--Fake college degrees? A booming business for con men, with the absurdity of their "marks" cooperating with them
What's a diploma mill? Explanation is right at your finger tips. Just check out the entry in Webster's Third New International Dictionary:
"Diploma mill: An institution of higher education operating without supervision of a state or professional agency and granting diplomas which are either fraudulent or, because of the lack of proper standards, worthless..."
Many con men have found the lucrative field of diploma mills--or degree mills--to be as good as gold. In pursuing this line of con man endeavor they simply practice Harley's First Law: You can lead a horse to water, but if you can get him to float on his back, you've got something. Think of how ridiculous this whole concept is: just apply on the internet for a college degree and in a finger-snap moment, when accompanied by a small fee, you have it. No fuss. No bother. No strain. Why, then, bother to attend college for four years or longer if your college education can be this quick and easy? This whole notion is so hard to swallow--seemingly, a mystery solvable only by Scooby-Doo--yet it thrives.
Many of the "home" addresses of these hoax perpetrators are nothing more than a post office box or "mail drop." Remote regions of the U.S., like Montana, which has loose standards, are often used to locate these "institutions of higher learning." Alabama, Hawaii, Idaho, Wyoming, Mississippi, and California, too, have either few standards or excessive loopholes. Mississippi has no oversight at all.
Unfamiliar European locations are also popular with the con men, who, without conscience or any moral standard to guide them, simply fall back on their basic principle: that money is the root of all wealth. They then follow this path accordingly: easy as falling-off-a-log education.
Now you see it, now you don't. This particular magician's appearance / vanishing act only proves Murphy's Law of Combat #12: If your advance is going well, you are walking into an ambush. A great many people get their fake degrees revealed.
Who bites? Who actually believes that a counterfeit college education can have any benefit for them?
In analyzing why people believe this you could say, "my mother might believe that. My priest might believe that. Sponge Bob might believe that. Most people won't." Wrong! You'd be amazed at the number of people who have jumped at such "opportunities." Perhaps, like so many others, they think they are thinking when they are only rearranging their own prejudices. Envy? Jealousy.? Greed? Who knows? Off the top, here is just a sampling:
> A North Carolina man whose degree-verified medical clinic treated an 8-year old girl who died.
> Parlaying a $100 degree he'd "earned" from a British degree mill, another North Carolina man raised venture capital to market an AIDs drug. He raised millions before getting caught.
> A San Clemente, California man raked in $10,000,000. He ran a fake degree operation that was located 2,000 miles from his home, in Louisiana.
Some of these scam schools also provide a complete transcript. Some provide phone operators who will verify graduation to inquiring employers. Some will supply laminated student I.D. cards, and other proof-of-attendance records. A few even offer class rings.
With only some 35% of U.S. corporations systematically verifying degrees as factual, is it any wonder why such a big market for fake college degrees exists?
If you try to fail and succeed, which have you accomplished? That's a good question for all the people who are participating right alongside the con men in perpetrating this in-your-face scam.
This whole exercise seems like standing in a bucket and trying to lift yourself up by the handle.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
--Fake college degrees? A booming business for con men, with the absurdity of their "marks" cooperating with them
Posted by Jack Payne at 12:59 AM
Saturday, January 26, 2008
--Frivolous and near-frivolous law suits abound--often referred to as Looney Tunes litigation.
Magalia, California--On today's American court room stage, what is it? Is it spillover from the tax-cheat syndrome, too much studying-up on the exploits of con artists, so-called ambulance-chasing lawyers, or a generally get-rich-quick obsession that simply cannot be denied? Whatever the cause, court dockets are exploding with law suits that many, even a good chunk of the legal community, call frivolous. Here's a cross-section:
The state of California, claiming dry cleaners have polluted the water supply, sues operators retired 30 years or more, and property owners who once, long ago, had a dry cleaning establishment in their buildings.
Obese woman, with a history of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, sues her doctor for $1,000,000 because he didn't force her to change her cigarette-smoking habit.
Man sues because of heart attack and diabetes he said he got from eating at McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC. He claims they failed to tell him he shouldn't eat their food several times a week.
Man is hit by lightning in a parking lot. Whose fault? The amusement park, who "should have told people not to go to their cars," according to his lawyer.
A multiple pierced woman is told by her employer she cannot wear her eyebrow rings, lip rings, and other body adornments when she works with the public. She claims religious discrimination and sues for $2,000,000, on the grounds she is a member of the "Church of Body Modification," and is guaranteed "religious rights."
Toy company sues movie studio which exhibits film showing its toy used by adults when only children are supposed to play with this product
Inmate sues prison system for not letting him practice his religion. He claims his religion is that of "Druid Vampire," and he therefore must be allowed sexual access to a "Vampress."
Legal thriller author, Jack Payne, asks,
"Whatever happened to the days of such sensible court actions as charging Al Capone with tax evasion? Today the skilled liability lawyer's arsenal is not only loaded with the old tools--demonstrative pretense of being for motherhood, apple pie and American baseball--but he sprouts many new, magical capabilities as well. With compelling persuasiveness in addressing juries, the trial lawyer is now performing more like the court jester. And these juries, and judges, are buying these ludicrous arguments.
