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Crime

After a Decade, 77-Year-Old Gets Back $110,000 Lost In 'Nigerian Prince' Scam (kansascity.com) 127

Slashdot reader grep -v '.*' * shares a surprising story. The Kansas City Star profiles the victim of a three-year con that started with an email to a Yahoo inbox back in 2005. A decade ago, Fred Haines was wandering the Wichita airport looking for a Nigerian man hauling two chests full of cash. After an hour of waiting and asking around, he finally came to the realization that the $65 million Nigerian fortune he thought he was inheriting was not coming after all. What is now coming, though, is the $110,000 he had been scammed out of, thanks to the work of the Kansas Attorney General's Office.

From 2005 to 2008, swindlers hoodwinked Haines, a self-employed handyman in Wichita, into spending thousands in pursuit of an imaginary inheritance from a Nigerian government official -- a con known as the Nigerian Prince Scam. Haines re-mortgaged his house three times in the process. Last year, in a settlement with the Department of Justice, Western Union admitted it knew some of its employees had conspired with scam artists to bilk people out of money and had failed to fix the problem. The company set aside $586 million to create a fund to refund victims across the U.S. and Canada... All victims who'd sent money to hucksters using the service were able to request refunds, but only those who had complained to law enforcement or Western Union were notified directly of the settlement.

"It got to the point where they were showing me that the president of Nigeria had sent me a letter. It had his picture on it and everything," Haines said. "I looked it up on the computer to see what the Nigerian president looked like, and it was him." Once, he received an email claiming to be from Robert Mueller, who was then the FBI director. The email was addressed to Haines, code-name "B-DOG," and it was signed with the FBI's address and official seal. "I wish you can remove doubt and suspicious and go ahead I assured you that you will never regret this fund release," the email said in part.

Haines is one of 344 victims who recovered a total of $1,758,988 through the Kansas Attorney General's office -- though when the office sent out 25,000 letters to possible scam victims, many of them were now skeptical of the promise of unclaimed money, and "Some were even angry when employees called to follow up on those who hadn't responded."
Businesses

FBI Recovers $14M From Bogus Business Account Wire Transfers (arstechnica.com) 17

Federal authorities announced Monday that they had "disrupted" what they call "Business Email Compromise" schemes, which involve a malicious actor sending a phishing email and somehow convincing employees with access to a company's financial credentials to transfer money fraudulently. From a report: The FBI added that $2.4 million dollars was seized, while $14 million in "fraudulent wire transfers" was recovered. Seventy-four people were arrested worldwide, including 42 in the United States, 29 in Nigeria, and three others in Canada, Mauritius, and Poland. "Fraudsters can rob people of their life's savings in a matter of minutes," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. "These are malicious and morally repugnant crimes. The Department of Justice has taken aggressive action against fraudsters in recent months, conducting the largest sweep of fraud against American seniors in history back in February." The Department of Justice did not immediately provide a full list of those arrested, or the criminal complaints, but it said that, "since the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) began formally keeping track of BEC and its variant, email account compromise (EAC), there has been a loss of over $3.7 billion reported to the IC3."
Math

Canada's 'Random' Immigration Lottery Uses Microsoft Excel, Which Isn't Actually Random (gizmodo.com) 224

An anonymous reader writes: Last year, Canada introduced a new lottery system used to extend permanent-resident status to the parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens. The process was designed to randomly select applicants in order to make the process fairer than the old first-come, first-served system. There's just one problem: the software used to run the lottery isn't actually random. The Globe and Mail reported the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses Microsoft Excel to run the immigration lottery to select 10,000 people for permanent resident status from a field of about 100,000 applications received each year. Experts warned that the random number generating function in Excel isn't actually random and may put some applicants at a disadvantage.

