Another Rideshare Rape is an Epidemic

Women should never take a ride from a stranger because it’s dangerous – unless she’s paying the driver???

Wrong, of course. Uber and Lyft drivers provide paid rides to strangers as requested via the Uber and Lyft apps.

As of August 2018 WhosDrivingyou.org tallied the number at almost 400 rapes and probably stopped recording the sexual assaults because it has become so common. A quick Google search for “rideshare rape” pulls almost 7K results.

YeT another rideshare rape allegedly happened this week when an intoxicated woman was overcome by her driver. And before you blame the victim, JUST SHUT UP.

Almost the Perfect Crime

  • The predator has no problem getting a woman into his vehicle.
  • There’s an easy explanation for her DNA in the vehicle: the ride service.
  • She might be intoxicated, which is a common reason for hiring a rideshare service, and intoxication means vulnerability and lack of credibility.

Has the rideshare industry created a monster?

What makes rape even easier to get away with is if the passenger passes out from intoxication.

But by no means does this mean a predator should feel confident he could get away with his crime, such as Uber driver John David Sanchez, who got 80 years for ride-related sex crimes.

A CNN investigation revealed that at least 31 Uber drivers have been convicted of crimes such as rape as well as forcible touching.

On the other hand, CNN reported the case of an Uber driver who was accused by his fare of sexual assault. He claimed it was consensual; the charges were dropped.

CNN also reported that many of the women who were sexually assaulted by the over 100 accused drivers had been drinking or were drunk at the time of the alleged crimes.

A similar investigation of Lyft by CNN also revealed numerous sexual assault accusations.

What can a woman do?

  • Use Uber, Lyft (or a taxi service) only as a last resort, i.e., you can’t find someone you know to transport you.
  • Make sure you’re not impaired by any substances. This is a two-edged sword because an impaired person should not drive, either. If you’re convinced ahead of time you’ll be impaired, then arrange for a trusted friend to drive you home. If you can’t find someone, then reconsider your plan on getting wasted; is it worth it?
  • Arrange to use rideshare services with a companion.
  • Hire only female drivers.
  • Under no circumstances let a driver into your home.
  • Make sure your phone has a one-touch emergency alert button that will activate first responders who can home in on your location.

Don’t assume that just because someone works for Uber or Lyft that they’re safe. Though these companies do background checks, you have to consider that some predators have a clean record because they haven’t been caught (yet).

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Put the Stupid Phone Away! Pedestrian Deaths Rise

If you like taking an evening stroll, walking your dog, or even hitting the pavement for exercise sake, you could be putting yourself at risk according to a recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association.

The statistics are shocking; the report looked at how many pedestrians were killed by vehicles while walking in 2018, and it was not only a 4 percent increase from 2017, but the highest rate of death since 1990.

Why are these numbers rising? There are a couple of reasons. First, there are more SUVs and trucks on the road, and these vehicles are more likely to kill someone due to the weight and size. In fact, since 2013, the number of pedestrian deaths caused by SUVs has risen by 50 percent. Another reason for this is that people are not paying attention, both behind the wheel and on the pavement. Why? Smartphones. Alcohol was also to blame, as about half of the deaths reported in 2017 was caused by alcohol consumption by either the pedestrian, the driver, or in many cases, both. Of course, there is also the fact that the population has grown, so there are naturally more people out and about on the streets.

Population growth might not seem like a big deal, but the statistics show otherwise. When you look at the states that have had the highest population growth from 2017 to 2018, you also see that there is an increase of the number of deaths from pedestrians getting hit by vehicles. There has also been an increase in the number of people who are walking to work instead of driving when you look at statistics from 2007 to 2016.

The Governors Highway Safety Association also reports another unsurprising fact; the majority of these deaths are occurring after dark, and when comparing the number of pedestrian deaths during the day and at night, the nighttime deaths are rising quickly when compared to daytime deaths. When you look at the number of nighttime deaths between 2008 and 2017, there was an increase of 45 percent. When looking at daytime pedestrian deaths, there is also an 11 percent increase between those same years.

If you are looking for a safe place to walk around, consider New Hampshire. There was only one death in the first half of 2018. On the other end of the spectrum, New Mexico had the highest rate of pedestrian deaths. Almost half of all pedestrian deaths in the United States occurred in Florida, Arizona, Texas, California, and Georgia. None of us should have to worry about crossing the street, and this might be a sign that it’s time to improve vehicle design and improvements to the road.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Your Real Estate Agent May Have a Gun

If you are thinking of buying a house, and you start going to open houses, you might be surprised to learn an interesting fact: the real estate agent might be carrying a gun. Some of you reading this might have jumped to this article looking for a fight, because in M’erka guns are a controversial subject and why shouldn’t your real estate agent have a gun?

