--Pump and dump stock scams are vintage, which, oddly, though long ago exposed, still thrive, courtesy of active con men
Pump and Dump stock scams are still around. Here's how to spot the stock tips that emerge from these, and how to protect yourself:
Worthless stock. Tight float. Thinly traded. These are the basic prerequisites of the "Pump and Dump" stock scam. And, con men, who realize that the most powerful force in the universe is gossip, respond accordingly, to spread the word of these "opportunities."
First, a microcap company--one with capitalization so small that it is not required to comply with the normally rigid requirements of a stock exchange--is sought by the con men. Those found among the OTC "Pink Sheets" are some examples.
Next, tight float is sought. It's a must. This surfaces in stocks being held by the insiders and promoters of it, in general, rather than the buying public. This, then, spells out into the third leg of the three fundamental requirements, thin trading, which, in turn, creates the best setting for manipulation. This results in the Pump and Dump artist's being better able to control the price.
Say you've gotten into email exchanges with such a charlatan resulting from an internet chat room conversation. You are now set up for the Pump. Let's borrow from the old comic strip, Dick Tracy, and call the scam artist involved, Tess Trueheart. Tess plugs the meteoric rise of Moonbeam Techtronics--from ten cents a share to eighty cents in just two weeks. Wow! you think. You tell yourself the "big kill" is here. "Now. Right in front of my nose." You buy 5,000 shares, and feel like you are cornering the market, because the stock is thinly traded (as wild as this sounds, this reason is often, cynically, passed off to you as an "advantage").
You hold. Not for long. Just one month later you find the bottom has fallen out of the stock. It's now down to two cents a share. Now, when you find that Tess has suddenly disappeared, like a cockroach under a harsh light, the shock is like getting stood up at the alter.
You study. You learn. You now find that a simple procedure was followed, at your expense. The Pumpers were buying heavily--twenty cents, thirty cents, forty cents, on up the price ladder. Since the stock, sans public participation, was so thinly traded it didn't take long to drive the price up to the eighty cents level where you bought in. Then came the Dump: the unloading of the Pump and Dumpsters' entire holdings. Outcome? You, the innocent investor (sucker), get yet another empty bag to hold.
Yes, penny stocks are alive and well. And, suckerhood seems to be--forever--an embedded "way of life" in a corner of our investment community. Does the world's foundation of ignorance ever fade to one of studied, rational thought? one might ask. Seemingly, no.
The best defense appears to remain, as always: study up, learn all the tricks, fortify your resistance against con men. Then use all the weapons available to you. Many. Seek. Then:
Fire back. When in doubt, follow the instructions actually printed on a U.S. Rocket Launcher: "Aim toward the enemy." This, so as to best withstand the never-ending onslaught of the con men who, even through these old-fashioned means--the old Pump and Dump "beat" which goes ever on--would rob you of your innate instincts for value judgments. And, even more rudimentary, your "base" common sense.
If you lose $100 on a horse race, don't lose another $100 on the instant replay. Why is it so many investors ignore this basic lesson?
Monday, December 31, 2007
--Pump and dump stock scams are vintage, which, oddly, though long ago exposed, still thrive, courtesy of active con men
Posted by Jack Payne at 3:35 AM
Friday, December 28, 2007
--A psychological 11-step approach is methodically followed in setting up a "pigeon" through a phone scam
How does Teflon stick to the pan? This is the sort of question you could be asking yourself after being "taken" by a scam artist telemarketer. Legal phone scams can be devastating enough. No need to go further and fall into an outrightly illegal trap.
The professional con man does, however, have a big hurdle to leap, right up front in his operations. He must constantly cast his sucker-bait in order to find new victims. Often, the quickest, easiest way to do this is through just plain old cold-call telemarketing methods. The scam artist pays no heed to the No Call Registry. His plan is for a swift set-up, a fast fleece, resulting in a quick buck, then he will be gone before any law enforcement agency can even think to get out a warrant on him.
Say you are the scam artist. What does it take to get you started?
It requires a talented person to persuade someone to take the action you are conning them into--to make a decision that will line your pockets--based solely on the words and ideas that spill forth from your lips. An awesome feat. You know the average victim thinks indecision is the key to flexibility, and it's this inherent mental state that must be overcome.
So, now let's grab an example out of thin air: something you might be trying to sell. Let's say it's a solar panel lighting and heating system for your victim's house. Say it's cost is $15,000--only a third or one-half what the victim would normally expect to pay. Why the bargain price? Why not? This way you can start out with a big competitive advantage. Good talking point. Remember, the deposit you'd get on the $15,000 would be both gross and net to the scam artist: you. You don't plan on delivering anything, only walking off with the sucker's money. The scam artist doesn't suffer from stress; he's the carrier. That's Scam School 101.
How do you start? A number of steps are involved, to get the customer softened up so that he will accept an appointment with you.
1. Treat whoever answers the phone the same way you would the decision-maker--because this person will determine if you even get to talk to Mr.. Moneybags.
2. Squeeze the call screener for information. "I hope you can help me? I want to be fully prepared when I talk to..."(whoever the sucker).
3. If you have to leave a message you must be sure it contains a strongly hinted-at benefit. You must bait the hook, to ensure getting through to the mark. Be vague. No detailed descriptives.
4. When speaking directly to the decision-maker, start out with curiosity stimulation. "I understand a solar-panel heating system for a home your size normally costs upwards of $30,000." You've got to maneuver the victim compliantly into the next phase.
5. The questioning phase is next. This can be tricky. A little flattery is called for at this stage, to soften the mark up, but not to overdo. Use weasel words: maybe, perhaps, possibly. You must hint that you "might" have something of value to offer,and with the help of these non-threatening words, you are moving your pitch diplomatically forward.
6. Avoid going-nowhere questions: "Are you now having problems?" " What are your needs?" "What are you looking for?" You don't want the mark to think too much at this stage. If something goes without saying, let it..
7. If the victim starts to bubble and run off at the mouth, this is a good sign. He is opening up, just what you want. Be patient. "Tell me more." Remember, a closed mouth gathers no foot.
8. When objections occur, do not in any way get defensive. Merely backtrack, revisit the question phase. "Let's talk about that." This can easily be turned to an advantage, because it is a symptom of his real problem.
9. " What would happen if you did nothing about your problem?" This is a good approach to turning things around again and headed back your way. Here you have an open door to jump in with the $20,000 savings you offer, the benefits, all the goodies. You are now at the wrap-up stage of this phone call.
10. You should now be ready for your final push. In the questioning phase you've found out who all the decision makers are who must be sold. You've measured the mark as to his degree of gullibility. You know all the demographics. Make the appointment. Get all the necessary suckers involved together for your final face-to-face meeting.
Then you close the con. pick up a hefty deposit, and vacation in Cancun for a month.
Posted by Jack Payne at 2:23 AM
Friday, December 21, 2007
--Learn how polls are used by "legal" con artists to support forgone conclusions, promote an agenda, obfuscate, confuse, mislead, and persuade.
So, you thought the purpose of that poll showing 73% of California restaurants now providing salsa as a standing table-top offering was to provide factual data, right?
The true purpose of the poll scam, commissioned by a salsa processor, was to further an agenda--to get you to accept as bald fact that salsa, placed alongside salt, pepper, and sugar in that high percentage of restaurants proves its mass-market appeal.
Intent is to mislead you into believing it has now replaced ketchup as a table-top standby. If truly informative data were sought by a truly objective pollster, the actual figure would probably be closer to 20%, maybe as high as 35%. How, then, did the pollster in this case, get to the 73% stratosphere?
Easy! Through adapting con artists' tactics, the run up, or lead-in, questions in this poll scam paved the way.
These preliminary questions, asked of restaurant operators, were (something like): Do you feel salsa is a worthy addition to your customer's choice of offerings? (Key word, "choice," connotes big-heartedness, customer satisfaction, willingness to serve, to please. The "yes" response to this question would be substantial.)
Next question, please: Do you feel that having an ample supply readily available is important? (Key words here are "readily" and "important.") To the restaurateur-respondent, reaction is pre-ordained. " To himself he would say, "Of course, I just said it was good customer relations, yes, yes, a thousand times yes."
Now that the recipient has been pre-conditioned to say "yes," and the setup is complete, comes the big question, "Do you offer salsa as a standing table-top offering? With the way the restaurateur-respondent has been "set up," this will bring out puffery, exaggeration, hyperbole, and outright lies. It will jump the percentage of those saying yes way up, to the pollster's desired level of positive response. Viola, the 73% figure.
If you are ever polled, while you're wondering if this train of thought has a caboose, you might also be thinking: it's better to be thought of as a fool than to open my mouth wrong and remove all doubt. If you feel on the defensive, bingo.
That's exactly where the word-games-playing con artist pollster wants you.. Does the name, Pavlov, ring a bell? Bingo again. The pollster is trying to make you feel like Pavlov's dog, obedient, compliant, follow his leads, and, above all else, be polite and agreeable, so that you will give him the answers he wants.
It's not only the lead-in questions which are the enabler--to jack the percentage of the main-thrust answers for which the pollster is fishing. Often it's the choice of questions themselves.
Example from another poll scam:
If the pollster asks, "Do you believe in capitalism?" the yes answer would probably come to somewhere around 50%. (The term, "capitalism," has a negative connotation to many, bringing forth thoughts of greed, money barons, the exploitative rich, albeit it is still the generally accepted American economic system. That's why the split in opinion.) Yet, if the pollster con artist were to ask the exact same question, in different words, "Do you believe in the American free enterprise system?" (key words here are "free," and "enterprise," which does not carry capitalism's baggage), this alone would jerk upwards the positive response to at least 90%.
So, remember, when that friendly pollster next phones, you must ask yourself, "Does he actually seek informative data? Or, is he trying to manipulate me--to promote his own hidden agenda?"
