Monthly Archives: May 2009

Fire On Clay: Serena Williams rallies to beat a “cheat” and a laggard of an umpire


Will to power: Serena comes back from a contentious one set deficit to win the 3rd round of the French Open 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 .

Will to power: Serena comes back from a contentious one set deficit to win the 3rd round of the French Open 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 .

She almost wilted under the pressure of a less-than-honest opponent and a laggard of an umpire,  not to mention breathing problems she experienced in the last set, but Serena being Serena reached deep within and found something with which to defeat a listless Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in the 3rd round of the 2009 French Open. The bad call at 2-2 in the first set involved a shot that Serena fired straight at the Spaniard as she stood near the net after executing a nifty drop shot. The ball recotcheted off her arm as she recoiled defensively and shot  past Serena for what appeared to be a winning return.  The ostensible return and point was not valid, because the ball had come in touch with Martina Sanchez’s hand. The umpire,  Emmanuel Joseph,  who had ostensibly not seen the body contact gave the point to a strangely reticent Martinez Sanchez even as Serena protested. The fact that Serena had even apologized for hitting her opponent should have given the umpire pause for cause. Under the circumstance he should have gotten out of his chair and held a mini conference with the players. Worst case scenario? Joseph would have had to check  Martinez Sanchez’s arm. There should have been some kind of mark there. (Serena does not hit like a girl.)

That bad call clearly fired Serena up while putting the umpire, Emmanuel Joseph, and her opponent on the defensive psychologically. Yes, such challenges have an effect on a mental level and umpires are not immune to it,  especially the  ones who may remember what happened to the lady umpire who gave Serena a series of bad line calls in a the quarter final of the 2005 U.S. Open. (The offending umpire  got suspended for the rest of the tournament.) For your own information Emmanuel Joseph is the same umpire who so enraged another American player Andy Roddick at the Australian open in January of 2008 that Andy called him names.

“You’re an idiot,” yelled the inflamed Roddick before appending a caustic aside: “Stay in school, kids, or you’ll end up being an umpire.”

The Rub: Is there something about Serena that brings out a win-at-all-costs attitude in her opponents? Or on the other hand is there something about her celebrity and  “will to power” that provokes some kind of power struggle with certain umpires?

Commentator Mary Carillo clearly felt bad for Serena in that first set. The ball had clearly hit Martinez Sanchez as several replays would show.  Martinez Sanchez should have owned up to it, especially after the umpire had awarded her the point. She didn’t. And the umpire on his part, should have hauled his fat rump out of that chair and held conference with the players. He could have very well  forced the issue by asking  Sanchez if the ball had hit her? He did not.  What gives here? Truth, fairness, or perhaps a lack of surreptitious vindictiveness on the part of a dime-a-dozen umpires who have it in for millionaire stars?

Excuse Our French: The Roland Garros fans could clearly go screw themselves in their un-perfumed derrieres. We are specifically talking about the ones who could be heard booing Serena as she tried to talk to the umpire about his wrong call. These fans don’t even deserve a second chance after the Justine Henin debacle in which she raised a hand just before a Serena serve. (Serena dumped the serve out, but a judge who had not seen the raised hand gave the point to Henin – who, on her part, did not own up to raising her hand just before the serve. The fans booed during the challenge. Screw ’em!)

The History: The Williams sisters have a shady history when it comes to competing against each other in their long careers from Wimbledon in 2000 to Indian Wells  in 2001, but this does not justify the bum rap they seem to be getting from umpires and crowds during questionable calls.

Wimbledon 2001 is remembered for Serena’s inexplicably lack-luster showing against her big sister and Indian Wells 2001 gave the family a big black eye when Venus withdrew from a much anticipated shootout with her sister,  minutes before match time.  She claimed injury as the cause but the fans would clearly have none of it.  Days later, Serena would be booed all the way to the trophy ceremony. The sisters have not played Indian Wells ever since, but we are pretty sure they have learned their lessons from that and the preceding Wimbledon. Their parents  have grown up in tandem with them as business managers and coaches.  If bygones can’t be bygones, then some people are caught up in a state of arrested development, if not worse …. (Read “Why is racism and sexism against Venus and Serena Williams ignored in tennis?” by Lloyd Douglas) And the for the best lysis on the sister-sister rivalry, read Greg Couch’s FanHouse article “Sister Act Rules Wimbledon Again.”

The Post Game Interview: Those of us who had watched the game shenanigans that went on this morning were waiting for the post game interview. Winning the game from a 1-0 set deficit was certainly a good dose of poetic justice, but that was besides the point. Someone needed to call it like it is, and Serena did not disappoint:

Said Serena Williams:

“The ball did touch her 100% on her arm. The rules of tennis is when the ball hits your body, then it’s out of play. You lose a point automatically. So the ball hit her body, and therefore, she should have lost the point instead of cheating. I hit that ball rather hard. She knew that ball hit her.

“It was clearly my point, and it was like, no way. I would never do that. I’ve never done that. I’ve never sunk low, and I would never do that to anyone on this tour and I never have. I’ve always been a really clean player and a good player, and it doesn’t take that to win.

“I looked at her dead in the eye. I said, Why? Just be honest if the ball hit you or not. I mean, Hello. It totally hit her. She was just like – she wouldn’t even look at me. She looked down, and I just have no respect for anybody who can’t play a professional game and just be really professional out here. Because that’s all I’ve ever been was be extremely professional to anyone I’ve ever played.” (Serena Williams – Post Game Comments)

One of the reporters, as if to press the point, asked her if she was accusing her opponent of cheating to which Serena retorted, “What would you call it?”

To the Serena Williams detractors, like the Associated Press reporter, who routinely crawl out of the woodwork when the Williams sisters stand their ground, you don’t have much of a leg to stand on on this one. Serena showed amazing toughness in coming from behind to nullify a psychologically debilitating bad call by the umpire.  She showed classy reserve in coming to the net and normally shaking the hand of an opponent who had just tried to rip her off.  At the end of that bad day at the office she was fully entitled to call it like it is. In blasting Martinez Sanchez as a “cheat” she was also blasting the limp noodle umpire,  Emmanuel Joseph, for not making the right calls. Martinez Sanchez deserved Serena’s  salvo, and so did he.

Detractors, in an out of the press box, can call it whatever they want. We call it a shot across the bow.  The fact that  Martinez Sanchez, on top of denying the ball hit her, chooses to say as little as she can, and only when pressed at that,  speaks volumes about this and her own mental processes.

“I just put my racket up (in defence) and the ball hit it,” says the 26-year-old Spaniard who is ranked 43rd in the world.  “I don’t want to talk about this,” adding: “I put the racket, and the ball, it was in, so it goes point for me.” (Martinez Sanchez – Post Game Comments)

Saying of Serena’s comments, “I don’t like to comment about this. It’s a stupid comment”, just doesn’t cut it in our books. Where is the outrage of  a person who has been wrongfully accused in all of this?  There is nothing ambiguous or stupid about being called a cheat. Capische?

copyright© 2009 cyberaxis.wordpress.com

The notion of Simon Cowell as a judge of talent is laughable in the extreme


And so is the whole  idea and premise of American Idol – Star Search’s illegitimate progeny. Parenthetic factoid: For all his hyper-nasal  sneering and jeering, Simon Cowell is a highfalutin’ poseur who would never make it states-side as an “A & R” point-man for a major record label. If that ain’t where the rubber meets the road, then we don’t know what is. But we digress.

The devil is in the nomenclature. Even the name, American Idol, strikes the perceptive as silly, if not mildly self-mocking.  Strutting a number of hopefuls in front of four judges  in the vain hope of finding the next Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Rod Stewart, Prince or Norah Jones is as silly as the idea behind play lists in commercial radio  or speed dating in professional matchmaking. It is asinine beyond belief. Why? Well, because music or music appreciation just do not work that way.

