Osceola County Victim Report Form

This is the sixth in what turned into a series of articles. Here is the fifth and here is the seventh.

In the course of talking to law enforcement, I think I have an idea of the steps a person should take if they are a victim of Helen’s scam.

First, a report needs to be filed with local law enforcement (where your house is located). Your local police or sheriff can help you put that together. It’s just a statement of what happened and how much money you are out. When filing with them you can tell them there is already an open investigation in Osceola County, Florida. They may refer your report to Osceola County.

Second, you should file a report with law enforcement in the city where Helen was operating. We’ve been sending people to the county sheriff in Osceola County (if Helen gave you a mailing address in Orlando, Kissimmee, Celebration or other Osceola County location), Hillsborough County (Tampa), or Duval County (Jacksonville). Again, if you’re not filing with Osceola, you can mention that there is an open investigation there. The goal is to get the majority of the investigation happening under one roof.

Finally, you’ll need to talk to an attorney about getting clear title to your home and dealing with your tenants. You may have to formally “evict” Helen, even though she’s not living there. You will have to evict the people occupying your house unless you want to enter into a rental agreement with them and allow them to stay. Again, your attorney can help you with that.

Feel free to mention this website to law enforcement. The simplest way to do that is to use www.fsboscam.com. That site is essentially a “wrapper” around this one and brings everything related to Helen’s scam in one place. I am also happy to talk personally to law enforcement if there’s any information I can provide. I can provide my phone number and other contact info to you. Contact me through the comments here. When you post a comment it does not get uploaded to the website — it gets sent to me by email. I will respond by email and will not post your comments here if you do not wish them to be posted.

The information below was published here at request of the Osceola County Sheriff. You can use it as a guideline for reporting to other law enforcement agencies.

These reports do not need to come to me. However, I’m interested in details like phone numbers, email addresses, mailing addresses, and other specific contact points you may have had with Helen. I’m also interested in the alias she was using and which of her fake companies she claimed to be representing. Having this information allows us to connect her aliases to each other and back to Helen Joanne Pearce. But again, I’m only an interested third party. It’s up to you how much of your private information you want to disclose to me.

If you need help preparing this statement or would like someone to review what you’ve prepared to send to the sheriff, I’d be happy to help. Contact me through the comments.

This link will take you to a PDF of the instructions for completing a statement: Out of County Reports Osceola Florida

Here are the instructions in case you have trouble viewing the PDF:

OSCEOLA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

2601 East Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy.

Kissimmee,FL34744

Out of County Victim Report Process

Crimes that occurred in Osceola County may be reported via email, fax or mail for victims who do not live in Osceola County, Florida. No matter which procedure is used to initially file the report, an original, sworn notarized statement must be received before criminal charges can be filed. Please include the below listed information in the statement. After the statement is received, the victim will be contacted with an incident number and further contact information.

  • Date of Statement
  • Victim name, age, date of birth, race and sex
  • Complete home and business addresses
  • Contact telephone number(s)
  • Contact email, if available
  • Driver license state and number
  • Complete chronological details of the incident. If credit card or bank accounts are involved, include the bank name, address and account number.
  • Total amount of monetary loss, if any.
  • A statement as to whether the victim is willing or not willing to testify in court
  • A statement as to whether the victim does or does not desire to pursue criminal prosecution

Email Reporting. Send all information to sofraud@osceola.org

  • Include the above listed statement information in the body of the email or as a Word or PDF attachment and email to sofraud@osceola.org.
  • Print the statement and have it notarized.
  • Mail the signed, notarized statement to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Economic Crimes Unit, 2601 East Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, Florida 34744

Fax Reporting. Fax all information to 321-697-4319

  • Complete a statement with the above information and fax to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Economic Crimes Unit.
  • Mail the statement after it has been signed and notarized to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Economic Crimes Unit, 2601 East Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, Florida 34744

US Mail Reporting.

  • Complete a statement with the above information and mail to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Unit after it has been signed and notarized.
  • Mail to: Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Economic Crimes Unit, 2601 East Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, Florida 34744

What’s Wrong With Christian Music?

We recently sang a song during our Sunday morning worship service that prompted me to do some research. Here’s the song:

Friend of God
© Israel Houghton, 2003

Verse 1
Who am I that You are mindful of me
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me
How You love me it’s amazing

Verse 1 Again
Who am I that You are mindful of me
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me
How You love me it’s amazing

Chorus
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend

Verse 1 AGAIN
Who am I that You are mindful of me
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me
How You love me it’s amazing

So amazing, it’s amazing

Chorus
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend

Random Repeated Phrases Similar to Chorus
God Almighty, Lord of Glory
You have called me friend
You have called me friend
You have called me friend

I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend
He calls me friend
He calls me friend…

Granted, we also did some traditional hymns, and I appreciate that, but this one encapsulates so many of the issues I have with the music we’re singing in church. There are three verses, but they’re all the same. The chorus is just the same phrase over and over.

Compare to the same message as expressed in these classic hymns:

Christ a Redeemer and Friend
John Newton, 1799

Poor, weak and worthless though I am
I have a rich almighty Friend;
Jesus, the Savior, is His Name;
He freely loves, and without end.

He ransomed me from hell with blood,
And by His power my foes controlled;
He found me wandering far from God,
And brought me to His chosen fold.

