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UER Forum > UE Main > Tales of Social Engineering (Viewed 491 times)
AdventureDan 


Location: Northeast Texas
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I'm here to make wavy eyebrows and jump off stuff

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Tales of Social Engineering
< on 8/7/2019 12:12 AM >
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Hi everyone, It's been a long time since I've been active on UER, but once again i'm back and decided to jump back in with one of my favorite aspects of these forums: the swapping of epic stories.

So I was wondering if anyone had good stories about social engineering in particular, whether it be just quick examples or in depth stories, what are some things you have done to gain access to active buildings or sites, where personnel interaction was required?

One of my greatest moments was convincing a building engineer at a high rise building downtown that I was a city electrician there to do a "routine emergency stairwell light inspection."
Using fake work order forms and a convincing electrician geddup (I actually was an electrician apprentice for a while), he then gave me the master key to the stairwells and maintenance and a key fob that gave me full access of the elevator...
I then went straight to the roof and used the key to open the door and took pictures from the roof. At the end I had the front desk security sign my fake work order form for shits and giggles.

Any other secret agent stories?

Let's hear 'em.




AAAAAAAAAAAADVENTURE TIME!!!!
2Xplorations 


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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 1 on 8/7/2019 11:29 AM >
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I won't lie to people to get permission to "explore" some place but I have made numerous appearances in my normal business attire, nice slacks, shirt and tie, or local news media ball cap with my old skool pro looking camera, Canon D20 with Speedlight that allowed me to enter some places unmolested. I have had a security guard and a 5 star hotel kitchen manager check me out, and I never lied to anyone.

That's Ok with some people's ethics just not mine.

Even used a hard hat one time but nobody on the site habla English so nobody wanted to interact with me in fact they tried to avoid "el hefe" LOL





Its on my list...
EsseXploreR 


Location: New Jersey
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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 2 on 8/7/2019 11:53 AM >
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I explored a half demolished hospital in a rough neighborhood not too far from me alone once. I did the whole vest/hart hat thing and it was great.

I also once had a caretaker confront me in an abandoned hospital, but he threw all his cards on the table immediately and asked us if we were from the film crew that was there the day prior. He dropped the head supervisors name and we just agreed with everything he said. Good dude. You could tell he wouldn't have cared much either way.

Another time that comes to mind was in New York City. I was inside a store that was occupying the first floor of a former theater. Everything upstairs had been sealed off and kept relatively intact. I wasnt really getting through to the manager at all, until I asked him in broken spanish if the movie theater was still upstairs and if we could take pictures of it. After a quick suspicious glance he said it was, and brought us over to a door that was hidden behind a shelf full of products. It was straight out of a movie.



[last edit 8/7/2019 11:54 AM by EsseXploreR - edited 1 times]

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Vic 


Location: Toronto
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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 3 on 8/7/2019 1:47 PM >
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Posted by EsseXploreR
Another time that comes to mind was in New York City. I was inside a store that was occupying the first floor of a former theater. Everything upstairs had been sealed off and kept relatively intact. I wasnt really getting through to the manager at all, until I asked him in broken spanish if the movie theater was still upstairs and if we could take pictures of it. After a quick suspicious glance he said it was, and brought us over to a door that was hidden behind a shelf full of products. It was straight out of a movie.


Movie theatre that was straight out of a movie. How meta.




blackhawk 

Not an expert.


Location: Mission Control
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UER newbie

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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 4 on 8/7/2019 1:56 PM >
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Gotten unlimited permission to shoot multiple large demo sites and the Chester Power Station including roof access.
Unofficially from the PA State police to shoot Pennhurst when it was still state controlled.

Being straight forward with people and understanding their concerns has got me into some of the best sites.
People hate being lied to; I try to avoid doing it.
Working with people has gotten me further than trying to play them.
WYSIWYG

Doesn't work every time... Beth Steel was trespassing all the way.
If so make sure whatever it is, is worth the trouble.




