Khan’s Blood

There are days when my brain doesn’t seem capable of doing actual work, but it’s always got some capacity spare for complaining about Science Fiction movies. Possibly I got a batch of dodgy Atorvastatin from Ranbaxy, or more likely I’m just having one of those weeks. Here’s the core complaints list about Star Trek: Into Darkness. To the (at least) three clients waiting for actual work, I’ll be at my desk at the crack of noon tomorrow.

 

Advance Fee Scams on Skype

Someone must still be making money off Advance Fee scams, as I’ve had a couple pop up on Skype in the last week. Colloquially known as “Nigerian Scams“, these unsolicited communications promising access to huge amounts of money at no risk will end up with polite requests for a series of small, increasing and ultimately unending wire payments to facilitate unlocking and transfer of the money. There are millions of dollars waiting for you, if only you’ll just assist with paying these legal fees. And for this intestacy notarisation. And for this officially authorised letter of intent. And the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Finance needs a small cash payment. etc.

This particular example arrived from Ghana, and like all developing-world originated Advance fee scams, the guy at the other end of the scam is relying on your desire for the jackpot of millions of dollars to keep you distracted from the entirely reasonable requests to wire a paltry few hundreds or thousands his way. (Average monthly income in Ghana: USD $600).

Dear <random word>

I have been in search of someone with this name ” <random word> “, so when I saw your name I was pushed to contact you to see how best we can assist each other. I am Mr. Yeboah Watter, I am an IT manager IN International Commercial Bank Takoradi branch Ghana.

I believe it is the wish of God for me to come across you on Skype now. I am having an important business discussion I wish to share with you which I believe it will interest you because, it is in connection with your NAME and you will surely benefit from it.

One Late Mr. Roland a citizen of your country had a fixed deposit with my bank in 2005, valued at US $7,300,000.00 (Seven Million, Three Hundred Thousand US Dollars) the due date for this deposit contract was 16 of August 2012. Sadly Mr. was among the death victims in the May 26 2006 Earthquake disaster in Jawa, Indonesia that killed over 5,000 people. Mr. was in Indonesia on a business trip and that was how he met his end.

My bank management is yet to know about his death, I knew about it because he was my friend and I am his account officer. During the opening of his bank account he did not mention any Next of Kin/ Heir when the account was opened, and Mr. was not married and no children. I decided to search for you now because last week my Bank Management requested that I should give instructions on what to do about Mr. funds, whether to renew the contract.

I knew this will happen and that is why I have been looking for a means to handle the situation, because if my Bank Directors realize or happens to know that Mr. is dead and that he does not have any Heir, they will take the funds for their personal use, so I don’t want such to happen. That was why when I saw your last name I was happy and I am now seeking your co-operation to present you as Next of Kin/ Heir to the account, since you have the same last name with him and my bank head quarters will release the money into your bank account as a relation to Mr. Roland .

There is no risk involved; the transaction will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of law.

It is better that we claim the money, than allowing the Bank Directors to take it, they are rich already. I am not a greedy person, so I am suggesting we share the funds by percentage of 60/40% to both parties, my share will assist me to start my own company which has been my dream in your country. Let me know your mind on this and please do treat this information as TOP SECRET. We shall go over the details once I receive your urgent response strictly through my personal email (waltteryeboah@yahoo.com)

We can also discuss this on phone: +233-208-555-001. Have a nice day and God bless you.

Anticipating your communication.

Regards,
Mr. Yeboah Waltter.

Referenda on Council Tax

UK legislation (Localism Act 2011) provides for a local referendum if a local authority proposes an “excessive” Council Tax increase. For the 2013-14 financial year, the principles state that billing authorities may not raise their council tax by more than 2% without holding a referendum. So – and you’ve got to laugh – near enough every council in the country has proposed a 1.99% increase this year.

It looks like public servants are getting comfortable with the Time Value of money and the effect of economic incentives. Central Government – for reasons that are unclear – intends to continue the questionable Council Tax Freeze Grant system, which in previous years offered a 2.5% payout for a zero increase in Council Tax. This year, the offer is 2% of last year’s budget over 2 years. But 1.99% over 1 year and therefore 4.04% over 2 years if the trend continues seems more palatable to Mayors and councillors than a potential 2%.

In Bristol, the last £4.5 million from the 2011/12 freeze grant is included in this year’s [2013/14] budget. This is 2.5% of required annual funding, so you should anticipate some entertainment – possibly tap dancing – from the Mayor and company when it comes time to do the 2014/15 budget.

An interesting situation will arise if the party or coalition in power after 2015 does in fact schedule a national referendum on EU membership. If I were a local councillor or Mayor who wanted to get a stonking great Council Tax increase past the Localism Act, I’d be planning to present a referendum-triggering budget. I would then wait for the government of that day – and it doesn’t really matter which party is in control – to ponder the effect on turnout when two simultaneous questions are being asked:

  1. Would you like to pay an extra 100 quid of council tax? and by the way
  2. Do you want to stay in the European Union?

No doubt a more generous scheme for Freeze Grants or similar neatly wrapped bundles of other people’s money would magically appear.

Useful link for broke Mayors:

Business Consultant, Political Pundit, Confidence Artist and Semi-Professional Troublemaker. Available for weddings and bar mitzvahs