When the U.S. the U.S. Saw Italian Americans as a Threat to Homeland Security

Many people may be aware of the forced internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, but fewer know that the same executive order also resulted in for the mandatory relocation of more than 10,000 Italian-Americans and limited the movements of another 600,000 Italian-Americans across the country.

One morning in spring 1942, federal officers knocked on the door of a New Haven home. The man who opened the door, Pasquale DeCicco, was a pillar of his community and had been a U.S. citizen for more than 30 years. He was taken to a federal detention center in Boston, where he was fingerprinted, photographed and held for three months. Then he was sent to another detention facility on Ellis Island.

Still with no hearing scheduled, he was moved again to an immigration facility at Fort Meade, Maryland. On July 31, he was formally declared an enemy alien of the United States. He remained at Fort Meade until December 1943, months after Italy’s surrender. He was never shown any evidence against him, nor charged with any crime.

During World War II, the U.S. Saw Italian-Americans as a Threat to Homeland Security [via Smithsonian]

People Describing the Craziest Scams They’ve Pulled or Seen Pulled

Here’s a lengthy collection of people on Reddit telling stories about the scams they either pulled or saw someone pull.  A few examples:

Faking Car Theft for the Insurance Payoff

Right after high school a friend of mine hit a pole thus messing up his car. He didn’t have the money to get it fixed and he knew his insurance didn’t cover it, but it did cover theft. So he reported the car stolen, hid it in the garage so the cops wouldn’t see it. That night at like 4am he had another friend follow him out into the middle of nowhere and he left his car in a ditch. Got a ride home. Two days later he got a call that his car had been found but it was damaged. Insurance paid for it. – via momadance

Selling Public Parking Spots

My father had a couple of cousins who lived in New York. They had this thing going in the 50s or 60s (the family lore is unclear on the dates) where, on the afternoon of Yankees games, they would get some pylons, block off a side street near the stadium, and charge people to park there, filling up the street bumper-to-bumper. They did this for quite a while. One day they told someone who drove up the price (must have been a dollar or two at the time) and the guy started arguing with them, som ething like this: “No, you have to pay to park here.” “You don’t have to pay to park on a public street.” “Yes you do. C’mon, pay up.” “Well, I’m a policeman, and I know you don’t.” At that point the two guys ran off and hid in someone’s chicken coop for a while. When they got back to the street, all the cars they had parked there had parking tickets. So they took all the tickets off the cars, threw them in the sewer, and went home. I wish I could say that that kind of ballsiness was genetic. – via mattbin

Mini-Golf Fraud

In high school my friends and I would frequent the local arcade/mini-golf course called “Putt-Putt.” One day my buddy Dan and I were leaving after playing some arcade games and I turned to him and said “Hey, what do they do with the tickets after you turn them in for prizes?” we both turned our heads towards the dumpster in the parking lot. We open the dumpster and find bags and bags full of tickets that had been turned in for prizes. So we started checking regularly for these bags and hoardi ng them in my parents’ garage. Eventually I think someone realized and they started shredding the tickets.
Then we got greedy… We figured we needed MORE tickets (we had about 100,000 at this point). So one day Dan and I were back at the arcade . We noticed that they kept the keys that open the machines on a nail behind the counter. There were only two high school students working at the time. So we devised a plan. I was to distract one of them while the other was busy and Dan would steal t he keys. So I complained that a machine had taken my tokens and Dan nabbed the keys. We excitedly walked out of the arcade. In the parking lot I turn to him and go “wait dude, we can’t leave! we were the only ones in there, if we leave now, they’ll k now we took the keys.” “You’re right, we have to go back” he said. So we went back in and played it cool and later left. Now that we had the keys, we would get in the Jurassic Park game which was one of those enclosed booth type games. There we could open up the coin box and get as many free tokens as we could use. We would also open the skee-ball and other ticket games and remove entire rolls/stacks of tickets. So anyways, at this point we had hundreds of thousands of tickets saved up . So finally one day, we load over a dozen garbage bags full of tickets in to my white child molester van (that shit was actually the awesomest car to have in high school) and went to the arcade to redeem some prizes. We stroll in there cocky as shit carrying bags of tickets and start dumping them on the counter like that scene from “Miracle on 34th St.” We got every single prize they had. Seriously, we cleaned them out. It was the same two stupid high school kids working that day, so they either never figured it out, or just didn’t care. Prizes included like 5 razor scooters, all of the candy and little toys, a crap load of nerf guns and an N64. – via journeymanSF