If you decide his purpose is the latter, you might never again believe poll results you see, read, or hear.
Posted by Jack Payne at 4:23 AM
Friday, December 14, 2007
--Arrogantly regarding their victims, "smart as fish bait"--a common acronym--scam artists corral them in bunches.
Magalia, California--After getting a group of people together, the best way scam artists have found to get them in line, blend them into a unified force to back them, is through deft composition of a conspiracy theory. Seven of the steps employed are enumerated here, from the viewpoint of the scam artist. Paraphrasing from Legal Thriller author, Jack Payne's, writings over the past forty five years, these are some of those tactics:
You must first get your sucker-audience to focus strongly on some mythical enemy you are forced to fight--on their behalf, of course. It's best to make this enemy a sinister combination of evil, conspiring minds, determined to keep you, a crusader, from piercing their ranks with the truth about their oppressive behavior. Everybody loves a mystery, and, luckily the fighting spirit is an emotion that is easily tapable.
Now, light your fire. Get the smell of burning flesh--as you've had to walk the hot coal pit in your battle with these nefarious forces--firmly embedded in your sucker-audience's nostrils.
Talk with bravado about your heroic battles with these repressive forces. Instill in the minds of your sucker-audience that you will never surrender to these coercive entities, and that you will "burn in hell," taking all of your records with you, before you will yield to their dominating dictates.
Operate from areas soft on scams. Some states are more lenient than others, with Attorneys General who will quickly issue a "Cease and Desist" order, but are so flooded with bad guys to stop and limited budgets to operate under that they are quickly distracted and move on to something else.. Example: New Jersey is believed to be a particularly good playground for home repair scams.
Show no evidence of distress over those who defect, rather, sympathize with them for their inability to understand simple logic. In any group of people there will always be some malcontents. Most will merely slink off into the shadows, shamed into silence by the realization of their gullibility. With the few who will, instead, choose to denounce you in retaliation, you will label them agents of the "Big Conspiracy" dedicated to destroying your noble crusade.
Employ your scam artist's mastery of the art of distraction to the few remaining who would blacken your good name. Unleash a wave of endless, boring, meaningless detail upon them that will frustrate them, tire them to the point of either wanting to throw their arms in the air and run, screaming, away from you, or at the other extreme, lull them to sleep in order to avoid further conflict.
Silence, for all and forever, any remaining doubts about your "integrity" by threatening law suits to uphold your good name and the worthiness of your valiant attempts to forge a better life for your larger group of followers. Most will cower to these threats and climb down off your back.
Over a long career of writing (55 business books), legal thriller author, Jack Payne, can only sigh. "I've seen it all," he simply observes. He then adds this epilogue "Many people feel threatened by anyone with an ounce of ambition or intelligence This is why a conspiracy--an imaginary , cleverly woven amalgam of greed and brains making up this army you must fight--is such a good rallying point for scam artists. And, sadly, so many of these scam artists are so skilled that you would have to stuff wax in your ears and lash yourself to the mast in order to resist their polished efforts to get you to join their counter-insurgency.
"New! Improved! Pain-free! No work! No money down, no interest, ever! Be aware. At some point in your life, this dog and pony show is coming down the road. Right at you.
"Are you prepared?"
Posted by Jack Payne at 2:29 AM
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
--The following examines raids on consumer bank accounts by con men.
Wilma J., a former Pennsylvania real estate broker, placed a debit block on her bank account, but only after fraudulent withdrawals of $14,000 through debit card theft. "I didn't even know about debit block," she remorsefully admits. "If I had known, I could have saved myself a lot of money. I wouldn't have gotten cleaned out."
While on the subject of barn doors, locking, and disappearing horses, consider some of these additional debit card horror stories, as practiced by con men: An Ohio truck driver was cleaned of $19,000. A California high school teacher, $9,500. An Illinois Lutheran Minister, $6,000. An Arizona insurance agent, $11,000. Even a New York credit counselor, $18,300. These are just a few of the plentiful examples which move a grown-up to join the children, and cry.
Sadly, to go through the ritual of setting up a debit block is looked upon by many people as the equivalent of marrying someone your parents chose for you.It's not really all that bad. Try it. If you are one of the few who even know about this banking service, and, If your bank is one that offers it, it is nothing more than added identity theft insurance. We're not trying to sound like the sheep herder who cried, "wolf," here. But, if you wait until after the fact--until a raid is conducted against your bank account--trying to correct it would be like attempting to run the Marathon with a cracked shin bone.
With some 50% of all major U.S. corporations being hit up with unauthorized withdrawals last year, this lucrative reward for identity theft is now more widely used by con men to go after consumers too, yes, people just like you. Surprising it is, in light of this, that so few debit card users even know of the simple steps that can be taken to protect their accounts.
First, you might well say, I don't want any con men breaking the bank at my expense. How to prevent? Let's begin at the beginning. What is a debit block anyway?
An ACH block (Automated Clearing House) works like a stop-payment order on a check. So, how do you use it to protect everyday debit card transactions? A variety--or combination--of ways:
>You can allow no ACH debits to your account at all. Except your own, that is.This tightening of the screws puts out of reach your funds to all sources, both legitimate and illegitimate--prevents them from "tapping in" to your account. Not too practical, but effective. For con men, it totally denies them the intoxicating fragrance of easy money.
>You can set the block up to allow withdrawals only on certain dates of the month. This gives you a good measure of added protection, if only you know which days of the month your account will be active. Under this scenario you reverse the usual cat-and-mouse game with the con artist. You get to call the shots instead of him. You control the shell game yourself.
>It can be set up with a dollar limit, so that you cannot be cleaned out in one fell swoop. Limited in practicality, but effective in thwarting thieves. (Remember,you would be up against an adversary whose idea of the game is that it involves but one "sporting" gesture: when a victim is down, kick him.)
>You can structure it to allow payments to only payees on an approved list. These payees might include: your utility, phone, water, insurance providers, your daughter's private music instructor, and all others on your monthly billing cycle. Here again, you would be limiting yourself somewhat, in the name of protection against theft. For all the devil's inventiveness it's hard for con men to figure a way around this barrier.
These are just a few of the options you have. We're sure your friendly neighborhood banker would gladly provide more.
An oddity in our financial safety net--a big hole, really--is that credit card holders are liable (once quickly reported, a must) to a maximum of $50 in losses. On debit cards, however, you're on your own. With these, if you keep $30,000 in your account, that's how much you could lose.
The con men, in these days of such wide spread identity theft, are picking the low-hanging fruit. They are finding that these outrightly criminal withdrawals from bank accounts are as easy as stealing cookies from girl scouts.
You can't be the boy in the plastic bubble, insulating yourself from all perceived unpleasant realities, and their consequences Not when the remedy is so obvious. Satisfy yourself with knowledge. Study up on the subject. You don't have to be a victim. Not when it is so relatively effortless to set up your own debit block at your bank.
Posted by Jack Payne at 1:12 AM
Thursday, November 29, 2007
--Wade through all of the advantages and disadvantages, before coming to a reasoned conclusion--facts to face presented here
Eat well, stay fit, die anyway. This is the reality you must face when contemplating a living trust.
Important, if you are contemplating this form of legal instrument: the good, the bad, the needed, and the unneeded of the Intro Vivos Trust, must be considered.Be careful of the differences.
Have you been approached by a telemarketing trust-hustler, an at-your-doorstep quick-buck con man, or been intrigued by an internet ad on this subject? If so, hold up. Slow down. Wait. There are many factors to consider before committing all of your assets to one of these supposed ease-of-estate-conveyance instruments, particularly when offered by one of the above described purveyors.
> Unless your assets exceed $1,000,000 there are no tax advantages. Tax advantages don't kick in significantly until your assets rise above $1,500,000.
> If you are about to apply for Medicaid, you can incur severe penalties if your application is within 5 years of the Trust's establishment.
> Your home, if placed in the Trust, is no longer exempt from the estate tax (in most states), presumably one of the protections you sought when setting up a trust in the first place.
> You give away a lot of personal information when you set one up. So, extra, intensive scrutiny must be focused on the character, reputation, and standing of the people with whom you are dealing.
Don't forget, any dropped item will first strike your toes.
> The expense, often exorbitant.
These are facts the con man will not voluntarily tell you. A goldfish has a memory capacity of 3 seconds. This is the hope the con man is pursuing as he tries to rush his plan past you, especially if you've reached the age where you consider Happy Hour to be time for a nap. There are, however, some plusses.
> Orderliness. The first thing to know about a survival situation is to not get into a survival situation. A trust helps you avoid such a fate.
> Speed in distribution of assets after your demise. You bypass the long, cumbersome probate process (in most states). If you have illusions of competence, then now, before your demise, is the time to fan that flame.
> Clean-cut distribution of proceeds between multiple beneficiaries of your estate. This is a big advantage over probate, where the executor must repeatedly get court approval for so many of the estate-settlement expenses.
> Less squabbling. Reduced tension. Less outright feuding between your siblings or other beneficiaries. When you're all stressed out over this and have no one left to choke, a feeling of peace and tranquility will overtake you with the acquisition of a living trust.
> A great tool for protecting yourself against identity theft. It disrupts the view of any con man lurking in the bushes, planning an identity theft attack on you. Enables you to out-con the identity theft con man by confusing his vision of your estate.
If--oh, that little 2-letter word that means so much--you decide to go the trust route, set one up, it behooves you to find the proper party to take on this task for you. This would mean no telemarketers, high-pressure salesmen, no internet "Trust Specialists." Don't try to ski uphill. Best to stay in your own neighborhood. Level ground. There are probably many reputable financial planners nearby, as well as highly specialized trust attorneys. Find them. Use one.
We're aware that just going through life with your financial assets always, seemingly, in jeopardy, feels like being hit repeatedly in the head with a hammer--and it would feel so good if it stopped. Your attempt to make this euphoric state come to pass, however, must be a cautious undertaking, indeed.
