Scam: what are we dealing with?

Yesterday, I logged off of Twitter with that little bratty attitude everyone thinks I have, apparently, and insisted on having the last word: “you’ve got some stuff to figure out”. I tagged the company profile. Woke up after nightmares involving funerals, old homes, drug users and pizza, for some reason. Pizza in the staircase, pizza on the couch, pizza on a bed next to an overdosed hottie who had curly red hair and looked like my ex work buddy… Pizza. In Brazil, there’s a saying that when something is supposed to have a rightful, legitimate, just and commonly agreed upon result, but it doesn’t, then “it ended in pizza”. Let me just give you more context–cause I think that could be the name of my next book, if I finish writing the first.

One of the last interesting things I did before going to sleep yesterday (excuse me, actual redhead in my life) was to read a post by scholar Sérgio Amadeu de Silveira, in Portuguese, in a publication called PAULUS, a digital magazine from a Communications and Technology educational institution. One of the arguments in this interview with Rio scholar André Lemos (and I think he’s either based in Bahia or Rio, actually, but I wanna post this thing already) was that “fake news” was being called “news”. And no, he said, “fake” is “fake”; “news” are “news”. But of course he doesn’t actually say that, precisely. We all have a level of annoyance and avoidance when it comes to traditional media, and the generations are catching up: anybody using Facebook Dating? I mean, not that Meta Dating is a bet to introduce cuddling to kids in virtual environments. Get a freaking cat, right? And you know, there’s hentai. There’s all sorts of stuff. And as a 32 year old guy, I must say, Tamagotchi saw it first. But the key here is a question of semiotics and perhaps morphology. People might map out [sic] the topic: “the tensions between East and West” and then continue with either “de-escalated” or “re-escalated”. The former means down; the latter means up. Of course, like I said, semiotics is important. If something “re-escalates”, it has escalated before. Not necessarily the case with the first example. But that’s just because I studied linguistics. The focus is “fake news”. Study media! From scholars, not from YouTube or TikTok. Then explain, with your own words, what “misinform” means, compared to “disinform”. It’s slightly different. They’re not opposites. When someone is “misinformed”, it means they’re either not getting the full picture or they have an outdated perspective of things, and that’s already an interpretation. But I’ll save you the dictionary search you can do for yourself. To disinform is to act in order to weaken information knowledge, rather than strengthening it. But the thing is: if a lie is told long enough, as media students are aware (as well as many historians), it becomes true. If you’re still with me, though, think of another example: “learn” and “unlearn”. Both can be positive. I learned English–that was great. I’ve unlearned a lot of my values and preconceptions, after contact with the English speaking world, which is not an easy concept to explain; but you see, in this case, both are possibly a good side of things.

Arguably, if Facebook said: “the future is private” and later invested more on data tracking and surveillance (anybody has a link? I’m just a lame blogger with limited vocabulary and shitty ideas), that would be… misinforming? Lying? Commiting a crime? Hm. Let’s get take the road less travelled here: when Alec Baldwin said he didn’t know the gun was loaded, he didn’t lie. We don’t think so. I certainly don’t. But it was. See, someone could have told him that it was. But nobody checked. And neither did he. Now let’s supposed a company is supposed to check everything. Every user. It’s complicated to discuss what’s “misinformation” in a context of “too much information” and a crisis of both relevance and empathy.

But some people do things like what I’m about to report.

On January 21, 2022, I had recently lost my grandmother and was very emotionally vulnerable. The girl who videocalled me every week decided I was acting weird, and blocked me. I searched for contacts from abroad. And in the midst of that, my real life ex, the most recent (out of 3, everyone), literally told me to go die. And also blocked me. Okay man, I didn’t have to disclose that. But I want people to connect with the level of insanity we’re dealing with here: the girl reminded me of her, in terms of facial features. And no, that’s not a pun. This is a complement to an education blog, not the freaking Daily Mail or TMZ. Now, see… I was lured. and cognitively incapable of stopping the connection from getting stronger. We kept on talking, I eventually told her about my issues. And one day, she asked me: do you know anything about investments? Fast forward to the day when she said: “I just won a thousand dollars, but I don’t have PayPal so I can’t receive it. Do you have PayPal?”

She sent me a link to this dude’s Instagram page, who apparently was a musician from Omaha, Nebraska. Yeah, in the United States, in case you’re not very curious about the geography there. It was a bunch of posts of him, interesting voice, great acoustics, bit of a country vibe. His last post two posts were: first, a video of him saying he never believed this crypto thing was real, but then he met someone who taught him about investments and he put like 50 bucks into an asset (good thing there’s lawyers who read blogs) and then he saw 32 thousand dollars in profit. He made a video, posted it on Instagram, told people to contact user whatever. The next post was a ridiculous multicolored background with grammar mistakes (was it?), or maybe I think those were the other scams I saw. If I’m sticking to the facts and chronology, I guess the next post on this dude’s account was a test: one of those visual illusion sort of things, and some people would be able to clearly see a number among some colored circles.

So the girl did. She, like me, has mental health issues. And told me about a history of abuse, which also sounds familiar to me. What she asked me to do, however, still bugs me: I want to trust people, but sometimes I’m not sure if I can really tell who’s being honest, or what the hidden intentions might be. She said: “omg, talk to this guy, you’re gonna get this money, Ivo!” And my family was on the brink of misery. Today, for example, I paid 4.50 real on a cheap pack of cigarettes (any pack sold under 5 real is sold illegally) instead of buying fresh bread. So watch this unfold: the guy said “hey, we’re legit, here’s a print of the payment sent to your email”. I couldn’t really believe what I was reading. Then he continued: “I just need to verify. So here’s what I’ll ask you to do: go to your personal info, and input this email. You’ll be locked out for 5 minutes, then you’ll have a thousand dollars”. I was like… “so, I don’t understand crypto man, I’m very thankful cause both me and this girl who talked to you have been through the rough stuff man, believe me. So I’m thankful and everything but is this really necessary? I’m sending you a voice recording right now. isn’t that enough?” And then… he told me: “it’s safe”. I’m sorry, but was Instagram thinking about my safety?

So I did. Fast forward to a month later. I have finally disconnected my former Instagram account from the Meta Business Suite; all my followers received a scam message and possible disappearing messages I’m unaware of (because Meta Business Suite allowed me to see the messages, but I was logged out on the app; disappearing messages only work on the app; I could only remove the connection by inserting the password; the scammer changed the passsword right away, as well as the phone number, therefore making two-factor authentication ineffective, and there’s no backup channel for Instagram, and NOW they’re working on close friends having verification controls or something — of course, the PR team thought a dog waving represented it very well). The music distributor I associated my profile with, ONErpm, whose contract involves copyrights and exclusivity, didn’t do anything. The FTC, institution that shows up when you’re so incredibly smart and think about making a Google search with the words “identity theft”, redirects you to a site that can’t load the final report. The Civil Police, where you’d go to report digital crimes, gets stuck on the form. The tech companies? They report profits. And no, you’re not getting donations, you bitchass lying motherfucker!

So that’s part of why I moved my blogging to Substack. You can read it here.

The account is still pulling scams. Check out (my new account is “ivoison”).

About my work, two links:

That’s for English classes:

I’m glad the webcam only cost 150 real.

The other one is for my music:

Thanks for your patience. Be smart out there. Or in here. Who the fuck knows anymore?

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