Amazon lockers are a great new idea, allowing people to pick up their parcels when it suits them. Now, Amazon has announced that it’s rolling out the scheme across the Staples chain, too.
The lockers are stupidly simple. You can even have your locker code texted to you when your order arrives. It doesn’t cost anything-standard, one-, and two-day shipping is available for free if you’re on Prime. If you have the need for a surrogate mailbox, using Lockers is pretty much a no-brainer.
Amazon has already partnered with other stores in the US— including 7-Eleven, Rite-Aid, Safeway, and Walgreen’s—but Staples is a biggy. Just don’t mention that Amazon is stealing custom from right under its nose, because that would be rude—and at any rate, you can be sure some serious cash is changing hands to set this scheme up. [Reuters]
Early Tuesday morning, federal officials raided four Phoenix, Ariz. properties, seized 21 cars and arrested three women accused of running the largest counterfeit coupon ring in the country.
The mission involved a joint effort by the FBI, local police, and a roster of manufacturing giants that included Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo and Hershey, which were among dozens affected by the scheme, according to industry watchdog Coupon Information Corp.
“These aren’t ’50 cent off’ coupons. These are ‘free item’ coupons,” Police Sergeant Dave Lake said. “For Iams, you get this coupon from her for $10 and you can get a $70 item…If you can get an unlimited number of those, think how this grows.”
Unraveling the scheme
There’s no telling how badly businesses were burned, but police estimate they’ve lost hundreds of millions of dollars. Here’s how manufactures helped tip investigators off to the fraud, according to AZ Central:
“Police said approximately four years ago high-quality copies of manufacturer’s coupons began surfacing in the United States from an unknown source. The victim companies teamed with Coupon Information Corp. and hired private investigators to find where the coupons were being sold in the country. The investigators found several market re-entry points, with the most prolific one located in Arizona.”
That’s where Robin Ramirez, 46, Amico Fountain, 42, and Marilyn Johnson, 62, allegedly ran the bulk of their business, using a fake website and eBay to sell consumers fraudulent coupons at a deeply discounted rate.
How the plan worked
In order to receive the free or discounted coupons, users were “invited” to join the site and given a 100 percent guaranteed return if the deals were rejected at the point of sale.
The website domain may sound familiar. “Savvy Shopper” magazine sends out real coupons to consumers each week, but officials say the scammers simply borrowed the brand to make their scheme seem more legitimate.
While none of the consumers who purchased the coupons will face charges, counterfeit coupons could easily land the people and businesses that unwittingly purchase them in hot water.
“Coupon buyers expose themselves to the possibility of becoming involved with counterfeits, stolen property or other criminal activities,” Miller said in a statement. “They may also expose themselves to additional risk by providing their names, home addresses and financial information to organized crime rings.”
The key to avoiding counterfeit coupons is simple: Don’t buy them.
Here are some other tips CIC passes along to consumers:
-Beware of invalid disclaimers, such as “You not paying for the coupons, but for the time and effort it took to clip them.”
-Be wary of any coupon emailed to you by anyone but the manufacturer or its authorized distributor
-If a coupon is visible on a computer screen, it is probably counterfeit
-Free product coupons are seldom, if ever, distributed on the Internet.
DON’T MISS: 13 clever uses for household items >
If Kenneth G. Lieberthal were anything but a China expert at the Brookings institution, his travelling-in-China security procedures would read like the product of a paranoid mind that watched too many spy movies as a kid:
He leaves his cellphone and laptop at home and instead brings “loaner” devices, which he erases before he leaves the United States and wipes clean the minute he returns. In China, he disables Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, never lets his phone out of his sight and, in meetings, not only turns off his phone but also removes the battery, for fear his microphone could be turned on remotely. He connects to the Internet only through an encrypted, password-protected channel, and copies and pastes his password from a USB thumb drive. He never types in a password directly, because, he said, “the Chinese are very good at installing key-logging software on your laptop.”
Talk about overkill, right? Well he’s not alone. The Times reports that these seemingly paranoid precautions are par for the course for just about anyone with valuable information including government officials, researchers, and even normal businessmen who do business in China.
But what about the rest of us? I may not have any valuable state secrets or research that needs protecting but that doesn’t mean I want the Chinese government snooping on my internetting when I visit my grandparents (especially when the consequences can be so severe). In the past, I’ve relied on a combination of VPNs, TOR, and password-protecting everything I can, but now it sounds like even that isn’t enough. Or maybe it’s totally overkill given my general unimportance in the grand scheme of things. Dear readers, I ask you, how much security is enough when it comes to the average person on vacation? [NY Times]
What looks like the card slot from a Chase Bank ATM is actually a sophisticated card skimmer removed from a branch in West Hills, California. And police believe a 3D printer may have been used to create it.
Those green bulbous card slots that were supposed to make it very difficult for a card skimmer to be attached to an ATM have turned out to be just a minor inconvenience for sophisticated thieves. Investigators believe this skimmer—which perfectly fits over the ATM’s regular slot— was created from a mould that came from a 3D printer. Which means those behind this particular ATM scheme had some very expensive tools at their disposal.
In addition to being a perfect replica of the ATM’s standard card slot, this skimmer incorporates a small pinhole camera that starts recording the PIN pad whenever a card is inserted. On the underside is a series of holes that investigators believe allowed the thieves to download data and footage, but the complex electronics on the inside may have been salvaged from a cellphone, giving this skimmer wireless connectivity. So in the future, like in many situations, make sure you take a good look at the hardware before you stick your thing in the slot. [KrebsonSecurity via BoingBoing]
Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
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