Monday, May 26, 2008

Con Man-Inspired?--Nutty Law Suits Proliferate

--The Seeking Out of Deep Pockets Defendants Goes Ever-On

If a midget named, Tatoo, runs up to you, excitedly, pointing to the sky and shouting, "De plane, boss, de plane," wouldn't you throw your arms in the air and run off in the opposite direction?

That's what most people would do.

Where, then, do all the folks come from who would, instead, get out the golf cart and go driving off with Tatoo, through thickets , in search of the plane?

What kind of thinking is it that propels a seemingly endless array of zany law suits? Pie in the sky hopes? It must be something like this. How else can you possibly explain so many of the weird court actions that fefall us today. Following are just a few examples:

> $50,000,000 class action lawsuit filed againt snack food, Pirate's Booty, for weight gain--due to too many calories and too much fat in their product--and for the mental anquish, emotional distress, outrage, and indignation" this caused.
These suits are like giving a boozer a key to the liquor cabinet. How often have these been tried before? Many seem con man-inspired.

> An Illinois man places a $200,000 suit against a nightclub, claiming that stripper, Busty Heart, slammed her 88-inch breasts (claimed to be the world's largest, weighing 40 pounds each) against his neck as he was sitting too close in attendance of her performance. This purportedly caused his neck to become, "bruised, contused, lacerated, and made sore." Additionally, the incident led to the causation of "emotional stress, mental anguish, and indignity." (Is humility this man's only virtue?)

> New York businessman sues Air France for crew members smashing open the door of the rest room on a non-smoking flight, accusing him of smoking. It is claimed he was then dragged from the bathroom of the Air France plane with his pants around his ankles and toilet paper in hand--all this because a flight atendant thought he was sneaking a smoke. He alleges in his $12,000,000 lawsuit that he was "abused,insulted, and humiliatred." (Who could argue with that?)

> Lawyer files class ation suit against Southwestern Bell phone company. Lawyer admits to not uncovering much evidence. Settles suit to avoid litigation. The result? Customers get $15 cash credit each. Lawyer collects $4,000,000 fee--all cash.
If you don't know where you're going, any path will get you there. Is that the thinking?

> A quadriplegic sues a Florida strip club for not being able to get his wheel chair ino the lap-dancing room.

> A class action lawsuit against Texas' 2 leading auto insurance carriers ends in settlement (to avoid litigation), despite a ruling by the state insurance regulators that the practices in question were legal. Result? Customers receive $5.50 each. The lawyer pockets $8,000,000. With no credible evidence with which to refute settled law, this was like winning the lottery. Sound like a con man-style legal scam?

> From a $5 fingernail repair job to $500,000 lawsuit. That's what results when a Michigan woman claims a beauty salon beautician nicked a finger with a cuticle scissors. (Suppose, if she'd lost a whole thumb nail, the suit would have been for $100,000,000.)

> Woman sues Universal Studios because its theme parks's haunted house attraction is too scarey, causing her mental distress, extreme fear, emotional distress, and mental anguish. (How about fear of class action lawyers?)

> Tennessee woman sues a McDonald's restaurant for $110,000--for disfigurement from a second degree burn which she claims came from a pickle which fell from a hamburger. (Not coffee this time, a pickle.)
Her husband, not to be left out, also sues for $15,000, claiming that he was deprived of the services and companionship of his wife. Case is settled by McDonalds's. (Glad the husband's companionship with his pickle-injured wife was restored.)

> A German man sues his butcher for selling him bratworst that prohibited him from kissing.

> Bank robber, making getaway from an Oakland, California bank he'd just robbed, stuffs a bunch of marked money into his pants, unaware that the bundle also contains a security device. The tear gas device goes off leaving him racked with pain. He files a $2,000,000 law suit against the bank for his suffering.

Maybe it's a case of Barty's Law of Hokey Horsepuckery: The more ridiculous a belief system, the higher the proability of its success. Perhaps the thinking is, generally, something along this line.

What else would explain such nuttiness?

Simple aspiation to sloth, gluttony, and greed?

Suppose that could be a logical answer, too.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Legal Thriller-Type Scam:: Blend of Identity Theft and Home Theft

--New Con Game can Rob You of your Home--Right out from Under

If you only wish to fill out your life by going to funerals and playing Bridge, then die of baldness, chances are you won't be victimized by scams. That's the conventional thinking. Everybody else--at one time or another--will be, this thought process continues.

Looks like, now, things, they are achangin', with some of these "conventional wisdoms" flying right out the window. Replaced by new schemes, new twists--some so wild and incomprehensible that all norms of clearly understandable description would not even be possible. In groping for logic about all you could come up with would be something like: They would make a man without religion look like a fish without a bicycle.

It appears that Larrimer's Constant is in motion: What the world needs is a damn good plague. The con artists are trying to give us the equivalent: Wide scale theft of our homes--right from under our own noses.