"Indeed, one can only conclude that many of these current-day jury awards, springing from con-artist-like tactics, mimic a stuck ATM pouring out cash."
Posted by Jack Payne at 5:48 AM
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
--Few scams are more deadly than the inheritance scam, a high-stakes game
An attorney (???) phones you and says, "Allow me to introduce myself. I'm John Lawler, attorney, representing the estate of the recently deceased, Irving Generosis. Your name was mentioned in his last will and testament. Naturally, I must confirm certain things about you, before going any further, to be certain I have the right party. Would you answer a few pertinent questions for me, please?"
At this point your heart is in your throat. You're excited. Who? What? When? Where? you are thinking as you try to calm yourself. Your first thoughts are of inheriting a fabulous house, not considering it's location, that it might be located next to an active volcano. The curiosity to gain more information overwhelms you. "Yes, yes, yes," you blurt out. " Go ahead."
At this stage you should have slowed yourself down, asked yourself something like, if I had everything where would I keep it? Instead, you have just committed your first mistake. You have shoved your big toe into his bear trap.
How should you have reacted?
How about this way: Full name of your law firm, please. Address? Phone number? In what court is this being adjudicated? Address? Phone number? Docket number? In which newspaper was the notice of death posted? Address? Phone number? Date published?
Failing to interject these questions quickly will only invite a probe into your financial identity. You will be required to first spill out your essentials: Full name. Spelling. Address. Phone number. Marital status. Age. Children. (An additional dangle might be hung out here, to make you think your children might also be included.) Possessions: home ownership, motor vehicles, social organization memberships (the beginnings of establishing your affluence--to give the scam artist an initial idea of how much you can be taken for.)
How much further this probe will go from here is up to you. At any point, up to this stage, you can stop it, with probably minimal damage, by insisting on answers to your questions, as outlined. After all, a bird in the hand is dead.
His further questioning would only delve more deeply into your personal status--all the way through to his biggest, sought after prizes, your social security number and bank account number (to, ah, hem, verify your identity, of course).
You are now suspended on the brink of a legal thriller abyss. You might be thinking to yourself, it's hard to make a comeback when I haven't been anywhere. Should I go for this? Maybe, just maybe, I will get a mistaken windfall.
Don't. Pull the emergency chord. Stop the train. Get off. Only if you totaled every car you've ever owned could you be more reckless than sailing for this.
On Sunday, February 4, 2007, Tako Kabayushi, a native of Japan who speaks no English, won the mustard-colored World Championship Belt for eating 53 hot dogs in 12 minutes. This can only show that where there is a will there is a way. Scam artists are strong willed. And, those dedicated to protecting themselves must be, too. Full knowledge of how they operate is the first step.
Posted by Jack Payne at 2:44 AM
Monday, January 14, 2008
--As for understanding, these seemingly mistaken phone calls, delivered by scam artists, can be as baffling as dolphin squeals
Magalia, California--The victim comes home from shopping and notices the light blinking on her phone, signaling a recorded message. She picks up and hears:
"Guess I missed you, Rhonda. Anyhow, real quick like, do you remember that guy we met at the golf outing? You know, the big guy with the sideburns, the guy who swore you are a dead-ringer for--somebody. Don't remember. I forget."
This really catches the victim's attention because her name isn't Rhonda. It's Jeanette. Taken from 45 years experience chasing down scam artists and their scams ,former editor / publisher of Business Opportunities Digest, Jack Payne, continues his report concerning this kind of unfolding dialogue:
"Well," the voice continues, "turns out he's a big-time broker, top gun at Shear, Sharpe, and Scalp. Remember that stock your dad was talking about? Bottomless Pit Industries? Well, I ran into him at Crawford's and, over a few Manhattans we had quite a chat. Seems a sensational report is coming out on Bottomless Pit this Friday that's going to blow the price from $2 a share to $10. Or more. Through the roof. I'm getting some right away. I want to make it big, just like your dad. Thought this might be a good place for you, too, to park some of those extra bucks you've got burning a hole in your purse. Be sure to tell Roy about it. Got to run. Love to Kenny and your mom. Call when you get in."
Wrong number? No. "That's what the victim is supposed to think," says Payne. "It's nothing more than a little show being put on for the mark by a traveling circus of scam artists who are simultaneously putting on their little "wrong number" production for not only this victim but a few hundred--or thousand--of others. Taped messages are cheap.
"They don't have to convince many, is the supposition. If they only get 5-10 victims to rush off to their brokers and buy in, that would probably be enough to push the price of the thinly-traded stock they're holding high enough so they could cash-out with a nice profit, take off for the next town, and get ready to put on a repeat performance for a whole new audience of 'marks.' This is the interpretation of SEC fraud-fighters," who are much alarmed and have issued press releases of warning covering this acting type scam.