Posted by Jack Payne at 5:37 AM
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
--Eight rules of engagement usedby scam artists to enrich themselves--especially harmful to small businesses
Magalia, California--The SEC, FTC, and the FBI, alarmed by the rapid spread of scam artists and their exploits which include but go even beyond identity theft, are cracking down. Their recent press releases give ample evidence.
How to Lie in Good Faith. This is the scam artist's peculiar interpretation of the much-scorned Law of Bureaucracy, as he focuses on small businesses of all types. Observers see these smaller entities as particularly vulnerable.
The life of a scam artist is viewed as not all that easy. There are many hurdles he must overcome, in order to scam private citizens and corporations of every kind. The small business person, without benefit of the training classes and seminars provided their employees by large corporations, are similarly challenged. They must know precisely where the scam artists are coming from, too.
Veteran business writer, Jack Payne, who has followed the antics of scam artists for the past forty five years, has these pertinent observations. From the viewpoint of the scam artists, he outlines eight of their rules of engagement:
"Start out with your most outrageous claims. This, so as to bring to the surface, chalk off, and get rid of, the most skeptical people right at the outset.
"After you have initially impressed your audience with your fountain of obscure knowledge, hint at a mysterious, secret backer you have waiting in the wings. This always stokes up interest.
"Get your audience foot-stomping mad at some evil conspiracy trying to hold you down, steal your ideas, quash you like a bug because they fear the righteousness of your cause.
"Control all facts by writing a book. Many book printers are available to carry your water. Then, when questioned as to the validity of your claims,, refer to your book, where all the "facts" are "down in print." Gullible people will not question "facts"--when they are in a book.
"Wild claims about the "Big Conspiracy" you must fight will not only cover your lack of evidence, but get you great press coverage. In today's journalistic world, the press zeros in on the conflict itself, rather than the evidence that led to the conflict. Just what you want.
"If you can't convince them, confuse them.
Discourage your investors from trading thoughts with each other. You don't want words from earlier drop-out malcontents to get a foothold.
"Urge your followers to start benefiting the world immediately: by selling your worthless junk to their families, friends, churches, and fraternal order brothers and sisters.
"Start the old pyramid rolling. Offer commissions to your investors to find more investors."
Says Payne, author of 55 business books, plus the legal thriller, Six Hours Past Thursday, "The strongest muscle in the human body is the tongue. The skilled scam artist is living proof of this.
"But, your Saving Grace is that It's so simple--really--to pause, ponder, evaluate, do the math. Then, just walk away."
Posted by Jack Payne at 4:45 AM
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
--For defensive purposes, what everybody ought to know: the con man's vocabulary and how to interpret it
Seemingly eons ago, the word, "mark," was born. It was in the 19th century era of the carnival barker that the practice of labeling "marks" originated. Once a victim proved his suckerhood, a shell games operator would slap him on the back with a chalk-filled hand, thus making him identifiable to the other crooked operators on the midway. The carnival con man of the day usually got away with these small-time scams because local authorities wrote such thievery off, "because they'll be gone in 3 days."
This practice has evolved. No longer must you worry about such messy tracking methods. The skilled con man, now a polished orator, resorts, largely, to spellbinding prose, a strictly verbal assault on your common sense. So, how do you keep the chalk off your back? How do you now detect when you are about to be ripped off?
Listen closely to the language. Hear each and every word penetrating your ears, on into your head, circulating about your cerebrum seeking analytical judgment. When the con man thinks he has got you in his cross-hairs, certain words will spill forth from his lips. Like the intellectual who uses more words than necessary, he will try to overwhelm you with his charm, wit, and charisma, along with his verbosity. Measure him, and what he says, carefully. Examples of the words:
> Anyone can make a killing. Anyone? C'mon. Obvious, even though the con man thinks, a good slogan will stop researh for 10 years. It's still tried, over and over again.
> Sure-fire. Automatic. Easy money. Airtight. Painless. Foolproof.. Safe. Sure, these words reassure alright. Don't they? Anyone who falls for this claptrap probably also believes in the tooth fairy, Santa Clause, and truthful politicians.
> Confidential. Secret. Then, you must ask yourself, why in the world is he about to spill all of this to a neophyte stranger like me?
> Removes risk. Risk-free. What? Come again. You're thinking, every morning when I leave the house I must drive carefully to avoid hitting somebody. When I get to work I must avoid second hand smoke. I must be careful not to cut myself when using a knife to peel an orange at coffee break. At lunch time I must be sure the potato salad hasn't been standing out too long, to avoid food poisoning. And, on my way home I risk what my husband might think when he sees the fishnet stockings and miniskirt I just bought and am wearing--will he think I was wearing these before I got to work, with a specific purpose in mind?. And, now this guy wants me to invest $10,000 with him and tells me there is no risk?
> Lazy way. Easy money. Painless. Automatic. Huh? As in the Geico commercials on TV, so easy a cave man can do it?
> This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. When you hear this you can be sure it is just that: a get-rich-quick scheme. Whom to acquire this elusive wealth? Why, the con man, naturally.
> Insider. Magic. No-brainer. You would have to be living vicariously through the eyes of a gypsy tea leaf reader to believe these words.
> Win / win. When you hear this think, lose / lose.
> Money machine. Offshore. Cookie-cutter. Dead cat bounce. Components of a legal thriller? Sounds more like language uttered by Tony Soprano and his gang of thugs.
In essence, it's best to be certain the con man's words fall only into an echo chamber as you turn and walk away. Be sure to avoid taking a friendly pat on the back on your way out.
Posted by Jack Payne at 4:25 AM
Monday, November 12, 2007
--Well planned psychological approaches employed
Magalia, California--It's just like a magic act, is the claim of scam fighters. With more quick-tricks than a magician on amphetamines, with the illusion of tarot cards plucked from their sleeves, the scam artists wow their audiences. From the scam artist's point of view, following are 7 of these tricks of the trade which are rigidly exercised when trying to seduce a group of people. (Paraphrased from the writings of Jack Payne, founder and former publisher of Business Opportunities Digest, author of 55 business books, and the novel Six Hours Past Thursday, who has followed the antics of the con man for the past 45 years.)
Eliminate self-righteous skeptics right off the top. Never, ever, respond in kind to their emotional utterances of protest. Instead, nit-pick them to death with every kind of unrelated trivia you can think of. Usually, if your initial claims are outrageous enough, this will serve adequately as a distraction to silence these kill-joy malcontents. Where it doesn't, augment your retort by telling them that their attention span is slight, and their need to improve their powers of observation is a pressing one. Offer to help them by laying more unrelated nonsense on them, at the same time demanding that they pay close attention so they will not insult your intelligence by demanding that you further explain.
Pitch your product / service to senior citizens, religious types, the disadvantaged, hard-working family farmers, and groupings of people who are by circumstance dependent on others, or by nature either born followers, or naive adherents to "faith" and "trust." These are your primary markets.
Outrage your audience against a mythical government agency you must fight. These make good scapegoats. Make the suckers a part of your conspiracy-fighting battle by giving you money to wage your sterling crusade.
Always get your victims to pay primary attention to dramatic theory rather than any evidence of reality which could be logically measured.
Be bold, loud. Make your claims in the form of rapier-like thrusts, sharp verbal jabs that will be clearly heard. People tend to think something transparently out in the open could not possibly be suspect.
Don't be too greedy in the beginning Shoot for only a small, initial amount of up-front money. $20-$30 is a good range--for an information kit of some form. Once the sucker has paid that much it's easier to squeeze him for more.
You've got to force your investors to surrender their rights to legal action, by any means you can manufacture. Give them a statement to sign at the last possible minute (as if it is so unimportant that you had almost forgotten it). or mask your disclaimer in a nondisclosure agreement containing print so small their eyeballs would bleed if they tried to read it.
These are just a few of the "basics." Says Payne, "The end game is always to create an atmosphere where emotion trumps logic. And, with identity theft at record levels, somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000,000 incidents a year in the U.S. alone, con games are now of epidemic proportions, good spawning grounds for new scams."
Posted by Jack Payne at 3:47 AM
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
--How amateur con artists thrived after Hurricane Katarina, due to government ineptness
Amateur con artists of all stripes find that conning the government is the easiest scam of all Finagle's Law of Bureaucracy: The first myth of management efficiency is that it exists, worked well for the exploiters of Hurricane Katrina.
When Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans in 2005, rank amateur con artists had a field day, not even needing the benefits of any particular rip-off training. Collectively they ripped about everything ripable from FEMA's pockets, including the lining. Here is just a sampling of the "enrichment activities" which took place at taxpayer expense as reported by a Senate Investigating Committee:
> An unbelievable 33% of the 2.5 million total applications for all forms of individual assistance were duplicates. That's right, nearly 1 million cases of fraud. Extraordinary.
> Government auditors, using bogus identities, false addresses, and creative disaster stories--for practice--were able to obtain their own $2,000 checks. No questions asked.
> Of 200 home addresses listed as hurricane damaged, 80--a staggering 40%--turned out to be nonexistent apartments or vacant lots.
> Twenty people used 35 bogus social security numbers to rake in more than $100,000 in payment-loot.
> Almost half of 11,000 people who were issued special debit cards good for $2,000 each as survival funds, got a second $2,000 windfall.
> More than half of a group of 250 collected using phantom social security numbers--numbers which had never been issued.
> Use of the social security numbers of dead people proliferated.
> Many cases were found of the special electronic debit cards being used to pay for jewelry, bail bond services, a .45-caliber handgun, and "adult entertainment" of some form or another. This part of the story reads more like fiction, like from a legal thriller.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, almost simultaneously with residents streaming out of New Orleans, a wave of illegal immigrants streamed in. Many of the clean-up jobs were taken by these people, no doubt extending the massive fraud, due to the known, high quantity of fake social security number use in their ranks.
