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Be aware of the scams…

I am in Charleston, West Virginia. It’s a bit of a blog shortcut.  Hopefully, this will serve as a caution.

I am going to post a list of scams that a committee of Congress has provided, for our awareness.  It was a good reminder to me of what “hucksters” are doing.

A: Types of fraud most commonly reported to the committee include:

  • Computer scams that involve fraudsters tricking consumers into believing their computers are riddled with malware and then charge them to “fix” the problems.
  • Grandparent scams, where con artists pretend to be a family member, often a grandchild, who is in urgent need of money to cover medical care or fix a legal problem, such as money for bail.
  • Health-related scams, especially medical alert device schemes, where scammers attempt to collect personal information or convince seniors to pay for a device or service they never ordered.
  • Identity theft, including reports of tax-related identity theft.
  • Lottery scams, including reports of the Jamaican lottery scam, in which fraudsters lead victims to believe they have won a lottery but must pay upfront fees or taxes before their winnings can be released.
  • Social Security fraud, where Social Security benefits are re-routed from the accounts of rightful recipients to fraudulently created bank and debit card accounts.

     And for our pic o’ day:

 

dog

Geolocation technology Reality

Post office animal

 

Life used to be much simpler when we just relied on mail. At the same time, the only choices in phones basically meant “on the wall” or on the night stand.

 

 

 

 

Spam and inbox

 

Then, computers came along and we had to start worrying about spam and the occasional virus. Of course, if you use some politician reasoning, a computer virus is good because it provides jobs. All of a sudden, guys who ate pizza for breakfast and were spending hours in the basement on the newest war game, were now being called out to “fix the computer”.

 

 

 

 

 

Then, the cell phone become a major part of our lives. By the way, can you believe that the cell phone just celebrated a 40-year anniversary? Well, we have come to accept that the computer can be filled with danger. Now, we are being told that the phone is also putting out information about us.

At the American Bar Association Tech show this past week, the topic of conversation was Geolocation technology. At the seminar, the audience of lawyers was asked to see how many had actually read the permission policies when they had installed various apps on their mobile devices. Not surprisingly, most did not raise their hand, according to the article.

Now, most phone/mobile devices have the ability and are transmitting information about the precise record of a user’s location over a period time. This can result in the ability to create a report that is very accurate and highly personal. Clearly, the information can be sold to third parties for marketing purposes or for some other commercial use. It allows specific advertisement targeting. I am standing next to a restarant or go near a retail store; I get a coupon sent to me.

This pinpoint capability can be used for good reason. If you are in a car accident or in an area that is unfamiliar and don’t know how to describe your location, you can still be found. Criminals and fugitives can be found more easily. Clearly, what was originally considered to be a simple phone is now raising questions of possible constitutional significance. Is this a violation of our right to privacy that has crept up behind us?

shark

The Federal Communications Commission has taken notice of this concern. Last year, the FCC issued a report that found the following: “Because mobile devices have the ability—and often the technical requirement—to regularly transmit their location to a network, they also enable the creation of a precise record of a user’s locations over time.This can result in the creation of a very accurate and highly personal user profile, which raises questions of how, when and by whom this information can and should be used”

This was a reminder to me to pay attention when I download an app. Also, website PleaseRobMe.com uses Twitter to find and display location-based messages that remind consumers of the risks in sharing too much information. More choices in technology also raises more privacy concerns.

For pic o’ day, I went back to one that reminds us that it is getting warmer. Don’t forget the sunblock!

heat

Technology in the Courtroom

I once heard a jury consultant espouse the concerns of what not to take and wear to the courtroom. “Don’t wear a rolex watch. Don’t drive a big fancy car”. By the time he was finished speaking, he almost had me believing that I should wear some mis-matched jacket and pair of pants. He believed that you didn’t want to look too successful to the jury.
 
 Another jury consultant took a complete opposite approach, “Look successful, the jury won’t award your client money, if they think that you (the lawyer) need it too badly.” Another suggested that you should never be the center of attention in any courtroom. It reminded me of the Senior referee, when I was a basketball ref, during my law school years. “If you leave the game and they don’t remember who called the game (ref), then you probably did a good job officiating.”
 
One other consultant told me that it didn’t matter that much what you said. He focused on the visual items. “I can win a case with just 3 photographs”. Of course, the amount of money that he wanted to be paid to determine and arrange those photos in your opening, was something short of amazing. Plus, there are some colors that you can’t use because they are not persuasive.
 Sometimes consultants make you feel like a new diet. “Eat more meat”. Another might have you focused on garlic soup and cucumbers, as the panacea of weigh loss.

This blog came to mind, I just saw a cell phone ad, with security asking the guy at the airport, “Is it a phone or a computer?” With technology advancements, it’s getting harder to differentiate.

I was in a small court house in the back side of nowhere, in the State of South Carolina. The sign said “No phones”. Cell phones with the capability of keeping your calendar schedule, had just come out. I had never been real good about keeping a Daytimer calendar; so I was determined to give my new phone a shot, with organizing my schedule.

 The Deputies at the door, would not let me in with my phone. I tried to persuasively claim it as my calendar and that I wouldn’t be able to set trial without it. I felt like the guy in the commercial. I could feel myself getting angry and I knew that would get me no where fast. “I’ll bet you don’t even have a microwave to warm up your meat and 3”. No, I didn’t really say that, but……

Right now, I am typing this blog on my IPad, because of a few computer issues. I am getting ready for trial and working on what exhibits I will “make real big”. I have noticed that jurors seem to almost pay more attention to the TV, when I play video testimony, then when a live witness takes the stand. That seems especially true, when there are exhibits.

To avoid making a long blog longer, I’ll get to the point. (I know you just breathed a sigh of relief) You don’t have to have evidence that is similar to the movie “Avatar”. I am thankful, though, that there are visuals that can easily show the scene and describe the injuries.

A very wise consultant did tell me something about evidence that has always stuck with me. “If you tell, they may remember; if you show; more will grasp your message; if you involve, they will understand”

Following a jury trial a while back, a juror came up to me. She shook my hand and it surprised me. Most of the time, I don’t get to speak to jurors right after the trial. “Thank you”, she said. “At least you made it interesting”.

What she was expressing is the value of technology in getting to the truth. Oh, and it’s also helpful that I can get my cellphone/calendar/Ipad/computer into the Courtroom.

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