Tag Archives: scam

Intuit To Pay $141M Settlement Over “Free” Turbo Tax Ads

The New York Attorney General, Letitia James, announced a record multistate agreement with the owner of TurboTax, Intuit Inc. (Intuit), for deceiving millions of low-income Americans into paying for tax services that should have been free.

The press release continues: As a result of Attorney General James’ agreement, Intuit will pay $141 million in restitution to millions of consumers across the nation who were unfairly charged. In addition, Intuit must suspend TurboTax’s “free free free” ad campaign that lured customers with promises of free tax preparation services, only to deceive them into paying.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to the agreement. New York will receive more than $5.4 million for the 176,000 New Yorkers who were tricked into paying to file their federal tax return.

According to New York Attorney General Letitia James, “Intuit cheated millions of low-income Americans out of free tax filing services they were entitled to. For years, Intuit misled the most vulnerable among us to make a profit. Today, every state in the nation is holding Intuit accountable for scamming millions of taxpayers, and we’re putting millions of dollars back into the pockets of impacted Americans. This agreement should serve as a reminder to companies large and small that engaging in these deceptive marketing ploys is illegal. New Yorkers can count on my office to protect their wallets from white-collar scammers”.

According to ArsTechnica, Intuit “used confusingly similar names for both its IRS Free File product and its commercial “freemium product”, ran search ads “to direct consumers who were looking IRS Free File service to the TurboTax ‘freemium’ product instead,” and “purposefully blocked its IRS Free File landing page from search engine results during the 2019 tax filing season”, the settlement announcement said.

The Associated Press reported that until last year, Intuit offered two free versions of TurboTax. One was through its participation in the Internal Revenue Service’s Free File Program, geared toward taxpayers earning roughly $34,000 and members of the military. Intuit withdrew from the program in July 2021, saying in a blog post that the company could provide more benefits without the program’s limitations.

Considering all of this, it appears that Intuit was hoping to provide more “benefits” to the company itself. They got greedy, and appear to have intentionally hidden the IRS Free File away from people – who were tricked into believing Intuit’s version was also free. And now, Intuit is paying for it.

The press release from the New York Attorney General’s Office states: Under the agreement, Intuit will provide restitution to nearly 4.4 million consumers who started using TurboTax’s Free Edition for tax years 2016 through 2018 and were told they had to pay to file even though they were eligible to file for free using the IRS Free File program offered through TurboTax.

Consumers are expected to receive a direct payment of approximately $30 for each year that they were deceived into paying for filing services. Impacted consumers will receive notices and a check by mail.

RIAA Threatens Lawsuit Against HitPiece

There was an uproar on Twitter as several music artists discovered something horrible. An account called “joinhitpiece” appeared to be making – and trying to sell – NFTs of artist’s songs, and their album art, without the artist’s permission.

This led to the RIAA threatening a lawsuit against HitPiece over what the RIAA called “flagrant” IP violations. Billboard reported that the RIAA sent out a demand letter Friday (Feb. 4) to NFT platform HitPiece on behalf of the major labels. Billboard also reported that HitPiece started its beta launch by “pulling artwork and other information off Spotify”.

Here is part of the email to HitPiece from Jared Freedman, Senior Vice President, Litigation, at the RIAA. The full letter is on SCRIBD.

…I understand that you represent the NFT auction website Hitpiece dot com (“Hitpiece”) and its founders, including Rory Felton, Michael Berrin, and possibly others. As you are in no doubt aware, your clients, through the Hitpiece website, have been engaged in the systematic and flagrant infringement of the intellectual property rights of the Record Companies and their recording artists on a massive scale.

Using the artist track names, copyrighted album art, and other protected images – all without the permission of the rights owners – your clients have offered at auction and sold NFTs promising ownership in a “unique sound recording” and the ability “to create a digital display of album artwork associated with their favorite music, with a one-of-its-kind, non-fungible token (“NFT”) of the artwork”. Many of these “unique song recordings” and associated artwork are those owned or exclusively controlled by the Record Companies…

Oh, and apparently HitPiece has launched a second website with a similar name.

Predictably, the RIAA demands a cease and desist from HitPiece. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. This entire fiasco provides an incredibly stupid example of how NOT to start a business.

WhatsApp Supermarket Phishing Scam

There’s a WhatsApp phishing scam doing the rounds here in the UK based on free gift vouchers from big supermarket retailers. It’s doing well because (a) people are receiving the links from friends and (b) they’re disguising the false links with foreign letters.

Here’s two that I received in the last few days.


