The Business Lifestyle Analysis

iStock_000019355019XSmallThis article was originally printed in the ABA Section of Family Law eNewsletter, April 2014.

Closely held businesses present special challenges in the family law setting. Typically, only one spouse is actively involved in the business. Therefore, not only does the spouse control the family’s finances, he or she also controls all of the records of the business. When a spouse is attempting to quantify the income from the business or the value of the business, the spouse who works actively in the business can purposely (and often very effectively) obstruct attempts to get accurate and complete data.

Certain types of businesses, such as restaurants and retail stores, can be prone to manipulation because they have so many cash transactions. Construction companies, real estate ventures, and auto dealerships are notorious for “creative” bookkeeping. Professional service providers, such as doctors, dentists, and attorneys are at risk for financial maneuvering because it is so difficult to verify the amount of professional services actually provided to patients or clients.

Any business that is closely held and has finances that are easily manipulated by the owner is at risk. If this happens, the “out” spouse is left looking for alternatives to get to the bottom of the finances. Techniques used in a personal lifestyle analysis can also be applied to businesses to ferret out the truth about the money.

All the Ways the U.S. Government Spies on Americans

us-government-spying-on-americansYesterday, Barry Ritholtz posted an amazing and eye-opening piece on just how much the United States government is spying on Americans. It is shocking, and demonstrates that almost nothing we do is private anymore.

Here it is in a nutshell:

The American government is in fact collecting and storing virtually every phone call, purchases, email, text message, internet searches, social media communications, health information, employment history, travel and student records, and virtually all other information of every American.

Many Americans wrongly believe that the government is only spying on the “bad guys.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The government is collecting loads of data on all of us, regardless of whether we are suspected of crimes or not. (And of course, the data is all collected in violation of the laws that are supposed to protect us from unreasonable search and seizure and other such acts by the government.) This data is not just collected, it is retained (for all eternity, I’m afraid), and who knows when and how it could be used against any of us.

Extortionate Investigative Blogger Crystal Cox: Summary By a Federal Judge

crystal cox extortion

Crystal Cox Might Be an Extortionist

Crystal L. Cox has a perfect record so far in her litigation against a large group people she claims are involved in a vast conspiracy… Every single case gets thrown out of federal court. The latest federal lawsuit by Crystal Cox to get dismissed is in the District of Massachusetts.

Almost as important as the dismissal itself is a 15 page opinion by Chief Judge Patti B. Saris. (Of the 10 district judges in Boston who could have handled this case, the chief herself saw fit to handle this idiocy!) The opinion is important because it summarizes the Crystal Cox saga so well. Cox is not well, so much explanation is necessary to for anyone to understand how Cox went from making up baseless allegations of tax fraud and money laundering by Obsidian Finance and Kevin Padrick, all the way to suing about 65 largely unrelated parties for largely unrelated matters, which Cox alleges are all “connected” to conspiracies steal technology and ruin her life.

You can read the entire opinion here, but I am cutting and pasting liberally from the order to give readers a fairly complete picture of the shenanigans of Crystal L. Cox. (Bold added to selected text by me.)

Cox v. The Internet: Frivolous Crystal Cox Cases Dismissed Again and Again and Again

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Crystal Cox’s incomprehensible lawsuits filed in multiple federal district courts against largely the same large group of defendants.  The cases dismissed were in the Eastern District of Wisconsin (read that article for the back story on this lunacy) and District of Arizona.

Last week Crystal L. Cox was thrown out of court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The order stated that Cox could amend her complaint within 30 days, but:

…plaintiff shall not attempt to litigate claims that she has raised in other cases that she filed in Federal Court. She shall limit her claims to those in which this Court has venue pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b), and she shall state as clearly and briefly as possible: (1) the basis for Federal Court jurisdiction, and (2) how each of the defendants, named in the caption of her complaint, is involved in her claims.

How Does Multi-Level Marketing Affect People?

pyramid-selling-scamJon Taylor, PhD has written a thorough and excellent book about multi-level marekting: The Case (For and) Against Multi-Level Marketing: The Complete Guide to Understanding the Flaws – and Proving and Countering the Effects – of Endless Chain “Opportunity” Recruitment, or Product-Based Pyramid Schemes.

If you’re not familiar with MLM, you can see some interesting statistics here. Basically, the odds of a distributor losing money in multi-level marketing are greater than 99%.  Despite the fact that participants are almost guaranteed to lose money in MLM, these scams are marketed as business opportunities with the potential for unlimited earnings.

Bankruptcy and Escalades

For some time now, we have been following the Jennifer McKinney bankruptcy trainwreck, in which Jennifer and her husband Israel McKinney were alleged to have falsified information and concealed assets. (In the world of forensic accounting, we call that fraud.) For those new to the site, you can read about the origins of the MckMama fraud, complete with solid proof of the lies.

Today a concerned citizen posted some information about the Cadillac Escalade Jennifer McKinney is now driving. Following a very suspicious car accident in October, MckMama began driving a 2005 Escalade. The citizen retrieved a CarFax report on the Escalade, which showed the vehicle being purchased in January 2012 and registered in Onalaska, WI. The report then showed the vehicle being sold in November 2012, which corresponds to Jennifer’s purchase of it.

Photography is Not a Crime

Carlos Miller has been a First Amendment Champion for years. He has been unlawfully arrested multiple times for filming and photographing police activity and other happenings in public areas. Marc Randazza alerts us to the latest injustice involving Carlos Miller.

On Sunday night, Carlos Miller was lawfully filming at the Miami-Dade Metrorail, when 50 States security personnel attacked and choked him. The five minute video on Miller’s site, Photography is Not a Crime, shows that he and a friend were minding their own business and shooting some harmless video when they were confronted by security guards.

Right to Free Speech Wins Again

Popehat points us to a nice victory by SOCNET in a lawsuit filed by John Giduck, the man who claims he was defamed when a SOCNET user stated that he was fraudulently posing as a Special Forces veteran.

The court granted SOCNET’s motion to dismiss (even with no anti-SLAPP statute in Colorado), saying:

It is this tension that has generated numerous cases addressing the first element of a defamation action, i.e. is the statement defamatory. Not every untrue, uncomplimentary or offensive statement concerning an individual is defamatory.

Marc Randazza Versus “The Takedown Lawyer”

Marc Randazza is exposing a scam being run on a site called “Is Anybody Down”. Ken White at Popehat has gotten in on the fun too.  The concept behind Anybody Down site is that angry exes submit nude pictures to the site (without the permission of the people in the pictures) and they are posted publicly to shame the subjects.

That’s bad enough, but the scam appears to go further. There is a site that appears to be related, called “The Takedown Lawyer.” For the low, low price of $250, an alleged attorney named David Blade III (supposedly a public defender in New York) can guarantee that your picture is removed from the Anybody Down site. (Note that since being exposed, the owner of the Takedown Lawyer site is now calling it “Takedown Hammer” and making no references to being an attorney.)

Defamation and Statements of Opinion

A couple of months ago, a ruling on an anti-SLAPP motion in a defamation case against Gawker Media (owner of website Gizmodo) got my attention. Scott Redmond, with his service called Peep Telephony (or Peep Wireless), was upset because Gizmodo posted a negative review of the service. More specifically, Gizmodo called the service a scam, saying that it offers “free” cellular service for phone calls, texts, and data access. A look at Peep’s website produced this criticism:

To be frank, this all sounds like bullshit. In fact, the combination of everything described was so strange, it almost made the company seem like a larger-than-life prank on the tech world. The closest thing to a technical explanation for Peep is this:

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