Showing posts with label creativity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label creativity. Show all posts

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

 

 

 

 








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









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!





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


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Ways Fraudsters Can Fool You

Ways Fraudsters Can Fool You




Thank you for visiting my blog! Here I strive to empower you with cyber security awareness and DIY puppet activities. If you find this content helpful, please sign up for my FREE monthly safety newsletter at https://shadowworldpresent.wixsite.com/safe.

A segment of my web series "Cyber Brats" was recently shown at the StringsNThings virtual puppet festival from San Pedro, CA in July! Be sure to check it out above!


2019 was a profitable year for fraudsters. Nationwide, they targeted their deceptive tactics at slightly over 16 million consumers. Based on the statistics from the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft alone saw a lost of 17 billion dollars.

This year, with the avalanche of the COVID-19 paralyzing our economic system, con artists has already taken advantage of cooking up new types to take advantage of the uncertainty.  Stories relating to unproven treatments, medicines, fake contact tracing agencies, and so many more hideous acts has sprung up around the country.

Next year, when the tallies for this year is compiled by the FTC, Better Business Bureau, and AARP, I'm sure the figures from last year will show an increase.

Vigilance is the key to decreasing our vulnerabilities to fraud and I found what better way than to share 13 common scams listed by AARP. By comprehending the basics safeguards in protecting out our finances, we can adapt to making better decision in the course of our daily lives.

At the bottom preceding this content I will also include links to resources that can either help you with a concern or provide additional information regarding online safety.

Identity Theft



Why does identity theft occur? Have you ever given that much thought why computer criminals do this? Here our 2 primarily reasons. 
  • To falsely apply for a credit card
  • To use someone's profile to get government benefits. 

How is this done?

  • An example of phishing takes form when you are asked to clear a bank account problem by verifying it with a social security number, bank routing number, or birth date. 
  • Gather information by dumpster diving. This can also be taken from inside the office or social media websites.
  • Fake job listings can also trick you into voluntarily sharing sensitive information on a job application. Fraudsters harvest this data and will use or market the contents on the dark web for profit. 


Investment Fraud

Gold Coin Scam 

Scammers will use the struggling economy to pitch this false narrative. You are urged to invest in gold and silver coins because they will eventually spike up in value. These so called precious metals are sold at a 300 to 500% mark up which means you will lose rather than reap the benefits. 

Free Lunch

The goal is to convince you to show up at a seminar and invest in a great investment right away. You are not given the option to thing it through and if you don't commit, you will miss out on the opportunity. The truth is they want your hard earned money and they are gone like the wind. 

Oil and Gas Scams

The ploy is to convince you that a company is using a new technology to drill for oil in an area not frequented prior. Never will they inform that legitimate energy investments carry risks. Also don't expect them to indicate they are a registered broker or registered with the state. 

Additional Scams You Should Know About


Fake Checks

Out of the woodwork you get this call informing you that you won a big prize! But there is a handling fee! They expect you to pay it because they are sending you a cashier check that will cover the processing fee. Ultimately, this check does not clear you are stranded without your prize after paying the fee. Talk about bummer. 

Tech Support

A phone call or pop up on your computer screen tells you your system is infected with a virus. These con artists want you to contact them and give them remote access to your device. What they really want to do is install a real virus and charge you to remove it. Afterwards, they might compel you to buy a useless computer maintenance program. 

Disaster-Related Charity Fraud

This is a prime example of scammers chasing headlines to line their pockets. They do this at the expense of victims who are really in need of help. Beware of phone websites, suspicious calls, and questionable emails. 

Sweetheart Scams

Dating websites is a beehive for con artists seeking to build an emotional connection to victims. Once this is done, he or she asks for money. These internet criminals have no intentions on ever meeting their victims and will resort to communicating via instant messaging and plain old emails.

Timeshare Properties

If you are looking to cash in on your timeshare company there just happens to be a company claiming to have a specific buyer interested. Just pay an upfront fee to proceed. After you do this, this contact person disappears and you are left scratching your head after signing all that paperwork that looked alright to you. 

The Grandparent Scam

What grandparent can refuse a grandchild in some sort of legal trouble. This false narrative comes by way of phone call in the middle of the night from thugs purporting to be a relative in trouble. Victimized grandparents have lost thousands of dollars to the type of scams.  (Just call the parents or the police department in question to confirm the story first!)

Foreign Lottery Scam

It's impossible to win. They are illegal here in the United States. Of course their agenda is to have you pay "taxes" or  a "processing fee" claim your earnings. Please don't wire anything. You didn't win the lottery. 

