Oct 072015

marinaawardAnd I win for Best Restaurant!

You will proud to know that I have just been awarded the “Best of San Leandro 2015” award, in the restaurant category, for Marina Restaurant.  You didn’t know that I owned Marina Restaurant? I didn’t either, though given that I’ve been getting their spam mail for years, I might as well.  It’s time that my sacrifices on behalf of the business were recognized and I thank the San Leandro Awards Program (SLAP) for the honor.

According to SLAP’s press release, the award is granted to businesses that have “achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category.”  And, you have to admit that marketing yourself as the owner of an award-winning restaurant by doing nothing at all is quite a feat. I must be some kind of  marketing genius.

I found out of my award last evening, through an e-mail which my obviously faulty spam filtered, tried to keep away from me.  The e-mail had few details but it offered a link to my very own award web page.  There, I was able to read how this award can help my company (though being the marketing genius that I am I don’t need no help) and have my frequently asked questions answered.  I now know that Marina Restaurant is the *only* restaurant in San Leandro to get his award (so, if any other local restaurants get the award, it’s surely a mistake) and that the full list of awardees will be published after all the e-mails are delivered.  I can’t wait to see who else is there!

The page also gave me a link to change my information. I can change the name of my business, the category, the city or the state – but I can’t actually change my e-mail address (more proof that this award is for me and not for the actual owners of Marina Restaurant).

The FAQ also explained very helpfully that as SLAP does not charge membership dues, it must charge for the award (the press release is free!).  I can get an award plaque for only $150 or a beautiful crystal octagonal award for just $200 (plus $20 in shipping & handling).  All I have to do is give this company I never heard of but who promises to sell my name, address and e-mail to their “strategic partners”, my credit card information.  In just two to three weeks I should have the award in my hands.  And did I mention how I get to choose whether I want a blue, green, red or yellow background? Which one do you think I should choose?

Call me suspicious (you never could really pronounce Marga, could you?), but I did a little bit of research on the San Leandro Awards Program.  I couldn’t find any records of them existing as an actual organization, but I found that the domain name they use,, was registered for the first time yesterday, 10/6/15, by someone using what seems to be a fake name and the address of the Chamber of Commerce in Hinsdale, Illinois.  Press releases and shopping carts are hosted at a different domain name,, which was registered for the first time in early September 2015 and uses the address of a Christian Counseling Center in Detroit, Michigan.  They do provide a phone number to get more information on their award, 888-509-9915, and a google search for this number leads to warnings from local BBBs and newspapers about an award scam associated with that number.  I am shocked.

Business award scams have been around for quite a few years, so I imagine they are pretty successful.  Who doesn’t want to get an award, after all, and $200 for the actual trophy doesn’t seem too bad, specially if your business is actually doing well.  I can only imagine how disappointing it must be for business owners to find out that it their award was just a scam.  They can take heart on the knowledge that most awards are scams anyway. Nonprofits give awards to celebrities in order to sell tickets to award ceremonies.  Universities give honorary degrees to big donors and politicians to big supporters.  Even business organizations use awards as a hook to get membership.   The only award that ultimately should really matter to a business is the loyalty and happiness of their customers.  They can assess the former by how often they see them and the latter by reading Yelp reviews.

If you are a business and feel the need for a trophy, why not just take a particularly good customer review, print it and buy a fancy frame for it? Or even have it engraved in some crystal.  Or just get your creative juices going and make up your own award! It’ll be cheaper.


Jul 182014

Facebook Advanced Fee Scam targets San Leandrans

Earlier today, the account of one of San Leandro Talk’s Facebook friends got cloned.  That means that someone created an account on his name, and then stole a photo of him.  That person proceeded to “friend” his friends. I figured it was a Nigerian scammer, but when he messaged me on Facebook I decided to play along for a little while.  What follows are my conversations with Scammer 1, who had assumed my friend’s name, let’s call him John Doe, and Scammer 2.  Some of the conversation with Scammer 1 took place at the same time than the conversation with Scammer 2.  I think they were played by the same person. I thought I was quite funny, what do you guys think?