Check the subtle dot over the c of Tesco and the line on the d of Asda. They got my scam senses tingling but many people seem to have fallen for it based on the couple of messages I received. Apparently there’s a variant for Aldi too.

If you do follow the links (and I recommend you don’t), the first part asks for more friends to pass on the message to, and the next bit starts collecting personal info so they can send out the vouchers. Yeah, right. Fortunately, friends I’ve spoken to became more suspicious on the second section and dropped out.

This scam can easily be moved to other retailers in other countries so watch out for it, though the basic scam has been around for awhile. It’s the use of special characters that seems to be new. I imagine that they can be creative with other letters in addition to c and d. More at the BBC.

Multi Trendo is a Huge Waste of Time

Multi TrendoA few months back, I came across an ad in the Gigs section of my local Craigslist. The ad indicated that you could get paid for “reading articles.” As a freelance audio producer, my first thought was that this ad was looking for voiceover talent. I was intrigued by that idea so I figured I’d investigate further. The link in the ad was for a website called Multi Trendo. I could tell that the URL had some trailing stuff on it that looked like an affiliate code. Not knowing exactly what I was clicking, I decided to just manually enter the top level domain for Multi Trendo into my browser’s address bar instead of just using the link that was posted in the ad.

I discovered at the Multi Trendo site that the service has nothing to do with recording audio. Multi Trendo requires users to create an account. From there, they can read a certain number of “news articles” every day and then Multi Trendo will “pay” users for each article they read. Once users have reached a minimum balance of earnings, they can make a request for a payout from Multi Trendo. It was pretty obvious that this website was doing something shady. But it didn’t ask for any sensitive personal information (name, e-mail address only) so I figured there was little to lose in trying it out.

The “articles” available on Multi Trendo are mostly excerpts pulled in thru Google News. Sometimes, you’ll see a complete piece of writing. Other times, it’ll only be partial stories, sometimes with a link back to the source material. Multi Trendo runs a short timer before it’ll let you complete a CAPTCHA and press a submit button as proof that you’ve actually read the article. Each article has a prominent banner ad that hangs over the content you’re supposed to read. Presumably, displaying these ads is the reason for Multi Trendo’s existence.

I viewed enough Multi Trendo articles over the course of a month to slightly exceed the minimum amount that’s required to request a payout. Multi Trendo claims it processes payments thru PayPal, Payza, and Scrill. Having never heard of those last two, I asked Multi Trendo to send my first payment via PayPal. You can probably guess what happened (or, didn’t happen) next.

Nothing. It’s been at least two months. And I haven’t been paid by Multi Trendo, nor have I received any updates on my request. I’m not surprised by this, and I’m not disappointed. Overall, it took only a few minutes every day to look at Multi Trendo’s articles and complete the CAPTCHA’s. But in the end, it really was just a waste of time.

GNC #670 Chrome OS Arrives

I am sure you have noticed the new strategy with the show content and I hope you like the tighter format. The goal is more insight on the important stuff while at the same time getting you a nice sampling of what you may have missed. This may mean longer rants on some sections of the show and barely a gloss over on other segments. All of this is part of the process I am using to take the show to the next level. Your feedback is welcome. Enjoy todays show! Next show will be road show.. Listen for details.

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Show Notes:
Chrome Notebooks
Ultimate Family Computer?
Our OS are Torturing us?
Google TV and the Master Plan.
Google I/O Recap.
DIY Chrome Book.
Senate Censorship Bill!
The 6 Billion dollar roll of the Dice.
Apple Walled Garden Kills Another Company.
Netflix comes out Guns Blazing!
Microsoft + Skype = I do not Understand.
FBI Statements Typical!
The ACTA Treaty!
Corruption at the highest Level!
Sneaker Net email.
TwitPic shame on You!
Comcast fixes Pirate Bay?
iMac Drives Proprietary.
Lime Wire 105 Million to RIAA Partners.
Sony Messed with wrong Hackers.
Facebook PR Team BLOWS It.
National Jukebox 1900 Music.
Caffeine Buzz via your Soap.
Black Holes = Earlier Universes?
Target Asteroid Acquired.
30 Supernova a Second?
Endeavor Team back at KSC.
Wrong Place, Wrong IP, Wrong Time.
Battle Lines Drawn over Net Rentals!
Cox brings TV to Net.
Adobe Sues Wowza over Patents.
Femtocell to Save the Day!
Making your own Coupons = Jail Time.
Google Music Dance over Money.
iPad Wifi Issue is Back.
Amazon Tablet on the Way.
Australian Key loggers for Gov’t employees.
Nuclear Meltdown Confirmed in Japan.

