an hour trying to save US$2. <strong>Aim for the big savings, stack coupons whenever possible (<em>mmmm</em>, compound discounts), and be quick.</strong></p> <h2>Be quick (Part II)</h2> <p>Hot deals often sell out very quickly. (Not to be confused by artificial pressure like &quot;ACT NOW!&quot; mentioned above.) That's why it's important for you to have a solid understanding of the context you're involved in: for example, on deals forums, you'll notice a few of the same posters grab deal after deal and boast about it. (There's a certain social bonding that comes when you become an involved member of deal-communities.) This, like any other acquired skill, comes with extended practice. Have your alerts set up so you can pounce on deals that matter. <strong>The most advanced dealhunters use automation, like </strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macro_(computer_science)"><strong>macros</strong></a><strong>, to cut down on tedious steps and jump to the front of the virtual checkout line.</strong></p> <p>What also counts for a lot: <strong>have accounts pre-setup with payment info at the sites you want to shop from</strong>. You want to be selective with who you give your personal info to, but if it's a reputable store, your data should be safe, in all practical likelihood. This saves you the trouble of having to fumble with a credit card # when it comes down to crunch time. I once missed out on a hot MP3 player sale at Woot because I hadn't signed up for an account yet &mdash; I learned my lesson!</p> <h2>Don't be fooled by fake free shipping</h2> <p>If an item is a fine price <em>and</em> has free shipping, then <em>praise be!</em> But, <strong>sometimes &quot;free shipping&quot; is deceptive, because the shipping cost is absorbed in a jacked-up item cost</strong>. For example, I saw a pair of headphones on eBay for US$20 that claimed &quot;free shipping&quot;. The same pair could be found elsewhere for US$15 with approx. US$5 shipping clearly stated, so it's really not a better deal.</p> <p>The inverse is also true: beware of inordinate shipping costs. And taxes. A number of stores charge <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sales_tax">sales tax</a> if you buy in-state/province/region &mdash; <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=468512">see Amazon's policy</a> &mdash; and while sometimes this is unavoidable due to a lack of alternatives, it's worth keeping in mind. While tax laws are out-of-scope of this article, you won't ever regret being prepared and being aware.</p> <p>Do your best to <strong>find out a store's shipping costs <em>beforehand</em></strong> so you can factor that in ASAP.</p> <h2>Look for gems with eBay's Buy It Now</h2> <p><a href="http://ebay.com/"><strong>eBay</strong></a> is synonymous with popularizing and dominating online auctions. While it's still famous for auctions, gems (not just in the mineral sense) can be found by way of many smaller stores which are trying to build their presence and business via eBay's big visibility.</p> <p>Often, this is new or refurbished/B-stock material with warranty which is sent to you not from an individual, but a company. And it has a &quot;Buy It Now&quot; graphic to indicate such. (It may or may not have a corresponding auction if you want to try your hand at getting it for lower.)</p> <p>Buy It Now can be good for rarer, but not highly obscure goods. There're sometimes <strong>package deals</strong> &mdash; like a digital camera that comes with a case + memory card + mini-tripod + extra battery at the same cost of the camera alone elsewhere.</p> <p>In my web browser, I often have one tab opened on eBay and another opened on Amazon, and I do searches and compare. To supplement my info when it's tough to tell, I use the comparison shopping resources mentioned above.</p> <p>While it's past, much of a dealhunter ballyhoo was made about <a href="http://forumst.slickdeals.net/showthread.php?sduid=0&amp;t=952519"><strong>Microsoft Live.com's 25% cashback through eBay</strong></a> (apparently, it was 35% last time it came 'round). Being on top of opportunities like these can sweeten already honey-soaked deals. Make sure you read the terms and conditions and revel in the savings.</p> <h2>Do your best to assure the clothing fits</h2> <p>Measure yourself accurately. <a href="http://ravenelle.net">My wife</a> stresses how important this is, because we've been subject to inaccurate pictures and vague sense of scale when buying clothes online. I thought a pair of pants, despite the specs, would fit me snugly. Turns out they're baggy as heck! While I haven't opted for an accompanying pair of suspenders since they're surprisingly comfy, my position still stands.</p> <p>A good &quot;fit&quot; is also transferably applicable to non-clothing goods which you may feel compelled to see in-person, like TVs and flat panel monitors: a JPG picture can't give you its actual display quality, but if your local store's stock costs much more than what's online, it's fair to compare. (A store's physical presence can add to the cost.)