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PayPal Enables Scam Artists

Word to the wise, make sure to diligently check out the reputation of whomever you're ordering from whenever you decide to use Paypal as the payment method. I didn't, and what I received wasn't even close to what I ordered. And I've since learned that this is a growing scam category... entice orders of things that appear to be bargains, but still cost between $50-$100, deliver a toothpick in an envelope, then because there's a delivery notification that can be cited by Paypal, they deny a request for a refund, and there's nothing the scammed customer can do about it, because you're shielded from any contact information beyond the Paypal email address of the scammer.

I suggest never using the scam artist enabling Paypal shysters again.


posted at: 8:21am on 30-Nov-2021
path: /Reviews | permalink | edit (requires password)

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Lying NYPD Officers Cost Prosecutors Sixty More Criminal Convictions

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Fighting crimes is easier when it's not being done by criminals. A bunch of cases are being tossed in New York City because misbehaving NYPD officers left their dirty handprints all over them.

Queens County District Attorney Melinda Katz is asking a state supreme court judge to vacate the cases of 60 people which their cases were based on the police work of three former NYPD detectives who were later convicted of various crimes.
This adds to the NYPD's list of self-inflicted wounds. Earlier this year, prosecutors tossed nearly 100 cases tainted by the presence of narcotics detective Joseph Franco. Franco was charged with 26 criminal counts -- including perjury and official misconduct -- in 2019. The dismissals followed another investigation which showed Franco had lied about drug buys to secure warrants and perform arrests. Some arrestees were able to get their cases dismissed by obtaining security camera footage showing alleged drug purchases had never occurred.One lying cop and nearly 100 dismissals. Now this: three bad cops and 60 dismissals. And these cops have some pretty impressive rap sheets.
Former NYPD Detective Kevin Desormeau was convicted of perjury after lying about witnessing a drug sale that videotaped evidence showed did not take place. He also pleaded guilty after he fabricated the facts of a gun possession arrest. Desormeau was terminated by the NYPD and there are 34 cases the district attorney says should be dismissed based on his role as the essential witness.Former NYPD Detective Sasha Cordoba pled guilty in Manhattan to perjury relating to her fabricating the facts of a gun possession arrest. Cordoba was terminated by the NYPD. 20 cases will be requested to be dismissed based on Cordoba’s role as the essential witness.
The third cop involved in these dismissals at least wasn't in the perjury business. No, he was into darker stuff.
As alleged in court filings by the government, in February 2008, Sandino arrested a woman identified in the Information as Jane Doe 1 (“the victim”) and her boyfriend on drug distribution charges following the execution of a search warrant at their apartment. During the arrest, Sandino forced the victim to undress in front of him in the bedroom of the apartment. Later, at the precinct, Sandino told the victim that she was going to jail and would lose her children unless she had sex with him. When the victim went to the restroom at the precinct, Sandino followed her inside and made her perform oral sex. Upon the victim’s release from custody, Sandino told her that he expected her to have sex with him at a later time. Thereafter, Sandino called the victim on numerous occasions. The victim subsequently reported Sandino’s misconduct to NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau, which began an investigation. In March 2008, Sandino was removed from active duty.As further alleged in the government’s court filings, Sandino engaged in similar misconduct in the summer of 2006 in connection with the arrest of another drug dealer. On that occasion, Sandino coerced a female cousin of the drug dealer, identified in the Information as Jane Doe 2, to engage in sex acts with him based on threats he made concerning the lengthy prison sentence faced by the drug dealer.More recently, in September 2009, Sandino allegedly engaged in lewd sexual behavior in front of a female arrestee and then forced her to raise her shirt to expose her upper body.
Sandino was fired by the NYPD in 2011, one year after he racked up this federal indictment. Somehow, he's still involved with six convictions now being tossed out because of his role as a witness. That means six people have spent a long time in jail due to this bad cop's testimony that was apparently given more than a decade ago.It's good to see all three cops are listed as "former." But it is concerning that someone like Sandino managed to remain a law enforcement officer for thirteen years when it was likely apparent long before his indictment that he was abusing his power. Meanwhile, Detective Desormeau's misconduct has affected cases dating as far back as 2014, which potentially means someone lost most of a decade as the result of a bad cop's statements in court.The repeal of a state law that effectively denied access to police misconduct records for decades means those overseeing the NYPD -- which includes city prosecutors that frequently rely on their testimony -- can no longer effectively pretend the department isn't home to a number of bad apples. Expect more of this in the near future as this long-delayed transparency forces city officials and, hopefully, the NYPD itself, to take officer misconduct more seriously. But while we wait for a police accountability ideal that may never arrive, we can at least take some satisfaction in these reversals of unjustly obtained criminal court "wins."