Just when I thought I was out... they pulled me back in.
tiftastic 


Location: Pittsburgh, PA
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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 5 on 8/7/2019 3:04 PM >
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Dressing like a soccer mom has worked well for me in the past - "Oh gee! Did I wander off somewhere I'm not allowed? So sorry..."

Other than that, I try to fly under the radar.




AdventureDan 


Location: Northeast Texas
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 149 likes


I'm here to make wavy eyebrows and jump off stuff

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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 6 on 8/7/2019 3:22 PM >
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I will agree not having to make a big deal and just let them make their own assumptions is usually best, Having been to the top of almost every skyscraper in Dallas and Houston i can say the smoothest trips are those where you just dress in business attire and put your camera in a brief case and no one asks you questions.

However there were times where there was absolutely no other option to get past security measures, (like elevators being per resident key carded so you can't just hitch a ride in a full elevator, as well as the stairwells being locked from the inside on ground floors) and in those situations I will admit i don't have qualms about lying.

I will say this though, ALWAYS have a bailout excuse were someone to call your bullshit.

My favorite go to is to claim you're at the wrong building should they say there is no scheduled inspection or you aren't their regular guy. Just act dumbfounded and get your cell phone out to "call your boss" in front of them. Then during the conversation with said boss say out loud the wrong building address like "2400 main right?" at which point whatever authority immediately corrects you and it's all just a big misunderstanding.




AAAAAAAAAAAADVENTURE TIME!!!!
AdventureDan 


Location: Northeast Texas
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 149 likes


I'm here to make wavy eyebrows and jump off stuff

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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 7 on 8/7/2019 3:25 PM >
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Posted by tiftastic
Dressing like a soccer mom has worked well for me in the past - "Oh gee! Did I wander off somewhere I'm not allowed? So sorry..."



Same.




AAAAAAAAAAAADVENTURE TIME!!!!
Hawkwind 


Location: largo, Florida 33771...
Gender: Male
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In Search Of Space

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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 8 on 8/7/2019 11:33 PM >
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Had to go on an "OSHA" construction site today. With hard hat, safety glasses/vest. Had to sign in at the portable office. I enter the site and a "maroon hardhat" asks me who I work for. Now, it states that fact on the doors of my work truck and my shirt. I tell him who I work for and why I am there and that I had signed-in at the office. Replies, "good". I add that I follow the rules in life. And he says, "I like the sound of that".

I'd have to say, on construction sites even as an "authorized personnel" are fun to get into...




Cross- 


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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 9 on 8/8/2019 2:28 PM >
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My friend and I were exploring what we thought was an abandoned dentist's clinic in a downtown city. After taking shots of the first floor we worked our way to the second floor and we found the entire room was decked out in political shirts, posters, maps, volunteer schedules, talking points, etc. We realized a candidate was using the second floor as their campaign headquarters. Right as we turned to leave, the candidate himself walked through the front door. My friend wanted to hide but I told him we'd have a better time just talking our way out of it then getting discovered crouched in some corner. We walked up to the guy and pretended we were students from a local university that wanted to volunteer but, finding the front door open, thought we had to go upstairs to sign up. The guy seemed startled at first but then eventually took our contact information (made up) and, after talking politics for a while, told us he'd contact us later. Sometimes there's no real good excuse for being in a place, but as long as there is plausible deniability, I find that talking your way out of a situation is usually easier.




2Xplorations 


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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 10 on 8/8/2019 7:33 PM >
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Rule of thumb, don't go in lookin like a punk or vandal, be bold and walk around like you own the place. Employees in the lower echelon are often afraid to confront someone that looks like they belong there or looks like theyre upper echelon (management)i.e. dress for success.




Its on my list...
Cfourexplore 


Location: North Carolina
Gender: Male
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Ow! Oww! They're defending themselves somehow!!

