Phishing Warning

I usually post these things as a humorous thing, to demonstrate how ridiculous they generally are, but this time I’m posting it as an actual warning.

I got this e-mail this morning (posted as an image, to show the whole thing, the link is dead):

 

 

This one worries me because it’s actually pretty well done. The English isn’t ridiculously bad, the grammar is pretty much correct, the “reply-to” address isn’t in nigeria (although it’s probably a dead address, since they chose a different route). It even includes a legit looking logo at the top and a friendly reminder to protect your password to lend credibility.  How ironic is that?

It concerns me that some people with less experience on the net may fall for this one, click the link and enter their information. I did not follow the link to see how professional the actual phishing page itself looks, but if it looks legit at all, some people will fall for it.

This one was easy for me to recognize as a scam because I don’t have a Wells Fargo account. But if someone does have an account and gets an e-mail like this, the biggest indication that the e-mail is fake is by hovering the mouse pointer over the link.

The author of the e-mail can change what text is displayed in the link, while the destination of the link is someplace completely different. Hovering your mouse pointer over the link, causes the actual destination of the link to pop up in a “tooltip” box, or possibly down at the bottom in the status bar.

Here’s what it looks like when I hover the mouse over the link using my e-mail application:

As you can see, the destination of the link has no relationship to what’s printed in the e-mail.  This is an immediate indication of a scam.

I’d be willing to bet that if you reply to this e-mail, you’d get “address does not exist” failure.  They created the “reply-to” address out of thin air, just to make it appear as if the e-mail came from someone at Wells Fargo.  It didn’t.

Here’s the most important tip I can give:  Never, Ever, Ever click on a link from an unsolicited e-mail and enter any sensitive data in the resulting page.

If your bank really does want to verify your information, they won’t send you to some unusual page and ask you to enter your account info, they’ll ask you to log into your account and verify the information there.

If you get an e-mail like this, and you really do think it’s legit, call your bank and ask them if it’s actually from them.  If it’s real, they’ll know it and they’ll be able to tell you so.  Most likely, it’s not…no matter how realistic it may look.

Petitioning your government for redress of grievances

I doubt that this is news to any of the few regular readers left here (considering my lackluster blogging performance over the past year or so), but just in case any of you haven’t heard about it:

The administration has started a petition web site that allows citizens to submit petitions requesting legislation. If those petitions achieve a minimum number of signatures, the whitehouse will supposedly release a statement on the subject.

Now, I strongly doubt that the Obama administration would seriously consider submitting legislation regarding my pet issues, but, hey, if nothing else, something like this could clue him in that passing legislation (or executive orders, which is his (unconstitutional) legislative tool of choice) in opposition to them might be a bad move politically.

An any rate, there are a few petitions that have been submitted that are worthy of our support, if you don’t mind registering to do so. Might as well face it, if there is a government list that we would want to avoid being on, if you’ve ever bought a gun from a dealer and had a NICS check run, you’re probably already on it.

Anyway, again if you’re willing, here are the petitions that I know about. There may be more:

Support HR822, the National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act

Repeal the prohibition in the FOPA to own automatic firearms produced after 1986 (Firearms Owners’ Protection Act)

Lead the way in removing silencers from the National Firearms Act.

Lead the way in removing arbitrarily designated “short-barreled” rifles and shotguns from the National Firearms Act.

I never thought I’d say this…

…but I finally found a rap song that I like.

This is in response to the recent flap about some rapper I’ve never heard of saying “F- the troops” in a “song”.

As a vet myself, even though I wasn’t Army, I can say that the artist in this piece is right: When Soulja girl dissed the Army, he dissed my brothers and sisters.

I’ve got your backs shipmates.

Fair warning: if you don’t like bad language, don’t play this.

Hat tip to Irons in the Fire. If it weren’t for Firehand, I’d have never heard about this story and probably would have never found a rap song that I like.

Quote of the day

thebardofmurdoc:

Well after fifty tries
I got a real surprise:
A job that now relies
On bloating peoples’ thighs.

Each morning I arise
And clean sleep from my eyes;
I head to work that ties
My life to apple pies.

“Perhaps you would like fries?”
My clients I advise,
“Or maybe Supersize,
And get a Nobel Prize!”

Barack might improvise,
But doesn’t realize,
The jobs his plan supplies
Michelle would criticize.

I can only dream of being that creative.

Well played oh humble Bard.

From comments here (and the post is worth reading too).

People of the Gun

I meant to post about this days ago, but things just kind of got away from me and I never got it done.

It seems that Jeff over at Alphecca…creator of the People of the Gun web site…has gotten sponsorship and a new host for the tribe.

The theme is what it always was: A tribe of firearm owners and bloggers; just ordinary Americans, many of them your friends and neighbors. We believe in and practice the constitutional and natural right to protect our families, ourselves, and our homes.

Ammo.net, an online ammunition retailer with great prices and a bangin’ selection (sorry, I couldn’t resist) has become the new home People of the Gun, of which I’m a proud member.

