Sunday, March 28, 2021

Interview with a Con Artist pt 2

                                                      (locksmith Con Artist Rowdy Robbin)

The latest episode of my web series "Primetime Prevention" is now available on YouTube. This is the 2nd part of "Interview with a Con Artist". Part 1 and 2 highlights locksmith scams. Grumpy town hall host Alex Midas is dumbfounded when he learns how the convicted fraudster is using his talent to make a difference in the world. Primetime Prevention is a comedy that uses reenactments to show how scams unfold and how viewers can be vigilant. Be sure to check it out! By subscribing to my channel you will get automatic weekly notifications when a new episode is uploaded to my channel. This project is funded in part by a grant from the West Springfield Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


In other news...I just completed a short comedy film inspired by real events when I was employed as an usher in a movie theatre many many years ago. It is called, "Matinee Madness".

What would you coif you found an envelope inside a theatre with $3,000 in cash? I look forward to sharing this hilarious story with the world sometime this summer!


I had a great time talking with Adam Dinsley from the "For the Love of Nerds" podcast. This interview will be available in July and I will share it when available. I enjoyed talking about what inspires me as a puppeteer and filmmaker. 

You can always check out AARP's scam tracking map at AARP SCAM TRACKING MAP to report and learn of scams in your area. The best way to ensure your financial security is keeping yourself informed about what's going on. 

Until next time, stay safe and stay secure!

Ken Harris
Puppeteer/Filmmaker


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Monday, March 15, 2021

The True Meaning of Identity Theft

 



Scene from upcoming movie, "That Gone Darn Scam!"

Thank you for visiting!

My new web series, "Cyber Brats" a funny puppet show highlighting scam prevention, is FREE and available on Spondulics TV at https://spondulics.org/talent.   On weekdays, my programs starts at 9:30am eastern and ends at 10:00am. The show repeats every six hours, with new programming every Friday! 

In addition, I have a 2nd show in the works thanks to a grant from the West Springfield Arts Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. This 10-minute weekly program will air on the West Springfield local access television in addition to be uploaded to my YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ5JPhBrP4OpCKeY4hbm5Dg.  Stay tuned! 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity fraud cases has tripled within the past 3 years. 

In 2020, 1,387,615 consumers from across the country felt the sharp sting. The year before that, 650,523 victims were impacted. 2018 saw 444,344 Americans lose their hard earned dollars. 

Talk about a spike! The advent of COVID-19 has much to do with the huge numbers for 2020. 

But what alerted me to the crime of identity theft itself is WHEN this scam itself unravels. I thought it happened once a scammer illegally use personal information for financial benefit. 

My brain buzzed like a switchboard while I was contemplating the actual meaning of identity theft. 

The AARP Fraud Watch Network defines the occurrence of identity theft when, "someone steals personal information that could be used to falsely apply for credit or for government benefits." 

Think about that for a moment. 

The crime of identity theft does not begin when a criminal is actively engaging in fraudulent activities such as making purchases while assuming another person's name or using deceit to have a customer reveal sensitive information. 

Identity theft is underway the moment the con artists is in possession of stolen personal information. 

One need not use or sell sensitive data to commit identity fraud. Once an individual has unlawful possession of it, the theft itself had already materialized. 

SWRS Radio Manager Chuck Green interviews Cyber Sly

With this said, it makes me wonder how experts categorizes what is personal information when users on social media platforms deliberately share birthdays in conjunction with ages, detailed COVID-19 vaccine cards, addresses, employment, trips out of town, and so on. 

WHY THIS MATTERS

Con artists are working diligently with whatever pieces of information available publicly on social media. It's kind of like constructing a puzzle set. Once the pieces are in place, the big picture is seen. 

Swindlers can use this information to falsely apply for credit or government benefits.

There have been cases of the identities of young children falling prey to identity thieves. Years later, when they applied for a line of credit, they find out about unknown fees incurred by these bad actors. 

PROTECT YOURSELF

1. If someone calls or email you to purport there is a problem with some account you have, hang up! Do not give out any personal information. Call the business official number to confirm your status. 

2. Remove mail or sensitive documents responsibly. Invest in a shredder and get rid of unwanted papers. Never leave personal info in your trash, office, and yes; social media postings. 

3. Just because a job is posted on an employment website does make it legitimate. Do your homework and research hiring companies on your own. You can even look up status or complaints on the FTC website at https://www.ftc.gov or the Better Business Bureau at https://www.bbb.org

Remember, identity theft is in progress once the scammer have your info. There's no telling when the scammer will put it to use. He or she might wait sometime or sell it to a bidder on the dark web or elsewhere. 

Protect yourself and loved ones from the never-ending threat of fraud. Vigilance is key!

Please don't forget to check out my weekly puppet show at https://spondulics.org/talent

I will be posting helpful info weekly! Feel free to subscribe or bookmark the link to my blog. https://www.kenharrisnews.com

Until time, stay safe and stay secure!

Ken Harris

Ken Harris Shadow World Puppets logo









Sunday, March 7, 2021

Locksmith Cons

 



I just completed a script on the topic of locksmith scams. This week, I plan to film this episode. It will be uploaded to YouTube and accessible to all. 

