Tag Archives: military

Tagged by Tacticult Phantom P1 green laser

Tacticult looks like an okay outfit.  Is it?

Keep in mind that I’m not talking about illegal advertising; I’m talking about signs that a seller is a scammer (someone who takes your money by trickery or theft). I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true, +1 means false, and 0 means undetermined.

Ridiculous claims: 0.  “Aircraft aluminum” (the stuff beer cans are made of).  But that’s it for ridiculous; so I’ll give them a pass.

Suspicious location: -1.  Buried in the Terms of Service I found PO BOX 16466 Saint Paul MN, a mailbox (obviously).

Onerous terms: -1

  • You have just 7 days from the day you receive it to return the laser if you don’t like it.
  • You have 30 days to return it if it’s defective.  They charge a 20% restocking fee.
  • They don’t guarantee that anything they say is true.

Ads, spam, robocalls: +1.  They only send marketing emails if you opt in; and you can opt out.

Lying and deception: -1.  A 30-day “100% satisfaction guarantee” is advertised.  But the Terms describe a 7-day satisfaction guarantee.  The 30-day guarantee is a “free from defects” warranty.  They charge a 20% restocking fee; what, then, does 100% mean?

Obfuscation: -1

  • Countdown timer to make you think you don’t have time to make a careful decision.
  • “Spin the wheel” game to get a coupon that you can only use for the next 10 minutes; more pressure to decide quickly.

Phony reviews: +1.  None found.

Crummy product:  0.  I found no information — sorry!

Overpriced: 0.  I couldn’t find any similar products.  Most small lasers seem to be either presentation pointers or gunsights.  Here’s a $18 laser pointer on Amazon that you can also use to tease your cat.

75% discount: +1.  False.

Total score; -1

Unauthorized charges: I found no reports of this. Tacticult accepts PayPal.

Conclusion: Almost OK.  The guarantee terms are harsh, and different than advertised.


Lacerated by Ultrabeam lasers

…then i discovered that lasers are dangerous and cannot be used for the purposes they state,” writes Nick, a guy in Puerto Rico who likes tactical stuff.

… I used them intermittently at the wall, but i hurted my eyes and i still has spots in my vision.  ..Could you investigate the sites?”  Sure, I’ll do a request!  On April 30, 2017 let’s focus the clean white light of the Scam-O-Meter on the company that’s selling Ultrabeam, Official Tactical Kit.  (What’s official about it?)

Keep in mind that I’m not talking about illegal advertising; I’m talking about signs that a seller is a scammer (someone who takes your money by trickery or theft). I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true, +1 means false, and 0 means undetermined.

Ridiculous claims: -1.  OTK describes the device as a “Maximum legal wattage survival laser.”  How would it help you to survive?  They give three examples.  Igniting match-heads and popping balloons we can dispense with.  “Can be seen for over two miles” is the third example.  That might possibly be a little helpful.  But we’ll revisit this statement in “Lying and Deception” below.

Suspicious location: -1.  9265 S. Highland Drive #901401, Sandy, UT 84093.  It’s a Post Office box.po

Onerous terms: -1.

  • To return a product for a refund, you have to send it unopened to OTK within 10 days of the day you ordered it — not the day you received it.
  • They charge a $35 restocking fee — nearly the price of the laser.
  • They don’t guarantee that their products are fit for any use; nor that anything they say is true.
  • You can’t sue them or join a class action that’s suing them.

Ads, spam, robocalls: 0.  The Privacy Policy is too vague to tell whether you would be subject to aggressive advertising.

Lying and deception: -1.

  • OTK describes the device as a “Maximum legal wattage survival laser.”  But there is no legal limit on laser wattage, other than for presentation laser pointers.  OTK neglects to say what the laser’s wattage actually is.
  • OTK claims that the beam is visible for over two miles.  The Symthic forum has a post reporting the results of laser detectability range tests.  At best, lasers are detectable at a range of 50 meters (about 0.03 miles).
  • The order form is pre-filled for a quantity of three lasers ($110).

Obfuscation: -1.

  • Important links and information are camouflaged at the bottom of the web page.camo1camo2* Only one case and one pair of safety glasses will be provided for free. If you purchase multiple units they will be shipped in one case and with one pair of free safety glasses, unless you opt for aluminum cases on the next page.