Magic Trick Con (Not Illegal, But Still a Hustle)

Me, at band camp tryouts in middle-high school.  I always carried around a deck of cards. I would scope out small groups of kids from other schools, then ask them if they wanted to see a magic trick (yes, explicitly a magic trick). I would do a simple card force (i.e., asked them to pick a card, any card, but I knew exactly which card they would pick), and then shuffle up the deck. I would then theatrically deal out the deck in a random pattern until the card they had picked was on the table, then deal out one or two more cards. I would then declare “I bet each of you FIVE DOLLARS that the next card I turn over will be your card.” Almost every kid would take the bet, some would even raise me. I would turn over the forced card on the table, take their money, and move on. Made $100 a day at band tryouts from people who thought I messed up a magic trick. – via heptadecagram

What’s the craziest scam that someone you know has pulled? [via Reddit]

Drinking in the Wash Room Made Easy

Having one of these in your washroom may be as clear a sign as any that you have a drinking problem… but heck, life is short and it’s your house.  The His and Hers Toilet Paper Holder for Beverages is available from Easy for $20.  To keep the option open to have a drink  while engaging in all of your bathroom activities, for less than $14 you can also get the Shower Beer Beverage Holder.

Use Google Images to Protect Against Craigslist Scams

If you’re ever interested in buying electronics such as phones or cameras off Craigslist, it can’t hurt to use Google’s search by image option before actually agreeing to the meet/purchase.  This is simply a matter of copying and pasting the Craigslist image URL into Google Images (Google also allows you to upload the actual image file if you’ve already downloaded it to your computer) and then hitting the search by image option, which as of today is represented by the little image of a camera at the end of the Google Images search field.

This will at least allow you to see if the product image in the Craigslist ad has simply been copied off the Internet.  If that’s the case, the seller may be trying to lure you into a meeting for other purposes (robbery, etc.). Of course, it’s entirely possible it’s a legitimate seller who just pulled a photo of the product off the Internet rather than actually take a photo of it, but since virtually all cell phones have cameras now, it’s easy (and probably more logical) for a seller to take a quick snap of the actual stuff for sale.  In that case, ask the seller for a photo of the real item you’ll be buying.

Car Thieves Using Device to Automatically Open and Start Push-Button Ignition Cars

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has gotten its hands on a device, called a Relay Attack, that can allow a car thief to open and start a vehicle that uses a keyless entry system (think push-button to start).   It appears to be more sophisticated and ideally suited to a car thief’s purposes than even the RKE jammers we have posted about before.  These Relay Attack devices have been thought to exist and have been used by car thieves for at least the last several years, but it’s apparently the first time someone legitimate has been able to get their hands on one to confirm their capabilities.  NICB purchased one from a European vendor it did not specifically identify by name.  The device was apparently developed by engineers as a way to test the anti-theft capabilities of push-button cars, but increasing numbers of car thieves are suspected of having gotten their hands on it.

In a series of unscientific tests at different locations over a two-week period, 35 different makes and models of cars, SUVs, minivans and a pickup truck were tested. We partnered with NICB member company CarMax, because they are the nation’s largest used car retailer and have nearly every make and model in their inventory. Tests were also done at a new car dealership, an independent used car dealer, at an auto auction and on NICB employee vehicles and ones owned by private individuals.

The vehicles were tested to see if the device could:

  • open the door
  • start the vehicle
  • drive it away
  • turn off and restart the engine without the original fob present

The NICB was able to open 19 (54 percent) of the vehicles and start and drive away 18 (51 percent) of them. Of the 18 that were started, after driving them away and turning off the ignition, the device was used to restart 12 (34 percent) of the vehicles.