This scam is so vicious, so devious, so big, it could conceivably hit you like a bolt out of the blue, without your having done anything to encourage it, or even be aware of it. This scam will ensnare suckers and the gullible, as well as the wary and guarded alike--reel them all into its net. It's the identity theft / mortgage combination--one put together for a specific reason: to steal your house. It is a combination over which you have virtually no defense, no way to fight back.

How is this pulled off? The scam artist proceeds through this progression of Steps:

Step 1: Pick a house to steal, empty or occupied. Say it's yours. There is no safety in numbers, or anything else.

Step 2: Assume your identity. Assemble all the necessary data off the internet and from other black market sources. The creation of false IDs, social security cards, credit cards, etc., follows. Yours. The greatest productive force is human selfishness, a parable con artists everywhere universally recognize, and use as motivation to proceed.

Step 3: Pick up at any office supply store all the forms--readily available--that they need to transfer property.

Step 4: Then file their deed, after forging your signature and using the fake IDs and viola, your house is now theirs. The cacophonous sounds of geese in mating season have now been created long enough for them to sell it, run off with the money and leave all identity / true ownership problems for you to correct, once the noise level abates.

What do you plant to get a seedless watermelon or grape?

Sadly, life is what happens to you while you are making other plans. It's looking like the burden of proof is on you, to prove that all the new paperwork is fraudulent. Double sadly, Farber's First Law--Give him an inch and he will screw you--doesn't even apply.
Under the umbrella of this con game you can be defrauded out of your own home without even knowing what hit you. You don't even have to be gullible. Only vulnerable.

Hindsight is the only exact science. Thus, you have no alternative but to look back on all legal documents that constitute your ownership rights, and shore them up, one-by-one, so that they can withstand any legal test they are put to. Do this before anything goes afoul. Then, turn to Fingle's Rule for assurance: Do not believe in miracles, rely on them.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Legal Thriller Style Scam Classic: The Enron Implosion

--New Records Set for Audacious Fraud in Enron Case--Still Emerging after 2-year Closure

An extroverted accountant looks at your shoes while talking to you instead of his own. This is the kind of tame "accountant joke" that Enron blew right out of the water with its scandal, the classic corporate con job of all time that pulled down its accounting firm right along with it.

Shots will ring out as shots are wont to do. Didn't Enron's Execs hear them? The infectious sludge of their financial hanky-panky was so thick it was not even cleanable with flea and tick soap. This mess came out in the wash as such a monumental assault on logical thought
that it put all similar legal thriller fictional plots to shame.

Built entirely around deceptive accounting practices, the extent of this paper-Mache empire creation was awesome. It included not only the shrouded concealment of debt, but the outright production of pulled-from-a-hat earnings, and the manufacture, from thin air, of cash flow. Twenty three individuals have been convicted, or pled guilty. Leading the parade were CFO, Andrew Fastow, who got 6 years in a Federal slammer, and CEO, Jeffrey Skilling, who checked in for an extended stay of 24 years, longest stretch of the bunch. (Ample time to pray for forgiveness of his sins.)

When your wild oats turn to shredded wheat, what solace do you have left? Jesus loves me; it's everybody else who thinks I'm an ass? What kind of looney bin thinking ruled the day? It's crazy.

Dummy corporations so dotted Enron's landscape that even now fraud experts, analysts, and investigators are still trying to piece together and trace just how this master Bobby Fischer-style chess game was played out. Bouncing money from one offshore entity to another, adding paper profits along the way at every turn, Fastow and Skilling created a magician's dream: A dynasty which was simply not there.

Now? Poof! Sha-zam! Gone! And, along with it, the life's savings and pension funds of employees, numbering in the 10,000s, and the disappearance of shareholders' equity holdings numbering in the 100,000s.

Is a workable falsehood more useful than a complex set of lies? Or, somewhere along the line, did the two meld? That seemed to be the case.

Principle legacy of this debacle was little more than this bewildering stretch of a (sick) joke--titled, The Enron View of Capitalism--which, as re-constructed, goes something like this:

You have 2 cows. You sell all 3 of them to yourself through letters of credit to your brother-in-law. You then execute a debt / equity swap to get all 4 cows back. Next you claim a tax exempt;tion for 5 cows, and transfer the milk rights of the 6 cows via an intermediary to a Cayman Islands holding company owned by a majority shareholder who sells the rights to all 7 cows back to your listed company. With this sale you add an option to buy an 8th cow, leaving you with 9 cows to appear on your balance sheet. You end all of these transactions when the public buys your bull.

Will we ever see another Enron?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Con Artists' Phone Mischief--Learn How Easy it is to Spot these Investment Scams

--Gold Mines, Coins, Mortgages, Oil Wells, Commodities, and Livestock dominate the Legal Scam offerings by Con Artists, 75% of which are Telemarketed

It seems like killing cockroaches would be easier than eliminating telemarketing con artists. They seem immune. Phone Scams continue, ever on. A ten-foot pole is not long enough to separate one from these quick-buck "deals." Odd, but despite the FTC "No Call Registry," this kind of con artist action still flourishes. Come again, what kinds? Here is a sampling:

> Gold and silver mine investments. The old "dirt pile" scam seems to live forever.
(Sure, "time" is a great teacher, but you've got to recognize that it does kill off all of its students.) Another rip-off signal: claims of new, secret formulas for extracting valuable minerals from closed down, played out mines. These offerings are usually extended by the real renaissance con artist.

