Okay, here’s what we need – a taxi/bus service that is run by every driver on the road. You leave your house, open up this amazing new taxi service app on your smart phone and you click the “PICK ME UP” button. Minutes later, a stranger in a car arrives and takes you to your destination. Drivers who run this app on their smartphone are alerted when they’re approaching a person who needs a ride so that they can pull over. GPS-equipped smartphones make all this happen, of course.

There’s a rating system, similar to eBay, so you can rate both drivers and passengers with things like “10 STARS, he took me directly to my destination!” or “1 STAR, he drove me into a back alley and molested me!” You’ll be able to set up your account so that you’re only picked up by people who have “x” amount of stars. On a normal day you could stick with 8+ star drivers, but when you’re desperate, you make an exception for any driver available. Same thing with passengers, you can set it up so you’re only alerted to 8+ star passengers so that you don’t get mugged or driven into the middle of a drug deal.

There would be minimal cost to passengers since drivers would already be out on the road, doing whatever it is they do. Maybe drivers could even set their own prices, but ideally this could all be based on some kind of credits system, where you earn credits for picking up passengers and you spend credits for getting rides. That way if you’re both a regular driver and a regular passenger, you might be able to get away with never having to spend any money. For those that only take rides, they could buy credits. Credits could be exchanged with other members of the service, so you could barter credits for goods or services. People would start listing their stuff on Craigslist or eBay with things like, “Dining table for sale. Price: 50 ride credits, or best offer.” Kind of like those existing online bartering services, where you trade stuff/services for stuff/services.

Since this would rely on existing smart phones that everyone already has, there would be no new infrastructure to build. All it would take would be an app on your iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc. And I’m sure we’d work out a system for non-smart phones so that it could all be done via texting or by regular phone calls, like, “Press 1 if your GPS location is ________…”

This could become huge without government approval if an app were made for it for all the major smart phones. By the time government got around to whining that they’re not making any money from it, it would already be such a popular service that they’d have to accommodate the people who use it. Maybe they’d enforce some kind of tax on it, but it’d still be an awesomely cheap way to travel and run errands. Smaller cities would probably love an excuse to ditch their city buses since nobody ever uses them. Enterprising individuals could buy their own vans and make a living from going around and picking people up. Taxi companies would hate all of this and lobby for an end to it, but they would still have a few decades of life left from senior citizens that don’t know how to operate a cell phone.

If something like this existed, I would be both a driver and a rider. I like picking up hitchhikers anyway, and it’d be fun to have random strangers in my car as I drive to the grocery store or up to Salem. And I’d definitely use the service for my regular trips to Portland. That’s a 90 minute drive for me and at current gas prices, it costs me $15 – $20 just to drive to Portland and back. I usually park my car as soon as I get there so I can take the train everywhere. If I could “pay” half of that in credits, that would be awesome. And it would basically be free if I was giving people rides around town all the time. Eventually I would ditch my car if a service like this really took off.

And imagine having the ability to electronically hitch a ride with someone to take you across the country. The app would find people who’ve scheduled a trip to Florida and you could contact them to drop you off in Texas along the way. You wouldn’t have to worry about their car breaking down halfway there, because you’d just use your app to find a ride the rest of the way there from Arizona. You could also ditch that person halfway through the trip because they were annoying or listened to country music. I know people do this already on Craigslist, but this would even better.

In the end, a fairly large chunk of any given city’s population would ditch their cars because the service is so reliable. Even if a tiny percentage of the drivers on the road offered the service from their cars, that would still be a faster way to travel than by bus. Albany’s population is about 50,000 people. What if just 1% of the people offered the service? That’d be 500 rides available throughout the day. Compare that to the half dozen buses we’ve got in Albany, if we even have that many. Even 1/4th of a percent would be huge, compared to current public transportation. And the service could become so popular that we’d end up with a lot more than just 500 cars a day on the road. The government might end up loving the idea so much that they’d offer some kind of incentive for people to utilize the service.

It could go the other way too, though. The government might hate that people suddenly aren’t buying as much gas or paying taxes on their costly car repairs and they’d ban the service. Insurance companies might have issues with people using their cars “commercially.” Taxi companies would surely hate the entire idea and bus companies in big cities would too. But screw all of them! Somebody steal this idea ASAP and make it happen. And when you become rich from the idea, fly to Oregon and buy me a steak dinner.

