Yesterday I read a horrifying local story about Edward Matthes, a former financial advisor for Mutual of Omaha who stole at least $2.6 million from his clients. According to the Information in the federal case, Matthes carried on his fraud between 2013 and 2019. SIX YEARS!!!!
He swindled at least 23 clients. He’d convince them to bring investment accounts over to Mutual of Omaha. Funds were transferred from their old accounts to Matthes, who never invested the money for them. Instead, he put it in his own bank account and spent it.
Matthes got away with it because he created phony account statements that showed client balances and he had meetings with them about their “investments.”
So how could consumers have avoided being defrauded like this? Or at the very least catching the fraud early to a) have a better chance of getting their money back, and b) stop this loser from doing the same thing to others.
- Never send your funds to an individual investment advisor or insurance agent. Always send the funds directly to the company it is supposed to be invested with.
- Once your funds are invested, go online to the company you’re investing with and get a login that you can use to view your account. In this case, if clients had done this, they would have seen immediately that they had no accounts with Mutual of Omaha.
- Look carefully at any documents provided to you by the investment advisor. I bet there were some signs on these “account statements” that Matthes provided to his clients that could have tipped them off that they were phony.
Here are some tips that can help you avoid other investment scams such as Ponzi schemes. Be careful! There are plenty of shady people who are trying to take your life savings from you.
Teddi Mellencamp Arroyave, one of the stars of reality series Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (RHOBH) has just been accused of running a scam with her diet and fitness program called All In By Teddi.
The All in by Teddi diet scam (allegedly) is supposed to be an accountability diet program. You have a coach who monitors you throughout each day with text message check-ins, and you follow a diet and exercise program. Sounds great, right?
It sounds especially great because Teddi weighed over 200 pounds at one point and took the weight off by focusing on healthy eating and being active each day. She wanted to help others with their weight problems and started a company she called LA Workout Junkie, and later changed the name to All in By Teddi.
The problem with Teddi’s program is that it is now being exposed as a dangerous diet. See all the excellent reporting the All in By Teddi fraud on Instagram by Emily Gellis! Emily also recently exposed the F Factor diet (a high protein, high fiber diet including special shakes sold by F Factor), a very restrictive diet that allows less than 1,00 calories per day.
The All in by Teddi program allegedly involves eating only 500 calories per day and doing one hour of intense cardio each day.
Here are the “allowed” foods and portions for the day (from Emily’s Instagram stories!): Continue reading
Defenders of multi-level marketing (MLM) are often heard saying that it’s a legitimate business method! Even government regulators say MLM is legitimate. And it is true that state and federal governments in the United States generally allow multi-level marketing companies to operate with little oversight. This is despite the fact that structurally and operationally, MLMs are nothing more than pyramid schemes.
Oh sure, the MLMs are careful to use lots of window dressing that makes it appear they don’t violate anti-pyramiding laws. There are even lawyers who whore themselves out to tell owners of MLMs how to “stay legal.” And of course, the massive lobbying on behalf of “direct sellers” and multi-level marketing companies ensures that current laws against pyramid schemes will not be enforced, and that no new laws impeding MLMs will be enacted.
Typical positive MLM talking points include: Continue reading
People researching multi-level marketing (MLM) company Primerica seem to end up on this blog. I wrote previously about the fake job interview that is really a recruiting session for Primerica, some of the scammy aspects of Primerica, and one former Primerica representative’s story.
I even get Primerica reps emailing me to tell me how awful I am for saying bad things about their company. It’s just a fact that MLM investment and insurance companies sell products that aren’t as good and are more expensive than traditional insurance and investment companies. They have less educated representatives, many of whom are dabbling in the field.
For fun, I looked for reviews of the Primerica “business opportunity” (no, MLM is not a business) and was pleasantly surprised with some findings on Glassdoor. Of course brainwashed reps have been asked to flood the site with positive reviews to tip the scales in the company’s favor. But there are still plenty of honest reviews about what a terrible “job” it is.
Here are some of the negative reviews of Primerica from Glassdoor:
None absolutely none period run fast run far
all of them this is a pyramid scheme they hire people through friends and they get a commission when they do. Ive been one of those people. You pay $99 and then 25/month to access the website. SCAM. Then you sell life insurance through family and friends. These people are lower than scum. I would say more but more people can say it better than me. Whatever people said about Primerica is absolutely true. ITS A SCAM Continue reading
For years I’ve been collecting income disclosure statements issued by multi-level marketing (MLM) companies. These are the proof that you have almost no chance of making money in MLM, no matter what the company or product.
