Terrie's Take 942 - Dealing with Imposters on the Web, ebiz news from Japan
terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Mon Apr 30 17:08:47 JST 2018
* * * * * * * * TERRIE'S TAKE - BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd, a long-term
technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan.
General Edition Sunday, Apr 29, 2018, Issue No. 942
- What's New -- Dealing with Imposters on the Web
- News -- Uh, OK, that's why Monex bought Coincheck
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback - Tourism and seaside experiences
- Travel Picks -- Craft beer in Osaka, Hidden shrine in Mitaka
- News Credits
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+++ WHAT'S NEW
Dealing with Imposters on the Web
A couple of days ago the New York Times ran an interesting article by
(Assistant) Professor Daniel Effron, of the London Business School. In
that article, Effron asked himself why Trump supporters don't mind the
U.S. President lying so much (he uttered more than 2,400 false claims
over 400 days - an average of 6 a day!). Effron's theory is that lies
are more acceptable to us as humans when the person telling them (or
someone minding that person) ameliorates the situation afterwards by
giving additional context to suggest the lie could have happened if the
circumstances were different.
Effron decided to prove his theory with an experiment involving 2,783
people whose preferences lie across the political spectrum - and sure
enough, even though the respondents KNEW A STATEMENT TO BE A LIE, they
still thought the lie was acceptable when they heard it being
rationalized later in a way that suggested a possible outcome similar to
their own political view.
https://nyti.ms/2jeqlue [Effron article, NYT.]
This is just one experiment, but it adds significant credence to the
theory of online echo chambers amplifying group thought, and more
importantly, that who we know and trust literally can change our views
of the world. Online fraudsters have long known about the power of trust
and personal relationships and this forms the heart of phishing and
ransomware scams which have been so profitable for them.
It is also why identity fraud, of those we trust, is such a potentially
big problem for all of us.
As with many readers, we are active on Linked In. Generally speaking
it's a good platform for finding business partners, checking the
backgrounds of others, and sometimes, for recruiting - but it certainly
has its drawbacks as well - such as non-working functions and
unresponsiveness of the support team. But Linked In's biggest problem is
the torrent of connection requests from people who are not who they say
they are, and Linked In's lack of tools (or interest) to help tell the
About five years ago, we set up a group on Linked In called "Spotting
Fake Profiles, Scams".
http://bit.ly/2jjqVqG [Our Linked In group for people to cross-report
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This was in frustration over the number of requests we were getting that
were clearly fraudulent. Unfortunately, the group went nowhere because
most people are just not interested in the fake ID issue - at least not
until it happens to them. However, over the last 5 years we've seen the
problem of scammers get immeasurably worse, to the point where Linked In
itself may be a victim (or perpetrator) of fraud. Specifically, the
company claims to have 562m users, a number which of course influences
its ad revenues and market value, but given the number of likely fake
requests we get daily (about 50%~70% out of 10-15 requests a day), you
have to wonder if the real number of real people at Linked In isn't a
Just how much smaller? Well, about 6 years ago, Tabelog here in Japan
was the center of a restaurant ranking scandal involving fake personas.
There were a number of social media firms which had staff whose job was
to maintain more than 100 personas each. The scam was to have the
various personas upvote posts (by other sock puppet personas) so that
their collective trust ranking went up and thus they could influence
Tabelog's ranking algorithm. So if they had 100 personas for one real
user, how many does Linked In have?
Like most other people, we consider dealing with fake people as the
price of being on the web. Luckily most fakers are none too smart, and
they feature obvious signs of their trade - bad spelling, for someone
who supposedly went to Wharton or Harvard; resumes where the person went
from being an oil geologist to a banker in the space of 5 years; or
using the photo of someone famous in our community - as happened a
couple of weeks ago. We alerted the person being faked, a well-known
author and personality, and she mentioned that this is the second time
someone had taken her photo and given it a new name and personal history!
Apart from being time-consuming having to go through each and every
incoming Linked In profile and deciding if the person is fake or not, do
we really have much to worry about with imposters on the platform? After
all, if you are a critical thinker (unfortunately Effron's experiment
says we are not), then surely the most you should have to worry about is
some confused individual emailing you and asking if the offer just made
to them was too good to be true? Yeah, well, we ask you to consider the
* Someone respected in the community "announces" a damaging "fact" about
your company. As other studies have shown, salacious negative news is
hundreds and sometimes thousands of percent more viral than the truth.
So by the time your firm reacts and says it wasn't behind the rumor, the
damage is already done. A recent MIT study written up widely in the U.S.
press has found that on Twitter, lying tweets that are new or salacious
get more than 6 times the attention that factual ones do, and
furthermore that the best performing lies went to 19 retweets of
retweets (meaning 19 degrees of separation), while truthful ones only
got to 10 retweets. That's a lot of magnification.
https://nyti.ms/2r9wA61 [MIT study, NYT.]