I’ve posted before about how much I hate being such a slave to my car. Car payments, car repairs, oil changes, GAS, insurance, having to trade in for a new car every 5 – 10 years. That stuff really adds up. I would love having the option to ditch my car forever, and I probably will once my kids are grown up. Ditching your car isn’t an easy thing to do in a medium-sized town like this, though. Maybe by the time I’m ready to do that, someone will steal this idea of mine and we’ll have freelance bus drivers all over the road. Or maybe something like this already exists and I’ve just never heard of it. Hrmmmm, time to go look at my phone’s app store…

Memories of Sub7

Back in 1998, Cult of the Dead Cow released this revolutionary hacker tool called Back Orifice. Despite its dumb interface, it was fun to play with and I used it to jump into random home computers all over the world, mostly just exploring a users files. About a year after that is when I found a similar program called Sub7.

Sub7 was amazing. Not only did it have a nice, clean interface, it allowed me to do amazing things to random computer users, like see whatever their webcam could see, listen to their room through their microphone, watch their screen, control their mouse, type on their keyboard, change their Windows themes, open and close their CD tray, make official-looking alert boxes pop up on their screens, play sounds for them to hear, flip their screen upside down, reboot their computer, and so much more. I had a blast with this program for a year or two. I never infected a computer with the server software myself – I just scanned IP ranges that I found from users on IRC and from email headers. Nearly every IP range I scanned would find at least 1 computer to “hack” into.

I was surprised one day when my redneck neighbor Tom told me that he had been doing the exact same thing, finding infected computers and spying on them with Sub7. We became pretty good friends after that and regularly exchanged lists of infected computers with each other. I taught Tom to do more than just spy on users by actually having some FUN with them.

At the time, everyone used either Windows 95 or Windows 98. I created several kinds of “theme” packs for each system and uploaded files whenever I got into a new system. It would change a few of their key system sounds to silly things like farts or other annoying noises. It also changed their startup screen and their shutdown screen. Instead of seeing only the words “Windows 95” on bootup, they would see added text which made it say something like, “A hacker has infected your Windows 95 machine and has complete control over everything you do! Have a nice day!” The shutdown screen displayed something similar. I had other screens that were a little more subtle, but I can’t remember what many of them said. I made at least one set of them that advertised, thinking it would be great if people started emailing me because hacked their computer. Surprisingly, these systems wouldn’t usually disappear from my list of infected machines immediately after I uploaded these images. Either they didn’t care or they just didn’t know what to do about it.

I built my collection of mp3 music with Sub7. I think at the time the only way to get pirated music was from Usenet. We didn’t have Napster or Limewire or torrents back then. There were FTP sites and IRC channels to get music from, but I just wasn’t into piracy enough to bother with all that. But when I started finding mp3 files of popular music on peoples’ computers, I began slowly downloading them on my speedy 56k modem. This, of course, slowed down their internet connection to unbearable speeds. Sometimes they would log off in the middle of my download and I would end up with an incomplete song, something I wouldn’t notice until I was listening to music and it would stop playing before the song finished. It was a fun way to build up a music collection though. And it was a really sad thing when I’d find a computer full of mp3 tunes that I really wanted, but they would log off before I could take it all and I’d never find them again.

I won’t even get into all of the personal data I found on peoples computers, but there was a ton of it. I read financial documents, letters to friends and family, diaries and telephone books. I remember reading this incredibly long journal that a guy was writing in Microsoft Word, detailing his sadness and feelings over the divorce he was going through. I popped up a window on his screen one night that looked like a standard Windows alert box, telling him to hang in there and it would all get better soon. I bet he was confused to have his computer try and console him.

I did something to about 10 users in Bend, Oregon that I’m not too proud of. I deleted all of their files. At the time I was involved in a battle with Tannest and she worked at her brother’s Internet Service Provider in Bend. So I would regularly scan the IP ranges for her ISP (BendNet) and when I found an infected one, I would log in and delete pretty much the entire hard drive. I would leave most of the Windows directory intact so that their system wouldn’t actually crash. Then I would pop up an alert box titled BendNet Services. It would read, “You are currently more than 30 days past due on your internet bill. We have removed all of your computer files and will not return them until your bill is paid in full. Thank you for using BendNet internet. -Tannest.” I used her real name, of course. I’m sure she had a tough time convincing the angry users that stormed into her office that they weren’t the ones responsible for deleting all of their files. I seriously felt bad about doing this to people, but the hilarity of pissing off Tannest outweighed the guilt so I kept doing it. After awhile I could never find infected BendNet users anymore, so I always wondered if Tannest started scanning for them herself so she could contact them and fix their machines before I got to them.

I also helped a lot of infected people in my local area. After going through their files and figuring out what their ICQ member number was (Remember when we all used ICQ? Ugh, past, I don’t miss you at all.) I would send them a message on ICQ, using my real account, and explain to them that their machine was infected. I’d direct them to a website that contained a program that would remove Sub7 from their computer so that nobody else could hack them. I made a few local friends by doing this, people that I kept in touch with for years afterward and even met some of them in real life.

