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Archive for the ‘Scams’ Category

An article on MSNBC, shows just how gullible people can be. First of all, there is no way that the federal government will be paying for your utility bills especially if you have to give them your personal information. There are state programs to help people pay for their utility bills but there is no such federal program.

As a result, scammers are using a form of identity theft that has already claimed thousands of victims. These scammers are so bold they will even contact you by going door-to-door with this bogus utility bill payment scam. They are convincing unsuspected people that a special federal government assistance program has been set up – they describe it as a bailout authorized by President Barack Obama’s administration- to help pay utility bills.

But here is the catch, you have to “register” with them and give them your Social Security number and other personal information, i.e. bank account number. Obviously there is no such program. But these scammers are shrewd, they us door-to-door solicitation, Facebook, emails and tweets to convince people. Then these victims pass it on to their family and friends through these social networks. This is how the scam is growing.

Once again, if it is too good to be true it’s probably a scam. If you are having problems paying your utility bill, contact your utility company and work out payments with them. They are often very willing to get payments from you than no payment at all.

Has this happened to you, you pick up the phone and immediately get a recording from “Political Opinions of America” asking you to take a survey? They even say that there is a reward if you answer these questions. Well forget about it – it is just a new scam by telemarketers.

According to an article on Fox News, companies are disguising their sales pitch as poll questions just to scam you out of your money as well as time. Here is how it works: An automated voice asks the recipient to complete a quick survey with questions like: “What’s the most important thing to restore our economy?” Other questions include: “How would you rate the job that President Obama is doing?”

After answering, the user is transferred to a live operator from “corporate travel services” who is giving away free cruises thanks to an anonymous donor. The offer allows up to four free guests and requires a $60 per person “port fee” to be secured by a credit card.

That alone should be a warning flag – never give out your credit card number to anyone soliciting to you. Hang up immediately or even better hang up when you hear that they are from “Political Opinions of America.”

But take heart, a Boston law firm is preparing a potential class-action lawsuit against a Florida-based The Berkley Group, which is behind the campaign. The law firm says, “When, one is offered a ‘free’ cruise, which is really designed to expose people to sales pitches for vacation timeshares. If you received such a call, you may have a claim against these companies, whether or not you paid them any money.”

FTC officials said to remember that if the purpose of the call is to sell something, its telemarketing and all rules apply. Simply adding a few questions about unrelated topics such as politics or weather does not constitute a bona fide survey. At least two similar “sham survey” ruses have resulted in enforcement actions against companies for such illegal calls.

To add your number to the national Do Not Registry, call   (888) 382-1222 from the phone you wish to register.

According to Fox News, Obama adviser David Prend sent an email to a White House aide encouraging the president to publicly embrace Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer. But interestingly, Prend’s investment firm at that time partly owned the company.

David Prend, a co-founder of the Boston-based venture capital firm Rockport Capital, who used his role as a green energy adviser to
the Obama administration pushed for a half-billion-dollar subsidized loan for Solyndra even though his company was a major investor in the solar-panel manufacturer. Hmm, is this ethical? I don’t think so.

The other inside man on the Solyndra loan was Steve Spinner, a former NBC executive who became a green energy guru who helped steer energy and environmental policy for the administration starting in the 2008 transition team. Spinner pushed for Solyndra to get the loan even though his wife was the lawyer for the now defunct solar firm. Hmm, more connections here.

But the best friend Solyndra had was George Kaiser, whose family foundation was the largest investor in the firm. Kaiser made 16 trips to the White House between March 2009 and April 2011 to consult with officials. Kaiser, a billionaire devoted to liberal causes who donated $53,500 to Obama’s 2008 campaign and raised many times more, has said that he didn’t lobby for the government loan. But the frequent presence of such an important patron who was visibly attached to Solyndra would have been an  encouragement of its own.

But the Obama team was willing to go along with Prend, Skinner and Kaiser for one simple reason: The president had a plan to make
carbon costly.

Emails from senior Energy Department advisers Matt Rogers and Rod O’Connor from May of 2010 make it clear that as the company was starting to go down, the last hope was for the Democratically dominated Congress to finally push through a global warming bill that would make traditional energy sources more expensive and drive up demand for less efficient but less polluting solar cells. Do you think some Democrats had a stake in the green jobs economy?

Whatever the flaws in the Solyndra business model, the president likely saw only upside in siding with his donors and key advisers on
Solyndra. Remember that in February 2009, no one in Washington would have doubted that Obama would succeed in imposing his plan to require businesses to purchase transferable credits for the right to emit carbon dioxide, or at least something that would have made energy more expensive.

However, a handful of moderate Senate Democrats stopped the president’s plan. But had he succeeded, higher energy costs and the chance for companies to earn extra credits for the right to use other, more efficient energy sources by buying solar panels would have made Solynrda profitable, however bad its original business plan had been.

Stay tuned, I’m sure there is more twists and turns to this story.

Here is the latest and very interesting article from Tom  Benson on Town Hall today. Not only did Obama get a detailed briefing of  the chances that Solyndra would go bankrupt but also that the company was  spending recklessly on extravagant goodies and services. Here is just the tip  of the iceberg on this company.