  • A countdown timer suggests that you don’t have time to make a careful decision.
  • The Terms and Conditions are padded with extensive, useless text about third-party legal services to make them harder to read.

Phony reviews: +1.  None found.

Crummy product: 0.  I could find no unbiased information about the laser.

Overpriced: 0.  One laser with no battery is $59 when I add in the shipping.  I couldn’t find a similar laser elsewhere.

75% discount: 0.  It’s 70%, so I’ll give them a pass.

Total score; -4.

Unauthorized charges: I found no reports of this.

Conclusion: Steer clear.  The terms are oppressive, and camouflaging information doesn’t make for trust.  The laser seems to have no purpose.  Implicit, of course, is the notion that you could use it as a weapon.  And Nick’s experience supports this idea.  I’m not going to score OTK for something they didn’t say.


Bonus outtake:bo


Flashed by Tactical X flashlights

Tactical X flashlights looks to be Military Supply USA‘s little brother, imitating the scam going on across the alley but not getting it quite right.  It’s April 3, 2017.  Keep in mind that I’m not talking about illegal advertising; I’m talking about signs that a seller is a scammer (someone who takes your money by trickery or theft). I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true, +1 means false, and 0 means undetermined.

Ridiculous claims: -1

  • Commonly used by our nation’s elite special forces …”  Obviously, they’d have to go to an antique store to buy flashlights with incandescent light bulbs in them.
  • We had to open up a second factory just to keep up with the massive amounts of orders coming in.”  Would that be in China?
  • Made out of military-grade aluminum as opposed to cheap plastic.”  So are beer cans.
  • Incredibly bright LED element that, paired with its disorienting ‘strobe mode’, will render a potential attacker incapacitated.”  If that doesn’t work, you can always hit him with it.
  • These $200 lights are currently selling for 75% off their normal price!”  Read: WE ARE SCAMMERS.

Post Office box: 0.  301 Thomas Ave. N. Suite R – Minneapolis MN 55405.  Okay, this is a real place. But it’s right next door to the Minneapolis scam factory I’ve been writing about.  Looks to be part of it, in fact.loc

Onerous terms: -1.  these guys have the same lawyer as Alumitact–one more sign that they’re the same outfit.

  • Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 11.39.19 AMTo get a refund, you have to phone ahead for an authorization number, and they have to receive your returned light, within 30 days from your ordernot from the day you received it. They’ll only accept the light if it’s working. They charge a $10 restocking fee.
  • You can always return your light for a replacement, unless it/s broken. They charge a $10 restocking fee.
  • They don’t guarantee that their products are fit for any use; nor that anything they say is true.
  • You can’t sue them, join a class action that’s suing them, or join a third-party arbitration.

Ads, spam, robocalls: -1

  • They offer a discount in exchange for your email address.
  • They’ll use the information you give them, plus what they can suck out of your browser, to beam ads at you, spam you, robocall, text and junk mail you.
  • They’ll share your information with other companies that will do the same.
  • They ignore Do Not Call registries.
  • You can try to unsubscribe; but this won’t affect other mailing lists, nor the third-party companies that now have your information.

Lying and deception: -1

  • You know how it feels when someone takes a picture of you using flash at night. … Now imageine that light being 100X brighter …”  This is a 700 lumen flashlight.  A camera flash produces about 1.4 million lumens.
  • On the order form, a quantity of five flashlights is already selected.

Obfuscation: -1

  • You don’t find out the price until you drill down to the third page.
  • An ad and a coupon cover the web page while you’re trying to read it.

Phony reviews: -1

  • The first page, “Smarter Consumer Tips,” masquerades as a review.
  • Social media “posts” on the first page have the usual fake photos that flashlight scams use.

Crummy product: 0.  I couldn’t find an impartial review.

Overpriced: -1.  Here is a seemingly identical light on Amazon for $10.  It’s rated 4.6 stars by 58 customers.

Unauthorized charges: +1.  No reports found.

Final score; -6


Bonus outtakes:

  • Every American should own one and have it in every room of their house.”  If you have a one-room house.
  • The Conditions of Service lists the returns address as 225 Thomas Ave N., Minneapolis, MN 55405.  But that’s Alumitact’s (Military Supply USA’s) address.