End in sight? Who knows? After a 2-year struggle, the Homeland Security Dept. is still trying to get a handle on it. Being a cumbersome, lumbering government agency, one should not hold one's breath in wild-eyed anticipation Con artists are not the only ones who know that dealing with the government is like kicking a 300-pound sponge.
Oddity is, some 80 years before--in 1925--New Orleans was devastated by an almost identical hurricane-disaster. Not a penny came out of the Federal Treasury to bail the city out of that one. Nonetheless, somehow, the city got rebuilt. Obviously, with no federal bailout, no funds were available for fraud. So, the outcome was entirely different on that score too. How times have changed!
A generally accepted sage-wisdom of life is: You don't want to be so intelligent that nobody can relate to you. Consequently, professionals in every field generally regard talented amateurs with respect. The top executives of NBA basketball were duly impressed with the court prowess of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James while they were still in high school. Corporations vigorously recruit computer nerds, engineers, scientists, and honor graduates of all stripes on college campuses yearly. Even the federal and state governments are constantly seeking talented amateurs from among the masses, to employ and train.
Not so in the con artists' profession. Here the sociopath professional regards the amateur with disdain, convinced he is incapable of developing any kind of workable shell game. He feels, in this field of endeavor, the amateur, not having the I.Q. of a postage stamp, would be the type who would hold up a bank with thumb and forefinger for a gun, forgetting to keep the hand in a pocket. It is therefore appalling to the professional con artist to see this army of not-ready-for-prime-time players charge forward in Louisiana with such stunning success.
Many lock-the-barn-door steps have been taken by Homeland Security since the August, 2005 hordes of amateur con artists were unleashed upon them. But sadly, an ominous, almost hysterical note of panic winds through these moves. There's a ring of resignation about them. Too patch-quilt! Too little! Too late!
Posted by Jack Payne at 11:49 AM
Monday, October 29, 2007
--Shell shock is the name of the game, when you consider all the different ways you can be "had" if you don't know how to spot the signs. Here are 10 ways to fight back, protect yourself from the con man
Your luck doesn't have to be so bad as the California man, who, in a series of unrelated events, was hit by a car on Sunday, mugged on Monday, and shot on Tuesday. But, if you lose your identity to a con man, your foul luck level could be close.
With a con man-launched barrage, stolen identities are rising at a rate of up to 10,000,000 per year, creating a problem that is now approaching crisis proportions.
If we were a fire-eating, Bible-thumping preacher, we would deliver our sermon something like quoting from a legal thriller, something like this:
Con men everywhere are taking rifle-shot focus on a very specific target: your social security number. (Your bank account number would be nice too. That's secondary targeting.) Once obtaining this they are finding it a cake-walk to taking over your paper identity, and, thus, opening up a free-flowing channel to all of your financial assets.
They count on--and are successfully cashing in on--a seemingly human axiom: a one-sided exercise in the "Law of Inertia." So, you must surmount this inertia, conquer it, if it exists.
As never before, if you do not wish to provide the con man a feeding tube into your bank account, you must be highly selective about the handling of your financial affairs. All of them. The time is now.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. When ordering over the internet remember that URLs that begin with "http" are not secure sites. The sites that begin with "https" are. First step is to foil hackers as best you can.
2. Verify all email and telephone offers by checking them out directly through a customer service number you locate, yourself, in your phone book, then follow through with a phone call, only one you initiate. If you can't find a phone number there, call the reference desk of your public library and you will probably have the requested number in minutes.
3. If you suspect an obvious, serious scam--many of which these days read like a legal thriller--don't hesitate, looking for a cause dujour. Contact the FBI or your State Attorney General's office. Do it with cat-quick speed. Famed French World War II hero and President, Charles DeGaulle, had a very forgettable message to leave from his death bed. His last words were, "It hurts." This is the same near-death way you'd feel if, no matter what you'd accomplished in life, a con man cleaned you of your identity.
4. Never reship any product on behalf of a stranger in a foreign country.. If you don't know the contents, which could be stolen goods, you might be unwittingly participating in a crime. You don't want to become a self-indulgent, navel-gazing victim.
5. Never respond to email or phone calls asking you to verify anything. These requests are most often placed by the con man under the guise of being a bank, credit card company, retail store, government agency official--any manner of subterfuge. It's always best to check out the "source" represented, independently of any reference numbers or call-back data provided by the inquirer. You don't have to be a peripheral visionary to see these scams coming. They're frontal. They're clear. Act accordingly.
6. Ignore all "free credit report" offers you receive, either by phone or over the internet. Big majority of these are scams.
Your cooperation would be like singing along at the opera.
7. "Free" gift offers should be avoided. Unless they are entirely free. If asked to "pay only shipping and handling charges," look out. This is a big red light.
8. Pyramid schemes and email chain letters. The answer to this should be obvious. Ignore, ignore, ignore. Never respond to these. The con man's eerie vulgarity, his frothing-at-the-mouth greed, rears its ugly head pronouncedly on this one.
9. Never enter your social security number on a resume, one you are asked to send via email by anyone with whom you are not totally familiar. Some scam-fighters will say, simply enter 000-00-0000, but pause should be exercised before even doing this. If you wish to save yourself from becoming a drooling head-banger, by all means do not let your social security number fall into the hands of a con man.
10. Gift or order confirmations. These, from any vendor you have not contacted. Usually they are "phishing" expeditions, designed only to reel in personal information from you.
These are some of the cautionary high points. Be totally aware that the identity theft threat is now of epidemic proportions. and, sadly, it appears that--like all epidemics--the time-honored "Law of Averages" is about the only governor to dictate the length of time before it gets to you. When it finally hits, the jolt will be like unwittingly sticking your hand into a sealed box of scorpions.
Posted by Jack Payne at 5:37 AM
Friday, October 19, 2007
--Seemingly heaven-sent offerings proliferating, to the chagrin of legitimate travel agents
Magalia, California--Are the recent railings of the FTC against travel scams valid? Are all the add-on costs legitimate? Are accommodations all really 5-star? What's being done to staunch these suspected scams? These are some of the questions analyzed by veteran business writer, Jack Payne.
While "some" travel opportunities sold over the phone or offered through the mail, internet, or by fax are legitimate, "many" are scams that defraud consumers out of "millions of dollars each month."
These are words directly from the FTC on telephone travel offerings. The words and phrase in inserted quotes above should be closely observed. Note how these quoted words add up to, it appears, the true significance of this statement:
> "some" = minority of phone, mail, fax, and internet offers.
> "many" = majority of phone, mail, fax, and internet offers.
> "millions of dollars each month" = scam artists at work: large scale fraud
In the travel agent industry there is widespread agreement, a feeling that this interpretation is factual.
Payne, former publisher of Business Opportunities Digest, chimes in with these observations:
"To the victim of such a pitch, it would start out with a brief, glossed over description of the offered trip package. This would be followed by a request for the victim's credit card number to bill his / her account for this bargain-priced vacation.
The victim would then hear--only if they ask--a dizzying array of additional charges: upgrade costs to receive actual destinations, accommodations, cruises, or dates they were promised, various deposits, port charges, hotel taxes, service fees, and other 'required' up-front fees.
"If the customer even gets to make the trip, after the scam artists have collected all their up-front fees, they should adhere closely to this kind of warning label that appears on the package of a child's Superman costume: 'Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.' They should expect bare minimums, and extra charges at every turn.
"The pattern should be crystal clear to anyone wishing to see." continues Payne, author of the legal thriller Six Hours Past Thursday. "Yet, maybe due to the lure of glamour, adventure, or some kind of insatiable wish-fulfillment dream, people tend to let their guards down and fall into these vacation travel traps.
"Most travel agents are hard-working, straight-shooting people," he concludes.
"But their rebuttal task, to counter these outrageous travel rip-offs, is a frustrating one. For all of their flashing red lights of warning, they are making little progress. So, if any clearly-identified travel-lover gets such a phone call, my suggestion is, why not conclude to yourself, in self-deprecating Alfred E. Neuman fashion,, something like, 'I smile a lot because I don't know what the hell is going on.' Then, hang up And, if still interested, consult a local travel agent."
Posted by Jack Payne at 5:19 AM
Monday, October 15, 2007
--Sound, basic habits are needed to assure extended protection of your financial affairs
Wrong choices in your home financial management would be like taking on a stock broker who is the Uncle Fester of portfolio styling You might be extending an open invitation to con men and not even know it. This self-check of your personal habits could reveal this tendency.
Do you have the proper armor to resist the advances of con men? First step toward self-protection against them is a look-in-the-mirror analysis of your own personal habits. And, these all begin at home. The Better Business Bureau has a most interesting test designed to alert you to some bad habits you might have there, with the vulnerability-possibility of carrying these forth into the outside world, inviting con men to victimize you.
Ponder these questions:
> How often do you shred documents containing sensitive financial information? Always? Usually? Sometimes? Rarely? Never?
Majority of Americans now shred regularly. Smart. Have you adopted this as standing practice yet? Any task worth doing was worth doing yesterday.
> Do you use a computer to conduct online banking? Yes? No?
Surprising to many, engaging in encrypted online banking is safer than the paper kind, survey says. Remember Murphy's Law of Combat #23: If the enemy is within range, so are you. Computer use establishes a good distance.
> How often do you obtain a credit report or receive credit monitoring reports? Never? Monthly? Several times a year? Yearly?
Certainly, you don't have to make your life so well protected that you outfit, even, your bicycle with a gun rack. But, frequent monitoring of your credit status is playing it safe.
> How many other individuals have potential, unauthorized access to your highly sensitive records? None? One? 2-3 4-6? More than 6?
Here's where most people fall down: carelessness in exposure. You don't have to go to the extreme of suffering delusions of competency. But, if you are one of these careless people, do something to shore up your privacy at home. If carried with you, away from your home, sloppiness in your financial management is a personal trait con men can nail you on in the outside world.