I could make a user’s modem dial phone numbers by adding standard modem commands to certain files. A few times I would want to know the identity of a computer that I had access to, but I couldn’t figure it out from their files, so I’d command their modem to hang up from their internet connection and call my home. A look on my caller ID box would give me their identity. Once they logged back on, I would remove my phone number. I could set up their systems to automatically dial any phone number I wanted each time they turned on their computer. It sure was tempting to buy a 1-900 number and make computers all over the country dial my number.

It was fun era of pretending to be a hax0r in the late 90’s and early 00’s and I doubt it’ll ever be so easy again. It’s just too bad that I never used Sub7 to pull any truly epic pranks on anyone. I saw other people post webcam shots of computer users looking thoroughly confused at the weird messages popping up on their computer, but I rarely found computers with webcams attached to them. That’d sure be a fun thing to do today with everyone owning laptops that have built-in webcams and microphones in them.

Middle of the night pranking at Circle K

When I worked the graveyard shift at one Circle K in Galveston, I passed the night by reading all of the magazines that were sold in the store. I rarely had more than a couple of customers per hour, so I did a ton of reading. I started reading the gruesome stories in the few detective magazines we sold and for some reason or another, I decided to start calling people in the stories in the middle of the night from Circle K’s pay phones. It was partially curiosity, to see if the stories were made up or if the magazines changed the names to protect the innocent. They didn’t.

I brought magazines outside to the pay phone and called directory assistance in the appropriate cities, using my red box to avoid the long distance charges. I took notes in the magazines, writing phone numbers of people related to the case next to their names in the magazine. I bet the people who purchased the magazines were surprised to find their home phone numbers written in there.

I can’t remember exactly what I said to people, but I’m sure I wasn’t entirely creepy about my calls. I mean, I wasn’t all “This is the ghost of ________ _______, and I’m going to haunt you with phone calls!” I’m sure it was still bizarre to get phone calls in the middle of the night about murder and fraud cases. I think I mostly just asked questions about the case to see if I really had the right people, probably posing as a reporter or something.

I still remember this one story about a teenager named Kenneth Glenn Milner, who attempted to murder a bunch of people in his small Texan town. The story was filled with tons of fail, because I don’t think he managed to actually kill anyone. I came across someone with the same last name as him today and suddenly remembered the whole thing, so I Googled his name and found this interview with him.

The end of my job at that particular Circle K ended my hobby of interviewing crime victims in the middle of the night. That is, until 2002 when I started interviewing random people in stories that I saw on Fark. I doubt any of those sound clips on that page still work.

I’m sure Richard Cardo will be noting this entry in his file on me. “Oh, so he has a FASCINATION and a HISTORY with murder!”

The Big Beef Bueno Podcast Episode 007 – Rappy McRapperson Interview

I discovered a lot of awesome new music last year, but one artist has really stood out among my favorites and the more I listen to his music the more I like him. That artist is Rappy McRapperson. I think my love for Rappy has gone far beyond just a passing phase at this point. I originally found just 2 tracks of his on some compilation torrent – the Lick Your Own Butthole Party Dance and I’m A Gangster.

Months after being thoroughly amused by those two songs and giving them plenty of airplay on Cacti Radio, I began to crave more. I listened to all of the clips of his music on Amazon, but I was too cheap to pay for them. More months passed, and I eventually found a download link for 8 of his albums. This is when discovered the true brilliance of Rappy McRapperson.

Sure, his songs are funny and they make me laugh, but his music goes way beyond that. His musical style is truly unique and some of the lyrics are amazing. His latest album, For The Kids In Juvenile Detention is a masterpiece from beginning to end and it’s easily my favorite album by Rappy. (That’s his latest solo work, but he’s done an album since then with the frontman for Emergency Pizza Party.) That’s another great thing about Rappy – he’s good friends with all the members of Emergency Pizza Party, which is another band that I happen to really like and I’d discovered them completely separate from Rappy.

Last week I suckered Rappy into giving me his phone number, and after he realized what a huge mistake that was, we made a deal that if he did an interview with me, I would stop screwing with his Sprint wireless account. So here it is! After a 3.5 year hiatus, the Big Beef Bueno podcast is back! And to make up for those 3.5 years that I abandoned my listeners, I’ve made this episode 3 times as long as any of the previous episodes! And as an extra added bonus, the entire episode is filled with Rappy McRapperson’s music and our interview! You can’t go wrong, listening to this…

Click here to listen to BBB Episode 007

Eight of his previous albums are available to download for free by clicking on this link. If you like them, you should send no less than $300 to Rappy’s PayPal at mcrapperson AT If you’re not into paying for music, though, consider this amazing investment opportunity… Rappy will draw you blueprints for a spaceship for a mere $10!