But, ah! my inmost spirit mourns;
And well my eyes with tears may swim,
To think of my perverse returns:
I’ve been a faithless friend to Him.

Often my gracious Friend I grieve,
Neglect, distrust, and disobey;
And often Satan’s lies believe
Sooner than all my Friend can say.

Sure, were I not most vile and base,
I could not thus my Friend requite!
And were not He the God of grace,
He’d frown and spurn me from my sight.

He cheers my heart, my needs supplies,
And says that I shall shortly be,
Enthroned with Him above the skies;
O what a Friend is Christ to me!

And this one:

What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Joseph Medlicott Scriven, circa 1885.

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

There are important differences. First is the density of doctrinal content, yet without taking away from the poetry. Second is that Jesus, rather than the writer is the object of adoration. That is, in Friend of God, I am a friend of God. In What a Friend We Have In Jesus, it is Jesus who is my friend. The former is name dropping; the latter is praise. The former lifts me up, the latter lifts Jesus up.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Heb 5:11-14)

Why I Don’t Care About Swift

Swift is a new programming language created by Apple for use on OS X and iOS devices. The programming world is agog. Apple’s fantastic new language apparently solves all their problems, as evidenced, they say, by the fact that some programmer ported Flappy Birds to it in a few hours.

I’ve been around long enough to see languages come and go. Each claimed to solve all the problems introduced by its predecessors, yet each was replaced by a language that solved all its problems. In some cases, the new language surpassed the success of the language it replaced (C++ and Java); in other cases, the new language faded into obscurity (Modula-2 and Ada).

Lately the motivations for new languages have been dubious. There is a big emphasis on making a language easy to learn and having it hide nasty issues related to memory management and type safety. One review of Swift I read stated, “Apple hopes to make the language more approachable, and hence encourage a new group of self-taught programmers”. While that sounds great, it means that those of us who have mastered our craft after 30 years or more of practice are saddled with the training wheels and water wings that are written into these languages for the noobs.

A classic example is the lack of unsigned integers in Java. The motivation for this was to simplify the language for “new and self-taught programmers” by avoiding errors caused by a lack of understanding of sign-extension. However, for those of us who showed up for class the day that sign extension was taught (that would be day two), we’re left with a language that unnecessarily limits the range of positive integers and requires us to actually have mastered sign extension in order to understand what is happening when we directly manipulate the bits in our integer variables.

Explicit vs. Implicit Typing

One of the simplifications Swift makes is that it infers the types of variables from the values assigned to them rather than requiring the programmer to explicitly type variables. If this was true “weak typing” like I’m familiar with in VBScript, it would be great (though it would come with its own set of problems). But all Swift does is infer the type of the variable from the first value you assign to it.

This actually introduces problems, because it’s not always possible to unequivocally determine the type of a literal value. So Swift gives you ways to force it to interpret a literal value as a given type. Rather than removing the necessity of the programmer understanding types, Swift thus requires “new and self-taught” programmers to have a mastery of types so that they can understand how Swift is working behind the scenes and make sure that their variables have the desired type.

Strings

Swift is said to improve string-handling over Objective-C (the current language used on OS X and iOS). There is certainly room for improvement there. When I first started programming in Objective-C, one of the first things I did was bring over my own C++ string class, as I found NSString to be overly complicated and muddled. Over the years I’ve gotten better with NSString.

I would argue, however, that some of the so-called “improvements” in Swift with respect to strings are differences without a distinction. So instead of this in Objective-C:

[NSString stringWithFormat:@"The value of num is %d", num]

you say this in Swift:

"The value of num is \(num)"

The Swift version is obviously more concise, but it is also less powerful. To add more complex format specifications to Swift you actually have to invoke the functionality of the underlying NSString class, which means the “new and self-taught” programmer, again, needs to understand the details of the implementation in order to do anything beyond the simplest strings.

One of the stated benefits of string handling in Swift is that “all strings are mutable”. One need not worry about whether the string is declared as an NSString (immutable) or NSMutableString (mutable). Well, you don’t have to worry unless you do have to worry — strings assigned to constants are immutable in Swift. So:

var myString1 = "Mutable string"
let myString2 = "Immutable string"
myString1 += myString2    // perfectly legal
myString2 += myString1    // compile-time error

Switch Statements

Swift eliminates the “fall-through” behavior of switch statements, which is said to eliminate bugs caused by omitting the break at the end of each case block. But, oops, sometimes the fall-through behavior is exactly what you want. So Swift adds the fallthrough keyword. It could be argued that Swift eliminates a line of code (the break) while giving the behavior one normally desires. But at the same time, it adds a keyword (fallthrough) that does the opposite. This requires “new and self-taught” programmers to have the same thorough understanding of switch behavior that Objective-C and C++ programmers do.

Single-line Blocks

The Swift compiler will warn you if you omit the braces in any block (such as after an if) and does not allow single-line blocks, thus avoiding this error:

if (x < 0)
    goto fail;
    goto fail;

The code above will always execute one or the other of the goto statements in Objective-C or C++. Even though the second goto is indented, it is not part of the if-block and will be executed if the condition is false.

