Mastermind Of Scheme To Profit From Strangers’ Deaths Gets 6-Year Prison Sentence

Mastermind Of Scheme To Profit From Strangers’ Deaths Gets 6-Year Prison Sentence

Should it be morally wrong to profit from the death of a stranger? What about criminally wrong? What if they’re terminally ill? What if you give them money in order to use their death to reap a profit? These were the core questions in the trial of Joseph Caramadre, who has been sentenced to six years in federal prison more than a year after pleading guilty in the scheme.  [More]

Ask Tax Dad: Amending My Taxes, Social Security Disability, And Buried In Online Brokerage Paperwork

Ask Tax Dad: Amending My Taxes, Social Security Disability, And Buried In Online Brokerage Paperwork

Usually, our staff Certified Tax Cat handles readers’ questions about taxes, but he found a particularly good sunbeam and called in for a personal day. Filling in for him is Laura’s dad, a retired accountant and real live independent tax preparer. Exclusively on Consumerist this spring, Tax Dad answers your questions. [More]

(RockaWolf)

Why Do We Do The Whole Diamond Engagement Ring Thing, Anyway?

It’s sparkly, it’s clear or it’s colored, it’s cut in more ways than one person could dream up, it sits on your finger like a golf ball or a just-the-right-size bauble, it’s a girl’s best friend — twinkling alongside many a wedding proposal has been a diamond. And a lot of the time, these chunks of bling cost a pretty penny. So why do we do have this shiny ritual? (And someone please explain how a diamond can be a best friend? It can’t even talk.) [More]

(frankieleon)

Lawyer Insists He’s Innocent Of Death Profiteering And Identity Theft, Wants New Trial

Hey, remember the Rhode Island lawyer who was charged with wire fraud and identity theft for using strangers’ deaths as an investment vehicle? As his sentencing date approaches, he’s filed papers to rescind his guilty plea and request a new trial. His guilty plea came with a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, but he maintains his innocence. [More]

We’re All Gonna Die, Might As Well Make Some Money Off It

We’re All Gonna Die, Might As Well Make Some Money Off It

Imagine that you, your spouse, or a beloved relative is terminally ill. A man approaches you and asks whether your family would be interested in a little proposition. Your relative would need to provide their name, Social Security number, and a signature or two. In return, they would receive a few thousand dollars. Sounds like an identity theft scheme, doesn’t it? Only it was all perfectly legal. No families were swindled, no fake credit cards were opened. The lawyer behind this scheme was taking advantage of a loophole in the rules of a specific type of life insurance product, variable annuities. Investors used a system intended to protect a large nest egg for future generations to profit without having to die. [More]

Signs You're About To Fall Victim To Investment Fraud

Signs You're About To Fall Victim To Investment Fraud

When times are tougher, dreams of quick riches seem all the more appealing. These could be boom times for con artists looking to swap false dreams in exchange for your large hunk of cash, making it all the more important to be on the lookout for these pitfalls. [More]

3 Reasons You Shouldn't Think Of Your Home As An Investment

Homeowners tend to see their property as passive investments that will hopefully pay off at some point in the future. The housing market collapse has corrected much of that thought process, but there are still those who figure that buying in when prices are low will work out well decades from now. [More]

Avoid These 3 Retirement Plan Mistakes

Avoid These 3 Retirement Plan Mistakes

You’ll be excused for worrying more about your day-to-day financials than those of your future, 65-year-old self. But it’s important not to let your 401(k) or other long-term investments become afterthoughts. One reason to think big-picture is that decisions you make in retirement investments now will have ripple effects that turn into tidal waves in your golden years. [More]

Weighing Term Life Insurance Against Whole Life

Weighing Term Life Insurance Against Whole Life

When it comes time to buy life insurance, you’re faced with a difficult choice. Do you buy low-cost term life insurance that retains no cash value or spring for the more expensive whole life option that doubles as something like a savings account? [More]

Understanding The Hidden Costs Of Investing

Understanding The Hidden Costs Of Investing

Investing newbies may be shocked by the amount of unexpected fees that siphon away their funds. When you’re searching for a brokerage, it’s wise to investigate hidden costs involved. [More]

Volkswagen: $71 Billion Says We'll Be The World's Biggest Automaker By 2018

Volkswagen: $71 Billion Says We'll Be The World's Biggest Automaker By 2018

German auto manufacturer Volkswagen is sick of sucking the exhaust of the world’s auto industry leaders and is throwing a $71 billion-sized brick on the gas pedal to try to take the lead. [More]

Beware Market Bubbles That May Soon Bust

Beware Market Bubbles That May Soon Bust

It’s tempting to invest in markets that are taking off, but the wisest investors find opportunities that have bottomed out or are just getting started. The fastest way to lose your money is to buy when your target is at its high point. [More]

What's Your Net Worth?

What's Your Net Worth?

You can’t get where you’re going if you don’t know where you are. In order to accomplish your long-term financial goals, like saving up for travel, a home, or starting your own business, you should sit down and assess your net worth. [More]

Skip College, Suggest Some Economists

Skip College, Suggest Some Economists

In a country where the mantra “you can be anything you want” is practically a national prayer, it’s still kind of shocking to see someone suggest that a high school student should skip college. Some economists and professors, however, argue that college has become too expensive to throw money at if the odds are high that either you won’t finish, or you’ll go into an industry that doesn’t require a degree. [More]

SEC Wants Disclosures For Asset Backed Securities Written In Python

SEC Wants Disclosures For Asset Backed Securities Written In Python

“Waterfall” provisions of asset backed securities are the rules that explain the flow of funds in the transaction, and they are are very hard to read. Blogger/professor Jayanth Varma calls them “horrendously complicated,” leading trustees to make mistakes or pull stunts that investors never expected. To remedy this, the SEC is proposing that the provisions be written in a programming language, filed on EDGAR, and made available as downloadable Python source code. [More]

The Baseball Card Bubble — Swallower Of Childhood Dreams

Slate excerpts the Dave Jamieson book Mint Condition, which details the rise and fall of the baseball card futures market of the 1980s and 1990s. [More]

"Move Your Money" Profiled On NPR

"Move Your Money" Profiled On NPR

Last month, the Huffington Post launched a campaign called Move Your Money that urged people to support community banks. The idea is that by moving your money to a community bank, you can help put the “too big to fail” banks on a diet so that they get smaller, while at the same time help a local bank remain competitive. The NPR program All Things Considered took a look at the campaign over the weekend, and talked to some experts about whether it’s worth making the switch. [More]

Prosper.com May Be Riskier Than You Thought

Prosper.com May Be Riskier Than You Thought

The person-to-person loan website Prosper.com has been talked about in mostly positive ways since it launched a few years ago. Mark Gimein at Slate’s The Big Money says it’s a lot less awesome than you’ve been led to believe. In fact, he says it’s just a microcosm of what happened in the real financial world: “Loans to unqualified borrowers; reliance on mathematical models that turn out to be a lot less useful than they seemed; failed hopes that high interest rates could make subprime loans profitable; sky high default rates [of 39%]—Prosper has it all.” [More]