Friday, January 04, 2019

How I Lost My FaceBook Account Because I Tried to Help FaceBook Scammers are Taking Over FaceBook Event Pages

I should be dead by now. The FaceBook scammers were not happy with me. “You’ll die before the year ends” one said. “You will die this weekend” said another. A scammer had posted they had tickets for sale for every Fleetwood Mac show in the U.S. They had Elton John too. And Travis Scott. And the free Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting. And the free local snowflake parade in my tiny hometown in New Jersey. I decided to take action.

I go to a lot of concerts. I keep track of what’s happening by saving these events on Facebook. They appear in my FaceBook calendar. I keep up with the event, what time the acts go on and maybe buy or sell tickets. It’s a great tool.

Last September the Smithereens were playing the Hoboken Music & Arts Festival. I saved the event. Then I noticed under the discussion tab that someone had tickets for sale. “Me and my family can’t make it to this wonderful event. Kindly DM me for cheap tickets at a discount rate if you are interested” the offer said. But it’s a free event. I looked at the seller’s profile. It looked a little off. A couple of photos of a really attractive girl. No friends. Didn’t live in the area. I noticed the username in the url did not match the name. I did a Facebook search on the username, then searched those results for posts by the username. The search revealed that this FaceBook account had tickets for sale for multiple events all over the world. I found dozens more accounts with similar offerings.

I discovered that FaceBook provides GIFS to use in comments. Some of them were pretty funny. There is a spinning “Fraud Alert” siren and flashing “This Person is a Scammer” text. There is Elaine from “Seinfeld” pointing “Fake! Fake! Fake!” and Cardi B, “You just mad Fake!” I started posting these as comments to the scammers ticket offers. Some unsuspecting users inquired about buying the tickets. I was especially concerned with these so I simply commented that “This person is a scammer” to warn them. Sometimes I posted the search results displaying all the tickets they had for sale. I received a few thank yous.

I decided to engage these offerings to see how these thieves operated. I used FaceBook’s messenger to DM Edward Moses (username rehemamwangek) about Phish Tickets. He has tickets to all their events.

 “I need 2 tickets”.

 “OK” He needs to figure out which event.

 “How Much? Good Seats?”

 “Yes, good seats, how many do you need?”

 “Uh, I told you already! I need two! How can I get them?” (Still no confirmation of what I am trying to buy).

 “OK, they are digital tickets. I can send them to your email”

 “OK, where are the seats?”

 “You have PayPal? Make sure you use ‘Friends & Family option’” (a non refundable option).

 “Yes, I have PayPal, Where are the seats? How much?”

 “Which show did you want? I am selling tickets for two shows that I can no longer attend since my wife is having a baby” (or “I am in the hospital”, or “had to leave town on business”, or “my mother is sick.”)

 “Oh, really? The Phish concert.” I’m not much help.

 “They are $80 but I will sell them to you for $60 since I do not want them to go to waste.” Good seats for Phish are well over $100 to begin with.

 “Ok, what is your email? Oh, and where are the seats?”

 He quickly looks up a Phish event and takes a gamble.

 “Seats 15 & 16”

 “What Section?”

 “Section 115”

 “What row?”

 “Row 11, send me a screenshot when you are done.”

 “Done with what?”

 “Making the payment.”

 “Oh, OK, what is your email?” (an actual email I received)

 “OK, I am going to run that email through my (imaginary) security software. In the meantime can you show me proof of tickets? There are a lot of scammers out there.”


 A few minutes pass. “How about that proof?”

 “You will see the tickets after you send payment. I have been scammed before too.”

 “Send me some kinda screenshot. No proof, no payment.”

 “I am a good, honest, Christian man. I would not try to scam you. You can trust me. I swear on my mother’s grave. You can send me half first”

 “OK, but that email came up blacklisted. Where do you live?”

 “What do you mean? That is not possible”

 “It says not to send payment to that address due to suspicious activity.”

 “I don’t get you.”

 “I can’t send payment to that address. It says it’s registered overseas. Where do you live?”

 “Wait until I speak to my colleague. I will get you another address.” Ignoring the fact that I already don’t trust him.

 “OK, get me that proof too.”