Smoked by Seal Torch 2000

scamometer seal torchWe are really talking about two products here; a typical low-end tactical flashlight, and a subscription to a newsletter.  The deal is, you accept the free flashlight and end up with the expensive subscription.  It’s March 15, 2017 as I review the seal torch 2000 website.  (Red links are evil; do not click.).  This is the second offer I’ve reviewed from Laissez-Faire Books; they also handle a “tactical pen” that’s endorsed by a “former CIA officer.”

Keep in mind that I’m not talking about illegal or wrong behavior; I’m talking about signs that a seller is a scammer.  I’m using my Scam-O-Meter scoring system; -1 means true, +1 means false, and 0 means undetermined.

Ridiculous claims: +1.  None found … Just a view stretchers.

Post Office box: +1.  Laissez Faire Books | 808 St. Paul St., Baltimore, MD 21202. No, this is a real building.pens address

Onerous terms: -1.

  • Your flashlight order automatically triggers a newsletter subscription.
  • Unless you cancel your subscription within seven days, they’ll charge you $40 a month for the newsletter, and they will not give it back.
  • I found no indication of when the seven day countdown begins; when you place your order, or when you receive your first newsletter?  Seven days is barely enough time for something to arrive by physical mail.
  • Accuracy of the information on the website “Cannot be guaranteed.

Ads, spam, robocalls: -1.

  • You don’t get to see the second page, which explains about the subscription, until you enter your email address. Even if you decide not to buy anything, they can spam you anyway.
  • They’ll use the information you give them plus what they can suck out of your browser to beam ads at you and spam you.
  • You can try to opt out.  But one person complained that “I cannot get off of the list. I even contacted the spam department at my job. Each email I mark ‘junk’ with Outlook and they still come into my regular inbox. There is NO unsubscribe option in their email, you have to physically write snail mail to them to remove you.

Lying and deception: -1.  A man in a combat outfit steps out of the woods and rests his weapon to promote a “night optical observation” device.

  • After implying that it’s night vision goggles, he reveals that it’s just a flashlight.  But it’s free!  
  • Oh, but to get it you also have to acccept a subscription which you must then struggle to cancel.  Does it help that he’s been on TV?
  • Different parts of the website show different flashlights. Which one is really for sale?

Obfuscation: -1.

  • They don’t tell you about the subscription until you get to the second page.  Then they try to sweeten the deal by throwing in another flashlight, reports, videos, etc.
  • The second page displays a countdown timer to make you think you don’t have time to make a careful decision.
  • The terms of sale are divided among four documents instead of the usual two.  The Terms and Conditions document is really just a privacy statement. The Privacy Policy is a second, different privacy statement.  The Guarantee Certificate is in fact a guarantee. The Billing Terms is the important document.  It isn’t just about the $4.95 shipping charge; here is where the subscription comes in.

Phony reviews: 0.  The website is festooned with five star reviews. However, it also admits that the real names of its customers have been “redacted.”  I couldn’t find any other reviews of the flashlight, nor of “Spy & Survival Briefing.”

Crummy product: 0.

  • The flashlight resembles typical tactical lights that you’re supposed to be able to blind and hit people with.  I couldn’t find any other information about the seal torch 2000.
  • There’s no way to know what the newsletter, reports, videos, etc. are like..

Overpriced: -1

  • Flashlight; looks like you get what you pay for..
  • Newsletter; at $40 a month, it looks overpriced to me.  You could instead subscribe to American Survivalist Guide for $37 a year (12 issues).

Unauthorized charges: 0.

  • The Better Business Bureau gives a B rating to Agora Financial (Laissez-Faire Books’ parent company) with 50 complaints and eight negative reviews.  The reviews and complaints cover financial services, book purchases and other activities.  Most complaints concerned advertising and service.
  • Reviewopedia has several complaints related to the monthly subscription renewal process. These guys aren’t very good at answering their phones. It isn’t clear to me whether the problem goes beyond this to actual theft.

Final score; -3

I find it a bit slimy for Cade Courtley to trade on his veteran credibility to hawk a deal like this.


