Category Archives: Scams

FYI: Web scams spin-off

Sorry this is a boring post!  An Alaska adventure is coming up which should make for fun reading when I get back.

While I’ve found exploring web-scams to be quite intriguing, you might prefer more variety in your reading.  So I’ve moved those posts to my new blog Web Scammer Jammer that’s dedicated to exposing web scams.  But I’m leaving copies of my LUX HD450 phone lens posts here in Travels, Tinkering and Thoughts, because they’re linked to a Facebook page that’s helped a lot of people avoid that scam.

 

LUX HD450 clip-on phone lens; irate customers

Here is a summary of incidents I’ve been told about in replies to my posts about this lens set.  Most replied to my initial post about this product on WordPress; others posted to the “Skeptics” Facebook page I created about the product.  Some people reported more than one of these incidents.

incidents

spider-linkResearched, decided not to order; 8 people.  Good for you!  Reasons given included the countdown timer on the vendor’s website, the pressure to buy multiple units, blurry images of credit cards on the order form and unbelievable reviews.

  • “Did some digging to find some reviews and found exactly what you found; a bunch of vague overenthusiastic posts on a bunch of ‘planted’ web sites.”
  • “Everybody, please do due diligence when shopping for any products, online or face-to-face!! Much easier to keep your money safe and in your account if you don’t click that online link and fall innocent prey to these unscrupulous online scammer con-artists lowlifes!”

Read post, decided not to order; 16 people.

  • “THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! They almost got me. Will spread the word.”

I’m glad I was able to help.  Typically, about 4% of people respond to a query.  So I’m hoping that my posts dissuaded 400 (or many more) people from getting entangled with the HD450 outfit, and generally encouraged consumer wariness toward the Internet.

Read post, cancelled order; 1 person.  Shad o’Hayes managed to reverse the charge after reading the post.

  • “As soon as it clears, the B of A is going after them, hopefully with snarling bulldogs.”

Unexpected/unauthorized charges; 5 people.  These stories told of a combination of bait-and-switch marketing, mysterious charges and delivery of unordered products.  Several people were confused and thought their problems might be their own fault.  But to me it looks like confusion is a strategy of the HD450 outfit.

  • “I just purchased this product but found I was billed for five of the items when I know I purchased only one. In addition, I was charged $72 for a warranty, that they called an upgrade.”
  • “I thought … that I would be paying 29.95 only to find out that would be the cost for each item if you ordered 5 (very fine print). I contacted the company and was told … the cost for one box was 58.00 and since there was an error I didn’t have to pay for the shipping and handling. to my suprise not only was I charged 85.00 (shipping and handling) for the product but I was also sent 5 items and was charged 185.00. (double charged).”

BTW, Amazon sells the same lenses for $9.99 plus shipping.  You’ll deal with a reliable company, and you’ll only have to buy one set to get that price.  But, as they’re identical, the lenses from Amazon are no better than the overpriced ones from HD450.

Poor service; 3 people.  Service seems to get especially poor once they have your money.

  • “My card was charged at two locations. Said I would be getting an email receipt with information within a few minutes. Still haven’t heard from them via email. No answer calling customer service for two days. Finally got a real person who said he would see I got an email right away. Nope. I’m beginning to doubt there actually is a product.”

Received product; 2 people.  Delivery is slow, and the product is toy-quality at best.  Review to come.

Critical Facebook post was deleted; 2 people.  When I started looking into this product, the HD450 outfit had a “fan club” Facebook page.  Facebook’s TOS requires that pages that appear to host user discussions about a product not be owned by the vendor.  Wildlife photographer Lee Duer and I posted critical comments on it; they were promptly deleted.  So I created a “Skeptics” Facebook page to host real customer posts where the vendor couldn’t censor them.  The “fan club” page soon disappeared.

“Infuriates me that these low-lifes get off with no consequences on taking folks’ hard-earned money!”  My feelings exactly.  There’s nothing practical we can do about HD450 and the like but warn each other and learn.  Buyer beware.

If you’re already a victim, here are some thoughts about getting your money back.


Related posts

LUX HD450; beware the laughing bearded man

spider-linkIf you’re researching the LUX HD450 clip-on phone lens, I’ll tell you up front; I don’t recommend the lens or the company selling it.

One of the LUX HD450 websites you might land on features an impressive signed statement by Lead Technologist Simon Greig, based in Suttgart; his photo is above.

