Tag Archive | "fraud"

8.5 to 1 Odds


Why would you do business with a company where the odds are 8.5 to 1 that it will cheat you?

That’s a good question… and leaves me wondering,.

“How is it that Well’s Fargo has any customers left?”

The stage coach company was in the news again.  This headline is “Wells Fargo Bankers, Chasing Bonuses, Overcharged Hundreds of Clients” (1).

The article said:  Employees say lofty rewards tied to revenue pushed foreign-exchange staff to ignore agreed-upon fees.

An internal review showed that out of roughly 300 fee agreements based on anything from informal handshakes to emails to signed documents, only about 35 companies were charged the actual price they had been offered for currency trades handled by Wells Fargo, the employees say.

The phone call was part of a continuing cleanup that has led Wells Fargo to fire four foreign-exchange bankers and federal prosecutors to open their own investigation of the operation, people familiar with the matter have said.

300 clients.  265 were defrauded.  I am no mathematicians but think that works out as odds of 8.5 to 1 that they’ll do you foul.

The fraudulent nature in Wells Fargo’s corporate culture is a little concern.  The bigger problem is that such malfeasance is a reflection of a much bigger problem… unfavorable odds that we are cheated by big business almost every day.

What is the probability we are being overcharged by big business?

Out of curiosity I entered the phrase, “How big companies overcharge” in the Ecosia search engine.

The response suggests that we are being cheated in just about every sector of business.

Top headlines read like this:

  • Big Pharma made $711 billion overcharging seniors and disabled
  • Check your phone bill:  You’re probably being overcharged
  • Real Estate Closing Overcharging – Big Class Action
  • Credit card companies overcharge consumers
  • Big Six energy companies overcharging loyal customers by up to $327 a year.
  • Recent study conducted by UCLA professor shows customers in areas with weak signal strength or to stream audio or video are often overcharged.
  • Sallie Mae pays $100 million fine for overcharging active duty military for student loans.

How… or why do we put up with this?

Part of the problem is frustration fatigue.

We are cheated everywhere, almost every step in our lives… all the corners, so much so that we give up.

Every action we take, runs some company or the other pulling some slick trick buried in the small print…. or charging more or giving less than agreed.

We simply cannot keep up with it.

Another problem is limited choice.

Have you ever flown on an airline where the experience was so bad that you thought… “Never again”.   Then you had the the reality check… “Every other airline will treat me in the same way”.

So we suck it up.  What can we do?

One solution… go small.

Whenever I can, I use a small independent company where, if required, I can speak to someone who lives and is speaking to me in the same time zone and the same state, county or ideally the same small town.

This works so much better than dealing with a customer representative who is in India or the Philippines or wherever and does not seem to have a clue.

Another solution is to sue in small ways.

If you have a genuine claim, taking a big company to small claims court can take far less time to get the firm to fix above-average in complexity problems.

The expenditure for a small claims suit can be as low as $24 (filing fee) and 45 minutes, driving to and from court to file, as well as the time spent on the phone with the company when they call to settle.

Small claims court is where the consumer gains the advantage.  Corporations can’t use an attorney in small claims, and they have to send (this usually means fly) a representative that isn’t fully versed on the facts.  It’s easier to just pay from their point of view.  In small claims, big business is stripped of the big lawyer advantage. The red tape, obgucation and delays are stripped away and the odds are in favor of the consumer.

The Consumerist.com article “Suing big companies in small claims court is fun and easy” (2) tells how one consumer got what he deserved from TMobile and Washington Mutual using small claims court.

The article says:  Washington Mutual bank had taken overdraft fees of $58.00 even though the check was deposited and they didn’t clear it when they said it was immediately available.  He took them to small claims and asked for $2,058.00.  $2000 for the impact it caused and for punitive.  They called 7 days before the court date and sent a check, settling the case for exactly what was asked for.

 

Hopefully the small ideas above will help you deal with this fact so your life is smoother and you live in a better way.

You can utilize other ways that Merri and I protect ourselves from corrupt systems below.

Gary

Regain Control from the Wells Fargo Syndrome

 

Here is how to take back control of your life as big business launches its most serious attack on being small.

Well’s Fargo is back in the news.

Another fraud.

