Featured post

Those funny blood-sucking scammers

Since almost becoming a victim of one, I’ve gotten very interested in web scammers.  These are people who put up websites whose secondary purpose is plugging dubious products, and whose main purpose is fraud and theft.

I started posting about web scams in my regular blog; the topic became so engrossing (to me, anyway) that it was a distraction from what I usually write about.  So I’m shifting web scamming to its own blog, and this is it!


Entertainment: The earnest fantasies that web scammers spin are hilarious.  And their devious machinations show lots of talent and effort, making me wonder why they don’t just get jobs.  Laughing at them throws sunlight on them, drying up their slimy schemes.

Someone has to do it: The Better Business Bureau is mired in the 20th century.  Credit card issuers eat reversed charges, having learned the futility of pursuing nomadic and offshore operations.  The feds have bigger fish to fry.  And Amazon has lulled consumers into supposing that all web stores are honest, reliable businesses.  A few bloggers are doing what they can to warn people.  And that may be the most we can realistically accomplish.

I hope you’ll enjoy and benefit from this blog.  Please reply with your experiences, corrections and ideas.

Call to action

  • If you have a blog or a web page, it would be a public service if you would include links to posts I’ve made.  Together we can “google-bomb” the scammers by positioning honest information higher in Google search results than their fake reviews.
  • Send me a link to your blog about scamming, and I’ll include it here.
  • If you bought something from a scammer and you don’t want it, give that purchase some purpose.  Send it to me!  I’ll review it (but I’m not promising to test stuff that’s too sketchy or scary) and write about it to warn others.

8/31/16 Update:  When I set up this blog, I copied over my posts about the LUX HD450 phone lens scam and removed the links to the scam site.  And I wrote additional posts without scam site links.  Since then I’ve noticed that the same posts with scam site links get 40 times the readership as posts without links.  I’m guessing that this reflects something Google is doing to prioritize search results.  To reach and warn more people, I’m going to add links to scam sites.  I’ll color them red; click at your peril!


Run over by iDrive cloud backup service

For all this capability and value, IDrive is a PCMag Editors’ Choice for feature-packed online backup, an honor it shares with SOS Online and Acronis True Image.

I’m done ****ing around with your broken software and have since switched to Backblaze, which has been operating flawlessly. Unlike iDrive, no files are skipped, it’s unobtrusive, the backup size is correctly calculated, it always runs when it’s scheduled, and I never have to delete/reinstall it.

December 4, 2017: The first quote is from PC Magazine.  The second is from iDrive’s user forum.  There may be nothing illegal or wrong with the following business practices. But they suggest that the seller is not to be trusted. I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true (bad), +1 means false (good), and 0 means undetermined. I penalize the seller for statements made by shills.  Contact information:

IDrive Inc.
26115, Mureau Road, Suite A,
Calabasas, CA 91302
Web site: iDrive

Ridiculous claims: +1.  None found.

Suspicious location: +1.  The address above is a respectable-looking office building.  I see no use of this address by suspicious businesses.  iDrive is a division of Pro Softnet Corporation.hq

Onerous terms: -1

  • You have to cancel before the next month or year of your service starts to avoid being charged for it.
  • After it’s been open for 15 days, you can’t cancel your account online.  You have to ask Support to do it for you.  (See below for how to cancel it online.)
  • If you get a new number for your credit card account, they’ll find out about it and keep on charging you.
  • They disclaim all warranties and liability for damage, for example due to loss of data.
  • You can’t join a class action that’s suing them; you can’t join a group arbitration.

Ads, spam, robocalls: +1.  They’ll email you advertising.  You can opt out.

Lying and deception: -1.  There seems to be no fixed price for this service.  They emailed me an offer for 75% off the first year to upgrade to a paid account.  But the link in the email led to a web page offering 25% or 50% off.  When I contacted support they said if I deleted my free account I could get a 90% off offer to sign up again.

Obfuscation: +1.  None found.

Phony reviews: 0.  This review in Cloudwards has a graphical link to iDrive’s signup page.  The review itself is informative, but the sponsorship makes me wonder how objective it is.