Be that as it may, American Idol’s third season runner-up  Jennifer Hudson was an inspired choice. So was the season winner,  Fantasia Barrino. But their post “Idol” careers have been a mixed bag. Why? Well, because  stardom or its evolution are rarely manufactured, let alone via “in vitro” fertilizations of TV shows like American Idol.

Simon is a lizard, basking in the transient glow of music-box munchkins and cookie cutter hopefuls.  His little show has little or nothing to do with talent but drama, pure and simple. Remember the on-stage and off-stage dramatics around Idol alums like Latoya London, Diana Degarmo,  Reuben Studdard, Clay Aiken and of late, Kris Allen and  Adam Lambert?  That, and that alone is the reason behind American Idol’s longevity or what passes for its popularity.

American Idol and death or dearth of talent or even more appropos, where talent comes to die. From left: Jackson, Abdul and Cowell.

American Idol and death or dearth of talent. Its subtitle should be "Where talent comes to die." Original show judges from left: Jackson, Abdul and Cowell. Missing from this dated pic was the then newest member of the nouveau quartet, Kara DioGuardi.

Appendices:

Can you believe these superstars were once rejected by “American Idol”? (Lindsey Parker, Yahoo Music)

Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida And The Art Of Mortal Combat


Enter The Dragon:The UFC coming of a Shotokan wunderkind named Lyoto Machida.

"O Novo Dragao," Lyoto Machida: The UFC coming of a Shotokan wunderkind.

“In the year of the Dragon
Lots of men disappear,
It’s quiet as a cat
It will be back next year”
Lauryn Hill, The Fugees

Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida gives an intriguing peek into the kind of fighter Bruce Lee would have been had the UFC existed in his time. (Yes, beyond big screen pyrotechnics, Bruce Lee had serious street game. The story of what he did to a thug who challenged him on the set of one of his movies is the stuff of urban legend.)  Hyperbole? Perhaps, but not one that is without  substance. Granted that Shotokan Karate  is not Jeet Kune Do (Bruce Lee’s style), one has to admit that both styles are  strike-based systems in a field dominated by anything but strike based systems from the martial arts side. Machida’s style relies on speed, accuracy and tactical   elusiveness.  Ditto the style that brought Bruce Lee fame. Both styles are predicated on a classic mind-over-matter philosophy.

Enter  “O Novo Dragao” Lyoto Machida, the Shotokan “wunderkind”  who methodically obliterated Rashad Evans in the second round of a UFC 98 match-up to claim the light heavyweight champion of the UFC on May 23, 2009. The way Rashad hit the canvass, with neck and extremities at odd angles stunned everyone, including people who thought he was gonna be knocked out.

Don't Taze Me Bro! The body of Rashad Evans succumbs to the power and precision of a Machida onslaught as if to a tazered. It was that painful ... even to watch.

Don't Taze Me Bro! The body of Rashad Evans succumbs to the cumulative power and precision of a Machida barrage as if to the charge of an electric tazer.

http://mmahits.com/fighters/lyoto-machida/ufc-98-lyoto-machida-vs-rashad-evans-video/

The textbook dismantling of a young tough who could have equally knocked Machida’s head off,  signified the catalyzation of a style first seen in a 2003 MMA debut  in Japan. So inspite of the more dramatic UFC wins, it has been something of a “long and winding road.”  Machida debuted in the UFC  at UFC 67 against Sam Hogar on February 3, 2007. He did not realize his first knock out until his fifth UFC fight, wich was UFC 94 against compatriot Thiago Silva in January of 2009.

The deafening buzz around Machida sounds premature until one realizes that he is bringing to the UFC something it has never had; a Karateka champion. Far beyond hype, this is something that brings undeniable sizzle to the UFC and launches it into a stratosphere, light years removed from boxing and other less eclectic forms of fighting. The thrill of seeing a lean-and-mean Bruce Lee-like fighter beat the crap out of beefier brawlers is the stuff of UFC lore that will be written in dollars and cents to the nth exponent. Dana White and the Fertitta brothers are creaming their pants right now- and for a good reason. Machida represents something they haven’t had since Chuck Liddel;  a poster boy for an organization sorely in need of one. The urine drinking, well ….. that is a story for another day. If Machida lasts past the first defence of his new-fangled title, Dana White and the Fertitta brothers make a lot of money. If not, oh well …. Next!

The upside and downside of a Machida legacy: The upside of what Machida can do to the UFC playbook has been on full display since UFC 79 when Machida triangle choked Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou in December 0f 2007.  After that he bested Tito Ortiz at his own game (no mean feat by the way) he then went on to knock out Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans within the short space of  just 12 months. In that feat, he held an unforgiving mirror to the lacunae in established UFC styles; the lack of effective counter-striking as a key strategy in a fighter’s arsenal.

The downside to Machida’s possible legacy lies with less gifted fighters who may try to cop his style in ways that make them look like the Ginger Rogers troupe of the octagon. (Talk about an endless source of boo-worthy performances …..) Machida himself has been criticized for this and with good reason.  His reliance on other fighters to commit first makes him look like a weasly opportunist as opposed to a ballsy fighter. And if you watch his past fights, you will notice that he appears quite timid in that he does not utilize most counter-striking opportunities after the other fighter strikes out and misses. Machida cannot afford the “weasly opportunist” tag – and neither can his clones.  This weasly trend  needs to be nipped in the bud and a good place to start would be with Machida’s own trainers.

Maiming from outside the strike zone: A nuveau clinic by Lyoto Machida

Chuck Liddell does it; That is the back-pedalling/counter-striking thing, but Lyoto Machida does it with the method and aplomb of a classically trained artist, just like his father Yoshizo Machida taught him. The  tactically conceived foot-movement:  left and right, right and left and back and forth diagonally. This is not movement by numbers but motion and counter-motion by necessity because nothing in the Yoshizo manual is wasted or choreographed by rote.

Machida gets away with what he does because lately he has established himself as a premier striker who puts it all together with stunning speed and accuracy. In real terms this equals power by an inordinate exponent for a man who is quite  slight compared to his more corn-fed opponents. His strategy appears to be built on four words: hair trigger counter defence. (with the notable exception of when he is not utilising more conter-striking opportunities when his opponents commit and miss.) Machida’s style is proving to be quite devastating in an organization that hasn’t seen the likes of it.

The thing we noticed during Machida’s fight with Evans was that for all his back-pedalling, Machida really projected an extended event horizon created primarily by his left foot, which was always spring-loaded and ready to deliver tenderizing kicks to the head or rib cage. Add to that the tremendously fast and accurate fists of fury and you had the makings of an event horizon that swallowed Evans whole.

In The Name of the Father: Yoshizo Machida - Pater Familias of the Machida clan (Enter 36 Chambers Wutang's style). Lyoto Machida credits his father with crafting his style.

In The Name of the Father: Yoshizo Machida - Pater Familias of the Machida clan (Enter 36 Chambers Wutang's style). Lyoto Machida credits his father with crafting his style.

In the name of the father: There is meticulous method beyond the Machida reserve that comes to the son straight from a 5′ 6″ father who had to devise a fighting style that brooked no waste. The result? A 65% strike accuracy and 84% takedown defence. (These numbers differ in some reports.) The legendary footwork, among other things, makes Machida’s movement look less like a break-and-run performance. His backward movement seamlessly meshes with lateral and diagonal  movements in a way that makes what he is doing less blatant – but there are limits to doing this without raising the ire of fans and detractors.

