Wikinews investigates: Advertisements disguised as news articles trick unknowing users out of money, credit card information

 Notice — May 19, 2010 This article has been judged, by consensus of the Wikinews community, not to meet Wikinews standards of style and neutrality. Please see the relevant discussion for details. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Internet has already brought great things to the world, but has also brought spam, phishing, scamming, etc. We all have seen them across the Internet. They promise money, weight loss, or other things a person may strive for, but they usually amount to only a lighter pocket. Online advertising has become something that the increasingly Internet-reliant society has become used to, as well as more aware of. As this is true, online ads have become more intricate and deceptive in recent years.

However, a certain type of advertisement has arisen recently, and has become more deceptive than any other Internet ad, and has tricked many users into credit card charges. These sites claim to be news websites that preach a “miracle product”, and they offer a free trial, and then charge the user’s credit card a large amount of money without informing them after the trial ends. These sites appear to be operating under one venture and have caught ad pages of high-traffic websites by storm. In this report, Wikinews’ Tjc6 investigates news advertisement sites.

These Internet ads work in different ways:

Hypothetically speaking, a reader is browsing the web, and then happens to come across something that they believe is too good to be true. A link on one of these high-traffic pages promises white teeth, weight loss, or huge profits from working at home part-time. Out of curiosity, they click on the link.

This is the way that people are attracted to these fake news sites on the internet. The domain owners draw in customers by purchasing advertising on some of the World Wide Web’s most visited pages. Curious users click and are led to what they believe is a news article. From anti-aging to shedding weight, these “articles” from non-existant newspapers and television stations depict a skeptical news reporter trying a product because they were instructed to by a superior.

As the user reads on, they find that the “reporter” miraculously achieves significant weight loss, teeth whitening, or other general health and beauty improvement. The reporter states that the reader can get the same results as they did by using a “free trial” of the product.

Next, the user looks to the bottom of the page, where there seems to be a set of user comments, all of them praising the product or products that are advertised — this is where we first see something suspicious. Across several of these false articles, the comments appear to show the exact same text, sometimes with even the same usernames as other sites.

There is obviously some kind of correlation. Although this appears to be true, most users who purchase these products do not look at multiple versions of these similar pages of what appears to be a fast-growing network of interconnected fake news sites.

Once customers have convinced themselves into buying the product, they are led to a product (or products) website which promises a free trial for a very low price. What they do not know about this, however, is that they are giving their credit card data to a company that will charge it automatically after the trial ends. In about 14 days, the user receives a charge on their credit card for an excessive amount of money, usually from about $80 to $100 (USD). All attempts to contact these companies and cancel their shipments usually prove to be futile.

What these sites have is a large amount of legal copy located at the bottom of each site, stating their right to charge the user. This site, a fake news article claiming to offer teeth-whitening benefits, has several paragraphs of fine print, including this: “…Upon signing up for the 10 day trial membership you will be charged up to $4.97 depending on various shipping and initial offer promotions at that time but not more than $4.97 upon signing. If not cancelled, you will be charged $89.97 upon completion of the 10 day trial period. Monthly thereafter or 30 days from the original order date, the charge will reoccur monthly at a total of $89.97 until cancelled…,” the site says.

Practices like this have alerted the Better Business Bureau, an American organization that studies and reports on the reliability and practices of US businesses. In a press release, a spokesman from the BBB spoke out against sites like this. “Many businesses across the country are using the same selling model for their products: They lure customers in with claimed celebrity endorsements and free trial offers, and then lock them in by making it extremely difficult to cancel the automatic delivery of more products every month…,” said the report that denounced the websites.

When a user looks at several of these sites, they notice that all of them have the same exact structure. Because of this, Wikinews decided to look into where some of the domains were owned, and if they were all in fact part of one company.

However, the results that Wikinews found were ones that were not expected. Out of the three random websites that were found in Internet ads, all using similar designs and methods to attract the customers, came from three different locations in three countries and two separate continents. The first came from Scottsdale, in the United States, while the next two came from Vancouver and Hamburg. There is no location correlation, but surely, there has to be something that connected these sites together. We had to look even further to try to find a connection.

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There is some correlation within the product’s contact information. A large amount of the teeth-whitening products analyzed actually shared the same phone number, which lead to a distribution center located in St. Petersburg, Florida, and several other similar distribution centers located across the Southern United States. But, that explains only one of the categories of products that these websites cover, teeth whitening.