Crummy product: 0.  I’ve only found a couple of complaints about software defects; so I hesitate to draw a conclusion.  From PissedConsumer; “I discovered that many of the file dates for the backed up files to NOT match the dates on the source drive.  Many files dates on the back up were later than the actual file date.

Overpriced: +1.  Despite the confusion they’ve created over pricing, their regular prices are in the same range as other services.

Bad service: -1.  I’ve sent several technical questions to iDrive’s support group.  Most got only an auto-reply.  PissedConsumer.com has similar complaints.

Total score; 2

Unauthorized charges: CREDIT CARD RISK ALERT!  The Better Business Bureau rates iDrive “A+”.  However, they have several complaints about the difficulty of cancelling accounts and iDrive’s practice of billing changed credit card numbers.  “Got a replacement credit card and didn’t update my billing info, because their product didn’t work and they wouldn’t cancel my account. Well somehow they figured out how to get my new billing information and charged me for another year.”  “I am very concerned that iDrive was able to charge my checking account without having my current Visa bank card information.

Conclusion: Consider other cloud backup services.  Your first priority should be a good backup to your own storage media.

How to cancel your account on the web

  1.  In the top left corner of the iDrive web page, click Profile.

2.  Click Cancel my account.  If you don’t see this link, you can’t cancel it online; contact Support.  It worked for me; mine was a free trial account.

Attacked by 1TAC Flashlights (2017)

Tc 1200 is a total piece of s61t. My mom got it for me for Christmas… all hyped that she got me some premium flashlight… and that it was top of the line…

I see that my post about 1TAC flashlights of a year ago is beating all my other posts for hits.  (The above is from a reply to it; I hope you let your mom down gently, kid.)  And it’s getting close to Christmas.  So, time to take another look at this tactical flashlight and its seller.  (I didn’t say “maker;” c’mon, you know better than that.).

November 27, 2017; There may be nothing illegal or wrong with the following business practices. But they suggest that the seller is not to be trusted. I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true (bad), +1 means false (good), and 0 means undetermined. I penalize the seller for statements made by shills.  Contact information:

Web site: 1TAC.com
Corporate address: 2630 Townsgate Suite I, Westlake Village CA, 91361
Phone: 1-855-259-1980
Email: support@1tac.com

Ridiculous claims: -1 

  • The blinding strobe and lightly crenellated bezel provide options for self defense, making this an excellent companion for walking home at night, or a solid choice for a back-up light for police or security personnel.”  Keep in mind that the flashlight is five inches long; not much of a club.
  • it has a disorienting strobe effect which can be used to blind the target permanently,” writes Tactical Flashlight Mag.
  • Original retail price $224; now $80?  See ‘Overpriced’ below.

Suspicious location: +1.  It looks like 1TAC’s fortunes have improved over the past year.  The corporate address listed above is in a respectable-looking office park, and is not a UPS store.  hqOther businesses at this address seem legit:

  • Brand Ventures Inc. (marketing)
  • Dronefly
  • Intergalactic Content

Onerous terms: -1

  • Shipping is free; but they’ll add a $3.95 processing and handling fee to the purchase price.
  • Items must be returned in new, unopened and unused condition …”  It looks like, if you try the light, you can’t return it.  They will also want to know your reason for returning it!
  • You have 30 days from the date of purchase – not from the date you received it – to return your flashlight.  Shipping takes 10 to 14 days, leaving you with perhaps two weeks to return it.
  • They charge a processing and handling fee on returns.  Unless your flashlight is defective, they’ll charge you for the return postage too.
  • If you reverse their charge on your credit card, that’s “theft.”
  • You can’t sue them, join a class action that’s suing them, or join a group arbitration.  Fallback position; you have to come to a Los Angeles court to sue them.
  • They don’t guarantee that the flashlight is fit for any use; nor that anything they say is true.

Ads, spam, robocalls: -1

  • They’ll beam ads at you and spam you.
  • They’ll share your data with other companies that will do the same.
  • If they sell their company, your data is part of the deal.

Lying and deception: -1.  “An IP65 waterproofing standard protects this light against water … ”  I”m impressed that 1TAC uses an International Protection Marking code for the level of protection their flashlight provides.  But, IP65 is not a waterproof level of protection.  “Water-resistant” would be more accurate.