 “Okay, I will send you proof”

 A few minutes go by while the scammer opens up photoshop and doctors up an already prepared generic graphic or is lazy and sends just a QR or bar code. I received the same useless graphic four times and also some very convincing photoshoped images but with misspellings and other errors. I receive one from Edward.

 “I sent you proof. Okay, let me know when you make payment.” He sends me a QR code with scribblings to mask it.

 “You call that proof? It does not say the name of the event, the date, the seats, nothing. You think I am a fool?”

 Then I receive a link to buy a Google Play gift card or iTunes. “Wait, what happened to Paypal? Where are you located?”

 “Buy the gift card and send me the code. Let me know when you are done and send me the screenshot, then I will send the tickets” he says ignoring me.

At that point I am through having fun. I go to the search page with all the scammer’s ticket offerings and make warning comments with GIFS on as many of their posts as I can before the scammer can see them. Once they notice, they curse at me in Nigerian or tell me that I will die. Then they block me to prevent me from causing further damage.

Once I got my first death threat I thought it would be better to use a fake account. I tried that. Facebook quickly takes down those accounts as they eventually do the scammers. But it’s a game of whack-a-mole. The scammers keep opening up new ones knowing that they are only temporary and going in for the quick score. The smart ones post on the day of the show right up to show time, looking for people looking for last minute deals, desperate to see their favorite artist. The dumb ones even post after the show is over. Some are more ambitious and post six months in advance. The upcoming Rolling Stones shows area already littered with offers.

 My main goal in all of this was to create awareness. Most of the time I simply make GIF comments on a few of their posts to big ticket shows and then block them before they even see them.

Since I was using my own account to help police FaceBook, I put my personal account in jeopardy. The comment “Scammer !!!” was tagged as bullying and it was removed despite my appeal. I called a thief a thief and the thief won. FaceBook provides a GIF that calls people scammers but using text is bullying? Then my account was suspended, then totally disabled. I am sure the scammers reported me and FaceBook’s bots went into action. If a real person at FaceBook checked they would see that those accounts have probably been suspended and if not they will be soon.

Did anybody at FaceBook, a real person, look at my activity? Instead of FaceBook recognizing that I was helping FaceBook prevent fraud, I was penalized, kicked out while the scammers continue doing business. I am now going through the process of having my account restored. I have submitted an appeal to get my account back. I heard it can take a while. It’s the new year. I am still alive.

 What should FaceBook do? Assign a few people to monitor event pages of major concert tours, discover the fraudulent accounts and immediately disable the accounts for violation of terms of service. Yes, they will open new accounts, but if this is done quickly and consistently it will eliminate 1000’s of scam postings in just a few minutes and it will be harder for the scammers to be successful. Most of these scammers have posts on dozens of events all at once and add new ones everyday.

FaceBook could also increase awareness of these scammer posts to the event admins. Many do not know or care that this is happening. I contacted a few smaller venues directly and they quickly deleted the posts. The few larger venues I contacted ignored my requests.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

It's been years since I stopped posting here and in that time so many of the bands I listed here are no longer lost and can be found on Spotify.  Here's a playlist of the bands than can be found there.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Now

The NowNew York, NY's, The Now were caught in the New Wave rush in 1979. They were playing the Max's Kansas City scene when they signed to Midsong International Records and hooked up with producer de jour Bobby Orlando. An album was "produced, arranged, engineered and concieved" by Mr. Orlando and sold about 200,000 records - enough to warrant a second LP which the band started to record. Then the label literally disappeared from their New York City offices. The band never received a dime and that was the end of The Now. The band splintered off into various bands but none achieved any level of success.

A live disc recorded in 1979 was released on CD. Check it out here.

Thanks to Geoff Danielik for his patience and answering my emails. Geoff continues to record, write and produced. His company is Alter Ego Productions. Visit his website here and hear what he is up to at his myspace page.

The Now were:
Jeff Lennon - (Geoff "Lip" Danielik)
Mamie Francis
Robin Dee
Bobby Ore - (Bobby Orefiece)

Go to the download page to get The Now - "Can You Fix Me Up With Her"

Friday, March 16, 2007

Department S

department sFormed from the ashes of faux ska band Guns For Hire, and named after a tv detective spoof, London's Department S released three singles between 1980 and 1981 including "Is Vic There? ","Going Left Right" and "I Want" on Stiff Records. The band appeared on Top of the Pops and a Smash Hits cover. They were on the brink of a break out. They recorded an album called "Sub-Stance" with producer David Tickle who engineered Blondie's "Parallel Lines". The band experienced some line-up changes and a shift in musical styles. Then Stiff decided to stiff the band and didn't release the record. Increased friction between band members and lack of management support was the final undoing.