First, it's best to understand just how the lottery system works. An Access to Information request filed by The Globe and Mail shows that IRCC inputs the application number for every person entering the lottery into Excel, then assigns them a random number to each using a variation of the program's RAND command. They then sort the list from smallest to largest based on the random number assigned and take the first 10,000 applications with the lowest numbers. The system puts a lot of faith in Excel's random function, which it might not deserve. According to Universite de Montreal computer science professor Pierre L'Ecuyer, Excel is "very bad" at generating random numbers because it relies on an old generator that is out of date. He also warned that Excel doesn't pass statistical tests and is less random than it appears, which means some people in the lottery may actually have a lower chance of being selected than others.

Earth

Some Recycling Is Now Being Re-Routed To Landfills (wral.com) 165

"Thousands of tons of material left curbside for recycling in dozens of U.S. cities and towns -- including several in Oregon -- have gone to landfills," reports the New York Times. Slashdot reader schwit1 summarizes their report: One big reason: China has essentially shut the door to U.S. recyclables. The Times notes that about a third of recyclables gets shipped abroad, with China the biggest importer. But starting this year, China imposed strict rules on what it will accept, effectively banning most of it. That, the Times reports, has forced many recycling companies who can't find other takers to dump recyclables into landfills.
"Recyclers in Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany and other parts of Europe have also scrambled to find alternatives," reports the Times, though most major U.S. cities aren't affected, and countries like India, Vietnam and Indonesia are now importing more materials.

But at least some recycling companies are simply stockpiling material, "while looking for new processors, or hoping that China reconsiders its policy."
The Internet

Vint Cert Warns IPv4 Users: 'Time To Get With the Program' (zdnet.com) 277

An anonymous reader quotes ZDNet: Vint Cerf notes that the world ran out of IPv4 address space around 2011, some 13 years after internet engineers started sketching out IPv6, under the belief back then that IPv4 addresses would run out imminently. Since 'World IPv6 Launch' on June 6, 2012, significant progress has been made. Back then just one percent of users accessed Google services over IPv6. Now roughly a quarter of users access Google over IPv6. But Cerf noted that "it's certainly been a long time since the standards were put in place, and it's time to get with the program"...

The Internet Society's snapshot of IPv6 in 2018 notes that Google reports that 49 countries deliver more than five percent of traffic over IPv6. There are also 24 countries where IPv6 traffic is greater than 15 percent, including the US, Canada, Brazil, Finland, India, and Belgium. Additionally, 17 percent of the top million Alexa sites work with IPv6, while 28 percent of the top 1,000 Alexa sites do. Enterprise operations are IPv6's "elephant in the room", according to the Internet Society. Around 25 percent of all internet-connected networks advertise IPv6 connectivity, and the Internet Society suspects that most of the networks that don't are enterprise networks.

Canada

Woman Looking At Apple Watch Found Guilty of Distracted Driving (nationalpost.com) 128

Ontario law defines distracted driving as "holding or using a handheld wireless communication device" -- and a judge just fined Victoria Ambrose $400 for checking her Apple Watch while waiting at a stoplight. Long-time Slashdot reader innocent_white_lamb quotes the National Post: Even with its miniaturization and trendy technology, an Apple Watch is no safer "than a cellphone taped to someone's wrist," said a justice of the peace, while convicting a Guelph woman this month of holding or using a hand-held wireless communication device while driving... "The key to determining this matter is distraction. It is abundantly clear from the evidence that Ms. Ambrose was distracted..."
When the light turned green Ambrose had remained parked at an intersection, according to the officer who ticketed her, though two cars ahead of her had moved forward. Ambrose testified that she was only checking the time, but the officer told the court he'd seen Ambrose check her watch four different times.
The Almighty Buck

Game Livestreaming Explodes, But Women Are Less Likely To Be Paid Than Men (venturebeat.com) 268

A new study by game research firm SuperData Research and payment company PayPal found that eSports and game videos are driving explosive growth in livestreams. But PayPal also found a gender imbalance in pay. Women are less likely to be paid for their streams than men. VentureBeat reports: PayPal said that 34 percent of livestream viewers in the U.S. have spent more than $50 on livestream content in the past few months. But despite the growth in spending, almost half of women content creators (43 percent globally, 47 percent in the U.S.) don't get paid for what they create. The U.S. had the largest gender pay gap of the countries surveyed: Almost half as many men (24 percent) do not get paid for content they create. Globally, active paying gamers polled shop across 14 different gaming platforms and nearly 30 different storefronts over the last three months, an incredible variety.

