Friday, July 2, 2021

Plenary Leader at the 13th Annual Florida Prosperity Partnership Conference

 



Speaking at the 13th Annual FPP Conference
 

 

By Ken Harris

 

Before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic that paralyzed the economy, I knew I was on to something after diligent research. 

 

I realized I was the first American puppeteer attempting to spread cyber security awareness and scam prevention on a web series through my YouTube channel. I was taking this lifelong passion of puppetry and combining it with content I care so deeply about as a volunteer AARP Digital Fraud Fighter. 





My efforts culminated in securing virtual gigs domestically and internationally. Before I knew it, I had a weekly 22-minute program on the new Spondulics TV under the umbrella of the nonprofit Florida Prosperity Partnership organization based out of Sanford, Florida. What makes FPP and its broadcast network unique is its commitment to introducing a broad range of shows aimed at elevating financial literacy and multiple ways one can save and maintain finances in a responsible way. 

 

Then I was asked by CEO Bill Mills to participate as a plenary speaker at the June 13thAnnual FPP 2-day training conference at the Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate; the site of the F5 Financial Focus FilmFest. 

 

Along with 16 other chosen speakers across the country, I was flown to Orlando to meet and greet with experts, practitioners, bankers, and even talented musicians who all contributed in some way to this unforgettable experience. It was so mind blowing, I nearly forgot my short comedy film, “That Gone Darn Scam” was nominated as an official selection for the film festival at the same event. 

 

With session moderator Pamala McCoy, the CEO of BONA5D Credit Consultants assigned to my live block, I used puppets to conveyed ways how con artists can cheat consumers multiple ways. This performance was designed to help practitioners be aware and vigilant against identity theft, investment fraud, and other common scams.  

 

The reception of my 45-minute slot was well received and my short film at the festival was equally admired when it garnered enough sufficient in-person and virtual votes by spectators to win the audience choice award. 




Apparently, a unique film featuring puppets shining a light on the grandparent scam won favor. My film was only one of eleven films selected among 3,000 submissions as an official selection for the F5 Financial Focus FilmFest. Spondulics TV has video of the event in their archives and the footage can be accessible at https://spondulics.org/watch?v=146

 

Also, my presentation, “Safe and Secure with Ken and Friends? can access anytime at https://spondulics.org/watch?v=141

 

This was a wonderful experience; especially considering this was my first time venturing to the state of Florida. My hunch as using puppetry as a tool to educate on the topic of fraud was right on. 




Now I am in the midst of converting my award-winning filming into a touring play here across Western Massachusetts. If I could help making a difference in my community with a lifelong passion, why not? It’s better late than never. 

 

Check out my new website at https://swpupp.wixsite.com/safe

 

 

 

 








Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Pyramid Hoax Part 1

 


Pyramid Schemes. Would you know one if you ever came across it?

This "blessing looms" scheme makes it rounds on social media platforms; enticing people to join a group for investment of $100 in order to reap a return of $7,000 in days IF they encourage family and friends to join as well.

The fact of the matter is it's no different from a Ponzi Scheme.

My latest short video, "Pyramid Hoax Part 1" highlights the operators in this illegal operation and the table is turned when a close acquaintance gets entangled in this web of lies and exploitation.

This year long project, "PrimeTime Prevention" is funded in part by a grant from the West Springfield Arts Council, the Everett Cultural Council, Springfield Cultural Council.

The mentioned local agencies are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Cyber Brats on Spondulics TV

 


Cyber Brats on Spondulics TV


This week on Spondulics TV, my latest episode on Cyber Brats highlights a pyramid scheme. Two bad actors devise a blessing loom where participants are encourage to gives $100 and ask others to join the circle to reap a return of $7,000. This is actually an investment fraud making the rounds on social media platforms. This is a Ponzi scam. As the circle of recruitments widens, so does the money flow and the reliance on getting others to sign up to keep the scam afloat. Check out how this goes down only on Spondulics TV, weekdays, 9:30am to 10am eastern time and replays every 6 hours. As an AARP Digital Fraud Fighter and Puppeteer, this program shows reenactments of incidents involving reported fraud. While it is funny thought puppetry and animation, the goal is to help viewers be vigilant! An FYI - on app downloads: Roku: 171 FireTV: 9 AppleTV: 6 iOS Mobile: 24 Android Mobile: 6 AndroidTV: 6 https://www.spondulics.org

Latest on Puppetry Web Series

 


This week on my YouTube web series, Alex Midas and Cyber Sly is on their way to a cyber security conference when an unexpected challenge derails their plans. Their rental car breaks down.

Meanwhile, the event at the hotel is underway when a Security Officer finds a stranger attempting to regain access into the building. Friend or Foe (Part 2 segment next week).

This project, "PrimeTime Prevention" is funded in part by a grant from the West Springfield Arts Council, the Everett Cultural Council, Springfield Cultural Council, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council COVID-19 Relief Fund.

The mentioned local agencies are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

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


T

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










Plenary Leader at the 13th Annual Florida Prosperity Partnership Conference

  Speaking at the 13th Annual FPP Conference     By Ken Harris   Before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic that paralyzed the economy, I kn...