Tito Ortiz, who says he wants to take the light heavyweight title from the new champion, has already called Machida out on this. Chiding Machida for his penchant for running during fights prior to his most recent UFC victories, Tito wondered if Machida would learn to  stand and fight as a champion. Paraphrased fighting words to that effect. (Tom Ngo, 5th Round)

Eyes on the prize: Lyoto Machida makes up for lack of eyes in the back of his head by fully using the ones he has. (More on this later)

UFC 104: Machida is not gonna be fighting Quinton Jackson as Dana White had intimated at the post fight press conference of  UFC 98.  Instead, compatriot Mauricio Rua is gonna step up to the plate  for the first shot at Machida’s title.

Why UFC 104 with Machida vs Jackson would have eclipsed UFC 100

Read about why UFC 104 is not gonna be the same without  Quinton Jackson, a tested Pride veteran who has historically relished  to walk where angels fear to tread. What gives this time? His big hairy balls attitude would have made for a very entertaining fight.

copyright© 2009 cyberaxis.wordpress.com

Matt Serra/Matt Hughes Head Cheese: A contrarian view of UFC 98


The UFC 98 promo clip of the Matt Hughes Matt Serra fight is a few fries short of a WWE happy meal. This frothy hype has little place in an organization that aspires to be worlds removed from the infantile shennanigans of  Vince McMahon‘s traveling circus.

Going to the Matt in UFC 98 - Matt Serra (left) and Matt Hughes (right):The so-called war of words gets sillier with UFC enshrining them in breathless pre-fight promo. Oi vei!

Going to the Matt in UFC 98 - Matt Serra (left) and Matt Hughes (right):The so-called war of words gets sillier with UFC enshrining them in breathless pre-fight promo. Oi vei!

That Matt Serra (15-5-0) doesn’t care for Matt Hughes (43-7-0) shouldn’t come as any news to anybody  (a lot of people don’t like Matt Hughes) but elevating this  aspect to the defining significance of the fight  not only degrades the de rigeur sportsmanship but the  I.Q. of  UFC fans which is supposed to be  above that of WWE hordes.

Matt Hughes, like Dana White, is a certifiable dick  and Matt  Serra, for better or worse wears his heart on his sleeve. We here at Cyberaxis call the fight for Nick Serra in the  second or third round.

Rashad Evans versus Lyoto  Machida:

Rashad Evans (13-0-1) is a gladiator  from the Quinton Jackson school of hard knocks.  He has youth on his side and is fearless. But he will not win today against Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida(14-0-0) today because his discipline and skill regimen  has not risen to the level of Lyoto Machida .  Both have a thing or two to prove, so the fight will not come down to a decision. Cyberaxis calls it for Machida by a knockout.

Update – 05/24/09: Matt  Serra versus Matt Hughes turned out to be a lackluster event with a questionable decision going to Matt Hughes after three rounds. Matt  Serra has nothing to be ashamed off and Hughes has nothing to preen about.  He came across as a one trick pony with little or no  stand-up game.

The little  hugging and “pillow-talk” at the end of that fight just proved how nonsensical that pre-fight spittle ‘n booger flicking was all about. Our point, as mede earlier,  is that the UFC didn’t have to amplify it in their pre-fight promo.  Nuff of that.

Machida versus Evans did not disappoint.  The denouement came down just like we predicted. More on this in an upcoming Machida feature.

But the mini-minute thriller of the night came from the Drew McFedries(7-5-0) against Frenchman Xavier Foupa-Pokam figh(20-10-0). While the fighters had similar win/loss percentages, Foupa-Pokam clearly had more fights under his belt – besides being a more  colorful a fighter. Like fellow compatriot Cheick Kongo, Foupa-Pokam who goes by the nickname Professor X, cuts an impressive physical specimen.  But that did not save him from being knocked down like a rag doll 30 seconds into the fight by a pumped up Drew McFedries. Seven seconds later it was all over  for the  Muay Thai operative. Professor X did not have a chance to deploy any of his formidable weapons;  kicks and knees.  We wish him well  next time.  He has lost all of his UFC fights to date. The first one went to Dennis Kang by a decision in round three on 4/18/09.

Philip Markoff, Julissa Brisman and Craig Newmark’s Annus Horribilis


Craig Newmark is a nice guy who likes doing nice things for people he likes to call  “the community”. The only problem is that in 2009,  that community is no longer as small and as homogenous as the one Craig engendered in 1995;  the year he launched Craigslist as an e-mail list for friends and acquaintances in San Francisco.  On top of all the growing pains, the horrific killing of Julissa Brisman has taught Craig that it is harder to play the nice guy role when people are  screaming  “bloody murder” (figuratively of course) over intimations of freedom of expression, and Craigslist’s once touted virtues of  “community policing.

(Community policing is Craigslist’s system of screening out objectionable content after the fact through what is called flagging. A post that receives a certain number of flags from users is automatically removed from the website. In the case of the once-embattled Erotic Services section, Craigslist used to rely on so-called  community policing until several state lawmen threatened to sue the pants off of Craig in the wake several crimes that could be linked to his website.)

Julissa Brisman: The end of accomodation. Before her killing, anti-Erotic Services lobbies were chomping at the bit.

Julissa Brisman & the end of accomodation: Before her killing in a Boston Marriott on April 14, 2009,  anti-Erotic Services lobbies were chomping at the bit to get at Craigslist’s collective behind.

In the wake of all Craigslist’s troubles one could argue, and argue convincingly, that the legal saber-rattling by state attorneys general, comes a distant second to the prospect of losing the nice guy/philanthropic mantle Craigslist has earned over its 14 years of existence. There is a method to figuring this out, and it doesn’t fall far from the values of community,  service and doing things in innovative new ways that have been described as bohemian, if not downright “communist.” Consider this if you are an inveterate skeptic: The money Craigslist stands to lose defending nonsensical lawsuits  pales in comparison to the money it has left on the table by not charging for its classifieds in hot metro markets like San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles. Now about that “communist” moniker: If it is not a back-handed compliment to the man the world knows as Craig, then we don’t know what is.  But someone needs to tell those fire-breathing Attorneys General.

Under the fumes-fomenting spotlight of the media their  diatribes were nothing but blistering.  The Connecticut Attorney General, George Blumenthal,  accused Craigslist of promoting “pimping and prostitution in plain sight” and lambasted it as a “blatant internet brothel.”  South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster had threatened Craigslist with criminal investigation if the company’s executives had not removed the Erotic Services section by May 15 of 2009. And  Cook County Sheriff, Tom Dart, had described Craigslist as the “largest source of prostitution in America” and filed a lawsuit.

Throughout all of this, the political posturing and hypocrisy by South Carolina Attorney General, Henry McMaster, did not go un-noticed.  The selective prosecution of Craigslist when there are other publications that are  publishing way more graphic sexual content, has raised more than the ire of Craigslist. McMaster is treading on thin ice atop a sewer lake without a harness.

Philip Markoff  the de facto end of Craigslist's presumed innocence. The death of Julissa Brisman was unlike the others. Craigslist could not weather the perfect storm it created.

Philip Markoff  and the de facto end of Craigslist’s presumed innocence. The death of Julissa Brisman was unlike the others. Craigslist could not weather the “Andrea Gail”-like  storm it created. The issues run deeper and wider than rhetoric, but that is not the stuff of tabloidry …. or Public relations.

The Julissa Brisman Killing: The Julissa Brisman killing was the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of creating a public relations atmosphere in which Craigslist felt extremely vulnerable, inspite  of being protected by Federal Law CDA Section 230 which holds it not liable for content posted by users.  But the Julissa Brisman killing was different. The seven Attorneys General couldn’t have asked for a better test case, not to mention public relations milieu that would synergize with with their campaign while putting Craig and company on the defensive.  In the wake of the killing, the lawmen did what any good politician would do: They ratcheted up the attack on Craigslist’s  Erotic Services and threatened all kinds of lawsuits in addition to the few that they had filed already.