Swift will warn you about the missing braces and force you to write this:

if (x < 0)
    {
    goto fail;
    }
goto fail;

Or, for those of you who don’t do your braces the right way, this…

if (x < 0) {
   goto fail;
}
goto fail;

This is fine, and hard to argue with. The supposition is that the programmer will immediately recognize the flaw or won’t make the mistake in the first place. On the other hand, I would argue that the same C++ programmer who wrote the erroneous code will write this in Swift:

if (x < 0) {
    goto fail; }
    goto fail;

I always put braces around my blocks, even if they are one-line, so this doesn’t affect me. It’s ironic, however, that while Swift prides itself in eliminating the unnecessary break statement at the end of a case block, it requires two to four additional lines (braces) in if, for, and while statements, which are more numerous.

PocketBible and Swift

I will be more than happy to learn and use Swift for programming on iOS and OS X. I just don’t believe the hype and won’t convert just for the sake of doing something new.

I am a strong proponent of platform-independent languages like C, C++, Java, and, to a lesser extent, Objective-C (the latter is primarily an Apple language, though it has its origins outside of Apple). Such languages allow me to develop code on one platform and re-use it on another. One of the promises of C++ and Java was that you could develop the code for one platform and use it on many others. Swift is an Apple language (the same way C# is a Microsoft language). It only works on Apple devices. While those are numerous, they’re not the only devices out there. So rather than moving toward the “write once, read everywhere” model promised by Java, we’re back to “write everywhere” as each platform requires its own language.

I don’t mind learning a new language. I already jump from C++ to C# to Java to VBScript to Javascript to MS-SQL on a daily basis. For those of us who write code for a living, being multilingual is a job requirement. This is precisely why I care so very little about the supposed advantages of Swift; this isn’t a religious war for me, it’s just a tool. When someone comes out with a new kind of screwdriver, I may or may not buy it until I need it. And then I’ll just buy one and use it — I won’t try to convert all my screwdriver-toting friends.

So will PocketBible for OS X and/or iOS be re-written in Swift? Probably not today, and probably not until Apple requires it. But Swift depends on Objective-C under the hood, so my guess is that Apple will continue to support Objective-C apps for a long time.

Helen Joanne Pearce Companies and Aliases

This is the fifth in what turned into a series of articles. Here is the fourth and here is the next.

I’m going to use this post to keep an up-to-date list of the company names, aliases, and addresses Helen and Matt are using.

If you have been doing business with any one of these people or businesses, they are all Helen Joanne Pearce operating under a different name. If you do a Google search for any of these, you’ll mostly find the blog articles and online comments that Helen herself has created to make it appear that her company is legit.

Just for reference, in 2014 the address on Helen’s drivers license was 52 Riley Rd #231, Kissimmee, FL, which is a UPS Store. I wouldn’t normally publish a person’s home address here, but this is not her home address.

Company Aliases Connections
KACW Investments, Inc. (2004-06)

Originally 2855 SE 50th St, Ocala, FL (single-family home)

Changed to 12472 Lake Underhill Rd #143, Orlando, FL (UPS Store) in 2005

Registered to Helen J Pearce and Matthew E Pearce

Online comments: Helen Joanne Pearce

Obvious. Court documents in 2006 mention Joanne Pearce at KACW Investments, 3854 SW 168 Circle, Ocala, FL (mobile home)
Way Home Investments, Inc. (2005-06)

Originally 967 Lilac Trace Ln, Orlando, FL (single family home; see this YouTube video)

Changed in 2006 to 1969 S. Alafaya Tr #125, Orlando, FL 32828 (UPS Store)

Registered to Matthew E Pearce and Helen Pearce Obvious.
In Faith Properties, Inc. (2007)

1969 S. Alafaya Tr #125, Orlando, FL (UPS Store)

Registered to Matthew E Pearce and Helen J Pearce Obvious. 2007 court case names “Matt and Helen (Joanne) Pearce”. Another names “Helen J. Pearce” at this same address.
Dun and King Investments (2008)

1926 N. John Young Pkwy #128, Kissimmee, FL (Convenience store? with mailboxes)

Registered to Neleha K. Dun, Tracy L. King, Morgan P. Jones, Katy B. Dery.

Online comments mention sending checks to Joanne Pearce.

“Neleha” is (a)Helen backwards. Neleha’s website biography says she has a law degree from Oklahoma City University and to have attended the University of Central Oklahoma. Helen’s Facebook profile says she went to Oklahoma University, and Matt’s says he went to Oklahoma State. Matt and Helen are both from Oklahoma. I haven’t tried hard to locate her “partners” in this company, but note she has a very close relative with the same first name and middle initial as one of them.
Jubilee Property Ventures (2009)

2224 W Columbia Ave #109, Kissimmee, FL (FedEx/Western Union)

Registered to Jules Scott and Novak Leeann (suspect it shoud be Leeann Novak)

Online comments: Joanne Helen Pearce

2009 court case names Jules Scott and Joanne Helen Pearce.
Mary Jones Projects LLC (2010-11)

14900 E Orange Lake Blvd #348, Kissimmee FL (PakMail store)

Registered to Mary Jones and Julie Bell

Online comments: Helen Joanne Pearce whose husband is Matthew

Website FAQ as quoted in online comments is virtually identical to Flat Stone Capital; uses same awkward grammar to describe Mary Jones’ qualifications as Flat Stone Capital uses to describe JJ Pierce.
JEP Genesis LLC (2010-11)52 Riley Rd #231, Kissimmee, FL (UPS Store) Owners are Joanne and Eric Pearce

Online comments: Joanne Pearce says Eric is an “investor”

