Online Scammers Are Getting More Creative

September 22, 2017 by stas | No Comments | Filed in General

My email address has been online since 1999, so I get a lot of spam emails, a big chunk of which is scam emails. Most of such scam emails you are well familiar with – the kind someone is asking you to help them transfer $5M inheritance to some poor widow. Obviously I never reply to any of those.

Today one of the scammers almost got me.

I do healing work amongst other things and today I received what seems to be a normal contact from a potential client with a slightly odd side to it.


Hello, i’m  kylie , i would like to know if  you are a Wellness Coach or Reiki Healing  and if you accept credit card for payment?


I follow up, yes, sure. I get next:


the treatment is for 4 ladies in my family, pls get back to me with the total estimate for 2 times in a week 4 (Females) for 4 weeks and i want the session to be 1 hour, and i will like to know the total cost for the service
would prefer you treat them on
weight loss
reducing pain and discomfort 
stress management and Anger management
I find it somewhat of an odd request, so I ask for a clarification, and I get:
both and I want you to know that I am diagnosed of lung cancer and i’m currently in the hospital right now due to my health issue and i want to secure this appointment for my family as a surprise to console them and keep them busy while am undergoing my surgery so i hope you can handle them very well? … could kindly get back to me with the total cost for 4 ladies times.2 sessions per week, times 4 weeks which is 32 sessions
I compassionately reply that it’s a nice gesture, send the cost for that number of sessions – a few thousand dollars worth of services and then get a follow up:
am okay with the price ,i will be making the payment now to secure the appointment and please i will like you to help me with little favor ?
Until now I thought it was an odd request, but this reply instantly puts me on guard. A friend was visiting me and I shared with her that someone is most likely trying to scam me. I reply ‘Yes, what’s the favor’ and I receive the punch line:
here is the favor i need from you…
I want you to charge my credit card for the sum of $4750,once the money clear you are to keep $2,100 as payment for the services and help me send $2500 to my private Limo driver, via cash deposit and the money is for refreshment,transportation and accommodation fees he will also be their guardian for the entire weeks of the coaching
and am making this as a huge surprise to console them for my upcoming surgery operation, and i will like you to hold the remaining $150 as a tips for handling this for me,Thanks
Yeah, right. I almost participated in the first scam. Beware!
Re-reading now the whole input from the scammer many signals are seen as obvious, but in retrospect it’s always easier to spot faults…

And of course it’s sad people abuse people’s pain – but what to do, that’s where they get us.

Also please make sure to read: How To Reduce the Risk Of Getting Scammed and Owned Online.


How Amazon Discriminates Against Small Publishers

June 10, 2017 by admin | No Comments | Filed in General

It’s well known that Amazon is loved by online shoppers, mainly due to its amazing customer support. Amazon is now a lot more than a big online shop, as they annexed a bunch of other businesses to it. One of which is a publishing business. This department unfortunately can’t be called amazing. Here is my little story to showcase what’s happening behind the scenes and how injustice is done to the long tail.

As of this writing I have published 4 books. First with O’Reilly and Associates, second with Onyx Neon Press, and the the most recent two I self-published via Amazon KDP (Kindle Digital Publishing).

Publishing via KDP was OK, they still have a long way to go to make things smooth, the main gift to us was to make it possible to publish books without needing to convince a mainstream publisher to want to publish them. When things work, they work, when there are problems, usually after stumbling through a few clueless support people, eventually you hit someone who knows their business and things get resolved. All was good.

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How To Get Hired – an Infallible Scheme Invented by Mark Twain

December 16, 2015 by stas | No Comments | Filed in General

young mark twainMark Twain invented an infallible scheme for anyone to get hired. He describes his scheme and how he got three men to get a job using this scheme in the following text. The approach worked more than 100 years ago and chances are that it’ll still work just the same today as human nature hasn’t really changed that much in such a “short” period of time.