Obfuscation: +1.  None found.

Phony reviews: -1.  I see lots of obvious shills touting the TC1200.  And the ones I’ve checked are pretty funny too; see “Bloopers” below.

Crummy product: 0.  From what I can tell from unbiased reviewers, it’s mediocre at best.  Amazon customers rated it an average 3.2 stars.  “Bought 3 of these. One started corroding after 5-6 uses within the first 2 months. One ran down new energizer batteries in a few hours. Company does not stand behind the product. They would replace the corroding parts but wanted to charge me for shipping and handling.

Overpriced: -1.  1TAC is asking $80 for this 1200-lumen, 5-function flashlight.  Amazon has several 1200-lumen flashlights, including this remarkably similar light for $10.

Bad service: -1.  I see many complaints about deceptive practices and failure to respond to phone calls and emails.  From Reviewopedia; “Attempted to call but was on hold over 30 minutes. Emailed customer service and was told to wait up to 24 hours for a response – it’s been over 48 hours. I think I’m out $94 – A hard lesson learned.”  The Better Business Bureau rates 1TAC B- with nine complaints.

Total score; -5

Unauthorized charges:  1TAC doesn’t accept PayPal; that doesn’t look good.

Conclusion: Buy a flashlight at your local hardware store.  There you can try before you buy, and you have a good chance of returning a product you’ve used.


  • The recessed tail switch can be operated with one hand …”  Ahahaha, stop it!  Every flashlight can be operated with one hand!
  • Tame reviewer InfinitePowerSolutions hypes 1TAC’s TC1200 flashlight, with prominent graphical links to a different vendor selling a different product; Military Supply USA.
  • TC1200 information 1Tac very rare became only at this time, but we will do our best to provide the specifications and qualifications of this perceived military too flashlight technology, which has just been made available to the public. It is said that the spotlight LED digital concentrations produce extremely bright, light and radiation that should not be used in a game, or as a light.”  This is from the tech-savvy web site Save Of Scam Activity.
  • Irrespective of your individual position or job-related status, handy tools are becoming increasingly popular.”  Thank you for that insight, The Tactical Pros.

Slimed by Brilliant Download (2017)

thank you for haveing this siet for me to use becuz b4 i was only borowing my freinds movies and games and now i can haev my own withot trying to get them to give me thiers .

Brilliant Download is so pleased with this customer (if he exists) that they display the above testimonial on their own web site.

scamometer -5rNovember 25, 2017: I wrote about this outfit a year ago; it looks like nothing has changed.  There may be nothing illegal or wrong with the following business practices. But they suggest that the seller is not to be trusted. I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true (bad), +1 means false (good), and 0 means undetermined. I penalize the seller for statements made by shills.  Contact information:

Web site: BrilliantDownload.com

Ridiculous claims: +1.  None found.

Carmen_SandiegoSuspicious location: -1.  Brilliant Download hides their location, earning my Carmen Sandiego “Where In The World?” award.  A clue; their Customer Care office hours are given in London time.

Onerous terms: -1

  • Free trials are typically offered to potential subscribers of a service.  But not by this outfit; you have to pay $2 just to try it.  And then you only get to try it for three days.
  • At the end of your three-day trial they’ll charge you $100 for a one-year subscription.  Then you can ask for a refund for 27 more days.  After that, your one-year subscription is cast in concrete and you are not going to get out of it.

Ads, spam, robocalls: +1.  Brilliant Download keeps only your email address, and they don’t share it.

Lying and deception: -1.  My problem with their claims is that they lead you to draw a conclusion that’s not supported by the actual words.

  • Fast Speed: Basically it depends only on the speed of your connection because downloads go directly from the highspeed servers to you.”  Whose high-speed servers are they talking about here?  Further down I read “We don’t host or link any file …
  • Sign up and get instant access to tons of links to movies, tv shows, music and other legal files.”  Do you get movies, TV shows, etc.?  No, just links.  Are the links only to legal files?  Hmmm …  Do you get the links from Brilliant Download?  Um, no.

Obfuscation: -1.  To find out the price, you have to give them personal information.

Phony reviews: 0.  I can’t check the on-site testimonials.  All the external reviews I found looked legit, and were very negative.