Same address as on Helen’s Florida driver’s license. 2009 court case names Joanne Pearce at this address.
Redfield Holdings LLC (2012-14)

3050 Dyer Blvd #185, Kissimmee, FL (UPS Store)

8/1/12

Owner JJ Pearce Website at the time was virtually identical to Flat Stone Capital LLC website. FSC Endeavors LLC website registered to Eric Pearce using redfieldholdings@ in email address. Helen Pearce admitted in sworn documents to Osceola County Court that she is Ferin Caffrey (owner of FSC Endeavors LLC).
Flat Stone Capital LLC (2013-14)

52 Riley Rd #172, Kissimmee, FL (UPS Store)

12/20/13

Owner JJ Pierce Helen Pearce admitted in a sworn statement to the Osceola County Court that she is JJ Pierce of Flat Stone Capital LLC.
FS Capital LLC (2014)

14900 E Orange Lake Blvd, Kissimmee, FL (PakMail store)

2/14/14

Owner Faith Stuart Website at the time was virtually identical to Flat Stone Capital LLC website.
RF Holdings, FL Corp (2014-15)

503 E Jackson St, Tampa, FL 33602 (UPS Store)

4/18/14

Owner Rose Hill Victims on Zillow describe similar experiences.
RFH, FL, Inc. (2014-15)701 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL (UPS Store)

8/11/14

Owner Reagan Fields Reagan Fields tells victims she has taken owners of this website to court; can only be Helen Joanne Pearce.

Phone (813) 423-1876

FSC Endeavors LLC (2014-15)

221 N Hogan St, Jacksonville, FL (UPS Store)

9/28/14

Owner Ferin Caffrey

Website domain name registered to Eric Pearce with redfieldholdings@ in email address.

Victims mention Ferin Carrey and Erin Cafferty

Helen Pearce admitted in a sworn statement to the Osceola County Court that she is Ferin Caffrey of FSC Endeavors LLC and FSCE Homes. Website FAQ, contracts virtually identical to Flat Stone Capital LLC.
River Financial Horizons LLC (registered as River F Horizons LLC) (2014-15)

369 Lexington Ave, New York, NY

Karen River Website FAQ, contracts virtually identical to Flat Stone Capital LLC
FSCE Homes (2015)

Not a registered LLC in Florida

Ferin Caffrey, Ferin Carrey, Erin Cafferty Helen Pearce admitted in a sworn statement to the Osceola County Court that she is Ferin Caffrey.
Tabitha’s House and Pack Fund (2015)

Not registered in Florida

Helen Peace, Matt Pear, Matt Peace Helen and Matt changed their names on Facebook, but they are the same Facebook accounts as before. Operating a GoFundMe project and a Facebook page Luke 6:30, ostensibly to raise funds for a homeless shelter and to hand out necessities to the homeless in Orlando. Location of “homeless” photos.
At this point, Helen began advertising website design and search engine optimization (SEO) services along with real estate investing. I’m not making any claims about her website design and SEO services; they may be entirely legit. My only comment as a person who has done Internet marketing for twenty years is that generally, anyone who tells you they can get your legitimate company listed on the first page of Google using organic means (i.e. not paid placement) is pulling your leg.
Ezra FL LLC (7/1/2015)

7862 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy, Kissimmee, FL 34747 (UPS Store)

Jo Ezra, Mary Jo Ezra, Eric Pearce Same rent-to-own scam as before. Also operating a website design and SEO company called Ezra Agency using the same Jo Ezra alias. Videos produced by Ezra Agency feature Helen: Jo Ezra Intro, SEO Alachua FL, Liposuction Altamonte Springs, Interior Design Alachua FL. Website: www.ezrainc.com Phone: 407-288-7782.
Amazon Invest Inc (11/3/2015)

13790 Bridgewater Crossing Blvd., Windermere, FL 34786

There is a shared office and meeting space at this address that offers mailboxes. I have confirmed she does not have a relationship with that company.

Not incorporated in Florida

Jennifer Henderson Same rent-to-own scam and website design company as before. Clients pictured on home page at www.amazoninvestinc.com are stock images. Phone: (321) 402-7732.
Pruaz Properties, Inc (12/14/2015)

​​101 S Main St, Wichita KS 67202 or 110 S Main St.

101 S Main St is an invalid address according to USPS. It appears on her website and, along with 110 S Main St, in the Kansas Secretary of State’s corporation database. 110 S Main is an office building.

Pruaz Properties was incorporated in Kansas on 11/5/2015.

Amanda Gibson Same rent-to-own scam as before. www.pruazproperties.com is registered at GoDaddy using Domains by Proxy. Phone: (316) 200-1629 is a cellular phone.
Home Run Capital, LLC (1/26/16)

​​201 S. College Street, Charlotte, NC 28211

Address is an office building with suites available to lease.

Amy Davis, Annie Pearce Same rent-to-own scam as before. homeruncapllc.com is registered at GoDaddy using Domains by Proxy. Phone: (980) 226-0955 is a cellular phone.

Not registered in Florida or North Carolina. North Carolina requires foreign companies (companies from out of state) to register to do business in the state. It does not appear that Home Run Capital is registered to do business in NC.

Testimonials claim they’ve been in business since at least April 2015, but the domain was not registered until November 15, 2015.