Higbie was the first person to profit by my great and infallible scheme for finding work for the unemployed. I have tried that scheme, now and then, for forty-four years. So far as I am aware it has always succeeded, and it is one of my high prides that I invented it, and that in basing it upon what I conceived to be a fact of human nature I estimated that fact of human nature accurately.

Higbie and I were living in a cotton-domestic lean-to at the base of a mountain. It was very cramped quarters, with barely room for us and the stove—wretched quarters indeed, for every now and then, between eight in the morning and eight in the evening, the thermometer would make an excursion of fifty degrees. We had a silver-mining claim under the edge of a hill half a mile away, in partnership with Bob Howland and Horatio Phillips, and we used to go there every morning carrying with us our luncheon, and remain all day picking and blasting in our shaft, hoping, despairing, hoping again, and gradually but surely running out of funds. At last, when we were clear out and still had struck nothing, we saw that we must find some other way of earning a living. I secured a place in a near-by quartz mill to screen sand with a long-handled shovel. I hate a long-handled shovel. I never could learn to swing it properly. As often as any other way the sand didn’t reach the screen at all, but went over my head and down my back, inside of my clothes. It was the most detestable work I have ever engaged in, but it paid ten dollars a week and board—and the board was worth while, because it consisted not only of bacon, beans, coffee, bread and molasses, but we had stewed dried apples every day in the week just the same as if it were Sunday. But this palatial life, this gross and luxurious life, had to come to an end, and there were two sufficient reasons for it. On my side, I could not endure the heavy labor; and on the Company’s side, they did not feel justified in paying me to shovel sand down my back; so I was discharged just at the moment that I was going to resign.

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How to Get Your Business Cards for Free

November 11, 2011 by admin | 1 Comment | Filed in Advertising

Running a small business can be tough, especially in the current economy conditions where clients aren’t easy to come by, so keeping your expenses to the minimum is a certain way to improve your bottom line. When it comes to promotional materials, one could spend a lot of money there. And business cards are usually the most commonly used way to promote one’s business. It’s the magic handshake protocol most entrepreneurs are so familiar with:

– “What do you do?”

– “I’m a Registered Massage Therapist. What about you?”

– “I’m a Reiki Master, and here is my business card. Can I have your card?”

– “Of course, here it is.”

The Internet has been around for a relatively long time by now, yet, business cards aren’t a thing of a past and it’ll probably take quite some time before one will not carry any around with them anymore and not leave a few here and there on various posting boards in cafés and community places.

Business cards have been around for centuries (In China since 15th century, Europe – 17th century) . So it’s not surprising that these days there are many shops that will print your business cards in various shapes and forms, using different fancy kinds of paper and color. But they can be quite expensive,  especially if someone designs them from scratch – since you’re paying for their time, their rent costs, etc.

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SEO The Easy Way As Explained by Google SEO High Priest | SEO Made Easy Series

September 13, 2010 by stas | No Comments | Filed in SEO

The following is an excellent video where Matt Cutts and other three members of Google Search review a dozen or so sites and discuss the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) issues. Below you will find my summary of it, which you might want to read instead if you don’t have a spare hour to watch the whole video.

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How To Attract Inbound Links If Your Company Doesn’t Do Sexy Things | SEO Made Easy Series

October 22, 2009 by stas | 2 Comments | Filed in SEO

Since Google still dominates the search engine market, it’s most important that your website fares well in google SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Most people who understand at least a little bit about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) know that one of the biggest factors in how Google ranks sites (and individual pages) is by how many inbound links they get from other sites. Ideally those links should be from sites that are directly relevant to the topic of the destination site and the pages the links come from should have high page rank themselves.

There was a time when one could either buy links from other sites or do link exchanges. None of the two works for you these days. If Google detects that you buy links on other sites, you will get punished and demoted in SERPs, if you do link exchanges, you’re simply wasting your time since Google has been ignoring those pages.

