How A BillionDollar Internet Scam Is Breaking Hearts And Bank Accounts HuffPost

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  • She holds the doorway which opens in the liminal-times: She appears when opposing energies meet, and she is also found when the energies of the Three Realms come together.

    How A BillionDollar Internet Scam Is Breaking Hearts And Bank Accounts HuffPost

    I feel her presence in ceremony, when we enter that stillness, on the edge between this world and the next. I feel her when I center, when I still myself and find the quiet place of prayer, the silence from which the voices of spirits can emerge. She is the silence that enfolds us, the moment as we poise on the edge before diving into a new realm. Her shining, silver-white energy washes us clean.

    She opens our eyes and gives us the strength and courage to begin anew. Dance me through to the silence to the edge where the world begins. In other images, when she is depicted with breasts they are almost always the drooping, long and flat breasts of a post-menopausal woman. At times her chest is scarred, with skeletal ribs, a fierce grimace, and the bald head of either a newborn or an extremely aged hag.

    If we take full breasts and bellies to be symbols of nurturance and material abundance, this is not a nurturing figure.

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    This Sheela may be guarding the entrance to a crypt. The earliest known sheela-type images have generally been believed to have been carved in the late eleventh century, on medieval churches in south-western France, and then later in England and Ireland from the twelfth through the sixteenth century. However, these images from Continental Europe, to my eye, do not much resemble the sheelas of the Insular Celtic lands, aside from being nude females or, mostly female.

    How A BillionDollar Internet Scam Is Breaking Hearts And Bank Accounts HuffPost

    While the Continental images I've seen are more likely to resemble human women, many of the insular sheelas tend to have the characteristic flat-topped, large, vaguely triangular head and emphasised eyes of much older Celtic carvings.

    The prevailing opinion among scholars, at least at the time of the first publication of this article, was that the sheelas are a Christian invention, and that there was no firm evidence of sheelas at ancient pagan sites. They are very weathered, but I believe they could very well be sheelas, or at least precursors to the sheelas. As far as I'm aware, there has been no official dating of these first two carvings, though some researchers believe at least one of them to be pre-Christian. A figure that received a lot of publicity in the summer of is most definitely pre-Christian, but we're still determining whether it is in fact a sheela I think it is.

    How A BillionDollar Internet Scam Is Breaking Hearts And Bank Accounts HuffPost

    The fact that the figure was carved of yew was significant as the yew tree was considered sacred and was believed to have been endowed with regenerative properties. Taghart Mountain was a hilltop festival site of Lunasa.

    This site was used as a place of worship by the late Bronze Age people, by the Iron Age Celts and into early Medieval times. The Sexuality of the figure is ambiguous. The figure pictured below is a replica of the original, which is on display in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

    While this figure lacks many of the characteristics of the later, stone sheelas, I believe it could possibly be an early precursor to those figures. And it makes one wonder what carvings did not survive. That the carving is of yew is very significant, I believe. In the cycle of the ogham letters, birch is the first letter associated with birth and yew is the last associated with death, and with the spirit that survives beyond death.

    When we place the letters in a circle, yew and birch are next to each other, illustrating that death in one world is birth into the next. We may never know for certain, as the oldest-appearing images - on standing stones in graveyards - have also been heavily worn by exposure to the elements, while the ones in churches are more likely to have been protected if they weren't defaced by human hands, as has happened in all too many cases.

    Tara Hill Sheela-na-gig, Co. When the sheela images began to become widespread in Irish churches 12th - 16th cent. These carvings upon the later medieval buildings of Ireland may, then, have been a last manifestation of the old tutelary goddesses.

    Photo from Tara's Sheela na Gig Page. We remained here and grew strong, our spirits rooting and becoming one with our bodies, through the protection of a woman: No wonder many people find these images intimidating, frightening, or grotesque.

    When we approach the doorway to sacred space, or the gateway to life and death, we go with openness and acceptance of the Mystery: No one truly knows what awaits us on the other side.

    Will the goddess who greets you be hideous and challenging? Or will she welcome you with love and open arms? Are you sure she will even be there at all? Could this name have been applied to rebellious, independent women who refused to be limited by patriarchal laws that treat women as property?

    What were the origins of this name?

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    Both are derived from the Icelandic root word for shield. While originally only a word for the mounds, in later usage sidh also came to be applied to any otherworldly spirit or creature who might be associated with these places. Here we have twice the paradox: The Ralaghan Figurewith its pelvic hole and possible removable phallus, shows even stronger gynandrous characteristics. In many ancient and some contemporary cultures, gender-variant people are seen as embodying particularly powerful magic.

    How A BillionDollar Internet Scam Is Breaking Hearts And Bank Accounts HuffPost

    From a design by George Bain. They are sacred creatures who travel in all three realms: Land, Sea, and Sky. Herons like to nest in tall pine trees, a sacred tree that is associated with rebirth in the crann ogham.

    Port means place of refuge, haven, center; fortified place, stronghold. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. The scammers may just have lit upon the perfect crime: They sit at computers safely overseas, hunting for their prey on social networks, and they rarely get caught.

    Jones is a victim too: His name and photos were stolen to create the fake identities used in romance scams. The odds of recovering that money, the bureau notes, are very low. Some of the money scammed by international criminal networks even winds up in the hands of terrorist operations like Boko Haram, according to Interpol. This is crazy, I know!

