Tech Talk #108 – July 20, 2019

A new Facebook scam

Scammers have discovered that Facebook is a good vehicle for tricking people into giving them money, usually through the Facebook Messenger app but also using some Facebook games.

The latest scam tricks people into thinking they gave money to a terrorist group, and now the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is after them. Here’s how it works:

The scammers contact their victim using Messenger or an in-game message. Then they build up a relationship, usually some form of a romantic relationship. Eventually, they come up with a hardship story and ask for a small amount of money.

The day after the victim sends their new “friend” some money, the scammers call back posing as DHS officers and convince the victim they’ve donated money to Al Qaeda or ISIL, or whichever terrorist organization is in the news that day. The scammers tell their victim they’re entitled to a lawyer and pass them along to another scammer that agrees to take their case for a $1,000 retainer fee.

Because this scam requires patience to create a fake relationship, then multiple contacts with different scammers, and finally the ability for the scammers to spoof actual government phone numbers, the scam succeeds. After all, who wants to donate to some terrorist organization, have a fake Facebook “relationship” uncovered, or have the U.S. government mad at you?

“Legitimate law enforcement callers will never ask you to pay fines over the phone or request money from you,” the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General (DHS OIG) said in a press release. “If there is a question about the validity of a call, we encourage the public to call the relevant field office number of the government agency and ask to be put in touch with the individual who called you.”

Anyone who believes they may have been a target of this or any other scam that refers to DHS can contact the DHS OIG Hotline at 1-800-323-8603 or file a complaint online at the DHS OIG website.

Facebook has not publicly commented on the latest scam running on their platform.

iOS 13’s battery optimization

The first generation of cell phone batteries were Nickel-Cadmium (NiCad) batteries. NiCad batteries were toxic (the Cadmium part,) heavy, had overheating issues, and developed a memory effect from charging cycles. This memory effect was the source of the old advice to drain your phone down to 0% battery before charging it again. Along came Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries. NiMH batteries got rid of the toxic cadmium, developed less of a memory effect, and got more power into a smaller space. Currently, we use Lithium-ion batteries in phones. Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries pack a lot of power into a smaller, thinner space and don’t develop a memory effect. By the way, if you’re still following the old “drain it down to zero” advice with a Li-ion battery, you’re damaging the battery, so don’t do it.

While Li-ion batteries don’t develop a memory effect, they do have a maximum charge cycle issue. A Li-ion battery can be charged only so many times, and then it starts to lose capacity. If you charge your battery from 80 to 100% five days in a row, those 20% charges add up to one “full charge cycle.”

iOS 13 (coming this fall to iPhones) includes a battery optimization feature to reduce the time your iPhone spends with a 100% battery charge. How? When your iPhone is on a charger overnight, an algorithm will hold the battery charge at 80% until just before you wake up (based on alarms you may have set, the Battery Health app, and sensor activity,) then it’ll restart charging your iPhone to give you a fully charged battery when you wake up.

Your iPhone won’t spend the entire night taking a charge it doesn’t need, but when you start your day, your battery will be at 100%.

An invitation

I’ve invited a few people over later to sit around and stare at their phones if you want to come over.

Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at

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