</p> <p>Some stores offer 3D 360-degree views of their merchandise, but this is still a novelty, rather than a common staple. Still worth looking out for.</p> <h2>Keep customer service and return policy close</h2> <p>I'll often tell you: it's not just about the $$$. Saving a few bucks isn't worth it if you have a problem with your order and the merchants turn out to be jerks! <strong>You'd rather much have prompt, friendly &quot;service with a smile&quot; than being unheard or being treated rudely.</strong></p> <p>Consumer reviews often keep track of this, combining real stories with numerical ratings. And your own experiences will be the most visceral. <strong>If you're cautious, why not send an email or make a phone call <em>before</em> buying anything?</strong> Test the waters. See how they respond and if that makes you comfortable. Above any human-constructed currency, feeling good and expressing our identity through what we buy is an intriguing psychological phenomenon, and great customer service goes a long way towards reinforcing our beliefs.</p> <p>If a store has a brick-and-mortar presence (like Old Navy), then you'll likely be able to return merchandise to a nearby store. If you live in the boonies, it may not as be as convenient, but good to know. If a store only allows you to mail a package back, verify who'd be responsible for postage costs beforehand, and be intimate with their <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Return_Merchandise_Authorization">RMA</a> policy. <strong>A key keyphrase is: <em>hassle-free</em>.</strong></p> <h2>Get ready to recycle</h2> <p>If you buy stuff online, it's going to come in a box. And if it arrives at your house, soon, you'll have a whole extended family of boxes, <em>yes sirree</em>, with itty-bitty baby boxes, and big grandparent boxes. So you'll either want to use those boxes to do something else, or have them recycled or otherwise disposed of.</p> <p>It's an omnipresent, yet understated part of getting great deals.</p> <h2>Time-shift your holidays</h2> <p>Lastly, I'll suggest something unorthodox which you may not be able to do, especially if you're under social pressure from your family &amp; friends. But consider liberating yourself because of this: when is Halloween and Easter candy cheapest? <em>No</em>, not in the stretch leading up to the holiday &mdash; look at the markdown prices <em>after!</em> This is easily observable in both offline and online stores, but it goes to show: <strong>when something's out of style/season and perceived value is less, prices plummet</strong>.</p> <p>By being &quot;out of sync&quot; with society at large and other cultural waves, <strong>you can create your own opportunities to acquire the same stuff at much-reduced prices</strong>. Granted, I feel strongly about this because my family used to wait until after Christmas to grab boxes of bonbons and ornaments to prepare for the <em>next</em> year, but there's much truth&hellip; once you break free of generic trappings. (And I'm partially referring to Boxing Day sales, but saturated marketing of Dec. 26th has created its own traps.)</p> <p>This is awesome news if you're flexible about traditional holidays. Clearly not for everyone &mdash; but <strong>if you can be an exception, consider yourself exceptional</strong>.</p> <h2>Happy buying!</h2> <p>While the above should never be considered an end-all or be-all since the Art of Getting Great Deals Online will continue to adapt and evolve, I hope my personal experiences and specific suggestions will <em>enlighten</em> you to discover the joy of consumerism in refreshing and eclectic ways.</p> <p>Devoted dealhunters know that saving money goes beyond lopping off a fraction of the price &mdash; it's a <em>way of life</em>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/torley-wong">Torley Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-awesome-art-of-getting-great-deals-online">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/modifiers-5-things-that-change-an-items-final-price">Modifiers: 5 things that change an item&#039;s final price</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-best-discount-shopping-days-of-the-year">7 Best Discount Shopping Days of the Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-amazon-deal-hacks-you-may-not-already-know">16 Amazon Deal Hacks You May Not Already Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-free-shipping-and-online-discounts-across-the-web">How to Get Free Shipping and Online Discounts Across the Web</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-secrets-to-scoring-the-best-price-when-buying-on-ebay">7 Secrets to Scoring the Best Price When Buying on eBay</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping alert Amazon clothes coupon customer service deals eBay fake free shipping holiday macro mail-in rebate mir recycle retailmenot Fri, 24 Apr 2009 00:11:19 +0000 Torley Wong 3081 at http://www.wisebread.com 419 baiting – keeping online scammers running in circles http://www.wisebread.com/419-baiting-keeping-online-scammers-running-in-circles <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/419-baiting-keeping-online-scammers-running-in-circles" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/1276202472_875ce2a422.jpg" alt="Hooked" title="Hooked" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="332" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>How many of you have received an email telling you that you’ve one a lottery that you never even entered? Or, that a rich widow wants help distributing millions of dollars to the poor? Or, that YOU, and only you, can help free a fortune from a corrupt nation? Well, after years of deleting these cruddy emails I’ve discovered that there is a way to use them against the scammers. </p> <p>419 scams were given their name because they violated a formerly relevant section of the criminal code of Nigeria. To any moderately intelligent or aware person, these scams fall on deaf ears. But, people do actually fall for them every day. To date, the 419 scammers have made hundreds of millions of dollars from poor, unsuspecting (and let’s be honest, slightly greedy) folk who have blindly given away money, bank details, passport scans, social security numbers and more. Ouch.</p> <p>Anyway, when I received an email from a Mrs. Stella Cole this weekend, asking me to help distribute her dead husband’s fortune to the poor and needy, I spotted the scam in a nanosecond. </p> <p>The spelling was awful, the scenario was ridiculous, the details were sketchy, and the whole thing reeked of a traditional 419 scam. However, I decided not to delete it but instead pass the information on to a professional scam baiter. I found one through the Internet and this person, who shall remain nameless, devotes his time and energy to scam baiting. And it’s a worthwhile cause indeed. </p> <p><strong>419 baiting – hooking a scammer.</strong><br />First, a warning. Scam baiting means dealing with real crooks. Some 419 scam baiters have received death threats (and curses…oooohhhh, scary). Of course, 99% of 419 scammers are operating out of Internet café’s in the middle of Nigeria, most of the time, and would never follow up on any of these threats because it would take too much time and effort; time which is always better spent trying to con other victims. </p> <p>However, there are real risks associated with this “sport” which is highlighted below:</p> <blockquote><p><em>Though humorous, and arguably productive in diverting and discouraging scammers, there is a small, though real, risk of harm to the scambaiter. The entire idea of a scam bait is to frustrate the scammer and waste his time and money; if and when the scammer becomes aware his supposed victim is in fact a baiter, death threats are not uncommon (they are in fact a trophy among baiters, as they provide proof of how angry the scammer is). There is little doubt among scambaiting groups that if a baiter&#39;s real identity and personal information were made known to the scammers, those death threats could be carried out. Many scammers work in highly organized gangs, operating similar to a telemarketing firm where lower-level scammers send the first mass e-mails and higher-level scam artists receive the positive responses and work the scams from there. These gangs often have contacts in many countries across Europe and the Americas (many of which are in fact actual victims conned into doing the bidding of the scammer), and are thought to have connections to organized crime. Such highly organized gangs would have the resources to organize a kidnapping, assault or even murder of a baiter that had successfully wasted months or years of time and hundreds of dollars in plane tickets, hotel fares, etc. as part of a bait.</em></p> <p><em>For this reason, and also because some of the tactics used by a baiter are similar to those used by scammers and therefore legally questionable (such as providing false information and IDs), sites like 419 Eater constantly remind visitors that scammers are criminals, and to &quot;bait safe&quot;. The personal information of a bait character, such as the name, address and bank account info, is totally fictional or fictionalized. Web-based e-mail services and proxy servers hide the sender&#39;s actual IP address, since the mail is sent from the website, and such accounts are set up with the bait character&#39;s fake information. Phone calls are usually handled using operator-assisted relay services for the deaf, web-based answering services that send faxes and voice mail messages to an e-mail address, and VoIP-based &quot;telephony&quot; services. Images, such as pictures of the baiter&#39;s character or scans of IDs or documents, are &quot;PhotoShopped&quot; and/or otherwise obfuscated to ensure that innocent third parties are not affected by use of their picture and that the scammer cannot use them. It is also a valuable time-wasting tactic to provide the scammer with an &quot;image&quot; that is unviewable.</em></p> <p><em>Scambaiters are also highly connected, and sometimes call upon each other to help with a bait. The other baiters could be called on to make phone calls, provide phony documents, play other characters in the bait, take over a bait or focus the scammer&#39;s attention elsewhere, or maneuver other baited scammers to complement the bait&#39;s plot. In addition to increasing the scammer&#39;s confidence that they are dealing with real people, such activities increase the anonymity of everyone involved because no one person is behind the character.