What about the other products? The other products such as weight loss and work-at-home kits all trace back to similar distribution centers in similar places. So, what do we make of all of this?

There is obviously some company that promotes these products through the fake news advertisements, but that company is nowhere to be found on the websites. All contact information is given on the product pages, and websites are copyrighted under the name of the domain, not a company. Whatever company has been the setup for these pages has been very good at hiding themselves from the Internet, as there is no information across the web about that mysterious large advertiser.

As a result of customers buying the products and having unauthorized charges on their credit cards, a large volume of complaints are currently present on awareness sites, complaint sites, and even the Better Business Bureau. Several customers point out that they were not informed of the steep charges and the company made it extremely difficult to cancel their subscription, usually resulting in the loss of several hundred dollars.

  • The trial offer was to pay for $3.95 for the cost of the shipping for one bottle. I noticed shortly after placing the order I had a charge on my credit card for $149.95. Unknown to myself the company charges for a membership if you don’t cancel within 14 days, I cancelled within 18 days…When I called the customer service number they told me the decision has been made and my refund request was denied. When I questioned the person on the other line about what I was getting for my $149.95 she told me I was not getting anything because I cancelled the membership.
?“Tamara”, in a post to the Ripoff Report
  • This is a “free sample” scam: Pay only postage and handling and get a free sample of a tooth whitening system, they say. I looked for the “catch,” something that would indicate that there’d be hidden or recurring charges, but didn’t see anything, and ordered. Sure enough, a couple of weeks later, I see a charge for $88.97 on my bank statement…When I called, the guy answering the phone had obviously answered the same angry question many, many times: “Why has your company charged $88.97 to my card?” “Because you didn’t cancel your subscription in time,” he said tiredly.
?“Elenor”, in a post to the Ripoff Report

One notable lawsuit has occurred as a result of these articles. Some of the articles about work at home kits specifically advertise things like “work for Google”, or “job openings at Google”. However, Google asserts these claims as false and has taken the case to court, as it is a copyright violation. “Thousands of people have been tricked into sending payment information and being charged hidden fees by questionable operations,” said Google in a statement.

The BBB has received over 3,000 complaints about products such as the ones that Google took offense to. The lawsuit has yet to begin in court, and no date has been set.

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Forex On The Go: Forex Trading Via Ipad

By Chris Johansen

Almost everything has gone mobile at this point in time. Fast-paced and always on the go, people always want to be on top of things. Why, if they can only put their houses and offices in their back-pack they would! Mobile offices, marketing, trading are the biggest things happening right now. Everything is online. Everything is mobile.

ForEx trading has come a long way. From 1967 up to present, due to technological advancements, more and more people can get a chance to earn money by just clicking the mouse and going online. Now, it is even better! Think mobile, think IPAD, think ForEx trading. What do you get? ForEx Trading in IPAD – at the palm of your hands!

We have heard of the IPAD, which is a thinner and lighter version of our humongous and Jurassic laptops. This piece of technological masterpiece would not only take you to different heights of liberation from heavy laptops, as they say, it is thinner lighter and faster; But also it will make checking mails, surfing, watching movies and reading books a breeze! As if that is not enough, with a bevy of applications to go through, there is this ‘ForEx Trading IPAD’.

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If you are into ForEx Trading, but need to do other things and must be here for this or there for that, the best way to go is ForEx trading via the IPAD.

Applications for ForEx Trading on IPAD have features that help the trader create a shortcut to easily and instantly access their accounts, through the mentioned device. Live streaming for dealing rates and news are available as well. There is also a feature wherein you can get real-time interactive charts with the most used indicators and customs settings. One can also place, modify and/or remove orders. Aside from getting into their accounts, traders can also check their orders and open positions, as well as their trading history.

One such example of the said application is ForEx Club’s (www.fxclub.com) iDealForEx (available in the iTunes store: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/idealForEx-for-ipad/id416793737?mt=8). This ForEx trading iPad application has three parts: The small tick chart, the large chart with several indicators and of course the rates. Because of this, all the trader needs is one screen. This would already show various currency pair rates while checking an indicator on a different currency pair, and viewing the EUR-USD tick chart at the same time. One can also view between charts by just sliding a finger across the screen. Same goes when viewing closed and open positions, and pending orders. On its charting features, it allows a trader to scroll through previous time frames, trades from charts, and plot indicators. Since most people do their trading using charts, the IPAD is of great advantage. With its high graphic resolution, traders do not have to squint to check the charts. All these features with an attractive and intuitive interface (with landscape and portrait layout options) in a small package!

