--Scam Artists' Conspiracy Theories, Loony Scams, and Social Recognition Make for a Lethal Mix--Generally Accepted by a Laid-Back Public
Louis Pasteur was run out of medical school for advancing the thesis that life forms too small to be seen were responsible for disease. Galileo was imprisoned for life for expounding the thought that the earth was round. Einstein was tossed out of grade school as irredeemably unteachable.
At one time these revolutionary history-makers were assigned a place in their respective societies among the "Lunatic Fringe." Today, scam artists everywhere cash in on a slight variation--pawn themselves off as "eccentric geniuses"--knowing this has great appeal to the masses: those throngs of people from all walks of life who live "inside the box," the multitudes who nod their heads and walk in a straight line. Long memories of past glory loom over these seeming Pied Piper-led parades led by the scam artists.
How does the polished scam artist of today turn such eccentricity to his advantage? Let us count the ways. Here a few of the rules he follows:
> Always push the conspiracy theory over boring conventionalism. This, to better carry off your charade as an "Eccentric Genius." This must be a very dedicated, targeted campaign on your part. You must be like the Hit Man, fiercely concentrating, looking to whack a buck-toothed beaver..
> In keeping with this self-portrait, never accept the Laws of mainstream science. (Gravity, maybe. Nothing else.) You've got your very own (crackpot) science to sell.
> Never stay put on one topic too long. If you do, you risk being challenged to provide annoying things such as "proof" Use "what if" scenarios wherever possible--to change the subject Steer the conversation to another area--inspired hogwash, anything mind-numbingly dull.
Don't forget, a lie, often repeated with rapid fire motion, hammered home, quickly becomes the truth.
> Take a page from the book of Mr. Spock of the old Star Trek series. Adopt his vocabulary. Throw in additional sci-babble used by the Romulans and Klingons. To the layman, this seeming scientific mastery will captivate.
> Always accuse your detractors of being closed minded. This will bring your flock closer to you. After all, your flock will be made up, largely, of people who pride themselves on their open mindedness, and will, thus, automatically reject those party poopers who demand evidence for everything.
> Get a fake degree from one of the many vendors of these, preferably an MBA, or a Doctorate. Wave the superior intellect and wisdom your advanced degree bestows upon you over your adversaries' heads. Make them see the relative stupidity of their own positions--in comparison to yours--and accept humility and blind allegiance to your ideas as the "only way."
> Always cite anything you read on the internet as fact. Your worldly wisdom, gained through your internet prowess, will impress your flock no end.
> Use the word quantum often (Quantum leaps. Quantum regression. Quantum exponentiality.) This will make you sound very scientific.
> Preach Better Living Through Denial.
This would be largely denial of your followers' money--remaining in their own pockets, that is--because they would be giving it to you.
> Make sure all documents employed are loaded with eyeball-bleeding fine print, containing all the best elements of your shakedown. Use legalese out the wazoo--to confuse, distort, cajole, obfuscate, and close the sale.
These are just a few of the tactics you--as recipient of these sales pitches--will run into when dealing with the accomplished scam artist. When you can cut through all of the freeze-dried platitudes, realize that if you think there is good in everybody, you haven't met everybody, and can ferret out the whimsical aberrations of iffy reasoning you've heard (All trees have bark; all dogs bark; therefore all dogs are trees), don't walk, run like a frightened bush bunny for the nearest exit.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
--Scam Artists' Conspiracy Theories, Loony Scams, and Social Recognition Make for a Lethal Mix--Generally Accepted by a Laid-Back Public
Posted by Jack Payne at 12:15 PM
Monday, April 21, 2008
Legal Thriller Book Author Reports: Outrageous Offshore Employee Leasing Scheme--A Scam Secret Few Recognize
--Con Artists at their Most Bizarre. Scam Imagination Running Wild
Like a contortionist who can't make ends meet, some con artists will try anything.
In this con, it's the employer who is the scam "artist," the architect of a really imaginative form of scamology. If his lofty ambition is to walk on the moon, this is the scam world equivalent. Ever hear of "employee leasing?" Offshore, yet. Here's how it works:
> Because of dire straights produced by red ink on balance sheet, just plain chiseling, cunning, or flat-out con man tendencies, employer arranges with valuable, high paid employee for circumstances under which said employee will resign.
> Employee then signs a contract with an offshore employee leasing company.
> The offshore company indirectly leases the employee's services back to his original employer, using a domestic leasing company as an intermediary.
> The employee then performs the exact same duties that he did before his resignation. His pay is resumed at his prior level, or increased.
