Business Digest - February, 2008

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Flying Healthy    Movie Cliches    Subprime Loans Fraud    Jury Duty Fraud

Quotations: Relationships

Don't cry for a man who's left you. The next one may fall for your smile. -- Mae West

A loving relationship is one in which the loved one is free to be himself--to laugh with me, but never at me; to cry with me, but never because of me; to love life, to love himself, to love being loved. Such a relationship is based upon freedom and can never grow in a jealous heart. -- Leo F. Buscaglia

Having someone wonder where you are when you don't come home at night is a very old human need. -- Margaret Mead

Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand. -- Emily Kimbrough

Oh, the comfort--the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person--having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away. -- Dinah Craik

Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down. -- Oprah Winfrey

In the coldest February, as in every other month in every other year, the best thing to hold on to in this world is each other. -- Linda Ellerbee

It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy; it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others. -- Jane Austen

The only real security in a relationship lies neither in looking back in nostalgia, nor forward in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. -- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them. -- Thomas Merton

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Flying Healthy

It can be difficult to avoid illnesses during the winter months. Even more challenging is trying to stay healthy when traveling by plane. The dry cabin air, close proximity to other people, and the stress of travel can all contribute to the likelihood of contracting a cold or the flu. There are some steps you can take, however, to help keep you from coming down with a bug. Next time you pack your bags for a flight, keep these tips in mind.

- Drink about eight ounces of water or juice for every hour you fly. Sipping fluids over the course of the flight is more helpful than downing a large quantity at the start. This can help with the low humidity in the cabin environment. Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol, which can dehydrate you. It may also be helpful to use eye drops for dry eyes, especially for contact wearers.

- Many airlines now use filters that remove most of the bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants in the airplane's air. However, there are still plenty of bugs floating around. To avoid them, bring your own lightweight blanket and cover for the pillow.

- Wash your hands as often as possible. This is still the best way to remove bacteria and viruses from your hands. It is especially important to do this after you've touched common areas of the plane, like the lavatory, magazines, or arm rests. If you are unable to wash your hands with soap and water, use a hand sanitizing gel. Once you land and exit the plane, take the time to wash your hands one more time in the airport restroom.

- If you are sick, it is best not to fly. Not only can you spread your cold or flu to other passengers, but the environment in the plane's cabin can significantly increase your symptoms. This is especially true if you have sinus, nasal, or ear congestion.

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Movie Cliches

You can see them a mile away-and they usually aren't subtle. Movie clichés are those situations that occur only in the movies and are very predictable. Here are some of our favorites.

A "six-shooter" in the Wild West could actually fire at least 100 bullets without re-loading.

If you meet someone of the opposite sex, and hate them on sight, you are certain to end up marrying them.

After a fight, the hero will always wipe blood from the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand, then look at it.

If being chased through town, you can usually take cover in a passing St Patrick's Day parade--at any time of the year.

The ventilation system of any building is a perfect hiding place. No one will ever think of looking for you in there, and you can travel to any other part of the building without difficulty.

A police detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.

Cars and trucks that crash will almost always burst into flames.

After wounding the good guy, the evil guy will always make a long enough speech explaining his actions to give the good guy time to grab his gun and kill him.

Having a job of any kind will make all fathers forget their son's eighth birthday.

If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone you bump into will know all the steps.

Honest and hardworking policemen are usually gunned down a day or two before retirement.

It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts--your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessors.

Television news bulletins usually contain a story that affects you personally at that precise moment.

When they are alone, all foreigners prefer to speak English to each other.

If the captain of your starship has never noticed you before and suddenly picks you for a landing party, especially if this is your first tour of duty, you are going to die!

When paying for a taxi, don't look at your wallet as you take out a bill. Just grab one at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare.

One man shooting at ten men has a better chance of killing them all than ten men firing at one.

Evil geniuses who build bombs are always thoughtful enough to include a visible time display.

Large, loft apartments in New York City are plentiful and affordable.

If you are blonde and pretty, it is possible to be a world-famous expert on nuclear fission, dinosaurs, hieroglyphics, or anything else, at the age of 22.

All grocery shopping bags contain at least one French bread and one bunch of carrots with leafy tops sticking out of the top.

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These articles about fraud are from the FBI web site!

SUBPRIME LOANS AND MORE
It's a Bull Market for Financial Fraud

 

Picture of a home with a foreclosure sign in front. AP Photo.