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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 11 on 8/8/2019 10:35 PM >
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I've had a few experiences while exploring that definitely required some social engineering...I'm usually pretty good (or lucky) about not running into people, or at least remaining innocuous and like I belong to those who do see me.
-My first explore (years before using that word as a noun) was an abandoned amusement park that my family used to go to when I was young. I talked my brothers into checking out the (by then) defunct park on the way home from a family trip. We arrive, and as my brother is attempting to breach the front gate security system (frayed nylon rope tied in a simple knot holding the gates shut), an SUV shows up...two guys, who tell me they're meeting the owners of the property here to discuss the fate of the place.
They were nice guys, and while they weren't bothered by our presence there, they doubted we'd be given permission to explore. My brother spotted the meeting spot while I took what shots I could...then decided to walk down a service road into the park and directly confront the owners.
Well, long story short(er), they gave us the go ahead, and we were allowed to walk around. I think my brother had won them over by pulling the nostalgia card.
-Last year I was at an abandoned textile mill; no signs, gate was wide open...so I entered and parked. Ten minutes later I walk out of a building and a red truck drives by, leaving the property. Fortunately he didn't see me. The guy behind him in a white truck did...I've got my backpack on, holding my camera; I smile and slowly approach him. His first question is, "Who are you here with?" I told him I was alone, and realized he thought I was with a construction outfit.
I told him directly about my hobby, and added, 'I hope I'm not causing trouble for anyone, I saw the gate was open and it looked pretty deserted."
He laughed and said I was ok, "Hell, there's nothin' worth stealing in there anyway, damn vandals even stole the posted signs!" He'd said the gate was open because of an active water treatment site behind the mill. He warned me to be careful in there, but that nobody would likely bother me if I was just taking pics...so long as I stayed out of the treatment plant's perimeter.
-This year I went to one of my most favorite cities to explore; and was looking to revisit some sites, and wanted to find a legal place to park...a few weeks before, I had struck up a conversation with a cop who was guarding one of the big asylums (one I've infiltrated once, and was hoping for another chance).
Well, on this day he was here again, so we got to talking, and he showed me a lot I could park in. He began telling me about some of the old buildings near here (many that I'd already explored), and at one point said there was some old equipment in the one down the road. I said, "Well, I guess I won't be able to get in, right?" He replies, "Well, I know the front door's open in that one...guess I shouldn't have told you that, huh?"
I told him I wouldn't go in if it was gonna cause trouble, and he said, "As long as you don't try getting in (the asylum), we won't have an issue...that's what they want me to watch."
I really tried coercing him into doing an inside patrol with me as a backup, but he wouldn't go for it. He did of course give me the 'be careful, don't break stuff' speech, and even said if I find anything weird to let him know.
That had been a fun day, and rather ironic considering the week before I'd came VERY close to being arrested in Tennessee while exploring (this is already rather long, maybe that'll be a story for another day), and here I was now damn near getting assistance (if not veiled permission) from a cop, to explore.




"When you've truly done something right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all."
1footinthegrave 


Location: Atlanta, GA USA
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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 12 on 8/9/2019 12:36 PM >
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Posted by blackhawk
Gotten unlimited permission to shoot multiple large demo sites and the Chester Power Station including roof access.
Unofficially from the PA State police to shoot Pennhurst when it was still state controlled.

Being straight forward with people and understanding their concerns has got me into some of the best sites.
People hate being lied to; I try to avoid doing it.
Working with people has gotten me further than trying to play them.
WYSIWYG

Doesn't work every time... Beth Steel was trespassing all the way.
If so make sure whatever it is, is worth the trouble.


If you are new and looking thru this site for advice - read above. Blackhawk is dead ass on this. Dead. Ass.

I'm one of those people who always asks permission. Too much on the line with my career and honestly too much respect for how much risk an owner takes. They can be financially ruined if someone hurts themselves on their property. Once again, law suit happy people ruin life for everyone else.....so, now here we are. Unless CLEARLY abandoned with no signs forbidding entry, I ask permission.

The only place that was just a hard NO was a quarry. Oh well. Again, it boiled down to their insurance and financial risk. They were super nice but firm. I left. Its their property at the end of the day, so I respect that.

I'm sure I'll get some hate for this post, that's ok. Some will even say this is NOT Urban Exploration. Again, that is OK. Its how I combine what I find fascinating and not losing all I have built in life to stupid trespassing charges. After my divorce, I go the LONG way around to avoid even coming near a courtroom. I lost so much faith in the justice system. So much faith.




