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Faking Gift Cards Is Easy, Says Weezie –Cagle

November 2011

Is business getting too difficult for you? Are you considering a life of crime? Well, we’re not here to judge (actually, we love to’ll get a pass for now). But, if you must turn to the dark side, at least let us help you do it. This way, no one will get hurt and the only victim will be retailers. And they don’t count as people.

Step one: Purchase an HP Indigo 7000 or an MGI JETcard press. Step two: Buy some gift cards as templates. Step three: Make your own ersatz gift cards and spend them all over town...just not where you live. Gotta be smart about it.

Well, SOMEONE thought this was a good idea, as police in Augusta, GA, are on the lookout for a criminal who made off with thousands of dollars in jewelry from a mall in that city—ill-gotten booty procured not with a gun or knife, but courtesy of phony Visa gift cards. The WJBF ABC affiliate reported that police are on the hunt for a known suspect, whose name we won't use since he has not been charged with a crime (or captured) as of press time.

However, we will tell you that Weezie, as the man is known (whew, we thought George Jefferson's wife was in trouble for a minute), is also wanted in Boston, Philadelphia and Dallas. Sounds like Weezie needs to start a West Coast crime spree.

Police believe that Weezie is somehow printing the cards himself. HP, MGI and other vendors who offer plastic card printing technologies might want to cross-reference their client lists for anyone named Weezie.

“It’s scary that it can be done this easily,” Kevin Keegan, the manager of Harris Jewelry in the Augusta Mall, told WJBF. “Of course, with the economy the way it is, people are doing what they can to make money.”

It's nice to know that the counterfeiting community has graduated to the next level. As technology becomes more sophisticated, so do the thieves.

B-A-A-A-A-D NEWS: Speaking of technology, an old tradition is going by the wayside, much to the relief of sheep everywhere. The University of Notre Dame announced it was no longer printing diplomas on sheepskin, ending a practice as old as educational degrees themselves.

The school's newspaper, The Observer, reported that the printing vendor who provided sheepskin diplomas to the university had decided to halt the practice, which involved lead type. With order volumes dwindling and the safety concern that accompanied the process, Notre Dame's provider decided to ax the offering.

The school had offered both sheepskin and paper diplomas to its graduates for more than 100 years, with sheepskin availability playing a role from time to time, The Observer noted. Also, in recent years, more students had requested paper diplomas.

An official in Notre Dame's registrar's office noted that, as a substrate, sheepskin is susceptible to fading, shrinking and wrinkling. He said the office gets calls each year for reprints of sheepskin diplomas that had been damaged by the sun.

The Observer said the school will invest in software and high- quality printers to prepare the diplomas. The paper diplomas will be in full force in time for January 2012 graduations.

Back in the day, paper was difficult to produce, so an alternative was necessary. One has to wonder how many possibilities were pondered during the hunt for paper substitutes. Incidentally, I'd be interested in finding out the name of the person who first looked upon a sheep and said, "You know, that beast's hide would be perfect for parchment printing."

DUTCH TREAT: One European government is being seen as a trendsetter for the elimination of mass paper usage. Upon returning from summer recess, members of the Holland Senate were given Apple iPads, complete with a new Senate app designed for their new devices.

According to Reuters, the Dutch Senate is the first in Europe to distribute digital documents via a tablet computer. A high-ranking member of the senate said that the iPad has enabled "enormous piles of paper" to be replaced by digital files. The app includes features for the management of calendars, legislative bills, parliamentary correspondence and meeting documents.

The price for the devices and the app creation came in around US$201,000, but the elimination of printing and courier costs in the first year will offset most of that amount. While we're not fans of eliminating paper usage, governments do tend to waste a ton of paper that invariably takes up filing cabinet space. And, if it does end up saving taxpayers money, then it can't be a bad thing. PI

—Erik Cagle



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