Tickled by Taclight flashlights

OMG it’s another Chinese flashlight scam!  And not even one of the better ones.  It’s February 21, 2017, and the topic is Taclight flashlights (red links are evil; do not click).  OK, let’s grab our Scam-O-Meters and do this.

Ridiculous claims: -1.  

  • You’d have the ability to disorient any would be attacker with the push of a button.
  • This flashlight will see you thru a natural disaster or terrorist attack.
  • LED flashlights are used by uniformed first responders (true, but they’d have to go to an antique store to get flashlights with lightbulbs).
  • 75% discount, practically a badge for web scammers.

Post Office box: -1.  The “Contact Us” link is broken (see “Onerous Terms”).  I found a different Taclight web site that gives this address: 400 RETURNS RD, Wallingford CT, 06494.  As far as I can determine, there is no Returns Road in Wallingford, CT.    So I’m dinging these guys a point for having no resolvable physical location.

Onerous terms: 0.  Clicking on “Terms and Conditions” gets this display:


Ads, spam, robocalls: 0.  The “Privacy Policy” link is also broken.

scamometer-taclightLying and deception: -1.  The scam site poses as a review of the product.  At the top left corner we see the byline “By James Berendsohn.”  I couldn’t find anyone by this name who is a journalist or technician.  LinkedIn shows one James Berendsohn, a translator living in Ipswich, England.  Dim, tiny print at the bottom of the page admits, “THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT AND NOT AN ACTUAL NEWS ARTICLE, BLOG, OR CONSUMER PROTECTION UPDATE.”

Further down, I read “We reached out to one of the biggest names in tactical flashlights TacLight for more details. Here’s what Shawn from TacLight shared with us:”  That must have been a pretty short reach; the scam site’s domain is buytaclight.com .  So is the domain of the order form.

It looks like this web page automatically adjusts itself for whatever state your ISP address says you’re located in.  There is no “Observer” in Washington State.  Then I read:

Officials stated they don’t want residents to buy a gun or even non-lethal items like a taser or pepper spray. Instead they suggest something you probably would never think of – carry a high power flashlight.

The reason is even non-lethal deterrents are still considered weapons and are restricted in many areas. If you can’t carry it with you at all times it’s not really providing you with much safety.

Here’s what the Police Department in Seattle, Washington really recommends:

Carry a flashlight with fresh batteries, flares, a fire extinguisher, and first aid kit in your personal vehicle at all times.

The logic here is not that you can use the light to hit people with or blind them with.  It’s that you can use it to see what you’re doing in the dark.  (Also a fire extinguisher works better than a flashlight for hitting people.)lights compared

Obfuscation: +1.  None found.

Phony reviews: -1

  • The scam site includes several phony reviews.  They’ve “posted” the same clip-art photoshop mash-ups that all the flashlight scammers use.  Clicking on a “reviewer” just brings up the order form, not information about the reviewer.
  • I’ve found some external review sites that pan this product even while advertising it.

Crummy product: -1.   Amazon carries the Taclight T1100.  It has a five-star review by one person.  Some sites call this a Bell&Howell product.  Pay no attention to this claim; Bell&Howell went belly-up and its name is now being rented out to all comers.  I’ve found quality complaints here and quite a lot here … okay this is easy and boring, I’m done.

Overpriced: -1.  Amazon offers several 1100-lumen zoomable flashlights for less; here’s one by Cree for $12.

Unauthorized charges: -1.  I found many complaints of slow or no delivery.  Several people posted on Freakin’ Reviews that they started to fill out the order form, changed their minds and did not click Process, but were billed anyway.

Final Scam-O-Meter score; -6

Just shop local or go to Amazon.  The score would probably be lower if the scam site didn’t have so many broken links.  Which brings us to …

Shoddy workmanship.  This isn’t a complaint!  Taclight’s sloppy job signals that they aren’t trustworthy, which is good to know.  Submitted for your entertainment:

  • While looking for James Berendsohn, the supposed author of this mess, I stumbled onto an identical web page for Shadowhawk flashlights.  It links to the Taclight order form.
  • The order form claims a normal retail price of $244.45.  A 75% discount should yield a price of $61, not the $56 they’re charging.burned-link

Cat-nipped by Ultrabeam Lasers

Only mildly scammy compared to some sites I’ve covered, but still a dubious choice on January 21, 2017, Ultrabeam Lasers (red links are evil) deserves their own post.  And this is it!