“The glass-and-metal building that Solyndra LLC began  erecting alongside Interstate 880 in Fremont, California, in September 2009 was  something the Silicon Valley area hadn’t seen in years: a new factory. It wasn’t just any factory. When it was completed at an estimated cost of $733  million, including proceeds from a $535 million U.S. loan guarantee, it covered  300,000 square feet, the equivalent of five football fields. It had robots that  whistled Disney tunes, spa-like showers with liquid-crystal displays of the  water temperature, and glass-walled conference rooms.

Commercial real-estate agents in the region wondered why a  new factory was being built in the Silicon Valley region, the epicenter of some  of the priciest real estate in the country, where most new construction  consists of office space.”

But wait, there’s more.  “Not only did Solyndra receive a massive taxpayer-funded windfall thanks to a fast-tracked political decision that flew in the face of federal  bookkeepers, the company also received a favorable (and convenient!) ruling  from the IRS.

Solyndra not only received a $500 million loan guarantee, it  also got a favorable ruling from the IRS. According to “California  Watch” — a unit of the Center For Investigative Reporting — the IRS  decision gave Solyndra’s customers a 10-percent tax deduction and it was later  increased to 30 percent.  And the timing  of the ruling, just weeks before getting the stimulus loan, raises questions
about whether the White House pulled strings for Solyndra, at other agencies.

“The DOE then faced a difficult choice,” Silver told the  committee. “(A) to refuse the restructuring terms . . . ensuring the company
would close, or (B) to allow the restructuring, giving it and its more than  1,000 workers a fighting chance and the government a higher chance of recovery”  of taxpayer money.  The Energy Department  pushed for the restructuring despite preliminary warnings from OMB staff  members that restructuring Solyndra could cost taxpayers $168 million more than  liquidation.

The Energy Department’s argument eventually won out, and  taxpayers got hosed.  Again.  In yet another damaging revelation — this is  getting exhausting — the Wall Street Journal reports that Solyndra actually violated the terms of its loan guarantee agreement in 2010 by defaulting on  required payments (!)”

So there you have it. Details are seeping out slowly on this  green energy debacle by the Administration. I’m sure the executives took a nice  compensation from this company and now are hiding out in Costa Rica.  As I said before, will this be Obama’s “Watergate”  moment? Or will it be covered up and ignored as so many of his Administration’s  problems are today – i.e. Operation Fast and Furious.

From Ed Morrissey’s article on HotAir tells us that the Administration wants more money for solar power companies for Obama’s green energy programs. In fact, the DOE announced a $727 million loan guarantee to help finance construction of the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a 110-megawatt solar-power-generating facility in Nye County, Nev. The project is sponsored by Tonopah Solar, a subsidiary of California-based SolarReserve.

Guess who is one of SolarReserve’s “investment partners” from Pacific Corporate Group? Why it is Ron Pelosi PCG’s executive director. If that name sounds familiar, it should. Ron Pelosi is the brother of Nancy Pelosi’s husband.

But this gets even better. The Energy Department said the project will result in 600 construction jobs and 45 permanent jobs. Forty-five permanent jobs?  That puts the cost per permanent job at over $16 million, a figure that could employ perhaps a hundred people had the capital remained in the hands of the private sector that produced it.  Whatever else these green-tech loans are, they certainly are not job-creation stimulus.

It seems to me that this is just another scam and pure political cronyism. This sounds just like the push by the Obama administration
to approve a loan to a failing Solyndra backed by one of his big campaign bundlers.  That’s exactly what’s going on with this program, and with Barack Obama’s demands for more blank checks for stimulus.  The only thing Obama’s stimulating is the pockets of his cronies.

Being number 1 in the U.S. as having the most fraud cases is not an honor; however, Colorado is ranked number 1 in this case.  For  identity theft, Colorado comes in number 11 which is also not an honor to have. Fortunately, local law enforcement agencies are working hard to help the public understand the differences and to help them to protect their identities.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, fraud and identity theft are similar but not the same. Fraud is when someone may take  things out of your account or may use your name. Identity theft is when someone assumes your identity and poses as you. As a result, they will use your credit to buy expensive items or even take out a home loan.

The best defense you can do is to be proactive and protect your identity. Be aware of where your credit card is being used. If you are in
a restaurant and your server is gone for five or ten minutes, ask them what was the hold up or contact the manager of the restaurant to be sure that your identity wasn’t stolen. Another idea is if you bank online you shouldn’t search online with the same computer because there are hackers out there waiting to find you and steal your identity.

This article comes from MSNBC that reported a coordinated network pulled off one of the largest, most complex banking heists ever via cyber space. Back in March of this year, the crime gang withdrew $13 million in one day from ATMs in six countries.

Fidelity National Services Inc. (FIS) located in Jacksonville, Florida was the target of a massive breach. This firm processes prepaid debit cards. This is what happened. The attacker first broke into FIS’ network and gained unauthorized access to the company’s database that holds debit card customer’s balances. The prepaid debit cards do include a fraud protection policy that limits the amount cardholders can withdraw from an ATM with a 24-hour period. Also, once the balance on the cards is reached, the cards cannot be used until their owners put more money back onto the cards.