Across the board, you see that the vast majority of the distributors make almost nothing in commissions. The “average earnings” for a company as a whole sometimes looks decent (who wouldn’t want to make an extra $2,000 per year!), but the averages are skewed by the handful of people at the top of the pyramid who make big money (at the expense of the many at the bottom).
Disclosures reflecting 2019 numbers are finally showing up online. I updated our library of disclosure statements to include new ones for Mary Kay, Young Living, Beachbody, Optavia (formerly Medifast), Scentsy, and Arbonne. I’ll keep looking for 2019 statements and add them as they come in.
Set aside for a moment your opinion about whether or not the Wisconsin April 7 election should have gone forward in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the statewide “safer at home” order. Let’s talk about what happened in Milwaukee on election day.
Milwaukee is a city of approximately 600,000 people. Normally, there are 180 polling sites open with about 1,800 to 2,200 people working the polls. Give or take, that’s about 10 workers per polling site.
On this election day, there were only about 400 or 450 election workers available. That should have afforded the city at least 40 polling sites. 150 National Guard members also assisted in Milwaukee. From an article on the situation:
And yet, the city had FIVE (5) polling locations open. Five. There were more than 100 workers at each site. And people waited for HOURS to cast their votes.
Regardless of whether the election should have happened, it did. And those in leadership positions (like Neil Albrecht, the executive director of Milwaukee’s Election Commission) and those running the city in general had a responsibility to citizens to properly organize and run the polls. They could have easily had 20 to 30 voting locations available and still had twice the number of workers at each than normally work.
A family lawyer asked if a loan received under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will be considered income for purposes of the child support obligations of the business owner.
The simple answer:
Loans are not income. The business is not receiving money as a result of selling any products or services. It’s simply a pile of cash from which the business can operate, and under normal circumstances, the business has to pay back the money.
The complicated answer:
A business owner often has two sources of income that are factored into child support calculations: a paycheck and the net profits of the business. Let’s start with the paycheck. The purpose of the PPP money is to continue paying employees. That includes the business owner. For many business owners, there will likely be no change here. He or she got a paycheck before, took out the loan, and continues to get the same paycheck. Continue reading
Coronavirus stimulus check scams have already started. This is shameful, but not entirely unexpected.
U.S. taxpayers will be receiving payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child, with reductions for special circumstances. To receive a payment, you must have a social security number. Nonresident aliens, people without a social security number, and adult dependents (ex. your college student who is claimed as a dependent on your tax return) are not eligible.
To receive the full $1,200 you must have income less than $75,000 per year (single) or $150,000 (married). Those with income of $75,000 to $98,000 (single) or $150,000 to $198,000 (married) will receive a reduced amount. Those receiving social security retirement or disability payments WILL get a stimulus check, as well as veterans and those who are unemployed
The $500 per child is only available for a child under the age of 17 who is claimed as a dependent on your income tax return. Continue reading
Barbara Corcoran lost $400,000 to a fraud scheme. Or did she?
The headlines were that the real estate mogul had nearly $400,000 stolen from her with an email phishing scam. It makes for good click-bait, but there was so much more to the story.
What really happened was that Barbara’s bookkeeper paid an invoice that she thought had been approved by Barbara’s assistant. The invoice appeared to be from a renovation company in German, and seemed legitimate because of all the real estate projects Barbara is involved in.
But… the email from the other employee was a fake. The email address was off by one letter, and the bookkeeper didn’t notice it. She wired $388,700 from a German bank to an account that was owned by the Chinese scammer. The bookkeeper then emailed Barbara’s assistant to let her know that the invoice was paid, and the scam was revealed. The assistant knew nothing of the transaction and saw that the original email was a fake. Continue reading
Jennifer McKinney, that’s who!
Years ago I delighted in writing about mommy bloggers who earned gobs of money at the expense of their readers (and the advertisers who wanted to get in front of them), but were dishonest in one way or another. I’ve written about the shenanigans of Dooce, but we spent a lot of time on Jennifer McKinney, known as MckMama. She frauded her way through bankruptcy court and went on to shill for MLM company Xyngular.
McKinney is currently one of the top producers for Xyngular, and has been recognized as a “million dollar earner.” She started with Xyngular in 2012, and by mid-2014 she made $500,000. (Made… means commissions paid to her plus the value of trips and prizes given to her.) In late 2015 she was up to $1 million cumulative. Then $2 million cumulative by the middle of 2017. It was $3 million cumulative by mid-2018. She has likely surpassed $4 million cumulative by now… which is an average of $500,000 per year for the last 8 years. Continue reading