Screen Shot 2017-01-20 at 7.57.53 PM.png

Ridiculous claims: -1

  • 70% discount, very close to the magic scammer-detecting discount.  And on Page 2 it changes to 75%, sounding the alarm.
  • scamometer-ultrabeamWhether you find yourself in a natural disaster or just alone in a strange place, this laser is worth the peace of mind it will bring.”  What does this sentence mean?
  • A great addition to your emergency survival kit if you get lost or stranded.”  Okay, it would make your kit heavier, so it wouldn’t blow away.  But wait, it’s “(A) light or a means to generate a fire or signal a rescue team.”  How about matches in a bottle, and yelling?  No batteries required.
  • It comes with the maximum legal wattage making it the world’s strongest laser.”  Actually, US law sets no limit on laser power; it merely prohibits advertising lasers of more than 5mw  as “laser pointers.”  Ultrabeam doesn’t disclose their laser’s wattage.  I found similar-looking lasers that claim between 200mw and 2000mw; see “Overpriced” below.
  • Can burn an eyeball, light a match or pop a balloon in seconds.  There’s cheaper, faster ways to light matches and pop balloons.  As for eyeballs, no mugger is going to stand there while you attempt laser surgery on his eyeball.
  • Starting a fire is hard if “The wood is damn, it is windy or it is raining.”  Hahaha!

Post Office box: 0.  Both addresses are office buildings, instead of the typical UPS store.  But how odd that the addressee is “NightHawkGear,” not “UltraBeam.”  And odder still, “Fetch Deals, Inc.” is handling their mail.  I’m scoring this one “Undetermined.”

  • Corporate Address: Fetch Deals, Inc., Attn: NightHawkGear.com, 228 Park Ave S # 29051, New York, NY 10003-1502
  • Returns Address: Fetch Deals, Inc. Attn: NightHawkGear.com, 31 East 32nd Street, 1202, New York, NY 10003

Fetch-Cash.com and Cal-EZ Vitamins also enjoy the use of this address.

Onerous terms: -1

  • If your product arrived broken, they’ll accept a return for a refund within 30 days of your receiving the product.
  • You have to return the product unopened and unused, or be charged a 20% restocking fee.  So, how do you tell if it’s broken?
  • They don’t guarantee that their products are suitable for any use; nor that anything they say is true.
  • You can’t sue them, or join a class action that’s suing them.  Fallback position; you have to go to New York to sue them.

Ads, spam, robocalls: -1

  • They’ll use all the information you give them, plus all they can suck out of your browser, to beam ads at you, spam you and robocall you.
  • They’ll share it with other companies that will do the same.
  • You can unsubscribe by clicking “Unsubscribe” in an email or by writing a letter.

Lying and deception: +1. None found.  Some stretchers, tho.

Obfuscation: -1

  • Who are these people?  UltraBeam, FalconV2, NightHawkGear, or Fetch Deals Inc.?  Apparently they aren’t Falcon Flashlights; that outfit is based in Oregon.  The TOS is headed NightHawk, Fetch Deals and NightHawkGear.com.
  • You have to drill through three pages to find out the price ($49).
  • The first page has a picture of a countdown timer to make you think you’ve got to hurry; but the timer isn’t animated.

Phony reviews: -1.  Vague, wildly enthusiastic reviews by people you never heard of.  The reviews have prominent buttons that take you to the vendor’s order form.  These reviewers get a cut of every sale made thru their link; so they’re really just advertising.  I rather enjoyed the review by The Tactical Pros, who write “The moment it was released into the market, its sales soared and they keep running out of stock because these military grade ones are hard to find.”  WellnessSaying.com enthuses, “Since it is useful in lighting matches so you can keep it when you have plans to enjoy the night in the forest.”  Or you could just strike the match?  None of these shills knows how powerful the laser is, either.

Crummy product: 0.  I couldn’t find an honest review.  If you have one of these lasers and don’t want it, send it to me and I’ll test the $hi7 out of it.

Overpriced: -0. Without knowing the $49 Ultrabeam laser’s power, it’s hard to comparison shop.  Amazon doesn’t carry Ultrabeam.  What I found:

Unauthorized charges: +1.   I found no reports of this.

