Archive for the ‘Business Scams’ category

Pay for the Weather Scam

20 July 2010

As long as you can stick your head out of the window and look at the sky, you do not need to pay for a weather report. And even if you want the weather in an area far away from your location, the National Weather Service will give it to you for free for any city in the US. For example, right now (5:46 PM EST) the temperature in Phoenix, Az is 108 °F, the Dew Point is 57 °F, the wind is WSW at 13 MPH and it’s partly cloudy. All that without costing a penny.

Need the weather in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Try Oceanweather Inc which will give you the temperature, the wave height, and wave direction for any part of the globe. Again, at no cost to you. I have no doubt that there are free forums you can join to get the number of seagulls per square mile in a given area of the world.

So I have to wonder why anyone would pay $24.99 a year to the Weather Channel for a GOLD membership to get the same weather information they can get for free, even from the Weather Channel itself.

All you get for the money is an interactive screen that helps you track 11 cities you specify. Big friggin deal.

the weather channel

This reminds me of companies who send out direct mail selling people social security information for $9.99 – the same information anyone can get for free from the Social Security Administration.

I suppose the Weather Channel figured they could target these same morons to pay for stuff they can get for free anywhere on the Internet. What a scam.

This Item is on Sale Scam

30 June 2010

I was reading a customer complaining over at Consumerist about her recent experience at Target.

She was picking up some diapers for her son when she noticed that the 54 count of Huggies Size 4 overnights were on sale for $18.99. “Nice!” She thought, until she looked on the second shelf and saw that the 64 count was sold at the same price – $18.99.

I see this all the time. All a company has to do is slap the word sale and boom, a certain segment of the population will buy it without actually comparing it to other items on the shelf.

To all of you students out there who think you’ll never use calculus or advanced algebra once you graduate, boy are you wrong.

In some cases it’s impossible to tell if you are being scammed at all. For example, which is a better deal:

a) a dozen small eggs for 1.49
b) 18 large eggs for 2.69
c) 8 jumbo eggs for 2.50

If you answered at all, you are wrong. It’s impossible to tell without knowing what the eggs weigh.

To make cheating on eggs and similar products less likely the European Union bans the selling of eggs and ­other products such as oranges and bread rolls by the unit; instead they must be sold by weight.

Until now, Britain has been exempt from EU regulations that forbid the selling of goods by number. But last week the EU voted to end Britain’s deal despite objections from UK members [Daily Mail].

In fact, grocers are not permitted to put the number of units alongside the weight. That will make it difficult for shoppers who need exactly a dozen hamburger buns but will now have to estimate how many are in the package.

I myself am in favor of the weight versus the unit count, although I do not see the problem with having the unit count alongside the weight as well. I’ve tried for years to figure out which eggs are actually cheaper. But unless you carry a gram scale into the supermarket – it is really a difficult proposition.

The Overdraft Scam

29 June 2010

I’m sure almost all of you have had this experience: you have, let’s say, $500.00 in your bank account. Then you mis-scheduled your payments where the following three checks come in: $470.00, $40.00, and $22.00.

This is what always happened: the bank would pay the largest check first leaving you with only a $30.00 balance thereby forcing the next two checks to bounce. But you may object. Why can’t the bank pay $470 and then process the check for $22.00? Certainly there’s enough money for that. Well, according to the bank rule of paying the largest balance first, they always assure themselves of the maximum overdraft fees. Here’s how it works:

They pay $470 leaving thirty bucks. Then they attempt to pay the $40 check and since there aren’t enough funds they bounce that check and whack you with $30.00 in overdraft fees.

Now you have no money in the account and so they bounce the $22.00 check as well generating another $30 in fees. This leaves you with two bounced checks instead of one.

If banks weren’t such predators and paid the lowest amount in checks first, then consumers would not have spent $17.5 billion last year in overdraft fees.

Because of such scams newly enacted legislation prevents banks from automatically charging you a $35 overdraft fee if you happen to try to buy a 50 cent candy bar without enough cash in your account. The new rules say that the banks have to get you to opt-in to such overdraft programs.

In the past few months I received a number of calls from my credit card providers offering me the fantastic chance of opting in to allow them to extend me credit beyond my available balance.

When I logged into my Chase online account I saw this great opportunity to let them charge me $35 for an over-drafted can of soda.

Wow! Who would want to lose this important feature? Hurry now!

debit card overdraft opt-in

As that great economist and US Vice-President, Dan Quayle, once said: “Bank failures are caused by depositors who don’t deposit enough money to cover losses due to mismanagement.”

Although I generally favor little government intervention in business, there is no moral justification for the way that banks reorder transactions to generate cascading overdraft fees.

LifeLock -When You Become Victim of your own Scam

3 June 2010

You have probably seen this ad, or heard this guy on the radio offering his social security number and then challenging scamsters to try and steal his identity.

lifelock ad

But now if you visit their website, you will not see that dare offered anymore. According to Threat Level | Wired.com the company’s CEO has been a victim of identity theft at least 13 times.

In March the company was fined $12 million by the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive advertising.

A careful reader at the Lifelock website will notice their disclaimer: “Due to New York state law restrictions, the Service Guarantee is not offered, applicable or available to residents of the state of New York.”

If the company’s own CEO cannot protect his identity, then obviously they cannot protect yours.

Chalk this up as another scam company.

How to Make Money Fast

9 April 2010

So this morning I received an email from Patrick Chan, the Director of Hang Seng Bank. He was contacting me because he had a 42 million dollar business proposal for me.

I know what you are thinking – shouldn’t I put “Patrick Chan Hang Seng Bank” into Google and see if this is a scam? Wouldn’t it be wise to go to Consumer Fraud Reporting and see if they know about this?