When someone is locked out of their home or car they want help quickly right? 

Well, this tendency to draw out the mobile phone and do a quick search for a locksmith can lead to problems. 

These problems can include overlooking red flags of con artists looking to over charge you. Like drilling and replacing a lock that is supposedly too old.

According to the Better Business Bureau victims will get a low quote over the phone...as low as $15. 

But when service person arrives, there's many reasons to spike up the costs. Customers sometimes end up paying hundreds of dollars after the onsite estimate. 

How and why do this happen? 

Events unfold just as customer contacts a con artist. A con artist may have a generic greeting like, "Hello...locksmith services." A professional company will always answer with the name of the business. 

Another thing that should raise eyebrows if the purported company uses logos or brands on it's website that is similar to legitimate places of business. Also, is there a physical address for the merchant? 

Just like researching a product on an online store, we need to make sound efforts in checking out contractors we plan to use. 

The Better Business Bureau at https://www.bbb.org/ScamTracker?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=BBB.org/ScamTracker&utm_campaign=scam-alert and the Federal Trade Commission at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2021/03/when-its-not-really-government-calling?utm_source=govdelivery are reliable sources to check ratings, and to make or review complaints. 

Does the company vehicle have a logo? Does the service person have an identification (yes, you have a right to see it). You also have a right to get a itemized estimate when it comes to labor, parts, mileage, and service fees. 


My funny and informative show will dive into this topic of locksmith scams. It will show how these cons happen and offer proactive ways to be vigilant. 

You can stay updated by checking out my YouTube Channel Prime Time Prevention at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ5JPhBrP4OpCKeY4hbm5Dg. Anyone can access the funny scam prevention videos but subscribers will get alerts as soon as a new video is uploaded. 

Until next time, stay safe and stay secure! 

Ken Harris

Puppeteer/Digital Fraud Fighter

Shadow World Puppets 

https://www.kenharrisnews.com










Friday, February 26, 2021

That Darn Gone Scam!

 



I am thrilled to make available my comedy short film, "That Gone Darn Scam" available for FREE on FilmFreeway from February 26 to March 1st at https://filmfreeway.com/ThatDarnGoneScam?fbclid=IwAR0IlWf2DEJ1OMtEKWsUt4IMfHnOMAVV_ev5eL4rjta6KxQOmavkE3C-0P8

This comedy highlights the "grandparent scam". I hope viewers find it just as entertaining as it is educational!

According to Sam Kunjukunju of the American Banker's Association, 10,000 baby boomers in the country turn 65 years old everyday. They are vulnerable targets for scams. Exploited seniors endure physical ramifications as well as emotional scars. 

Many of us know or can relate to a senior. This is why it's important for us to stay informed and be vigilant. 

Feel free to share this short movie with family and friends! I am sure they will enjoy it!

If you enjoy the film, be sure to check out my weekly show Cyber Brats on Spondulics TV. It runs weekdays from 9:30am to 10am and every 6 hours with new episodes every Friday! 

Here is the information for Spondulics TV, a new platform with movies, shows, and programs aimed at elevating financial capability for all.

Eastern Time Zone. Programs repeat every 6 hours (7am, 1pm, 7pm at https://spondulics.org/talent FYI on app downloads: Roku 171 FireTV 9 AppleTV 6 iOS Mobile 24 Android Mobile 6 AndroidTV 6

As the first America Puppeteer to spread cyber security awareness and scam prevention through a web series, I am proud of my association as a volunteer AARP digital fraud fighter to help others in a creative way.

Thank you!

Stay Safe and Stay Secure!





Thursday, December 31, 2020

Targeted Attacks

 



What is Behind Online Targets Attacks?

 

Most recently a cyber attacker compromised a friend’s Facebook account and sent a series of odd messages enticing his followers. This can happen to anybody. Hackers can be individuals or groups who target a person or organization. Sophisticated attacks can even be orchestrated by a foreign government with a specific agenda such as political, military, or economic gain. 

 

A lot of planning goes into this. Cyber crooks start by studying websites and social media accounts. They harvest key information, such as backgrounds, structures, acquaintances, and where the prospective target is located.

 

If a business or consumers phone list is accessible online, they can identify victims and their roles, including levels of management. They are keen on extracting social media profiles and data that has been publicly shared. 

 

Afterwards, scammers identify the specific individuals to target. Like a scholar researcher, a hacker will gather all the information they can snare and it’s not limited to social media. Messages on public forums, pictures you shared, interests, and hobbies shared by family and friends can make you vulnerable. 

 

A spear phishing attack is one of the popular methods used. Attackers customizes a specific phishing email for a certain target. Since they have familiarized themselves with a target in mind, they can generate an email that may appear very convincing. This message includes an urgent request to have sensitive documents, such as personnel records, sent over. When you respond, you assume you are communicating with a person you know. This is how a scammer can use this trick in having you email sensitive data. 