In the U.S., respondents surveyed purchased from 26 different gaming storefronts -- the third most in the world, behind Russia (27), and Australia and Canada (28 each). While Steam is highly popular among millennials globally (31 percent buy from Steam), GameStop was resoundingly popular, with 45 percent of U.S. millennial respondents reporting shopping there for gaming content. In most countries, in-game spending is within a few dollars of average spend on full games. Surprisingly, in-game spending is skewing higher among older U.S. players: those aged 35-and-over have spent $50 on average, compared to $40 for those aged 18 to 34. Meanwhile, younger gamers are spending more in full-game downloads: $63, versus $48 for gamers 35-and-over.

Crime

Canadian Hacker Sentenced To 5 Years For Yahoo Security Breach (seattletimes.com) 21

The computer hacker who worked with Russian spies was sentenced to five years in prison Tuesday for his role in a massive security breach at Yahoo. "U.S. Judge Vince Chhabria also fined Karim Baratov $250,000 during a sentencing hearing in San Francisco," The Associated Press reports. From the report: Baratov, 23, pleaded guilty in November to nine felony hacking charges. He acknowledged in his plea agreement that he began hacking as a teen seven years ago and charged customers $100 per hack to access web-based emails. Prosecutors allege he was "an international hacker for hire" who indiscriminately hacked for clients he did not know or vet, including dozens of jobs paid for by Russia's Federal Security Service. Baratov, who was born in Kazakhstan but lived in Toronto, Canada, where he was arrested last year, charged customers to obtain another person's webmail passwords by tricking them to enter their credentials into a fake password reset page. Prosecutors said Russian security service hired Baratov to target dozens of email accounts using information obtained from the Yahoo hack.

"Deterrence is particularly important in a case like this," the judge said during the hearing. He rejected prosecutors call for a prison sentence of nearly 10 years, noting Baratov's age and clean criminal record prior to his arrest. Baratov has been in custody since his arrest last year. He told the judge Tuesday that his time behind bars has been "a very humbling and eye-opening experience." He apologized to those he hacked and promised "to be a better man" and obey the law upon his release. The judge said it is likely Baratov will be deported once he is released from prison.

Security

Cyber Thieves Claim To Hit Two Big Canadian Banks (reuters.com) 20

New submitter Heritype writes: Bank of Montreal, Canada's fourth biggest lender, said on Monday it was contacted by fraudsters on Sunday who claimed they were in possession of the personal and financial information of a limited number of the bank's customers. The bank said it believed the attack originated from outside the country and was confident the exposures that led to the theft of customer data had been closed off.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Canada's fifth biggest lender, said fraudsters contacted the lender on Sunday claiming they had electronically stolen personal and account information of 40,000 customers of its Simplii direct banking brand.
Other Canadian banks said they had not been affected.
Further reading: BMO and CIBC-owned Simplii Financial reveal hacks of customer data.
Transportation

5.3M Cars Recalled Because 'Drivers May Not Be Able to Turn Off Cruise Control' (freep.com) 152

An anonymous reader quotes the Associated Press: Fiat Chrysler is recalling more than 5.3 million vehicles in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere because in rare but terrifying circumstances, drivers may not be able to turn off the cruise control. The company is warning owners not to use cruise control until the cars, SUVs and trucks can be fixed with a software update. Fiat Chrysler says the condition can occur if the cruise control accelerates at the same time an electrical short-circuit happens. But the brakes are designed to overpower the engine and the vehicles could still be stopped...