General Tips

  • Protect your Social Security Number and Personal Information
  • Monitor Your bills and financial statements
  • Check your Credit Reports
  • Safeguard Personal Identification Numbers (PINs and Passwords)

Online Communication

Did you know your can report or forward suspicious emails to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov? 

U.S Mail

Protect your incoming mail. You can stop pre-approved credit cards by calling 1-888-OPT-OUT or visiting https://www.optoutprescreen.com

You can also cut down on junk mail at https://www.dmachoice.org

Do Not Call Registry 1-888-382-1222 or https://www.donotcall.gov

Verify charities at https://www.give.org or at https://charitynavigator.org

Thank you again for visiting my blog! Here I strive to empower you with cyber security awareness and DIY puppet activities. If you find this content helpful, please sign up for my FREE monthly safety newsletter at https://shadowworldpresent.wixsite.com/safe.

Stay Safe and Stay Secure!

Ken Harris
Cyber Brats Title Card










Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Email and Phishing Scams






Thank you for visiting my blog! Here I strive to empower you with cyber security awareness and DIY puppet activities. If you find this content helpful, please sign up for my FREE monthly safety newsletter at https://shadowworldpresent.wixsite.com/safe.

I just released a funny adult puppet video about a prize scam! Be sure to check it out below!



Email and Phishing Scams


Last year in the U.S alone, an estimated 16 million victims lost 17 billion dollars to identity theft. That’s just one type of scam. 

I’m sure if AARP, the Better Business Bureau, and other organizations intended to protect the financials security of Americans, combined all their figures from reported swindles, the final tally would be mind-blowing. 

Now with the COVID-19 pandemic creating fear and uncertainty everywhere, con artists are conjuring up new ways to squander people’s finances and personal information. 

This gives them motivation to reach out with offers too good to be true and the impersonation of government agencies to steal personal information. 

Email and phishing cons are just some of the tactics these criminals apply. Cyber attackers send thousands, if not millions of emails daily. They are not sure who get these messages; but their objective is to trick a victim into some call of action. It includes the following.

  •  Clicking on a link
  • Opening an attachment
  • Completing a form




A harmless action can get you tangled. 

Since scammers are attempting to “phish” as many victims as possible, their messages are usually directed to “Dear Customer” or other generic greeting. 

The bad guys creates a strong sense of urgency or curiosity to the receiver. They pretend be an official organization like a bank or may impersonate a local, state, or federal agency. 

Generally, these fake senders will have grammar or spelling mistakes in the content of these email messages. Another clue to look out for is if the email originated from a personal email account such as an @gmail.com address. Also, by looking at the top left, the “From Email Address” line may appear like it generated from an official organization. But the “Reply-To-Address” is someone’s personal email account. 

Here are some other clues that should raise red flags.

  • Messages requesting highly sensitive information like credit card number or password.
  • You receive a message from someone you know but the tone or message does not sound like him or her. 

It is easy for a scammer to create an email that appears to be from a friend or coworker. If the message includes a clickable link, you can hover your mouse cursor over it to reveal the link’s true destination. 

Make this a common practice to confirm if you being directed to a legitimate website. Even on many mobile devices, pressing to hold the link will also show the true destination. Instead of clicking on a link, you can type the website address directly into your browser. 

Why respond directly to a suspicious email claiming to be your bank when you can use the browser? 

I wouldn’t open any attachments I wasn’t expecting. The last thing I want is opening an infected attachment and subjecting my computer to malware. Not all antivirus can detect malware. 

Take care to not expose sensitive information when using email or messaging. Email features, such as auto complete, make it easy for you to mistakenly email the wrong person. 

Once you send an email out, you cannot retract it. Also, be careful with the “Email Reply-All Feature” thread as you may not want to respond to an entire group of people who received the same email. 

Learn more about scam prevention with my use of puppets at https://shadowworldpresent.wixsite.com/safe

My Youtube channel has many more videos on cyber security awareness and scams at 

PS If you haven't already check out AARP's  Scam Tracking map at https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/tracking-map/ to checking on existing scams in your area. Vigilance is key!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Introduction to DIY Shadow Puppets








Thank you for visiting my blog! Here I strive to empower you with cyber security awareness and DIY puppet activities. If you find this content helpful, please sign up for my FREE monthly safety newsletter at https://shadowworldpresent.wixsite.com/safe.




It is simple to stage a shadow puppet show. 

Do your kids enjoy arts and craft? Do they like to tell stories? Are they fascinated by the interactions of light and shadows? 