Unscientific or not, these results are depressing.  Hit the jump for an honestly fascinating video by NICB summarizing their findings on the device.

Continue reading Car Thieves Using Device to Automatically Open and Start Push-Button Ignition Cars

Man Commits Armed Robbery to Get Away from Wife

Yes, this really happened.

A 70-year-old Kansas man reportedly admitted to a September 2016 armed bank robbery incident and now faces up to 20 years in prison, all so he could get away from his wife.  According to the Kansas City Star, Lawrence John Ripple allegedly admitted to going to the Bank of Labor in Kansas City because he was tired of living with his wife after having an argument with her.  Ripple stole nearly $3,000 from the bank, but instead of making his getaway, his real intent was to escape from his spouse… and so he reportedly just sat down in the bank lobby and waited to be arrested.  A security guard reportedly approached him, at which time he identified himself as the guy they were looking for.  On Jan. 23, in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, he pleaded guilty to federal bank robbery.  According to the Kansas City Star:

The robbery was captured on bank surveillance video that showed Ripple hand a note to a teller. The note read, “I have a gun, give me money,” according to court documents.

The teller handed over $2,924, but instead of fleeing, Ripple sat down in the bank lobby.

When a bank security guard approached him, Ripple told the guard that he was the person the guard was looking for, according to the documents. The guard took Ripple into custody and recovered the money that had just been taken.

Hit the jump for a news video on the incident.  Though not on camera, the wife apparently told the reporter they had been married 33 years.

Continue reading Man Commits Armed Robbery to Get Away from Wife

All NYC Cops to Have Body Cameras by 2019

By Ryan Johnson Source: Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Yesterday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city will outfit all NYPD patrol officers with  body cameras by 2019.    This past year, New York selected VieVu to provide 5,000 cameras, but the contract to supply cameras for all patrol units could reportedly be worth up to $250 million over 14 years.  This promise if kept means NYPD is looking to implement the country’s largest body camera program, with more than 20,000 officers outfitted with the surveillance capability.

Regardless of whether one agrees with the decision or not, the goal represents a marked departure from less than three months ago, when news reports indicated the NYPD did not have a single patrol officer on the streets with a body camera:

All New York City police will have to wear body cameras by end of 2019 [via The Verge]

Tostitos Bag Can Test if You’ve Been Drinking and Can Get You an Uber

Here’s an interesting, though gimmicky ad campaign that’s arrived just in time for the Super Bowl.  Tostitos has created a limited edition bag that can tell if you’ve been drinking.  The bag turns green if you’re in the clear, otherwise if it detects alcohol on your breath, it will turn red with the message, “Don’t drink and drive.”  It will then also display a promo code good for $10 off an Uber, complete with near field technology to let you tap your phone to the bag call the Uber if you’re really that hammered.  (Now that’s actually pretty cool).  The catch is the bag cannot detect your level of intoxication, just that you’ve been drinking, so it’s really not a substitute for a breathalyzer or, more simply, just keeping track of how many drinks you’ve had.  Hit the jump for a somewhat overly dramatic promotional video for the Tostitos Party Safe bag (yes, that’s really what it’s called).

Continue reading Tostitos Bag Can Test if You’ve Been Drinking and Can Get You an Uber

Gone in Sixty Seconds: This Tow Truck Must Have the Speed Record

Hit the jump for video from the Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport of a security tow truck removing a parked car IN LESS THAN A MINUTE by forklifting the car onto the truck’s tow bed. Not only is it much faster than the traditional way, but possibly safer for the car as well.  Ingenious.  How come we don’t do that everywhere?  The tow truck may have been an element of heightened airport security, as the video was apparently shot in August 2015, just two months after three suicide bombers attacked Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, killing 41 people and injuring 239.  The YouTube user who posted the video (link below) said the truck drove by every five minutes. Continue reading Gone in Sixty Seconds: This Tow Truck Must Have the Speed Record