Bank of America now has a credit card for illegal immigrants

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A story in the Wall Street Journal details the new credit card quietly being offered by Bank of America. This new credit card is being offered to customers without Social Security numbers, and common sense tells us that this means illegal immigrants.

Banks already have been offering checking accounts and mortgages to “undocumented immigrants” (illegals). However, this is the first time a credit card is available to that same market.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

The new Bank of America program is open to people who lack both a Social Security number and a credit history, as long as they have held a checking account with the bank for three months without an overdraft. Most adults in the U.S. who don’t have a Social Security number are undocumented immigrants.

The program was tested by Bank of AMerica last year at 5 bank branches in Los Angeles, and is now expanded to 51 branches in the area. It is no coincidence that Los Angeles County has the largest concentration of illegal immigrants in the United States.

The credit card in this new program has a high interest rate and an up-front fee. A $500 credit limit would require $99 up front, which would be refunded after 3 to 6 months if the user of the card has stayed within teh limit and made payments on time.

Bank of America has responded to criticism of the program by saying that they are meeting the needs of an untapped group of potential customers. According to the Wall Street Journal:

“These people are coming here for quality of life, and they deserve somebody to give them a chance to achieve that quality of life,” says Brian Tuite, the bank’s director of Latin America card operations and one of the architects of the program.

But the truth is that Bank of America is selling to a group of people who are violating U.S. law, plain and simple.

Sending money via mobile phone

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Another miracle of modern technology, aimed at making life easier for us, may likely be the new target of fraudsters.

The new service was unveiled yesterday in Barcelona. Mobile phone users can now send money with the push of a few buttons. This is a win-win, as phone users can quickly transfer money, and banks are reducing their per-transaction costs.

With this new system, a mobile phone user “loads cash” onto the phone, and orders it to be sent to another mobile phone. The recipient receives a text message that money has arrived. Now this may sound odd, but remember several years ago when the idea of “emailing money” via PayPal sounded strange? Now PayPal is an extremely popular service that is widely-used by millions.

This new service will be particularly beneficial to people who wish to send money internationally.

I wonder what the first fraud scam involving this service will be???

On accountants working long hours

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Chris Silvey has a thought-provoking post about the long hours demanded of accounting and auditing professionals in the United States. The job adds up to long hours and work that can be mundane. This leads to the annual exodus from auditing firms in August – after a nice, slow summer and prior to the crazy “audit busy season.” (Yes, I’ve been there and done that. And not so coincidentally, I made my decision to leave in August!)

How stupid does Governor Jim Doyle think we are?

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It’s all a blur to me, but isn’t this the same goof who said lied that he’d hold the line on taxes when he was campaigning for re-election?

Diamond Jim is proposing that there be a new tax on oil companies, one that the companies would be prohibited from passing on to consumers. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jimmy-Boy says:

It seems to me that these companies that have had such a big killing – and this is money that has come directly out of the pockets of the people of Wisconsin and the people of the United States – they ought to be doing their share to help with the infrastructure needs.

He’s proposing that the new tax be 2.5% per barrel of oil sold in Wisconsin. That would currently be about $1.50 per barrel. Jimmy plans on using the new tax money for highways and other transportation projects. The total collections are estimated at $114.8 million in the first year and $157.3 million in the second year.

And if any oil companies try to make consumers pay the tax, the executives could end up in jail for up to six months. The Wisconsin Department of Revenue would audit oil companies to make sure they’re not violating the proposed law.

Does anyone else think that this is just plain stupid?

Oh, and this is in addition to raising driver’s license fees. I know. It’s a “fee” so it’s not really a tax, right? *wink*

Surprising bust in Milwaukee’s online prostitution sting

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Milwaukee police recently started busting people involved in prostitution by cruising Craig’s List. One of the local television stations did a ride-along, and was surprised at one of the women arrested that night.

Annie Schrader is an ex-con who claimed to be reformed. Schrader had done prison time on felony charges of keeping a house of prostitution and maintining a drug-trafficking place, in addition to two misdemeanors related to drug posession.

For the last three years, she ran a non-profit organization called StretcherBearers Ministries that helped female convicts. The orgnaization had a controact with Milwaukee County to provide services through a federally funded program called Wiser Choice.

The YouTube guys are beyond rich!

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The founders of YouTube, the video sharing website purchased by Google, have had a very serious payday. Yesterday Google filed a registration statement with the SEC, disclosing that founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley each received well over $300 million of Google stock. The third co-founder of YouTube, Jawed Karim go about $65 million of Google stock.

At the time of the acquisition, YouTube had been in existence for 19 months and had 67 employees. Its value apparently came from the fact that consumers were viewing videos thorugh the service over 100 million times a day.

Hedge Fund Manager Indicted in $88 Million Fraud Scheme

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Federal charges were filed against former hedge fund manager John Wittier of Hailey, Idaho, for a securities fraud scheme that created losses of $88 million. He has been charged with one count of securities fraud, one count of failing to make an SEC filing disclosing the beneficial interest of 5% or more in a publicly traded security, and two counts of failing to make anSEC filing disclosing the beneficial interest of 10% or more in a publicly traded security.

Whittier was the founder, operator, and manager of Wood River Partners, L.P. and Wood River Partners Offshore, Ltd. He also owned and controlled Wood River Capital Management, LLC, the investment advisor for the hedge funds.