This new trend in ForEx Trading is truly the next big thing! It is not going to be a surprise if we see people trading while doing their grocery!

About the Author: Are you looking for more information regarding

ForEx Trading in IPAD

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Chad calls for UN troops to withdraw

Friday, January 29, 2010

Diplomats have said that Chad called on the United Nations’ peacekeeping force to withdraw its civilians and soldiers from the country, and wants a timetable for the withdrawal.

“There is a [Chadian] political imperative for a withdrawal. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, it will be a withdrawal,” said an unnamed diplomat to the Reuters news agency; diplomats say that the deployment of UN personnel was never fully accepted by the government, and that Chadian president Idriss Deby views their presence as an encroachment on their sovereign territory.

The UN has sent out a high-level team to Chad, for talks, although diplomats noted there wasn’t any scope to renegotiate the organisation’s mandate, which is due to expire on March 15. Chadian authorities said they had asked the UN not to renew the mandate. Some concerns have been raised that aid agencies would not be able to operate in Chad should the withdrawal take place.

There is no question of that [changing the mandate]. The Chadians are demanding a calendar for the retreat. It will not be long.

“There is no question of that [changing the mandate]. The Chadians are demanding a calendar for the retreat. It will not be long,” said another diplomat, who wished to remain anonymous.

The UN is mandated to have approximately 5,000 soldiers in Chad, although at the moment there are only 3,000, as the force is still deploying; it took over the peacekeeping role in the country from the European Union in 2009. Human rights groups say that about 200,000 refugees from Darfur in neighbouring Sudan are in the eastern part of the country, where they have faced violence from fighters. The UN was tasked with protecting those refugees.

UN peacekeeping forces are also present in the northern Central African Republic (CAR), as civilians there came under violence from local rebellions, as well as the larger regional conflict. According to a diplomat, the UN would have to withdraw from the CAR if it pulled out of Chad. “The UN can’t operate in a country that doesn’t want them. But it also means a withdrawal from CAR,” he noted.

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On the campaign trail in the USA, July 2020

Monday, August 31, 2020

The following is the third edition of a monthly series chronicling the 2020 United States presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after an overview of the month’s biggest stories.

This month’s spotlight on the campaign trail includes interviews with the vice presidential nominees of the American Solidarity Party, the Bread and Roses Party, and the Unity Party of America.

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Investigation into Polish air crash reveals passengers in cockpit

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The investigation into the plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczy?ski has revealed that passengers were in the cockpit of the crashed plane.According to the head of the technical commission involved with investigating the crash, Alexei Morozov, the crew of the aircraft had been warned of limited visibility, although it has not been determined whether or not the crew’s decision to land had been influenced by the passengers on board. The cause of the crash has not been identified, although the possibility of an explosion or terrorist attack on board the aircraft has been ruled out.

Morozov also said that the crew on board the plane had not been properly trained for the flight, and had been assembled only a few days before the flight. He said that the crew “did not undergo regular simulated training, including the practice of co-ordination and emergency situations during flights.”

The overall leader of the investigation, Tatyana Anodina, confirmed that unauthorized people had been in the cockpit near the end of the flight, saying that “in the cockpit there were individuals who were not members of the crew.” One person had been identified, although their name has not been released. Anodina said that “[t]he voice of one of them has been identified exactly, the voice of the other, or the others, will require additional information from the Polish side.”

The investigation also found that the aircraft involved had been in normal operating condition; Anodina said that “[t]he engines were working up till the moment the plane collided with the ground.”

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Centurylink Internet Services

Centurylink Internet Services

by

HughesNetSales

In this century where almost everything has gone online, you will need a fast, secure and reliable internet connection in order to keep up with the changing world. Therefore, you should go for centuryLink internet from centurylink. Centurylink is the third largest telecommunication company in the united state and among the largest internet service provider providers. It specializes in offering high quality voice, data and video services in both homes and businesses across the united state. Centurylink was established in 2006, with its headquarters in Monroe, La. Over the years centurylink has established itself as a leader in the network services market, and boasts of state of the art cloud infrastructure and hosting IT solutions for many businesses across united state. The workforce at centurylink is committed to providing outstanding services and quality products to its customers. CenturyLink Internet is offered wireless and on your own private and direct connection to their fiber-optic network.