2Xplorations 


Location: Serra Pelada
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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 13 on 8/9/2019 9:24 PM >
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Getting permission = social engineering? I must have misunderstood Ninjalicious on this point, you know going places youre not supposed to go etc. etc.

"Hi Mr property owner, I am a disadvantaged college student trying to work my way through photography school by taking pictures of peeling paint can I go in your building, look around and pretend I infiltrated it then post the pictures on the Internet?"







Its on my list...
2Xplorations 


Location: Serra Pelada
Gender: Male
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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 14 on 8/9/2019 9:30 PM >
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Posted by blackhawk

People hate being lied to; I try to avoid doing it.



This kinda says it all I wont lie to people even if there are no consequences for being uncovered. Its just bad form and what it says about your exploring skills, well I wont even say what it says.

Personally I have gotten more reward by infiltrating places Im not supposed to go.





Its on my list...
AdventureDan 


Location: Northeast Texas
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 149 likes


I'm here to make wavy eyebrows and jump off stuff

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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 15 on 8/10/2019 4:10 AM >
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Posted by 2Xplorations


This kinda says it all I wont lie to people even if there are no consequences for being uncovered. Its just bad form and what it says about your exploring skills, well I wont even say what it says.

Personally I have gotten more reward by infiltrating places Im not supposed to go.




In the end, what you're comfortable telling yourself is morally "right" or "wrong" is along a grey line of opinion. It's all illegal regardless of whether you jumped a fence around said security guard or told said security guard you belong there and they let you in themselves. It all boils down to the situation and what risks you're willing to take.

As far as exploring "skills" I'd really like to know what falls under that scope, and what you consider skillful? Jumping fences or squeezing through boarded windows?

Walking into wide open literally a toddler could walk in abandonments?

Is lockpicking s practice for the "novice" explorer?

I guess I can chalk faking credentials and having to use critical thinking and social skills up as tools of the uninitiated.

I will however agree I share the opinion that getting truthful permission is not what I would consider social engineering or IMO even urbex in the connotative sense.

Doesn't mean I haven't done it for the sake of photography alone.




AAAAAAAAAAAADVENTURE TIME!!!!
2Xplorations 


Location: Serra Pelada
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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 16 on 8/10/2019 10:58 PM >
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Posted by AdventureDan

or told said security guard you belong there and they let you in themselves


That's just lying, any child, lets say a 2nd grader can lie, be proud of yourself for that! Also its not illegal. If security allows you to enter no way for the court to make that stick as trespassing. (unless security is also a liar)

Nobody is questioning your mad urbex skill, just your ethics but keep on lying the reward is greater than the shame it would seem.

Sorry if you felt singled out by my post it was a comment in general not about you or any other highly skilled explorer personally.




Its on my list...
blackhawk 

Not an expert.


Location: Mission Control
Total Likes: 3124 likes


UER newbie

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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 17 on 8/10/2019 11:59 PM >
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Posted by 1footinthegrave


If you are new and looking thru this site for advice - read above. Blackhawk is dead ass on this. Dead. Ass.

I'm one of those people who always asks permission. Too much on the line with my career and honestly too much respect for how much risk an owner takes. They can be financially ruined if someone hurts themselves on their property. Once again, law suit happy people ruin life for everyone else.....so, now here we are. Unless CLEARLY abandoned with no signs forbidding entry, I ask permission.

The only place that was just a hard NO was a quarry. Oh well. Again, it boiled down to their insurance and financial risk. They were super nice but firm. I left. Its their property at the end of the day, so I respect that.

I'm sure I'll get some hate for this post, that's ok. Some will even say this is NOT Urban Exploration. Again, that is OK. Its how I combine what I find fascinating and not losing all I have built in life to stupid trespassing charges. After my divorce, I go the LONG way around to avoid even coming near a courtroom. I lost so much faith in the justice system. So much faith.


