Friday 7 August 2020

Amazon fake verified review scam

I guess people realise that you can't rely on Amazon reviews. You just can't be sure that they are genuine. A recent development confirms this assessment.

The people who sell on Amazon through associate agreements want to improve the ratings of their items by Amazon. The ratings are based upon reviews i.e. how many five star reviews the item receives. The fact that the reviewer is verified is important. Verified reviewers are those that have actually bought the product.

In order to achieve five-star reviews from verified reviewers, these businesses are setting up fake purchases using stolen data. They steal the data of American citizens and on their behalf they purchase the items that they are manufacturing and selling.

In doing this, they set up an account on behalf of that person i.e. the recipient. The recipient is completely unaware of what is going on and they receive unwanted goods like seeds, whistles, sunglasses and socks. A five star review is written on behalf of the unwitting recipient.

It is reported in The Times newspaper that businesses are advertising on Facebook for people to write fake reviews at a price. It is the trade in fake Amazon reviews which Facebook promised a crackdown on but apparently are not. The magazine/online website Which? found that Facebook are failing to stop it. It's called a "fake review factory". Facebook told the Competition and Markets Authority in January that it would install systems to detect and remove this sort of content.

Apparently you can find this trade on Facebook by searching for "Amazon review". There are several Facebook groups dealing in these reviews and across them there are at least 82,000 posts a month. Often these posts are from agents offering refunds and commission free products in exchange for the reviews. It is not only on Amazon that these fake reviews are written. Fake and misleading reviews are illegal under UK consumer protection law.

Which? said that over the preceding year there had been no change in the amount of trading on Facebook with respect to fake reviews. The average number of posts in individual groups are up to 5600 over a 30 day period.

The worrying aspect of this is, of course, it is a scam and online scams of varying types are a rapidly developing phenomenon on in the West and probably elsewhere. The other worrying aspect is that the scammers have acquired the personal data of Americans. We know that there have been many computer hacks leading to the acquisition of personal contact details and it is quite likely that these details are being used in this way in this instance.

The receipt of seeds by unwitting recipients in America has baffled them. People all over the US started to receive small parcels of seeds from China. At one time people thought that this was part of a Cold War. Perhaps they were sending invasive species into America to destroy America's nature; to propagate plant diseases but no, it appears that it is simply an Amazon scam.

FYI - another Amazon scam is to inadvertently get people to pay an Amazon prime subscription at an inflated price. These people receive scammy phone calls often generated by computer systems to trick them into paying an Amazon prime subscription but not at the usual rate but one which is a hundred times larger (799 rather than 7.99). Be aware of telephone scams by people referring to Amazon prime subscriptions. Never get involved with those. Put the phone down immediately. You might like to contact Amazon if you can to report it. I am sure that they are aware of it but the more reports they get the better.

Saturday 4 July 2020

Coronavirus pandemic might encourage cat owners to spend more time with their cats

This morning I was listening to the radio. A woman who had three children said that she had grown closer to her children during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Before the lockdown she admitted that everything was done in a rush. She would get the kids to school after having rushed breakfast. In the evening there was more rush. She did not recognise that she was failing to give herself quality time with her children. She was trying to fit parenting her children around her work and was as far as I can tell run off her feet.

We can thank the coronavirus pandemic for more of this. Photo: public domain.

Working at home during the pandemic and having more time with herchildren flicked a switch in her brain. She realised that she needed to spend more quality time with her kids and work out a better work-family balance. She did not want the years to go by without enjoying spending time with her children.

This got me thinking. The exact same conclusion might be drawn with respect to cat companions. During lockdown, in the UK, many millions of employees are being furloughed and therefore receiving 80% of their pay. They have had a lot more time with their cats.

I've not heard any reports about this online but it must have happened. If it didn't then cat owners have failed to take advantage of a great opportunity to give their cat the interactions with them that their cats deserve. I'm convinced that in many households domestic cats are left alone too much. People can't be blamed because they have to go to work. They rush out of the house and when they come home they are perhaps too tired to want to play with their cat.

I hope that the lockdown has open the minds of cat owners - who in the past failed to be great cat owners because of work pressures - to the possibility that they can do better and try and find a better work-family balance. It is reported that many firms will be allowing their employees to work from home where suitable.

Certainly Facebook has accepted that about half of their workforce will, in the future, end up working from home. In addition, Twitter, as I understand it, is allowing almost all their workforce to stay at home to work. This will be a permanent arrangement. These are good examples of how employees of companies involved in digital media can take the advantages that the pandemic has offered to alter their lifestyles to the advantage of their domestic cat companions.

Tuesday 30 June 2020

Women Less Likely to Date Men Holding Cats!

You must have heard of it. A study (by Colorado State University) in which numerous women participated and which came to the conclusion that when women use dating apps or online websites to find a male partner they are less likely to select a man who presents himself to the world in a photograph holding a cat. Yuk, it's too wimpish for women. They found them less masculine, more neurotic, agreeable, and open; and less dateable. Damn it I have a picture like that :) . I am not gay...which leads to the point of the article... (The photo was Helmi Flick's idea entirely!).