Last year the bank paid $185 million in penalties after creating 3.5 million unauthorized consumer deposit and credit card accounts just to meet aggressive sales goals.

Then in July 2017, it was revealed that hundreds of thousands of Wells Fargo customers were charged for auto insurance they did not need. An Office of the Comptroller of the Currency report says Wells Fargo may need to refund customers more than the $80 million for this cheat.

Now we are reading about an investigation into the bank’s the foreign-exchange dealings.

The cheating culture at Wells Fargo is just one example of how big businesses and government acts like we, the people, don’t matter any more?

The only leverage we had, the threat of taking our business elsewhere, or changing our vote seems to have gone up in smoke?

We are caught in “take it or leave it.

We have become numbers caught in a system”.

Has big government, big pharma, health care or big business ever made you feel ripped off? 

Do you feel like your representative in government is more concerned about his welfare than yours?

Do you worry that your bank and credit card company rip off, rather than look after your savings?

Have you stopped complaining, because no one seems to care whether you are a satisfied customer or not?

Have you had to wait and wait on the phone or stand in a line for hours?

Welcome to our modern world.

Markets are global, technology replaces people.  We have become numbers, rather than human beings.

I invite you to get off this treadmill where we do not seem to matter and join a new movement.  Join us to become a Pruppie like my wife Merri and me.

I am sure you are asking, “what’s a Pruppie?”

Pruppies are those who use changes in technology to integrate the best features of Preppers and Uppies.  We all know about preppers.  They believe that the world, as we know it, is about to end.And we also know about Uppies, upward professionals as in Yuppies, young upward professionals.  Uppies expect their world to get better.

The reality is that the world might get better or it might get worse. 

Chances are it will be better in some places.

Other spots will get worse.

Pruppies are those who will gain either way! 

I invite you to join Merri and me as Pruppies, because we expect the world to get better.  We live and earn based on that expectation but we also prepare for bad times as well as good.  Just in case… the world goes sideways… we Pruppies will still survive and prosper anyway.

We do not give up anything by being prepared either.  We can enjoy the good parts of the new economy, as we protect ourselves from what can be bad.

We pursue our passions in an incredible new economy that’s opening up for those who learn how to start multi dimensional micro businesses, tiny businesses that offer multiple streams of income in good times but can work well in disaster scenarios too.

Here’s an example… there are special opportunities in medicinal crops.  One of the best kept secrets is that 125 medicinal crops, that are currently unsustainable, can be grown on land that is wonderful for low stress living and is extraordinarily cheap to own.

Take Ginseng as an example.  This is a crop with enormous upwards potential due to growing demand in China as well as the Western world.

Pruppies do not accept just the established wisdom.  They look for secrets and one secret is that in parts of the Pacific Northwest Ginseng was an important crop for the local economy there before World War I.

Ginseng… according to the establishment…. does not grow there.

This example shows how looking for secrets creates opportunity.

Pruppies look for ways to make life better in non establishment ways.  New technology creates many new ways to earn multiple small streams of income that have been forgotten or were previously unknown.

goldenseal ginseng

Ginseng and Goldenseal growing in our back yard.  (I know about growing ginseng and want to show you how).  But enough about ginseng.  The earning potential of this medicinal root is just one small example of how to create large earnings in many small ways.

Any Passion Can Make You Rich

Let me hasten to add, I am writer, publisher and investor, not a farmer.

Yet I love agriculture and low stress rural living, so I earn multiple small streams of income in agriculture, plus enjoy the benefits of growing and raising some of my own medicine and my own food.

The small agriculture ventures that Merri and I do are fun and each activity earns a little, plus helps us have better health.  Gardening is good exercise. Eating the fresh food we grow is better than any food we’ll find in big business super markets.

If times turn tight our small agriculture enterprises could become big… in lifestyle terms because I turn my passions into income.

Here are  sun flowers I grow.

international_business070621a_1.jpg

These sunflowers can be made into bouquets and floral designs that stimulate my artistic bent and sell well at the local farmers market.

Anyone can make good money in small time agriculture and its a growing trend.

Pruppies earn in numerous ways. 

Here is what Merri and I do.  We have our self publishing business.

We have traveled globally for decades… tax free and financed by our publishing business.

