Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fraudsters Preying on Dogsters

I got two reports of something that sounds miraculoulsy implausible. The folks at Canine Chronicle report:
Escape Alert, LLC filed international patents for a revolutionary implantable GPS microchip for pets which will alert owners if their pet has escaped and enable them to track their pet’s exact location using GPS from an implanted microchip in the pet’s body. This is the first implantable chip with GPS.

While implantable microchips for pets have been around for many years they are passive until read by scanners, do not have GPS, and are not able to track a pet’s location or alert the owner that the pet has escaped. Escape Alert’s GPS microchip will not only alert pet owners if their pet gets out while they are away, but it will allow them to initiate GPS tracking of the pet’s exact location. Because the technology is permanently implanted in the animal’s body, Escape Alert’s GPS Microchip solves the typical problems associated with bulky GPS collars which are too heavy for many pets and is more reliable because it never needs recharging. “This is a game-changer and could put an end to lost pets once and for all” says Wayne Norris, Co-Founder and CEO.

The chip will be self-powered by revolutionary technology called a piezo-electrical nanogenerator which basically creates power from mechanical movement such as walking or moving your arms. Recently researchers have been able to self-power cardiac pacemakers thereby eliminating the need for surgery to replace the battery. “We have been working on this GPS microchip for years but the trick was how to power the battery of an implanted device. The technology just wasn’t there, until now. Piezo-electrical nanogerator technology is the wave of the future and may put an end to batteries as we know them. It’s the next big thing since the computer revolution” says Norris. This revolutionary microchip for pets is one of the first examples of a commercialized product using piezo-electrical nanogenerators to power the battery.

Over at Veterinary Practice News they are still touting the same thing:

Proposed Microchip Would Track Lost Pets

Escape Alert is developing a postage stage-sized pet microchip that would recharge itself.

Lost pets and drained batteries will be a thing of the past if Escape Alert gets its way.

Coming as soon as 2015, if the Los Angeles company raises enough money and perfects the technology, is a veterinarian-implanted microchip with GPS capability. Pet owners could set virtual boundaries, receive a text message or email if the cat or dog strays across the line, and follow and recover the animal.

Unlike today’s competition—battery-powered GPS collars that owners must remember to recharge—Escape Alert intends to use piezoelectrical nanogenerator technology. That means the microchip would be recharged through the pet’s body movement alone.

Anything screaming in your head yet?

It should be.

For starters, the creation of "piezoelectric nanogenerators" to drive pacemakers was only announced in Korea in June of last year, and they are sufficiently large and complex that they will never be surgically implanted in a dog as a replacement for an over-the-counter GPS collars. And the size of a postage stamp? Come on!

Second, anything implanted into the body of a dog, cat or human has to get FDA approval, which takes years, millions of dollars, and real scientists at the help.

And yet, when we use our Google-Fu we find this "creation story" over at PetGuide which sounds waaaay to folksy to be credible:

The idea for the Escape Alert GPS microchip came about after a conversation company co-founder Janice Mooneyham had with her daughter. Janice had mistakenly thought that her pet’s already-implanted RFID microchip (the standard chip you’d get at your vet’s office) could track them down if they got lost. When her daughter informed her that the microchip only worked when scanned at a shelter or clinic and couldn’t actually track a lost pet down, the idea for the Escape Alert chip was born.

At the end of this same page, we find the smoking gun tagged to the end:

Editor’s Note: The Escape Alert chip didn’t launch a Kickstarter campaign, and the site is no longer available. If we hear anymore updates about this product, we will update this post.

A Kickstarter Campaign?  For an implanted bioelectronic?  Right.

This whole thing was a Kickstarter fraud campaign, and the gullibles in the world of dogs and veterinary reporting swallowed it all hook, line, and sinker.

A little more Googling and we find that "Karen Zackton" who is "CEO" of "EscapeAlert" is actually Karen Hanover who was convinced of fraud in March of 2014 for bilked 48 people out of over $1.4 million through a series of get-rich-quick real estate seminars.

If you go to the "Escape Alert" web site you can see that the thing has now been parked.

Fraud, fraud, fraud.

It turns out that Karen Elaine Hanover is a serial liar. As the Orange County Weekly notes:

The case was marked by Hanover -- as she was being investigated -- contacting some of those who complained about her through "spoofing" software that made it sound and appear on caller I.D. that an FBI agent was on the phone with warnings to whistleblowers to back off. She got six months in jail for that before she pleaded guilty to the fraud. .

Right. Impersonating an FBI agent is a very good way of meeting a lot of FBI agents. And I bet they were not laughing, nor were the interested in investing in her real estate schemes.

Last Week Karen Hanover, age 48, was sentenced to three years in prison on top of the 6 months she got for impersonating an FBI agent.

Do you still think an implantable Escape Alert "GPS microchip" is reality-based?  I bet not!

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I'm so glad you posted this! I have been trying to find out about this chip and no one seems to believe it's a scam. A lot of lost dog drums/ Facebook pages are patiently waiting for this company to release the chip in 2015. Look at the facts, it's not happening. Their FB Twitter pages are dead silent and they no longer have a webpage. Disgusting to get people's hopes up like that.