Mau Mau Records released a CD collection in 1993 but a thorough release of the Department S material came out in 2003.

Sadly vocalist Vaughn Toulouse died of AIDS-related illness in 1991

Department S were:
Vaughn Toulouse - Vocals
Mike Herbage - Keyboards
Tony Lordan - Bass
Stuart Mizon - Drums
Anthony Lloyd-Barnes - Synth
Mark Taylor - Guitar

Hear some more music and watch some videos at the Department S myspace page.

Go to the download page to get Department S - "Going Left Right" 12" version

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Baby it's Cold Outside

[It's well below freezing outside today and I found myself singing "Baby Its Cold Outside" to myself so I figured I'd post the song.]

pezbandThough Chicago's Pezband formed in 1971, in 1978 retail giant Record World crowned Pezband “Most Promising New Act of the Year.” Perhaps that's because they got lumped into the resurging skinny tie power pop scene of the late 70's. They released 3 full length LP's (Pezband, Laughing in the Dark, and Cover to Cover), as well as two live EP's (30 Seconds over Schaumburg and Too Old Too Soon). Despite talent, great records and critical acclaim the band never sold a lot of records and quickly found themselves in the cut out bins. [I dug out my Pezband LPs and price stickers on the jackets revealed that I paid .25 cents for their debut and a buck for their second]. Being signed to South Plainfield NJ's Passport records certainly didn't help them much. They split up in 1980.

Pezband were:
Mimi Betinis: Guitar, Vocals.
Mick Rain: Drums, Vocals.
Mike Gorman: Bass, Vocals
Tommy Gauvenda: Guitars

Pezband LPs were reissued on CD for the first time in Japan a couple of years ago. They can be found here (self-titled debut) , here (Laughing in the Dark) and here (Cover to Cover).

Pezband have since reformed and have a myspace page.

Go to the download page to get Pezband - "Baby it's Cold Outside"

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Brains activity on the increase

[I received the following email today and decided to pass it along since I had posted about The Brains almost two years ago. Thanks for the email Richard]


"The Brains, the Atlanta band that flared briefly in the 1980s with the hit “Money Changes Everything” and then flamed out, is returning, in a sense. The guys plan a one-off gig at Club 29 in Decatur on Saturday (1/27/2007) that will feature Tom Gray (the brain behind the Brains) singing five or six Brains songs, with backing by the Swimming Pool Qs (fellow exiles from the 1980s Atlanta rock scene), with guest appearances by ex-Brainsmen Charles Wolff (on drums) and perhaps Rick Price (on guitar). Gray, who lately gigs with his chamber blues ensemble Delta Moon, is perplexed but pleased about the redux. “The Brains’ site on MySpace, run by our former fan club president, has more ‘friends’ than Delta Moon does,” he said in a recent e-mail. “Somehow forces I don’t understand are converging.”

If you can stand myspace (I can't) here's a really beautiful, well designed myspace site (complete with falling skulls) with more info on the Brains and the show.

And here is the title track from the "Dancing Under the Streetlights" EP released in 1982 on Landslide Records.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Headboys

headboysEdinburgh Scotland's the Headboys released an album of pop rock in 1979 on Robert Stigwood's RSO label. The first single, "The Shape of Things to Come" was a minor hit and the band planned a U.S. tour to support the album and join the New Wave craze that they reluctantly became a part of. But they soon decided that they were not ready for touring and retreated to the Scottish countryside to record another album. The album was not released and the band split up.

Headboy keyboardist Calum Malcolm has owned Castle Sound Studios in Scotland where the Headboys lp was recorded for over 20 years and has produced records for The Blue Nile, Prefab Sprout and others.

The Headboys were:
Lou Lewis - guitar and vocals
George Boyter - bass and vocals
Calum Malcolm - keyboards and vocals
Davy Cross - drums and vocals

Go to the download page to get The Headboys - "The Shape of Things To Come"