Real estate agents find themselves in precarious situations all of the time. They also might have to travel into neighborhoods that aren’t as safe as your typical bedroom communities. There are wayward dogs to contend with, random robberies, and the chance that a visitor to an open house has malicious thoughts. A real estate agent was killed in Maryland not too long ago and his killer stole his laptop and phone. He was killed for $2,000.00 in hardware by this shithead with the money on his face.

When you think about it this way, it’s no wonder that a real estate agents might feel the need to protect themselves.

The Statistics

Let’s look at some statistics: The National Association of Realtors released a report that states 25% of real estate agents who are male carry guns when on the job. Other real estate agents report that they carry other weapons, too, even if they don’t carry guns. Whether you are a fan of guns or not, you can certainly see why some Realtors feel the need to protect themselves.

The fact that 25% of male Realtors carry a gun is only the tip of the iceberg. The NAR report also says that more than half of all Realtors, both male and female, carry a weapon of some type to every showing. Here’s a brief synopsis:

  • Pepper Spray – 27% of female Realtors and 5% of male Realtors
  • Guns – 12% of female Realtors and 25% of male Realtors
  • Pocket Knife – 5% of female Realtors and 11% of male Realtors
  • Taser – 7% of female Realtors and 2% of male Realtors
  • Baton or Club – 3% of female Realtors and 3% of male Realtors
  • Noisemaker – 3% of female Realtors and 0% of male Realtors

Why are Realtors Afraid?

So, why are so many Realtors afraid enough to carry a weapon? First, there is the fact that approximately 3% of Realtors report being physically attacked when on the job in 2016. Though may that seem like a low number to some (too high for me), you have to understand that the overall rate in the country is about 2%, which means Realtors have a higher chance of being physically assaulted when compared with the average US citizen.

The reasons real estate agents feel the need to protect themselves is even more clear. In fact, many Realtors report that they are fearful of going to work each day. An astounding 44% of female Realtors told the NAR that they were worried about going to open houses in model homes and vacant lots.

Here’s some more stats:

  • 44% of female Realtors were afraid at some point in 2017 when on the job
  • 25% of male Realtors were afraid at some point in 2017 when on the job
  • 38% of all Realtors were afraid when in a small town
  • 35% of all Realtors were afraid when in a rural area
  • 39% of all Realtors were afraid when in an urban area
  • 40% of all Realtors were afraid when in a suburb

Knowing this, it’s certainly not surprising that a Realtor would carry a gun. HOWEVER, the problem with all this gun slinging is most people, regardless of their profession aren’t properly trained to “fight” with a gun. That means being trained to use a firearm under duress. I’m not talking about gun safety or target shooting, I’m talking about if you are being attacked, do you know how to respond with a gun if someone is coming after you? So to my Real Estate Agent friends and all others, seek out “Stress Response Training” and Firearm and get properly trained.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Here’s What Crazy Mass Shooters Look Like

Mass shootings. They happen so often these days, they are hardly making headlines, and when they do, they are soon pushed out of the news cycle thanks to what’s going on in the White House or in Russia. There are many red flags that show what crazy mass shooters look like.

Look at this:

According to reports, the Thousand Oaks shooter assaulted his track coach. The Florida high school shooter was accused of threatening, abusing, and stalking people he knew. People say that the Las Vegas shooter was verbally abusing his girlfriend while in public. What do you see here? A pattern.

The FBI is on the case here, but that’s hardly comforting due to the sheer volume of unstable people out there. Earlier this year, the FBI released a report that shows the “pre-attack behaviors” of people accused of or convicted of mass shootings. Here’s another takeaway: 63 percent of them were white, and 94 percent of them were male. The report concludes with a takeaway that shows a very troubling and complex view of the people who have failed to positively handle the stressors in lives. In addition, they all display several concerning behaviors, they plan and prepare, and they often share their intent to attack with others.

It often takes several people to spot every red flag that a potential mass shooter displays, according to the FBI. These flags often include violent behavior, abuse, bullying, and harassment. To get even closer to what a mass shooter looks like, take a look at the following stats:

  • 57% of shooters have shown “concerning” behaviors
  • 48% of shooters have talked about suicide
  • 35% of shooters have made threats
  • 33% of shooters have a history of physical aggression
  • 33% of shooters have anger issues
  • 21% of shooters have used firearms inappropriately
  • 16% of shooters have used violence against their partners
  • 11% of shooters have been accused of stalking

The FBI report also shows that most shooters spent at least a week planning their attacks, and they often give their family and friends some type of “preview” of what’s to come. If people do become concerned about a future mass shooter’s behavior, it’s rare for them to go to the police, and they often become targets of the shooter, themselves.