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Centurylink has a wide range of connection speeds from which you can the one that will meet your needs adequately. For basics internet use centurylink will offer connection speed of up to 1.5Mbps and if you want to boost your home internet and have control of it you can opt for the 7 Mbps connection speed. However, for those who want a connection speed that has the capability of practically performing any internet task, centurylink offers the 25 Mbps and 40 Mbps connection speed. CenturyLink internet will add value to your home and at the same time help you with your homework, job searches, connecting with friends and relatives, fast video and music downloads, and aid in getting news and information at the comfort of your home or office. Security is a major concern when it comes to internet, but while using CenturyLink Internet you should not have any worries of identity theft. Centurylink high speed internet is not via cables, and therefore, no connections are shared. This means that you will have your connection directly connected to the centurylink fiber-network, which in turn makes it 100 percent private. Apart from private network connection you will receive a consistent connection speed even during peak times. With Century Link Internet the era of waiting for a video to watch is long gone. Getting a high connection speed of up to 10 Mbps from centurylink you will be able to watch streaming HD contents without buffering. Additionally, you will have the ability to download videos or music in no time and have an enhanced gaming experience. With CenturyLink Internet you will also have the opportunity of watching free TV online from more than 250 providers without exiting from the centurylink portal. The monthly charges of centuryLink internet depends on the connection speed you have subscribed, for example a connection speed of up to 1.5 Mbps starts from $19.95 a month while that of up to 10 Mbps starts from $29.95 a month. Centurylink has a technical support team that will assist you anytime of the day including weekends. CenturyLink internet equipments come with a free self installation which will guide you on how to install them in less than 30 minutes. However, if you find it hard to do it yourself the company will send a person to do it for you. Experience the outstanding power of fiber-optic network with a direct connection from centurylink.

Hughesnet is rolling out its 4th-generation high-speed internet. Pluswildblue internet is now offering Exede from wildblue – to give you more of what you need, including dramatically improved performance and support for high-bandwidth applications like voice, video and music.

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Centurylink Internet Services

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The Onion: An interview with ‘America’s Finest News Source’

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Despite the hopes of many University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) students, The Onion was not named after their student center. “People always ask questions about where the name The Onion came from,” said President Sean Mills in an interview with David Shankbone, “and when I recently asked Tim Keck, who was one of the founders, he told me the name—I’ve never heard this story about ‘see you at the un-yun’—he said it was literally that his Uncle said he should call it The Onion when he saw him and Chris Johnson eating an onion sandwich. They had literally just cut up the onion and put it on bread.” According to Editorial Manager Chet Clem, their food budget was so low when they started the paper that they were down to white bread and onions.

Long before The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, Heck and Johnson envisioned a publication that would parody the news—and news reporting—when they were students at UW in 1988. Since its inception, The Onion has become a veritable news parody empire, with a print edition, a website that drew 5,000,000 unique visitors in the month of October, personal ads, a 24 hour news network, podcasts, and a recently launched world atlas called Our Dumb World. Al Gore and General Tommy Franks casually rattle off their favorite headlines (Gore’s was when The Onion reported he and Tipper were having the best sex of their lives after his 2000 Electoral College defeat). Many of their writers have gone on to wield great influence on Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert‘s news parody shows.

And we are sorry to break the news to all you amateur headline writers: your submissions do not even get read.

Below is David Shankbone’s interview with Chet Clem and Sean Mills about the news empire that has become The Onion.

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Cloned cattle’s milk and meat seem safe, according to new study

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A National Academy of Sciences report (.pdf) last year said that while the milk and meat from cloned animals would not likely make anyone sick, more research should be performed. Now, a new US-Japan study published in the April 11 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that milk and meat from cloned cattle does indeed appear to meet industry standards and appears to be safe for human consumption.

As BBC News reports, the scientists, led by Professor Jerry Yang from the University of Connecticut, compared the produce from two beef and four dairy clones, all derived from a single Holstein dairy cow and a single Japanese black bull, with the produce from normal animals of similar age and breed.

The meat was analysed against more than 100 physiological, tissue and cellular components, while the milk was analysed for protein, fat and other variables. No significant differences between the produce of cloned and normal cattle were found. Higher levels of fat and fatty acids were found in the cloned cow meat, but they still fell within beef industry standards.

While the study showed the cloned produce to be within the range approved for human consumption, the scientists stressed that the research was still in its early stages. Their findings, they said, provide “guidelines” for further research with larger numbers of clones from different genetic backgrounds.

Cloning livestock may one day increase yields by copying those animals that are especially productive and especially resistant to disease.