> Where do you keep or store highly sensitive financial information? Unlocked desk drawer? At home in plain sight? In car? On Desktop? In wallet or purse? Tucked safely away under lock and key?
Survey reveals a close relationship to the prior question, requiring a beefed up resort to better security. Remember what Confucius say: Man who live in glass house should shower in basement.
Mistakes are often the stepping stones to utter failure. And, these formative habits begin at home. Some corrections needed?The grass is always greener when you remember to water it.
Posted by Jack Payne at 5:43 AM
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
--The yo-yo effect, with disappearing billions of dollars on the downside revealed, as Wall Street prepares for a launch of new Hedge Funds
Magalia, California-- With huge losses rung up among the 9,000 existing hedge funds, nearly 50% of which are located offshore in the Caribbean, and with a new deluge of these funds about to be unleashed, warning bells are ringing out. One of the bell ringers, business book author, Jack Payne, warns of the tremendous loss potential of these behemoths of investment.
In 2006, hedge fund, Amaranth Advisors, dropped a staggering $6 billion on wrongly betting the direction of natural gas prices. (An unexpectedly severe nationwide heat wave in August turned the tide against them.) And now, as Wall Street prepares for a record release of new hedge funds, many worried observers believe holding them more to account is relevant.
What is a "hedge" fund anyway? one might ask Many suspect these secretive entities to be of con men-style activity To understand, the best model to compare alongside is a mutual fund which most everybody recognizes.
The lightly regulated hedge funds can invest in literally anything at all.. Commodities, real estate, and currencies adorn their habitat. They are beyond stock tips At one end of the investment spectrum they buy entire companies, at the other they speculatively day trade the stock market. This freedom is indeed inviting to con men. In contrast, mutual funds are tightly regulated, with their investments generally limited to stocks, bonds, and closely-related offshoots.
In 1998 the crack up of the giant Long Term Capital Management Fund nearly collapsed the entire U.S. economy. It rocked Wall Street to its very core. Thus, with 9,000 operating hedge funds, soliciting ever more investment dollars, Wall Street observers feel it only fitting and proper--the time being now--to bring them into the spotlight's bright glare.
"SEC regulations are slight; about the only rules governing hedge funds are that an investor must have at least $1,000,000 in net worth, or $200,000 in annual income," says legal thriller author, Jack Payne, former editor / publisher of Business Opportunities Digest, and author of 55 business books. "And, these rules have been in place since 1982 So, one has to think of the inflation push since then.
"More and more people are being propelled into the 'eligibility' classification. More and more people are being solicited by these funds for their 'investment' contributions. More and more horrendous losses lie on the horizon," he concludes. "Combined, these factors can only mean more and more caution should be exercised before investing. With hedge funds, billions of dollars can disappear faster than ice cream in a microwave. Need I say more?"
Posted by Jack Payne at 6:35 AM
Friday, October 5, 2007
--How the legal line was blurred in the 1990s hi-tech boom
Magalia, California--Stock options scams?
Collapse of employees' stock portfolios, post-9/ll? Continuing practice today? These are some of the questions posed by Jack Payne, author of 55 business books, who has studied this problem in depth.
To comprehend--legal brokerage or con man boiler room?--understanding the "exercise-and-hold" strategy used by stock brokers, to lure employees of hi-tech companies into converting their lucrative stock options into brokerage accounts is essential.
In the late 1990s hi-tech boom, many thousands of employees had two options: they could convert their immensely-inflated stock options to either "exercise and sell"--whereby they would immediately line their pockets with supposed obscene cash profits--or, they could "exercise and hold"--rollover the proceeds into brokerage accounts.
The latter option was mouth-watering for brokers. Frenzy to convert these stock options into brokerage accounts knew no bounds Courtships developed. Financial planning seminars proliferated. Brokers even solicited employees at their workplaces.
It's said these options-holders were lured with "hooks." The creditline, believed to be an unsecured line of credit, turned out to be a margin loan, with all the inherent dangers of such, including the risk of total loss.
Tax advantages were hyped, it's charged, where none existed.
The accusations were many and pointed: brokers sold themselves to these new customers as "full service financial advisors," They were not. Their house profits were still their prime incentives.
The "diversification," peddled as bait, was pure hallucination. Brokers took the lazy way, from the shelter of their management fee structure, and concentrated the investments in few areas. This, as opposed to the hard work of true diversification into a variety of securities, as a straight brokerage commission structure would have encouraged. And, the list of charges goes on:
Frosting on the cake was the brokers' margining the further stock purchases that the creditline enabled into areas the employees' companies were already in. Net effect? The opposite from diversification. Instead, their customers' accounts became overly concentrated, and with margin, subjected them to quick dissipation, even total disappearance of their nest eggs in a down market--which is what happened after 9 / 11--it is theorized.
Jack Payne, former editor / publisher of Business Opportunities Digest, sums it up,"Similarities to legendary con man games?" he asks. "This goes beyond simple stock tips. The pot of gold: dirt pile. Feeding frenzy of the up market; panic of the down market: Ponzi. The tax-advantage pitch to get the account, then the lazy management style, into highly-leveraged margin accounts: bait and switch. See the bouncing ball here / how did it get over there?: shell game."
As In his legal thriller, Six Hours Past Thursday, Payne claims, "It's a now-you-see-it, now-you-don't exercise you won't forget."
Though much of this hi-tech boom era flim-flammery has been cleaned up, vestiges remain. Conmanship to assiduously study. Learn well. And, prudently avoid."
Posted by Jack Payne at 7:35 AM
Thursday, October 4, 2007
What's over when the fat lady sings?
The aggressive marketer thinks he knows. So does the con man.
Apparently it is interpreted by the consumer as a shrinkage of the waistline, rather than shrinkage of his / her wallet. If so, the national obesity fight is providing myriad opportunities for legal scams by con men.
Resulting from the widespread appeal of keeping one's stomach from looking like a deflated clown balloon, it is amazing to what lengths some weight-loss promoters--both the legitimate marketer and the con man--will go to achieve such desired results. From advertisements surveyed from the pages of national magazines--and particularly the supermarket tabloids--comes a compendium of really unconventional (read, downright weird) ways to win the obesity battle: "Lose weight the quick, easy, painless way," they cajole. Ready to lose? (Which way do you mean that? you ask.) Ponder these methods for physical weight reduction:
> Your appetite suppressed by way of a lip balm? Whenever you get hungry--for a meal or snack--you merely apply this product to your lips, and, voila, appetite curbed. (In counterpoint you could simply forget the whole thing. Just rationalize. Say to yourself, "I have flabby thighs, but fortunately my stomach covers them.")
> The Hula Hoop is back, suggested as an excellent means for extracting globs of spare-tire flesh from your gut and hips. (Con man emergence again?) This is an approach that might not be too far off base, if you think your vascular system could support the rigors of such vigorous mid-section undulations. If you plan on doing this for any length of time it's probably best to first check with your doctor for an O.K.
> Have at your digestive system with determination by wearing Slim Slippers. Through use of magnets and reflexology technology, to manipulate your nervous system, these are purported to influence your metabolism to the point where your hunger will decrease. Interested? If so, first respect Duckcrime's Axiom: If you view your problem closely enough you will recognize yourself as part of the problem. Some introspection needed?
> Here's your chance to be slim, or, at least, look slimmer. Wear caffeine tights. Body heat stimulates caffeine in the tights to leak through your pores--to speed up your metabolism, thereby burning fat, it is claimed. Seems like another experiment of equal merit would be to get falling-down drunk to see if you can fall off the floor.
> Apple Cider Vinegar, Lecithin, Kelp, Grapefruit Diet. Here's one that's been around for ages. Never went away. Interesting natural ingredients, but, never any impressive double-blind studies to prove claims. Piping hot, this is, nonetheless, a good sedative. You should sleep like a gnome on a concrete slab beneath a bridge.
> Apply a sunscreen loaded with caffeine. ??? Suppose this beats bathing with flea and tick soap.
> Control your hunger with earrings, custom-fitted to your ears so as to access acupressure points which will curb your appetite. Divine intervention might work, too.
> Retina / eyeglasses relationship to weight control? Yes, according to this sales pitch, the color lenses supposedly project a specific image onto your eyeballs which will reduce your desire to consume food. Rose-colored glasses? So, if it doesn't work on your appetite, you'll still gain a healthier outlook on life as a residual benefit?
> You're familiar with the smoking patch, loaded with nicotine, to enable you to throw away the crutch of cigarettes? Now comes a weight reduction patch to enable you to discard the gluttony crutch. Place anywhere on your body, lean back, relax, and lose weight. Words will not flow to our keyboard to even comment on this one.
Real head-scratchers, all. You could lose weight quickly, too, by eating raw pork and rancid tuna. If you choose this easily accessed method, right out of your own kitchen, you would be strongly advised to ignore the con man and first consult your physician.
Posted by Jack Payne at 3:04 AM
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Like a high-gloss diamond ring on the hand of a glamorous fashion model, the offices of a legitimate stock brokerage will sparkle. When you visit one you will not feel like you are going up against a card shark in a gambling casino. You will quickly conclude that these are not the premises of a scam artist's carnival midway joy ride.
They will showcase a good balance of offerings. Many of these will be with Fortune 500 companies and a good cross-section of well-known, prestigious firms listed on the various stock exchanges. And no quick-buck con men to instantly push these either.
They are usually located at easy-to-find addresses on well-known streets, and are housed in well-lighted, nicely-appointed offices. Very subtly you will get the idea that, while money can't buy happiness, it sure makes misery a lot easier to deal with.
Extensive biographies of their brokers and other operational and management personnel are most often readily available. Some you will meet, with no hint or talk of up the ante, beat the street, sweeten the pot, a sweetheart deal, or it's a cash cow.
And, their list of references and testimonials from satisfied customers is usually extensive. No chest thumping, self-congratulatory back slapping of themselves as being the "best in the financial guru business."
