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6 text messages that are almost always scams

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A man in denim jacket , indoors, checking text messages on his phone.
One of the most popular text message scams involves fraudsters posing as a bank | Photo: Thom Holmes

In today’s digital age, it’s never been simpler to access information at just the click of a few buttons (or using the sound of your voice in some cases) effortlessly.

The times of technology are constantly evolving, but unfortunately, so are financial scams. Unsuspecting individuals are often finding themselves at the mercy of cunning fraudsters online, through the guise of seemingly innocent text messages. 

Earlier last year, Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, warned that it had received 1,235 reports of criminals posing as loved ones in need on WhatsApp between 3 February and 21 June, amounting to a total financial loss of £1.5m. Over in the US, text message phishing – sometimes called “smishing”- cost consumers $330 million in 2022. That’s more than double the reported 2021 total. According to a new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data analysis, the past year’s No. 1 text message scam in America involves fraudsters posing as a bank. 

Here online security expert Alain Vartanian, from Customer Service Number, outlines seven common text-based messages to avoid and protect your finances.

Hi Mum/Dad

These are one of the most common text scams making the rounds to thousands of unsuspecting parents.

A pretty common problem to avoid completely if you don’t have children, the Hi Mum/Dad text is usually brief and states that their phone is either broken or lost, in some cases for sympathy they may explain their phone was stolen.

“If you receive a message like this don’t be tempted to transfer money immediately, enquire further by asking who specifically it is by name and by calling them or asking for a voice note. 

You should also ensure that two-factor authentication is set up on your account and never share their six-digit pin code with others.” recommends the expert.

Random Job Offers

If you’ve been applying for jobs recently, you can often lose track of what jobs you’ve applied for. But if it sounds too good to be true, the likelihood of it being real is slim.

Scammers will also target people who have their resumes posted on employment websites like Indeed and text them to provide their bank account information as part of onboarding for the new job. 

“Remember, legitimate companies will not communicate with you via text for your personal or financial information”

Failed Deliveries

Scammers pretend to be large companies like Amazon or large courier companies to say that you’ve missed a delivery.

Many of us are guilty of online shopping, sometimes frivolously where you might forget that you’ve ordered something. In this haste, it’s understandable many are falling for the trick and trying to get their hands on their ‘missed parcel’.

“Keep a note of the things you order online and make a note of when you’re roughly expecting them to avoid being caught out with this scam.” advises Alan.

Bank Account/Card Scams

For years, we’ve been reminded by our banks to stay safe online.

But fraudsters will still try out their luck with messages explaining that your account is locked or compromised in order for you to share the sensitive information they’ll need.

“If you ever receive a text from your bank that you’re not sure about, it’s always best to ring your bank or building society’s official hotline to confirm.

Compromised Accounts

Many have started to take advantage of the fact many consumers have general shopping accounts with more than one company.

These scam messages will usually come under the guise of helping you to better protect your account. They could ask you to change a password or username, ultimately further compromising your accounts.

If anything is wrong with your accounts, you’ll always be contacted by the relevant official teams.

Bogus Refunds 

Money back is always good, but again, you have to spend money in order to receive a refund.

You’ll almost never receive SMS updates about refunds, these are usually processed by your bank or the third-party company you paid with, ie Klarna, Clearpay or Paypal, you’ll never have to do anything online in order to get money back that is legitimately yours.

“It’s important to stay informed and vigilant with our technology, to protect ourselves and loves ones falling victim.

Remember, if something feels or looks off, or if things feel a little bit too good to be true, go with your gut.” concludes the expert.

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Lifestyle

Cannes opens with French comedy and honorary award for Meryl Streep

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Actress Juliette Binoche hands an award to Meryl Steep
Meryl Streep receives a honorary Palme D’Or from Juliette Binoche | Photo: Andrea Rentz

The 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival officially opened last night with Quentin Dupieux’s Le Deuxième Acte (The Second Act), and an honorary Palme d’Or awarded to American actress Meryl Streep.

Presented Out of Competition as a world premiere on the Croisette last night, May 14, this four-part comedy was also released in all French cinemas on the same day. The film stars Lea Seydoux, Vincent Lindon, Louis Garrel and Raphaël Quenard playing squabbling actors filming a movie produced and directed by artificial intelligence.

The opening ceremony of the 77th Festival de Cannes, hosted at the  Grand Théâtre Lumière, also had American actress Meryl Streep as a guest of honour.

Streep received the Festival’s Honorary Palme d’or, 35 years after winning the Best Actress award for Evil Angels, her only appearance in Cannes until last night.

“My mother, who is usually right about everything, said to me: ’Meryl, my darling, you’ll see. It all goes so fast. So fast,″ added Streep. “And it has, and it does. Except for my speech, which is too long,” said the three time Oscar award-winning actress.

Last year French Film director Justine Triet won the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or for her murder mystery film “Anatomy of a Fall” becoming the third female filmmaker ever to win the prize, which was first awarded in 1955. 

The 77th Cannes Film Festival is set to run until May 25th, when the Palme d’Or winners will be revealed, 2024.

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Exhibition in Madrid reveals science and technology behind Pixar’s films

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Exhibition in Madrid reveals science and technology behind Pixar’s films
The Science Behind Pixar can be seen at CaixaForum Madrid until 8 September.

