The exposure of a weasel, part 3

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series The exposure of a weasel

There is yet more to the fraud uncovered in the previous two posts. Searching on the number “866-951-1406” given as the number to call to cancel brings up a whole slew of results. It turns out that is only one “front” for this operation. Other domains include:

  • (no longer online)

These were all I was able to uncover.

In the process, I uncovered a mile-long trail of unhappy customers, searching on either the phone number or “google treasure chest scam”:

This is not exhaustive, of course. Notice the name has been changed a few times, but the phone number has been kept the same.

Some people also feel misled that this is somehow sponsored or endorsed by Google, because of the similar logo being used. I would not be surprised to see legal action from Google in the near future regarding trademark dilution.

Feel free to reply with comments on this post about any information you have. I plan to make this series of posts the most exhaustive and thorough repudation of this (group of) fraudulent weasel(s) on the World Wide Web.

The exposure of a weasel, part 2

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series The exposure of a weasel

Recap: In our last episode, I had just revealed how Jason Hoeffer used an offsite Javascript link to fool naive potential customers into thinking he was from the same city they were living in.

I continued posing as a potential customer, and clicked the “click here” link that purports to be available for only the $2.95 shipping. Having my previous skepticism thoroughly validated, I carefully looked at the terms and conditions. I was not surprised at what I found:

Upon submitting a request for Membership, a Member ID and Password are assigned to you and can be used to gain access to The initial shipping and handling charge of one dollars and ninety seven cents, includes the google treasure chest kit as well as seven days worth of access to the online directories and training. After seven days, if you choose not to cancel, you will be billed your first monthly membership fee of seventy two dollars and twenty one cents for the membership fee for the membership.

Okay, the initial shipping and handling charge as listed here is a dollar lower. Someone forgot to update the T&C document with the new one. So a week later you get hit for $72.21, spelled out in words to make it much less obvious.

Membership fees will be charged to the credit card used by you to complete the transaction. You have also unlocked a fourteen-day trial and twenty one-day trial to the Fraud SafeLockID and GrantSpring for just $38.84 and $24.87 a month thereafter (shows as “SafeLockID” and “GrantSpring”) should you choose not to cancel.

These bring the total up to $135.92 if you don’t cancel in time.

Prior charges for all programs are non-refundable but bonus subscriptions can be cancelled and future charges stopped at any time by calling toll-free 866.951.1406 Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm. All offers come with a monthly newsletter.

Translation: Not only are we going to bilk you for almost $140, we’re going to spam you.

Skipping down further:

We handle all charge backs and reversals as potential cases of fraudulent use of our services and/or theft of services.

The nerve! The hypocrisy! The absolute, unmitigated audacity! After luring people in with what is arguably fraud itself, Jason Hoeffer turns around and says “if you ask for a chargeback, you’re a fraudster.”

After this, I decided the privacy policy was only worth a quick skim. I uncovered this little gem:


That speaks for itself.

More to come…

The exposure of a weasel, part 1

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series The exposure of a weasel

On a recent visit to Facebook, I stumbled across an ad which links to a Web site showing a $5000 check from Google, and the opening line “Get paid $5 to $30 for every website link that you post on Google.”

The most obvious item I found, however, was that the paragraph after the check said “Thank you for visiting my site. This is Jason Hoeffer from .” Exactly as so, without the city name. It made me wonder what was going on.

I browse on Firefox (and another similar browser, Iceweasel) with NoScript. Allowing Javascript temporarily to all the sites using Javascript from this page filled in that blank space with “Houston.” Well, I’m in Houston. I wonder if that’s coincidence? Could Jason Hoeffer really be from my hometown?

Looking in the HTML source code revealed that the city name was inserted with a bit of off-site Javascript. My skepticism that this Jason Hoeffer guy is really from Houston just grew tremendously. Someone legitimate should not need to use Javascript to insert the city where he or she is from.

Retreiving the script (by itself) via Tor a few times confirmed what I thought. I got Vienna, Paris, and Columbus on three separate attempts. Someone from outside Houston has confirmed that indeed, for her Jason is from a city near where she lives.

The ad may well be off Facebook by now, as I reported this to them.

Morals: don’t take everything at face value, and browse with Javascript off by default. Sometimes, it’s best to assume someone is a pathological liar until you have hard evidence otherwise.

But there’s even more. (To be continued in part 2…)

Obama’s high speed rail missing a couple of pieces

A recent Inhabitat article brought to my attention by Karen Walrond shows Obama’s well-intentioned high-speed rail plan. I like the idea of high-speed rail in the US; it is long overdue, as the President admits.

However, there is a glaring omission on the map, as highlighted by Karen in her original tweet. There are no links planned from Houston to any other Texas cities. The omissions do not stop there: the “South Central” network does not connect to any other networks. Houston to Austin? Gas up the car, because it’s not happening on the train. Dallas to St. Louis? Forget it. Likewise, getting to, say, Chicago won’t be easy from the Big Easy (New Orleans).

I can understand leaving most of the western states out of the plan simply because there are more cows than people across large portions of states like Wyoming and Montana, and likewise for Iowa and Nebraska where there are almost certainly too many well-utilized corn fields to consider building any serious high-speed rail.

But really, Houstonians want to go places besides New Orleans and further down the Gulf Coast. Riding a high-speed train beats the heck out of uttering profanity at traffic while driving down I-10 to San Antonio.