Click the Buy Now button to take advantage of that amazing offer!

Rappy writes regularly in his blog at and occasionally updates his website at He also has a YouTube page with lots of homemade videos to his songs and a Facebook. If you’ve ever watched Captain Underpants, you might recognize Rappy’s voice in the theme song:

And here’s one more video of Rappy’s. Go to his YouTube page and watch them all, though.

I’m done with this post for now, but I’m sure I’ll come back and add a little more to it soon. If you want to subscribe to Big Beef Bueno on iTunes, the RSS feed is still Subscribe!

Click here to listen to BBB Episode 007

Flamoot / Snee

About 10 years ago I met this guy from Canada who sometimes called himself Flamoot and sometimes Snee. I think we emailed each other a few times before actually meeting at a hacker convention in Detroit called Rubicon. His way of saying hello was tricking the front desk into giving him my room key so he could sneak into my room. (There’s an old post somewhere about this.) I can’t remember if he was at Rubicon the following year or not.

We’ve emailed each other occasionally over the past 10 years. He used to call into The Phone Show and it always seemed to be under bizarre circumstances, like he’d be calling from pay phones but connected through weird PBX systems or something like that. Anyway, back in the early 2000’s, the thing I really loved about flamoot was his journaling. He wrote some really incredible stuff on his web site. Very lengthy posts. And of course he couldn’t write down his thoughts on LiveJournal like a normal person. He had to put them on his own weird system where the URL ended in cgi-bin/ because that’s how real hackers do it.

I’m not even going to try and describe how much I loved the stuff he wrote on his page, but there was a ton of it and I read every word. I think I even went back and read a lot of it again when I was finished. It was like reading my favorite book or something. Some of it was just mundane, day-to-day stuff, but then he’d rant about random things and it was just so fascinating to me. His writing really made me admire him a lot.

Of course, his personal server disappeared eventually and all his writing went away with it. I was sort of devastated and I think I asked him about it and he told me he lost it all too. Maybe a crash or something, I don’t know. Years later I found which archived a huge portion of the internet starting back in the late 90’s. Ever wonder what Google used to look like? Yahoo? CNN? Your own homepage? It’s all on there. His page was missing from it, though. missed a lot of sites that weren’t really popular and his didn’t make the cut. Until recently.

Click here for the Flamoot archive

Every couple years I’ll remember how awesome Flamoot was and I’ll go looking for his journal on and it’s never there. But today I was talking to a mutual friend of ours and that reminded me to try again and there it was. This is pretty exciting for me. I’ve read half of it already and I plan to try and read the rest of it tonight. It’s not all there, unfortunately, but my hope is that will someday have the rest of it up. I think he was writing at least as early as 2000 and that’s probably where all the really intense stuff is. Maybe I can click on some of these links from the 2003 archives and be taken back to then.

This post from December 3rd, 2003 where he’s pushed to awareness of something by the pattern adorning the surface of his bed’s comforter is a perfect example of what I love about his writing. (Just a short excerpt here) “It bears only a vague resemblance to the mini-spirals on my comforter. It does bear a passing resemblance to an “e”. But none of that need mean anything. In those and other numerous recent incidents, the theme of magical numbers, cosmic constants, natural geometry and how they’re all interrelated has come up again and again, unreally often. It hasn’t been ME talking about it — it’s been a series of things I’ve been subjected to which have been RELATED to each other, which are tied to each other with a web of common-sense-defying convenience. I guess my hypothesis is that this is because I’ve been thinking about this stuff lately, or maybe this was just a statistical hiccup and I started thinking about this stuff before it happened as a reaction to a future memory, or like, the backwards time-quake of solving this deep fucking fractal synchronicity period shit. But what’s a statistical hiccup? What the hell kind of weird primal shit-magic fills your life with cosmic constants? Man. So I wonder if it’s gonna stop now, with my bedsheet (which had the Pi tie-in through Graham, remember ^-^). The universe, in conclusion, is an INSANE FUCKING PLACE TO LIVE.”

I’m off now to read some more of his rants and you should too!

Thanks for all this, Snee. And thanks,, for saving it!

Sunday Update: So what is the elusive Flamoot up to now, you must certainly be asking. He’s been developing some weird game for Linux called telepathic-critterdrug that I don’t fully understand because I don’t ingest nearly enough acid, but you may want to check it out. Here’s a video of what it looks like.