* Someone managing multiple personas has one persona act as a reference
to another, trying to get a job - and you only find out your candidate
is a bank robber some months later.
* A stolen but trusted persona starts talking about having accepted an
amazing deal, that causes others reading the trusted persona's
description to link to more information about the said deal - such as
the following incident...
Sometimes scammers are clever. An incident that happened at Japan Travel
last week involving a company in Mexico which registered a local domain
with the same name as our firm. Then, using a phone list of actual time
share owners in Mexico (don't know how they got that), they started
calling people in the USA offering tens of thousands of dollars to buy
out each time share. Of course they were using Japan Travel's logo and
web images in the PDF flyers that they subsequently sent interested
parties, along with a Mexican version of the firm's email address for
What they did which was smart is that they interacted by phone and
email, so for the real firm here in Tokyo, there was no opportunity to
exercise a DMCA take down, leaving the puny options of alerting the FBI
and complaining to the local registrar (who offered no action at all -
"Nosotros no hablamos ingles."). What was not so clever is that some of
those targets, smelling a rat, contacted Japan Travel in Tokyo directly
and that's how we found out about it.
What if you're a real person but you're getting knocked back as you try
to establish your reputation on Linked In? Well, if you're targeting
connections like us, you should know how we decide if you're fake or
not. Firstly, we judge you on whether you show a professional photo of
yourself. No image, or one with a hat blocking your face is a pretty
good reason to reject your connection request. Logos instead of faces
are an even bigger red flag.
Secondly, have you completed a decent run-through of your resume and
activities? If not, that means you don't think we're worth the effort of
documenting yourself properly (also a sure sign of a lazy scammer trying
to create hundreds of fake personas on Linked In). Lastly, don't be
hitting on us with your business right from the start, unless you've
done your homework. If you're too lazy to figure out if we actually need
your doodads, we're certainly too disgusted to be spammed by you. So,
learn to contribute first, and gain our trust, then maybe we'll react
In fact, remember this: the more work you put in to getting us to trust
you - the more ability you have to scam us...!
...The information janitors/
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- Japanese scallop harvesting automation trial in Maine, USA
- Tourist night life options miss the mark
- Uh, OK, that's why Monex bought Coincheck
- No snap election for Japan
- Takeda increases price for Shire M&A
=> Japanese scallop harvesting automation trial in Maine, USA
Interesting to see how Japanese automation approaches to artisanal
farming (in this case, scallops) are being picked up in other parts of
the world. Apparently a company called Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI) in
Brunswick, Maine, has received a U.S. government grant to acquire
Japanese technology and equipment, to try to seed and harvest scallops
in the area in the same way as Japanese fishermen do - using ropes. CEI
is apparently acquiring 3 machines from Mutsu Kaden Tokki for an
undisclosed amount (but which appears to be modest and around
US$100,000) for a test run effort in Maine. ***Ed: There are several
hurdles to the project, including the question of whether the Japanese
systems will handle the more fragile and smaller east coast scallops.
Another problem is how the equipment, lines, and scallops will be
cleaned, since this is a significant source of environmental pollution
on Japan's west coast.** (Source: TT commentary from
bangordailynews.com, Apr 29, 2018)
=> Tourist night life options miss the mark
Japanese tourism authorities are apparently looking for a replacement
for the Chinese shopping boom ("Bakugai" shopping) that inflated tourist
spending for several years. One area often mooted is an improvement of
city nightlife, and as a response various regional tourism hubs have
launched plans to build outdoor theaters (Tokyo), put on musical and
Ninja nightshows (Osaka), and do more lantern festivals (Nagano -
actually launched a while ago). This article also laments the early
closing of subway trains, preventing nightlife revelling tourists from
being able to get back to their lodgings. ***Ed: Actually, while this
idea of creating more "content" is good for soft services companies, the
reality is that Japan has a perfectly viable nightlife industry already.
It's just that the authorities find it embarrassing to admit. Tourists
on the other hand are fascinated by exotic services that are unique to
Japan: think soaplands, love hotels, underground clubs, etc.** (Source:
TT commentary from thejakartapost.com, March 22, 2018)
=> Uh, OK, that's why Monex bought Coincheck
One of the benefits of having a publicly listed company buy a private
Bitcoin trading company like Coincheck is that the financials soon
become transparent. In this case, Coincheck apparently has a massive
profit margin of 86%! Meaning that on revenues of JPY62.6bn, the company
made JPY53.7bn in profits. No wonder Monex wanted to buy Coincheck in
spite of the shareholder compensation claims pending. ***Ed: Clearly
Coincheck was making a ton of trades last year - at least up until the
hack occurred. The question is whether traders will trust them again?