Writing is a great way to earn.  Writers can work where they want, (here I am writing away in the woods on our Blue Ridge farm).

gary scott

In the winter, I work at our Florida home instead.

gary-scott-images

We have other mirco businesses businesses as well.

For example, we have an orange grove.  Not a good earner right now with citrus greening but with huge fringe (AKA known as tax breaks) benefits.

We have a real estate rental business with annual leases and we also rent though airbnb.

We raise trout which we sell locally in North Carolina.

There are many benefits in having numerous ways of earning.

First, each activity is enjoyable… for us.   Our hobbies are, art, fishing, agriculture and music?   We use each of our passions to create a small business.  This stops us from becoming bored or burned out.  A passion or interest, not the money, is always the starting point we use to find new ways to serve and earn.

Second, the diversification increases the odds that we’ll always have enough income.   Something always seems to be hot so we never live beyond our means.

When you join us as a Pruppie you join a family of like minded souls who are looking to improve their lives by improving three basic qualities of real freedom.

Merri and I begin our 50th year of living, working, investing and researching to find and share ideas on how to have simpler, low stress, healthier, more affluent lifestyles.  Our courses, reports and email messages look at ways to gain:

#1:  Global micro business income.

#2:  Low cost natural health.

#3:  Safer, more profitable, easy to make value investments.

Many club members find that just one of these three benefits makes membership worth while, but using all three provides added value.

27 years ago Merri and I created the International Club as a way for readers to join us and be immersed in all three of these benefits.   The International Club is a year long learning program aimed at helping members earn worry free income, have better affordable good health and gain extra safety and profits with value investments.

Join us to gain real freedom in 2018.

#1: The first quality of real freedom is the ability to earn through service.

Have you ever wondered, “do I matter as a person any more”?   Certainly the hectic inhumane modern social structure where business and government all treat us as a number run through a system can make us ask such a question.

This is a life and death question.  The establishment, business, government, law enforcement,  health care,  education,  everything big has grown so large and so computerized that we don’t seem to matter as human beings.

It is Fun & Fulfilling to Matter.

We can regain a true form of importance, fulfillment, wealth and freedom by serving others in a profitable way.  A multi dimensional micro business creates freedom as it redesigns your lifestyle by bringing profit, fulfillment and peace of mind, by helping others as you do what you love.

The way to maintain freedom through service and continual lifestyle reinventions is to “Go Try Things”.

Today we have a global income with a self publishing micro-business with readers around the world, but run from our current homes in Smalltown USA.

May I share how to regain control in the valuable report, “The Pruppie Factor”.  I’ll give it to you free, no strings attached.

As you will learn in this report, I became famous in a very small way (remember small is good) by being one of the first writers and publishers to recommend global investing 50 years ago.

Everyone thought I was crazy then.  Then we led investors to Hong Kong, London, Switzerland, Austria, the Isle of Man, Dominican Republic and Ecuador.

 In 2009 after more than 40 years of residence, business and investing around the world, I returned to the the USA to enjoy a more carefree, simplified life in the countryside and Small-town USA.

If you are thinking about a simpler life in Smalltown USA, you have made a good choice.   Merri and I could live anywhere I want, but chose to live in the USA and on properties in rather remote rural areas of Appalachia and Central Florida.

Background.   I started buying real estate at age 19.  Since that time my wife and I have purchased real estate in five states in the US and eight non US locations, Fiji, London, Gloucestershire, Isle of Man, Hong Kong, Dominican Republic, Ecuador both on the coast and in the Andes.

These purchases have ranged from raw land…

to condos…

to houses… to farms…

even a hotel.

We have owned everything from an old manor house where construction was started in the 1700s.   Here it is, Forwood East in Minchinhampton.  Princess Anne was our next door neighbor, but we bought this house for a song.

small-town-USA

Forwood.

This is our front yard at Rosasamba, our 962 acre hacienda deep in the Andes, about an hour and a half outside Quito, Ecuador.

rosaspamba

In each case we used the same process to find and buy real estate.

Price was never the only key in these investments.  Our decisions have been based on having a better lifestyle and how it helped create multiple streams of income.  For example Rosaspamba was purchased with the idea of creating a healthy and remote healing center.

We seek value within a particular market created by distortions in unrealized utility and value to our lifestyle.

