Alibi V.28 No.41 • Oct 10-16, 2019

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: Michigan

Police are searching for the identities of two men who hacked an electronic billboard located on a busy freeway and made it play a pornographic video. Detroit Free Press reports that commuters driving on Interstate 75 in Auburn Hills, Mich., were shocked to see a pornographic video playing on a billboard last week. After receiving numerous complaints about the graphic images, police contacted the billboard's owner, Canadian-based Triple Properties, and had the screen shut down. Authorities later released still images taken from a security camera located in a building at the billboard site that show two men wearing glasses and tightly cinched hoodies. Police said the men in the photos were the parties responsible for the billboard hack. In a post on Facebook, the Auburn Hills Police Department said the two men broke into the building, accessed its computers and programmed it to play the pornographic video. According to the statement, the footage played for at least 15 to 20 minutes before it was turned off. Although no accidents occurred, authorities say the stunt could have caused a distraction to drivers. It was also pointed out that promoting pornography by disseminating any pornographic material is a violation of an Auburn Hills local ordinance carrying a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a possible $500 fine. The suspects could also be charged with burglary—a federal offense. So far, police say they have no leads and are asking the community to reach out with any information.

Dateline: Russia

A Russian man is suing Apple for allegedly turning him into a homosexual. According to BBC News, the man claims that an iPhone app delivered a cryptocurrency called “GayCoin” to his phone even though he'd ordered Bitcoin. The GayCoin was accompanied by a message that said, “Don't judge until you try.” In the complaint, the man wrote: “I thought, in truth, how can I judge something without trying? I decided to try same-sex relationships … Now I have a boyfriend and I do not know how to explain this to my parents.” The man claims that Apple pushed him toward a gay lifestyle “through manipulation,” causing “moral and mental harm.” He was also concerned that he would never become “normal” again. Although the app in question was developed and released by a third party, the complaint alleges that Apple should be held responsible for the programs it provides on its platform. A Russian court will hear the case on Oct. 17. It is unclear if the company will be expected to reverse the man's sexual orientation. While homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, prejudice against the Russian gay community reportedly continues to be a problem.

Dateline: Ireland

An Irish student has been donating money to charity that he scammed from internet scammers. Limerick Leader reports that a Limerick student named Ross Walsh has recently been tricking email scammers out of their money. He said he was inspired after seeing videos of comedians wasting phone scammers' time by holding long, drawn-out conversations with the con artists that ultimately lead nowhere. “I had seen a couple of UK comedians do it trying to waste the scammers' time so they don’t waste anyone else’s and I thought I could do that one better,” said Walsh, who claims to have tricked scammers on three separate occasions. The most recent incident involved a suspicious email that Ross received. It was sent by “Solomon Gundi” and suggested that a business opportunity was being made available to a “fellow enthusiastic business man.” “I know this email will come to a surprise to you [sic],” it read. “But permit me to desire to go into business with you.” The email goes on to ask for a £1,000 investment to own “half business.” In response, Walsh wrote: “My Dearest Solomon, Delighted to receive your intriguing business proposal. As you know I'm a very enthusiastic business man and think £1,000 is an insult. I have attached proof of payment of £50,000 to get the ball running. One thing you need to understand about doing business in Europe is we do things big. Please get back to me ASAP to discuss our next move.” Attached was a doctored image of a Paypal transaction for £50,000. The scammer responded that they had not received the money, and Walsh told them the bank had put a stop on the transaction because it thought it was a scam. To remedy the situation, he claimed, the scammer would need to transfer $25 to the Paypal account to prove it wasn't a scam. They did so, and Walsh immediately donated the money to a cancer charity under “Solomon Gundi.” He said he always donates any money he gets in this fashion “because for all I know, that's someone else's money,” he said.

Dateline: California

A woman who died at the age of 102 was outlived by her satellite TV contract. According to ABC 7 News in California, Isabel Albright was one of the oldest people in America when she died near the end of last year. Her family was in the process of getting her affairs in order when they were given an “early termination fee” from DirectTV for ending the woman's cable service. “She's gone,” said her son-in-law, John Manrique. “Nobody's living (here). We're selling the house. You're going to tell us we have to keep the service at a house that's not ours?” The company said Albright's daughter was responsible for the bill, because the account was in her name. After local investigative consumer reporters reached out to DirectTV, the provider's parent company, AT&T, reportedly apologized to the family and waived the fee.

Compiled by Joshua Lee. Email your weird news to josh@alibi.com.