Craig’s first instincts were to stand his ground, but when arguments about the effectiveness of community policing of the Erotic Services became untenable, he blinked …  Well,  in a manner of speaking. Craigslist C.E.O. Jim Buckmaster experienced a similar change of mind, if not heart.  The Craigslist Erotic Services was (as a result) deactivated starting on May 13, 2009 (05/13/09) with ads that were already posted being allowed to stay up for 7 days before being deleted.  The section has been replaced by the newly constituted “Adult Services” – a less gauche spread along the lines of the adult classifieds in the Yellow Pages or city metro weeklies you see in any major city. The genius of this compromise can turn out to be in its potential for allowing opposing parties to simultaneously claim victory. However CNN quotes Connecticut Attorney General, George Blumenthal as saying that they will be watching Craigslist like a hawk “to make sure prostitution and pornography do not migrate and move elsewhere.”

“We will be monitoring closely to make sure that this measure is more than a name change from ‘erotic’ to ‘adult’ and that the manual blocking is tough and effective to scrub prostitution and pornography,” he said.

“Our continuing investigation will assure that these steps are substance, not just spin, and that Craigslist really shuts down its open online red-light district.”

What this whole drama has proved is that inspite of  legal or legalistic justifications, Craigslist is still vulnerable to being found guilty in the court of public opinion. Playing Mr. Nice Guy comes at a big price.

In The Beginning Craig Newmark Created ….. Things were much simpler when Craig started his little website  in 1995. The community then was a rag-tag collectivity of San Francisco friends, acquaintances and fellow geeks  that he cobbled into a social network through a humble e-mail list.  The list  advertised local events,  shindigs and various forms of entertainment for overworked and under-entertained techies who needed a social lifeline. That was long before the e-mail  list morphed into a burgeoning website plugging anything from computers to companionship.  And that  was about a decade and half before a med student named Philip Markoff would instantly be dubbed the Craigslist Killer,  for allegedly killing an escort he found through the  Boston metro Craigslist. The name stuck like crazy glue while a coterie of lawmen from Massachusetts to South Carolina started circling the San Francisco upstart like famished sharks.

Craigslist’s response to the crisis was as slow and shoddy as George Bush’s reaction to Hurricane Katrina. Someone at H.Q. should have sounded the ship alarm concerning the potential seriousness of socio-legal-cum-P.R. backlash in the wake of the Boston killing.  Fairly or unfairly, the fall-out from the Julissa Brisman death is gonna follow the San Francisco company’s  for a long, long time.

This is a strange dock for the reticent San Franciscan who would rather be battling spammers, seeding community enterprises or traversing the internets as  Craigslist’s ambassador at large.  Jim Buckmaster, may be C.E.O. and  indispensable spokesperson in the current crisis, but Craig Newmark remains the heart and pulse of the organization. He may not be as savvy and smooth at dealing with the media at this juncture, but he is adapting and hewing to his best instincts, which is part of what made Craigslist what it is today.

Vignettes in progress:

A tale of two killings: The Julissa Brisman was not the first time someone had been killed through a connection made on Craigslist. (Google Katherine Ann Olson for a comparative case that raises interesting questions about how the current case is being treated. ) The reading of what went into those transactions and placing of ultimate culpability is what has created the perfect firestorm engulfing Craigslist right now. Be that as it may, tales of Craigslist’s demise are just way too exaggerated. The insidious threat to Craigslist’s heart, mind and soul may lie more with spam and the possible up-ending its free ads platform than in the morality-inflected debate pulsing the realm right now.

Is this the posture & mask of a killer? Philip Markoff in Boston Municipal Court, on April 21, 2009. Shades of Jeffrey Dahmer? Time will tell ....

Is this the posture & mask of a killer? Philip Markoff in Boston Municipal Court, on April 21, 2009. Shades of Jeffrey Dahmer? Time will tell ….

The Phillip Markoff Story (A possibly chilling vignette straight out of a Coen brothers flick): The break in the Julissa Brisman case came hours after police released new security camera photos showing a clean-cut, 6-foot-tall man casually fingering his Blackberry as he non-chalantly walked to and from around the scene of three crime scenes.  Was this sheer coincidence or evidence of murderer in action? Was the casual mien the tell-tale sign of a cold-blooded killer?

The exterior presentation reminded people of another cold-blooded killer from a different generation; Ted Bundy, the serial killer who charmed his way into the confidence of many a young woman. The possibility that Philip Markoff could have been another Ted Bundy in the making is extremely unsettling. Killers who look clean-cut and normal are more unsettling than three-headed monsters.

Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde? Markoff as preppy med student suits up. The possibility that he was Mr, Hyde in the making is scarier than the stuff of Friday the 13th.

Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde? Markoff as preppy med student suits up. The possibility that he was Mr, Hyde in the making is scarier than the stuff of Friday the 13th.

The portrait of Philip Markoff  coming into slow focus is a Rorschach of sorts. What you get depends on who you talk to:

His then fiance, Megan McAllister, first described him as  “beautiful in and out.” The rosy portrayal may have been willful …. as in willful act of a woman in probable denial. She has since backed off her support in tortured press releases through her attorney. The bottom line is that she ended up shelving plans of marrying the young med student.

Some of the few friends Markoff had have described him as smart but geeky and awkward at times. They say he had  a goofy smile and was often the butt of collegial jokes. A female pre-med associate, who fought off  his aggressive sexual advances one drunken evening, describes him as ” very intelligent but definitely lacking in some social skills.” (Was Philip Markoff Leading a Double Life? 48 Hours Mystery)

The 48 Hours special, “Seven Days of Rage: The Craigslist Killer” fleshes out this story further.

Craigslist: A Victim of its own success spiked with  schadenfreude?

The sense that Craigslist is perhaps being singled out for “sober behandlung” is not imaginary (Backpage.com adult entertainment for years mined the same raunchy terrain that CL did.) But that choice may have been  influenced more by Craigslist’s popularity and efficacy than anything else.  In other words Craigslist has probably become a victim of its own success in terms of its high profile and penetration of major metro markets and upending of  the older and more costly media models. Read that newspapers, magazines and weeklies.  The ill-will that Craigslist has created is no doubt creating waves of  schadenfreude, not only within the old media, but sleazy Craigslist wannabes that are chomping at the bit to monetize the figurative crumps that fall from the table of this highly lucrative market.

Be that as it may, the practical indictment of the Craigslist flagging regime in Erotic Services hints at some of the shortcomings users have been carping about in other sections of Craigslist. Will this lead to the throwing out of baby with the bathwater as  more moderated/paid postings take out the freedom and instantaneity of posting that made Craigslist such a hit with users?

Stay tuned. 

copyright© 2009 cyberaxis.wordpress.com

Appendices:

“Craigslist Killer Phillip Markoff Commits Suicide” (ABC News)

Craigslist Killer Gets Arrested – 2 CBS News Interviews    (CBS, Youtube)

Craigslist strikes adult services under pressure (Christopher Leonard, Associated Press)

Craigslist computer and electronic classifies in new york and san francisco under bot spam attacks (Cyberaxis)

Scapegoating Craigslist is not going to solve the problem of underage prostitution (Don Hazen, AlterNet.Org)

Frank Mir And UFC 100: The chance of a lifetime to represent MMA values at their best


UFC 100 is here, and so is Frank Mir’s chance of a lifetime to represent MMA values at their best  in the much-anticipated David versus Goliath re-match with putative title-holder, Brock Lesnar (3-1-0). (Check out the Yahoo countdown to  UFC 100. Click on the video player for the pre-fight previews.)