PLA Book

Around 2002ish I started working on a book for the Phone Losers of America. I’d work on it nonstop for a couple of weeks and then I’d completely forget it existed for a few years. I started up again in 2005, I think, but then I discovered podcasting and started dedicating all of my time to both listening and creating podcasts. But every once in awhile I’d open up the book file and do a little work on it, often switching between it being a 1st person book about PLA shenanigans and it being a 3rd person story not about PLA, but about PLA-type things. If that makes any sense.

This summer I started working heavily on the project and finally decided to give up the 3rd person story thing since I discovered how much I suck at actual story writing. And this time I didn’t quit until it was finally finished. Around September I started receiving proofs of the book, making corrections and continuing to add content. I used a service called CreateSpace to have the book printed, which is an excellent service for people who are too lame to get published for real. They even put your book on Amazon and make it available to order from real book stores.

At the very last minute, I managed to convince Rob T Firefly to write a foreword for the book and to do some illustrating for a couple of the chapters. Also at the very last minute, I switched from Microsoft Word to OpenOffice since I’d just switched to a Mac. Once I figured out that OpenOffice couldn’t do everything I wanted, I switched again to iWork’s Pages.

Anyway, what I’m getting at is that the book is now available. The PLA Book page has details about what can be found in the book and the PLA Store has all the links you need to buy it, in both book and e-book formats. It contains quite a bit of stuff from my homepage, like the eBay pranks, the travels and a few other things. Then it’s got a ton of stuff from the PLA web site, like call forwarding stunts, cordless phones, Dino, Fred Meyer, Boulder News Frenzy and the Richard Cardo investigation, the McDonald’s Sign Prank, Curtis Lee Jones, PLA history and a lot more. So if you’re the type that likes this kind of thing, maybe you should get a copy of it.

Now I need something new to do with my free time. I have all kinds of new projects ready to work on, but so far all I’ve been doing for the past few months is hanging out on conferences for hours at a time and video Skyping a lot.

I got gas!

THEM: “Thank you for calling Northwest Natural Gas. Please enter your account number.”

ME: type type type type on the phone’s keypad.

THEM: “We have your account pulled up. Please say your house number.”

ME: “819”

THEM “For verification, please enter the last 4 digits of your social security number.”

ME: type type type type!

THEM: “Please tell us why you’re calling today.”

ME: “Cancel my account.”

THEM: “It sounds like you’d like to cancel your account. Is this correct? Please say yes or no.”

ME: “Yes.”

THEM: “Which month and day would you like your account canceled?”

ME: “November 18th.”

THEM: “You said November 18th. Is this correct?”

ME: “Yes.”

THEM: “Please hold for a representative…”

Then a rep. comes on the line, asks for my account number, my address, my SSN and asks why I’m calling. Don’t fall for those automated systems, people! I think they’re there just to make you not realize that you’re actually on hold. At least its not as bad as when AT&T’s system once said to me, “You said yes, is this correct? Please say yes or no.”

I moved into a new home last month. It’s awesome. The rent is super cheap, especially compared to my old place, and its got an extra bedroom. I’m just a few blocks from downtown Albany now, meaning I can walk to the post office, the bank and to lunch. I can go for days at a time without driving my car now. It’s a nice change from being way on the edge of town and having to drive miles to everything. The only downside is that there’s no washer and dryer here, so it’s back to making weekly laundromat trips for me. But I’ve got a plan for hooking up a washer and dryer in this place, if I can get the landlord to go along with it.

I’m sick today. It sucks. I haven’t figured out if I’ve given myself food poisoning with hamburger helper or if it’s just flu stuff. That’s all to report for this month. Good day…

What’s in Your Fridge?

That’s a response video to one of r0xy’s video. I grabbed a bunch of random objects and stuck them in my fridge, just to confuse viewers. Judging by the comments so far, it worked.

A few days ago I created a weird sign and put it up on the bulletin board at McDonalds. Click here to view a post about it so I don’t have to explain it all in this post. Lisa and I were at that McDonald’s today and noticed that 3 or 4 of the tabs were torn off of it now. Some old man has called me twice about it, wanting to buy the snow plow. I didn’t think people would actually call about it when I made the sign.

A few weeks ago Jessica convinced me to watch a show called How I Met Your Mother. I hate admitting that I like a sitcom, especially when it’s got a cheesy laugh track on it and a lame title like that, but I love this show more than anything. It’s so bizarre and messed up and fun. It frequently has old cast members from the old TV show Freaks and Geeks. (Three that I’ve noticed now, one is a main character.) I’m up to season 3 now, about 4 episodes into it. Barney, played by Neil Patrick Harris, is the coolest character ever. If you’ve never seen it, give it a try. I downloaded the entire show from bittorrent, but it’s on Netflix if you want to wait for the discs in the mail.