It’s easy to make a report, however, so if you feel that someone you know might have the makings to be a mass shooter and made threats, you can report this to the FBI online. Finally, there are 13 states where “red flag” gun laws are in place. This means that a person’s guns could be removed if they are showing a high risk of violent behavior. These states are:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • New Jersey
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

15 Year Old’s Naked Photos Spread Like Wild Fire

You have probably heard the story before. Teenage girl takes some scantily clad photos and sends them to her latest boyfriend. “What could go wrong?,” she thinks. Well, a lot could go wrong, and an article on Vice.com really lays that out. You might think that the boyfriend is to blame for this 15-year old’s photos spreading like wildfire, but the truth is this: he deleted them soon after getting them…the photos got out because the teen kept them on her phone and some classmates took that phone.

Ultimately, the photos got into the hands of the victim’s best friend. At this point, you probably think “Phew…the photos are safe.”  Wrong again. Her “best friend” ended up posting the photos to a blog. Many years later, the victim found out why…her “best friend” was mad that she had sent some angry texts to her the night before, and that her main motivation was to simply hurt her friend because of those texts. That’s all it took for a teen’s life to be effectively ruined for months.

When things like this happen, many women are made to feel guilty that they took these photos, and this is a type of digital violence. In fact, more women are now seeking counseling to help to combat these feelings. The thing is, if you have a nude photo, you are certainly not immune. Teens often become victims here, but so do adult women and celebrities. In most cases, someone else is spreading these photos, but the victim is often blamed.

In late 2017, the EU passed new laws that help to better protect people who find themselves in this situation, and in 2015, the British government made these actions a crime, too. However, in most other countries, no such laws exist.

In this case, the victim ended up forgiving her classmates, but as an adult, she still has not overcome the invasion of her privacy. She also still struggles with the fact that most people in the community blamed her…not the boys who stole her phone, nor her friend, who posted them on the internet. She says that people came up to her for years after the incident and told her they saw those photos, too, and she still has that feeling that she did something wrong.

Finally, as a society, we have to find ways to make sure that victims of these crimes are taken seriously, and ensure that video sites, like YouTube, and social media sites, like Facebook, respond immediately when notified of content like this.

And, please, I’m not blaming the victim here, and a bit of advice, no naked pics of yourself, girlfriend, husband or wife please. It’s a bit too risky and can have significant consequences.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Street Fights can result in Death

People who don’t believe they have been brainwashed by the film industry, which repeatedly shows men in a brawl who are still standing after each have received a dozen punches to the head and face.

Sometimes it takes five full minutes to just daze a man, after he’s been hit in the face over and over, and struck in the back with a chair so hard the chair breaks. Men get slammed, even tossed, into walls, into cars, but bounce right back with their dukes up.

An article on gawker.com points out that just one punch could be lethal. And that hitting your head on the ground can be fatal. Bare hands can be deadly. The article also explains that because of this, you should do whatever it takes to stop the attacker—knowing that it might kill him—but at the same time, you shouldn’t deliberately try to kill him.

If your only way out is the nearby 2 x 4, and he’s a bull, then whack him. But geez, no need to impale him with the nearby pitchfork when instead you can just swing the other end into his knees.

How can one punch or a hard fall to concrete kill? The force could jar the brain, tearing a blood vessel, causing rapid bleeding—an acute subdural hematoma or subarachnoid hemorrhage. These don’t exist in Hollywood scripts.

Street Fight Smarts

  • Consider pepper spray, but your brain is your best defense weapon.
  • Park only in well-lit areas and never next to a van.
  • Avoid walking in the dark when possible.
  • If someone demands your car, money or jewelry, give it up.
  • Micro-seconds count. You can always say, “I’m sorry for permanently damaging your eye,” later at the courthouse.
  • Don’t scratch or slap; punch with a closed fist.
  • Gouge at the eyes.
  • Go for the nose.
  • Slam fists into the sides of the neck.
  • Kick at the knees.
  • Ram a hand up between his legs—you know what the destination is.