Crummy product: -1.  As far as I can determine, you can’t find anything thru Brilliant Downloads that isn’t available with Google.  And you’ll pay the same for the content either way.

Overpriced: -1.  Brilliant Downloads is asking $40 a month or $100 a year for their “consulting service.”  You can find the same links on Google for nothing.

Bad service: -1.  I see many complaints about failure to reply to emails and give refunds.  From PissedConsumer.com; “I sent a mail to cancel membership 3 days later that was when the site charged me $40. I sent several mails for refund and cancellation of membership but no respond.  I contacted my bank and I was asked to get a new card in order to avoid future debits from the site.

Total score; -5

Unauthorized charges:  CREDIT CARD RISK ALERT.  Brilliant Download forces people into subscriptions by ignoring emails that ask for cancellations and refunds.  It looks like the three-day trial charge is a ruse to get your credit card data.  They also charge people who have had no contact with them, apparently using hacked credit card data.

  • From SiteJabber.com; “found a PDF I wanted, paid for trial membership, then the book was no longer listed. Surprise surprise I then got a call from my bank about suspicious activity on my account – they tried to take $80, the thieving ***************s. Luckily my bank stopped the payment, but my card in now cancelled, so all in all a complete scam – avoid it like the plague!
  • From ComplaintsBoard.com; “I haven’t used the website of Brilliant Download and recently I checked my account statement and found out that these guys charged me couple of times. I emailed them and got response that I wouldn’t see my money and they didn’t tell me, where they have found my person and card details. Guys, spread this information and be very careful with them. It’s really impossible to return money.
  • A bad sign; Brilliant Download doesn’t accept PayPal.

Conclusion: Just search with Google.  It costs nothing.  Here is a brief tutorial video on how to use Google Search.

laughBlooper: Sentence diagramming challenge: “ … you CAN NOT in ‘good faith’ believe that any copyrighted work that you believe is being infringed is not authorized to be displayed on our site.


Clipped by honey.com online shopping coupons

Horrible waste of time !!! Slows transaction to a crawl while you perform a useless search for deals …

Excellent extension. I have saved some money with it – not much, but everything helps.

A honey.com Facebook ad

These diverging views are from reviews of the Honey add-on for the Firefox browser.  There may be nothing illegal or wrong with the following business practices. But they suggest that the seller is not to be trusted. I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true (bad), +1 means false (good), and 0 means undetermined. I penalize the seller for statements made by shills.  Contact information:

Web site: honey.com
990 W 8th St, Suite 600, Los Angeles, CA 90017
email: info@joinhoney.com

Ridiculous claims: +1.  None found.

Suspicious location: +1.  The above address is a real building.  I couldn’t find any suspicious companies that are using this address.

Onerous terms: 0

  • You can’t sue them, or join a group that’s suing them, or join a group arbitration.  But you can escape these terms by giving advance notice.
  • They don’t guarantee that anything they say is true.

Ads, spam, robocalls: -1

  • They’ll spam you and beam ads at you.
  • With your approval, they’ll share your data with other advertisers.
  • You can opt out of collection of some kinds of data; but then you’re disqualified from some offers.
  • If they sell their company, your data is part of the deal.  You’ll be notified and night have some choice in the matter.

Lying and deception: +1.  None found.

Obfuscation: +1.  None found.

Phony reviews: -1.  “Ordinary Moves” by entrepreneur Cam Secore is a strikingly friendly review with graphical links to honey.com.  No doubt with every click payola is moving the other way.

Crummy product: 0.  In the reviews I’ve checked, the verdict isn’t clear.  There seems to be some possibility of saving money at online stores like Amazon, coupled with some degradation of your browser performance.

Overpriced: +1.  The web browser add-on is free.  You use it to make purchases from other vendors.

Bad service: +1.  My test email “consumer question” was promptly answered.  And the answer was quite informative.  I’ve included it at the end of this post.

Total score; 4

Unauthorized charges: Not applicable.  Honey.com doesn’t charge shoppers anything for its coupon service (it charges the sellers, such as Amazon vendors).  If you decide to install the browser extension, it directs you to your browser provider’s web page for installing extensions.