The PLA Book is coming along great. I’m waiting on my sixth proof of it now. Jammie is doing an awesome job of copy editing for me and Rob T Firefly did a foreword for it and I’m waiting on some illustrations from him. I’m shooting for it to be all finished up by November 1st or so. I’ll be glad when this project is over so I can work on other things. Seems like all I ever do anymore is work on this book.

Red Box Math

I happened across my old tone dialer red box today and made a video about it:

I wrote on Facebook that I used it to steal a kabillion dollars from the phone company back in the day, but I think that estimate might be a little high. So I’m wondering how much I did steal by red boxing calls from pay phones.

To initiate a call, I’d have to deposit about $2.80. Then I’d have to deposit 80 cents every 3 minutes. So that’s 20 times each hour that I’d deposit 80 cents ($16.00), making the total for an hour of red boxing about $18.80. Now that’s just if I placed a call and actually stayed on for an hour, without ever hanging up. And I did that a lot, for hours at a time. But many times my calls would be short, sometimes lasting just a minute or two, but I would make calls one after the other. Let’s say I did THAT for an hour, placing a new call every five minutes – $2.80 x 12 = $33.60.

Hmmm, that still doesn’t sound very impressive. There were times in the early 90’s that I really did spend hours every single day sitting at pay phones and dialing random phone number, party lines, phone company news lines and talking to friends. I red boxed before work, after work and during breaks. At certain jobs, like at Circle K, even during work when there were no customers around. I could have easily spent 5 hours a day at a pay phone, racking up between $94.00 and $168.00 each day. This lasted from 1991 until maybe 1995.

So if I red boxed 5 hours a day for an entire year and averaged only 1 call per hour, I would have stolen $34,310. ($94.00 x 365 days) If I was making short calls lasting about 5 minutes, it would be more like $61,320, but I’ll go with the lower number since I’m sure I took occasional days off. Four straight years of that would be $137,240. This is assuming I only called within the U.S. and Canada, but I did call overseas quite a bit for a while and those calls would take about $8.00 – $15.00 to initiate.

I guess 1994 or 1995 is when I really got into using credit cards and phone cards, though, so my red boxing use went way down after those years since using calling cards was easier and less of a pain since I didn’t have to enter more money every 3 minutes. 1994 was the year I racked up a $15,000 phone bill with GTE while living under a fake name. So I guess I wasted a lot more money without a red box than I did with one.

I was hoping to find out that I red boxed some astronomical amount like $1,000,000, but I guess the most I can possibly claim is $137,240.00.

Speaking of YouTube videos, I’ve been making a lot of them lately since R0xy and Tombstone have been getting me to respond to their vlogs. Here are some of the latest:

The oldest phone in my house

Using an old ATM in Corvallis

My son dancing in a Super Mario costume

Shutting off TVs at PAX

Nigerian Scammer Gets A Laptop From Me

Click here to listen to me hack Bell Canada’s voice authentication system!

Click here to listen to us trick Domino’s Pizza employees out of customer phone numbers!

Click here to listen to a hotel clerk at a hacker convention hand out private information!


nigerian laptop scam

After switching to a Mac recently, I decided to put my old laptop up for sale to help recoup a little of the Mac cost. I received an email almost immediately from a girl named Rebecca and we had this email exchange…

From: Rebecca Nemanova (
To: Brad Carter
Date: Tue, Jun 1, 2010 at 9:25 PM
Subject: Dell Inspiron E1505 laptop – 500 gig HD, 2 gig RAM – $350 (Albany, OR)

i love this item is it available for sell?kindly get back to asap..

From: Brad Carter
To: Rebecca Nemanova
Date: Tue, Jun 1, 2010 at 11:23 PM
Subject: Dell Inspiron E1505 laptop – 500 gig HD, 2 gig RAM – $350 (Albany, OR)

Yep, it’s still available. If you’d like to come by, just let me know when.


From: Rebecca Nemanova (
To: Brad Carter
Date: Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 6:48 AM
Subject: Re: Dell Inspiron E1505 laptop – 500 gig HD, 2 gig RAM – $350 (Albany, OR)

Thanks for the mail….what is the present condition of this it $400
for the item i will also be paying for the shipping cost so get back
to me with your paypal email id or you can send me a money request to so i can proceed with the payment. i will be
waiting to hear from you asap.


From: Brad Carter
To: Rebecca Nemanova
Date: Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 9:29 AM
Subject: Dell Inspiron E1505 laptop – 500 gig HD, 2 gig RAM – $350 (Albany, OR)

It’s 3 years old so it has normal wear and tear on it. It’s in fine
condition, just has a lot of stickers on it. There’s no damage to it.
If you’d like to PayPal, this email address is fine.