You can find the newly designed and hosted web site here, and you may notice the updated banner in the sidebar. 

And if you’re not a member of the tribe…why not?

I suppose I should mention…

…that I was on Blogtalk Radio last night.

I would imagine most of my readers already know about B B & guns on blogtalk radio so I probably don’t really need to mention it…but just in case:

Bonnie and Breda were gracious enough to invite me to join them in discussing the GPal fiasco on their show last night.  I hope I didn’t sound like too much of a nimrod.

Thanks to B&B for inviting me…it was fun, and I think this is an important issue that needs to be publicized.

Be sure to listen in live next time and join in on the Chat room discussion.  7pm Eastern on Thursdays.

The Gunpal/Gpal saga continues

Pretty much everyone should be well aware of the GPal (formerly known as Gunpal) payment service’s long standing, chronic and well documented problems.

Basically, they seem to have no problem receiving money through ACH and credit card transfers, but getting it back out can be a bit…um…problematic.

They have an entire forum area at Calguns.net dedicated to their company.  Recently, however, it’s basically turned into a place for everyone to report that they’re having exactly the same problem as everyone else.

Their Customer support is non-responsive both through e-mail or telephone and no one seems to be getting any straight answers.

If you checked any of the links above, you’ll find that either CEO Ben Cannon, or someone posting as “GPalVP” has been assuring everyone over and over and over that the problems have been fixed…but this has been going on for months now.

I am now numbered among the victims of the GPal scam.  Fortunately, the amount they owe me is much smaller than many, and I’m not the proprietor of one of the businesses that GPal has reportedly bankrupted, but it’s still pretty annoying.  I requested the $80 and change in my account to be transferred to my linked and verified bank account early in August.  On August 13, the transfer appeared on GPal’s web site as “completed” and my account balance went to 0.

As of this date, I still have not recieved payment to my bank.  How complicated is an electronic transfer to complete anyway?  I’ve been using ACH to pay my bills for going on ten years now without a single glitch.

At any rate, I signed up for an account on Calguns.net last night, and left a message on this thread* basically saying that we’ve been as patient and understanding as we can be.  It’s getting beyond that now; and so I asked if anyone had considered a class action lawsuit and suggested that it may be the best option.

*Update: the link isn’t broken per se.  They deleted the entire thread.  Covering tracks so to speak.  I have screen shots of the administrator admitting that he’d deleted posts from the thread and I’m pretty sure the thread OP has screen shots of the whole thing in pdf format.  I really don’t know what they think they’re accomplishing with the deletions, other than removing all doubt about what type of business they are running over there. /Update

Within 10 minutes, my post had been deleted.  When I tried to post another comment, I got the message to the right.

Signed up, posted a single comment (a comment that contained no accusations, no personal attacks, no name calling, no foul language, no offensive language of any kind) and was banned within ten minutes.

That’s GOT to be some kind of record.

Not only is GPal having major problems.  Not only are they refusing to admit that they are having problems.  Not only are they repeatedly misleading their customers by claiming that the problems have been fixed when they so obviously have not…they are actively deleting, and in some cases allegedly editing, forum posts to prevent people from talking about it and organizing to get some sort of satisfaction.

I was one of the early proponents of Gunpal/GPal and I’d like to say that it’s still a good company but is just experiencing some growing pains right now…but I simply cannot do that any more.

I removed the Gpal donation link from my sidebar, rescinded my recommendation to VCDL that they switch to their service and hereby offer the following warning to gun owners everywhere:

DO NOT USE GPAL…EVER.

They have demonstrated themselves to be unscrupulous and completely untrustworthy.  Not because of the technical problems…but because of their inept, incompetent and flatly dishonorable handling of the situation from the beginning.

They are simply NOT the kind of business that I would recommend entrusting your money to.  Even if they get their technical problems ironed out, their handling of this situation has led me to the conclusion that they simply cannot be trusted.

Ever.

Period.

I am going to begin looking into the possibility of a class action brought against this service.  Even people who’ve eventually gotten their money have been harmed by the delays and runaround they’ve been given.  Several small businesses have reportedly been forced to close their doors and people’s very livelihoods have been put at risk.

This is unacceptable.

If you have been a victim of Gunpal/Gpal and are interested in participating in legal action against them, please e-mail me so we can coordinate efforts.

They may be able to delete posts and stifle discussion about this on their own forum, but they can’t stop me from talking about it here.

Update: re deleting the previously discussed thread, this is just too funny.

Click to make bigger

If you don’t want to bother with the link or the image, it’s a posting to the Calguns GPal forum from “GPalVP” and opens with this gem:

In an attempt to ease some of the anger, I tried to let people post whatever they wanted again.  it is not working so we are going back to a tightly controlled GPal forum

That’s just funny right there…in an infuriating sort of way.  Allow me to provide a literal translation of what he’s REALLY saying:

“We haven’t fixed the problems and people are still having to wait months to get their money from us (assuming they get it at all).  In lieu of telling our customers what was going on and what we’re doing to fix it, out of the goodness of our hearts we decided to grant our dupes customers the privilege of saying whatever they wanted (unless you suggest a lawsuit, of course…that one we deleted immediately) on this forum we’ve so generously provided you to use since we can’t be bothered to answer the phone or respond to e-mails.