Tax avoidance: CNET’s Rick Broida sees honey.com as a sales-tax avoidance service.  Honey.com’s own web site states that sales tax is one of the factors that go into selecting which deal to offer.

Conclusion: This browser add-on looks pretty harmless, and it should save you a little money.  If it’s important to you to pay sales tax when shopping online, don’t use it.  If it slows down your browsing, uninstall it.

honey.com’s response:

Thanks for reaching out to us! Welcome to Honey! We’re a free browser extension and shopping platform meant to find you coupons and rewards at checkout. If you haven’t installed Honey already, the first step is to go to JoinHoney.com and follow the installation prompt.

Once you have Honey installed, a little ‘h’ button will be added to your browser–on stores we support, the button will list the number of coupons we have available for that store. On all browsers except Safari, that button will turn orange when on a supported site. You can click on the Honey button to see any coupons we know about for that site! If there’s a store that you’d like to shop at that we don’t support yet, let us know so we can look into adding that site. You can also search for stores in our database on JoinHoney.com.

When you are on a checkout page with a promo code field, Honey will pop up and ask if you want to test for coupon codes. Honey will then automatically try all known coupon codes for that store. If we find a code that works, we’ll automatically apply the one that saves you the most money to your cart! We scour the internet for all the best deals, but if you find a coupon out there that we don’t currently have, let us know so we can add it! You’ll find the ‘share a code’ option at the bottom of the Honey extension.

We also offer Honey Gold Rewards on certain stores–you’ll see those offers at checkout and at the top of your extension above the coupons. To claim Gold, simply click the button before checking out, and make sure to check for any exclusions. After checking out, you’ll see Honey Gold from that transaction in your account within 2-4 days of that transaction. Gold will pend for 45-60 days while the merchant confirms and verifies your purchase, and as soon as that’s taken care of, we switch your Gold from pending to ‘posted’. With 1000 Gold posted you can redeem a $10 gift card to Amazon, Brookstone, 1-800-Flowers, Sears, Groupon, Walmart and more! We’re also in the process of adding more rewards and cash-out options, so stay tuned 😉 When claiming Gold, you can’t use multiple rewards programs at a time and we recommend disabling ad-block on store check-out pages. If you think you’re missing any Gold, reach out to us with the receipt from that purchase and we’ll look help you out 🙂

Once again, welcome to Honey! We’re so happy to have you. If you’d like to share Honey with friends, you can find your personalized referral link at http://www.joinhoney.com/invite. When your friends sign up with your link and earn Gold on their first eligible purchase, you’ll receive a thank you bonus of 500 Gold from us!

Let me know if you have any questions–I’m here to help 🙂 You can also find additional support at http://help.joinhoney.com


Shucked by sham charity HeroRelief.org (2017)

I wrote about this outfit a year ago.  I’m saddened to see that they’re still at it–pretending to be a charity when their only beneficiary is themselves.

There may be nothing illegal or wrong with the following business practices. But they suggest that the seller is not to be trusted. I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true (bad), +1 means false (good), and 0 means undetermined. I penalize the seller for statements made by shills.  Contact information:

Web site: Hero Relief
Address: 1234 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20006
Corporate address: 7582 Las Vegas Blvd. S #115-405, Las Vegas, NV 89123
Return address: 7875 Highlands Village Place, Suite B102 #401, San Diego, CA 92129
Phone: 1-866-342-2144. Customer Service; 1.844.467.8545
Email: support@herorelief.org

Ridiculous claims: -1.  “Our vision is of a world in which all people displaced by disaster and humanitarion crises are rapidly provided with emergency aid, helping to rebuild their communities and lives. Here at American Heroes, we value innovation. We are creative in finding effective solutions and are always improving the quality of our work to make sure we deliver the best service possible. We stand by our promise to leave the world a better place than we found it.”  Notice that they don’t even claim to deliver any relief themselves.  Also that they call themselves “American Heroes;” is a name-change underway?