In other words we look for property we love, where we want to live and that can help us earn extra profit.   These values are more important than price.

“Where are these places?”.

There are are specific places where you can reduce your living expenses and easily increase your income.  Scientific research has shown that being in such places actually make you smarter and healthier.  Top this off with the fact that they provide tax benefits.

Learn about these specific places.  Learn what makes them special.

Discover seven freedom producing steps so can find these places of opportunity.

The report includes a tax and career plan broken into four age groups, before you finish school, from age 25 to 50 – age 50-to 65 and what to do when you reach the age where tradition wants you to re-tire.  (Another clue-you do not need to retire and probably should not!)

The report is very specific because it describes what Merri and I, our children and even my sister and thousands of our readers have done and are doing, right now.

Live Anywhere – Earn Everywhere focuses on a system that takes advantage of living in Smalltown USA, but earning locally and globally.

This report is available online for $39.99 but International Club members receive it free.

The answer to a better, freer life is to combine better health, higher income and greater savings for a happier, more resilient lifestyle. 

Club members also receive seven workshops and courses on how earn everywhere with at home micro businesses.  We call this our “Live Well and Free Anywhere Program”.   The program contains a series of courses and reports that show ways to earn and be free.  These courses and reports are:

  • “International Business Made EZ”
  • “Self Fulfilled – How to Write to Sell”
  • Video Workshop by our webmaster David Cross,
  • The entire weekend “Writer’s Camp” in MP3
  • The report “How to Raise Money Abroad”
  • Report and MP3 Workshop “How to Gain Added Success With Relaxed Concentration”
  • The course “Event-Full – How to Earn Conducting Seminars and Tours”

This program is offered at $299, but is available to club members free.

#2: The second basic quality of real freedom is natural good health.   None of us can be truly free until we wrest ourselves from the grip of the expensive, big pharma fueled, health care system.  Plus it has been proven that we can live longer by living in rural settings.

According to a study at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health there is an amazing correlation between living in a home surrounded by greenery and longevity and mental health.

The study of more than 108,000 subjects across America found there was a 12 percent lower risk of death for those who lived in the greenest surroundings.

Subjects with the greenest vegetation around their homes were 34 percent less likely to die of a respiratory-related issue. They also found that those living in the greenest environments were 13 percent less likely to die of cancer.  The researchers were quite surprised by this strong correlation that also extended into mental health.  Subjects  living in the greenest environments were happier and less depressed.

merrily farms

Imagine how working at our trout pond that sits just below our North Carolina home helps keep us stay healthy and relieves stress.

 I have been studying how to have natural health for decades since I first connected the relationship between good health and wealth over 45 years ago.  Over these four and a half decades as we traveled the world, Merri and I have kept a continual watch for new ways to be stronger, more flexible, in better shape and more immune from disease.

After decades of study with experts in Chinese and Indian medicine Merri and I moved to Ecuador and lived and worked with an Andean shaman for years.

Merri and me with Andean shaman.

We learned that good health and longevity come from easy, low impact internal exercises, good nutrition and deep sleep so our bodies are fit and strong and our minds clear.

Club membership shares ways to be free of the “Secret Hospital Charge Master”.   Just as governments hide truth behind “National Security”, big health care businesses hide medical truths behind “Charge masters”.  Most hospital charge masters are secret because big business does not want us to know how much hospital costs have risen.  Motivations beyond our good health, like corporate greed, want to keep us in the dark about health care cost.

Despite rising health care costs, a report from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention shows that hospitals are the last place we want to be for good health.  One report shows that hospital-acquired infections alone kills 57% more Americans every year than all car accidents and falls put together.

Often, what patients catch in the hospital can be worse than what sent them there.  Governments and health care agencies agree  – antibiotic resistance is a “nightmare.”  An antibiotic-resistant bacteria may be spreading in more hospitals than patients know.  About one in every 25 hospitalized patients gets an infection and a 2013 report from the Journal of Patient Safety showed that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the country.

Along with the risk of hospital acquired illness and medical errors, the second huge threat to our well being… is health care costs, especially at hospitals.  This is why charge masters are so often secret.  There are few risks to our wealth that are greater than a hospital stay.

I have created three shamanic health reports are about:

#1: Nutrition

#2: Purification

#3: Exercise

Each report is available for $19.95.  However club members receive these three reports worth $59.85 free.