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 30-Nov-2021
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

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NordicTrack Patches Out 'God Mode' In Treadmills That Allowed Users To Watch Anything On Its Display

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If you are a console gamer of a certain age, you will remember the bullshit Sony pulled when it patched its PS3 systems to remove useful features it had used as selling points for the console to begin with. Essentially, the PS3 had a feature that allowed you to install another operating system on it. This was used by hobbyists, companies, and the US Military alike to creatively use PS3s for purposes other than that for which they were built, such as research supercomputers and creating homebrew PS3 games. Sony later decided that those features could also be used for piracy or other nefarious actions and so patched it out. Sell the console with a feature, remove it later after the purchase... and then get sued in a class action, as it turned out.The story of NordicTrack's treadmill isn't exactly like that, but it's pretty damned close. The company's treadmill has a large display mounted on it. That display was designed to be used with a subscription to iFit, which is the parent company of NordicTrack. There are all sorts of useful features when you view subscribed content on the display while exercising, such as difficulty and incline changes that follow along with the subscribed workout content. But the console also has a way to bypass the user-facing portion of the console and get into the underlying OS, which means users like JD Howard could then setup their own internet browser, through which they could put any web content on the display while they worked out.

To get into his X32i, all Howard needed to do was tap the touchscreen 10 times, wait seven seconds, then tap 10 more times. Doing so unlocked the machine—letting Howard into the underlying Android operating system. This privilege mode, a sort of God mode, gave Howard complete control over the treadmill: he could sideload apps and, using a built-in browser, access anything and everything online. “It wasn't complicated,” Howard says. After accessing privilege mode he installed a third-party browser that allowed him to save passwords and fire up his beloved cloud security videos.While NordicTrack doesn’t advertise privilege mode as a customer feature, its existence isn’t exactly a secret. Multiple unofficial guides tell people how to get into their machines, and even iFit’s support pages explain how to access it. The whole reason Howard bought the X32i, he says, was because he could access God mode. But the good times didn’t last long.
No they didn't, because NordicTrack subsequently removed the God mode feature through a software update. And not just on the treadmill, but also on its other associated exercise equipment. And a not insignificant number of customers are absolutely pissed about it. The comments coming in largely are combinations of anger and confusion, with many owners wondering why in the world they suddenly can't watch sports or Netflix while they workout. The other theme appears to be confusion as to how the company can even do this because, "Hey, don't we own this thing we bought?"The answer, of course, is no.
“The block on privilege mode was automatically installed because we believe it enhances security and safety while using fitness equipment that has multiple moving parts,” says a spokesperson for NordicTrack and iFit. The company has never marketed its products as being able to access other apps, the spokesperson adds. “As there is no way of knowing what kind of changes or errors a consumer could introduce into the software, there is no way of knowing what specific issues accessing privilege mode might cause,” the spokesperson says. “Therefore, to maintain security, safety, and machine functionality, we have restricted access to privilege mode.” The spokesperson also emphasizes that privilege mode was “never designed as a consumer-facing functionality.” Rather, it was designed to allow the company’s customer service team to remotely access the products to “troubleshoot, update, reset, or repair our software.”The move puts the company at the center of the right-to-repair debate, with consumers increasingly demanding that companies let them alter the products they purchase.
Kinda, yeah. And it's important to note that "owners" like Howard already had regular old treadmills and bought their NordicTrack treadmill because of the ability to put what they wants on the display. Again, sell the thing with a useful feature, then remove the useful feature afterwards via a software update. As I said, it's not exactly like the PS3 case, but it's pretty damned close.The only real question now is whether iFit and NordicTrack too will have to pay out millions in attorney's fees and barely anything to the actual consumer in some massive class action like Sony did.

Read more here

posted at: 12:00am on 30-Nov-2021
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

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This Week In Techdirt History: November 21st - 27th

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Five Years AgoThis week in 2016, we learned more about the disturbing scope of the NSA's leaks of hacking tools, the IRS decided to demand information on Coinbase customers, and one federal judge was taking a closer look at "reputation management" libel lawsuits. Trump picked two net neutrality opponents to head the FCC transition, while cable's broadband monopoly was becoming stronger than ever and AT&T was singing the supposed benefits of zero rating. As expected, China was using America's concern about fake news to push for more control of the internet, and we we looked at the slippery slope caused by that and Facebook's efforts to comply with China's demands. Also, we saw an especially ridiculous hot news and copyright battle over chess moves.Ten Years AgoThis week in 2011, we took a look at how the rest of the world viewed SOPA, and how the bill wasn't actually about copyright but rather about regulating the internet. Even the copyright-happy BSA backed down from supporting the bill, apparently in large part because of Microsoft's cold feet (and they weren't the only strong copyright defenders who had issues with the bill). We applauded the senators who were willing to stand against PROTECT IP/PIPA (the Senate version of the bill) while Ron Wyden promised to read the names of public opponents as part of a filibuster if need be. We rounded out the week with a long, definitive post on how bad SOPA was.Fifteen Years AgoThis week in 2006, Universal Music decided to threaten Bank of America over a parody song, while EMI did the same thing over a parody lyric booklet created by some sports fans. Perhaps it's unsurprising that trying to play nice with labels like these was hamstringing Microsoft's Zune device too. Despite the hype around mobile video, the iPod was still primarily a music device for most people — though that didn't stop Steven Spielberg from worrying about people watching movies on iPod screens. An important ruling in California upheld Section 230's protections, though it did not (as some believed) make it impossible to sue bloggers. And the latest round of DMCA anti-circumvention exceptions was announced, with nothing much that benefited consumers.

Read more here


posted at: 12:00am on 28-Nov-2021
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