Instead of gratefully accepting this gracious and benevolent gift we have bestowed upon you, you ungrateful b*st**ds just couldn’t stop complaining about us stealing your money could you?  Well, the party’s over now kids.   You should feel privileged that we even acknowledge your presence at all.

Now, if we’ve been holding on to your money interest free for no less than six weeks, you grovel sufficiently, and post the “support ticket” number that we provided you when we began ignoring you, we MIGHT have pity upon you and gift you with the return of your money.

Otherwise: bite me sucker.”

Allow me to take this opportunity to reiterate something I said earlier:


DO NOT USE GPAL…EVER

Oh, and GPalVP? If you happen to read this post…your sig line? Here, I fixed it for you:

Is Anti-gun Costco intentionally duping gun owners?

The issue of Costco and gun rights has reared its ugly head again.

The issue came up in an e-mail thread yesterday.

Basically, a member of the e-mail list posted a link to a page outlining Costco’s gun policy:

By obtaining a Costco membership card, our members agree to comply with the Membership Rules and the Privileges and Conditions of membership.

Costco does not believe that it is necessary for firearms to be brought into its warehouse stores, except in the case of authorized law enforcement officers.  For the protection of all our members and employees, we feel this is a reasonable and prudent precaution to ensure a pleasant shopping experience and safe workplace.  Our policy is meant to protect our members and employees in all warehouses around the world.  This is not a new policy and we do not customize the policy for each individual city/county/state/country where we do business.

Every business has the right to set their own policies regarding firearms on their privately owned property.  I do not begrudge them this right.  And, as a membership only organization, Costco most definitely has the right to set policies to which members must agree when they sign up for membership.

The problem is that this policy is not disclosed in any form to members prior to joining.

There is nothing in the brochure (pdf link) outlining the “Privileges and Conditions of membership.”  There is nothing on their FAQ page.  They do not post “no guns” signs in their stores.  In fact, I can’t find a link to the above policy page that is accessible from anywhere on Costco’s main site.  It appears to be completely inaccessible unless you know the specific url with which to access it.

How, specifically, can members be considered to “agree to comply with” a condition of membership that is actively and, intentionally withheld from them short of a specific inquiry?

How do I know that the withholding of this vital information is intentional?  Because I had this issue with Costco several years ago.  Unaware of their gun policy, I was a member, but was informed of their policy third-hand.  I inquired about the policy at the store and was informed that “no guns” was, indeed, the corporate policy of Costco.  When I asked to see this policy spelled out in writing, I was told that it was not a written policy and was referred to the corporate offices.

The Corporate office responded to my inquiry with the above statement in an e-mail.  When I pointed out that an e-mail does not constitute an official written policy, they basically told me that if I don’t like it,  I don’t have to be a member.

They’ve had several years to address this issue and publicly post the policy in a manner accessible to people who are considering purchasing a membership.  They have declined to do so.

The only conclusion I can draw from this is that they are an anti-gun organization but are intentionally duping gun owners by hiding this fact.  Gun owners who lawfully carry firearms into Costco facilities are unwittingly violating the terms of their membership.  This can create a potentially deadly situation as a Costco employee may notice a lawfully carried firearm and call the police, causing an unnecessary confrontation that could possibly end tragically (ETA:  And HAS*) should the responding officers or the gun owner respond to the situation imperfectly.

I, for one, took advantage of Costco’s 100% membership guarantee as soon as I became aware of their duplicity.

Costco’s 100% Satisfaction Guarantee

On Membership: We will refund your membership fee in full at any time if you are dissatisfied.

I’m not much of one to tell other people what to do so I’m not necessarily recommending any particular action on the part of other gun owners, but I believe it is imperative that the word get out about this so that law abiding gun owners can at least make an informed decision when choosing whether to join Costco or take their business to one of the competing discount clubs.

For that reason, I would ask that other bloggers share this information with their readers.

In case you’re interested in contacting Costco about either their “no guns” policy or their failure to disclose it properly, here’s the contact page from their web site, and the contact info for their current leadership:

Jim Sinegal, Founder & CEO
Jeffrey Brotman, Founder & Chairman
W. Craig Jelinek, President/COO
Costco
999 Lake Drive, # 200
Issaquah, WA 98027
425-313-8100

*Update:  Hat tip to VegasChris who, in comments, reminded me of the recent incident in Los Vegas where a gun owner was killed after a Costco employee saw his lawfully carried handgun and called the police.

There is some controversy as to what actually happened, but I think it’s safe to say that the situation was, in fact, handled imperfectly and ended in unnecessary tragedy.