Bank fraud is pretty serious business, and investigating it is important work. Banks do not, however, need you to help. If someone calls you up claiming to need your help with an investigation, do not help them. Do not withdraw thousands of dollars from the bank and give it to the “investigator.” It’s too late for two elderly women outside of Albany, New York, who withdrew $5,800 and $6,400 from their accounts, respectively. [More]
Last week, Jon wrote to us asking how he can help protect his grandmother from falling for any more direct mail scams. She’d answered a piece from psychic Maria Duval, and subsequently her mailing address was sold to all sorts of scammers who thrive on easy marks. We suggested filing a prohibitory order via the USPS, but the core problem remains: how do you convince someone who wants to believe in psychics that she’s being lied to? [More]
Some of Madoff’s investors took money out of the scheme — not knowing it was a scheme. Now it seems those people might be out of luck — and will have to pay the money back, says Reuters. [More]
If you’ve been sitting on some great idea that will make life easier for the average consumer, you can try pitching it to Procter & Gamble, writes the New York Times. Swiffer, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and Glad ForceFlex trash bags all originated outside of P&G, although in most cases these outside ideas come from other companies. Still, you can go to their Connect + Develop website to pitch your own products if you like–just don’t try putting swiffer booties on cats, because they’ve already rejected that idea. [More]
American Airlines is beginning to experiment with turning flights into shopping opportunities, reports the New York Times. We’re not just talking about in-flight purchases of Sky Mall schwag, either: the paper reports that limousine services, tickets to theme parks and Broadway shows, and train tickets are some of the offerings being considered or currently being tested.
Cory wrote in earlier to complain about Capital One‘s nasty habit of having their collection department call you to upsell you on other products. At almost the same time, Andon wrote to us to let us know that the company’s protection plan—the sort of thing they’re trying to sell to people like Cory—is useless unless you can manipulate time (Andon can’t).
California requires limited liability companies to register with the state every two years. You could do this yourself by filling out a form and paying $20, or you could pay this shady company $239 to do the same thing.
Last week, a couple in Dallas discovered a Jesus-shaped Cheeto in their bag of Cheetos. They promptly named it Cheesus, which is a masterstroke of marketing (although not that original, it turns out), and are considering auctioning it off on eBay—with the implied threat that if it doesn’t sell, they may just eat it. The big question you may be asking yourself now is, “How can I get in on this racket?”
After buying an anti-snoring mouthpiece from a third-party seller on Amazon, reader Bob received an email from the company offering him a free mouthpiece in exchange for a five-star review. He noted this attempted bribe in his Amazon review, and Amazon deleted it. Twice.
The SEC has busted another Ponzi scheme and ordered its operators to “disgorge their ill-gotten gains.” In this one, Anthony Vassallo of “Equity Investment Management and Trading” recruited investors through his church by saying he had a computer program that would guarantee a 3.5% return on stocks. Eventually he stopped trading and paid off investors using other investor’s money, while shoveling the rest of the funds into other schemes and scams. Vassallo was eventually busted when his investors ganged up on him and said his reports were phony-baloney.
Belkin Business Development Representative Michael Bayard has been caught offering to pay anyone willing to leave perfect reviews of Belkin products on Amazon, Buy.com, and Newegg. Even worse, the highly unethical strategy seems to have worked—almost fifteen pages worth of Belkin products on Amazon have perfect five-star ratings.
Another electronics store was taken for millions by an invoice-fixing scheme: a buyer for Best Buy and a vendor have been charged with overcharging Best Buy $31 million over four years.
Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme was one of the biggest, but he’s got a lot of company. Here’s a list of the “9 Most Brazen Ponzi Schemes in History,” from Charles Ponzi (yep, that’s why we call it that) to Social Security. [Neatorama]
Gather round, tax kooks, and listen to the tale of Wesley Snipes. He’s the guy who didn’t pay his taxes while raking in millions, and then tried to collect $7.4 million in tax refunds. Now he’s going to jail for three years thanks to a federal District Judge who doesn’t care much for tax protesters and their zany theories.
Monsanto continues its attempts to hide the basic facts of food production from consumers, this time in Kansas. The Kansas Dairy Association, along with a suspicious “grassroots” dairy group that has the same public relations firm as Monsanto, has helped introduce a bill to the state Senate that would ban “growth hormone-free” milk labels. The bill’s supporters argue that growth hormone can’t be found in lab tests, and if a lab can’t verify it, consumers don’t need to be told about it.