Conversation with Scammer 1:

John Doe: Hello How are you doing

Me: did you get a new FB account?

John Doe:  yes
i have a problem with my formal facebook account
how are you doing

Me: fine, u?

John Doe:  Good to hear from you, I’m doing good and very happy. Have you heard the good news about Agent williams who works for the federal government money grant program offer?

Me: nope

John Doe:  Oh I thought you have heard about it already. The money is from the federal government head office to help all the community. I think you should have get the money already because i saw your name among the winners list when the federal government agent brought cash to my home and I wonder if you have got yours?

Me: if I had, I wouldn’t tell you
you’d just ask to borrow it to get drunk and go whoring all night
and wouldn’t even invite me to come along.

John Doe:  Really, It’s a win money grant offer from the federal government head office to help and maintain the standard of living. I think you should contact the federal government agent that leads the ups to my door step on his face book contact page or email address. Do you have the agent face book contact page link with you?

Me: no

John Doe:  just Click on this link and it will lead you to the federal government agent page that bring cash to my home on his face book page let me know when you have him up so i can tell you what to do next.
are you on his page now

Me: yep

John Doe:  ok, add him to be your friend and send him a message, tell him you heard of him about win money and how will you claim yours too.
send him a message about you claiming your win money<

Me: OK, though the dog is making panting noises she wants to go out

John Doe:  okay
have you sent him a message yet

Me: His middle name is Smith. Smith Brown. How cool is that?

John Doe:  have you sent him a message yet

Me: just told you

John Doe:  okay
wish you best of luck with him

Me: I do wish his last name was smith wesson

John Doe:  ok
hope he replied you back

Me: yep, I just sent him my info

John Doe:  good
wish you best of luck with him

Me:  thank you, have you gone drinking & whoring with him yet?

John Doe:  what is going on btw you and the aget

Me:  no drinking & whoring dates, if that’s what you ask

sheesh, John, you can’t be included on everything. Ever since that time we didn’t invite you to come to vegas with us, you’ve been so needy!

John Doe:  let me know what is going on with the agent

Me: Sheesh, I promise. Next time we go to Vegas with the boys WE WILL INVITE YOU.
except if Ralph comes, he doesn’t like you.
apparently you tried to blow him once when you were drunk. Do you remember that?
Me: HeyJohn, apparently there is no moola for me. Too bad. It’s up to you now, buddy. I know you got 150Gs. Vegas is ON YOU. Wanna go first weekend in August? And no staying at Hooters on your dime, bro, let’s stay at Caesar’s

And that was that with John Doe 🙁

My conversation with Scammer 2

I had to fill out a “questionnaire” and I used the name of the Chief of Police and the address of the SLPD.  I figured that if the scammer wanted to take this further, they could deal directly with the police.


Me: Hello Aget Williams S. Brown.
What does the S stand for?


Me: Cool, I like double surnames<
Me: So, I hear you have some money for me?

Hello, My Name is William S. Brown. I work for Federal Government Empowerment Agency. This is an empowerment program set up by the federal government to help the American communities and other countries around the world. Your name was picked randomly as one of the winners of the week. The money giving by the federal government it’s not a loan. It’s win money giving by the Federal government to help the American communities.You are one of the lucky winners who won from the lottery. You won $150, 000.00 as the star prize. Your Name and E-mail was drawn electronically and you are being picked randomly as one of the star winners. We will need to confirm some information before we can deliver your winnings to you in your home, the winnings will be delivered in cash to you as soon as the information required are duly filled: Claims Requirements: To claim you will need to fill this form to avoid double claiming, so that we can locate your destination when bringing your win money. Are you ready to fill the delivery forms? Regards William S. Brown.

