30 May

Crystal Cox v. The Internet Dismissed in Eastern District of Wisconsin

extortionCrystal Cox, extortionist and vexatious litigant, has been slapped down by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. On May 13, 2013, Cox filed a complaint in federal court against me,  and against a bunch of fine people (WIPO, Peter Michaelson, Marc Randazza, Kashmir Hill, Forbes, Kevin Padrick, David Aman, David Carr, New York Times, Jordan Rushie, Jason Jones, and many others).

The incomprehensible complaint in the case of Crystal Cox v. The Internet alleged defamation, civil rights violations, copyright infringement, civil conspiracy, racketeering (RICO), causation and remoteness, duty of care, negligence tort, tampering with a witness, tortious interference with business, anti-trust laws. Crystal Cox took 124 pages to ramble about vast conspiracies involving trillions of dollars and many bad, bad acts by many bad, bad people.

Most notably, Crystal claims that THE INTERNETS DEFAMED HER when they referred to her as an extortionist. Because who could possibly get the idea that Crystal Cox was extorting people when she flooded the internet with defamatory material about them, and then offered to remove the material (reputation management services, people!) for a nominal fee of $2,500 per month into infinity???? Read More

28 May

Income Available For Support

forensic-accountingThis article was originally printed in the ABA Section of Family Law eNewsletter, May 2013.

The issue of “income available for support” in divorces can be huge, particularly if only one spouse works. The issue gets complex if the earnings of one or both spouses are non-traditional. Regular wages are usually easy to evaluate in a divorce case, while income from businesses, real estate, and other investments become more complicated.

As a general rule, there is latitude in state courts when it comes to income and what is included or excluded for support calculation. There are general rules about the most common forms of income, but they don’t cover every issue and they all have a bit of “gray area” within them.

It is important to know the tricky kinds of income and cash flow that come up in divorces, as well as the varying views of how and why they should be included or excluded. Some of the types of income or expenses that may be treated differently from divorce to divorce and jurisdiction to jurisdiction include: Read More

22 May

Boyfriend Fraud and Girlfriend Fraud

Are you into online dating? Do you use sites like Match.com, eHarmony, Craigslist, Plenty of Fish, or Christian Mingle? Did you ever wonder if you date is really who he says he is?  If you’re not careful, you can dragged into crazy (and maybe even dangerous) situations.

I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve tried online dating, and have been amazed at the lies my dates would tell. I walked away from one situation saying to myself, “That was boyfriend fraud!” And guys… women can be just as shady, so you have to look out for girlfriend fraud.

Pursuit Magazine just published an article about the book InvestiDate: How to Investigate Your Date: The Liars, Cheaters, Con Artists and Convicts Won’t Stand a Chance!, by Maria Coder. Read More

20 May

Primerica Financial Services: The Fake Job Interview

primerica-pyramid-schemePrimerica Financial Services is a multi-level marketing company that sells life insurance and investments. I’ve written about Primerica in the past, questioning whether Primerica is a pyramid scheme, and whether PFS is a scam.

The bottom line is that Primerica sells legitimate products and services (life insurance and investments), but sells them at inflated prices to generally unsophisticated consumers. So consumers are overpaying, and likely buying the wrong products. Additionally, the MLM structure sucks for the Primerica representatives. Because there is recruiting with so many levels, the distributor who sells the products receives much less money than if he or she sold similar services through a traditional insurance agency or investment company.

A typical recruiting ploy in Primerica is the job interview. Representatives of PFS troll the internet for job seekers, harvesting resumes from job sites. They contact the job seekers with an offer of an interview for an opening. They give the job seekers very little information about the “job” (it’s not a job at all… rather it is a position in the MLM pyramid), con them into showing up for an interview, and telling them if they have the right skills, they may be invited to stay for an information session. Read More

15 May

Lawsuit Against Expert Witness Highlights Issue of Conflicts of Interest

A lawsuit  recently filed in federal court in Chicago by Cottrell Inc. against J. Nigel Ellis highlights the issue of conflicts of interest for expert witnesses. Ellis is reportedly the founder of Ellis Litigation Support, Dynamic Scientific Controls, and Ellis Ladder Improvements. He has two roles in his career: selling safety products, and testifying as an expert witness about safety products.

According to the complaint, Cottrell says that Ellis approached the company in August 2005 to sell a “fall protection design” them. Prior to talking with Ellis, the company says they asked him if he was working with any of the attorneys representing plaintiffs who had sued Cottrell. He said he was not, and he signed a confidentiality agreement with the company. Ellis and Cottrell began exchanging information and letters regarding safety designs, and the relationship went on for nearly two years. Read More

14 May

ABA Section of Litigation’s Sound Advice: Dividing Shared Business Assets During a Divorce

Earlier this year, I recorded a Sound Advice podcast for the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation.  When dividing shared business assets in a divorce, it is important to fully evaluate the finances of the businesses. It is impossible to fairly divide these assets if you do not dig into the financial details.

This podcast goes through the financial documents needed, including the tax returns (and which forms you should ask for, based on whether the business is a corporation, partnership, LLC, or sole proprietorship), the financial statements, and the detailed accounting records. Read More

06 May

CHECKLIST: Gathering Financial Documents for Divorce

divorce financial analysisThis article was originally printed in the ABA Section of Family Law eNewsletter, April 2013.

Financial documents are at the heart of divorces. Regardless of how contentious or amicable a divorce is, the finances of the spouses will need to be separated, and financial documents are required to make the division. Whether the information sought is current or historical, unaltered documents tell the truth about the money. This truth needs to be examined in every divorce before assets, debts, and income can be divided.

While financial documents can often be easily obtained during divorce proceedings, it is much easier for the spouse with access to the documents to simply copy and/or retain the documents. This reduces the number of discovery requests and subpoenas, and eliminates the time spent waiting to receive documents. Read More