It is alleged that he falsely represented to investors that he would pursue a broad investment strategy with no investment constituting more than 10% of the hedge funds’ holdings. Whittier then failed to make required public filings that would have disclosed his concentrated holdings in Endwave Corporation. Wood River Partners and Wood River Partners Offshore held about 80% of the common stock of Endwave. Disclosure is required when ownership exceeds 10%.

Whittier invested about 85% of his investors’ $127 million portfolio in Endwave stock. Clearly, this was not the diversification he promised to investors. A significant drop in Endwave’s stock price caused the value of Wood River’s hedge fund portfolio to drop, triggering margin calls which Whittier was unable to fulfill. Brokers liquidated the hedge funds’ positions, and by October 2005, Whittier and the hedge funds were out of business. Total losses to investors equal about $88 million.

Coca-Cola ex-secretary found guilty in trade secrets case

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Joya Williams, the Coca-Cola secretary who was accused of steading trade secrets from Coca-Cola and plotting to sell them to Pepsi, has been found guilty of conspiracy. The jury deliberated for 11 1/2 hours before reaching a verdict.

Williams was the secretary to Coca-Cola’s global brand director until the allegations of trade secret theft. It was alleged that she stole samples of not-yet-released products, and gave them to Ibrahim Dimson and Edmund Duhaney to sell to Pepsi. They were hoping to get $1.5 million for the samples.

Duhaney testified that Williams came up with the scheme. The prosecutors said Williams’s motivation was deep debt, unhappiness in her job, and a desire for a big payday.

The defense said that Dimson and Duhaney actually stole the samples and related documents from Williams’s home without her knowledge, and came up with the scheme to sell the items to Pepsi on their own. Williams testified that she left a key under her doormat for one of the defendants, and that is probably how they got in the house.

She says that she had the samples and documents at home to protect herself in case her boss questioned whether or not she was doing her job. Williams also claimed that $4,000 cash she deposited into her bank account days after Dimson received $30,000 cash from an undercover FBI agent, was actaully a loan from a friend. The friend testified that the most he ever loaned her was $400, and that was after she was arressted in this case.
Williams faces up to 10 years in prison. Dimson and Duhaney have both pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

More on resume fraud

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Yesterday I mentioned that the research staff at the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) published some interesting facts about r?sum? fraud. The staff points out some ways to detect and prevent this type of fraud:

Records of education rather than degrees:

  • Applicant emphasizes everything about her or his education, except the actual degree that was awarded. Typically, the actual degree is omitted from the r?sum?, like this: Boston University, School of Communication, 2002-2005
  • Ask the applicant about the education, specifically the degree. Consider having the applicant sign a release of transcript form so the employer can get the transcripts directly from the college.

Gaps in employment:

  • Look for gaps in employment, especially when an applicant prints only years or seasons (rather than actual dates), which may be an attempt to cover up that gap.
  • Inquire about the gaps to determine if they are due to a legitimate reason like the birth of a child, or some other problem like incarceration.

Frequent job change:

  • Look closely at “job-jumpers,” who might be problem employees.

Vague description or exaggeration of job duties:

  • Applicants often exaggerate their prior job duties in an attempt to look like a highly qualified candidate
  • A vague description of job experience might indicate she or he actually has little experience in that area
  • Ask the applicant to talk about work situations and experiences related to that area, to help determine if she or he has legitimate experience.

Weak references:

  • The most reliable references are former employers
  • References should be researched a little to verify that they are legitimate

In closing, the ACFE research staff recommends background checks as permissible by law.

Resume fraud?

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The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) recently published an interesting piece on r?sum? [tag]fraud[/tag]. I have always been amazed how often in my [tag]fraud examination[/tag] practice I’ve found that perpetrators of fraud also lied on their r?sum?s. I’m not so amazed that they lied, rather that the employer didn’t verify the r?sum? before hiring the person.

Believe it or not, it is quite easy to purchase a fake degree and a fake set of transcripts. The ACFE research staff cites a price of $295 to purchase a Juris Doctorate from Yale!

Research suggests that 40% of r?sum?s contain lies, and only a small number of these will be detected prior to hiring. With the increase in degree mills, this number could easily grow.

ACFE cites a few newsworthy incidents of r?sum? fraud:

  • In 2001, Notre Dame.s head football coach, George O.Leary, was fired following evidence that he lied on his r?sum? about having a master.s degree from New York University, and having played football for the University of New Hampshire.
  • In 2001, the Boston Globe revealed that Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Joseph Ellis, had exaggerated his involvement in the Vietnam War. He was suspended from his teaching position at Mount Holyoke for the following year.
  • In 2002, Veritas Software announced that its executive vice president and CFO, Kenneth Lonchar, left the company following evidence that he did not have an MBA from Stanford University, contrary to what his r?sum? stated.
  • In 2002, Charles Harris, the athletic director at Dartmouth University, suddenly resigned after it was found that he did not have a master.s degree from the University of Michigan, contrary to what his r?sum? stated.
  • In 2002, the president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Sandra Baldwin, admitted to lying about having a PhD in American literature from Arizona State University.

Tomorrow I’ll discuss some tips ACFE gives for detecting and preventing r?sum? fraud.