Nah, the people who report this as a scam are probably trying to keep me from the fast money I can make just by sending Mr. Chan a few thousand dollars to register me as the next of kin to some Iraqi General who left $42 million in a Hong Kong bank. My cut will be 40%. That’s what I call fast money.

I hope I’m not too late and someone else gets all that loot.

Another way to make fast money is to pay a SEO firm a few thousand dollars to help you get high google page rank or to show you how to game the system so that your website gets to the first page on Google searches.

Now I have been told that these firms are a scam, that they merely put your website into a keyword density analyzer and repackage the results as if they did some research for you. But I find that hard to believe. Why would anyone pay a few thousand dollars when they can get the same info for free? I suppose next you will be telling me that the letter from Nigerian King Abdul Rubmyass is a scam.

The only people making money on SEO Search are the SEO Search scam artists. In my next article, I will outline how you can become an SEO Firm yourself and scam other people out of money. That’s how you can make money fast.

SMS Sweepstakes Scam

29 March 2010

SMSnia is a UK website (run by a Czech company) that awards various prizes to lucky readers who send text messages to specific phone numbers. For example, a recent sweepstakes offered each 800th SMS to win a Combo Fridge Freezer by Baumatic. Here is a screenshot of the alleged fridge-freezer:

baumatic washer dryer combo

I know what you are thinking, “Damn if that fridge-freezer doesn’t look like a washer-dryer!” Well, that’s what it is, a combo washer-dryer from Baumatic. One wonders what refrigerators must look like in the Czech Republic that no one noticed the mistake. Actually, since it is a lottery scam (the SMS messages cost the sender money), it really doesn’t matter what the prize is.

Sweepstakes like this one are illegal under U.S. federal law for American citizens to play because it is no different than a lottery.

If it isn’t conducted by a government or government-authorized organization (and by a government I mean a real government, not Nigeria), it cannot be a legitimate lottery.

Now if one wants to combine SMS into a legitimate business, here’s just one great idea: a pill bottle cap that sends an SMS to you or a designated relative if you forget to take your medicine at a prescribed time:

textually.org, Pill Bottle Cap Sends SMS: Take your Meds

If the bottle isn’t opened at the appointed time, the cap and night light start blinking to remind the owner to take the medication. If that doesn’t serve as enough of a hint, they start playing jingles as well. If the bottle stays unopened, the night light will send a message to Vitality’s system, which can then place an automated phone call or send a text message with a reminder.

How to Succeed in Business

22 January 2010

The wheel was invented about ten thousand years ago. At each stage, from a simple log to help move heavy objects, to chariots for hunting and war, to two-wheeled farm carts, to covered carriages, and finally to four-wheeled freight wagons and passenger coaches, there was an entrepreneur who helped advance to the next and greater wheel.

There are only two choices in life: be an entrepreneur or work for someone. I ignore for a moment the twentieth century invention of the union where one can not bother working at all and still get paid.

Aside from drug dealers I’m one of a select few Americans who has actually carried a suitcase weighing 110 pounds filled with hundred dollar bills or walked the streets of New York with millions of dollars of gold in my backpack; so it is quite often that young people who know me ask for advice regarding what occupation or profession they should pursue to succeed in life. Actually, they are asking what business should they get into in order to eventually be their own boss and make lots and lots of money so they can retire early.

The answer is deceptively simple. Two things:

  1. Find something you like to do. Steve Jobs liked to quote an old Chinese proverb: “The Journey Is the Reward.” If you do not like your job, you will never succeed.
  2. Be the customer – don’t focus on the product. Another old Chinese proverb: “Make happy those who are near, and those who are far will come.” Case in point: Verizon is a company that will eventually fail because they are focused only on their products, not on their customers. For example, most of you are likely familiar that Verizon charges 1.99 for data usage, and that hundreds of millions of dollars each year are fraudulently being billed to people who have never made use of the service or who might have accidentally switched on the service.

    The Consumerist, Verizon Configures Phones So You Incur Erroenous Data Charges? (To The Tune Of $300 Million)

    “The phone is designed in such a way that you can almost never avoid getting $1.99 charge on the bill. Around the OK button on a typical flip phone are the up, down, left, right arrows. If you open the flip and accidentally press the up arrow key, you see that the phone starts to connect to the web. So you hit END right away. Well, too late. You will be charged $1.99 for that 0.02 kilobytes of data. NOT COOL. I’ve had phones for years, and I sometimes do that mistake to this day, as I’m sure you have. Legal, yes; ethical, NO.

    Roger Tang, Verizon’s regional head for Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, said the charges were not an attempt to con customers out of their money [Read more: Fierce Wireless].

    Despite that protests of innocence, Verizon is only “crediting customers for unintentional data charges as customers bring the ‘error’ to our attention.” This is of course how Verizon gets away with their scam. They know that it is very easy for a customer to mistakenly activate the Internet on their handsets but rely on the fact that only a small percentage will notice the extra $1.99 charge on their bill. The majority of people pay their bill without even looking at it because they trust Verizon.

    Over-billing, billing for non-existent services, billing for uncompleted calls, these are the standard practices of all the Baby Bells. Hopefully as consumers become more aware of these fraudsters, fewer people will do business with them.

That’s it. Once you find a job you absolutely love and you can “be the customer” then opportunities for going on your own will appear. If you focus on product or simply on making money, you must fail.

At the risk of pimping companies I consult for, I’d like to give you an example of a business you can start by first being the customer and then when you get the hang of it you can become a SIP Reseller; it’s simple, easy to start, doesn’t require huge upfront fees, and is completely refundable if you’re not satisfied.