    We also talked with members of a cottage industry that has sprung up to support the defrauded: And we spoke to FBI investigators, academics and researchers who study cyberfraud. Like Warnack, she still struggles emotionally to accept what happened.

    The two men in Nigeria pleaded guilty for their roles in scamming the Texas woman in July and were sentenced to three years in prison.

    Over the next two years, she sent more money in response to each new story he told her, she said, because, after all, they were in love. The Most Likely Victims According to FBI data, 82 percent of romance scam victims are women and women over 50 are defrauded out of the most money. Using fake profiles on online dating sites and social networks, including Facebook, scammers troll for the lonely and the vulnerable. They promise love and marriage and build what feels like a very real relationship to the victim.

    Someone who has fallen for a scam before is a favored mark. Those names and identities are often sold to other criminals. A Federal Trade Commission study published in found another telling commonality among all kinds of fraud victims: And should they wise up, they may be threatened and blackmailed by their faux lovers.

    The scammer may even admit the crime to the victim, but then swear he has actually fallen in love with her. More than one woman has wound up charged with crimes. Victims live around the globe.

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    Ruth Grover, who lives in northeast England, runs ScamHatersa website that posts warnings about online profiles that appear to be scammers. Many victims there and elsewhere are not wealthy and must borrow the money they send to the scammers. While Nigerian scams targeting an international audience in particular predate the internet, as The Guardian reported in January, the advent of social networks and email has broadened the potential victim list and changed the game.

    These scammers are not just young people set on a career criminal path.

    How A BillionDollar Internet Scam Is Breaking Hearts And Bank Accounts HuffPost

    The video shows luxury cars bearing license plates for each day of the week, beautiful women and expensive liquor on tap, and dollars carelessly tossed on the floor like confetti.

    Many of the early online scams were run out of pay-per-hour internet cafes, some of which would even shut down to the public while the larger scamming operations took over.

    How A BillionDollar Internet Scam Is Breaking Hearts And Bank Accounts HuffPost

    With better and cheaper internet connections these days, scammers can often work from home. They cast a Vodun spell, which is akin to voodoo, to essentially hypnotize their victims into giving up the money. Scammers often work in teams of five or six, with each member playing a specific role, according to experts who study and prosecute online fraud.

    One person opens communication as the faux lover. Teammates sometimes impersonate a doctor or a nurse demanding to be paid after a medical emergency. Or they pose as work associates or friends of the paramour, to whom the victim can send the money. It is all scripted: The criminals can download their scripts off plenty of online sites.

    Last year, a year-old British woman was sentenced to two years in prison for being a scriptwriter for romance scammers. One script she wrote tried to capitalize on an American tragedy. The scammer was supposed to say: He made it out of the collapsed building but he later died because of heavy dust and smoke and he was asthmatic.

    When the victim seeks a face-to-face meeting, the script offers creative ways for scammers to say no or to cancel later. Sometimes thousands of phony online identities are created from one set of stolen photos.

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    Soldiers represent protection, another appealing trait. The Army Criminal Investigation Command CID receives hundreds of complaints a month from victims who say they formed an online relationship with someone claiming to be a U. There are no circumstances in which a member of the U. When it comes to photo theft, rank offers no privileges. Campbell was the top U. Campbell, now retiredtook to Facebook to warn people after he and his staff uncovered more than fake profiles using his image in the first six months after he took over the U.

    Jones Without his knowledge, Dr.

    Síla na Géige Sheela na Gig and Sacred Space, the Cailleach as Creator

    Of course, men who are drawn into these scams come from many walks of life. In the case of Dr. A good part of his life is spent dodging these heartbroken women, some of whom who think he personally ripped them off.

    One woman made an appointment for hypnosis with his New York office. She showed up with color printouts of his photos that she believed he had sent her. When Jones posted on his real Facebook page that HuffPost wanted to speak with women who had been bilked by scammers using his name, more than 50 responded in less than 24 hours. He also posted this public service announcement on YouTube about how to avoid being scammed.

    The Facebook photos of Las Vegas resident Michael Besson were also stolen and used to create hundreds of fake profiles on Facebook and other sites.

    One woman from a small town in Illinois showed up at the door of his home, he said. He said his motive in speaking publicly was simple: Courtesy of Michael Besson This photo of Michael Besson with his daughter has appeared on hundreds of scammers' profiles.

    Scammers Play In Social Media Social media and dating sites, where people volunteer details about their personal lives, are a natural habitat for scammers. Dating sites appear to be aware of the role they play, however unintentionally, in romance fraud.

    It is standard for such sites to disclaim any responsibility for fake profiles that appear. An industry executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told HuffPost that some sites fight back surreptitiously. They block users who they suspect are scammers without telling them.

    Any money paid is returned on the back end to the presumably stolen credit card. Victims need to be told: If the person is not willing to meet them in the first month, move on to find someone who will! Zooska dating app with 40 million online profiles and members in 80 countries, lets users make a video of their face with the app that a human moderator will then view and match up with the submitted photos.

    Many scam victims told HuffPost that they feel Facebook is not sufficiently proactive when it comes to weeding out and blocking the fraudsters.