Payne, author of the legal thriller, Six Hours Past Thursday, has more, pointed observations, "The SEC has had a rush of these 'wrong number' complaints lately," he says. "Apparently this innovative scam has been taking off.
"If, and when, this show were to unfold, say, over your phone, it's O.K. to be paranoid, because in this case, they really are out to 'get' you."
Posted by Jack Payne at 2:14 AM
Thursday, January 10, 2008
--Unconscionable foreign currency scam targets, mainly, U.S. Armed Services Personnel serving in Iraq
A duck's quack does not echo. Foreign exchange not only encompasses mystique, intrigue, but an ideal, echoless shield to hide behind.
Just before the Saddam execution, before the first of the year, 2007, we purchased some Iraqi currency, 5-dinar (pronounced DEE-nar) notes to 250-dinar notes--all sporting portrait photos of a smiling Saddam on their face--for an average price of 38 cents each. Right after the execution--a matter of just one week--the price tripled, to about $1.10 each. We simply stashed these away in our safe deposit box and forgot them.
Quickly thereafter, it seems, con men--those who love to play their games in foreign exchange--found what they believed to be a bonanza. Just one month later, February, 2007, the Better Business Bureau was suddenly flooded with complaints from around the world. The scam involved originated from a Chicago area office-space-rental cubicle, found vacated when located. The con men were selling these obsolete bills for prices ranging from several hundred to thousands of dollars each. Strange twist is: these orders were never delivered. (Could it be that the price went even higher?) Many of the victims turned out to be our service men and women in Iraq. We'd say doing hard time in a Saudi prison would be fitting punishment for these scam artists, for this focus of the scam alone.
It should have been abundantly clear that, with the demise of the Iraqi dictator--actually well before that, when he was overthrown in 2003--these bills were strictly a memorabilia item for collectors. Investors were told that big value increases were in store for them--if the value of Iraqi money were to increase. This implies that a money market element could stimulate growth. Wrong. As "dead currency" this was not the case.
There seems to be some inherent wisdom in this con man joke, as it applies to this unconscionable scam: What's the difference between a con man and a catfish? Answer: one is a scum-sucking bottom dweller, and the other is a fish.
Apparently, parties unknown and unfound raked in a huge amount of money with this scam. What further can be said on the subject? Only the summation: when in doubt subscribe to that sacrosanct legalism: caveat emptor, let the buyer (sucker) beware.
Posted by Jack Payne at 3:04 AM
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
--The lure of gold hypnotizes ever on by way of this scam. A timeless pocket-liner for Con Artists
Magalia, California--Over many centuries man's fascination with gold has been (nearly) all-consuming. Why? The glitter? The everlastingness? The over-the-ages, proven store of value? It's real. People know it. Their friends know it. Investors everywhere know it. And, the con man knows it.
To illustrate how these scams work, Jack Payne, author of the legal thriller, Six Hours Past Thursday, puts it this way, in the form of a methodically unfolding, step-by-step scenario:
"So, you give in. You invest $10,000 to buy a stake in a quantity of newly mined, unprocessed dirt from a gold mine, "guaranteed" to contain enough gold to, at least, cover your investment. Goody, you think, I'm going to strike it rich because the independent assayer's report shows a much greater value.
"You then wait. You've been told this is a long-term investment, with many steps to be taken--transportation, storage, refining, processing--before you can cash-in. Approximately three years is the estimate.
"Two years later you grow impatient, because you've been told this type investment might be a scam. You call the sales office, located in another state from the mine. After several stalls, and ignored requests for return calls, you decide to check things out with corporate headquarters. You find these "offices" located in still another state.
"Quite antsy now, you decide to visit the site. You find a company "official" who assures you all is well. The reason the dirt hasn't been moved yet is due to either bad weather, labor force problems, equipment breakdown, environmental concerns slowing things down, or local authorities screwing things up (whatever excuse the "official" thinks you will buy). You are told to go home, and you will be kept informed, regularly, by mail, as to progress, which is about to step up now.
"You do. Over the next year you get regular letters with glowing reports of progress. (These are known as lull letters, designed to calm your anxiety, put you to sleep.) As reassurance, you're told to check back with the independent assayer's office. You do. And, sure enough, the report does just that: it reassures you.
"Now your three years are up. During these remaining days you've studied up on how dirt pile scams work, and you now realize that you have been had. You belatedly know how easy it is to file a mining claim, and salt an assayer's sample with a small amount of actual gold. You now know why the sales operation (read, boiler room) is in one state, the corporate "headquarters" in another, and the dirt pile itself in a third.
(To slow down and foul up law enforcement authorities, of course.) And, lastly, it now dawns on you: why three years? Because the statue of limitations on fraud prosecutions runs out in many legal jurisdictions in this time-span."
Payne concludes, "If forced to pick between two evils, choose the one you've never tired. That seems to be the quirk of human nature involved. Think of it, the nuttiness: multiple-state operations, a pile of dirt, no less. What more can be said about human gullibility?"
Posted by Jack Payne at 1:41 AM