Tag Archives: theft

Where Do You Draw the Line?

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In August, the Consumerist wrote an article that asked “Which Illegal Activities Get a Pass From You?” Whether it’s torrenting media, going over the speed limit, underage drinking, or taking office supplies home, many have different definitions of what they consider to be “stealing” and “illegal.” This video raises a question about how your moral compass guides you when it comes to these life choices.

Lamarr knows that people think they “beat the system” by using torrents to obtain music, movies and software that they cannot afford. They feel that since they cannot afford it, it’s perfectly okay to steal it. It all depends on your moral upbringing.

Torrenting definitely is stealing, folks. It’s taking something that doesn’t belong to you. Taking things from the office or school that you want to use at home is stealing. Speeding is illegal. In the long run, it’s hurting someone when you do these things wrong.

Lamarr chooses not to break the law. However, he points out that he doesn’t judge anyone who does. It’s not his place to do, nor is it mine.

Where do you draw the line? Where does your moral compass stand?

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Does LifeLock Promote Identity Theft?

LifeLock CEO Todd Davis has sworn for years that his product was good enough to keep your identity safe. He was so sure of this fact that he prominently displayed his own social security number on the website and in television commercials. The problem is that Todd was wrong. His own identity has been stolen at least thirteen times, and the FTC isn’t happy.

The FTC fined Davis and LifeLock back in March to the tune of twelve million bucks. The Federal Trade Commission said that LifeLock’s claims were completely untrue and accused the company of operating a scam and con job. The commission announced with 35 state attorneys general that they had thrown the fine at LifeLock for deceptive business practices and failing to secure customer data. Nearly all of the fine was earmarked to be paid in refunds to customers who had subscribed to the service.

Todd and company are making headlines again today, but for a very different reason. This time it wasn’t customers who had their information stolen out from under the supposed “guaranteed” safety of LifeLock’s nose… it is the CEO himself. In June, 2007, someone used Davis’s identity to obtain a check-cashing loan in the amount of $500.00. That was never paid back, of course. The CEO only learned of this debt when the company called his wife’s phone to attempt to collect on the bill. Four months later, someone in Atlanta used his information to obtain AT&T service in his name. This person racked up over two grand in charges which were never paid. Davis only found out about these charges more than a year later when AT&T handed him over to a collection agency.

Last year, he found several more discrepancies on his credit report. There are several outstanding debts to companies from all over the country… places Davis has never done business with. He has credit bureaus climbing out of the woodwork to get the money that they are owed.

The problem in all of this is that at least one police department is quite ticked off. It’s not only his own identity that he put into danger, according to a spokeswoman for the Albany police department. By putting this information out there and daring people to try and use it, he has hurt the companies who now will never be able to collect on the debts for services and goods rendered. Those are the ones who are hurt most in all of this. The only thing Davis has lost is his credibility, and the time it takes him to refute the charges on his credit report. Those companies have to swallow the monies that they are entitled to.. and which many people feel that Davis himself should be paying.

The company has claimed for years that they guarantee your information is safe if you use their service. In fact, they back that guarantee with one million dollars should they fail. It would be mighty interesting to see if they’ve ever had to fork that money over to any customers… or if they’ve refused and have customers fighting them for it. If Davis’ own information was so easily used without his knowing it, who knows how many customers have had their identities compromised… and they sadly may not even know it yet.

This sure doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies and make me want to rush out to purchase this service for myself. I’m not saying it never works… but if it didn’t work for the CEO, there’s no way in hell I’m trusting it to work for me.

Would You Give up a Finger for an iPad?

I’ve seen people in my community claim they would give their left arm to own an iPad. When it comes down to it, though, I really doubt any of them would go that far. However, a thief may just take you at your word. The iPad is hot… and everyone wants one, whether they want to pay for the device or not.

Denver Police released a shocking surveillance video of a thief stealing a new iPad from a man in the Cherry Creek Mall. Bill Jordan didn’t even buy the tablet for himself, nor did he know what an iPad is. He was on a mission to purchase a gift for a coworker when the thief literally ripped the bag from his hand. All of the skin and tendons were torn completely off, leaving the bone bare and exposed. The finger had to be amputated, a fact made even worse for Jordan as he is left-handed.