In checking out their research facilities you will also find an attempt at thoroughness, a striving to provide fact-digging excellence to support their stock and bond selection recommendations.
In sharp contrast. . .
Much like the face on the bar room floor, a boiler room--or bucket shop--will almost always be located on a back street, in a dingy office. It will have many small desks shoved together, or in tiny cubicles, featuring sales personnel--scam artists-- working phone banks, reading from scripts in their conversations. They do not provide wide-spread offerings. And, no research facilities open to the public at this version of a Norman Bates motel either. No extensive bios and no variety of testimonials. Their surroundings are much like the settings in a legal thriller movie.
Do not expect to deal with someone inspired by Mother Teresa. Rather, the boiler room boys will glad-handingly pass themselves off to you as the most gifted authorities on the American free enterprise system since the Rockefeller clan's bankers. Their specialty, along with their operational goals, is quite different from the legitimate stock brokerage. Learning these differences is essential to your financial well being. Failure to do so could be the equivalent of diving into a lake encased in a cement life jacket. The con men's "specialties" includes:
> Classic Pump and Dump operations.
Just another well-known shell game.
> Reverse of the Pump and Dump, known as the Short and Distort. Here the scam artists spread rumors in order to drive the prices of thinly traded stocks down. rather than in the generally accepted direction, up. Then, they buy back the results of their "short sales" at a discount and profit. Most often considerably.
> The selling of fictitious foreign exchange investments. Yes, that's right, stuff grabbed purely out of thin air. The scam artists know how intriguing it is to seduce with language like "foreign exchange," and how many suckers exist out there who will "sail" for this exotic-sounding type investment.
> The selling of risky, small cap IPO's (Initial Public Offerings). Now, not all IPOs are necessarily poor investments. Some--a very few--are actually millionaire makers. But, the odds against are enormous. The only good, proven millionaire-making potential here is for the scam artists who peddle them. The odds do truly smile on the con men in this investment category.
> The selling of "house stocks," shares in shaky companies--usually tiny firms--that are of OTC Bulletin Board or Pink Sheets quality at best.. These are usually blocks of stock that the scam artists have purchased at a sharp discount. Exceptions? Yes, like IPOs. A select few will flower, flourish, and produce bountiful profits. But, the big majority will reward--only--the con man advocate.
> Maybe the worst of all the practices of these people is the holding back on execution of sell orders. And, sometimes outright failure to execute. (They will go to great lengths to avoid the creation of downward pressure on the prices of stocks they are trying to unload.)
Selection can be of equal challenge--in determining reality as opposed to the plot of a legal thriller book. Your failure at being able to distinguish between the two--differentiate between the legitimate and illegitimate operations--could be costly to you. If you were to, somehow, stumble into dealings with the boiler room boys by mistake, you would be like the lumberjack 100 feet up a tree suddenly coming upon a bee hive. Naturally, you can stomp, cajole, complain. You can threaten them with a law suit.. Of course, you can always try taking a bone away from a pit bull, too. You'd probably get equally as far.
Posted by Jack Payne at 6:31 AM
Monday, September 17, 2007
The quickest way to tell if your stock broker is a scam artist, using your account for broker profits rather than yours, is to look for evidence of "churning."
Say you have just opened a stock brokerage account and your broker puts you into Fast Buck Industries as your very first "investment." You get your first statement and see that she has traded Fast Buck three times. You also note several stocks listed that you had not discussed. It's only unethical or illegal if you get caught, is often the rationale.
You ask a few knowledgeable people, who know a little something about the stock brokerage business as well as stock scams, and they feel that your new broker is a scam artist who is "churning," buying and selling for your account--frequently--in order to generate more income for herself through increased commissions. A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes, you might note, as you try to fit applicability to scam artists.
This practice--"churning"--occurs more often than you might think. Many people succumb to their broker's appeal to give them "flexibility" so they can react quickly to take advantage of fast-rising opportunities, for the benefit of their customers. Whereas you could have easily avoided all this in the beginning by simply refusing to sign the discretionary papers giving your broker authority to trade on your behalf, without your prior authorization. "Experience" is a socially-accepted word people often use to explain accumulated mistakes. This mistake would have to be classified as a substantial contributor.
O.K., so you had granted your broker--or scam artist?--such unilateral authority. Losses to you occurred, while commissions to your broker mounted. What to do now?
You have multiple avenues of recourse. First you must protest, in writing, immediately. (Failing to do this could be deemed tacit approval, on your part, for what your broker has done.) Conflict of Interest is a possible complication to check out. Suitability Claims is another. (Has the broker fitted the trades to your "risk profile?") Misrepresentation is a good one.(Failure to disclose important information to you involving the trades.) Unauthorized trading. (This brings the focus right back to where you started: what exactly does the document say--in what words--which gave your broker authority to trade for you in the first place?)
In self-defense, a broker will commonly sell off the winners to show, at least, a small profit. Don't be fooled by this. This could still be scam artists' activity. The losses were most likely retained.
In business, stocks are the basis of essentialism. In the beginning your broker may have played herself up as the greatest authority on free enterprise stewardship since J.P. Morgan. But, to counter the hype, you must consider all angles. In many ways, stock scams are now a whistle blower's delight. So many new tools have been made available to the stock-buying consumer (including, even, the infamous Sarbanes-Oxly Act) that you now have every chance of getting justice over any stock "churning" dispute. Nobody cares if you can't dance; just get up and dance. Fast, decisive action on your part is key.
Posted by Jack Payne at 5:44 AM
Thursday, September 13, 2007
--Internet black-market bazaar loaded with con-man-produced valuable documents of every kind for sale
Magalia, California--About everything is obtainable--for a price --over the internet.
Up for sale by con men. It started out with simple credit card theft several years ago and has now flowered into just about every form, document, verification number, or identification conveyance imaginable. As the internet expands at a breathtaking pace, so does identity theft right along with it. Now available for purchase are not only credit cards (with verification codes and mother's maiden name), but debit cards (with pin numbers), social security cards, visas, passports, birth certificates, marriage licenses, even death certificates. If one has a criminal turn of mind, just a couple of thousand dollars can buy that person a whole new (stolen) life, according to former Business Opportunities Digest editor / publisher, Jack Payne, who has studied the con man market over the past 45 years.
Business is so brisk that con men even maintain a market in names. Choice names from their victims' lists trade for up to $250--each.
The list of information available on each victim is frightening to many. These data include: names, addresses, phone and fax numbers, email addresses, driver's license numbers, social security numbers, passwords, debit and credit card numbers, other banking information, and a breakdown of buying patterns and net worth /debt status. The invasion is real. It's total. Con men are flooding into this market. Their intent? Theories are up for grabs.
Con man exposers point to the problems of E Bay and My Space as confirmation of this trend.
In some third world countries, such a collapse of privacy protections have signaled anarchy. Big hope, law enforcers believe, is that the U.S. is too advanced a civilized society and that "it can't happen here."
Thriller book author, Jack Payne, ponders the challenge further, "Talk about a tough life. For the average guy and gal in our society it's hard to beat the game. If they earn anything it's minus taxes. If they buy anything it's plus taxes. That's just for starters. Relationships, kids, school, house and car payments, neighborhood crime-- the list of day-to-day obstacles gets pretty grim. In facing all of these problems each day when they first get up, they can only wonder: 'how do I get through this reverse-lottery-win lifestyle; where I win $5 a year for a million years.'
"Nobody wants to cash out their life on this earth with the epitaph on their tombstone: 'I told you I was sick.' Yet, sadly, people keep falling for these scams every day--surrendering their identity, their savings, even their inheritance. Where will it all lead?"
Posted by Jack Payne at 4:34 AM
Monday, September 3, 2007
--Never explain; explanations only confuse issues. This is a basic scam artists' principle, a core part of their unconventional view of conflict resolution.
Fighting off skeptics as a means of "group control" is psychologically important to the scam artist.
In every group of victims, the scam artist's problem is that he must always be able to adequately "handle" those few skeptics who will emerge to plague him. A much different setting than when he's dealing with a single mark. Thus, his own interpretation of "conflict resolution" spells out as much different rules of engagement than that contained in any college curriculum. Here they are:
1. Always hide behind the conspiracy theory. Cite numerous cases of individuals, organizations, jealous competitors, and government agencies out to "get" you, through underhanded, collaborative means.
2. Never answer a direct question. Always confuse, exaggerate, distort, and obfuscate.
3. If your adversaries demand evidence of the claims you make to back you up, challenge them. Indignantly state that they cannot disprove your claims. If you act insulted enough by their accusations, they will be shamed. Some will even apologize for questioning your integrity.
4. When confronted by an incisive, direct question, bombard your opponent with an assault of meaningless questions in retaliation. (The captain of the Titanic knew an iceberg was close; how would you have saved the ship? When Columbus set foot on the new continent he thought he was in India. How would you have known the difference?) When your opponent ignores your hypothetical diatribe, and tries, instead, to get back on topic, accuse him of evading the issue. At this point his buildup of frustration and rage will work to your advantage. Your audience will now exude sympathy for you, for the mean-spirited badgering you've had to put up with.
5. Use the word, "analysis," often (Studied analysis. Thoughtful analysis.). This will give everything you say a sense of the seriousness you need to convey.
6. When things intensely heat up, make your opponent even more furious. Taunt him, unmercifully. With tempered, controlled delivery, make wild charges. When rage builds to the point he will call you "a liar," you have him cold. Now you accuse him of name calling. Do this in a distraught, but fatherly, understanding way. This will make your audience respond to you. They will think that it is you, not he, the one staying on topic, and they will sympathize with you for the verbal abuse you've had to suffer.
7. When your opponent has the audacity to demand evidence from you, to back up your claims, accuse him of being closed-minded. Piously claim that it is the broad-minded who, along with the meek, shall inherit the earth. This is another way to frame your retort that will gain you Brownie points with your audience who like to think of themselves as enlightened free-thinkers.