Seek Easy Online Marketing (2009? 2013? 2016? Found 12/30/17)
Phone 1-800-553-9734
​​
Annie Pearce
Annie Tate-Pearce
Registered 5/20/16 using Domains by Proxy to hide her identity. LinkedIn profile claims she has been working there since March 2009 or March 2013 but the domain wasn’t registered until 2016. Claims a Marketing degree from the University of Central Florida from 2007. Her recommendations on LinkedIn come in clumps all on the same day and all from people claiming to be in her industry, not from customers. The “Easy Seek” company LinkedIn page here claims it started in 2007 and that the company (?) has a degree from UCF in English Literature from 2012.

Helen Chooses the Wrong Guy to Scam

This is the fourth in what turned into a series of articles. Here is the third, and here is the next.

I am updating this article as the subject matter develops. Updates are at the bottom of this article!

It’s been about a year since I first reported on a phone call I received from “JJ Pierce” from Flat Stone Capital. Since then, I’ve received comments and emails from a couple dozen people who have been taken in or nearly taken in by her scam.

If you don’t know how the scam works, I’ve written more about it here. In the last year we’ve learned that “JJ” is Helen Joanne Pearce of Kissimmee, FL.

A couple weeks ago I heard from yet another victim of one of Helen’s scams, who introduced himself as “Doug” in the comments here on my blog. I’ve heard from a lot of victims and they all discover the same thing: You can’t find Helen to serve any papers to her. The best you’re going to do is get a small claims judgment, which will never be enforced. You’ll just be out more money and you’ll have no satisfaction.

That didn’t sit well with Doug.

Doug is a retired criminal investigator who has worked for various branches of government. He has taken the information I’ve posted here and developed a more detailed picture of Helen’s activities and associates.

Helen is currently operating two companies: FSC Endeavors LLC, where she is known as Ferin Caffrey, and RFH FL, Inc., where she goes by Reagan Fields. FSC Endeavors LLC claims to be in Jacksonville, FL, but they don’t publish an address at their website. The Florida Department of State lists the address of FSC Endeavors LLC as 221 N Hogan St, which is a UPS Store. Their website domain name is registered to Eric Pearce (Helen’s husband), who lists the address of another UPS Store as his address. Eric’s email address is listed as “redfieldholdings@…” in his whois record. Redfield Holdings is one of the companies I’ve mentioned before. The State of Florida lists Redfield Holdings LLC as being owned by JJ Pearce at an address that is a UPS Store.

RFH FL, Inc. is said to be located in Tampa. The State of Florida has their address as 701 S Howard Ave, which is a UPS Store. They got smart and registered their domain name using GoDaddy’s “Domains By Proxy” service, which hides the owner. But the website itself shares a lot of content with Helen’s past sites.

Doug is out several thousand dollars in promised payments from Helen (aka Ferin Caffrey). While many people have sued (unsuccessfully) to get their money, Doug is taking a different approach. Helen is committing fraud, so Doug is going for the criminal charges, not unenforceable small claims actions.

Doug started by filing a report with his local police for theft by fraud. This establishes a number of facts and is the beginning of a paper trail that will be important to finding Matt and Helen and getting a conviction.

Doug has contacted a number of government and law enforcement agencies to make them aware of Helen’s activities. He has also contacted various companies that Helen uses in her scam. I believe his goal is to make it more difficult for Helen to scam others in the same way.

Doug has been collecting documentation from court cases in Florida, Texas, and anywhere else that these lead. This will be useful in convincing investigators for various government agencies and private companies that this scam is for real. I have contacted everyone who posted comments here on my blog to get their permission to provide contact information to Doug so he can collect any details they can add.

Update: February 2, 2015

It’s been a busy week for Doug. He and I have exchanged a lot of email and spoken on the phone a couple times. Doug has a lot of experience chasing people like Helen and Matt. Like cockroaches, when the lights come on, they will scatter. They will either run to family and friends to hide or they will double down and try to raise more money from their scams.

So Doug’s first step has been to poison Matt and Helen’s hiding places. Doug has contacted Matt and Helen’s families and has told them everything that is going on. He doesn’t want the family to inadvertently aid and abet Helen if she is looking for a place to hide from authorities. Instead, he wants family and friends to be encouraging Helen to turn herself in. In order for that to happen, they had to know what was going on, even if it was painful.

In order to help us find any new companies and aliases Helen might create in the future, I’ve written a program I call Cockroach Tracker that monitors certain publicly available data and alerts me of suspicious activity.

Update: February 4, 2015

Last night I was contacted by an anonymous victim of Helen’s scam who pointed me to www.fscehomes.com. When I went to the website I found that Helen had listed homes she had for rent/sale in five or six cities around the US, including Berea, KY and Peoria, AZ. I notified Doug and simultaneously replied to the victim to get more information.

Doug began calling the homeowners who were listed at the site. He talked to the first homeowner (who was very disappointed to hear the truth about Helen, whom she knows as “Ferin”), and within minutes we noticed that the website had been updated to remove the list of addresses. Not, however, before we captured all of them. Doug is working his way down this list this morning.

The anonymous victim said that “Ferin” wanted him to pay by PayPal. This might sound like a good idea to Helen but PayPal can be nasty when you involve them in fraud. They can lock down your account so you can’t get any money. And if you’ve connected PayPal to your bank account, they can reach into your account and take back anything they think you may have received fraudulently without so much as a how-do-you-do. We noticed after Doug started calling victims that the PayPal link was gone, too.