In the complaint filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an owner from Olathe, Kansas, said a 2017 Dodge Journey SUV rental vehicle was being driven about 70 miles per hour with the cruise control on when the windshield wipers came on by themselves and the throttle locked up. The owner, who was not identified in the agency's complaint database, wrote that the cruise control would not disengage by tapping the brakes or turning off the button. The driver was able to slam on the brakes and get the SUV to the side of the road. "It was still running at an engine speed to support 70 mph and fighting the brakes," the driver wrote. The engine stop button also wouldn't work, but the driver was able to halt the SUV and shift into park while the brakes "smoked significantly."

The recall "includes 15 Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler and Ram models from six model years" which have automatic transmissions and gas engines, according to the Associated Press -- 4.8 million in America, plus another 490,000 in Canada and "an undetermined number" in other countries.

You can check if your vehicle is affected by this (or any other) recall by entering its VIN number at NHTSA.gov. U.S. safety officials suggest checking whether your vehicle has been recalled "at least twice per year."
Canada

How Canada Ended Up As An AI Superpower 64

pacopico writes: Neural nets and deep learning are all the rage these days, but their rise was anything but sudden. A handful of determined researchers scattered around the globe spent decades developing neural nets while most of their peers thought they were mad. An unusually large number of these academics -- including Geoff Hinton, Yoshua Bengio, Yann LeCun and Richard Sutton -- were working at universities in Canada. Bloomberg Businessweek has put together an oral history of how Canada brought them all together, why they kept chasing neural nets in the face of so much failure, and why their ideas suddenly started to take off. There's also a documentary featuring the researchers and Prime Minster Justin Trudeau that tells more of the story and looks at where AI technology is heading -- both the good and the bad. Overall, it's a solid primer for people wanting to know about AI and the weird story of where the technology came from, but might be kinda basic for hardcore AI folks.
Businesses

Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth Pulls No Punches on Red Hat and VMware in OpenStack Cloud (zdnet.com) 64

At OpenStack Summit in Vancouver, Canada this week, Canonical CEO and Ubuntu Linux founder Mark Shuttleworth came out firing at two of his major enterprise OpenStack competitors: Red Hat and VMware. He claimed that Canonical OpenStack is a better deal than either Red Hat or VMware's OpenStack offerings. From a report: Shuttleworth opened quietly enough, saying, "Mission is to remove all the friction from deploying OpenStack. We can deliver OpenStack deployments with two people in less two weeks anywhere in the world." So far, so typical for a keynote speech. But, then Shuttleworth started to heat things up: "Amazon increased efficiency, so now everyone is driving down cost of infrastructure. Everyone engages with Ubuntu, not Red Hat or VMware. Google, IBM, Microsoft are investing and innovating to drive down the cost of infrastructure. Every single one of those companies works with Canonical to deliver public services."

Then, Shuttleworth got down to brass tacks: "Not one of them engages with VMware to offer those public services. They can't afford to. Clearly, they have the cash, but they have to compete on efficiencies, and so does your private cloud." So, Canonical is rolling rolling out a migration service to help users shift from VMware to a "fully managed" version of Canonical's Ubuntu OpenStack distribution. Customers want this, Shuttleworth said, because, "When we take out VMware we are regularly told that our fully managed OpenStack solution costs half of the equivalent VMware service."

AI

New Toronto Declaration Calls On Algorithms To Respect Human Rights 168

A coalition of human rights and technology groups released a new declaration on machine learning standards, calling on both governments and tech companies to ensure that algorithms respect basic principles of equality and non-discrimination. The Verge reports: Called The Toronto Declaration, the document focuses on the obligation to prevent machine learning systems from discriminating, and in some cases violating, existing human rights law. The declaration was announced as part of the RightsCon conference, an annual gathering of digital and human rights groups. "We must keep our focus on how these technologies will affect individual human beings and human rights," the preamble reads. "In a world of machine learning systems, who will bear accountability for harming human rights?" The declaration has already been signed by Amnesty International, Access Now, Human Rights Watch, and the Wikimedia Foundation. More signatories are expected in the weeks to come.