With Monex behind them, probably they will.** (Source: TT commentary
from asia.nikkei.com, Apr 26, 2018)
=> No snap election for Japan
Despite the multiple scandals reverberating through parliament at
present, all of which impact the PM, Shinzo Abe, and Deputy-PM, Taro
Aso, the two are holding firm in their belief that they will ride out
the storm. PM Abe quashed rumors that he was under pressure, by stating
on Thursday that he is not planning to call a snap election. ***Ed: In
fact, we just had a snap election last year, so Abe has plenty of time
for the opposition uproar to die down. Unless of course new evidence
appears in any one of the 3 existing scandals - something that is always
possible.** (Source: TT commentary from reuters.com, Apr 26, 2018)
=> Takeda increases price for Shire M&A
In a textbook case of how to get more M&A money out of the Japanese,
Takeda Pharma has agreed to increase its offer to the shareholders of
Shire PLC of the UK. Takeda is now offering GBP46bn (about US$64bn) to
buy Shire. Takeda shareholders reacted negatively to the news, and the
company's shares fell 7.03% in trading. The major concern is how Takeda
will be able to pay for the acquisition.***Ed: Interesting to see that
Takeda is headed by a French CEO and he is being allowed by the largely
Japanese board to make this rather risky acquisition.** (Source: TT
commentary from japantimes.co.jp, Apr 25, 2018)
NOTE: Broken links
Some online news sources remove their articles after just a few days of
posting them, thus breaking our links -- we apologize for the inconvenience.
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+++ UPCOMING EVENTS
=> No events this week.
=> In TT-941, we covered a Setouchi tourism company that has got it
right, setting a great example for other locations in Japan.
*** Reader responds:
Just wanted to quickly say that this latest newsletter hit home in many
Michel and I were on a consulting project last year to review a hotel
that was expecting to host a bevy of foreign athletes, sponsors and
their families. His experience in the hotel industry Monaco and Nice
proved to be quite valuable to management. They seemed to have no idea
of the expectations of foreign guests nor how to mesh all of that with
their local (traditional) guests.
We had met the Setouchi Seaplane company when we first participated in
the Japan International Boat Show in 2015. Since TIWAL (bit.ly/2HDFQq8)
can pack down to fit into two bags, we had mentioned the idea of
combining flying with a few hours of TIWAL sailing. (But maybe they
were not the right target...)
And , yes there is a definite need to adapt the concept of #omotenashi".
For seaside (lake/river-side), yes, there is a need to invest in an
eco-system with local natural assets, to offer unique experiences. I was
glad to read about Bella Vista and the Gentu, and will pitch the idea to
do a review for a magazine (not sure which yet). I checked their
website. Their tie ups with Inland Sea Resort, with Mercedes Benz and
the Seaplane company all looked interesting.
While we have been to Hiroshima and Kochi, we have not yet explored
Onomichi and the Setonaikai area. But we have had inquiries about TIWAL
during the Boat Show from a few people who live in the area. So I think
I know where we'll head for a weekend trip.
As always, your newsletter really is food for thought. (Comment from
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+++ TRAVEL DESTINATIONS PICKS
=> Minoh Beer Warehouse, Osaka
Take a pilgrimage to the home of Japan's craft beer
While most beer lovers would head straight for the beer museum or one of
the major breweries, it is also possible to find beer heaven in one of
the many microbreweries, like Minoh Beer, named after their town in
northern Osaka. If you are planning a walk to see the Minoh waterfall,
don't forget to stop by the Minoh Beer Warehouse afterwards.
Founded in 1997, Minoh beer is managed by the three Ohshita sisters who
make their original beer, winning dozens of awards since their opening.
If you don't plan on going to Minoh, you can also visit Beer Belly and
Beer Belly Edobori, two bars managed by Minoh Beer and that offer beers
from different microbreweries.
=> Mount Mitake and Mitake Shrine
Hiking and a great shrine in the western part of Tokyo
Located just 90 minutes from central Tokyo, Mount Mitake offers the
beauty of nature and panoramic views from its height of 900 meters. At
the top of Mount Mitake, the Musashi Mitake Shine can be found - which
is said to have been established over 2,000 years ago and which has
served as a place of worship ever since. Visitors admire the religious
atmosphere on the mountain and a traditional local village at the foot
of the shrine.
Your day trip starts from JR Mitake Station which is close to the
beautiful Mitake Gorge. A bus stop is near the station and a 10-minutes
bus ride will take you to Takimoto Station, where you board the cable
car for Mitakesan Station. If you want to hike from here as I always do,
you can walk along a narrow road which winds from Takimoto to the top.
The concrete road is steep for 2.5km, but it is worth doing the walk as
the road is lined with many beautiful giant cedars.
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+++ ABOUT US
Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)
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