Friday, August 26, 2016

Shadowhawk Flashlights Get More Scammy

I've written extensively about the Shadowhawk Flashlight Scam, which is run by known scammers. Pretty much everything they claim is either patently false or completely misleading. From videos/photos of different products, to fake, sock puppet reviews, they run the full gamut of deception in order to get you to pay for a two dollar flashlight they buy wholesale.

Now it appears they are using geo-location to spam the world telling people that the local police in their city are urging them to buy their product.


It's not even very sporting to point out all the falsehoods. The photo above isn't even a flashlight, not to mention the product they are trying to sell you. And the Portland police aren't urging anyone to buy ultra-cheap, Chinese flashlights, the exact product you can buy direct from China or even from Amazon with very little markup. They certainly aren't urging anyone to buy Shadowhawk flashlights, and neither are the police in whatever location the ad geo-target you with.


I happen to know that none of the "reviewers" exist in the traditional sense of actually existing. How do I know? These are the same fake twitter accounts I wrote about for a different flashlight scam. @mattontheGo is a genuine Twitter account but actually someone else.




The photo above is a multi LED emitter flashlight and much larger, as you can see by the pattern the light makes.Most of these scams just regurgitate the same photos, some of which were stolen from legitimate reviewers like me. Of course, I watermark my flashlight photos for just this scenario!


Monday, August 22, 2016

Flashlight Scam: Nightforce MiliTac Flashlight

The ridiculous claims are similar to the other scams: "Should this military grade flashlight be
banned?" It's the typical scam of trying to sell you a flashlight they get for two dollar wholesale by convincing you that it's carried by the Navy SEALs and is not suddenly available to the public. It's not even suddenly available to Amazon.


The answer of course is yes, it should be banned, because no military in the world would carry such cheap crap, it's not made in the USA, it's not the world's brightest and the photos are the same regurgitated ones shown by most of the other scams, and not even of the product they are selling.

At least this incarnation of the scam doesn't show you fake twitter accounts like the others. It just gives generic "testimonials" like "My husband got the new Mili Tac. Made in the USA!"

Notice in the "testimonial" below that the guy is holding a much larger flashlight, probably with multiple LEDs judging by the light pattern.

The only thing truthful about the ads is that you may get a flashlight if you give them your money. And of course, if you scroll down to the bottom, you'll find out (surprise, surprise) that none of the claims are true and this is an "advertorial."

Notice the disclaimer text is grayed-out, with a big empty space above it.



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Fighting The Flashlight Scammers With AdSense

Several readers have pointed out the irony that sometimes when I do an article on the flashlight scammers, the ads for the scam flashlights appear on my site, right alongside the article. It's very frustrating because Google Ad Words tries to connect people with what it thinks they are searching for.

So what I have to do is go through all the thousands of ads that Google wants to serve up on my web site, and block them one by one. I don't know many sites that do this. Most sites are more than happy to serve up whatever Google gives them.


And what's worse, Google is the least shady of all the ad networks. Since there's not many ways a web site can support itself, I'm pretty much stuck with Google.

Lately I've been blocking every ad network whenever I see one of those scammy flashlight ads. The problem is that they create and launch new ads faster than I can go through them, and that's why they sometimes appear on my site. Sometimes it seems like a losing battle.

Hopefully they can't create new ad networks that fast, and the less scammy ad networks will refuse to run their ads. I have knowledge that this is already happening. The biggest scammers are still in business but feeling the heat, and one even posted a vague legal threat in the comment section of one of the articles.

I know who they are, and they know who I am, so this should get even more interesting over time.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Send Text Messages And Use Location Services Off The Grid

Living in a remote or rural area definitely has its challenges. Spotty cell service or wi-fi can put a real damper on your ability to communicate with friends and family. Living in a cabin in the woods, I tried everything short of satellite: wi-fi range extenders, cellular signal boosters--with mixed results.

I wandered into this product on Amazon, and it looks really interesting. You can pair this device to your phone or tablet and send texts and location data to other people who also have the device. And that's the limitation: you can't make a cell signal where there is none, but you can fool your phone into being a text walkie-talkie.

So it won't let you use the Google machine or play the Pokemans, but you can text your wife if you get lost, and that could save you from having a really bad day. I'm not living off the grid anymore, but it would've been nice to have something like this, so I thought I'd pass it along. I also make a small commission from the Amazon links, so it's a good way to support my work if you find it useful.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Another X700 Flashlight Scam

It would be comical if people weren't getting ripped off. The scam is to sell you a two dollar flashlight for a great deal more than that by convincing you it's banned military technology. Sounds exciting!