But these slick cyber criminals knew just what to do. They obtained 22 legitimate cards, eliminated each card’s withdrawal limit, and  cloned them, sending copies to conspirators in Greece, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. When the prepaid limit on each card got too low, the hackers simply reloaded the fraudulent cards remotely.

At the close of the business day on Saturday, March 5, the criminals began taking out money from ATMs. By Sunday evening, the scam was over, and the attackers had stolen $13 million.

Unfortunately, it is not clear who is behind the attack on FIS, although the characteristics of the scheme put it in line with similar
crimes perpetrated by cyber criminals in Estonia and Russia.

Cyber crime is becoming a huge threat to every country’s economy. Too bad these criminals can’t use their imagination for doing good instead of doing bad.

Who can say no to a kid when they are trying to sell magazines door-to-door for a good cause? But beware these kids are not selling for a good cause but for a company that is scamming consumers. According to a local station’s investigation in Denver, Colorado, magazine sales crews are arriving in the metro area claiming to raise money for sick and homeless kids.

But what really happens, these kids end up homeless and the magazine company profits from their sales. Marquis Fulfillment Agency promised these kids a “travel job” with “lots of fun, adventure and money.” But all these kids get is no money, no fun and a bad adventure. If the kids don’t sell their quota they don’t get paid and recently the local station found stranded teenagers at the bus station with no money, food or options.

The kids who work for magazine sales crews are so desperate for sales that they are claiming they are raising money for the Denver Rescue Mission and Children’s hospital. However, nonprofit organizations, like the Denver Rescue Mission, do not go door-to-door, soliciting donations. In addition, the Better Business Bureau has issued a warning to consumers to beware of magazine sales crews. If you want to buy magazines do online searches of the company selling the magazines before you buy.

My philosophy is never to buy from door-to-door sales people whether they are adults or kids. Most of the time these are scams and you won’t get your money’s worth for any product they sell. Gone are the days of the “Fuller Brush Man” (boy am I dating myself!) who was honest and reputable. Most door-to-door sales people just want to make a quick buck and never deliver.

In this tough economy, small business owners have to account for every penny they can. Now a scam letter is going out to small business owners that you need to be aware of. The letter looks just like an official state document from the state of Colorado. It has a seal, cites the Colorado Revised Statues and uses attention-grabbing language telling small business owners that they are at risk of becoming “noncompliant” or “delinquent.”

The letter tells small business owners to complete an enclosed form and send a check for $225 to file a periodic report with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. By law, a periodic report is due every year from small business owners, however, you can file it on-line and the cost is only $10. In addition, when you first file the report, all you need to do is confirm the information and hit send to the State. That’s all is what is required from the State of Colorado.

A local businessman brought this scam to the attention to a local news station. He said that once you read the letter all the way through, you’ll find that the letter comes from a Nevada based “Corporate Controllers Unit, LLC.”

“Corporate Controllers Unit, LLC” did not have a phone number listed on their website or in company paperwork filed with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. When the local news station tried to email the company, they did not receive a response.

Even though the company website featured five testimonials from satisfied customers, a website called “Ripoff Report” listed nine complaints against this company. Just and FYI – I used to write testimonials for my clients for their websites. I always asked for “real” testimonials but a good writer can make up anything for a testimonial they want to.

Also be aware that these solicitations tend to share common elements and may contain one or more of the following characteristics:

• Appear similar to a government form;

• Contain an official-looking seal;

• Refer to a statute or quote other Acts or laws;

• Imply that failing to return the form and pay a fee may place your company in jeopardy, may “pierce the corporate veil,” or might cause your company’s filings with the state to be in a noncompliant status;

• Contain a “Corp Number” or “Corporate Identification Number” that does not match a number given to your entity by a State or Federal Agency.

Don’t get caught up in this scam. Remember, filing your company’s periodic report with your state is easily done on-line and costs around $10, not $225.

The American people are the most generous people in the world. When a disaster strikes, as what happened in Japan, we are the first ones to pull out our wallet and donate to help others in need. Unfortunately, low-life scammers are counting on your generosity of giving.  Both the Better Business Bureau and a local Colorado organization, CheckTheCharity.com can help you to be safe.

As one local Colorado TV station tells us, scammers are using many different ways to steal your money. Through text messaging, phone calls, setting up websites or spam e-mails, scammers want to take your money for themselves. One place scammers seem to swarm to are social media websites. They also set up a fake charity by imitating a legitimate charity. The Red Cross has seen this happen many times. In addition, never give out your information via phone to any so-called charity, always ask them to mail you the information or just hang up.

Remember, anything that’s unsolicited, any unsolicited e-mail, text, phone call, even door-to-door might be a scam. If you want to donate to a charity that helps the people in Japan, pick a charity you can trust. Go through their website and never click on a posted link you may get from an e-mail or from social media. You want to know exactly how a charity is going to get aid to Japan to help the victims.