> Gold and silver coins and bullion. The "hook" here is usually a promise of safekeeping in the seller's (con artist's) deposit vaults. Most often, when it comes time for the sucker to cash-in his holding and cash-out of the action, he finds that no coins or bullion ever existed in the first place. Do the math. Isn't this a fraud that was obvious right from the beginning? Loopholes in these arguments quickly become nooses. For some reason the gullibility factor in this area is extreme--like expecting to see a trial lawyer with his hands in his own pockets.

> Deferred delivery and leverage contracts. Up-front payment for future deliveries of commodities is most often required for these offerings. These almost always turn out to be phantom commodities which either disappear into the night, or never existed to begin with. If you are ever tempted by such an "investment," stop. Think. If at first you don't succeed, taking up a new career of high wire walking with no net in a circus is not for you.

> Mortgages and deeds to secure debt. The "mark" in this case is tempted by the offer of interest checks, with promise--in case of default--of gaining title to property. Most of this property is so overvalued that it will not cover the cost of the investment. Also, the sucker will usually belatedly discover that the same property was sold to many other investors.
In mortgages and deeds con artists offer you many opportunities to become a self-indulgent, navel gazing victim.

> Livestock and exotic animals. These are offerings to breed and raise herds on the investor's behalf. Exotic birds, such as emus or ostriches, or their eggs, are dangled, too, as desirable investments. The meat, hides, or output (eggs) from these birds is the supposed attraction. Before investing in this kind of venture, try and recall the last time you saw ostrich eggs offered on a restaurant menu.

> New technologies. A new invention, a patent, a new hi-tech service process--these are lures which forever entice. The inside track ("Get in on the ground floor") always seems to tempt investors into big money losses. Con artists' many offered opportunities here provide ample chances for you to get quickly cleaned out and become a drooling head-banger.

> Oil and gas wells Working interests and partnerships are held forth by scam artists as great investments, along with "guaranteed" wild cat wells. Callers often offer an interest in a license issued by the Federal government to obtain the rights to drill. The deals are usually scams. The wells do not exist. Strangely, this is one of the most common con games around. This scam can only show why so many investors are here on this earth for a purpose: to serve as a warning to others.

The quick, shortcut way to insulate yourself from these legal scams--if the No Call Registry doesn't protect you--is to fall back on the wisdom of Murphy's Law: Almost anything is easier to get into than out of.

Nothing is fool-proof to a talented fool.
Hence, the short route to safe cover is to respond to such phone offers with, "Sorry, but I do not deal with telemarketers." And, hang up.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Scam Artists' Investment Bonanza--Do You Recognize Historical Bonds Scams?

--Like old soldiers, historical bond scams never die. They don't fade away either.

It's said that normal people once smoked pot to make the world weird. Then, as the world got weird, took Prozac to turn it back to normal. Historical Bonds? Normalcy? No match. Always weird.

One of the fastest-growing scams in stock and bond fraud now is the hustling of historical bonds. Hot item are the bonds of the Chicago, Saginaw, and Canada Railroad, which went bankrupt in 1876. These ancient bonds, valued at $25-$700--to memorabilia devotees only--are bringing up to $150,000 each on the investment sucker market. And, there are a lot more of this type offering from scam artists currently making the rounds.

What are some of the sales pitches used?
Here are six:

1. Payable in gold. Hard to believe, but this appeal, peddled by the scam artists, actually sells to the naive, who must have been asleep or not born yet in l971 when President Richard M. Nixon put the final spike in the gold coffin, killing off the last semblance of the thought that gold could be a redemptive reward for investment from the U.S. government.

2. Are backed by the U.S. Treasury. Really far-fetched. When dealing in history, remember, it's easier to get older than to get wiser. It has never been U.S. Treasury policy to back private corporate bonds.

3. The Treasury Department has established a federal sinking fund to retire these historical bonds. That's right out of Scam Artist School, class #101. No such fund exists.

4. Can be used in high-yield investment "trading programs," sanctioned by the IMF, United Nations, or the U.S. Federal Reserve Board. Yes, sure, and the moon is made of blue cheese.

5. Some proceeds go for humanitarian and infrastructure programs. This is supposed to hit your sympathy button for third world countries. Realistically, all proceeds would go to build the infrastructure of the scam artist's bank account.

6. These are supposedly a hot item with European banks, tradable for high-yield debentures and "medium term notes" in the EU. No such bank participation exists.

Albert Einstein said: Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. Fastest way to poke a hole in the scam artists' arguments is to check with any stock broker or bank officer. And, you will conclude that the quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.