There's so many variations of the original G700 and Shadowhawk scams, I'm creating a spreadsheet to keep track of them all.

I hear the biggest scammers make about a million dollars a day, and that's only one scam. There's so many copycats that the copycats even copy each other. I do my best to fight these scams, but it's a losing battle. I also try to educate people about flashlights, as well as referring them to the Budget Light Forum, which is an entire community dedicated to getting good flashlights for less money.

One of the problems for the scammers is that the inventory can't keep up with all the different company names, product names and web sites, which is what I believe we're seeing here with a variation on the AlumiTact X700 scam. Too many flashlights lying around with "X700" stamped on them, so start another web site and drop the "AlumiTact" and viola, it's a hot new product!

The scam itself is just a regurgitation of most of the same ones floating around, with the same ridiculous claims and "sock puppet" fake reviews. For a while they were just pasting the same few fake twitter reviews over and over, but their fake Twitter accounts at least all look different this time.

Pretty much everything about the ad, its claims and the product are false and almost identical to the rest of the flashlight scams. Hey, when something works, stick to it I guess.


Uh, and I have a Chinese bridge to sell you.

All the "reviews" are fake, too. Looking up the Twitter accounts of the supposed reviewers illustrates my point.

Let's start with Jim Henkel, who seems pretty happy with his purchase:

The only problem with that is that the Twitter account @jimh33 looks like this:


Oops, but maybe this review by Kate Wentz is real. She does seem pretty stoked to have gotten 75% off, even though the product photo is identical to other fake reviews used by other scams, and identical to the AlumiTact X700.

...and nope, there's no @kate_wentz on Twitter. But maybe, just maybe, Keith Coleman's review is real.

Keith seems to be the envy of all his friends with his new MILITARY FLASHLIGHT. He even put it in all caps, just so you don't forget that it's INCREDIBLE MILITARY TECHNOLOGY. I wish he was my friend.


Here's the Twitter page for @kcoleman_22 who doesn't seem at all like a huge flashlight fan.


There's a Keith Coleman on Twitter, but his feed is private.


By now it should be obvious that there's not a tiny shred of truth in this "advertorial" which is basically just slang for "fake blog post with fake reviews to get you pay a premium price for cheap Chinese crap."

But wait, buried at the bottom, they tell you that ... wait for it ... basically none of it's real, even though they are "dedicated to bringing readers honest financial information."

Click on the image to see it large enough to read. Look, they even used the word "honest."



Did you get all the fine print? So basically "the claims are all false, the reviews are fake, but hey, we tell you so in fine print in a tiny font at the bottom."

So ... none of it is real except the part where you give them your money. Sounds like a scam to me!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Impending Blog Revamp

Blogger has been a great platform for my blogs over the years. Google does all the heavy lifting with
the hosting and all their built-in templates. They can handle huge amounts of traffic, and it all works well if you "color inside the lines."

Being locked into their platform wasn't so bad, but all their templates are dated.

So, I've decided to do a complete revamp, suck it up, and finally convert everything over to WordPress, which has only gotten better and better over the years.

Some slated improvements to the blog:

  • More of a modern look
  • Better mobile support
  • Better artwork
  • Videos
  • Mailing list
I welcome any suggestions on making the blog better. You can email me at theoutdoornerd@gmail.com and I love hearing from readers!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Deal Hunter: 5 Pack Of Zoomie Flashlights For $16.59

Being an "Amazonaholic" means I'm always on the lookout for good deals on the stuff I like, such as budget flashlights.

The brand name doesn't really matter as they are all rebranded and identical to the zillions of other
brands who share this flashlight.

I've bought this type of flashlight direct from China in the past for as low as $3 a piece on sale, so getting it with Prime shipping from a seller fulfilled by Amazon for not much more than that is a fantastic deal.

Be advised that while these are decent flashlights, these are not "military grade" or rugged enough for a demanding environment. These are flashlights you keep in your car or in a drawer for use around the house.

This model also takes a common AA battery or a 14500 lithium-ion cell. Basically any cell that fits in the tube can run the flashlight. I prefer Eneloops myself, though the output is about 3 times more with a 14500 cell.