Beyond general non-discrimination practices, the declaration focuses on the individual right to remedy when algorithmic discrimination does occur. "This may include, for example, creating clear, independent, and visible processes for redress following adverse individual or societal effects," the declaration suggests, "[and making decisions] subject to accessible and effective appeal and judicial review."
Canada

People Hate Canada's New 'Amber Alert' System (www.cbc.ca) 325

The CBC reports: When the siren-like sounds from an Amber Alert rang out on cellular phones across Ontario on Monday, it sparked a bit of a backlash against Canada's new mobile emergency alert system. The Ontario Provincial Police had issued the alert for a missing eight-year-old boy in the Thunder Bay region. (The boy has since been found safe)... On social media, people startled by the alerts complained about the number of alerts they received and that they had received separate alerts in English and French... Meanwhile, others who were located far from the incident felt that receiving the alert was pointless. "I've received two Amber Alerts today for Thunder Bay, which is 15 hours away from Toronto by car," tweeted Molly Sauter. "Congrats, you have trained me to ignore Emergency Alerts...."

The CRTC ordered wireless providers to implement the system to distribute warnings of imminent safety threats such as tornadoes, floods, Amber Alerts or terrorist threats. Telecom companies had favoured an opt-out option or the ability to disable the alarm for some types of alerts. But this was rejected by the broadcasting and telecommunications regulator. Individuals concerned about receiving these alerts are left with a couple of options: they can turn off their phone -- it will not be forced on by the alert -- or mute their phone so they won't hear it.

Long-time Slashdot reader knorthern knight complains that the first two alerts-- one in English, followed by one in French -- were then followed by a third (bi-lingual) alert advising recipients to ignore the previous two alerts, since the missing child had been found.
Earth

Kilauea Volcano Erupts On Hawaii's Big Island (nytimes.com) 56

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: The Kilauea volcano erupted from its summit on Thursday morning (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source), spewing an ash plume that reached 30,000 feet above the island of Hawaii, the authorities said. The eruption was the most forceful new explosion so far at Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes. Kilauea has already been triggering small earthquakes, creating gas-emitting fissures and releasing flows of lava that have destroyed dozens of homes this month. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory issued a "code red" warning that additional activity could be expected. "At any time, activity may again become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent," the observatory said. But Dr. Michelle Coombs of the United States Geological Survey said that ash fall from the eruption, which occurred shortly after 4 a.m., was "pretty limited" to the area around Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. She emphasized that the new eruption wasn't the "big one" that some are fearing, drawing a contrast with the eruption in 1980 of Mount St. Helens in Washington State that killed 57 people.
Privacy

Cell Phone Tracking Firm Exposed Millions of Americans' Real-time Locations (zdnet.com) 39

Earlier this week, ZDNet shed some light on a company called LocationSmart that is buying your real-time location data from four of the largest U.S. carriers in the United States. The story blew up because a former police sheriff snooped on phone location data without a warrant, according to The New York Times. ZDNet is now reporting that the company "had a bug in its website that allowed anyone to see where a person is located -- without obtaining their consent." An anonymous reader shares an excerpt: "Due to a very elementary bug in the website, you can just skip that consent part and go straight to the location," said Robert Xiao, a PhD. student at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, in a phone call. "The implication of this is that LocationSmart never required consent in the first place," he said. "There seems to be no security oversight here." The "try" website was pulled offline after Xiao privately disclosed the bug to the company, with help from CERT, a public vulnerability database, also at Carnegie Mellon. Xiao said the bug may have exposed nearly every cell phone customer in the U.S. and Canada, some 200 million customers.

The researcher said he started looking at LocationSmart's website following ZDNet's report this week, which followed from a story from The New York Times, which revealed how a former police sheriff snooped on phone location data without a warrant. The sheriff has pleaded not guilty to charges of unlawful surveillance. He said one of the APIs used in the "try" page that allows users to try the location feature out was not validating the consent response properly. Xiao said it was "trivially easy" to skip the part where the API sends the text message to the user to obtain their consent. "It's a surprisingly simple bug," he said.