> The funds to pay him are sent offshore as deferred compensation.
> The deferred compensation is then paid to the employee as a loan.
> The employer now claims that neither employment taxes nor income taxes are payable because these funds were paid, outside U.S. jurisdiction, as a loan derived from his deferred compensation account.
What kind of a Loony Tunes arrangement is this? A legal thriller novel could not have a more twisted plot. One party not fooled by this contortionist's view of tax law is IRS. One promoter is doing 6 years of hard time. A San Diego doctor is awaiting sentencing. Motive? Who knows? Maybe some form of bizarre death wish. In prison good behavior gets you time off; in the outside world good behavior gets you more work. Some sort of perverted envy? Could that be it?
Posted by Jack Payne at 2:21 AM
Friday, April 18, 2008
--Is there a way to Sidestep this Threat, Protect Yourself? Yes, but Fast Action is Required
It is predicted by the so-called "experts" that 1,500,000 sub-prime adjustable rate mortgages will default by the end of 2008. That is more than $2.25 trillion--yes, trillion--in monthly payment resets from 2007 to 2009.
The Mortgage Bankers Association finds that well over 15% of sub-prime ARMs--an all-time high--are now running behind in payments. And, the rate of defaults is speeding up, alarmingly.
The marketing fix usually suggested is to quickly rush to the fore with something new. But, when dog food is "new and improved," who tastes it? In this case fallback positions are sought.
As in all perilous times, fingers of accusation are pointing in all directions. Sub-prime home buyers cry out loudly that they were taken advantage of. Victimhood on parade. Lenders complain bitterly about Congress forcing upon them ridiculously loose anti-red-lining laws, which gave them no choice but to lend to countless unqualified borrowers. While whining, kicking, and screaming is not the socially acceptable way, many lenders pursue this childlike remedy nonetheless. Politicians point fingers at each other. (and form the circular firing squads for orderly executions!) House flippers decry bankruptcy laws ("The Devil made me do it.") Mortgage brokers, who have ignited 70% of these suspect loans, say the fault lies with house flippers and real estate speculators, and paint these as the ones who have laid these land mines for them to negotiate. Notorious for their after-business-hours, cocktail-time ways, many of these brokers are now concluding that sometimes too much to drink is not enough.
If you are obligated to an adjustable rate mortgage, and deeply worry about the sudden jolt of a $500-$1,000 (or more) increase in your house payments, how do you protect yourself? if you are limping along with this ARM, there is only one way: refinance to a fixed rate mortgage. With the fast-shrinking U.S. dollar (in terms of world-wide worth), and with exploding energy and precious metals prices, inflation can only be a dire threat to you. This means your adjustable rate mortgage could "reset" you to an untenable position--maybe, even, right into the Poor House.
No need to stick your head in an Easy Bake oven. But, it is time to stop, reappraise.
Sure, most ARMs carry stiff pre-payment penalties. But, remember, these mortgage carriers have no desire to end up getting stuck with worthless paper. Hence, most will be willing to negotiate a lower figure--if they conclude that there is no other way of preventing default. (Sure, strip mining prevents forest fires, but this is over the top.) Real estate brokers renegotiate these pre-payment penalties all the time, so your chances are good.
In the mining business there is an old truism observed closely by all miners working underground: When the support beam begins to crack move swiftly to the mine entrance.
Would this truism apply to looming home foreclosures, too, do you suppose? Common sense?
The support beam is cracking. Now is the time.
Posted by Jack Payne at 3:19 AM
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
--Signs to Look For, to Avoid Victimhood
If you, as a con man, wish to organize a group of people--so that you can set them up for a fleecing, steal their money, rob them blind--there is a tried and true way to go about it.
Establish a "rallying point" from which you will create a Conspiracy Theory. It's easy.
First you must spotlight clear-cut societal divisions,, then take the popular side of the issue. (In this politial season this strategy works well, too.) Once selected you mount your soap box, froth at the mouth, and sermonize your flock into a frenzy, in support of your chosen side.
Here are some examples of the cleavages that can easily be exploited for your profit:
> We are the good guys, white hat wearers, with God on our side. They are the bad guys, black hate wearers, with the Devil on their side.
> Our high standard of morality glistens, for we are Simon Pure of heart and soul; we are God's Chosen People. Their standard of morality is blurred, it sucks; they're a bunch of finks, con men.
> We are trustworthy, live by the Golden Rule, are God-fearing in all our thoughts and actions, and will keep you safe. They are untrustworthy, unscrupulous, live by Sodom and Gomorra Standards, are Devil worshipers, and will kill you and your family.