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p>So as you can see, although it carries a hint of danger, the reason people get involved is simple; the longer you keep them busy, the less time they have to work on other, more susceptible people. To use a movie reference, scam baiters are throwing meat at a bunch of wild dogs to help the innocent family escape from the house, or something like that.</p> <p>419 baiters often string along scammers for months, getting them to do some of the most unusual stuff. One of my favorites comes from this <a href="http://www.ebolamonkeyman.com/">site</a> (there’s some NSFW language on it, be warned). He has some of these people sending him photographs with some lurid (but clearly non-translatable) signs. One has the scammer holding up some Madonna lyrics! Priceless. </p> <p><img src="http://healthcarehacks.com/files/fruganomics/u17/image002.jpg" alt="Papa" title="Papa" width="273" height="417" /></p> <p><img src="http://healthcarehacks.com/files/fruganomics/u17/1.jpg" alt="Rain" title="Rain" width="331" height="500" /></p> <p>The baiting goes on for weeks, sometimes months, taking the scammers&#39; time away from other victims. While I certainly don’t like the language he employs, ebolamonkeyman keeps scammers busy for a long, long time. And that has to be good.</p> <p>Am I encouraging you to become a scam baiter? <strong>Big fat NO on that one</strong>, it could carry serious consequences. But next time you get one of these nasty emails, you may want to think about forwarding it to someone who has the time, resources and bravery to do something about it. In fact, just by forwarding your scam email to someone who keeps these on public record, you are increasing awareness of yet another strain of the ever-growing 419 epidemic.</p> <p> Stay safe people, and never, ever respond to any email that seems too good to be true. </p> <p><strong>Further reading:</strong><br /><a href="http://www.ebolamonkeyman.com/">http://www.ebolamonkeyman.com </a> <br /><a href="http://www.419baiter.com/">http://www.419baiter.com/</a> <br /><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scam_baiting">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scam_baiting</a> <br /><a href="http://home.rica.net/alphae/419coal/">http://home.rica.net/alphae/419coal/</a> <br /><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance_fee_fraud">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance_fee_fraud</a> <br /><a href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/07/09/419_scam_anatomy/">http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/07/09/419_scam_anatomy/</a> <br /><a href="http://www.fbi.gov/majcases/fraud/fraudschemes.htm">http://www.fbi.gov/majcases/fraud/fraudschemes.htm</a> <br /><a href="http://www.allyourbase-arebelongto.us/node/39">http://www.allyourbase-arebelongto.us/node/39</a> </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/419-baiting-keeping-online-scammers-running-in-circles">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pet-lovers-beware-theres-a-new-scam-in-town">Pet lovers beware - there&#039;s a new scam in town.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-10-scams-of-2006">Top 10 scams of 2006</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-ssn-can-now-be-accurately-guessed-using-date-and-place-of-birth">Your SSN Can Now Be Accurately Guessed Using Date and Place of Birth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-mystery-shopping-scam-that-could-cost-you-a-fortune">The mystery shopping scam that could cost you a fortune.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs 419 scam advance fee fraud con email fake fraud Nigeria Mon, 03 Mar 2008 20:35:04 +0000 Paul Michael 1878 at http://www.wisebread.com Pet lovers beware - there's a new scam in town. http://www.wisebread.com/pet-lovers-beware-theres-a-new-scam-in-town <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/wisebread_imce/484053721_34b7c95747.jpg" alt="big eyed pup" title="big eyed pup" width="317" height="187" /></p> <p>If you thought those <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advance_fee_fraud">Nigerian scammers</a> could not sink any lower, think again. It was reported today by <a href="http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/news/13455297/detail.html">WTAE.TV</a> that there&#39;s a new scam making the rounds, and this time the scammers are praying on the good nature of pet lovers.</p> <p>It&#39;s a simple enough set-up. Someone either emails or posts an ad (often local, so beware of Craigslist and MySpace) featuring a beautiful free puppy. Many reasons are given for the free giveaway, ranging from a poor environment to lack of funds to keep the little pup. The correspondance tugs on the heart strings like a professional harp player, hitting all the right notes. And then when you reply saying you&#39;d like the free puppy, the con begins.