Mr. Jordan is understandably irate over the entire situation. “I hope you understand what you’ve done to my life and my family’s life for a simple piece of apparatus that’ll be junk in a couple of years.”

I guess the iPad is more of a hot commodity than we thought. However, I can’t help but agree with Jordan. The iPad that was stolen from him will be obsolete in the near future. There will be new iterations released that will be even more sought-after than this generation of the product is. Someone has already gotten hurt. Will the next story we see have a more heinous outcome? Thieves really will stop at nothing, apparently.

Stolen Laptop Tracking

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What are you afraid of? Go ahead… share your fears with us! Are you afraid of the dark, or of heights! I promise no one will make fun of you for your fears, whatever they are. For me… I’d have to say fear of having my laptop stolen has to be my worst nightmare. I have a lot of data and information on there, and it would be a royal pain to try and straighten it all out again if I lost my machine somehow.Too bad there isn’t some type of free software that I can use… oh… wait… there IS!

Prey is not only free, it’s also open-source! Even better, it works on Windows, OS X, and even many flavors of Linux!! Prey is a lightweight application that will help you track and find your laptop if it ever gets stolen.

Prey helps you locate your missing laptop by sending timed reports with a ton of information about where it is at. This will include things like the status of the computer, a list of the programs that are running, what connections are active, network and wi-fi information, a screenshot of the desktop, and – if your laptop has a webcam built in – a picture of the thief!!

Prey uses a remote activation system. This means the program just sits silently on your machine until you want it to run. If you turn it on, it will gather all of the information and send it to your Prey web control panel – or directly to your Inbox. The thief will never know that you’re watching their every move!

I know that you may think a thief will simply reformat your laptop right away. However, that usually isn’t the case. In most instances, the thieves are looking for your information, not looking to get rid of it.

Prey has proven to be successful in capturing several different thieves, so what do you have to lose? It’s free, it runs on all operating systems, and it WORKS.

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Have File Sharing Networks Compromised Morality?

Geek!This is Jeremy Mentley’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Imaging yourself strolling the aisles of a Best Buy or perhaps another comparable retailer. Enthralled by the miscellanea of tech commodity, your saunter is relaxed and enjoyable. Thumbing through the selection of DVDs, you spot a movie of interest. (Huzzah!) Without second thought, a quick glance over the shoulder, or any conceivable sign of hesitation, you slip the DVD into your coat, walk past the registers, and exit the store.

If my judgment is correct, I suspect every member of this community has difficulty fathoming his or her personal involvement in such an act. For the majority of us, the concept of right and wrong is instilled in us at an early age — this indoctrination guides our decisions away from accumulation via unjust means. Unfortunately, while we all can explain why the previous hypothetical scenario is improper and morally wrong, a significant population of web users are apparently confusion in regards to the exact same crime, though under different means. Since the inception of digitized media and the internet, billions upon billions of bootleg files have been copied, swapped, and transfered. “Peer to peer” networks like Napster, KaZaA, LimeWire, and other various torrent clients have simplified and amplified the trafficking of such files to an alarming extent. More alarming, perhaps, is the fact that these file transfers are being perpetrated non-exclusively by otherwise moral and law-abiding individuals. In 2006 alone, an estimated FIVE BILLION songs were exchanged. Why are media thefts so rampant online? How do we attribute these astronomical figures? Are peer-to-peer networks to blame?

Let me continue with another [hopefully] hypothetical scenario. Suppose you’re up during the wee hours of the night, parked in front of a glowing monitor. Like dozens of sleepless nights before, you are watching “people getting hurt” videos on Youtube. After a montage of face-plants, bicycle accidents, and botched athletic maneuvers, you and your browser find their way to a torrent file search site. In a few key taps and a couple clicks of the mouse later, a DVD rip of ‘Philadelphia’ begins to download. In this instance, is this action less worse than the theft from a brick and mortar store? (If your answer is at all influenced on the fact that ‘Philadelphia’ is an awesome movie, please be mindful that the morality of theft takes precedence.) Fundamentally speaking, both actions are equally as bad. Both actions end with the same result: theft. Only the means in which this theft were perpetrated is different — and consequently, gives leeway to perceived justification. Downloading from peer to peer networks is impersonal, discrete, and surprisingly easy. It may be a factor that the lack of a visible victim negates the guilt that a perpetrator would normally experience. The down and dirty truth of the matter seems to be that people do not make the connection between downloading media and breaking the law. Once more, since today’s youth are synonymously poor and media-hungry, rationalization for illegally downloading invariably becomes: “because I wouldn’t be able to afford this anyway, it doesn’t really matter that I’m not paying.”