GNC-2011-02-28 #651 Fellows Don’t Do What I Did!

Fellows you want an immediate trip to the dog house? Listen to hear what I did by mistake on Sunday that has landed me in the dog house in a big way. Your going to get a good laugh on my behalf but I guarantee you will not make the same mistake I made. The show is action packed full of tech, I am reminiscent of some of the reasons I started this show for apparent reasons as you listen today.

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Listener Links
Solar Fan Recommendation.
Painful XOOM 4g Upgrade.
An Overview of Thunderbolt.

Show Notes:
Battle over a Spacesuit.
Las Vegas Stadium Plan.
Farmers IP = No Pictures?
Feds go after Reporter Info?
ICE Boss ok to Ignore Constitution?
20 Years of Windows Maleware.
Fake Girlfriend cost guy $200k
HBGary CEO Quits!
Tap your App?
AT&T Hacker Makes Bail.
Federal Acquisition Rules controls Comcast.
Random House ebooks at last!
Infected Android Apps run up Big Bill!
New macs have Quality Issues?
Atlantic Records breaks out the Archives.
Text Watched in Ads in UK now.
No Compromise on Net Neutrality?
ICANN no Government control of TLD’s
Sony Jailbreaker defies Company!
Jobs Replacement Analogy on iPhone (No Way)
Stream Globally.
Is Facebook Evil?
Texas Governor can’t block em all!
FAA ok’s iPad for Charts
See what State controlled Telecommunications can do!
Thanks Google!
Google Destroys some Websites Traffic.
Business 101.
Self Publishing Books.
How to download TV Shows.
Ketchup goes Styling.
Best Buy, Buy Back Worthless.
Facebook New Like?
Traffic Jam at ISS!
Shuttle Launch from Airplane.
STS-133 Spacewalk #1
Space in a Bottle.
New Innovative Notebook Charger.
Matrox KVM extender.
Pirate Bay Movie.
Cool to Copy battle is won.
Apple Apple Apple GAG!
OSX Trojan or Linkbait?
Maglite smart Lite!
Ring Flash!
Channel 208 Insanity!
Cord Cutter Survival Guide.
Comcast No Stream but Dish May!

Is Trust a big deal for you on Twitter?

Here in Hawaii over the past couple of days a social media war been ongoing. According to a local blog post local Twitter celebrity, Arleen Anderson @alohaarleen with 80,000 followers has had some serious accusations made against her. A war is being waged against her from a lot of well known locals on multiple fronts, and she is fighting back instead of responding to the accusations.

Looking at this from a social media perspective the so called social media expert is not following the social media playbook. She should be setting the record straight because silence just fuels the fire. There have been multiple demands for her to explain the accusations, yet she has not done so which raises more suspicion in my mind.

To add to the drama, court documents from other states that if indeed are linked to her have also been revealed within the referenced blog post. If the documents are genuine then I predict her business and social relationships she has here in Hawaii will never recover.

Court documents, purportedly show she has had to make restitution on at least 2 court cases, and was lucky not to go to jail for 5 years for a conviction for stealing from Special Olympics. The accusations in Hawaii revolve around money as well.

It is obvious that some of the Twitter users that have 80,000 followers have used guerilla strategies by repeatedly following and unfollowing those that do not follow back to build huge follow list. I am not sure how she got 80,000 followers, rumor was she hired someone local to help her build the following. What I think is weird is that her Twitter posts appears to be a lot of back slapping going on. There is hardly any information of value in those tweets, each to his own but the content stream is pretty boring.

Before this story broke few days ago, I had heard some second hand information a month or more ago that concerned me enough to put me on guard.

Going back to December of 2008 I had @alohaarleen, in my studio for a segment on my 2nd annual 24hr Podcast. When youre doing a 24 hr show the content runs together but some of the advice she gave was not what I would expect from someone with 80,000 followers. Obviously there will not be an invite for the 2009 24hr podcast.

Here is where the rubber meets the road, when you endorse someone on Twitter, Linked In or any other social media site, you need to know you could be supporting someone with a questionable background. Some people take their presence on Twitter as a fun social activity, but I take my presence on Twitter, as serious, as my blog, and my business! This event has made me realize that while followfriday is a fun. I will be very careful in the future who I endorse and expose to my listeners of my podcast.

While it is impossible to know the history of people you follow, you can act when you are made aware of questionable character. I waited two days for an official statement, non has been forthcoming. From actions I see in her Twitter stream she has done her best to silence any critic by using @spam and having her followers help silence those speaking out against her.

So the question I ask all of you. Does trust play a major factor in whom you follow on Twitter, and do you follow people that you no longer trust?