Update: February 5, 2015

As Doug contacts Helen’s victims he finds that not everyone believes they’ve been had. They may have had their lawyer look at the contract, and he told them it was solid. What their lawyer didn’t know was that the person signing (in this case, Ferin Caffrey) does not exist. “Ferin Caffrey” is a made-up name used by Helen Joanne Pearce. Do a people-search on a site like intelius.com or peoplesmart.com: There is no person in the United States of America named “Ferin Caffrey”.

Was your down-payment late? Have you had late rent payments, or no rent payments? Did someone move into your home before you knew they were coming? Are you getting paid in Western Union money orders printed at Publix supermarkets? Is “Ferin” hard to get ahold of, or has she said it’s better to contact her by email? Is the company she claims to be with registered with the Florida Department of State using an address that Google says is a UPS Store?

If your answer to most of these questions is “yes”, you’re a victim of Helen’s scam. Your contract is probably invalid and you have squatters in your home. They’re victims, too. If you need someone to talk to about this, contact me through the comments. Comments are moderated so they won’t be posted to the site if you ask me not to.

Update: February 13, 2015

A lot has been happening in the last two weeks. We have finally found a home address for Matt and Helen that wasn’t a UPS Store. Doug now has a sequence of addresses for Helen over time that lead from her home in Chickasha, OK to her present address in central Florida. Our researcher Tristan discovered Matt’s Twitter feed, where we found uploads of his jogging route from a couple years ago, which often begins and ends right at the front door of their house. The same feed has a picture of Matt standing in front of the house, which matches the appearance of the house on Google Street View. Doug has talked to people who know Helen, and who confirm that Matt and Helen do live at that address.

In the process of all this we’ve uncovered some serious flaws in the way the Florida Department of State validates the identity and addresses of registered agents of new LLCs and corporations. That is, they don’t validate them. You can literally form a corporation in Florida using a completely made-up name and address, and they will take your registration fee and issue a Certificate of Existence. Instant validity. It’s like they’re in the business of printing fake ID’s. In the process, they become, in my opinion, accessories to any felonies committed by those corporations, especially when establishing credibility and trust is an important part of their crimes. We’ve found both sympathetic ears and obstinate denial in the Division of Corporations. We’re hoping that shining a light on these flaws will get them repaired and reduce the ease with which this kind of scam can be operated in Florida.

I believe Helen is operating a new company out of New York: River Financial Horizons, which is registered as River F Horizons LLC, 369 Lexington Ave, NY, NY. Her new name there is Karen River. Needless to say, there is no known human being in the country with the name “Karen River”. Rivers? Yes. Rivera? Yes. River? No.

Doug has been contacted by local media in Orlando. We may see something about Helen on TV in the future.

Update: February 23, 2015

Helen has stepped in it now. She’s filed for some kind of injunction against Doug on the basis of “cyber-stalking” and “slander”. Of course the judge found no basis for any kind of injunction in the complaint, so she’s set a hearing, which Helen will not show up for, and will thus lose.

The important thing in all this has nothing to do with Helen’s charges and the upcoming hearing. It has everything to do with Helen’s sworn statement in filing this document. In it, she claims that FSCEHomes.com is her website. She further explains that Doug is undermining her business by convincing certain others to break their contracts with her.

But FSCEHomes.com is Ferin Caffrey’s website. The people cited in Helen’s complaint have have contracts with Ferin Caffrey, not Helen Pearce. Helen has thus confessed to the court that she is operating under the alias of Ferin Caffrey. Furthermore, the non-existent person Ferin Caffrey registered the company FSC Endeavors LLC with the State of Florida using a UPS Store as both its principal address and registered office. Helen has confessed to the court that she illegally registered an LLC in Florida using both a false name and an improper address. Matt’s name was on the domain registration for FSC Endeavors LLC until he put it under Go Daddy’s Domains by Proxy protection to hide it. Thus Matt and Helen are both implicated in this felonious activity.

Update: July 14, 2015

The Better Business Bureau changed FSC Endeavors’ rating to F and issued a fraud alert. You can read the page here. If you click on the customer reviews you’ll see a fake one written by Helen where she calls herself “Joan H” and my actual review, which has been heavily redacted by the BBB to remove personal names. It gets the point across, though.

We have been fairly quiet here online lately but don’t take that to mean that nothing is happening. Cockroach Tracker™ continues to run quietly in the background. We have had significant contacts with more victims and with people who know Helen personally. So far nobody has come forward in her defense. 🙂

 

Properties of Uninitialized Session Variables in ASP Classic

From time to time I have to remind myself of the following inscrutable facts, so here they are for posterity:

Given an uninitialized Session variable:

IsEmpty(Session("asdfasdf")) = True
IsNull(Session("asdfasdf")) = False
IsNumeric(Session("asdfasdf")) = True
Session("asdfasdf") = "" in an "if" statement returns True

This indicates that a completely uninitialized value appears to be both an empty string and has a numeric value (presumably zero). This is nonsense, especially given the next example.

Given a Session variable initialized to the empty string “”:

IsEmpty(Session("emptystring")) = False
IsNull(Session("emptystring")) = False
IsNumeric(Session("emptystring")) = False
Session("emptystring") = "" in an "if" statement returns True

In this case, we see that an empty string is not numeric. So to verify that a Session variable does not contain a numeric value, you need to also verify it contains a value at all, since empty Session variables appear to not be empty (i.e. they contain a numeric value of 0).