From: Rebecca Nemanova (
To: Brad Carter
Date: Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 6:48 AM
Subject: Re: Dell Inspiron E1505 laptop – 500 gig HD, 2 gig RAM – $350 (Albany, OR)

Thanks for the mail….what is the present condition of this it $400
for the item i will also be paying for the shipping cost so get back
to me with your paypal email id or you can send me a money request to so i can proceed with the payment. i will be
waiting to hear from you asap.


After letting Becca (I can call her that cause we’re tight) know my PayPal email address, she immediately sent me the payment. But, as I expected, this was a Nigerian scam. The payment emailed looked very real, although the color scheme was a little off. Just to be sure, I checked my PayPal account to make sure there really wasn’t an extra $500 in it. There wasn’t. My dreams of receiving a bonus $100 for my old laptop were crushed.

From: Brad Carter
To: Rebecca Nemanova
Date: Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 10:05 AM
Subject: Re: Notification of Instant Payment Received from Rebecca Nemanova (Transaction ID: 5Y758872CS5628811)

Thanks for your payment! I’m heading to the post office right now so I’ll get this shipped to you immediately. Thanks for the extra $100 too! It’s nice to see that you’re made of money and are willing to just throw extra $100 at people all willy nilly like. I will have this shipped to you in the fastest way possible.

God bless,

The next day, I found an email from the FBI waiting for me. Except that it was another very obviously fake email.

To: Brad Carter
Date: Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 7:22 AM
Subject: *** Collaboration Complaint From PayPal To FBI **Message From FBI Department***

nigerian laptop scam
Hello Brad Carter,
It is important we know the status of the item bought from you by Rebecca Nemanova otherwise, legal action may be taken against you since you have not provide the shipment information to the confirmation of the payment made to your account by our client via PayPal.We request for the Scanned Receipt and the Tracking Number to prove postage of the item in less than 24hours and we will fund the money into your account or face the consequences of LEGAL ACTION.

We believed you entered into buying agreement by requesting money through PayPal, and by non response to the payment confirmation made to your account you have violate PayPal agreement. However the buyer has already contacted us in other to make report about your non response. We are ensuring to make PayPal a safer place, therefore we need to set confidence on our users.

Therefore, your Money has been credit into your Account, that means the item must have been shipped to the Buyer. From IC3 we give you 24hours(1day) to ship the package to the Delivery Address given to you by your buyer, and also send the Shipment Tracking Number immediately to us to verify the shipment.Immediately we confirm the shipping.You will receive a confirmation e-mail that your account has been credited.

We use proprietary technology and constantly innovate to help ensure your transactions are safe. In addition, Pay Pal has over 20,000 staffs worldwide dedicated to keeping Pay Pal accounts safe, and stopping online criminals. And we work with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) worldwide to shut off fraudulent websites as soon as possible.

Pay Pal ‘s Fraud Investigation Team is highly experienced in fraud prevention. Several members of the team were former law enforcement officials with extensive experience in fighting online fraud. Pay Pal’s fraud investigation team focuses on: Identifying and preventing fraud before it occurs, Detecting fraud in process Mitigating loss, if fraud does occur, Delivering information to law enforcement around the world to help stop those committing online fraud.

Failure to Abide to this means your Name and Address will be forward to the law enforcement Agency to get you Arrested, because you are practicing Scam, And your Account with PayPal will be BLOCKED, In order to free yourself from this” Ship the package within 24hours and send the Shipment Tracking to PayPal for them to Verify. If you have any comment on this issue do not hesitate to contact us.If the information you wish to provide pertains to an emergency situation contact our customer service helpline (

New York Field Office
Federal Bureau of Investigation

Thanks for your co-operation.
Yours sincerely,
(there was a JPG of an illegible signature here)

Stuff like this puts me on the side of the Nigerian scammers. If people in the U.S. aren’t suspicious of free money, PayPal payments that look fake, the absence of a payment in their account, fake emails from PayPal’s FBI department or just Nigerians in general, then they deserve to have their money taken from them. If I hadn’t noticed this was a scam already, then this email would have let me know. I couldn’t believe they’d try to draw attention to themselves like this when a person otherwise might have gone ahead and mailed the laptop out.

I also got another email from Rebecca, accusing me of being a scammer.

From: Rebecca Nemanova (
To: Brad Carter
Date: Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 10:28 AM
Subject: WHY SILENT?????????????????????????

why silent?What,s Going on over there i have made the payment for the item and i haven’t hear anything back from you concerning the shipment of the package to my boss ,Please i will like to know what is going on because i am getting worried to know if this is not a scam please get back to me now to know what is going on waiting for your urgent Reply.

From: Brad Carter
To: Rebecca Nemanova
Date: Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 4:28 PM
Subject: Re: WHY SILENT?????????????????????????