8. To the opponent who threatens to expose your proposition as a scam, the reflex is always automatic.. Loudly accuse him of being an agent of the "Big Conspiracy" trying to bury you. Proudly wave the cross you have to bear. Emphatically restate your cause--of constantly having to fight "them"--in a "these are times that try men's souls" tone of voice.
9. If the ultimate extreme becomes necessary, make your opponents paranoid. Tell them you have a file of evidence on them, that you have gathered, and are about to turn over to the police. They will think you are mentally deranged, but hesitate, nonetheless. (Was it the beer bottle I threw through a department store window when I was 12? Was it the indiscretion I had with a high school teacher when I was 17?) Keep them guessing. They won't know. Consequently, they will back off.
10. Be quick to patronize, exude sympathy. Label anyone who does not immediately agree with you ill-informed, uneducated, behind-the-times, or lacking vision.
11. You must always take the stance of being beyond reproach. Get a copy of the book, How to Lie With Statistics. Quote from it frequently, as if from a legal thriller book. Quote a "fact" you are trying to push. Never mention the title, of course, just remind your listeners that it must be fact, because it's quoted in a book.
12. Rigidly uphold your carefully-cultivated reputation as a "Visionary." Loudly insist, with rapid side-to-side head shaking for emphasis, that no proof exists that you are a scam artist. Accuse your detractors of spinning, spreading propaganda and malicious nonsense. Tell them you will "see them in court" before you will take further character assassination from them.
13. Use the "they laughed at," line frequently (They laughed at Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Louis Pasteur, too.)
14. Use the force of exasperation to your advantage. (Do I have to prove that the world is round?)
15. Use the words, "it's common knowledge," often. Throw in quotes from dead people, who cannot refute you. Instead of baldly claiming, "Two-time Nobel Prize winner, Linus Pauling, endorsed my claims," combine the power of these three magic words with the power of quoting dead people, "It's common knowledge that two-time Nobel Prize winner, Linus Pauling, endorsed my claims."
16.. Ignore all facts. Never admit to a fact that might suggest, in any way, that your theories might be erroneous. Dig up a reference that supports you. There is always one out there somewhere, even if it only hints around the fringes that you "might" be right. Not to worry about vague wording. With scam artists' mastery you can always make this one little isolated piece of information sound like the Gospel.
17. Remember, the best means you have of proving a point is to trot out a whole list of these. From this list, from point 2 on, your points will be minor, insignificant, but factual. But the first one, your main point, will be a major supposition. which you are trying to sell by way of sneaking it in. Then, because your list includes many facts, when you get to the end of it refer to the supposition as a fact. This way your pre-conditioned audience will now accept everything you say as "fact."
18. Quote Abraham Lincoln and recount his travails, a lot. Implant the image of you as a likeness of "Honest Abe," firmly in the minds of your supporters. (President Lincoln found it hard to sign the Magna Carta. President Lincoln suffered mental torture when forced to his decision to let Grant send Sherman to burn Atlanta.) You can bring this theme to a heart-rendering point where it will almost bring tears to the eyes of your supporters.
19. Seize the initiative from your opponents. Describe yourself as a skeptic, suspicious of lofty claims, questioning all things illogical. Warn them, gravely, that they must always beware of scam artists. Proper nuance of this positioning will transition your borderline believers to firm believers.
20. Say your assumed name, the pseudonym you use, is Foster Snyder. Use it to refer to yourself in the third person. This will make everything you say sound more credible, more penetratingly factual. (Foster Snyder has observed the disquiet in academia. Foster Snyder thinks of the arts as being in a state of suspended dementia.)
21. Imprint, indelibly, on the minds of your followers, that you are a true "Visionary," therefore everything you say about the glorious future you are about to unfold for them is beyond question.
22. Use the word, "stalker." Use it repeatedly. (Didn't Foster Snyder see you in Cincinnati? Weren't you in a front row seat at Foster Snyder's speech in Seattle in January?) This word has such a negative connotation--as in assassinations, sex crimes--that this defensive stance will procure followers. If your followers believe you to be a victim of stalking by an agent of the "Big Conspiracy" you must fight. they will fall in line with protective vigor to back you.
23. Drop your head low, slowly shake it, sadly, lower your voice, and say of your detractors, "They just don't understand."This is the "trigger" point--to get your followers to flock to you, opening their wallets on the way.
24. As a postscript, steadfastly deny even the hint of truthfulness in your detractors debunking of you. Simply, assuredly, and in a soft voice, state that these sad, lonely people are not experts on the subject of your claims. So, how could they possibly have anything meaningful to say on the subject?
There you have it. Twenty four points of glibness the scam artist will use to distort, confuse, bewilder and set his opponents up, in his efforts to inspire you as to his "leadership," win you over. While much of his logic is like saying, if most car accidents happen within 5 miles of your house, why not move 10 miles away? you are puzzled, but swayed. When he says fat chance and slim chance mean exactly the same thing, you hesitate, think, then nod your head in agreement. Then, when he finally asks, would you rather be the pigeon or the statue?--the only thing he's said that you clearly understand--you eagerly fall in line. And, follow him to the "Promised Land."
Posted by Jack Payne at 2:45 AM
Thursday, August 30, 2007
--Now, with easy-to-follow paper trails showing the way, modern-day con artists are cleaning up with their polished, quick- buck attack:
Why is the con man so good at passing himself off as the most qualified authority on redemptive truth since Pontius Pilot? For the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks, because, "that's where the money is." Money, to the scamsters, is like blood is to sharks. Unlike bank robbers, who rely on gun expertise, get-away cars, and hideouts, the polished con artist rolls the dice based on his self-presumed intellect, charisma, charm, and powers of persuasion. He is boisterous, loud. He pours it on. The result? Now , with the instant, world-wide reach of the internet to aid him, it's an eruption of shell games so severe they can only be described as an epidemic.
If you must blame the messenger, it's the internet. Pure and simple. These charlatans no longer have to toil long hours beguiling the masses in person. Gone are the days when they would merely talk, smile, mislead, fleece and run. Now they can operate entirely from the shadows, the anonymity of the internet. And, they do. More and more and more, as each year passes.
The figures are frightening:
>Escrow scams which averaged $3,000 just 5 years ago are now approaching $10,000.
>Wire fraud which came to some $5,000 an average pop in 2002 now comes in at an estimated $12,000.
>In 2002 the FTC put identity thievery at some 750,000 cases Today they are looking at upwards of 1,000,000. Some estimates go as high as 10,000,000.
These are just a few scare tactics we are using to get you to wake up, smell the coffee, take the medicine--eat the can of cold beef chili if necessary. Armor yourself for the coming onslaught against your good name, established identity, anchored lifestyle, and peace of mind. Do it now. This plague is growing by leaps. So, be assured, as you are reading this, at this very moment it is inexorably coming at you. It will surface, most likely, sometime within your next 10-year future. The ages-old, tried and true "Law of Averages" dictates this.
First protective steps:
1. Wire money in select, rare instances only. Going overboard here could speedily make your primary source of income be the pawn shop. Do this only when maximum research has revealed the safety of it.
2. Forget all kinds of bank transfers for the most part (In some instances bank-to-bank transfers are O.K.) This omission alone, if done en masse, would be a sharp stick in the eye to con men.
3. Never use your debit card online. Set up a "debit block" at your bank. This is locking the barn door well before the horse escapes to freedom.
4. Never send money that you cannot afford to lose overseas. Except, in rare cases, money orders or cashier's check only, preferably just small amounts at any given time. (This is preferable to wiring funds because the extra delivery time gives you, at least, a small window to alert law enforcement authorities if things go immediately afoul.) This will go far toward thwarting eager overseas con men who feast on gullible Americans like Al Capone once did on rival gangsters.
5. Deal only in credit card transactions, watch your statements closely, and at the first sign of trouble, report it to your bank in order to nail down your maximum $50 loss protection. This is not something you can put off.
6. At one time in your life you might have thought to yourself, I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not sure. No place for that kind of thinking here. If you are ever caught up in a costly financial loss due to a scam, don't walk, run to your nearest police station and file a Crime Report. Decisiveness is paramount. All subsequent, meaningful legal actions will spring from this.
7. Never send out by mail or internet--to anyone you have no history of doing business with--vital personal financial information, e.g. bank account numbers, routing numbers, debit account numbers, social security numbers, passwords. Doing this would be boldly going nowhere.
A fool and his money can throw one helluva party. Better to spend your money that way than to feed it to these sharks. That's probably the way they would spend it, once they parted you from it.
A group of bears is known as a sloth. Sadly, a large portion of our lackadaisical, laid back citizenry also falls under this description. Bears because they sleep half the year away; people because they sleep year around--when it comes to their financial protection, that is. You cannot trustingly await the flowering of moral values among the con man breed. Like it or not, now is the time to swallow a large dose of horse sense. Then mull it. Contemplate it. Act on it.
Posted by Jack Payne at 6:19 AM
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
--Important Do and Don't considerations when traveling the con men identity theft minefield
What we learn from history is that we do not learn from history. That's Identity theft. For some reason, these many horror stories appear to leave little or no impression on the public. Profoundly hard to understand.
We're sure you wouldn't drink a quart of milk just before riding a roller-coaster. You wouldn't enjoy the ride any more than you'd enjoy the response if you were to walk into a crowded bikers' bar and loudly yell, "You're all a bunch of pussies." We're sure that, on both counts, restraint would hold sway. In fact, you'd most likely flip to the other extreme. Why, then, at this other extreme,do so many people choose to live on the edge when it comes to guarding their identity against theft, when anyone can easily do so? This is one of the big riddles of modern life. A real puzzler. Too much restraint.
