Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My name was used for cyber fraud: An order for translation which was never paid.

I suppose there were warning signs. First I recieved a snail mail version of the Nigerian scam (in this case it was Portuguese) telling me I had inherited 650,000 Euros. 

Then I got this mail from Facebook:
Dear Jonathan,

Your Facebook account was recently logged into from a computer, mobile device or other location you've never used before. For your protection, we've temporarily locked your account until you can review this activity and make sure no one is using your account without your permission.

Did you log into Facebook from a new device or an unusual location?

 - If this was not you, please log into Facebook from your computer and follow the instructions provided to help you control your account information.

 - If this was you, there's no need to worry. Simply log into Facebook again to get back into your account.

For more information, visit our Help Center here:

Facebook Security Team

The login proved to be from Ohio using a Mac. I don't use Macs and someone in Ohio had got hold of my password.  This was worrying. 

In between I got a request to connect on LinkedIn from a German translator. I occasionally get these requests from people I don't know. If they look interesting and reliable I sometimes accept and this guy looked OK and I thought he might have some interesting connection, so I agreed.

Then yesterday the German fellow suddenly sent me an angry mail saying I owed him 700 Euros. It emerged that somebody using my name (spelt Löwenstein with an "umlaut") had ordered a large translation job relating to search engine optimization (SEO) which is the process through which websites get Google to bring them more visitors. He thought it was me and that was why he "friended" me. They gave him an address which was not mine.  I checked all the other Jonathan Lowensteins online (we're a relatively exclusive brand) but I could find no other in Israel. 
I exchanged some mails with the translator and he forwarded me the e-mail containing the translation order. I tried to trace the e-mail but failed. So I checked one of the documents he had translated and found it was for a website:  If you click on the link in the website it takes you to which is a site selling some kind of fake medicine.

I recently read an excellent article about fake medicine sites inWired (see this as well) so I guessed what was up. I guess they got their SEO material translated for free by posing as me, they even paid him a deposit to make it look genuine. So take care.

I located the server housing the website, it was in the Czech republic but the server is probably rented and just holds a website. The business is elsewhere and these guys know their internet and won't be nearby. I suppose they are German speakers because the documents were in German and they spelt my name with an Umlaut.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hair-raising tales from elderly Israelis

My appartment is too small for my current five person family and we are looking for a larger one. There is a neighbourhood we really like nearby and my partner found a nice flat for sale there, although its still a bit too small, its within our budget and is in a building which can easily be expanded.  So I went to chat to some of the neighbours, see what they were like and whether they would agree to an expansion.
I spoke to two neighbours and the second pair were small elderly folk who told me they had been in the building since it was built "in 1963 or 1964".
They said they were allocated the apartments in a lottery.  Apparently it was discounted as they were immigrants.  "Where are you from?" I asked. "Poland" came the reply.
They told me they arrived in Israel in 1949, "Well actually it was 1947 but the British imprisoned us in Cyprus until 1949".  I did my History MA on this stuff and started asking questions.  This is the story they told:

The woman had a Catholic neighbour in Poland, and both he and his sister were called up by the Nazis for servitude of some sort in Germany and he suggested that she pose as his sister.  As a result she became the maid in the house of an SS officer. I missed a trick here and failed to get details of the SS officer and the servitude.  She said she was very young and the man protected her.  She masqueraded as a Christian for four years, living in the officers house. She didn't want to go into details and her husband didn't like talking about all this,  I didn't hear what happened to him.

After the war they both started making their way to Palestine. There was a mass movement of Jews out of Poland and the USSR in the Forties', mostly locally organized and now called "Bricha".  They both joined the same group (and fell in love) and their group walked across the Alps from Austria. I believe US troops were helping Jews crossing through Austria (eg providing food and shelter).  I repeat they crossed the Alps on foot from Austria to Italy.  In Italy they got a train to Genoa. From Genoa they took a rickety boat (they told me its name but I forgot it).  When they approached Palestine, two British destroyers came either side, slamming against the boat and trapping it.  British trooops boarded the boat (incidentally this usually happened in international waters) and took the occupants prisoner.
They were held on Cyprus until about a year after Israel's independance and released in 1949.
Being elderly they have no need (or money) for any expansion, and having crossed the Alps on foot they are in great shape, so their flat won't become free any time soon... So the flat fell through.  I got this post though,  

Recreating ancient kingdoms: Arab Nationalism vs Zionism.

Although Zionism and Arab Nationalism are at loggerheads over Palestine (or perhaps Southern Syria), the two have a certain amount in common...