Suspicious location: -1.  Corporate address “7582 Las Vegas Blvd. S #115-405, Las Vegas, NV 89123” tells us that Hero Relief keeps odd company for a charity.  The address is also used by notorious scammer Shadowhawk Flashlights, as well as:

  • Defender X Tactical Pens
  • Blackhawk Flashlights
  • Electra Straightening Brush
  • Falcon Tactical Flashlights
  • Crazy Cat Giveaway
  • Electra Media
  • Bella Labs

Also, I see that it’s the favorite hangout of web scammers the world over; a UPS store.

Onerous terms: 0.  Terms of Service are relatively harmless.  However,

  • A refund takes up to 30 days.  If you signed up for monthly donations (accidentally or otherwise), they also bill you every 30 days; and you can only get one refund.  These terms seem to work together to make getting a full refund unlikely.
  • You can’t sue them, join a class action that’s suing them, or join a group arbitratrion.

Ads, spam, robocalls: -1

  • They’ll spam you.
  • They’ll share your information with other companies that will do the same.
  • If they sell their company, your personal data is part of the deal.

Lying and deception: -1

  • Charity Navigator can’t locate an organization named Hero Relief or HeroRelief.org; nor can Giving Compass.
  • Green Shield, the charity which supposedly benefits from your donation to HeroRelief.org, doesn’t come up on these charity-review websites either. It turns out that there is a Green Shield HMO in Canada; but that’s not a charity.
  • This photo’s caption implies that it shows a Hero Relief worker providing health services to children.  But nope — the photo is lifted from the Children’s Hospital of Michigan.
  • This photo is from Alamy Stock Photos.  Notice the text box; ‘When disaster strikes, Hero Relief is there.”  I take this to mean that the two men in green safety jackets are Hero Relief workers; they’re not.  

Obfuscation: -1.  At the foot of the page I see “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit.”  This pseudo-latin phrase means nothing.  It’s just an ornamental bunch of letters.

Phony reviews: +1.  None found.

Crummy product: -1.  As far as I can tell, there is no product.

Overpriced: 0

Bad service: 0.  I’ve found no reports of this.

Total score; -5

Unauthorized charges: I’ve found no reports of this.  Hero Relief doesn’t accept PayPal.

Conclusion: Don’t pour your hard-earned money down this rat-hole.  Find a real charity.  Charity Navigator’s 10 Best Charities list is a good place to start.


Toyed by GreatPrice.Sale phone zoom lens


I called the very next morning to cancel order before the 24 hr cancellation deadline. They could not ” fi&d my records” said the system hasn’t updated. So I called the day after to check on my cancellation they claimed I didn’t call. They say my order has been processed.

get money backThe above is from ReportScam.com.  There may be nothing illegal or wrong with the following business practices. But they suggest that the seller is not to be trusted. I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true (bad), +1 means false (good), and 0 means undetermined. I penalize the seller for statements made by shills.  Contact information:

Web site: GreatPrice.Sale
Address: HDE Trading Ltd., New Bridge Street House, 30-34 New Bridge Street, London, EC4V 6BJ, England
email: support@greatprice.sale

Ridiculous claims: -1

  • Shown to outperform DSLRs!”  There are important differences between a phone and a real camera besides the lens, as I explain here.
  • Does the lightweight, portable, durable Zoom Lens kit actually work to produce powerful, professional pictures from your phone? Here’s our review.”  Keep in mind that you’re reading advertising, not a review.
  • According to People Magazine, Celebrities, Bloggers, and Professional Photographers already made a switch to the most powerful high resolution lens.”  It’s safe to say that People Magazine said no such thing.
  • Christie from Dallas went to Africa last summer, and she had an epic trip.”  So, Christie sprang for a safari and didn’t bring a real camera?

Suspicious location: +1.  At 30-34 New Bridge Street, London, EC4V 6BJ, England I see an unsuspicious office building.  Other businesses using this address seem legit.  Oddly, the Terms of Service say the governing law is that of California, USA.hq

Onerous terms: -1

  • You have 30 days to return the lens for a refund.  The return policy doesn’t say whether that’s 30 days from your order date or from the date you receive the lens.  Delivery takes up to 5 weeks (35 days); so this omission matters.
  • They don’t guarantee that the quality of the lens will meet your expectations; nor that anything they say is true.

Ads, spam, robocalls: +1.  You can opt in to receive emailed advertising, and opt out.