The Third Quality of Real Freedom is Safe, Profitable, Low Stress, Good Value Investing.  Club members participate in an intensive program called the Purposeful investing Course (Pi).  The purpose of Pi is finding value investments that increase safety and profit.  Learn Slow, Worry Free, Good Value Investing.

Stress, worry and fear are three of an investor’s worst enemies.  These destroyers of wealth can create a Behavior Gap, that causes investors to underperform in any market good or bad.  The behavior gap is created by natural human responses to fear.  Pi helps create profitable strategies that avoid losses from this gap.

Lessons from Pi are based on the creation and management of a Primary Pi Model Portfolio, called the Pifolio.  There are no secrets about this portfolio except that it ignores the stories from economic news (often created by someone with vested interests) and is based mainly on good math that reveals the truth through financial news.

There are seven layers of tactics you learn with Pi.

Pi Tactic #1: Determine purpose and good value.

Pi Tactic #2: Diversify 70% to 80% of portfolio equally in good value developed markets.

Pi Tactic #3: Invest 20% to 30% equally in good value emerging markets.

Pi Tactic  #4:  Use trending algorithms to buy sell or hold these markets.

Pi Tactic  #5:  Add spice speculating with ideal conditions.

Pi Tactic  #6: Add spice speculating with leverage.

Pi Tactic  #7:  Add spice speculating with forex potential.

We combine the research of several brilliant mathematicians and money managers with my years of investing experience.

This is a complete and continual study of what to do about the movement of international major and emerging stock markets. 

The Pi subscription is normally $299 per annum but club member receive Pi at no charge and save an additional $299.

 

Club members also receive a report about opportunity in the  current strength of the US dollar is a second remarkable similarity to 30 years ago.  this roert “Three Currency Patterns for 50% Profits or More”  shows how to earn an extra 50% from currency shifts with even small investments.  I

Plus get the $39.99 report, “The Silver Dip 2017” free.

 

The report explains the exact conditions you need to make leveraged silver & gold speculations that can increase the returns in a safe portfolio by as much as eight times.

The report “Silver Dip 2017” sells for $39.95 but club members receive it free as well.

There is an incredible new economy that’s opening for those who know what to do.  There are great new opportunities and many of them offer enormous income potential but also work well in disaster scenarios.

Save $418.78… “plus more” when you become a club member.

Join the International Club and receive:

#1: The $299 Personal investing Course (Pi).   Free.

#2: The $299 “Live Well and Free Anywhere Program”. Free.

#3: The $29.95 report “Three Currency Patterns For 50% Profits or More”. Free.

#4: The $39.99 report “Silver Dip 2017”. Free

#5: The three $19.99 reports “Shamanic Natural Health”.  All three free.

#6: The $39.99 “Live Anywhere – Earn Everywhere” report. Free.

#7: Plus more.

Plus more… for an entire year.

Join the International Club for $349 and receive all the above online now, plus any online reports, online course updates or online programs we create throughout 2017 and 2018…

all at no additional fee. The club membership entitles you to everything I publish for a year.

Click here to become a member at the discounted rate of $349.

Click here to become a member at $89 per quarter charged automatically to your credit card

Gary 

(1)  www.wsj.com: Wells Fargo bankers chasing bonuses overcharged hundreds of clients

(2) consumerist.com: Suing big companies in small-claims court is fun and easy

Avoid Temptation – Avoid Fraud


Here are some tips that can help you avoid fraud.

madoff

Would you buy a used car from this man?  Bernie Madoff was Wall Street’s hero for years.  Who has replaced his scam?  This is a question you do not want answered in the wrong way.

During major economic corrections… like we are living in now, it is tempting to ignore rule eleven of the Multi Currency Investing Baker’s dozen.

Rule #11: of the Multi Currency Investing Baker’s Dozen: Do not count on extraordinary returns. Be realistic.

Times of turmoil create opportunity but also make many susceptible to fraud… because one feels a need to recover from perceived losses.  This feeling of loss leads to looking for unrealistic returns… that come from investments that are safe.

There is no such thing as a safe investment that does not have risk.  When promised such a deal.. take extra care.  The future reveals whether an investment had risk or not… but as a general rule… the higher the potential return… the greater the risk.

