30 May

General Motors Will Never Repay Taxpayers

Last week, Reason Magazine ran an excellent article entitled “General Motors Will Never Repay Taxpayers.” I don’t really have anything to add in the way of commentary, but wanted to reprint some of the information here for your enjoyment.

I was against any and all bailouts from the very beginning. I truly believed that the markets should be allowed to work. If one or more of the automakers had a business model that could not survive in today’s economic climate, than it should have been allowed to die. There would still be demand for cars that would need to be made up somewhere, and another car company would have filled that need (at little or no cost to the taxpayers). Read More

27 May

Debt and Defeat At the Bottom of the Sales Pyramid

Pink Truth

The Salt Lake Tribune
By Steven Oberbeck

Nicole Lopez’s desire to earn additional money for her family so she could be a stay-at-home mom led her to give multilevel marketing a try.

Yet like so many Utahns who get involved with such companies, her dream came to naught.

Although a few make millions and some comfortably less, for Lopez there was no freedom from work at the end of her MLM rainbow. There was no extra time with her son or additional cash to help out with the household bills. What she wound up with instead was debt and the realization that she had gotten involved in a business model she now believes relies upon deception for its survival. Read More

26 May

Bethany College Teaching Students How to Scam Others

I thought it was a hoax. Surely this couldn’t be true? An actual college, offering a curriculum in “network marketing”????

You know – – network marketing – – as in multi-level marketing, as in legalized pyramid schemes. Yes, folks, it’s true. Bethany College in Kansas is going to be offering a curriculum in professional scamming!

But if a college is going to be teaching this network marketing, multi-level marketing stuff to students, then it has to be legit, right? Wrong.

I have no idea what would possess any educator to think that they ought to spend valuable classroom time teaching this type of legalized scam to students as if it was a legitimate business pursuit. I can only assume that the powers that be, namely one Robert Carlson, M.B.A., professor and chair of business, has done no research on MLM and has no idea how these scams operate. He says about the new network marketing stuff: Read More

22 May

Rakofsky Suing the Internet: Career Suicide

If there is any quicker way to bring negative attention to negative news, I don’t know of it. Joseph Rakofsky seems to have a lock on ruining his own career by “suing the internet.”

It all started with Rakofsky, a new-ish lawyer who was representing Dontrell Deaner in a murder case in Washington, D.C.  The Washington Post reported in its article D.C. Superior Court Judge Declares Mistrial Over Attorney’s Competence in Murder Case: Read More

18 May

Why I’m Quitting Twitter (And You Should Too)

Yes, I’m quitting Twitter. After 2.5 years, 2,154 followers, and 2,917 tweets, I have officially called it quits on Twitter. And I believe other professional services firms – – accountants, auditors, lawyers, engineers, etc. – – should do the same. Stop wasting your time on Twitter and get back to generating new business and goodwill with your existing clients.

What do I know about Twitter or web marketing?
Why should anyone listen to me? I’d like to think I’ve got a pretty good handle on using the web to generate new business and create professional relationships, at least in the professional services space. Accountants, auditors, and lawyers should listen to me because I know how to get results.

Here’s the proof: I’ve been a solo practitioner in a niche practice (fraud investigation and forensic accounting) for over 11 years. Today, my website is ranked third in traffic for forensic accounting firms. The two ahead of me (and several of the firms behind me) have hundreds of employees around the world.  Read More

16 May

Create Your Own Multi-Level Marketing Company in Ten Easy Steps!

Hundreds of thousands of Americans get sucked into Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) companies each year. From Mary Kay to Amway to Herbalife to PrePaid Legal, the list is seemingly endless. Each offers its own special spin on the products it sells, but the main focus of an MLM is on recruiting new members.

MLMs live and die by the recruitment of new members, who make the bulk of the product purchases from the company. Little of the product is resold to an actual end user, but the MLM company doesn’t care. The sale has been made to the distributor (or associate or representative or member or consultant or whatever term you like). Read More

16 May

Fox News Los Angeles Exposé on Fortune Hi Tech Marketing

Fox News in Los Angeles did an exposé on multi-level marketing company Fortune Hi Tech Marketing. This video exposes the truth behind the company: operating like a pyramid scheme, dismal failure rates, false earnings representations, few making any money, broken promises, FHTM lying about its relationship with big name companies.

Fox interviewed me for their story, but you should note that the comments they used in this video were comments I made about MLM in general, not specifically FHTM. Read More

13 May

From i-Sight Investigation Software: Stop Fraud at the Door Before it Enters your Organization

Earlier this week,i-Sight Investigation Software posted an article based on an interview with me, Stop Fraud at the Door Before it Enters your Organization.

Making a bad hiring decision is sometimes only a minor inconvenience and a waste of time, but in many cases, it can leave you vulnerable to workplace fraud. One bad apple can wreak havoc in your organization and open you up to theft, legal trouble and even bankruptcy. In today’s litigious environment, it’s more important than ever to stop fraud at the door by conducting background checks on potential employees before making a job offer.

We interviewed Tracy Coenen, forensic accountant and fraud investigator, on the strategies for hiring people with high ethical standards as part of a company’s fraud prevention program. Read More

12 May

Calculating Loss and Failure Rates in Multi-Level Marketing Schemes

In Chapter 7 of Dr. Jon Taylor’s book, The Case (For and) Against Multi-Level Marketing, he details the failure rates of participants in multi-lievel marketing companies. In order to analyze the true failure rates and to calculate actual profits or losses from participation in these (improperly termed) “business opportunities,” it is necessary to wade through confusing and incomplete disclosures and to estimate figures that are critical but not provided by the companies.

Dr. Taylor completes a thorough analysis of the numbers. Of the hundreds of multi-level marketing companies active in the United States, Dr. Taylor could find income disclosure statements for only 30 of them. What are the others hiding?

The analysis of these 30 income disclosure statements was completed through the following process: Read More

11 May

From i-Sight Investigation Software: Preventing Workplace Fraud Starts at the Top

Yesterday i-Sight Investigation Software posted an article based on an interview with me, Walk the Walk: Preventing Workplace Fraud Starts at the Top.

When it comes to workplace fraud prevention, actions sometimes speak louder than words. This is one of the key messages that forensic accountant and fraud investigator Tracy Coenen wants people to get when they are looking at ways to reduce fraud in their organizations.

When we interviewed Coenen on the subject of preventing workplace fraud, she stressed the importance of developing a culture of integrity in which employees know what’s acceptable and what isn’t, and ensuring that the actions of management reflect this culture. Read More