> We love American baseball, apple pie, and babies. They love couches, TV football games, beer and liquor, cigarettes, drugs, whores, and kill babies.
If you are recruited into such a group, are fed a con man line designed to part you with your money, and stop to think but forget to start again, you will have a big, big problem. Sure, you can hang actor, Richard Gere, in effigy for kissing a lama, but what good would that do for getting your money back once fleeced?
You do have choices: If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you ever tried. You could adapt paranoia: just because you are paranoid doesn't mean "they" are not out to get you. You could become a hermit; these folks have no peer pressure.
Or, do a fade--back to the beginning, before you got ensnared by the con man's scheme--back to your first encounter with him. Remember, if you had said to yourself, at the time, this wise proverb--he who dies with the most toys is nonetheless still dead--it would have been relatively easy for you to merely walk away, your savings unscathed. Protected. Safe.
Posted by Jack Payne at 3:38 AM
Monday, April 7, 2008
--Stop, Think, Before Reaching for that Unexpected Tax Refund--A Con Man's Deadly New Tax Scam Looms
"Hello, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Will Grabitall. I'm calling on behalf of the United States Internal Revenue Service, and I have good news for you." The voice you hear over your phone is firm but cheerful and reassuring. He continues,
"On a re-check of your 2007 tax return we find that you overpaid in the amount of $2,106.84. We will be sending you a refund check in this amount.. But first, I must have some verifying information."
In the 19th Century, con men were actually tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. After hearing a pitch like this you should immediately be thinking in terms of: Where's the tar and a chicken to skin?
This scam--a "phishing" expedition, designed only to wring vital personal information from you for identity theft purposes--is also conducted by the con man with email "notification" of such "good fortune."
You would be directed to--what appears to be--an official IRS web site. The bogus site contains interactive web pages and forms similar to those actually used by IRS. Only difference: they have been modified to elicit detailed financial and personal information from you. It's an elaborate dance by the con man. By now, if you don't recognize the Arthur Murray footprints on the floor, it's time for your medication.
At this point you must keep in mind that IRS never asks for any secret access numbers, such as passwords and PIN numbers--for bank, credit card, or other personal accounts over the phone or by email. You only get these requests in face-to-face audits.
So, how do you respond to Mr.. Grabitall?
How about this way?
"I'll be happy to provide you with full information, once I have verified all of this by contacting IRS myself."
Pause, while you listen to this con man's rejoinder, trying to talk you out of this course of action. Then, "No, no, that's quite alright, Mr. Grabitall. I prefer to do this checking myself. If you would be so good as to leave your phone number I will get back to you after I've done so. Thank you for your work on my behalf.
Don't expect to speak to this con man again. Ever. If you did bother to call back, by then he will have disappeared--back under his rock.
Posted by Jack Payne at 2:20 AM
Friday, April 4, 2008
--If con artists were to credit Benjamin Franklin with first pushing the phony invoice scam, it's said they would get better recognition for it.
Some scams appeal to greed (Earn $1,000 a week stuffing envelopes). Some appeal to fear (Cure cancer easy; the cure is in your cupboard). Others to vanity (Become a Cary Grant look-alike in 10 easy steps). But, this one--an ever-popular scam with con artists--plays on inattentiveness, sloppy routine office procedure, and in some cases, downright laziness. It's the phony invoice scam, around for ages, still alive and kicking.
A standby of America's mail order age, the phony invoice scam works something like this: a realistic-looking invoice is mailed to a small business. It's conveyed by way of the usual window envelope, and dressed up to look like any other invoice that businesses receive on a daily basis. It has an itemized list of services supposedly rendered, or products supposedly delivered. If the accountant or purchasing agent (whichever responsible for paying bills) were to flip to the reverse side and read through the terms--printed purposely in tiny, eye-straining type, and in dull, sleep-provoking language--they would find, near the bottom, a brief disclaimer, "This is not an invoice." Few ever get that far, because it reads like an income tax form that has been modified beyond all understanding.
If the dollar amount is small, it's so much easier to just pay the bill and have done with it. What's the rationale? Quick, no hassle, easy way? Who knows. Don't hate yourself in the morning, sleep till noon. something like that.
The con artists are fully aware of this nonchalant, gloss-over scrutiny and tailor their operations accordingly. They are also fully aware that most businesses have a "do not contest" policy--presumably for faster, more efficient internal operating procedure--wherein, if the dollar amount does not exceed a certain figure, it need not be held up for further approval, O.K.'d by another person, or investigated. The scamsters know these dollar limits usually range from "not more than $25," "not more than $100," or cut-off-for-examination points in-between.