“The milking production levels in the US are three to four times higher than levels in China; maybe even five times or more compared to cows in India and some other countries,” Professor Jerry Yang told BBC News. “Therefore cloning could offer technology for duplicating superior farm animals. However, all the products from these cloned animals must be safe for human consumption. …and it is a major issue for scientists to provide a scientific basis for the data and information to address this question.”

As USA Today reports, there is currently no law governing the sale of meat or milk from the estimated 1,000 to 2,000 cloned farm animals in the USA. But since 2003, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked producers to voluntarily keep the meat and milk of these animals, and that of their offspring, out of the food supply.

Wired News reports that companies like ViaGen and Cyagra, which offer livestock-cloning services, have also been waiting for several years for a final say from the FDA.

“For the United States agricultural industry, (cloning) can reduce the number of cows necessary for milking,” said Jerry Yang “They can have a pleasant environment and produce even more milk.” He also said that cloning cattle from the United States, where genetic breeding is more advanced, could save developing countries 50 years of breeding.

The idea of cloning animals for human consumption is not without its critics. First, there are the welfare concerns, as most cloned animals do not make it to term before being born, and many of those that do are born deformed or prone to illness. The Humane Society of the United States has asked for a ban on milk and meat from clones for just this reason. Second, there is still the concern that healthy clones may have subtle defects that could make their food products unsafe to eat.

As the Washington Post reports, some critics are asking why it is necessary to clone cows that produce huge amounts of milk when surpluses, rather than shortages, are the main problem facing the U.S. dairy industry today.

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Woman returns home with Christmas turkey, a month after setting out

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Scottish woman who set out before Christmas to purchase a turkey finally made it home on Monday, after being cut off by snow for a month. Kay Ure left the Lighthouse Keeper’s cottage on Cape Wrath, at the very northwest tip of Great Britain, in December. She was heading to Inverness on a shopping trip.

However on her return journey heavy snow and ice prevented her husband, John, from travelling the last 11 miles to pick her up. She was forced to wait a month in a friend’s caravan, before the weather improved and the couple could finally be reunited.

They were separated not just for Christmas and New Year, but also for Mr Ure’s 58th birthday. With no fresh supplies, he was reduced to celebrating with a tin of baked beans. He also ran out of coal, and had to feed the couple’s six springer spaniels on emergency army rations.

“It’s the first time we’ve been separated”, said Mr Ure in December. “We’ve been snowed in here for three weeks before, so we are well used to it and it’s quite nice to get a bit of peace and quiet.”

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Coping With Your Teenager’s Mood Swings

Coping With Your Teenager’s Mood Swings by If you are the parent of a teenager, you are familiar with mood swings. One minute, your teen is happy and loving, the next they are sullen or angry. These mood swings can happen fast and can seem to come out of nowhere.You may find yourself wondering what you did or said to cause this shift in your teen’s mood. The truth is, you probably didn’t do anything wrong at all. Your teen’s mood swings are normal, and there is not much that can be done to stop it.Your teen is slowly becoming an adult and they are developing the skills they need to handle the pressures of the adult world, but this process takes time. They may have a school project due, have chores around the house to complete, and then they get into an argument with their best friend.Some of these things may seem silly or trivial, as you have work to do and a lot more housework on top of that. Try to remember that your teen’s brain is still growing and they may simply not have the ability to handle all of those pressures and keep a smile on their face at all times.While you may not be able to end your teen’s mood swings all together, you can use these techniques to help both you and your teen learn to cope: Encourage your teen to talk to you when they feel upset or overwhelmed. Let them know that you are there for them, and that you have experienced those same feelings from time to time. If your teen doesn’t want to talk, encourage them to express their feelings in a creative way, such as painting, drawing, or writing. Let them know that they can keep this private, that they do not need to show anyone. Once they get their frustrations out, they will feel a lot better and will be able to move on. Try not to react to your teen’s mood swings. Sometimes, they say things just to get a reaction. If you ignore the bait, they may change their attitude. If you and your teen do get into an argument, diffuse the situation by getting up and taking a break. When both you and your child are calmed down, you can finish discussing the issue.At times, it can seem like your teen is from a foreign country. They have different behavior and customs and sometimes, and sometimes it can seem as though they are speaking a different language.Even though there are difficult times, try to enjoy this period of your child’s life as much as possible, because these years will go by very fast.To learn more ways to cope with your teen’s mood swings (and generally understand them better), visit: Understanding My Teen.Article Source: eArticlesOnline.com

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