At about 30% versus a whopping 70% for Lesnar,  very few bettors are giving Mir much of a chance of kicking Lesnar’s butt and pulling off another upset,  UFC 81 style. But that’s really neither here nor there where hard-core  MMA fans are concerned.

Mir of the Gods (right) vs The Brock: A possible thriller in the making.

Mir of the Gods (right) vs The Brock in UFC 100 at the Mandalay Bay on July 11, 2009: A possible thriller in the making following the electrifying seconds of UFC 81.

Win Place Or Show: All Mir has to do is come in the best shape of his life and represent MMA the way Randy Couture represented it at UFC 91.  What that means is that,  win or lose,  Mir can still show the world what the heart, mind and soul of a tried-and-true  MMA pugilist is all about; namely drop-dead skill unencumbered by presumptions of  force. This approach calls for a different kind of approach …. A different kind of method. (A page from Lyoto Machida‘s book could perhaps be helpful, but we can’t say for sure.)

Of Mixed Martial Arts and Pachyderms: If there ever was an elephant-in-the-room question, it is simply this: Who is best suited to carry the UFC banner into a post-Liddell world? Or put another way: Who is best suited to be one of the poster boys, not just for UFC, but MMA at large? In certain ways  this question  is bigger than who is gonna win this hyped-up tournament, right up there with the need to split the heavyweight division so that size does not become the  inordinate factor in determining who wins or loses.

Our no-brainer vote goes with Frank Mir. Why? Well, he has the skills, smarts and spirit of what MMA is all about for starters.  Which leads us to believe that beyond MMA pugilism, Mir has a future as an MMA commentator, the wry trash talking schtick notwithstanding.  Brock Lesnar is a contender, but he still has a long way to go before he, pound-for-pound, starts matching the mettle of fighters like Mir and Couture et al.

“(Brock Lesnar) wants to smash me to smithereens and put his fist down my throat, which I understand. But I want to choke him unconscious until he does the fish on the ground.” Frank Mir mouthing off about UFC 100 at the Arnold Classic 2009 Expo.  Oi vei!

But the beauty of UFC 100 is that beyond representin’,  Mir  could pull off an upset of Lesnar by yet another submission. He just has to find a way to weather the initial barrage that Lesnar may unleash on him. If Mir can find a way to inflict punishing leg kicks on Lesnar’s without being grounded and pounded, then he will have a tool that may just win him the fight. Without full leg power and balance, Lesnar’s explosiveness in the stand-up game would not be possible. But the strategy is fraught with all kinds of dangers for Mir as UFC 81 demonstrated. The moment Mir tried to kick Lesnar’s leg, he got grounded and pounded almost into oblivion. Most fighters tend to leave themselves open to immediate counter-attack not to mention momentary loss of balance in average kick situations. Lyoto Machida has a way to deal with this. Firstly, he delivers his kicks from way out of the strike zone. And secondly he employs tremendous speed and retracts his leg immediately upon impact to regain instant balance.

Mir’s other vulnerability lies in possibly getting caught by one of Lesnar’s iron fists and losing his wits. The Lesnar right hand, that knocked Heath Herring on his ass and tumbled him like a bowling pin,  is still awe-inspiring in its power, speed and sinewy reach. Check the slow motion replay of that blow and you will become an instant believer in how dangerous Lesnar can be on his feet. Notice how his feet for the perfect spring-board for that reach. It’s almost as if Herring didn’t have the time to block that right hand or get out of the way.

Mir will be particularly vulnerable in the average  ground-and-pound situation because of Lesnar’s amazing strength. This is why Mir needs  tremendous  strength to be able to wiggle out of  dangerous mount situations Heath Herring-style. Mir nearly lost UFC 81 when Lesnar took him down at will and started raining those knuckled bricks upon his head. The video is still a thriller to watch.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wunderkind, Frank Mir.

The sangfroid of a chessmaster & stealth of an anaconda - Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wunderkind and all round Mr. Nice Guy, Frank Mir: The Nogueria fight proved that he is no softie when it comes to decking formidable opponents on cue. On the side, UFC & Dana White could use his candid & perceptive style of fight analysis.

Endgame Scenarios: Do not get us wrong. We think Mir will fight a nervy,  smart fight and never fall into the trap of trying to out-Brock Brock Lesnar:  i.e. rushing him Tank Abott style or trying to land a Liddell-style haymaker. Beyond his own strength and conditioning,  Mir is gonna need a couple of mistakes on the part of Lesnar to open the door for him. And given Lesnar’s  inexperience, there is a good chance that he will open that door once or twice. (While on the subject we here at Cyberaxis would give a lot to find out what kind of a chin Lesnar has on that thick neck of his. A well placed blow, right on the button like the  shot that  brought down Gonzaga will answer that question in a Las Vegas second.  But we digress.  Mir ain’t no Carwin and Lesnar ain’t no Gonzaga.)

Lesnar’s strategic challenges  are not as diminutive as they may appear at first. The question of the night is, does he rush Mir and bounce him off the octagon  floor the way he did Heath Herring  at the beginning of  UFC 87 or does he settle for feeling him out until a great attack  opportunity presents itself? If he settles for the rope-a-dope or odd mount fight that he had with Herring, our money is on Frank Mir to put a sneaky kibosh on the Brock’s ass . Short of Lesnar making some stupid mistake in the first round, Mir’s best strategy beyond inflicting punishing leg kicks, would to evade or smother Lesnar’s power in the earlier rounds and then moving in on him like an anaconda. Yep. Lesnar does need choking, before being relegated to the Butterbean realm of the super heavyweight division.

Skill Over Size: Frank Mir puts the kibosh on Brock Lesnar in UFC 81 and temporarily quietens the waters roiled by Brock Lesnar's fast tracked ascension to heavyweight championship.

Skill Over Size: Frank Mir puts the kibosh on Brock Lesnar in UFC 81 and temporarily quietens the waters roiled by Brock Lesnar's fast tracked ascension to heavyweight championship.

See update to this story under “UFC 100 Postmortem” below. The full video of the fight can for the time being be located at regretfulmorning.com here.

Appendices:

The Trouble With Frank Mir: Divergent ways of dealing with post fight trauma (Cyberaxis) – Brand New Post –

Frank Mir needs to learn to keep his mouth shut (Cyberaxis)

Lesnar vs Carwin in UFC 106: The next step in the ascent of Brock Lesnar (Cyberaxis)

UFC 100 Post-mortem: Brock Lesnar pummels Frank Mir into a bloody mess (Full video – while it lasts) (Cyberaxis)

Why UFC 104 with Machida vs Jackson would have eclipsed UFC 100 (Cyberaxis)

copyright© 2009 cyberaxis.wordpress.com

Spam-and-scam artists attacking Craigslist computer/electronic classifieds for Chinese websites


“Barton understood the common denominator in people –  that most people can be appealed to at their basic core:  Greed.” (MSNBC American Greed)

A chintzy internet scam with apparent ties to the Chinese mainland seems to be metastasizing throughout the web while attacking Craigslist world-wide with bot generated spam. But in the wider scheme of things, Craigslist doesn’t seem to be the only target. Reports from the web indicate that the racket runs the whole gamut from computers to colon cleansing concoctions. Backed by flashy-but-trashy looking websites, and the promise of electronics and designer doodads for the price of a song, the scam is spawning new websites,  even as old ones get shut down or compromised by internet watchdogs.

Craigslist HQ Logo

Craigslist.Org H.Q. in San Francisco, CA: The free ads upstart that has become carrion for internet spam-and-scam vultures. The irony of this is that these vultures would have nothing to feed on if Craigslist had no wherewithal to restrain them and thereby sustain itself and the vibrant marketplace it has engendered.