So now I'm Dead. Ass.?
I'll take anything that's remotely complimentary from a pretty girl
-&-
I’ll tell the 30 odd 6 tripod story that cost me about $1100.
You never realize how fast and bad things can spiral out of control until it happens to you.
Damage control at that point is a bitch; it gets real drawn out and tedious.
Better have your ass in gear to eats tons of humble pie with humility and grace.
It starts with an obscure but cool decommissioned Nike site in NJ... and a dumb ass 13 yo reporting a shooter entering the treeline.

●Had the whole local police force out looking for me... and my tripod.
●They set up a perimeter with road blocks and a command post complete with EMT's and ambulance... hell probably a soda stand too.
●They were fixing to bring in K-9s
●Eventually got taken down with a #12 shotgun at point blank range by a bunch of really pissed off cops.
●They impounded my gear/car, got search warrants and searched.
●I showed remorse right off the get go for their troubles that day.
Sort of like kicking a hornet's nest you thought was empty with nowhere to run... instant and intense regret.
●Was charged with 2 state felony counts.
●In time their mood soften and the Lt told me I was the most compliant prisoner they ever had after I sat handcuffed to a bench only speaking when spoken too for over 2 hours.
Told him exactly why and what I was doing.
He eventually released me on my own recognizance less my gear and car.
●A week or so later after a 30 minute sit down with the Chief got my gear back and worked out a deal. The Chief didn't have to see me; politeness and honesty can go a long way.
A few weeks later after talking with the Prosecutor, the Chief was good to his word.
$650 in fines/court costs with everything dialed back to municipal misdemeanors.
The rest of the cost was taxis and impound fees.
●What the Chief saw on my images match my story line 100% ie WYSIWYG.
Turns out he was fascinated by -his- headache Nike site. I also offered him images if he wanted any.
●The end results were as good or better than a lawyer could have done and a lot cheaper.

●The Chief also invited me back to the Nike site... turns out he had the key to the main gate and temporary control of it.
The irony of it isn't lost on me...

One of the lessons learned; don't get too clever for your own good


Posted by 2Xplorations


This kinda says it all I wont lie to people even if there are no consequences for being uncovered. Its just bad form and what it says about your exploring skills, well I wont even say what it says.

Personally I have gotten more reward by infiltrating places Im not supposed to go.




One's own integrity can be turned into a slippery slope by getting into the vice of perpetually using lies when the truth would serve them better.
Eventually their lies become them.





[last edit 8/11/2019 12:07 AM by blackhawk - edited 1 times]

Just when I thought I was out... they pulled me back in.
22 


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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 18 on 8/11/2019 12:50 AM >
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A female companion of mine and I like to use access ladders on buildings in our city on very much not abandoned sites just for nice views and what not. Or go too plan if someone is rounding the corner is to pretend to make out. Depending on where we are this will cause people to completely ignore or to for the most part just say "hey not here". Overall making it seem like you got caught doing something else rather then caught hiding in general will lesson any type of "punishment" you might get.




AdventureDan 


Location: Northeast Texas
Gender: Male
Total Likes: 149 likes


I'm here to make wavy eyebrows and jump off stuff

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Re: Tales of Social Engineering
< Reply # 19 on 8/11/2019 2:24 AM >
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Posted by 2Xplorations


That's just lying, any child, lets say a 2nd grader can lie, be proud of yourself for that! Also its not illegal. If security allows you to enter no way for the court to make that stick as trespassing. (unless security is also a liar)

Nobody is questioning your mad urbex skill, just your ethics but keep on lying the reward is greater than the shame it would seem.

Sorry if you felt singled out by my post it was a comment in general not about you or any other highly skilled explorer personally.


But can a 2nd grader make a convincing electrician?

Also yes it will still stick as tresspassing. I would know. With 3 tresspassing charges, one of which I was let up by security (all of my charges have been using my photos after the fact to charge.)

I also had homeland security investigating me for a while, however there's no use lying or "disproving" anything to authorities, as the idea of innocent til proven guilty doesnt exist in our legal system anymore, they will fuck you if they want to. So I've found that when they start calling, bending over and spilling it all usually has the best results.




AAAAAAAAAAAADVENTURE TIME!!!!
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