Enabling Web Inspector in Web-Kit WebViews in OS X Apps

You can turn on Safari’s Web Inspector functionality in any app that uses WebView to display HTML. First, enable the Developer menu in Safari’s preferences. Then enter the following command in Terminal:

defaults write com.example.myApp WebKitDeveloperExtras -bool true

Where com.example.myApp is the bundle identifier for the app. Launch the app, right-click in the WebView, and as long as the developer hasn’t completely disabled the context menu, you’ll be able to select Inspect Element and see the source code running in that view.

A program can enable this functionality itself by executing:

[[NSUserDefaults standardUserDefaults] setBool:TRUE forKey:@"WebKitDeveloperExtras"];
[[NSUserDefaults standardUserDefaults] synchronize];

Similarly, I believe one could defeat this functionality by setting the value to FALSE inside the app.

Symbolicating iOS and OS X Apps

Many of the errors that happen in Mac OS X and iOS apps don’t actually crash the app, they just dump a stack trace to the console. You can view these using the Console app — select the System Log and you’ll see all the messages the app sends to the console.

Unfortunately, these stack dumps can’t be directly used by the programmer to find the bug. With a little work, however, it’s possible to get right down to the line of code that caused the problem.

A stack trace will look like this:

Sep 13 19:04:32 Users-Mac.local PocketBible[727]: *** -[__NSCFString rangeOfString:options:range:locale:]: Range {3040, 18446744073709551600} out of bounds; string length 3504
Sep 13 19:04:32 Users-iMac.local PocketBible[727]: (
		0   CoreFoundation                      0x00007fff910e225c __exceptionPreprocess + 172
		1   libobjc.A.dylib                     0x00007fff96598e75 objc_exception_throw + 43
		2   CoreFoundation                      0x00007fff910e210c +[NSException raise:format:] + 204
		3   Foundation                          0x00007fff94074985 -[NSString rangeOfString:options:range:locale:] + 186
		4   Foundation                          0x00007fff940945b4 -[NSString rangeOfString:options:range:] + 29
		5   PocketBible                         0x00000001077cec78 PocketBible + 797816
		6   PocketBible                         0x000000010776c771 PocketBible + 395121
		7   PocketBible                         0x000000010776aa43 PocketBible + 387651
		8   AppKit                              0x00007fff92c84c38 -[NSTabView selectTabViewItem:] + 389
		9   AppKit                              0x00007fff92ff8b09 -[NSTabView mouseDown:] + 145
		10  AppKit                              0x00007fff92b76a58 -[NSWindow sendEvent:] + 11296
		11  AppKit                              0x00007fff92b155d4 -[NSApplication sendEvent:] + 2021
		12  AppKit                              0x00007fff929659f9 -[NSApplication run] + 646
		13  AppKit                              0x00007fff92950783 NSApplicationMain + 940
		14  PocketBible                         0x000000010770d244 PocketBible + 4676
		15  ???                                 0x0000000000000001 0x0 + 1
	)

The trick, of course, is to find the last bit of PocketBible code that was running when the error occurred. To do this, we need our symbol map. Fortunately, XCode archives that with our program and we can access those archives through the Organizer. So here’s what we need to do:

  1. Create a working folder somewhere
  2. Go into the Archive area of Organizer and select the archived version of the program from which the stack trace was created
  3. Right-click and select Show In Finder
  4. Right-click on the archive and select Show Package Contents
  5. Copy the .dSYM file from the dSYMs folder into the working folder
  6. Copy the application from Products/Applications into the working folder
  7. In Terminal, go to the working folder

Now enter this command:

atos -o PocketBible.app/Contents/MacOS/PocketBible -arch x86_64 -l [load address] [target address]

To calculate [load addresses], subtract the offset you see on any PocketBible line from the address to its left. So looking at line 5, you would subtract 797816 (decimal) from 0x1077cec78 (hex) and get 0x10770c000. [target_address] is the address you see in the stack trace for the line you’re interested in (for example, 0x1077cec78 for line 5).

If you do it right, atos will tell you the object and method, plus the file and line number in the file corresponding to the line in the stack trace:

got symbolicator for PocketBible.app/Contents/MacOS/PocketBible, base address 100000000
-[NSString(HTMLTags) rangeOfHtmlTagInRange:] (in PocketBible) (NSString+HTMLTags.m:67)

Which sends us to NSString+HTMLTags.m, line 67.

If you want to enter several addresses, press enter after [load address]. You are then in “interactive mode” and can enter addresses and get results without leaving atos or re-entering all the other parameters. Press ^C to exit this mode.

Overriding Scrollbar Behavior in OS X

ScrollbarI recently ran into a situation where I wanted to significantly customize the behavior of a scrollbar in a Cocoa WebView and was disappointed in how little access I had to it. There are two factors that complicated my situation. First was the fact that the text I was displaying in the WebView was being loaded dynamically. As the user scrolls up or down, Javascript methods call into my Objective-C code to request additional blocks of text to display either above or below the text already displayed. As the user scrolls up (or down), blocks that are “too far” below (or above) the displayed text are removed by the Javascript on the page. As a result, the built-in WebView scrollbar is displaying completely irrelevant information.