The Ultimate Perplex: Despite what one would consider common sense on top of prominent warnings by Craigslist and anti-scam websites, people are still being scammed and ripped off with promises of cheap electronics, shoes, clothes, and accessories. And by cheap we mean goods that are being advertised at 33% of what they would otherwise cost in a legit store.

The trend boggles the mind until one realizes that the scammers are relying on the greed, ignorance and the relative naivety of internet newbies  to provide them with a fresh “meat”. And they increase their chances by spawning more websites and spamming everything from Craigslist classifieds to its community forums. This  trend represents a subversion of internet-driven entrepreunerialism (characterized by low overheads) and Chris Anderson’s long tail economics.

Cyberaxis first became aware of the growing problem in early February of 2009 when evidence of spam-and-scam infiltration became highly visible on the computers and electronic classifieds of the New York and San Francisco webpages of Craigslist. There has since been evidence of an ebb and flow to the infiltration with Craigslist and the spammers deploying measures and counter-measures  with varying degrees of success.

Craigslist is (a bit) like the old Soviet Union. They rule with an iron fist of censorship but they are also slow to respond.  (Kokomo, CL Apple/Mac Forums 11/03/09)

To date, company sources and analysts say spam has just been a nuisance, but  the implications of even moderate success on the part of spammers can have ominous implications for Craigslist.   Check out “Inside Craigslist’s Increasingly Complex Battle Against Spammers” by John Nagle.  Could this be the Capitalist’s revenge by proxy?

The Two-headed Monster – Spamming & Scaming:  Spam is nothing new to Craigslist but there is a difference between spamming and jamming. Spamming debases the Craigslist user experience by filling the classifieds with redundant, useless or non-local ads. And jamming takes it to a whole new level by flooding local classifieds with spam to a point where the locals almost give up on finding local ads because of the need to wade through endless spam crap to get to them.

This should be the first tip-off as to the motives of  spammers currently jamming the  New York computer/electronic classifieds and trying their darndest to infiltrate the flagship San Francisco website.

To get a perspective on things, you really have to think like a local who just wants to buy a used widget from your neighbor Bob or someone across town.  Now given that scenario, are you gonna trust a spammer, two continents removed, just because they are selling a MacBook Pro for the price of a song? Are you gonna trust someone who doesn’t leave you or your neighbor Bob  space to advertise your wares in your own local classifieds? Hold onto the  thought if you haven’t gotten the gist of this yet.

Letter to Cyberaxis from Craigslist user, Jay, 11/06/09

I have just been scammed by these A$$H01E$!! at http://myelecshops.com/ !!

I knew that it was to good to be true before I did it, but I decided to gamble anyway. Well, I lost.  After I sent the required $300 to them, I received an e-mail saying that they had received the maximum amount of money for the year, and  could not accept any more Western Union payments.  So I went to Western Union and they said  they couldn’t  do anything  about it at that point.

I am not complaining because I knew going into this that this was probably too good to be true. Don’t do like I did. Please follow the old advice; “If it seems to be good to be true,  it usually is.”

Jay, Craigslist User, (See other  responses at end this article)

The spammers currently attacking Craigslist have been reported to be scammers,  and with each wave of bot-generated spam, they have become emboldened to the point of rubbing Craigslist’s nose in it.  (And Craigslist, which seemed caught up in its own annus horribilis with the Phillip Markoff/Julissa Brisman cause celebre,  seemed relatively powerless to do anything at the time. We could not blame them. The legal, human and P.R. stakes associated with the  case were just too high to ignore. But we digress.) The scammers involved in the current attack on Craigslist seem to be based in China, the location of scam website servers notwithstanding.  (The actual servers could actually be off-shore or anywhere in the world.) The  waxing-and-waning evidence seems all over the New York computer/electronic classifieds.

The  San Francisco computer/electronic classifieds have not yet succumbed to the onslaught because of the vigilance of the flagging community in San Francisco. But the flaggers will,  sooner or later,  need more than a wish and a prayer from Craigslist before flagger-fatigue sets in. The section intermittently gets cornered, with sporadic breaches  being made, especially at night when the flagging hordes are asleep. There is always the hypothetical chance of the site being over-run (like the New York or Toronto sites at points in the past) which would be the cyber-equivalent of the parasite killing the host.

UPDATE (As of 8/23/09) Whether the recovery/cleaning up of the New York website is the result of new CL filters or more aggressive flagging on the part of New York Craigslisters  is not yet clear. Bottom-line: The problem persists. There is also new evidence as of October 2009, of the Toronto computer classifieds being hit.

The big question: Now if spam-and-scam artists can hit Craigslist at will like this, what is there to stop the anti-Craigslist lobby from hitting it across the board with nonsense postings just to undermine its free ads platform and promote competing schemes? (Read that monetized alternatives.)

Think of the Craigslist user in affected areas. Where do they go right now if they want to browse or post in the computers and or electronics section? Get the point?

Partial list  Craigslist sites that have been hit: (Look for this to change from time to time)

San Francisco Computers and Electronics Classifieds

New York Computers and Electronics Classifieds

Los Angeles Computers and Electronics Classifieds

Chicago Computers and Electronics Classifieds

Atlanta Computers and Electronics Classifieds

Boston Computers and Electronics Classifieds

Toronto Computers Classifieds

You can usually identify the scam ads by the unusually low prices and idiosyncratic or nonsensical location information. The write-ups are usually cut and dried and look like they were copied and pasted from product write-ups from company or manufacturer web pages. They are done in about the same style and layout.

Blanket Warning to Craigslist Users: Do not send money to these spammers-and-scammers. Check out a verbatim post out of Miami Dade Craigslist:

________________________________________________________

south florida craigslist > miami / dade > computers & tech

Avoid scams and fraud by dealing locally! Beware any deal involving Western Union, Moneygram, wire transfer, cashier check, money order, shipping, escrow, or any promise of transaction protection/certification/guarantee . More info
DO NOT WIRE MONEY  TO JIANHUAN GUAN FROM WWW.SERVICE158.COM. IT’S A SCAM (CHINA)

Reply to: sale-ktyrz-1137774825@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?] Date: 2009-04-24, 10:14AM EDT
http://www.service158.com is a scam. I wired hundreds of dollars on purchases from their website they only accept wires so I wired them the money I never heard from them ever again and they never sent my products it was a scam! If you see their posting flag them we have to keep them out of our craigslist community and if anybody by the name of JianHuan Guan asks you to wire money to him/her do not do it this was the person that scammed me. He might had changed the website name because other people have also posted that they’ve been scammed by this same seller. He can change his website name and even his fake American name he use as a representative JianHuan Guan calls himself Chris but his real name cannot be changed because wires require you use a government ID to prove your identity in order to claim money wired to him and his real name is JianHuan Guan! Do not wire a penny to him he’s a scammer with a professional website that doesn’t send what you purchased from him.

  • Location: CHINA
  • it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

PostingID: 1137774825          Copyright © 2009 craigslist, inc.

_____________________________________________________

Craigslist Spam and Scam List: Please do not buy from or interact with these scammers! The contact information of these apparent spam-and-scam websites is maintained here as cautionary registry. Please do your own research via Google and other search engines to reach your own conclusions.

The New Hide & Seek Trick: While most will put out their contact information right inside the ad, a few have started withholding that information in the hope that you will reply to their baited ads with your true e-mail address. Some newer websites are posting without phone numbers or physical addresses or what passes for them.

Notice how they use the same chintzy template. Someone who is really familiar with China should do some basic research into the addresses presented on this list and do a corresponding write-up. Some, if not all, are probably fake or made up, but it would be interesting to find out from someone who is familiar with the lay of the land.