This is easier thank you think. Of course it will requires some exploration, trial by error, and creativity (kids can surely help you with that compartment) with some supplies collecting dust in your attic, basement, or garage. 

You will need these items.
  • Card Stock Paper
  • Scissors
  • Bamboo Skewers (to operate puppet)
  • Brass Fasteners (for puppets with movable limbs)
  • Electric Tape
  • Cardboard Box
  • Desk Lamp or other light source
  • wax paper or parchment paper for theatre screen




A Shadow Prop Blast Off!

Without relying on much technology, you can make simple shadow puppets to fit any story your kids can dream of. Literally, you can construct your own theatre out of a card board box of any size to bring silhouettes to life. 

Before we proceed Astronaut Buddy Getto and his copilot Zatrix from outer space has transmitted a brief message from outer space about the history of shadow puppets. 






Aside from a lack of solitude between Buddy and Matrix, shadow puppets can allow poetic evening shows and build lasting memories.

If you prefer not to use a box for a theatre, you can still cast shadows on walls with a bed lamp using different shapes and animals. Either way, imaginations will soar.

Preparations

  • Devote about 10 minutes to think about story theme and to look for shapes or figures online or in damaged children books. 
  • You shouldn't go over 30 minutes in cutting out the puppets
  • It will take about 20 minutes to install theatre (If you wish to have one) and cut out a circle (size of a large tape) in the rear to connect light source (I used a desk lamp).

Activity

If you wish to put on a live show for family and friends with a theme geared for very young children, I would recommend the duration of it not to exceed past 10 or 15 minutes. Children have short attention spans and will want to participate! 

The location of the performance should be indoors, preferably in a room that can easily be made dark. 



Light

When I started off doing shadow puppetry a few years ago, it felt like I was involved in some interactive science test. A lot of time was spent I experimenting with different light and learning how it worked to produce the best effects. 

Light travels fast! 186,000 miles per second, or 300,000 km per second if memory serves me right. When an object blocks the path of light, like a cut out paper figure, it creates a shadow. 

When the puppet is move back away from the screen, it appears bigger. If is shifted forward, it becomes smaller. 

Storytelling

You can choose an existing story or make up your own. Here are some suggestions to get the creative juices flowing. 
  • Does the story involve people, animals, or both? 
  • Who are the good guys and the bad guys? 
  • Is the tale happening long ago or nowadays? 
  • Where does it take place? Forest? Savannah? City? Mountains? 
  • Ensure the story is simple so that kids can tell it without a script. 
  • Come up with a cool title for your story and names for your characters. 

All Characters on Deck: Finding Images


Shadow Puppetry is a story told in shadows. You will need a silhouette for every character, prop, and set in your story. Identify the shapes you need. 

1. To accommodate varied scenes and enough twists, use at least 3 characters. For example, one hero and two villains which can be animals or humans. Utilize 3 different backgrounds items such as a tree, house, castle, etc. 

2. If you are having difficulty with finding figures, just go on the internet and type animal shape or whatever easy-to-cut-out character you can find. 

3. Select images with simple silhouettes. Shapes with lots of small legs or pieces to cut out in the middle  are difficult to make and product less distinct shadows. 

4. Resize images before printing them. Ensure each element is right relative size to other elements (for example; a cat should not be bigger than a lion).

5. Cut out with scissors. Use a craft knife for delicate areas. Children will need assistance with more detailed objects. 

Astronaut Buddy Getto

TIPS

You can hold printed shape over cardstock and cut the puppet out that way. If you opt to cut the arms and legs out separately, you well need a punch holder and brass fastener to reconnect the limbs. 

An Alternative Theatre

If the card board box or wall is not to your liking, you can use a portable coat rack as a stage. 

Wrap a white bed sheet tightly around the coat rack. Fix it to the frame with hair clips or clothes pins. Now, you can take your mobile theatre anywhere in the house. Don't forget a LED clamp for light source! 

Sound Effects

If you want to put a spin to your imagination, you can add sound effects for your show. Sticks, drums, shaking water bottles, and other noises can bring a sense of awe from your audience. 


Maybe you can do something like this. 




Richard Bradshaw is the most well know shadow puppeteer. His videos actually inspired me and you may see some hints in this short video! 



I hope you enjoyed this! 

If you find this content helpful, please sign up for my FREE monthly safety newsletter at https://shadowworldpresent.wixsite.com/safe.

Cyber Brats Episode : Targeted Attacks







Article highlighting conference

  My latest article in the Point of View Community Magazine highlights my experience performing and speaking at the 13th Annual Florida Pros...