I wondered.  Could a company whose headquarters is a post-office box really have a Technologist?  A Lead Technologist (implying that he supervises a team of Lesser Technologists)?  In Suttgart (implying that LUX HD450 has a laboratory or something cool like that in Germany)?  Wow!

Let’s have some fun with a different kind of Google search.  You can upload a photo to Google, search on it, and get a list of web pages in which the picture appears.  It turns out that photos of the laughing bearded man are for sale on a number of image websites like Shutterstock and Dreamtime.  What an interesting man Lead Technologist Simon Greig is to have a second career as a model.

Now here’s an intriguing result.  The laughing bearded man has also given a testimonial for LuxQue, which describes itself as “A boutique real estate marketing firm.”  But the testimonial is signed “Alex P., Pulatani Builders.”

And here’s an even more intriguing result.  David Cowen, Lead Engineer for Infernal Lighter (an electric lighter for cigs or whatever) looks just like Simon Greig!  And this website is just like the LUX HD450 website, right down to the Order From that once you enter you cannot escape save by closing the browser tab.

And, now, the Twilight Zone result.  A photographer coincidentally named Simon Greig includes this copyrighted photo in his Shutterstock portfolio of pictures for sale.  His description; “An adult male in his early forties with a full beard wearing a jacket and shirt. He is laughing.”

If Greig were marketing a picture of himself with this description, he’d be a funny man indeed.

If you’re already a victim, here are some thoughts about getting your money back.


Related posts

LUX HD450; bad company

spider-linkIf you’re researching the LUX HD450 clip-on phone lens, I’ll tell you up front; I don’t recommend the lens or the company selling it.  

The photo above shows the headquarters of the LUX HD450 Company on 6/9/16.  Okay, lots of legitimate home businesses use mailboxes.  But stick with me; I have more.

Many hands, one mailbox

Let’s google the address, “2658 Del Mar Heights Rd #368”, and see what else was going on here on Friday, 6/10/16:

  • Garcinia Slim Fast (also, a Ripoff Report on this product)
  • Elite Test360 (also, a Ripoff Report on this product)
  • PrimalCut
  • Jacked Muscle Xtreme
  • Natural Medicines
  • RippedMuscle
  • Miracle Green Coffee

Looks like this enterprise is not primarily a photographic equipment supplier.  I see many references in these pages to Delux Advertising LLC, which is tied to several other companies. (Thanks to David Staub for suggesting this address search.)

Web site comedy

If you click on a LUX HD450 advertisement or a “Buy it now” link in a product review, you’ll likely land on this web page.  Turn your sound down, because it’ll blast you with techno music.  Nice video.  Now let’s look more closely at the content (as of 6/10/16).  (Per their terms of usage, I’m not permitted to include images from the site.)

  • The first paragraph begins with the words “(Michael Whitfield)” as if he were the reporter.  But I couldn’t find anybody by that name online who is a journalist or is involved in photography.
  • Third paragraph; “It automatically filters your picture to the perfect setting, and works in every time of day including the night.”  But the lens looks clear; it must be quite a subtle filter, if it’s a filter at all.  Filters block part of the incoming light, so they wouldn’t be much help in the dark.  And pictures don’t have settings; cameras do.
  • “Christie from Dallas went backpacking last summer …”  I wonder how Christie recharged her phone in the backcountry?  This is fiction; that’s how.  Check the disclaimers at the bottom of the page: “The story depicted on this site and the person depicted in the story are not actual news.”  I’m guessing the same applies to the tweeted eulogies further down the page.
  • The lens brand comparison chart has a scientific look about it.  But who created it?  What are its sources?  As for the advice “Grab your set before the low introductory price is raised,” I found the same product sold by SMU Global on Amazon for $9.99.  The printing on the rims of the lenses, such as “0.67x Wide,” matches exactly.

Most of the links on the website lead to the order form, no matter what their labels say.  Home?  Order form.  Learn more?  Order form.  Once you land on the Order Form you can’t escape it by clicking your browser’s back-button.  You have to close the browser tab.

But About takes you to another advertising website.  The bottom of this page boasts “Made by LUXHD Cameras.”  Google and LinkedIn turned up no evidence that such a company exists.  If you click Home in this website, you’ll see a page with a photo of completely different lenses.  They’re also labeled “LUX HD450;” and here I thought “450” was a model number.  This website disables your back-button, too.