Please have updated security and anti-malware software before clicking on these websites, if at all. (You can get free versions of AVG or Avira Antivir from the web as part of your security net.) Some of the spam-and-scam websites on Craigslist have have been reported by Google as attack websites – which is really  great public service. See the Google advisory on Safe Browsing towards the end of this post. And FYI, you can read more about malware and virus disseminating websites at stopbadware.org and related site you can find via Google.

Please Note:  Most of these websites may be now be defunct as the result of being jammed or closed down by official or unofficial action.

1. http://www.rich-deal.com (Probably defunct)
MSN:r.ichdeal@hotmail.com”>r.ichdeal@hotmail.com
Email:r.ichdeal@yahoo.com”>r.ichdeal@yahoo.com
Address: No. 88 East of Quinghua’s Rd
Haidian District, Beijing, China.
Tel: 0086-010-83270641

2. http://www.service158.com/ (Probably defunct)
MSN: service.158@hotmail.com
Mail: servce188@yahoo.com
Tel: 0086-010-83250647
Address: 2307 Yuanyangshiji, Haidian District.
Beijing, China.
Tel: 0086-010-83250647

3.  http://bargaineb.com/ (Probably defunct)
Address: No. 108 YuanYangKeji Haidian District
Beijing, China.
MSN: bargaineb@hotmail.com
Mail: bargaineb@yahoo.com
Tel: 0086-010-86199634

4.  http://ebchain.com/ (Probably defunct)
Address: No. 108 YuanYangKeji Haidian District,
Beijing, China.
MSN: ebchain@hotmail.com
Mail: e.bchain@yahoo.com
Tel: 0086-010-83270634

5.  http://iseller168.com/ (Probably defunct)
Address: Room 2018, SongGang Mansion,
Bao An District Guangdon 518105, China.
MSN: iseller1688@hotmail.com
Email: iseller1688@hotmail.com
Tel: 0086-010-86263601

6.  http://captin-b2b.com/ (Probably defunct)
Address: No. 2307 Yuanyangshiji Haidian District,
Beijing,  China.
MSN: captin-b2b@hotmail.com
E-mail: c.aptinb2b@yahoo.com
Tel: 0086-010-81863897

7.  http://olx118.com/ (Probably defunct)
Address: Room 2013, Zhongguancun Mansion,
Hai Dian District Beijing 100088, China
MSN: olx118@hotmail.com
Email: olx118@yahoo.com
Tel: 0086-010-86263601

8.  http://export-sell.com/ (Probably defunct)
Address: No 2307 Yuanyangshiji Haidian District,
Beijing, China.
MSN: export-sell@hotmail.com
E-mail: e.xportsell@yahoo.com
Tel: 0086-010-81898105

9. http://www.tutvw.com/ (Probably defunct)
MSN: tutvw@hotmail.com
Email: tu.tv_w@yahoo.com
Address: No. 118 Dongshong Street,
East City Region, Beijing, China.
Tel: 0086-010-81155361
Tel: 0086-010-86360794

10. http://www.wto198.com/
MSN: wto-198@hotmail.com
Address: No 2 Donghuan Road, Tai Hu Town,
TongZhou, Beijing, China
Tel: 0086-0377-66978060
Tel: 0086-010-89869000
Address: No 24 198 Lane, Silk Factory Road,
Nanyang City, Henan Province, Beijing, China.

11. http://www.ebay188.com/ (Probably defunct)
Address: Room 2018, SongGang Masion, Bao An District,
Guangdon 518105, China.
MSN: e.bay188.com
Email: e.bay188@yahoo.com
Tel: 0086-010-86263601

12. Webpage: http://www.hi8888.com/ (Probably defunct)
Address: Room 2018,  SongGang Mansion,
Bao An District, Guangdong 518105, China
E-mail/MSN: hi88.88@hotmail.com
MSN: laptops.8@hotmail.com or electronics8@hotmail.com
Tel: 0086-010-86263601

13.www.stores-seller.com (Probably defunct)
http://www.stores-seller.com/
MSN: stores.seller@hotmail.com
E-mail: s.toresseller@yahoo.com
Tel: 0086-010-85925754
Address: No. 108 YuanYangKeJi,
Haidian District, Beijing China.

14. www.fair-cheap.com (Probably defunct)
http://www.fair-cheap.com/productinfo.asp?id=5956
MSN: faircheap@hotmail.com
E-mail: faircheap@yahoo.com
Tel: 0086-010-85925784
Address: No. 108 YuanYangkeji
Haidian District, Beijing, China

15.www.store-hot.com (Probably defunct)
http://www.store-hot.com/
MSN: store.hot@hotmail.com
E-mail:s.torehot@yahoo.com
Tel: 0086-010-859265
Address: No 10 Huayuandonglu,
Haidian District, Beijing, China.

16. www.well-deals.com (Probably defunct)
http://www.well-deals.com/
MSN: welldeals@hotmail.com
E-mail: welldeals@yahoo.com
Tel: 0086-010-85925765
Address: No 118 Dongzhong St.
East City Region, Beijing, China.

17.  http://www.yebyshop.com/ (Probably defunct)
Address: No. 108 YuanYankeji
Haidian District, Beijing, China
Tel: 0086-010-85925754
MSN: yebyshop@hotmail.com
E-mail: yebyshop@yahoo.com

18.  www.etcvictor.com (Apparently defunct)
MSN: etcvictor@hotmail.com
Mail: etc victor@yahoo.com
Tel: 0086-010-85925797

19. www.fair118.com (Apparently defunct)
MSN: fair118@hotmail.com
E-mail: fair_118@yahoo.com
20.  www.buy-2009.com
MSN: buy-2009@msn.com
Email: buy2009@188.com
Address: Room 2013 Zhongguancun Mansion,
Hai Dian District, BeiJing 100088, China

21.www.latest-sell.com (Probably defunct)
MSN: latest-sell@hotmail.com
Email: latest.sell@yahoo.com
Address: Room 2013, Zhongguancun Mansion,
Hai Dian District, BeiJing 100088, China

22. http://www.ripe-deal.com/ (Probably defunct)
MSN: ripedeal@hotmail.com
MAIL: ripedeal@yahoo.com
TEL: 0086-010-85926554
Address: No. 88 East of Qinghua’s Road,
Haidian District, Beijing, China

23. http://www.sage-buy.com (This  has been reported as an attack website.)
MSN: sagebuyl@hotmail.com
MAIL: ripedeal@yahoo.com
TEL: 0086-010-89887994

Newer Websites

24. http://toptog.com/company.asp?id=5
Business Manager: Amy Chen
Business MSN: toptog2008@hotmail.com
E-mail: toptog2008@gmail.com
Notice the lack of purported brick-and-mortar address or phone number. This is a new twist.

File this non-electronic website one under “highly suspect” for not having a physical address and a phone number (verified or otherwise) and relentlessly spamming Craigslist forums  on top of  steering prospective “customers” towards questionable payment schemes without a verified brick and mortar location or verified professional association. the same shady payment schemes.  This website is listed as a spammer at blacklisted.spambag.org. Their supposed “sales people” offer extra discounts if you buy lots of stuff and  send your money via Western Union . Automatic red flag right there!

They do take credit cards even though they try and steer new customers towards Paypal (Another red flag). Their credit card information window asks you to give  out all your information, which can lead to an outright rip-off or identity theft when you are dealing with a company that does not have a verified physical address, phone number or professional affiliation. You are basically sending your vital credit information to a nameless, faceless company, thousands and thousands of miles removed from home.