United States

A Quarter of Americans Spend All Day Inside, Survey Finds (washingtontimes.com) 117

Zorro shares a report from The Washington Times: A quarter of Americans spend almost an entire 24 hours without going outside and downplay the negative health effects of only breathing indoor air, according to a new survey claiming a new "indoor generation." It's unclear how dangerous indoor air is in the modern era -- reports by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency evaluating indoor air quality are from 1987 and 1989, which found that it is two to five times more polluted than outside.

The "Indoor Generation Report" surveyed 16,000 people from 14 countries in Europe and North America about their knowledge and perceptions of indoor vs outdoor air quality and the amount of time spent inside. Of the results for Americans, a quarter said they spend between 21 and 24 hours inside; 20 percent said they spend 19 to 20 hours a day inside and 21 percent say they spend between 15 and 18 hours inside. Thirty-four percent said they spend between zero and 14 hours inside. Great Britain and Canada had similar results to the U.S., with 23 and 26 percent of its respondents saying they spend between 21 and 24 hours inside. The countries with the highest percentage of people who spend the lowest amount of time inside were Italy (57 percent), the Czech Republic (57 percent) and the Netherlands (51 percent). This group said they only spend between zero and 14 hours indoors.

NASA

NASA Will Send Helicopter To Mars To Test Otherworldly Flight (bbc.com) 103

NASA is sending a small, autonomous rotorcraft to Mars via the agency's Mars 2020 rover mission, currently scheduled to launch in July 2020. NASA says the goal of the mission is to "demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet." BBC reports: Its design team spent more than four years shrinking a working helicopter to "the size of a softball" and cutting its weight to 1.8kg (4lbs). It is specifically designed to fly in the atmosphere of Mars, which is 100 times thinner than Earth's. NASA describes the helicopter as a "heavier-than-air" aircraft because the other type -- sometimes called an aerostat -- refers to aircraft like balloons and blimps. The helicopter's two blades will spin at close to 3,000 revolutions a minute, which NASA says is about 10 times faster than a standard helicopter on Earth.
Crime

Police Drop Charges Filed Against 19-Year-Old Archivist For Downloading FOIA Releases (techdirt.com) 154

An anonymous reader quotes a report form Techdirt: Last month, [...] an unnamed 19-year-old was facing criminal charges for downloading publicly-available documents from a government Freedom of Information portal. The teen had written a script to fetch all available documents from the Nova Scotia's government FOI site -- a script that did nothing more than increment digits at the end of the URL to find everything that had been uploaded by the government. The government screwed up. It uploaded documents to the publicly-accessible server that hadn't been redacted yet. It was a very small percentage of the total haul -- 250 of the 7,000 docs obtained -- but the government made a very big deal out of it after discovering they had been accessed.

Fortunately, Nova Scotia law enforcement has decided there's nothing to pursue in this case: "In an email to CBC News, Halifax police Supt. Jim Perrin did not mention what kind of information police were given from the province, but he said it was a 'high-profile case that potentially impacted many Nova Scotians.' 'As the investigation evolved, we have determined that the 19-year-old who was arrested on April 11 did not have intent to commit a criminal offense by accessing the information,' Perrin said in the email."

Facebook

Facebook Survey Suggests Continuing US Loyalty After Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal (bbc.com) 103

A Reuters/Ipsos survey found that Facebook users in the U.S. remain loyal to the site, despite the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal that exposed the data of 87 million users. The survey "found no clear loss or gain in use since then," reports the BBC. From the report: Conducted online, the Reuters/Ipsos survey questioned 2,194 American adults between April 26 and April 30. The poll has a margin of error of three percentage points. Some 64% percent said they used Facebook at least once a day, down slightly from the 68% recorded in a similar poll in late March, soon after the Cambridge Analytica story broke. Asked if they were aware of their current privacy settings, 74% of Facebook users said they were, and 78% said they knew how to change them. Among Twitter users, this was 55% and 58%, while for Instagram users, it was 60% and 65%.

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