Look all around you. We all live in a highly commercialized world. This is a generally-accepted reality. Unfortunately, this very same stage of civilized advancement creates a throwback jungle to navigate, populated by con men at every turn. And, there we all are. Machete in hand, we must cut our way through this civilized thicket--every step of the way--carefully avoiding the headhunter identity thief hiding behind every bush.
Now, though, you can be the master of these shell games instead of the con men, move the peanuts around yourself. In past articles we've covered many of the essential defensive moves you can take. There are still more. Here they are:
> You don't want your credit status to be flypaper for con men. Review your consumer credit reports annually. Do this more frequently at the first hint of wrong-doing. It is important to know early in the game if anyone is opening accounts in your name without your consent. The 3 credit reporting agencies (and toll-free phone numbers) are:
Equifax, 800-525-6285. Experian, 888-397-3742, Trans Union, 800-680-7289.
> Never use your date of birth as a password. Same for your age. Too much help for the guessers. Using these dates would be like giving Bonnie and Clyde "his" and "her" shotguns.
> Never leave, intact, receipts behind--at ATMs,, on counters, at financial institutions, or at gas pumps. Reason for this should be misunderstood only by those with a room temperature I.Q.
> If you don't get a replacement credit card before your present one expires, complain loudly. In fact, it's probably a good idea to complain at least 30 days prior to expiration. Many do not realize it, but the internal policy of the credit card issuers is to send these out well in advance of deadline. Only ignore if you like the whooshing sound of deadlines as they go flying by.
> Same for monthly bills and financial statements. You do not want the computerized footprint of these to loiter in cyberspace too long, easily accessible by con men. Complain. Make sparks, if necessary. Sure, friction can be a drag, but overexposure can cause you a severe case of financial pneumonia.
< Most of all, the first order of business in taking a firm defensive posture is to be quick to retort--when asked for bank, credit card numbers, and all other highly personal information--"Sorry, that's private information." Or, if you prefer being more blunt, "That's none of your business." It all starts here. In card games a good poker player holds them, as they say, close to the vest. In warfare, a good general never telegraphs his punches. Will he use tanks? Will he lunge? Will he out-flank? Will he dig in? Let the other side guess.
> If and when it all falls apart anyway, despite your best preventive efforts, keep a record--names, phone numbers, and complete addresses where available--of all the people with whom you have discussed your case. Also, all supporting documents. Look at it this way: experience is great--it enables you to recognize mistakes when you make them again.
It should go without saying that you should be prepared against the intolerable temptations born of greed which lurk everywhere these days in our civilized jungle. If you were a blimp pilot you'd have a bird's eye view. Failing that, we suppose, the old fashioned way of book-lernin'-style study will have to do. Remember Murphy's Law of Combat: The cavalry doesn't always come to the rescue.
Posted by Jack Payne at 2:40 AM
Friday, August 24, 2007
--Small businesses facing greater challenges in fighting off the con man due to inexperience and under-staffing
Magalia, California--The con man is setting his sites on small businesses for a number of reasons, according to veteran business book author, Jack Payne. He reports an extensive list of citations:
The inexperience factor. So many of the more complex cons pulled on major corporations have been played out. Defenses are up More highly skilled personnel have been brought in to thwart the scamsters. And better, quicker reporting has cut into their scam-power Hence, the con man is looking for, if not greener pastures, at least, easier pastures, and is finding these among small businesses who cannot keep up with the giant companies' staffing capabilities.
The fear factor. Small businesses are, relatively, financially weak. Thus, the con man is finding they are more prone to "go along" with smaller dollar scams. They tend to sweep them under the rug, if "taken," absorb them and move on.
The embarrassment factor. Usually well-known and respected at a personal level in local communities, the human element in a small business is more widely exposed than it is in the large, faceless corporation. This makes it easier--it is believed--for the con artist to shame his victim into silence once scammed.
Here are a representative few of the flashing red lights of warning:
The restaurant patron refund demand. This involves a letter to restaurant owners--probably hundreds of them around a major city--demanding an unsatisfactory meal refund in a nominal amount--usually anywhere from $8.99 to $25. If properly threatened, the proprietor is most often tempted to just pay, and have done with it.
Charity fraud. This is rampant. Small businesses are especially vulnerable to such scams. Because of their community status, the generally held notion is that their "image" must be upheld at all costs.
Voice mail access scams. PBX (Private Branch Exchange) remote access features are a prime target for hackers, who can quickly run up thousands of dollars in charges.
Phony invoices. This is a traditional scam that seems to never die. Local media, yellow pages advertising, and organization memberships are the most often pitched scams, but these also include just about every other product and service imaginable.
Government document ruses. a phony questionnaire is sent, together with a demand for a fee in the amount of, usually, $100-$200. Failure to comply would result in a $2,000-per-day fine is the common threat.
Energy "shocking," similar to phone "slamming" is a popular scam in the many states which have deregulated energy, allowing for a variety of providers.
"Remember Werthen's Law: Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups," adds legal thriller author, Jack Payne. "The reason more inexperienced people are sought out is because it is believed they will be more prone to 'just go along' with whatever slight of hand trick is flashed at them.
"Just remember one principle, when dealing with any stranger in business," Payne concludes, "Any time things appear to be going better, you have overlooked something. Then, follow your instincts. Act defensively, accordingly."
Posted by Jack Payne at 3:17 AM
Thursday, August 23, 2007
--Legal adjudication. Situation comedy, or psychological fantasy? Today it is often difficult to tell the difference.
More and more plaintiffs and trial lawyers are chasing unconscionable quick buck pay-offs, using con man tactics. Which came first, pillage or burn? This seems to be the the question asked by these people in going to court.
Is it the water, something they're smoking? Or, is it just plain, blind greed played out to a ridiculous extreme? Whatever the reason, frivolous law suits, pursued by supposedly mentally-stable people, have literally gone through the roof of the U.S. court system. After reading the following sampler, you decide whether this more represents the American system of jurisprudence--or the Twilight Zone, featuring a cast of con man players.
> The Chicago Cubs sue freeloaders who watch their baseball games through holes in their Wrigley Field fence. This violates their copyright it's claimed. This sounds like a legal case filed by Goliath against David.
> In San Francisco a teen throws herself off the Golden Gate Bridge. This violates the teen's constitutional right not to be deprived of life without due process of law, is the charge of her mother in a law suit filed against the Bridge's Board of Directors. Deep pockets, anyone?
> A movie has bad guys driving a bulldozer. Manufacturer of the bulldozer sues, because showing bad guys driving their product "disparages" the brand's good name.
> Man, armed with shotgun, is confronted by property owner. Burglar attacks man who shoots in self-defense and kills him. The man's family sues property owner, and even though district attorney has declared the shooting justified, wins the case. Illogical? The whole thing sounds about as likely as peanut butter sliding off toast.
> A group of rowdies drive around throwing lit fireworks from a car window. A rocket explodes inside the car, and the car rental agency is sued. Outcome? Who knows? Still pending. Former Attorney General, Janet Reno, said it best, "I always wait until a jury has spoken before I anticipate what they will do."
> Lottery winner says his winnings were impaired because the vendor didn't explain there was a cap on winnings. The court rules in his favor. The jury must have felt that upholding the rights of downtrodden lottery winners was an important constitutional issue.
> Man who had legally changed his name to "Jack Ass" sues MTV for $50,000,000, claiming that their series, "jackass" disparages his "good name.." This shows that just about anybody can become a bottomless pit of needs and wants.
Sacred cows make the best hamburger. That seems to be the battle cry of a chunk of the legal profession today, using con-man-style tactics as they stake out anybody and everybody--especially those with "deep pockets"--for picking.
Posted by Jack Payne at 3:01 AM
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
--to Card Holders' Disadvantage
--How the credit card Industry has changed and what this means for you. Evolution to revolution?
Magalia, California--In 1982 2-cycle billing was virtually unknown in the credit card business. "Today it's rampant," says author of 55 business books, Jack Payne. There's more. Much more.
Twenty five years ago fees for cash advances and balance transfers were 2% or less, with a maximum fee of $10. Today fees are 4% and up, with no maximum whatsoever.
In 1982 late fees were seldom over $5. Today they average $35. And, postmarks are now meaningless. The card holder is charged a late fee for as little as 10-minute late arrival at the credit card office. The aim of the credit card companies to build up the "late fee" segment of their business is focused. Last year this segment brought in $1.5 billion, and was their third largest revenue stream.
In 1982 the customer was not crowded on his / her first cycle billing payment. A 25-day grace period was commonplace. Now 20 days seems to be standard. And, this includes travel time,from the statement date to the customer's date of receipt. The card holder is being ever-pushed, it appears, closer and closer to the late payment fee "edge."
In 1982 over-limit charges were unheard of. Why? Simply because card credit limits were enforced. Excessive draw, no pay. No way. That was policy. Now card companies will permit the customer to overdraw. One catch.. in exchange for this "convenience" the card holder is charged another small fee. (If this "convenience" is offered, why even have a card limit? one might ask.)
Payne, author of the legal thriller, Six Hours Past Thursday, has a "take" on the present-day credit card market:
"With more than half its customer-base on life support--that huge market the 'Bad Credit' people are always appealing to-- the credit card industry should be wary indeed," Payne says. "They are walking on thin ice. Too many 'consolidate your bills' people are out there right now, to complicate the problems of the card issuers and processors--the very problems that the card vendors, themselves, created. Thus,, in this evolutionary climate there are a couple of things you must remember: Stay away from multiple credit cards and rollover debt usage. If you seek credit card diagnosis and help, like the health patient, you want a doctor with a stethoscope, not one with a catheter. And, in the meantime, It is only prudent to stay away from all of the tricks the credit card issuers use to 'endear' you to them.
"Evolution in the credit card market is in full swing," Payne adds, "Will this lead to revolution? If so, don't let yourself get sucked up in it.."
Posted by Jack Payne at 12:03 PM