Hi Rebecca. I’m not being silent. I sent you two emails yesterday to
let you know that the laptop had been sent. It’s on its way and
you’ll have it in a week. I sent it fast shipping since you gave me
extra money. You can stop threatening me with the FBI now.


From: Rebecca Nemanova (
To: Brad Carter
Date: Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 6:52 PM
Subject: WHY SILENT?????????????????????????

so get back to me with the tracking number so i verify it

From: Brad Carter
To: Rebecca Nemanova
Date: Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 9:13 PM
Subject: Re: WHY SILENT?????????????????????????

There is no tracking number. You should have told me you wanted one
before I mailed it. It’ll be there soon. Be patient.

From: Rebecca Nemanova (
To: Brad Carter
Date: Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 9:14 PM
Subject: WHY SILENT?????????????????????????

what about the scan receipt.

From: Rebecca Nemanova (
To: Brad Carter
Date: Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 9:53 PM
Subject: WHY SILENT?????????????????????????

what is the meaning of all this are you trying you scammed me or what?

From: Brad Carter
To: Rebecca Nemanova
Date: Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 9:54 PM
Subject: Re: WHY SILENT?????????????????????????

I’m sorry, but I ran out of toilet paper so I ended up using the
receipt to wipe my bottom. You’ll just have to trust me that I sent
it to you. That’s what Jesus would do. Be more like Jesus.

At some point during this exchange, someone gave me the idea to mail them a fake laptop for my fake payment. It seemed only fair. I think it was Angela that came up with this, but it’s been so long (over a month!) that I don’t remember. Instead of doing it myself, I told my kids all about Nigerian scammers and asked if they would make me a fake laptop to mail to this guy. Er, I mean girl, because I’m sure she wasn’t lying to me about that.

I cut out pieces of cardboard, using my real laptop to make them the right size. Then Emily and Payton began drawing a laptop on the pieces. Emily quickly got bored with it, but Payton finished it all up, even copying the vents and screw holes on the bottom.

nigerian laptop scam

nigerian laptop scam

nigerian laptop scam

The last picture shows the top of the closed cardboard laptop. For hinges we used black electrical tape. It was Payton’s idea to make the screen show the Google homepage, but I had him write “Nigerian scammers” into the search box.

I shipped it the next morning at the cost of around $9.00, which almost made me feel bad about all the extra money she sent me for shipping. On the customs form, I put the value at $500 and the description said “cardboard art.” I’m not completely sure of this, but I think Nigerians have to pay a small percentage of the value to customs, so putting a high price on the customs form hopefully cost them a little money. Although the post office promised me that it would arrive in about 10 days, I didn’t hear back from Becca until this morning. As I was eating a bowl of Frosted Flakes, she begins messaging me.

9:25 AM: rebecca: you are stupid for what you did
9:26 AM: rebecca: you are crazy
9:27 AM: me: why do you think that?
9:27 AM: rebecca: what did you ship to my boss
9:28 AM: me: a Dell laptop, just like you ordered
9:28 AM: rebecca: is that a laptop
9:28 AM: me: of course
9:29 AM: rebecca: ypou are crazy
9:30 AM: me: what are you talking about? did the laptop not work?
9:32 AM: me: please tell me what’s wrong with it
9:35 AM: rebecca: suck my divck
9:35 AM: me: what’s a divck?
10:08 AM: me: please don’t be mad at me
10:18 AM: me: helllloooo?
10:18 AM: me: talk to me rebecca!

Soon after that chat, she tried to voice chat with me on Google, but I couldn’t do that since I was on the phone. I’ve tried talking to her a few more times, but she refuses to answer me now.

3:30 PM: me: sorry i can’t voice chat with you. i don’t have a microphone
3:32 PM: me: i really would like to work out any problems you might have with the laptop though
3:33 PM: me: maybe you could turn it on and i could help you troubleshoot from here
3:37 PM: me: let me know when you’re there and we’ll get started
3:48 PM: me: are you ready to troubleshoot yet, rebecca?

So that’s about it. Tee hee! Interesting that she said she has a boss. Guess she’s just a minion that does the scamming since she’s so good with her people skills and it gets sent to the boss. Kind of like a pimp/ho relationship. I’ll keep trying to chat with her and append anything else that happens to this post, but I doubt she’ll say anything more to me.

2 years later update: Jesus, people, I know this scammer was from Nigeria because I SENT THE PACKAGE TO NIGERIA. Quit accusing me of being racist and hating all Nigerians and teaching my kids to stereotype.

Click here to listen to me hack Bell Canada’s voice authentication system!

Click here to listen to us trick Domino’s Pizza employees out of customer phone numbers!

Click here to listen to a hotel clerk at a hacker convention hand out private information!


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