25. http://www.35usd.com/index.asp
Company:      TANGCHAO Trading Co. Ltd
ADD: FUZHOU ,FUJIAN,CHINA
MSN :     love35usd@hotmail.com
Email:  love35usd@gmail.com
(Please note that this website has the same model and scheme as http://www.toptog.com)

Here is their payment instruction for 35usd.com quoted verbatim, typos and all:

In order to protect our customer’s interest and avoice scame, we  accept paypal as payment. If you want pay by Western Union,pls contact our live chat  to get our payment info,then you need to do:
1. Find a local client of Western Union. You can visit http://www.westernunion.com , on which you will know how to do and where your local agent of western union.
2. Fill our information of Western Union in a Tabel and send the money.
3. After you send the money,you will be given a receipt,in which you will see the MTCN (Money Transfer Control No.). Please tell me the MTCN.That will be OK.

26.  http://www.waredeal.com/
Address: No 10 Huayuandonglu Haidian District,
Beijing, China,
Tel: 0086-010-89887994
MSN: waredeal@hotmail.com
E-mail: ware_deal@yahoo.com

27. 27. http://www.mutualshops.com/
Address: No. 108 YuanYangKeji, Haidian District,
Beijing, China
MSN: mutualshops@hotmail.com
E-mail: mutualshops@yahoo.com
Tel: 0086-010-85926585

28. http://www.deal-bar.com/
Address: No. 3 Dongzhimen South St.
Dongcheng District, Beijing, China
MSN: deal-bar@hotmail.com
E-mail: dealbar1888@yahoo.com
Tel: 0086-010-85926578

29.   http://www.tops-bargain.com/
Address: No 10 Huayuandonglu Haidian District,
Beijing, China, Tel: 0086-010-85925797
MSN: topsbargain@hotmail.com
E-mail: topsbargain@yahoo.com

30.  http://www.eshoppingsky.com
MSN: eshoppingsky@hotmail.com
MAIL: eshoppingsky@yahoo.com
TEL: 0086-010-85925764
NOTE: There is no physical address given (for what its worth).

31.  www.happyuse.com (Probably defunct)
MSN: happyuse6@hotmail.com
E-MAIL: happyuse6@yahoo.com
Tel: 0086-010-86263601

32.  www.elecstrading.com
MSN: electstrading@hotmail.com
E-MAIL: elecstrading@yahoo.com

33. http://richshoping.com/

MSN: richshoping@hotmail.com

E-mail: richshping@yahoo.com

Tel: 0086-010-81818073

Address: No 13, HuaYuan Road, Haidian District, Beijing, China

33.    http://goalprofit.com/

Address: No. 6 Chaowai Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China

Tel: 0086-010-89183742

E-mail:  goalprofit@yahoo.com

MSN: goalprofit@hotmail.com

34.  http://choicestbuy.com/

Address: No 3A Dongzhimen South Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China

Tel: 0086-010-89155346

MSN: choicestbuy@hotmail.com

E-mail: choicesbuy@yahoo.com

35.  http://firm-deals.com/

Tel: 0086-010-86177041

MSN: firmdeals@hotmail.com

E-mail: firmdeals@yahoo.com

36.   http://vividsshop.com/

Mail: vividsshop@yahoo.com

MSN: vividsshop@hotmail.com

Tel: 0086-010-86350394

Address: No 36 North Third Ring Road East, Dongcheng District, Beijing, China.


The names of these fraudulent websites may change but their basic modus operandi remains the same. They are virtual copies of each other (Same or similar software & interface). We wouldn’t be surprised if they are put up by the same individual or group of individuals. Look for new ones to crop up as older ones get outed, busted or closed down.

Red flags & some useful pointers for investigating these scam websites:

1. Check  prices of  goods being advertised. If they are too good to be true, they probably are.  Remember behind every bait-and-switch scam is a naked hook. The real catch they are angling for is your money.

2. Check the Whois database for the names, places and contact information associated with the company and or website. What e-mails are associated with the website? Are they free e-mail accounts from Yahoo or Hotmail?(Red flag right there. Reputable companies tend to have company e-mail tied into company websites and domains. Fly-by-night scamsters tend to rely on free e-mails which they can dispose of on the fly.)

3. Check the period of registration in the Whois database. Is it a long-term registration or simply a one year registration? (Red flag. Fly by night scamsters opt for shorter registrations to allow them to ditch any website that gets outed.)

4. Check the preferred method of payment for goods. Requests to wire money or use Western Union made out to an individual as opposed to a company should be an instant red flag. Craigslist clearly warns people against the Western Union moneygram thing.

5. Check Google for other reports and reviews about the company, including what Google has archived in cache form. If the collective reports are negative, hold onto your money as onto Jesus. 🙂

6. Google “Chinese scams” and read up on the reports of different kinds of scams being perpetrated. It may be  a cliche, but yes, knowledge is power.

While at it, here are more tips for verifying the authenticity of a company in China (even though language may be  something of a limiting factor):

http://resources.alibaba.com/topic/17530/Tips_for_you_to_verify_Chinese_companies_.htm

7.  Check the status of the website your are researching on sites like www.sitetruth.com.

8. Finally, any company that is unscrupulous enough to spam Craigslist the way these Chinese websites have spammed Craigslist is probably not gonna be scrupulous about not screwing  you out of your money. Their eggregious intrusions speak volumes about their ethics and concerns for the locals beyond their shores.

The Wider World of Spam and Scam-ology: The Postini map below shows that  scam’s are a world wide phenomenon with continental and regional clusters with common characteristics. They  spread quickly within regional underworlds. The Chinese model targets people in ways that are  somewhat different from the Nigerian and European scams. The use of a crude but flashy website with unbelievably low prices, represents a sub-type that has metastasized quickly among operatives on or off the mainland. (Where mutual greed is involved, language and or cultural barriers are rarely a deterrent. European and Nigerian scammers have proved that beyond a shadow of doubt.)

The spam-and-scam list on this blog is thus  a minuscule tip of the iceberg. For more information on the wider world of  Chinese scammers please check out these two websites:

1. “The bigger list of Chinese Scams”:

http://www.firetrust.com/en/blog/chris/the-bigger-list-of-chinese-scams

Scroll down to the bottom of the page for an exhaustive list of scam websites that have been included for one reason or another. The criteria are mentioned in the article. This list is very helpful as a starting point of your own research. Caveat: The  “Firetrust.Com” webpate is  linked to a commercial product called “Sitehound”  which is  an anti-scamming toolbar. It comes in two versions: The basic version which is free and the enhanced version which  is being sold for $29.95.  We are not necessarily endorsing this product. You can read up on it on Google and make up your own mind as to  whether it is a valuable investment to you.

2. Fraud Watchers website:

http://www.fraudwatchers.org/

3.  Scam-checker website

http://scamchecker.net/website-scam-checklist.html

4.  Have security software on your computer that will detect attack  sites that may have malicious ware downloaded onto your computer without your knowledge. One such site that was blocked by Google for suspicious activity in September of 2009 was  sage-buy.com.

Please Note: We will update this list as new websites and contact information becomes available. Meanwhile, you can read the other  Cyberaxis article on the spam-and-scam problem here.

World spam activity map. Source: Postini Inc.

World spam activity map. Source: Postini Inc.

copyright© 2009 cyberaxis.wordpress.com

Appendices:

Feds seize 150 websites in counterfeit crackdown (Alicia Caldwell, Associated Press – USA Today, November 28, 2011)

 

China Scams (Hobotraveler.Com) Reported examples of people scammed.

How to check a Chinese scam site

Craigslist computer and electronic classifieds in New York San Francisco under bot spam attacks (Cyberaxis)

Beware of Craigslist Scams: CBS Video

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4858957n

Chinese Scammers Launch New Offensive by Lain Thompson

Inside Craigslist’s Increasingly Complicated Battle Against Spammers

Internet Crime Complaint Center