The mindset of the West world is  indoctrinated on these 3 Ps…position, possession and popularity.  These concepts form the foundation of many lives and they are the precursors for stress, tension and poor health as well as financial doom.   These structural flaws in our social economic morality create a template for self slavery and a potential failure.  We voluntarily become chained to our desk or jobs and are willing to even cheat (ranging from small fibs on loan applications to doctoring books) to gain the 3Ps.   The weakness in this framework of thought also leaves us open to fraud.

Delegates really enjoy one another at our seminars.

A lot of information gets exchanged but I have noticed an increase in people talking about deals that seem too good to be true. Beware!  Here are some tips to help you understand what might be true and not.

The first tip is to recognize that if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

My experience is that once a person is hooked by a fraudulent idea… he/she loses common sense.

I first discovered this fact with my first scam encounter over 30 years ago while working and living in Hong Kong. A commodity trader in town allegedly had a way to scam the Japanese commodity trading firm he worked for. Purportedly the quotes arrived in Hong Kong minutes before Tokyo and the time gap could be taken advantage of. The guy approached one of my clients and promised to make 15% to 20% per month if he would be an accomplice.

The client sought my advice. I investigated and discovered that the deal was a fraud. The commodity dealer had tricked investors all over town. If the client opened the account, the trader would lose the entire deposit via churning and fees. What could the client do, go to the police and tell them he was ripped off while trying to defraud a commodities firm?

I called the client and told him the whole story and explained exactly how the con artist worked. Thought that was enough.

Later I learned that the client invested $10,000 anyway and lost it in exactly the way I had warned he would. To add insult to injury the client then put up another $10,000 (the con artist told him they could recover the first $10,000). He lost that too!

This has happened again and again. Clients contact me, ask me about a fraud. I unveil it, tell them what to watch out for and then learn later that they made the investment (and lost their money) anyhow.

Even worse, the duped sometimes shoot the messenger.

Often when someone uncovers a fraud, the investor gets mad at the person who unveils the fraud and not the guy who is stealing from them!

In the Hong Kong example above, finally the Hong Kong Fraud Squad investigated and the con artist fled town. My client was angry at me and the police. “If everyone had left the guy alone, he would have worked it all out”, was his refrain.

Another fraud prevention tip is reading the book “Cleaning Up: One Man’s Redemptive Journey Through the Seductive World of Corporate Crime” by Barry Minkow. This book is about fraud.  “Cleaning Up” explains why people get mad when scams are unveiled, why they ignore warnings about fraud and much more.

Minko really knows fraud.  When he was 16 and in high school he started a carpet cleaning business in his parents’ garage.

He got a bad start because he used usurious loans with interest rates higher than the business could afford.  This led to check kiting, stealing and even selling his grandmother’s jewelry, staging break-ins at his offices, and running up fraudulent credit card charges.

Minkow kept expanding and became the largest carpet-cleaning company in Southern California but the business was always running hand to mouth and getting poorer because he had created a Ponzi scheme offering huge profits on non existent projects.  Paying the investors drained all the income received.

Because he was such a young (apparent) success he gained a lot of good press attention.  His business went public by merging with a shell company, listed on NASDAQ.  At the time, he was, at 21 years of age, the youngest person to take a company public in American financial history.

Using many fraudulent tactics, Minko ran his company’s stock up to a value of$280 million.

However, the business still had a terrible cash shortage from paying investors for the nonexistent projects.

Finally the wave overwhelmed Minko and the company.  Investors lost $50 million.

Minkow spent just under seven and a half years in prison, became a born-again Christian, earned a degree in Church Ministries and is now a pastor.

Minkow also holds an executive position at the Fraud Discovery Institute in San Diego, which he helped found. The institute launches investigations into companies suspected of fraud. He has since helped law enforcement uncover so many frauds, that the judge presiding on his case released him from his terms of probation.

The book shares how to use the 3 Ts (Transparency, Truth plus Time) to create the Ultimate Fourth T, Trust.

This lesson alone makes Cleaning Up worth reading, but there is much more you will gain about cleaning up in business and all of life in this fun, easy to read story of a smart man who bares his inner self to light the road he followed from being cunning to becoming wise. The minute we realize that “but for the grace of God there go I” this book becomes a great primer for avoiding fraud, large and small.

