V.A.T. tax refund hoax – Nigerian-style scam victimizes IRS?

November 20, 2010

How many errors can you find with this “notification” I got in e-mail?


We are glad to inform you that government of United States has ordered the treasury department of the IRS to issue out a refund of $500 to all credit card and credit union account holders on accumulated VAT made on their credit card and credit union account during transaction(s) made with their credit card or account. To proceed with this Refund request, reply this message with your Full Name, Address and Phone number(s) or send your information to notification_electronic@mail.bg.
You will be contacted shortly by IRS Refund Officer after sending your details.

Please note that only candidates with credit card and credit union account are eligible for this VAT refund.

Thank You,
Internal Revenue Service


You could start with the fact that the U.S. does not have a Value Added Tax, and consequently, there can be no VAT refunds.

Other clues it’s a hoax:

  • The U.S. Internal Revenue Service is a division of the Treasury Department, not the other way around as the missive contends
  • “Treasury Department” should be capitalized, but is not in the notice
  • Were there VAT refunds, law would require they be made on all purchases, not just credit card purchases; there is obvious phishing here to get your credit card account number
  • IRS does not send notifications through e-mail nor ask for such information through e-mail
  • An order for a refund could come from Congress, or possibly from the President; if from Congress, the law would be cited; if from the president, the president would take credit
  • There is no personal information contained in the greeting; when IRS sends you money, or asks money from you, they use your name on the form
  • There is no “.gov” address, either in the sending address, nor in the address to which suckers are asked to send their private information; “All IRS.gov Web page addresses begin with, http://www.irs.gov/
  • If you made a transaction in which the IRS got paid, and you are now owed a refund, the IRS would contact only those who made such a transaction, not a few million “undisclosed recipients” through e-mail

What other clues do you see that this missive is false?

Dan Valentine – Wedding ring in the pawnshop window

November 20, 2010

I’m back and back is beautiful, to tweak a phrase. Where have I been? Taking care of business with the helping hand of a special-special life-long friend.

For now, I’ll simply say: Life is an adventure, a gift and a grand adventure, and more than just a mite irksome at times.

These many weeks, in what little spare time I’ve had, I’ve also been writing lyrics. Everyone needs a hobby. Mine is writing lyrics.

Thus, the following song regarding our times:

By Daniel Valentine
(c) 2010

The wedding ring
In the pawnshop window.
The price tag on a string,
Tied to the wedding ring,
Says it all, says ev’rything.
Life seldom ever goes as planned.

The wedding ring
In the pawnshop window.
To think the joy it must
Have brought once. Now it’s just
Sitting there collecting dust,
Pawned for a fast few bucks in hand.

That said, a future groom and bride,
Their savings on the meager side,
Stop to sneak a peak, beguiled and starry-eyed.

And what they see are tons and tons
Of rare old coins, guitars and guns,
One music box, two cuckoo clocks,
Plus a fly or three dead on the sill.
Then they see the ring and all is still.

The wedding ring
In the pawnshop window.
It glimmers and it gleams.
It’s ev’rything that dreams
Are made of, or so it seems,
And all for less than half a grand.

And so, like tens of times before,
The tiny bell above the door
Jingles as the lovers step inside the store.

And, oh, the sparkle in her eyes
When first she tries it on for size.
It fits just right and in the light,
When she holds her left hand out to show,
Like her heart, the diamond’s all aglow.

The wedding ring
In the pawnshop window.
The register ka-chings.
An angel gets its wings.
And a tweetie birdie sings.
All while a credit card is scanned.

The wedding ring
In the panwshop window.
A mom with bills to pay
In need without delay
Pawned the ring to save the day,
Such are the times in our fair land.

Going to the, um, wall, for your grandmother

November 20, 2010

What I really like about this story is that the guy did it for his grandmother, to pull her out of a funk.

From My Modern Met:

SuperHero Grandma, by Sacha Goldberger

Sacha Goldberger's loving portrait of his grandmother, who happens to be a superhero.

A few years ago, French photographer Sacha Goldberger found his 91-year-old Hungarian grandmother Frederika feeling lonely and depressed. To cheer her up, he suggested that they shoot a series of outrageous photographs in unusual costumes, poses, and locations. Grandma reluctantly agreed, but once they got rolling, she couldn’t stop smiling.

Frederika was born in Budapest 20 years before World War II. During the war, at the peril of her own life, she courageously saved the lives of ten people. When asked how, Goldberger told us “she hid the Jewish people she knew, moving them around to different places everyday.” As a survivor of Nazism and Communism, she then immigrated away from Hungary to France, forced by the Communist regime to leave her homeland illegally or face death.

Aside from great strength, Frederika has an incredible sense of humor, one that defies time and misfortune. She is funny and cynical, always mocking the people that she loves.

With the unexpected success of this series, titled “Mamika,” Goldberger created a MySpace page for his grandmother. She now has over 2,200 friends and receives messages like: “You’re the grandmother that I have dreamed of, would you adopt me?” and ” You made my day, I hope to be like you at your age.”

Initially, she did not understand why all these people wrote to congratulate her. Then, little by little, she realized that her story conveyed a message of hope and joy. In all those pictures, she posed with the utmost enthusiasm. Now, after the set, Goldberger shares that his grandmother has never shown even a hint of depression. Perhaps it’s because her story serves some sort of purpose. That through the warm words of newfound friends, she’s reminded of just how lucky she is to be alive.

Several great photos here, at My Modern Met.

Who wouldn’t admire a guy who makes a superhero out of his grandmother?

Mamika, Sacha Goldberger's grandmother

Going to the wall for your grandmother -- Sacha Goldberger photo.

More, and resources:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Jean Detjen.

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