CaixaForum Madrid is currently hosting The Science Behind Pixar exhibition, created by the Museum of Science, Boston, in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios. The exhibition is divided into eight sections, corresponding to the steps in the process Pixar uses to transform an idea into a film. With specific examples from some of their most famous films, the public will be able to experiment with the techniques behind the modelling, rigging, surfaces, sets and cameras, animation, simulation, lighting and rendering of animated films.

This is the third collaboration between the ”la Caixa” Foundation and Pixar Studios. In 2015, Pixar: 25 Years of Animation, represented a thorough review of this pioneering company’s work in computer animation in its 25 years of history. Subsequently, Pixar, Building Characters (which has travelled to five CaixaForums since 2020) focused on the visual design of the Pixar characters to best transmit the story and fit in with the other elements of the film. Now, the eight sections of The Science Behind Pixar will give visitors an insight into every stage of the technical process used by Pixar’s artists and computer scientists

The aim of the new exhibition is to peel away, layer by layer and in a way that is attractive for all audiences, the scientific, computer and mathematical concepts that lie behind our favourite Pixar characters. To do this, the exhibition is organised into eight sections, each of which explains in depth one specific step of Pixar’s technical process: Modelling, which allows characters to be created in 3D; Rigging, in which the virtual bones, muscles and joints are developed; design of Surfaces and Sets; Animation, which brings the story to life; Simulation, which provides automated movements; Lighting, which enhances the emotional impact, and Rendering, which turns 3D scenes into 2D images.

Throughout 815 square metres in CaixaForum Madrid, visitors will learn about all these steps that Pixar pays passionate attention to in order to bring its worlds and characters to life. Dozens of interactive and audiovisual elements will reveal what is hidden behind Pixar films, from the first-ever computer-animated feature film – Toy Story – which opened over two decades ago, to the release of Turning Red.

To better understand the science and maths that go into creating the worlds and characters of Pixar’s films, visitors will see audiovisuals and hear first-hand from members of the studios’ production teams. They will also be invited to experience different roles within the production pipeline, through screen-based activities and physical interactive elements.

In the Sets & Cameras section, for example, visitors will discover how camera placement and angles created a bug’s-eye view for A Bug’s Life; in Modelling, they will try their hand at creating a digital sculpture from an artist’s sketch and in Lighting they will use lights to solve challenges similar to ones Pixar faced in creating underwater scenes with virtual light in Finding Nemo. The exhibition route also includes human-size recreations of many Pixar film characters, such as Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story), Dory (Finding Nemo), Mike and Sulley (Monsters, Inc.), Edna Mode (The Incredibles) and WALL·E (from the film of the same name).

Throughout the months that the exhibition will remain at CaixaForum Madrid, the ”la Caixa” Foundation will be offering various activities to bring the art and science of Pixar closer to all audiences. In addition, the general public can take a guided tour and families can choose between the family tour and the animated stories workshop-tour, where visitors can make a short, animated clip to understand all the phases of the creative process after visiting the exhibition.

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Switzerland wins Eurovision song contest with non-binary singer

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Non-binary singer Nemo, winner of the Eurovision 2024
Singer Nemo performed ‘The Code’ for Switzerland | Photo: Alma Bengtsson

After the very last set of scores had come in, The Code, performed by rapper Neno, was announced as the clear champion of the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 with a points tally of 591 and a lead of 44 points. 

Croatia finished in second place with Rim Tim Tagi Dim by Baby Lasagna on 547 points. The other spot on the podium finish went to Ukraine, ending up in third place thanks to alyona alyona & Jerry Heil with their song Teresa & Maria, on 453 points.

Scores on the night were awarded in two stages, as is traditional at the Eurovision Song Contest. The first results to come in were from the juries, followed by the reveal of the public vote.

Once the initial points from 37 juries had come in, Switzerland already had secured the lead on the scoreboard with 365 points.

Nemo is the first nonbinary artist to win Eurovision.

“I’m mostly just really grateful for this experience and all the friends I’ve made along the way. This was one of the most queer representations we’ve seen at Eurovision which was amazing, I want to shout out all the other queer artists this year,” said the artist who was born in Biel, a small bilingual town in Switzerland.

Nemo’s triumph in Malmö is Switzerland’s third win at the Eurovision Song Contest to date, following victory by Lys Assia in 1956 and Céline Dion in 1988.

Switzerland first participated in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1956, winning the very first edition of the competition, which it also hosted. 

It has been a controversial year for the song contest festival launched in 1956. For weeks, the question of whether Israel should be allowed to compete or not while engaged in a military conflict in Gaza dominated the media surrounding the event and attracted pro-Palestine activists to the Swedish city of Malmö. Eden Golan, a 20-year old singer representing Israel, was booed during a dress rehearsal; It has been reported that she was confined to her hotel room, while in Malmo to perform at Eurovision, after a series of threats against the Israeli delegation. Hours before the grand final, on May 11th, Dutch rapper Joost Klein, who represented the Netherlands, was disqualified from Eurovision 2024 over what the organisers described as an “incident” involving a female member of the production crew.

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