They therefore usually take the easy way themselves and set the amount they will charge at $24 and change. Then, after mailing tens of thousands of these, they sit back and total up their returns as their business reply envelopes come flooding back with the anticipated payments. Then, it's the ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching ringing of their cash resisters that makes them work, as well as their frequent trips to the bank (we wonder, do you think they really laugh all the way?) to deposit their "ill-gotten gains."
As further indication of how rewarding this scam is, consider this hypothetical: Say the con artist sends out 100,000 of these "invoices," and gets but an anemic 1% return. Even that low a rate of return spells out to 1.000 suckers paying for nothing at the rate of $25 each. This would come to a quick $25,000, not bad for a day's work. In the past these schemes have yielded a return as high as 7%. We think you will agree, that $175,000 for a day's work, from a scam of this scale, would buy groceries for a while.
So many of the scam fighters today are so distracted by the more exotic forms of fraud that they largely leave this one alone. To each his own, we guess. We say, if you don't want to beat a dead horse, then don't beat a dead horse. It's as simple as that But, unless one is certifiably insane he will instantly see that this is one of the easiest problems to fix. Thus, we say, also in the "as simple as that" vein, O.K. then, fix it...
Posted by Jack Payne at 6:00 AM
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
--House Flippers have no Bill of Rights--Neither do you if you are Caught up in the Mortgage "Reset" Tide
You are not a house flipper--one who buys "fixer-upper" houses, does that, and resells for profit. You need a mortgage to secure purchase of your dream home--for yourself and family, to live in, happily ever after. You visit a mortgage broker to help you put the vital financial link into place. The fact that you find yourself talking to a 22-year old, sporting lip, nose and ear rings, is somewhat upsetting, but your urgency makes you look past this--as well as the jeans and halter top he is wearing which only partially cover the plentiful tattoos.
Your needs propel you. You ride right on past the flashing red lights and alarm bells ringing out at you, shouting think, think. slow down, stop, stop. You ignore such ominous signs as the January slump of 11% in U.S. home prices, a record 1-month drop, swallowing up home owners' equity, and the collapse of the 5th largest investment bank in the country, Bear, Stearns
You get the mortgage, which is adjustable rate--meaning your initial monthly payments of $1,500 quickly jump to $2,200 once the trip wire--follow-inflation clause in the contract--is sprung. You are not a happy camper. You now feel that your choice of a mortgage broker was about as wise as picking an expert on bomb demolition with the stature of a Rosie O'Donnell.
Most home buyers think the mortgage broker represents them. Wrong. Except for California, In every other US. State representation is unclear and not articulated. In fact, many financial institutions recruit mortgage brokers to steer loans to them. Thus, you could say the mortgage broker more closely represents the financial institution involved.
When this realization fully hits you it is about as shocking (as we've said before) as picking up a vintage copy of the Saturday Evening Post with a cover picture of Norman Rockwell beating up a child.
This past year--the year of the real estate market collapse--has been dominated by a process: These new-era mortgage brokers have been steering borrowers with weak credit into "reset" loans--like the trip-wire action you incurred when your monthly payment was blown from $1,500 to $2,200. Now, here's the kicker. It's buried in the fine print you didn't read when you signed on: These ARMs (Adjustable Rate Mortgages) carry steep penalties if the borrower tries to pay off the loan before it resets. This is the "trap." This clause makes it near-impossible for you to pay off the loan before it shifts to punishing high interest Docility is the name of this game, and lenders everywhere are fully aware of it. Legalese strung throughout the contract wins the day, leading to widespread neglect and / or misunderstanding. Mortgage Brokers and Home Lenders are fully aware of Murphy's Law: The more crap you put up with, the more crap you are going to get. Thus, they pile on, feed the fires accordingly and relentlessly.
Hence, multiply this scenario--this "trap"--by 1,500,000 or more cases of home owners about to be foreclosed upon, and, voila, you have the makings of a market panic. It's this kind of "drive by" lending that has paved the way for the real estate calamity we face today--a market mess so bad that it is threatening to pull down our entire economy and throw us all into recession.
Ethical, no, but, legal business dealings? Yes, technically. Even though such dealings seem to be along the lines of Canada Bill Johne's Motto: It's morally wrong to allow suckers to keep their money.
Posted by Jack Payne at 3:39 AM