 

Accepting virus infected attachments from a shady sender compromised personal and financial accounts. These malicious attacks request receivers to enable macros or introduces a link to click on. After you comply with this, you are taken to a website that hacks your operating system. After the cyber attacker gains access to your computer, all the information on it is compromised and your device can be used as a launching point to cripple other systems in your network. 

 

Antivirus software and other technological safeguards alone cannot quell targeted attacks. What you can do is limit the information you publicly share. This will make it challenging for 

thieves to research and target you. 

 




Here are some other signs of a targeted attack.

 

  1.  Phone calls or messages with a sense of urgency.
  2.  Someone pleading with you to bypass or ignore work related procedures. 
  3. The “from address” in their email is work related; but the “reply-to-address” is someone’s personal email attachment. 

 

Be mindful of email attachments, most certainly the ones that ask you to enable macros. You should open attachments that you expect from trusted senders. Here are some things to look for in these cases. 


  1. The tone or content don’t seem right.
  2. Misspellings with the signature.
  3. Odd language.
  4. Calling you by a name you never go by. 

 

Phishing attacks can be avoided. You can learn more about this scam from an episode of my show, “Cyber Brats” on Spondulics TV at https://spondulics.org/watch?v=17


You can also check out my website at https://shadowworldpresent.wixsite.com/safe


Until next time, stay sage and stay secure!


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Cyber Brats on Spondulics TV!

 Spondulics TV launches Friday, November 20, 2020. 

The mission of this new FREE digital platform is to elevate financial capability for all with shows and events from content creators. 

My show Cyber Brats, a half hour program where I spread cyber security awareness and scam prevention tips through puppetry, has a daily 9:30am slot. 

New episodes will be available beginning each Friday!



I am thrilled to have completed 8 episodes for this year to help people with safety tips in a hilarious way!

Also, I plan to have a 3 part Christmas Special air on December 11th! 

You don't want to miss "A Very Cyber Holiday" where I highlight the issues of Online Shopping Scams, Gift Card fraud, and Charity shams!



This special is like a prequel to the existing tv series. It explains how convicted fraudster Cyber Sly changed his bad ways and become a radio talk show host. 













Don't miss Cyber Brats on Spondulics and you can also check out my Youtube web series at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ5JPhBrP4OpCKeY4hbm5Dg?view_as=subscriber



Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Weak Passwords

 

                                                  (A scammer puppet made from scratch)


"Weak Passwords" by Ken Harris

 

How often do you think of the significance of passwords to your personal and business accounts? Are you complacent in properly managing safeguards to crucial networks that matter to you? If none of these thoughts have no weight in your daily life, perhaps you should reconsider. 

 

It’s actually no different than the importance of ensuring our homes are properly secured when away. A weak password is like an open door to a willing cyber thief. 

 

Here are some basics to keep in mind about passwords. 

 

  • Create a strong password by making it long. Every character makes it strong.
  • Ensure your chosen password is difficult to guess. 
  • Avoid using birthdate, pet names, or anything that you shared on social media. 

 

You might consider using a paraphrase as it is one of the simplest ways to create a strong password. This is made up of many words such as, “I need to go to the bank”, or use of random words like, “cloud-mountain-thunder-journey”. Just select one that is easy for your to remember. 

 

When creating a password, you might be prompted to include an assortment of symbols, numbers, or upper and lowercase numbers. 

 

Whatever you do, always use a different, unique password for each account. In event your account is compromised by a hacker, you will have some peace of mind knowing your other accounts are still secured. 

 

If remember many passwords poses trouble, you should consider utilizing a password manager. This is a special program that securely stores all of your passwords. You only need to remember the actual password manager. 

 

Your password is a secret and it should stay a secret. Don’t share it with coworkers or your supervisor. If anyone knows, it is no longer a secret and so much for your peace of mind. 

 

I would not use public computers to log onto online accounts such as checking email at hotels or libraries. Since anyone can access these computers, they may be infected with malware. It’s best to log into accounts from computers or mobile devices that can be trusted. 

 

Some websites use security questions for your accounts. You offer answers to personal questions in case you forget your password and need to reset it. Here’s the problem with that. Some of these questions or answers can be found online or on your social media accounts. Only use information that is not publicly known about you, or simply make up answers to questions. 

 

Some accounts offer two-step verification also called two factor authentication or multi-factor authentication. This requires a one-time code in addition to your password to log in. A unique code is generated in a special app on your smartphone that is used with your password to log-in. 

 

Whenever possible, enable two-step verification so that your accounts are protected by more than just a password by itself. Weak or compromised passwords are one of the most common ways cyber attackers break into organizations or online accounts.

 

If you believe you accidentally shared a work-related password or believe it may have been hacked or stolen, be sure to change it right away. Afterwards, notify your technical support team asap. 

 

I use family friendly puppetry to spread cyber security awareness and scam prevention. 


See how I use puppets to spread tips at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ5JPhBrP4OpCKeY4hbm5Dg?view_as=subscriber


Check out my website at https://shadowworldpresent.wixsite.com/safe for more information! 


Stay safe and stay secure!


Ken Harris

Puppeteer/Filmmaker


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with a Con Artist pt 2

                                                                 (locksmith Con Artist Rowdy Robbin) The latest episode of my web series &qu...