 

Imagine landing your dream home.Your credit is a bit shaky, but you manage to get a subprime loan with an adjustable rate mortgage. A few years later the interest rates jump and you can no longer afford to pay. You see an ad for a business that’s willing to help—it’ll pay your mortgage for a modest monthly fee while you get back on your feet. But here’s the heartbreak: it’s a scam. The con artists just take your money and run…

It’s just one of the latest schemes and frauds we’re seeing these days across the financial services industry, our senior criminal investigators said during a briefing Tuesday with the news media in Washington. 

These scams—which include plenty of shenanigans with mortgages and subprime loans—are costing the nation tens of billions of dollars a year. 

“Greed is definitely not good for our economy right now,” said our top criminal investigative exec Ken Kaiser following the briefing. “It’s hurting homeowners. It’s hurting honest businesses. And it’s hurting investors and markets around the world.”

All good reasons why we’re squarely focused on cracking down on the largest of these financial crimes, launching proactive initiatives and shifting resources as trends emerge, all the while working hand-in-hand with a host of government and private sector partners.

Among the specifics discussed at the briefing: 

Subprime mortgage loans: 

  • We're investigating 14 corporations involved in subprime lending as part of our Subprime Mortgage Industry Fraud Initiative launched last year.
  • The companies come from across the financial services industry, from mortgage lenders to investment banks that bundle loans into securities sold to investors. We’re also looking at insider trading by some executives. 

Traditional mortgage fraud: 

  • We have more than 1,200 cases open today (up about 40 percent from last year), mostly involving fraud for profit, where groups of straw buyers, realtors, etc. rig schemes to buy properties that are flipped or allowed to go into foreclosure.
  • Hotspots include California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and Utah.
  • Suspicious activity reports that we review for potential mortgage fraud have grown from 3,000 in fiscal year 2003 to 48,000 in fiscal year 2007. This year, we’re on pace to receive more than 60,000 such reports.
  • A recent case: In November, the owners of a long-time Minnesota homebuilder called Parish Marketing—along with a bank officer, a closing agent, and others—pled guilty to a $100 million mortgage scheme involving some 200 homes.
  • Right now, we’re seeing no links to organized crime syndicates, street gangs, or terrorist groups in our cases. 

For more information on financial frauds:
- Financial Crimes Report to the Public, Fiscal Year 2006 
- Mortgage Fraud overview

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THE VERDICT: HANG UP
Don't Fall for Jury Duty Scam

06/02/06

Jury Duty Graphic

The phone rings, you pick it up, and the caller identifies himself as an officer of the court. He says you failed to report for jury duty and that a warrant is out for your arrest. You say you never received a notice. To clear it up, the caller says he'll need some information for "verification purposes"-your birth date, social security number, maybe even a credit card number.

This is when you should hang up the phone. It's a scam.

Jury scams have been around for years, but have seen a resurgence in recent months. Communities in more than a dozen states have issued public warnings about cold calls from people claiming to be court officials seeking personal information. As a rule, court officers never ask for confidential information over the phone; they generally correspond with prospective jurors via mail.

More Information

Want to learn more about new and common scams like this one? Then sign up for our e-mail alerts.

The scam's bold simplicity may be what makes it so effective. Facing the unexpected threat of arrest, victims are caught off guard and may be quick to part with some information to defuse the situation.

"They get you scared first," says a special agent in the Minneapolis field office who has heard the complaints. "They get people saying, 'Oh my gosh! I'm not a criminal. What's going on?'" That's when the scammer dangles a solution-a fine, payable by credit card, that will clear up the problem.

With enough information, scammers can assume your identity and empty your bank accounts.

"It seems like a very simple scam," the agent adds. The trick is putting people on the defensive, then reeling them back in with the promise of a clean slate. "It's kind of ingenious. It's social engineering."

In recent months, communities in Florida, New York, Minnesota, Illinois, Colorado, Oregon, California, Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, and New Hampshire reported scams or posted warnings or press releases on their local websites. In August, the federal court system issued a warning on the scam and urged people to call their local District Court office if they receive suspicious calls. In September, the FBI issued a press release about jury scams and suggested victims also contact their local FBI field office.

In March, USA.gov, the federal government’s information website, posted details about jury scams in their Frequently Asked Questions area. The site reported scores of queries on the subject from website visitors and callers seeking information.

The jury scam is a simple variation of the identity-theft ploys that have proliferated in recent years as personal information and good credit have become thieves' preferred prey, particularly on the Internet. Scammers might tap your information to make a purchase on your credit card, but could just as easily sell your information to the highest bidder on the Internet's black market.

Protecting yourself is the key: Never give out personal information when you receive an unsolicited phone call.

Resources: Common Fraud Schemes | Jury Fraud Press Release (09/28/05) | Executive’s Identity Theft Testimony

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