Terrie's Take 942 - Dealing with Imposters on the Web, ebiz news from Japan

Terrie's Take 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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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 
scammer experiences.]

--------- From Veggie Burgers to Carrot Cake --------------

Our commitment at Alishan Organics is to give our customers the best of 
western organic foods, but prepared with a Japanese twist. That's why 
our menus cover such a broad range of styles and tastes. If you're just 
getting to know us, why not visit our cafe by the river in Saitama? That 
way you can try out a variety of dishes and decide for yourself. Choose 
from an Amy's organic pizza straight from the oven, a mouthwatering 
veggie burger packed with seasonal greens and reds, or if you're feeling 
chilly, a filling vegetable curry with rice. And although we're healthy 
minded, we don't skimp on desserts. Favorites include Jack's scrumptious 
carrot cake, vegan brownies (of course with vegan icecream), and baked 
banana cheese cake.

Our Cafe: http://bit.ly/2m0r8z7
Our new online store: http://bit.ly/2v8gRpi

[...Article continues]

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 
lot smaller...

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 
following scenarios:

* 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 
subsequent negotiations.

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/


-------------- Hike around the Oze Marshlands -------------

Japan Travel takes you on an exciting 1-day hike through the 
picturesque, verdant marshlands of Oze National Park in Gunma 
Prefecture. Be led by an experienced guide while enjoying the lush 
nature of this fantastic and scenic hike. Well-maintained elevated 
boardwalks across pristine wetlands -  an unforgettable experience in 
one of Japan's best nature destinations.

Date: Sun Jun 3rd 2018
Shop the experience here: https://goo.gl/mhac6P
* See more photos here: http://bit.ly/2KrnwT8 [Japantravel.com website, 

+++ NEWS

- 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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=> 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 
Alana Bonzi)


---------- Bilingual vet clinic opens in Azabu ------------

PetLife Veterinary Clinic is opening its doors in central Tokyo from 
March, providing bilingual (Japanese/English) services for both the 
domestic and international communities. The clinic provides experienced 
veterinarians with many years of experience serving families and their 
pets using the latest technology. They have a compassionate and welcome 
approach and aim to nurture close bonds within the local community.

Pet owners are welcome to come visit and check out the new center.

1F. Daiichi Bldg., 2-3-5 Higashi Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0044.
TEL:03-6807-4058 Website: http://petlife.co.jp/en/


=> 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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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)

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