</p> <p>First, they&#39;ll ask for the hefty shipping fee to be sent, something like $160. If you bite, and send the fee, then all of a sudden the shots for the pooch will need to be administered. And guess what, they&#39;re not cheap. Before you know it, you&#39;ve sent several hundred dollars to someone you don&#39;t know. Most likely the dog doesn&#39;t even exist, and cute pictures of helpless puppies are not exactly difficult to come by online (see main picture). </p> <p>If you really do want to adopt a dog and give a homeless animal a good life, go to your local Humane Society or animal adoption center. They are legitimate, you&#39;ll need to pay a few fees for adoption, but at least you know everything is above board and the money is helping real animals. The people who commit these crimes are animals of an entirely different kind. </p> <p><em>Main photo of a beautiful pup by <a href="http://flickr.com/photos/shuck/">Shuck</a> . Thanks, it&#39;s wonderful. </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/pet-lovers-beware-theres-a-new-scam-in-town">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/419-baiting-keeping-online-scammers-running-in-circles">419 baiting – keeping online scammers running in circles</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-vicious-home-rental-scam-dont-get-conned">The vicious Home Rental Scam – don’t get conned.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marketing-messes-with-your-head">Marketing Messes With Your Head</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-real-cost-of-adopting-a-baby">The Real Cost of Adopting a Baby</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6500-repair-bill-to-remove-a-stone-from-a-moon-roof">$6500 repair bill to remove a stone from a moon roof</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance adoption deception dog dogs email fake Nigeria puppy scam Wed, 06 Jun 2007 22:08:35 +0000 Paul Michael 706 at http://www.wisebread.com Is there a secret code to control traffic lights? http://www.wisebread.com/is-there-a-secret-code-to-control-traffic-lights <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-there-a-secret-code-to-control-traffic-lights" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000077980419_Large.jpg" alt="crosswalk light" title="crosswalk light" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I'm a firm believer that time is money. It really is. The more time you save on life's humdrum chores, the more time you can devote to making money. Or saving it. So when I found out a way to make the traffic stop for me, I was quite surprised. And skeptical, as always.</p> <p>I'm not sure how many times you've been stuck at the side of the road waiting for the little green man to make an appearance, but for me it's a regular occurance. Usually I bide my time. But if I'm in a hurry, do I risk the archaic lawbreaking method of jay-walking? Or do I find a way around it? Usually, I just stand like a statue for five minutes in the hope that one day, <em>one day</em>, the little green fella will get off his bum and come guide me across the road.</p> <p>Then I discovered a video that supposedly shows you how to turn that green man on whenever you want to. Really. Using a combination of clicks you can apparently turn the lights to your favor and cross the road as you pease. No wait. No nothing. And so, being someone who loves saving anything, especially time, I thought I'd give it a try.</p> <p>The result? It was about as effective as mind-control. Not only did the lights not change, they probably took a tad longer to change. But I began to wonder, is this some huge April fools joke being played a few months early? Or does it work...sometimes...depending on where you are? So, here's the video. If you want to try it, go ahead. If you find out it's actually morse code for &quot;I'm an idiot&quot; then I can at least say I warned you in advance. Either way it's nice to think, just for a second, that there are secret ways out there to control our surroundings. Call me a dreamer.</p> <p><iframe width="420" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_1cgE2GaFko" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-there-a-secret-code-to-control-traffic-lights">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carnival-of-scams-top-4-fairground-cons">Carnival Of Scams - Top 4 fairground cons</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/turn-brass-pennies-into-gold">Turn brass pennies into gold.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/giving-is-better-than-blogging-or-is-it">Giving is Better Than Blogging... or IS it?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-more-ways-to-hustle-free-drinks">5 more ways to hustle free drinks.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-americans-were-better-at-in-the-1950s-than-today">8 Things Americans Were Better at in the 1950s Than Today</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks codes fake time saver traffic signals tricks Thu, 15 Feb 2007 19:58:14 +0000 Paul Michael 278 at http://www.wisebread.com