Fun with terms and conditions

In the lower right hand corner of the original website page, click a link labeled Terms And Conditions.  The self-obfuscating “LUX HD450 Terms Of Sale & Use” rewards the labor of reading it with some entertainment:

  • Section 3 limits the final resolution of a dispute to binding arbitration; you give up your right to go to court or join a class-action lawsuit.
  • Section 4B says that the company can take money from your charge account before it accepts your order.  Only when they ship your order do they accept it.
  • Section 4E says you can request a refund at any time — as long as it’s within 30 days of the date you made your order (not the date you received the product).
  • Section G says the company would treat a reversal of credit card charges as “theft.”  And it warns that the company monitors your online activity to use as evidence against you.  (I can see the NSA doing this, but not these guys.)
  • Section 5, by which time you may have fallen asleep, says the website’s content is for illustrative and informational purposes only.  They don’t guarantee that the product meets their own specifications, that it’s suitable for any use, that the website is correct and complete, etc.  However, Section 7E requires that any information you provide must be correct and complete.
  • Section 7D forbids you to re-sell products you buy on the website, even tho you’re pressured to buy three or more sets of lenses to get the $29-per-unit advertised price.

In upcoming posts, I’ll write about customer buying experiences and my own evaluation of the lenses.

If you’re already a victim, here are some thoughts about getting your money back.


Related posts

LUX HD450 phone lens; I’m calling it a scam

spider-linkAfter dragging my clunky DSLR around on a vacation trip on which I used my iPhone 6 instead, I thought “Why doesn’t Apple forget about their goofy watches and make a serious camera instead?”  Then, on Facebook, I saw an ad for a set of lenses that clamp onto your “device” to turn it into a serious camera.

The ad linked to the manufacturer’s web page, which included an intriguing video.  But as I scrolled down, the first red flag went up; they want $29 for three lenses?

being a cautious pessimist, I wanted to see some reviews.  Googling “Lux HD450 review,” I found a lot of them.  Strangely, they were all on web sites I’ve never heard of.  They were without exception wildly enthusiastic, yet vague.  They all repeated the manufacturers’ claims, and none of them mentioned any tests or formal evaluations.  One of them used the same images as appeared in the manufacturer’s web page.  Another was in broken English.  theReviewNerd.com claimed that the lens gives your device X-ray vision, enabling it to photograph women naked thru their clothes.  Credulous people who want to harass women and who didn’t pass physics in high school might believe that one.

The same post quoted raves from three print publications, including linked images of their covers –Time, Digital Photographer and Digital SLR Photography.  These magazines are understandably close with their archives.  However, I determined that the Time cover image doesn’t correspond to any real Time cover published in August 2015.  Also, the post claimed that the quoted rave is from Time’s August 2015 issue–but Time is a weekly magazine.  Clicking on the cover image, I got “Error 400 / Campaign data was not completing when handling click or visit.”  Am I reading in Nigerian now?

I moved on to Amazon, which posts user reviews of products it carries.  But Amazon doesn’t carry the LUX HD450.  I checked some other sites I trust; Digital Photography Review, CNet and PC Magazine had no information about this super-lens.  Neither did Snopes.  Too bad; a good debunk would at least be entertaining.

Why so many rave reviews for such a dubious product?  Payola. The bottom of the original web page advises, “THIS PAGE COULD RECEIVE COMPENSATION FOR CLICKS ON OR PURCHASE OF PRODUCTS FEATURED ON THIS SITE.”

If you try to order it, do you get anything at all?  Or do they just hack your credit card?  If anybody has had experience, good or bad, with the Lux HD450, please reply!  Thank you.


Related posts

Don’t Get Ripped Off;” A thorough take-down of these crummy lenses and their predatory marketer.

If you’re already a victim, here are some thoughts about getting your money back.


6/17/16 Call To Action: Originally I wrote “What seems to be going on here is click-farming.”  But the replies I’ve received testify to fraud and theft.  If you have a blog or a website, please make a link to these posts.  This will “google-bomb” HD450; then when people search on it, our critical information will appear higher up in the results than the fake reviews.  Also, please blog about it yourselves.  If you do, please send me the URL and I’ll put the link in my blog.  Also, we need an Instagram activist!  Thanks.


6/9/16 Update: Following my creation of a skeptics page, The LUX HD450 Fan Club Facebook page was taken down.  But pages advertising the lenses remain on Facebook.


5/26/16 Update: After Lee Duer (see replies) and I tried to post comments on the LUX HD450 “Fan Club” Facebook page only to see them deleted, I set up a Facebook page for HD50 skeptics.  Hope to see you there!

That fan club page lists an Instagram page as its website.  If someone who’s active in Instagram would set up a similar skeptics page there, it would be a public service.