This beckons the question, “are peer-to-peer networks to blame?” While these applications seem to the panderers of illegal material, ultimately it is the user who chooses to implement them. No crime should ever be justified because it is easy to commit. Car thieves should not go unpunished because a careless drive left his or her keys in the ignition. The elimination of peer-to-peer networks would do a great deal to thwart the illicit trade of movies and albums, but ultimately, it is people’s perception of right and wrong that’s at the heart of the issue.

It is not my intention to accuse, scold, or talk down to anyone in this community — I only voice these concerns because it is my hope that you, the readers… the intellectual, tech-savvy members of this assemblage, keep these concepts in mind as you invariably educate others on the wonders of the web. My only endeavor is to propagate that slipping a DVD into a coat and walking out of the door is not any more dishonest than downloading that very same movie from a personal computer. When we let illegal activity persist online, we invite the prospect of regulation to stop that rampant practice… When the web becomes regulated, censored, and contained, we lose the openness and possibilities that drew us to it in the first place. While it is disheartening to know it literally takes a home re-mortgage to fill an iPod completely with purchased music, such does not excuse thievery.

I am understandably curious to hear other reader opinions.

How Can You Protect Yourself Against Theft?

Cliff’s dad has been a Law Enforcement officer for more than 25 years. He has often taught Cliff how to protect himself from theft, so he wrote in to share his best tips with us. As we enter the Fall season, it becomes apparent that the Holidays are not far off. While they are a fun and heartwarming time for most, it is also the season with the highest robbery rates. As stores become cluttered with Christmas shoppers, and mall parking lots fill up with people eager to get the hottest items, thieves see a great opportunity. The holidays tend to make people more lighthearted and, unfortunately, more complacent with their security measures. Try try and help all of our community members keep themselves – and their belongings – safe, here are Cliff’s tips.

  • The car – Though most people know the standard car security tips such as to lock your doors and park in well lit areas, there are several mistakes that most everyone still makes. First, never leave anything with any imaginable value within eyesight in your car. This includes any gadgets such as iPods, cell phones, or GPS units. Also, be sure to remove goods such as cigarettes and CDs. Though they may seem somewhat useless to a criminal, addicts or people desperate for money will find any object to sell and will go through nearly any means to get said objects.
  • Purses, Wallets, etc. – Pick-pocketing, though it seems like something that could never happen, is actually quite an issue. I have been a magician studying the art of sleight-of-hand for over two years now, and can assure you that there are millions of people across the globe with the ability to steal from you right under your nose. Thankfully, there is one fool-proof way to prevent this, at least for us guys who carry wallets. Never, EVER place your wallet in your back pocket. Though this seems a standard place for most guys to carry it, it is a pick-pocket target. Nearly every method used for pick-pocket theft applies to the back pocket. However, by carrying your wallet in your front pocket it makes it nearly impossible for a thief to lift it, especially without your knowledge. Possibly the biggest target in this type of theft are women with purses. Though I highly advise woman to just carry a wallet when shopping, especially during the holidays when stores are crammed, I know some women will not even consider not carrying a purse. Very well, carry it, but at least know how to carry it. Never, ever simply sling your purse over your shoulder. This makes it very easy for a criminal to snatch and run off. Instead, put the purse over your shoulder and then tuck it under your arm, sort of locking it into place. Not only does this make it harder for a thief to grab it, but also lets the prospective purse-grabber know that you are a strong woman, simply by the way you are carrying yourself. Also, be sure to always have your purse zipped up at all times. Several times I have stood next to my mom, removed her cell phone without her knowledge, and then handed it to her in an attempt to get her to make herself more secure. While she has not taken my advice, I surely hope you do.
  • Trust no one – While the holidays seem like a time of love and joy, there are many people who use them for their own advantage. Therefore, it is important to be very alert and aware of other people. Here are just a few example situations to avoid:
    1. Never give your camera to someone so they can take a photo of you unless it is someone you know and trust. This is for fairly obvious reasons.
    2. Never give out your personal info to any salesperson… ever. When you make a purchase somewhere, you are not obligated to give your address, though they may ask for it. While it seems like standard procedure, you never know who the salesperson really is or why they actually want your address. Think about it, they see you buying an expensive item in their store, and then they have the address for where this item is going. They also know that the holidays are busy and people are frequently away from home. Bam, you’ve made yourself a target.
    3. Avoid door-to-door salesmen, especially if you are home by yourself. Once again, you have no idea who these people really are, but you are opening the door to your home, sometimes inviting them straight in. Even if they don’t try to do anything at the time, they now know a general layout of your house and have seen some of the items inside, ready to be stolen. They might also ask when a good time to “come back” is, leaving you open to say when you will not be home. Once again a seemingly benign situation has made you a target.