Most sites that produce useful content have no problems getting links from other sites, because there is always someone out there who’s interested in what you have to offer. This works especially well if your potential audience is big or even better huge, and ideally those people should be technically inclined so that they know how to link to your site (at least in their blog posts). So if your site is about nutrition, celebrities, politics, and other very popular topics as long as you produce unique and interesting content you will get those highly sought after inbound links.

Now what if your company does something very very technical and non-sexy that hardly anybody in the crowd of those who could link to you cares about? Let’s say you make light fixtures for commercial buildings or you provide concrete scanning services (these examples are based on industries for companies I consulted for recently). These topics aren’t not-sexy and I’d say even boring — why would anybody ever link to those sites. In that’s what those companies suffer from. Low page rank and tough time getting the attention of potential customers searching for those companies.

So what do you do? The solutions are relatively simple and don’t require much technical knowledge.

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How To Make Your Business Come up First In Google Search

September 1, 2009 by stas | 29 Comments | Filed in SEO

Most people are unaware of this neat feature that Google provides, but have you noticed that when you search for a business, sometimes Google will show a specific business on the map at the very top of the search results?

Let’s take a concrete example. My company’s name is StasoSphere, which resides in Vancouver and besides other things that I do in this life I’m a Reiki practitioner (which is an energy-based healing modality). Now let’s search google for ‘Reiki Vancouver’, which most prospective clients would type in to find a Reiki practitioner in Vancouver.

And this is what we get:

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Echoes From VanTEC Oct 7 2008

October 10, 2008 by stas | No Comments | Filed in Fundraising

This month’s angel investors meeting was dedicated to the high-tech startups (every other month is Life Sciences).

I found two startup companies that stood out, both in the “do good” space:

H2O3 Inc

water-cleaner-72dpiTim Piwonka-Corle, presented H2O3 Inc, whose product is a portable water disinfection unit that you can see on the right. The process is done using an ozone sterilizer, which uses less than 100 Watts of power (think incandescent light bulb). Each unit is able to produce 20 liters of sterile water in about 15 minutes.

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Echoes From VanTEC July 7 2008

July 9, 2008 by stas | 1 Comment | Filed in Fundraising

Since there is no August meeting for VanTEC, the July’s meeting had twice the companies presenting. In addition to the usual 5 5-minute snapshots, there were another 10 extra preview presentations. Moreover Mike decided to run the same presentations twice. As I was sponsoring one of the companies, I had to come to both days. The days were very long and quite tiring. Imagine 3.5 hours of non-stop presentations, from 20 companies!

There were a few companies that I found particularly interesting.

This company’s idea is to help entrepreneurs with fundraising. Startups make a video of their pitch and upload it to fundfindr’s site. Potential investors can watch those videos and contact the entrepreneurs if they are interested in the idea. The site also provides listing of various investor groups and their contact information, which is a helpful resource.

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VANTEC – Vancouver Angel Technology Network

July 9, 2008 by stas | No Comments | Filed in Angel Investing, Fundraising

Every months a group of investors meets at SFU Time Center in downtown Vancouver, for a 2-3 hour meeting, where early stage startups give their pitch in hope that they will find some interested investors. Some startups just want the cash, most companies ask for cash, plus mentorship, others are just in the conception stage and all they want is mentorship.

Typically there are two segments to each meeting. There are 5-minute pitches, for those who do it for the first time. If the 5-minute pitch went well and people found the presenter prepared, then the next time they are given 15 minutes. They also get time to answer questions — typically 10 minutes presentation, followed by a 5-minute Q&A session, where startups get “grilled” a bit, or should we say get a “reality-check”.

Recently one of the meeting organizers, Thealzel Lee, started running prescreen sessions, which allows startups to run their presentation in front of a small expert panel, which give suggestions for improvements and the panel also decides whether the company is ready to do the long pitch, do the short one, or send them home to do their homework.

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