Friday, December 8, 2006

Beware Of These Bank ATM Scams!

One of my friends went to Washington Mutual on Second Avenue at 8th Street a few months ago, and remembered seeing a hand-written (scribbled) note placed over one of the ATMs with an arrow pointing to the other "good" machine, stating: "Out of order, use other machine." She didn't think twice about any of this until the bank informed her the next day of several thousands of dollars that had been siphoned out of her account. One of the things she learned to look for moving forward, was any sort of indication of tampering, and sometimes they will place a reader strip over the regular magnetic strip that is visibly different, so anything that appears out of the ordinary, alert the authorities. She was able to recover all lost funds, but that's not always the case.

SCAM ALERT #1 (Compiled by University of Texas)

A team of organized criminals is installing equipment on legitimate bank ATMs in at least two regions to steal both the ATM card number and the PIN. The team sits nearby in a car receiving the information transmitted wirelessly over weekends and evenings from equipment they install on the front of the ATM (see photos). If you see an attachment like this, do not use the ATM and report it immediately to the bank using the 800 number or phone on the front of the ATM.

The equipment used to capture your ATM card number and PIN is cleverly disguised to look like normal ATM equipment. A “skimmer” is mounted to the front of the normal ATM card slot that reads the ATM card number and transmits it to the criminals sitting in a nearby car.

At the same time, a wireless camera is disguised to look like a leaflet holder and is mounted in a position to view ATM PIN entries.
The thieves copy the cards and use the PIN numbers to withdraw thousands from many accounts in a very short time directly from the bank ATM.

Equipment being installed on front of existing bank card slot.

The equipment as it appears installed over the normal ATM bank slot.

The PIN reading camera being installed on the ATM is housed in an innocent looking leaflet enclosure.

The camera shown installed and ready to capture PINs by looking down on the keypad as you enter your PIN.

SCAM ALERT #2 (Compiled by ordep44@

The thug jury-rigs a piece of black magnetic tape so that it becomes a booby trap for your card, and then inserts it into the card-slot, of the unsuspecting bank, rendering it virtually invisible.

You walk into the bank, don't notice anything, insert your card but it gets stuck. A nearby "Good Samaritan" suddenly appears, ready to assist. This "helpful" person convinces you that by entering your PIN at the same time you hit the "Cancel" key, your card will be released. When that doesn't work, you give up and move on.

After you have exited the ATM, the "Good Samaritan" fishes out your card, and now "owns" both your card and your PIN, you do the math; warning, the answer will be a negative number!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Joan Rivers Show Reunion

The first full-time job I had here in New York City, was offered after a 2-week temp gig as the Receptonist for The Joan Rivers Show. What put me on the map while being Joan's Receptionist, was arriving to work with a very swollen purple-and-black eye, the Monday morning of my second week. I'll never forget telling different staff members that I had been rough-housing on the floor with my 8 year-old nephew while in Lancaster County over the weekend, when I ran into a coffee table, and having each person, one after another, look at me in sheer disbelief. Then, I went to the corner deli that evening, and when I went to pay my bill, the Manager just stared at me and asked, "Who did that to you?" Again, I told him the truth of what had happened, but he just leaned toward me and said, "You know, if you tell me where he is, I will go with you, and he will be very sorry." That's when it hit me, welcome to New York City, everyone thinks I've been the victim of a terrible crime!

I enjoy keeping in touch with friends and co-workers that I've met over the years, and have fun inviting the staff of Joan Rivers out for an occasional reunion. So many of us spend as much time (if not more) at work than we do at home, that work becomes its own kind of family. Being a part of this show was magical.

So here we are, fifteen years later! We still all look exactly the same, except I have long hair. Little Suzie Pileggi is now a grown-up, OY! Linda Lipman still looks incredible, and she's still pulling down heavies every day! On this particular evening, there was a torrential down-pour, so only a few ex-staffers showed up. We missed those who weren't there. I've placed some memorabilia here for all to enjoy.

Remember when Joan won the Emmy? Well, it was Karen's and my job to pack it up and ship it to her home...Let's just say we snapped a few Kodak moments before it left the premises. Come on, you didn't think we'd let that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass us by, did you? And yes, I got her permission before I posted these.

Remember when Richard Poland would take Joan's photos and sign them with wacky blurbs?

And then there was the time I came back from lunch and Richard Poland had hi-jacked the Receptionist's message pad. Gosh he was a trip, wasn't he?

And then there was Sam. She was always ready for fun.

And remember Marlo and Gary? Two of the brightest and the best.

If only I could have been the kind of manager Karen was, a true star. Here's a handwritten thank-you note from her that I still have, as it meant so much.

This is the only photo I have from the yacht party we had.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Rufus Wainwright

I had the privilege of seeing this incredibly talented singer/songwriter perform a re-creation of the original Judy Garland Carnegie Hall concert. The Playbill had been fashioned to match the original Judy concert. Since my tickets were a gift, I splurged a little and purchased a t-shirt that Marc Jacobs created especially for this occasion.