Total Score: -3

There are worse actors out there.  But the laser-power mystery, harsh returns policy and spamming would make me look for a straighter deal.burned-link

Bummed by Blazeray Flashlights

scamometer-blazerayI‘ve seen lots of flashlight scams.  But this one (on 11/19/16) is different; they’re red!

And that makes all the difference.

Ridiculous claims:  

  • Blazeray (red links are evil) claims “You’d have the ability to disorient any would be attacker with the push of a button.
  • LED flashlights are used by the military and first-responders.  It’s ridiculous that Blazeray thinks this is information.
  • 20,000 sold this month.”  Not only is there no way to check this figure, but based on the web page’s coding I seriously doubt it.  Looking at the source code, I see that this statement is a literal–it’s not dynamically generated to reflect the current month’s actual sales.  Maybe they edit the page once a month with an updated figure?  I don’t think so.screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-8-47-47-pm
  • People run over them to prove how reliable they are.”  Ridiculous, unless you’re buying it to do this stunt.  -1

Post Office box: True.  Nothing illegal about this in itself, but it’s typical of web scammers to have no physical facility in the US.   -1screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-9-11-25-pm

  • Corporate address: 101 Marketside Avenue, Suite 404-190  Ponte Vedra, FL 32081

Onerous terms:  I had to sift thru gobs of legalbabble to extract the following:

  • You can’t sue them, or join a class action that’s suing them
  • They’ll take your money now, but they won’t “accept” your order until they ship it
  • You can get a refund for any reason at any time.  But you “may” have to return your flashlight unused; and you “may” have to ask for the refund within 30 days of receiving the product.
  • Shipping is free.  But even if you never use the flashlight you’re returning, you must still pay “associated charges.”  What charges?  Section C says that other payment terms “may” implicitly be part of the T&Cs.
  • They don’t guarantee that their products are suitable for any use; nor that anything they say is true.  -1

Ads, spam, robocalls:

  • They’ll use all the information you give them, and everything they can suck out of your browser, to beam ads at you.  You can opt out by email.
  • They’ll share your information with other companies that will do the same.
  • If they sell their company, your information is part of the deal.  -1

Lying and deception:  Relatively mild.  0

  • blazerayThe illustration of a man lighting up a church conveniently doesn’t show the light he’s using.  Shadowhawk, AlumiTact and Falcon use the identical illustration in their scam sites.
  • The claimed 80% discount is a red flag.
  • Warning; on the order form (third screen), The choice of 5 flashlights for $145 is pre-checked.


  • screen-shot-2016-11-19-at-8-35-16-pmScreen #2 plays a typical video with loud music.  It shows a countdown timer to make you think you don’t have time to comparison-shop.
  • You have to wade thru three screens to find out the price ($56).
  • The first screen says the regular price is $150; the third screen says it’s $145.  For the 80% discount to come out right, it has to be $145.

Phony reviews:  Lots of vague, wildly enthusiastic reviews from sources you never heard of before, with button and image links to the Blazeray order form.  -1

Crummy product:  Amazon carries Blazeray flashlights, but as of 11/19/16 they have no customer reviews.  There are, of course, plenty of glowing reviews from the usual for-hire review sites; see above.  I dug deeper and found:

These flashlights being sold on the internet are 100% ripoffs! Crap construction and poor quality all around! Company, I notice, keeps changing their name and the name of the flashlights! Ads are total lies as well! I was lucky and got my money back, but had to pay return shipping. I threaten to sue and use my credit card to get my money back!

Do not get fooled by this scam and buy a better flashlight at any store…I got one for a lot less at Costco!

It’s a scam don’t buy them. We ordered five and they were all broken. It’s almost like they took a bat to each of them before shipping them.

Here too a connection to known scammer Shadowhawk Flashlights is suspected.  The scam site sure looks familiar.  -1

Overpriced:  Amazon wants the same single-unit price for a red Blazeray light; $56.  But Amazon also offers lots of 800-lumen lights that aren’t red for less, including this one that looks similar for $9.  -1

Unauthorized charges: I found no reports of this.  +1

Total Scam-O-Meter score: -7

If you order this light without shopping a little harder first, you may end up seeing red.