Minkow gives several warnings and tips that can help you spot a con.

Fraud Avoidance Tip#1: Just checking out history and size is not enough!

Minkow proved the fact in his first chapter. His Fraud Discovery Institute was asked to check out the Financial Advisory Consultant Mutual Fund. This fund had been around for 20 years, had over $800 million under management and had averaged 38.8% per annum growth over the two decades.

He did his due diligence and discovered the longest running Ponzi scheme in American history. Due to a report filed by Minkow, the State of California and the Federal government, both began investigating this fund. Eventually the fraud was shut down. Investors lost $400 million.

When he first looked at that fund it had history, size, a long list of satisfied investors one could refer to and some very slick brochures.

Minkow saw three red flags that worried him; Control by one person,  no audited financial statements to support the very high returns earned in a low return environment and  all the new investors relied upon current investors to decide to enter the fund.

Bernie Madoff came after Minkow wrote his book.  Even larger proof!

Fraud Avoidance Tip#2: Look for independent proof of profitability. In Minkow’s discovery, there were no proper nouns, no names in the brochures. The language was ambiguous like “In May of 2002 we bought a large laundry company and sold it for 2.9% profit for the month.” Never in any of these purported sales did the brochure name a company that was bought or sold so that these profits could be independently verified.

Fraud Avoidance Tip#3: Look to see if the owner of the fund has the licenses one would expect.  In Minkow’s case the owner needed Series 7, Series 66, registration with NASD and California Department of Corporations.  He had none. The company it turned out was only filed as a DBA. This 20 year old, $800 million mutual fund was not even incorporated!

Fraud Avoidance Tip#4: Check records.  The fund Minkow investigated claimed to make its money in three ways- buying and reselling businesses, insurance premium financing and equipment leasing. Minkow called experts in these fields. In the insurance premium area he discovered that such high returns just were not possible plus any such lender would have to have a license to make such loans, called PFCs. He checked this as well and found again no record of any such license.

Fraud Avoidance Tip#5: See for yourself.  Minkow visited the offices and discovered that it housed a staff of five people. This seemed quite small for a fund with three divisions managing $800 million.

When you look at any investment or business deal give it the following 11 step test.

Fraud Test #1:  Look for independent proof of profitability. Find out how the business claims to have been making profits and investigate the actual transactions that have been said to have taken place. Do not accept excuses for not letting the profits be seen. A scam artist will say the deals are confidential or something of this nature. Just say “No proof – no deal”.

Fraud Test #2: Do not let the fact that someone else has received big profits, even for years, suck you in.

Fraud Test #3: Ignore the media or star studded cast that may be involved. Often the media and professional athletes, celebrities, politicians and church deacons, etc. are innocent victims as well.

Fraud Test #4: Look for signs of hidden debt. Regular payments to a person or company who is not performing a service is a clue.

Fraud Test #5: Especially beware of special offers to get you act quickly. This can be a sign that the scam artist is in special need of quick cash.

Fraud Test #6: Do not let outward appearances be your guide. The first rule of lying is, “never take your eyes off their face. Do not break eye contact”. The best con artists are the nicest people on the surface. Expensive cars, big houses, yachts and even private planes are not a guarantee of success. Do not let the appearance of normalcy fool you. Realize that almost no white collar criminal who goes to jail ever plans on being there. Most start with good intentions, make an error and cheat to cover up. Almost all believe that there is a cure so if they can just hang on everything will be okay. Most frauds are not committed by criminals but by people just like you and me who get caught in an unexpected circumstance and are just trying to cover up and hang on.

Fraud Test #7: Check out the use of funds carefully. The dishonest person will always have a reason why he needs the extra cash, but an in-depth review will show that the need does not make sense.

Fraud Test #8: Do not trust even audited accounts. Minkow for example had an employee who created fake invoices from suppliers who did not exist, reconciled phony bank accounts and formed a false company to confirm to auditors that information was correct. Minkow now trains CPAs to spot fraud and warns them that during confirmations they should not just accept a letter from a company that confirms a certain sales figure, or balance, etc. but to go the extra mile and make sure that the company that confirms the letter actually exists. Few auditors do this.