If he’s “dragging” you to his car, drop to the ground and wrap your arms around his leg to become dead weight. If you think he’ll hit your head at that point, then make a break for it, because at that point, he doesn’t have his arms around you.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Dude hacked Lottery Computers

Who needs psychics to reveal future lottery numbers when you can hack into the state lottery association and tamper with it? That apparently was the reasoning of Eddie Raymond Tipton, 51.

9DProsecutors believe Tipton inserted a thumb drive into a computer—the one that spits out random numbers for the lottery, says an article in the Des Moines Register, according to a report at arstechnica.com.

At the time of this purported crime, Tipton was head of security for the Multi-State Lottery Association. Surveillance caught him buying a ticket that was worth $14.3 million (not smart enough to wear a disguise, eh?).

Coincidence? Not according to the prosecutors, who say he programmed computers that generate the numbers. This shouldn’t even be possible.

Supposedly on November 20 of 2010, Tipton went into the “draw room” where he altered the time on the computers. The settings of the room’s camera were changed, so that Tipton’s activity inside the room would not be recorded.

Prosecutors say that of the five people who are capable of changing the camera’s settings, four said they did not change them. Of course, the fifth person is Tipton. What a sly duck: resetting the camera so that it recorded only one second out of every minute, to miss detecting him inserting the thumb drive.

But he pled not guilty, even though he was identified as the man in the surveillance purchasing the golden ticket. Even if there’d been no tampering, Tipton would be barred from receiving the prize because employees of the association are banned from claiming lottery prizes.

For about a year, this particular ticket went unclaimed. But through a New York attorney, a company in Belize tried to claim the ticket at the last minute.

Somehow, authorities smelled a rat and focused on Tipton. Prosecutors also say that he had a fascination with root kits, which is in line with quickly installing the thumb drive. A root kit can be installed fast, carry out its orders, then self-destruct without leaving a trace.

The scales of justice are not tipped in Tipton’s favor especially because a witness plans on testifying that shortly before December 2010, Tipton told him he had a rootkit—a self-destructing one.

The trial is set for July 13.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to TheBestCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention.

Top 10 Horrible Accidents to Avoid

“When it’s your time, it’s your time.” NOT. Most accidents, including freak, are avoidable. Here’s a compilation from popularmechanics.com.

EMERMauled by a mower. Every year in the U.S., about 95 people die by mower when it flips over on a hill and crushes the driver. Don’t mow sideways on a slope; mow up and down.

Wild animals. Never run from wildlife, as this will trigger its chase instinct—chase and kill, that is. Every year in the U.S., three to five people die from wild animal attacks, mostly bears and sharks. Avoid shark infested waters. Carry “bear spray” when hiking/camping. Wear bells and make noise when hiking.

Vicious vending machines. Between 1978 and 1995, vending machines killed 37 people who weren’t quick enough to get out of the way when the machine—after it was aggressively handled by the customers—toppled over and crushed them. Solution: You’re not Fonzie; don’t hit vending machines.

Dam it. The dam appears to be a plane of water as the boater approaches going downstream. However a spinning vortex is created by water rushing over the dam, and can trap the boater. If you get trapped after being capsized, curl up, then drop to the bottom, them move downstream.

Electric shock drowning. Even if you swim like Flipper, you can be electrocuted to death if the water contains cords, that are plugged into a dock outlet. If a dock is wired, don’t swim within 100 yards. If you’re not sure, stay on the dock.

ATV accidents. One-third of ATV fatalities occur on paved roads because the tires, which are designed for traction on unstable ground, produce too much traction, making the vehicle flip. If you must take an ATV on pavement, go in a straight line in first gear.

One wrong move. Ladder falls kill over 700 people a year. Half of ladder accidents involve people carrying something while climbing. To carry things use work-belt hooks.

Shallow-water blackout. How many times have you taken a few big breaths, gulped in a lot of air, then went underwater? This can result in a fatal shallow-water blackout, drowning you.

Straight landing. Have your landing spot decided from 100 to 1,000 feet up to avoid swerving to connect with it. The swerve can interfere with the parachute.

Ford ev’ry stream…with much caution. Shallow streams can pack a force that knocks you and all your heavy gear down, potentially incapacitating you, leading to fatal hypothermia. Test the current by tossing a stick into it. If it moves faster than walking pace, don’t go in. Otherwise, cross at a wide, straight portion of water.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

Just One Day in the Boston Globe

Sometimes all you can do is shake your head and wonder how we have managed to get this far as a species. Scanning today’s paper I couldn’t help but notice the total mayhem that makes up one day of news. I bring this to your attention not to sensationalize or provide the “bad news” but to make you grateful for what you have and hopefully motivate you to go out and do something positive to help your community. It also might make you think twice about your personal safety.

