Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Stealing Motobikes Via Facebook

A GROUP of teenagers, believed to be masterminds behind motorcycle thefts in the Kluang district, are using Facebook to carry out their activities.

Berita Harian reported that the syndicate held discussions and exchanged secret codes among members relating to their activities on the social networking site.

This was done to make it more difficult for the police to track them.

The Facebook account named “Belut” was open only to syndicate members and potential customers interested in purchasing their loot, which included fully-assembled motorcycles and spare parts.

Kluang district police chief Asst Commissioner Mohamed Fawzi Mohd Arshad said police uncovered the new tactic after two of the syndicate members were arrested last week.

“The group's latest tactic was crippled when they were arrested just hours after another motorcycle theft was reported.

“The two suspects admitted that the social site was extensively used as the syndicate's main communication channel when committing crime.

“The two also confessed that syndicate members would receive directives to steal through the Facebook account, which uses a secret code and the password Belut' to avoid being detected,” Mohamed Fawzi said.

He added that the police had successfully tracked down two more members of the syndi- cate following the Facebook discovery.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tourism Ministry Spent RM1.8 Million On Facebook

The Tourism Ministry has spent a whopping RM1,758,432 on developing six Facebook pages to promote Malaysian tourism. In an online news portal yesterday, Tourism Deputy Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit was quoted as saying the Facebook pages -- Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia, Citrawarna 1Malaysia, Karnival Jualan Mega 1Malaysia, Festival Pelancongan Seni Kontemporari 1Malaysia, Kempen 1Malaysia Bersih and Fabulous Food 1Malaysia -- costing RM293,072 each.Mamit reportedly gave these figures in Parliament yesterday.

But website developers and members of the public say the move was a waste of taxpayers' money.

Creative director Joey Khor, 33, who has seven years experience in developing websites, told The Malay Mail spending such an amount for setting up Facebook pages was simply not justifiable.

"Every website acts like a house and one have to 'drive traffic' to their 'houses' to promote it. Generally, the bulk of the money spent for websites is usually to attract traffic to it and Facebook pages are a form of an online marketing option.

"However, spending RM1.8 million on such a purpose is not justifiable."

Khor opined he could easily set up a digital agency and run the websites of five different companies for a year with RM1.8 million. "With almost RM300,000 spent for each page, I can create two iPhone applications."

Instead of setting up Facebook pages to promote Malaysian tourism, Khor said the ministry could have engaged in other online marketing strategies such as partnering with Google for promotional activities.

A website developer, who wished to remain anonymous, said a general website requires RM50,000 to RM200,000 to be set up, depending on its complexity.

"RM50,000 to RM80,000 is considered sufficient enough to develop each of the ministry's Facebook pages.

The 32-year-old said even international brands usually spend about RM1 million for their websites.
"My most expensive project was to develop a website for a company that needed me to create a template which could be adapted across all countries. The website development cost the company RM1.2 million.

"Compared to the Tourism Ministry's Facebook pages, the project I worked on was on a much higher scale. So, how could the ministry had spent more than us?"

Copy writer John Royce, from Petaling Jaya said the ministry either had extremely poor judgement when it comes to selecting its contractors for website development or they were not being completely honest with the public.

"Having worked in a digital marketing agency before, I think it's ridiculous to spend about RM300,000 for a Facebook page. In fact, you can get a full corporate website with all the bells and whistles, plus social media accounts created and managed for you for RM300,000.

"What's even more outrageous is that the government claim it can no longer afford to subsidise fuel. And yet here they are squandering taxpayers' money," said the 30-year-old.

Samantha Doray, 25, an architect said: "I opened the Facebook pages to find out if there was really anything worth RM1.8 million on them. The comments by the other users aptly describe my sentiments too. The ministry's idiocy is out there in the open for everyone to see."

Public relations officer Sasha Sundaran said there should be an inquiry done on how the ministry managed and spent the money.

"Malaysians need to know where their money is going."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Facebook Ruins Marriage

During a divorce, sometimes people who were once crazy about each other seem to just go crazy in an attempt to gather electronic data to use against each other. Sometimes this is accomplished by cell phone spying, or installing a keylogger, or setting an e-trap on social networking sites. Nowadays it's common for couples battling over custody to use the Internet to dig for e-dirt on their former loved one.

For example, a study by Loyola University warned that Facebook and other social networking sites can quickly damage even a good marriage. This online communication can spiral out of control and lead to "improper use." The study claimed that one in every five marriages are ruined by Facebook. According to American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, "Facebook holds the distinction of being the unrivaled leader for online divorce evidence with 66% citing it as the primary source." Over 80% of divorce attorneys reported "an increase in the number of cases using social networking evidence."

The Smoking Gun reported on one such spy vs. spy case that was filled with e-intrigue and makes a great cautionary tale. Angela Voelkert, 29, created a fake Facebook profile, pretending to be a 17-year-old named Jessica Studebaker. She then friended her ex-husband and chatted him up via Facebook messages in order to gather incriminating evidence to be used against him in a custody battle. Since she didn't want him to recognize her "style" of talking, she had a friend do the writing to her ex.

In fact, Angela really thought she had the e-dirt on her ex, David Voelkert, 38, after he confided in her about placing a GPS tracking device on his ex-wife's car so he could track her every move. He told "Jessica" that "you should find someone at your school ... that would put a cap in her a** for $10,000." After he added "With me gone with my kids, the police can't pin anything on me as I will be in another state, so I will be fine," Angela turned her evidence over to the FBI who arrested her ex-husband.

Yet in a surprise twist, in another Smoking Gun report, David had suspected "Jessica" was his ex-wife all along. Shortly after the supposed teenager had friended him, David had gotten a notarized affidavit saying he was lying to gain "positive proof that it is indeed my ex-wife trying to again tamper in my life." David added, "In no way do I have plans to leave with my children or do any harm to Angela Dawn Voelkert or anyone else." He kept one copy and gave a second copy of to a relative. Six days after his sworn affidavit was notarized, David made the "incriminating Facebook messages" to Jessica.

After the FBI arrested David Voelkert, he spent four days in custody. During that time, federal investigators interviewed the bank employee who notarized the affidavit. Then federal prosecutors dropped all charges against him.

TSG noted that the Jessica Studebaker profile with the a photo of an unknown girl remains on Facebook. The profile claims the teenager is employed at Subway and attends James Whitcomb Riley High School in South Bend, Indiana. She has 63 friends, including David Voelkert.