Fraud Test #9: Beware of wealth claims based on the value of stock. The value of shares in a phony company can be very unreal.

Fraud Test #10: Know that the Better Business Bureau does not audit accounts that are sent to them. They accept the data that a business sends them at face value. BBB, Dunn & Bradstreet nor bank references should be accepted as proof of anything.

Fraud Test #11: Check with experts in the field that the profits claimed seem reasonable based on industry standards.

Take these steps when you invest.  You’ll reduce your chances of losing and increase your potential for profit.

There are no guarantees in life, business or investing, but prudence diligence AND DIVERSIFICATION helps assure that your losses will be honest and you chances of profits  greatly increased.

Even with Minko, take care.

For example a report in early 2008, showed that the CFO of Herbalife misrepresented his educational background on his resume, leading to the CFO’s resignation from the company.

Minkow’s book is great… a must read.  Yet you should also note that according to Wikapedia:  “After releasing the report, Minkow sold Herbalife shares short and stood to benefit financially when Herbalife’s stock fell as a result of his investigation. During an appearance with Neil Cavuto on the Fox Business Network, Minkow claimed that he notified the FBI and SEC of his plans, but many observers believe that the fact that he may have personally benefited from the Herbalife investigation calls into question his true motivations.”

Barry Minkow almost always holds a position (usually short selling) in securities that he reports on.[2] There is a disclaimer on his website “It must be understood and clearly disclosed that just because FDI says a company, especially a public company, is an apparent financial fraud in progress, unless law enforcement corroborates such findings it is a meaningless conclusion as the finder of fact is always law enforcement and the courts.”[2]

Minko wrote about himself when he was creating his huge fraud:I had fallen into the supreme falsehood of fraud perpetration: fraud is a means to an end and never an end in itself. I told myself that lies to the banks, investors, and auditors were not really wrong as long as I had a plan that would ultimately pay everyone back. As long as no one got hurt there was no crime.”

Minkow believes that most fraud perpetrators believe that they have a cure which will eventually recover the losses.

He writes: “The first irony of course is the irony of the cure and the lies that we (fraud perpetrators) tell ourselves. The second irony of fraud is that the very greed that we perpetrators count on our marks (potential investors) possessing to drive them to invest and blind their objectivity is the same greed that blinds we perpetrators and makes us feel invulnerable to detection. Greed is the one-size-fits all blindfold that both perpetrators and investors wear in tandem. Though neither will admit it.”

Times change.  Economics rise and fall… but human nature… motivated by fear and greed does not change.  Neither does our susceptibility to fraud.

Fraud is nothing new… but the tactics change and times like these make many of us more people susceptible to fraud…. so beware and use these fraud prevention tips.

Gary

Some of the greatest frauds and Ponzi schemes are perpetrated by governments as they destroy the purchasing power of currencies. Currencies globally are losing their purchasing power. To maintain the value of our wealth we need to do more than just save. The multi currency sandwich is one way to enhance the earnings of your capital.

Our Multi Currency Portfolio report and service helps you see why and where to invest and learn why and how currencies and interest rates rise and or fall.

Borrow Low Deposit High – How to Use the Multi Currency Investment Sandwich… click here to learn more about this emailed report for only $79.

This is also why we maintain close contact with Jyske Bank, Denmark’s second largest bank. Denmark is rated by Standard & Poor’s as the safest country in the world to bank in. Jyske Bank is the only bank we know that specializes in the Borrow Low Deposit High strategy. Jyske Bank is also one of the leading currency traders in the world. Unlike most banks (that trade only eight hours a day) Jyske maintains a 24 hour trading service. They have been our bank for over twenty years and help us stay informed about global equity markets, plus global currency parity and interest rate trends so we can learn from portfolios that are real time. What you learn from is actually happening as our service unfolds.

More importantly Jyske Bank  has created an entire subsidiary that provides a stable and safe institution for US investors  who wish to invest globally including a Borrow Low-Deposit High strategy.

Save $100 more. There is another important benefit you gain when you order my emailed report “Borrow Low-Deposit High”.  You can save $100 at the next Jyske seminar where I review the new H.I.R.E. overseas banking regulations.

Share multi currency strategies with Thomas Fischer and me in North Carolina Oct 7-9, 2011.