October 6th 2010:

Hundreds mourn victim of Mattapan shootings

Simba Martin’s family huddled around his shiny, pewter-colored casket yesterday morning, their cries of grief filling the small red-brick church on Highland Street. Near the altar, a female relative shouted “why’’ repeatedly as she slumped in the embrace of a family member.

Death of Vt. woman is called a homicide

WATERBURY, Vt. — A body found in the woods Sunday by two bird hunters has been identified as that of a missing 78-year-old woman, and police called it a homicide yesterday.

Judge sets rules for N.H. slaying trial

CONCORD, N.H. — Three men who have acknowledged their roles in a deadly home invasion in which a woman and her daughter were stabbed and slashed dozens of times will be allowed to testify about the plot leading up it, a judge says.

Onetime serial arson suspect accused of setting office on fire

PLYMOUTH — A Brockton man who decades ago was a prime suspect in the torching of dozens of churches, VFW posts, and other buildings in the area south of Boston was accused yesterday of setting fire to a federal probation office Monday night.

Man allegedly stole more items from grandmother after theft

A Braintree grandmother’s house was robbed Monday afternoon, and police said that as they arrived to investigate, the victim’s grandson stole more items and tried to have a friend pawn them while blaming it on the original burglar.

1 student robbed, 1 nearly abducted

One Bay State College student was robbed and another was the victim of an attempted abduction in two separate incidents yesterday afternoon, police said. Boston police spokesman David Estrada said that at about 2:30 p.m. an 18-year-old student was walking out of a Subway restaurant on St. James Street when he was robbed by a man armed with a knife.

Man ordered held in statutory rape case

A 31-year-old Tewksbury man accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in August after sending her sexually charged text messages for a month pleaded not guilty yesterday, officials said.

Man sentenced for trying to lure teen

A Dorchester man already convicted of sex offenses against children was sentenced to up to five years in state prison and 10 years’ probation Monday for attempting to lure a 13-year-old girl who was on her way to school in 2009

Man convicted of killing three in 2007 Conn. home invasion

NEW HAVEN — A paroled burglar was convicted yesterday of killing a woman and her two daughters in a 2007 home invasion in an affluent Connecticut town and now could be sentenced to death.

Wow. Nuts! It can be a mad, mad, mad world sometimes. But being kind to someone takes less effort than being evil. Choose wisely. And please, think about home security and what systems need to be in place to protect your family.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Home Invasions on Montel Williams. Disclosures

Personal Safety When Selling a Home

Two real estate agents were killed in separate incidents in Ohio in the past two weeks.

“Police have confirmed the suspects in this week’s murder of a Youngstown OH realtor are not connected with the murder of a realtor in Ravenna OH the day after.”

“Meeting new clients, showing properties, holding open houses, letting strangers get into your car, and even your marketing may be jeopardizing your personal safety.

The root of the issue is that you have real estate agents with no formal security training who are then meeting with complete strangers at odd times of the day and in vacant homes. Real estate professionals put themselves at risk at so many points. The industry opens itself up to predators.”

Here are a few tips to protect you when selling a property.

Be suspect of everyone. There isn’t any benefit in being paranoid; however, being a little guarded can keep you from getting into a vulnerable situation. Don’t just be wary of a man showing up unaccompanied. Expect them to show up in a nice car, well dressed, maybe with a wife and kids tagging along. They might have a business card saying they are a doctor or a lawyer. Don’t let your guard down.

Appointment Only. When placing ads, all advertisements should state “Appointment only” “Drivers license required” and “Pre Approval Documentation Required.” These are all hoops the bad guy may not want to jump through and you vetting out those who are “just looking” at the same time.

Use the Buddy System. When you set appointments always schedule around a spouse or friends availability so they can join you. There is always strength in numbers. If you have to go it solo, when someone walks in, say, “I’d be happy to show you the benefits of this home! In a few minutes my friend Rocco will be along to assist me,” creating the illusion of the buddy system.

ID and pre-qualify at your first meeting. When you are meeting at your property, get some form of identification. Also, it is to your benefit that a potential client buying a home is pre-qualified. Someone who is pre-qualified by a lender is less likely to be a predator.

Safe open houses. Spend a few minutes considering all the vulnerable points within the home and how you would escape if necessary.

Dress for safety and success. Don’t wear expensive jewelry. A $3-5 thousand-dollar diamond buys a lot of drugs. Dress professionally instead of provocatively.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to Home Security Source discussing Real estate Agent safety on Inside Edition . Disclosures.