I got an email from SA a couple weeks ago: Did I realize I had not published anything in 45 days? Yes, I did. Truth of the matter is I had nothing to write about. My focus has shifted to building and running my nonprofit, The MoneyCulture Initiative found at moneyculture.org. We teach and coach personal finance to the underserved: women, small businesses, students. It just doesn’t seem relevant to this readership. I don’t pick stocks, and I’m not a market economist. I write to entertain. So, my audience is broader than the readers of SA.
I certainly appreciate the followers, the many comments, the fragile discussions I’ve needled.
So, my team and I are also revamping our Fraud Research and reporting site, somebodyelsesmoney.com, and bringing back my blog with the same fun I had before with it.
In the meantime, enjoy this:
NEW SCAMS: 5-15-19
IT EVEN HAPPENED TO WARREN BUFFETT
Berkshire Hathaway disclosed that it lost $340M investing in a solar power company that turned out to be a sort of Ponzi scheme.
The $340M invested in DC Solar tax equity investment funds from 2015 to 2018 turned into a $377M charge to Berkshire’s financials.
FINRA FAKE CHECKS
Fake checks purported to be issued by FINRA appear to be back in circulation in 2019. Unexpected FINRA checks are counterfeit, despite special delivery and a required signature. Although FINRA is unsure exactly what the scam is: I mean they already have your name and address, and don’t ask for anything. DO NOT CASH IT.
MORE ON FAKE CHECKS
While looking into fake checks, FINRA found a job search scam. You get a purported job offer and a real (looking) check. You get instructions to deposit the check and immediately transfer $$ to somebody else. When the bank debits your account because the check was counterfeit, try to get your $$ back from the third party. No such thing.
FINRA advises, “Because it can be very difficult to tell a real check from a counterfeit one, we are urging consumers to be cautious if someone they don't know asks them to cash a check and then transfer the money. If you receive a check from FINRA, do not cash it—unless you have a current business relationship with FINRA. Call (301) 590-6500, and speak with a FINRA staff member.
MORE MORE ON FAKE CHECKS
A couple variations on the scheme include getting a “mystery shopper scam” where you are supposedly testing money transfer systems. You get checks, are supposed to keep a few hundred for yourself and send it on. Same story. You wind up paying.
Then, there’s the “modeling scam”, where you get hired often by a supposed modeling clearing house (should be a clue on its own), get a check, send most to another party, like a supervising crew. Guess who gets taken.
FOR YOUR PROTECTION
1. If it’s odd, like “unexpected”, don’t do it.
2. Don’t cash an unexpected check.
3. Don’t “keep the change”
4. If it comes from social media or a messaging app, it’s probably bogus.
5. Call the company.
Finally, FINRA warns about signs of fraud:
typos, poor grammar, mismatched names (check who’s actually sending it out), pressure to act NOW or quickly.
Wait at least 10 days. Do nothing until the check clears.
BY THE WAY
Did you know there’s an Internet Crime Complaint Center (a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center). Can you imagine how busy they are?
THERE WAS ANOTHER FINRA INVESTOR ALERT
Impersonators of Financial Professionals:
Take a real financial advisor or broker and steal the name and CRD #. Doctor up a real Broker Report. You want one with a spotless record.
Email to prospects (Of course, your company is not registered with FINRA).
Solicit money and a copy of their photo ID, and some personal info.
Protect yourself. Look for things like this:
HERE’S TIP NUMBER 1: DO NOT SEND MONEY OR PERSONAL INFORMATION WITHOUT CHECKING AND GOING TO THE SOURCE.
NUMBERS 2-8: BEWARE OF…
Guarantees. No such thing.
Unregistered products. Wild wild West.
Overly high returns (“10X what your bank pays”)
Products you do not understand
Pushy salespeople (Lehman’s “20 second cold call” is dead)
AND IN THE LOCAL NEWS…
ANADARKO WAS JUST SOLD TO OCCIDENTAL PETROLEUM
OP beat out Chevron’s bid. Not quite coincidentally, the SEC just announced that there were a raft of suspicious foreign (UK and Cyprus) options (out of the money calls, if you have to know) purchased in the days leading up to Chevron’s announcement of their intent to purchase Anadarko. When the announcement was made, stock went up, and, surprise, the options were exercised or sold at a big profit. The SEC froze the proceeds. Can you say, “Insider Trading”?
Thanks for reading.
P.S. Any follower who may be interested can access all the financial education and resources on MoneyCulture and I will be happy to give you a free log-in to the subscription site on SEM to read anything you want. Just send me your email address at email@example.com.
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.