    How to Recover a Lost or Stolen iPod, Flash Drive, or Digital Camera

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    We depend on our gadgets and devices so much these days… so what happens when one is lost or stolen? Are we out the money and our data? Philip emailed to tell me about an open-source piece of software that can help recover your MacBook should the need ever arise. But what about the rest of these devices? I had another email from Aaron, who sent along another link to help with just that!

    iAlertU is free, of course, since it is completely open-source. AlertU is the first of its kind alarm system for your Apple MacBook computer. Basically iAlertU is a car alarm for your Apple Mac. iAlertU uses the built in motion to trigger the alarm and the isight to capture the image of the thief.

    ihound software is a free service for up to three devices. No credit card is needed to sign up and get started, even! ihound is revolutionary software that helps protect your devices by alerting you when your USB digital device is connected to another individual’s computer.

    ihound Software works on most USB devices that you need to connect to your computer to update: MP3 players, Flash Cards, Jump Drives, Phones, iPods and more.

    You will know where your device is at all times via ihound Software’s “Device Tracker”. See your device’s location on a map and “Get your digital life back”. ihound Software will alert you via email as soon as someone else tries to connect your device to a computer. Once your device has been located, you can print a report for the authorities that contains your device’s information as well as the location where your device has been tracked.

    Why not give it a shot? It’s free for up to three devices. I think this is definitely something you’ll be happy you have should you ever lose one of your gadgets.


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    What Happens When Your iPhone Gets Stolen

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    What would happen if you lost your iPhone, if you haven’t already? I don’t know what I would do without mine. I know I’d make a lot less calls, that’s for sure. If your iPhone were to get stolen, it can find itself. Eric wrote:

    On the 15th of March, I brought my truck over to my father-in-law to have him work on the brakes. I ended having to order a part for my truck, and decided to leave it at his house overnight as I had to work the next day, and felt it was unsafe to drive. When I got home that night around 9:00 pm, I came to the realization that I had left my iPhone in the center console. It wasn’t a big deal at the time, because they only live about 10 miles away, and I could easily swing by in the morning and pick it up. Sometime between 10:00pm and 3:00am the truck was stolen. When I received the phone call telling me this, I went into panic-mode. You see, I didn’t care about the truck being stolen, but the first thing I thought of was my iPhone. My wife told me I was acting like I had lost our child. While I was filling out the police report, I just happened to blurt out “They have my iPhone!”. Apparently the officer wrote that down, and the next day a detective contacted me. He wanted to know if I had indeed left my iPhone in the truck. I told him yes, and he said he would call me back. The next day I received a phone call stating that had found my truck. I asked them if they checked to see if my iPhone was still in the truck, and they said “How do you think we found your truck?”. I was dumb-founded. Somehow, they worked with AT&T (Yes my phone is not unlocked) and they were able to use the iPhone as a beacon I guess. I am so glad that I made the decision to purchase this phone. It was worth being an early adopter. The iPhone is the greatest phone I have ever owned, it saved me the hassle of having to get a new vehicle, and it’s a “crime-fighter”.

    In the event you do misplace your iPhone, you might want to let the authorities know that they can trace your phone through AT&T. We know there are programs for our laptops, but did you even know that your iPhone can be found this way, as well? What do you think about this? Do you feel more secure knowing that Apple and AT&T can find out where you phone is at any given time? Or does that kind of creep you out? Do you trust them with this much control and information? I personally feel secure, knowing that if I were to lose my iPhone, it could hopefully easily be found for me.


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