Me: sure

Fill out the form below accordingly one after the other right now: Your Full Name:——– Your Address———– Your City———– Your State——– Zip code——– Date Of Birth———– Married/Single:———– E-Mail Address———— Phone number (mobile)——- Text Number Number—– Occupation———- Do you Own/Rent a House……. Male or Female———- Are you Deaf or Hearing———- Age———— Do you want Cash or Check? Get back to us Asap. Regards William S. Brown.

Your Full Name: Sandra Spagnoli Your Address 901 East 14th St Your City San Leandro Your State CA Zip code 94577 Date Of Birth 7/4/76 Married/Single: M E-Mail Address Phone number (mobile) don’t have one Text Number Number NA Occupation Chief Do you Own/Rent a House OWN Male or Female F Are you Deaf or Hearing depends Age 38 Do you want Cash

SANDRA SPAGNOLI DELIVERY INFORMATION Thanks for getting back to us Asap, we got your information. This is to inform you that your Full Name and Home Address has been forwarded to the Ups Manager for the delivery of your win money to you at your door step.. Let you know that your Win money tracking number and the Ups website to track your win money package is ready. AIM: SHDPsdRep. Reff No: (XYL/26510460037/10) Batch No: 24/00319/IP. WINNING AMOUNT..$150,000 CASH Make sure you keep all your delivery information save and secret with you for more security. Regards William S. Brown.


Me: ok

>>DELIVERY NOTIFICATION>>> MESSAGE FROM THE UPS DELIVERY HEAD OFFICE Thanks for getting back to us asap, we got your information’s. The federal government delivery agent affiliated with the Ups are ready to bring your package money to your door step. You will need to pay for Tax and Clearance fee which is $3000. So we can bring your money asap and you will not have to pay the money back . Go and make the payment now. So we can prepare all necessary documents. This is to inform you that your Full Name and Home Address has been forward to the delivery Manager and will you be at home by 6pm for your delivery and this is the UPS Delivery Cashier Name and Address to make the payment through Western Union Below: Regards William S. Brown.

Me:  I’ll pay it on arrival, thanks

you will need to pay it before we can deliver your win money to you

Me: and what is this for? who does the money go to?

the money will be send to the ups cashier manager
as soon as they confirm it your win money will be deliver to you asap

Me: why the UPS cashier manager? I thought this was federal government money

the money will be deliver to you by the ups cashier manager so you will need to pay for the tax clearance and the shipping fee<

Me: Yeah, but the shipping fee can’t be more than $50 – and that’s stretching it. I do a lot of buying/selling on e-bay so I have the UPS guys at my house all the time. The tax clearance is for the IRS?
should I send a check to the IRS, then/

the money will be send to the usp cashier manager

Me: since when do UPS cashier managers handle taxes? that’s weird.

if you are ready to make the payment just get back to me asap

Me: I still don’t understand why I’d pay UPS rather than the IRS. That seems way weird. I don’t want to get involved in some Leland Yee arms-dealing-scandal-shit.

the ups is the one to deliver the money to you

Me: I get that, but why would I pay a tax to UPS. Taxes are paid to the IRS, aren’t they? Or the franchise board, but you said this was federal money I’d be getting.
Which, btw, I totally deserve because I am a very federalist sort of citizen. I’m always doing federal stuff. I even voted in the primaries, which pretty much nobody else did.

ups cashier will clear out the irs official so you dont have to bother about that

Me: Hmm, OK, I guess. Fine, where do I send the check?

the money will be send through western union

Me: we don’t have western union here

what about walmart store

Me: Yuck! I don’t set foot inside Walmart. Are you kidding? Haven’t you heard how they exploit workers? They pay them so little they have to apply for food stamps and they lock them inside the stores at night because they’re afraid they will steal.

I actually go and protest in front of Walmart stores on Black Friday. We had a huge protest last year, the police were very cool, they almost joined in.

it seem you are not ready to make the payment

Me: No prob. Easy come, easy go. But now that I know how much loot John got, he’s gonna have to invite me up for a Vegas weekend, baby!