Lying and deception: -1

  • Scientific-looking unattributed comparison chart vs. Nikon, etc.
  • GreatPrice.Sale claims that this is an 18x zoom lens.  Amazon offers a look-alike lens listed as 12x.
  • James Thompson’s “prize-winning photo” is from Shutterstock.

Obfuscation: -1.  A 20-minute discount expiration countdown timer starts when you click the Order button.  If you click it, another 5-minute timer hurries you through checkout.  No time to think!  Grab your credit card and pound those numbers in right now.

Phony reviews: -1.  On-site testimonials with no last names.

Crummy product: -1.  Jim Doty did a meticulous comparison of this lens to a Canon 7D II. He writes in his blog, “The ads and articles by the people selling these smart phone telephoto lenses are just plain wrong. Lenses designed by the major manufacturers for DSLR and ILC cameras are far superior. These cheap, Chinese made, telephoto lenses for smart phones are disappointing.

Overpriced: +1.  GreatPrice.Sale is asking $20, claiming a 50% discount.  Amazon has several offerings that sure look like the same lens.  One of them sells for $12 (but it doesn’t include a tripod).

Bad service: -1.  From ReportScam.com: “Every single time i call up to this very day no on has my info. They even took the money off my card. No on understand me when I call like they are lost or something. I WANT MY MONEY BACK.

Total score; -4

Unauthorized charges:  Hard to find out much about this London outfit, but I found enough to turn on the CREDIT CARD RISK ALERT red light.

  • From ReportScam.com: “Bought 2 flash lights more than a month ago, nothing arrived. Asked for cancellation, no action taken. Just received my credit card statement showing that they made an additional unauthorised transaction to my credit card.
  • GreatPrice.Sale accepts PayPal.

Conclusion: Be content with your phone’s built-in zoom, and put your $20 in your real-camera piggy bank.

2k slrBloopers:

CARRYING AN ULTRA-COMPACT, LIGHTWEIGHT TELEPHOTO LENS WILL GIVE YOU THE POWER OF A $4000 DSLR IN YOUR POCKET.”  Do I get the power of a $2,000 DSLR or a $4,000 DSLR in my pocket?  I’m confused.

landscapeBut that’s not a landscape; that’s a horse.  What is a landscape-sized photo anyway?  Also, you’re holding the phone wrong for photography.laugh

Fried by Gadgets Catalog hair straightener + hair curling iron

If your hair is curly, this gadget can straighten it.  Or, if it’s straight already, it can curl it.  Good deal?

There may be nothing illegal or wrong with the following business practices. But they suggest that the seller is not to be trusted. I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true (bad), +1 means false (good), and 0 means undetermined. I penalize the seller for statements made by shills.  Contact information:

Web site: Gadgets Catalog
11081 Madrigal St., San Diego CA 92129
email: support@gadgets-catalog.com

Ridiculous claims: -1.  Gadgets Catalog claims to be offering a $60 discount.  See “Overpriced” below.

Suspicious location: +1.  11081 Madrigal St., San Diego CA 92129 is an unsuspicious house.  hq

Onerous terms: -1

  • You have 30 days from the date of your order — not from the date you received it — to return the iron.
  • You can’t return “some” health and personal care items.
  • Sale items can’t be refunded.  The iron is marked down $60, so apparently you can’t return it.
  • They don’t guarantee that anything they say is true.

Ads, spam, robocalls: +1.  You can opt in to receive emailed advertising, and opt out.

Lying and deception: +1.  None found.

Obfuscation: -1.  You don’t get to see the terms or privacy policy until you start check out.

Phony reviews: +1.  None found.

Crummy product: 0.  Four people rated the iron 5 stars on AliExpress.

Overpriced: -1.  Gadgets Catalog is asking $70, claiming a $60 discount.  Amazon offers similar irons for as little as $20. AliExpress sells identical irons for $22.

Bad service: +1.  Gadgets Catalog responded promptly to a test “customer question” email.

Total score; 1

Unauthorized charges: I found no reports of this.  Gadgets Catalog doesn’t accept PayPal.

Conclusion: Amazon.

Bloopers: Gadgets Catalog advertises 50% off on Facebook.  They make the same claim at the top of their web page.  But $60 / $130 = 46%.fb