by John Shirley
I have said that the internet is a wilderness, where predators roam. Sure, sex predators, spammers and scammers, but there are sites that are mostly quite reputable — and yet they host con artists. This kind of thing is “very internet.” There is a hothouse atmosphere of haste and desperation, that sizzles around finding ways to monetize websites. CNN dot com, even MSNBC online, BBC news — they’ll monetize by putting up sponsored “stories” and flatout ads, without checking the companies (or “companies”) out. In fact, cable channels do the same thing — ads for fly by night, often outright fraudulent products they should know perfectly well are bullshit…but the online links, if you accidentally click on them or are seduced to do so, are worse, because they’ve more fully drawn you into the world of their bogus ad. The initial “headline” makes it seem like an actual news or “scientific discovery” link… they’re often with a group of other links and I have three times clicked on one when trying to click on a legit link, just a slip of the finger. In one case I found myself in a website that seems to advertise something and then turned out to be a delivery system for actual ransomware/malware. I was able to defeat said ransomware, but it made me furious that it was caused by a link these ransomware scumbags had paid for at a reputable site. But that’s rarer, I think. Mostly what you end up at is fraudulent product sales, often taking advantage of the dotty elderly or poorly educated people.
This happens because CNN or CBS, whomever, has a separate sub sub sub dept that sells ads, and gets to put them up wherever, to make the website profitable, without any oversight. No one seems to vet the ads and it’s crazy irresponsible. I just ran into one that sent me to an ad for a fake substance (a fake herb, which does not appear in any legit place if you google it, I checked when I reported it to the FTC) for losing bellyfat and there was an “endorsement” by Oprah Winfrey — only, she never endorsed it. It’s really common for these online con men to have a made-up, utterly fallacious endorsement — one was for a brain enhancement pill “endorsed by Stephen Hawking”! Oh yeah, Hawking “takes it every day!” they told us. The celebs being used this way — Neil Degrasse Tyson was another — should work to take these guys down.
There is no address given for the “company” selling these goods. Just an online ordering system. By allowing scumbags to sell via their site, CNN and others — even the Raw Story — are in effect lending credibility to these con artists…One common “story” repeated with variations is about how “veterans don’t know about special twenty thousand dollar payment due them” — if you follow it, as I did once to confirm my suspicion, it’s a come-on for a company that says it’ll help you get the money, if you pay a fee. But they don’t actually exist, except as an entity taking your fee. So they’re screwing over veterans. And CNN and pals are blindly, stupidly, helping them do that. The internet’s hothouse of monetization desperation has grown some strange fungi. It has allowed in predators, or, if you like, invasive species of scammers who could be easily weeded out. But somehow the whole “anything goes on the internet” myth allows otherwise decent websites to shrug off responsibility..