Second, the feature of OS X 10.7+ that allows the user to control whether or not scrollbars are always displayed interfered with my attempts to simply drop an NSScroller on top of the region of the WebView where the scrollbar appears. If the user turned on “overlay scrollbars”, the WebView would re-wrap the text so that it continued under my scrollbar. On top of that, when the system drew its scrollbar, it would draw it on top of mine, even though mine was on top of the WebView in z-order. Furthermore, the WebView would “scroll” the pixels on my scrollbar in the process of scrolling its own text.

It was a mess.

The solution is fairly simple, though:

  1. Drop an NSScroller instance over the right side of the WebView in Interface Builder. The width doesn’t matter as we’ll adjust it in -awakeFromNib to match the width of a standard-sized NSScroller.
  2. In the window’s -awakeFromNib method, enable the NSScrollbar instance, set its size to NSRegularControlSize, and set its initial knob size and position. Also set the WebView‘s scroller style to “legacy”:
    [[[[[webView mainFrame] frameView] documentView] enclosingScrollView] setScrollerStyle:NSScrollerStyleLegacy];
  3. As blocks are loaded and the Javascript reports its position within the displayed text, update the position of the knob.
  4. Connect the NSScroller action to a handler in the code to position the text appropriately with changes to the knob.
  5. Add a handler to intercept distributed notifications:
    [[NSDistributedNotificationCenter defaultCenter] addObserver:self selector:@selector(observeDistributedNotifications:) name:nil object:nil];
  6. In the handler for the distributed notifications, look for the notification named AppleShowScrollBarsSettingChanged and when it occurs, call a method that forces the WebView scrollbar back to the “legacy” style. You must call this method on a short delay because notifications are not delivered in any particular order. You need to allow the system to change the WebView scroller style before you change it back.

That’s it. The basic idea is to provide your own NSScroller that is updated by position changes in the WebView and which moves the WebView as the user interacts with it. This scrollbar lays on top of the WebView scroller so the user can’t see it. And to keep OS X from inappropriately drawing, we intercept system preference changes that would alter the style of the WebView scroller.

I think this solution would work with any Cocoa view object that is based on NSScrollView. One notable side-effect is that your scrollbar does not auto-hide. In my case, I can live with this.

Excluding Myself From the Vibram Settlement

Photo May 26, 2 58 13 PMEarlier this month, Vibram — makers of FiveFingers “toe shoes” — announced a settlement in a lawsuit in which they were accused of misleading their customers about the virtues of their FiveFingers shoes for runners. The claimants were apparently injured during transition to running in the shoes, and argued that Vibram made false claims about the efficacy of their shoes.

I’ve been running in FiveFingers shoes for several years, including at least two half marathons. Based on information on the Vibram website and everything I read about transitioning to barefoot or minimalist running, I made a gradual and purposeful transition, starting with intervals of about a tenth of a mile alternating with walking over a total distance of about a mile. I alternated running with traditional running shoes and FiveFingers. It was a gradual and frustrating process.

Not only did I not get injured, but the very reason I made the switch was that running in traditional shoes had resulted in a knee injury that necessitated arthroscopic surgery to my right knee. My reaction to that injury was not to sue Adidas or Nike, but rather to fix my problem and find a solution.

These days I run 20+ miles per week in my Vibram Bikila EVO’s, which are my fourth pair. I run a combination of trails and sidewalks. I’ve run in several organized races so far this year, including a 5K (3 miles), an 8.5 mile time-prediction race, and a 13.1 mile half marathon. I’ll do a 10K (6 miles) on the Fourth of July and another half marathon on Labor Day weekend.

I could very easily request my $90 settlement from Vibram, but I refuse to be a party to the actions of these idiots and their shyster lawyers. Below is my letter to Vibram’s lawyers, opting out of the class.

June 6, 2014

Vibram FiveFingers Class Action Settlement Administrator
PO Box 449
Philadelphia, PA 19105-0449

RE: Valerie Bezdek v. Vibram USA Inc., et al., Case Number 1:12-cv-10513-DPW (D. Mass.) Exclusion Request

Dear Sir or Madam:

I believe the claimants in this case are both ignorant and deceptive. Ignorant in that they didn’t read or couldn’t understand the massive amount of information available to runners transitioning to minimalist running, including the extensive information on the Vibram website itself, and deceptive in that they have mischaracterized how this product has been represented by Vibram.

I believe this suit to be little more than a way for a small number of amoral lawyers to collect nearly a million dollars while setting aside only $2500 for each of their clients. The claim is false; the claimants are lying; and their lawyers are some of the worst excuses for human beings to ever walk the planet.

On principle, then, I must request to be excluded from the Class – not as a way to preserve my right to sue, but as a way to object in the strongest possible terms to the very idea that anything the claimants have said has any merit.

I do not save receipts for products I have no intention of ever returning, so I cannot file an objection to the settlement, which was my first inclination. Suffice to say I believe it is very gracious of Vibram to agree to this settlement given that the claims are so fallacious.

I am the proud owner of four pairs of FiveFingers Bikila running shoes for which I am requesting exclusion. I followed the instructions on the website and in all the literature related to transitioning to minimalist running, and had none of the experiences described by the claimants and their lawyers, who are woefully stupid and disgustingly disingenuous.

Sincerely,

Craig Rairdin