This is me about 12 years ago. Women are going to hate me :) Photo: Helmi Flick. The cat is a Maine Coon show cat. The pic was taken at an American cat show.

I also think you probably know the reason why and I'm not referring to the study when I write this. It is coming out of my head because it is rather obvious. Women think that men who like cats might be gay. They sometimes associate gay men with domestic cats. The two go together like apple pie and custard or bangers and mash to some people - misguided people, no? I think they are very wrong because there are lots of men, macho men, alpha male men who also like cats.

However, stereotypically, I have to concede as does everybody else that in general the male of the human species prefers dogs. This is for the simple reason that dogs are pack animals and they look up to the male human as the leader of the pack. Men like this. Especially needy men like this because they want to be admired by anybody and anything including their companion dog.

The trouble with cats is that they are too independent for many men. They don't come to heel or on command. Although they do sometimes if you have a particularly good relationship with them and have gently trained them. But they are more independent and they let their human companion know that. A lot of people like this, particularly independent-minded women.

I think it all comes down to massaging the male ego as I've mentioned. Women don't need this but many men sometimes do. And women looking for men to date tend to participate in the process in a stereotypical way. They still are looking for a man who is physically strong, intellectually strong as well, who can protect them in a very hostile world, make a lot of money and set her up in a beautiful home where she can spend his hard earned cash. That sounds misogynistic and it probably is but it is not meant to be. I'm just presenting a stereotypical image which I have to because the whole study simply reinforces stereotypes.

I don't like it. It just says that nothing has moved on. There is no enlightenment in the modern era. We might as well be back in caves 50,000-100,000 years ago because the human mentality remains the same at a fundamental level in respect of the female's relationship with the male of the species and vice versa.

Sunday 5 January 2020

Why not genetically engineer feral cats to stop them reproducing?

This may be an idea that has been put forward before but which has just occurred to me. It is possible, nowadays, to genetically engineer animals so that when they reproduce the female cat is rendered sterile. This genetic modification is passed on from the male to female.

Feral cat colony. Picture in public domain.

Therefore, if you introduce into a population of feral cats some male cats who can pass on this modified gene then eventually that colony would disappear and in a very humane way.

The technology is called "gene drives". As an alternative to passing on a gene which renders female cats sterile, you could ensure that offspring are nearly always males which would create an imbalance between males and females in a large colony. This also would have the result of reducing the colony's size to the point where it became zero ultimately.

I am convinced that it must have been discussed. It is new technology but I don't recall it being discussed in relation to feral cats. In The Times newspaper date 'gene drive' is discussed in relation to grey squirrels in the UK which have had a decimating impact upon red squirrels as many people know.

A lot of people consider that the domestic and feral cat is an invasive species (like the grey squirrel in the UK) and gene drives are one way of dealing with invasive species. I don't approve of it particularly and neither does the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They dislike it because genetic engineering is unapproved for people and therefore why should it be approved for animals.

Another issue is that it may be difficult to confine this kind of genetic engineering to the target animals concerned. If it spread beyond the targeted species it may have a detrimental impact upon ecosystems.

However, I believe that this risk is being tackled. Like many other people, I am concerned about the plight of feral cats in many parts of the world. They are often abused or live rather short and miserable lives. However, sometimes their lives are quite decent because there are many volunteers running TNR programs in America, for example, which I think is wonderful.

TNR programs, I would argue, are similar to genetic engineering. In the former surgery is employed to make cats sterile and in the latter that objective is achieved through genetic engineering. Both are humane methods or considered so, certainly in relation to alternatives such as mass killing which is employed in Australia.

I would certainly recommend that the Australian government looks at this method of controlling feral cat populations. They have struggled for many years with methods to reduced the number of feral cats on their continent. As it happens, those efforts which are very cruel now seem rather futile and stupid in comparison to the estimated half a billion animals of native species which have been killed in the infamous wildfires which are largely out of controlled in the east of the country.

These fires have arguably been inflamed by global warming and Australia contributes to global warming by being one of the world's major coal mining countries. They export coal to China where it is burnt in coal power stations which contributes to global warming.

Arguably, Australia is in a complete mess with respect to the preservation and conservation of their native species. This is because of the ambivalent approach by their government and because they pursue economic growth at all costs as do most other countries which is very hard to stop in a competitive world. However, global warming is having a devastating impact upon wildlife conservation.

Two new Illinois animal laws for 2020



There are 2 new animal laws for Illinois for 2020. One was introduced by state senator Jill Tracy. Cats four months and older must get a rabies shot. This does not include feral cats. Also, dog and cat kennels must now be equipped with a fire sprinkler or alarm system if the facility is not staffed 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

This is a very brief notice primarily directed at Illinois' boarding catteries.

Featured Post

i hate cats

i hate cats, no i hate f**k**g cats is what some people say when they dislike cats. But they nearly always don't explain why. It appe...

Popular posts