One Minute Primer on Ponzi Schemes

In this one minute video, Tracy explains how Ponzi schemes work. They are also called pyramid schemes because the constant recruitment of new “investors” creates the shape of a pyramid, with many new investors required at the bottom of the pyramid to pay “returns” to the earlier investors. The hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme include: … Read more One Minute Primer on Ponzi Schemes

Primerica Reviews on Glassdoor

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:

SCAM

Pros

None absolutely none period run fast run far

Cons

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

Read morePrimerica Reviews on Glassdoor

Calculating Income in Divorce Cases

There are four widely recognized methods of calculating income in family law cases. These four methods have been developed for use by the Internal Revenue Service in calculating unreported income in tax cases, and are the primary ways a lifestyle analysis can be completed.

Specific Items Method
One of the most straightforward ways to complete a lifestyle analysis is through an analysis of specific items of income. This method is possible when there are substantial documents detailing cash inflows, and is considered a “direct method” of verifying income.

Income-related information is gathered from bank and brokerage statements, tax-related documents, and business records. Inflows are identified and summed, theoretically verifying the income disclosed in the family law case. This method is easy to understand and present, which makes it an attractive option for evaluating claimed income. The court will easily be able to understand how income was calculated.

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Using Tax Return Information in Divorce Cases

Income tax returns and supporting information such as W-2s and pay stubs are the most common and basic documents which evidence income in family law cases. This article discusses the sources of income that are disclosed on a personal income tax return (Form 1040), and some ways the items can be evaluated to search for hidden income and hidden assets.

  • Wages – The figures reported on the income tax return should be matched to the W-2. The W-2 and the pay stubs will provide additional information on the employers, pay rates, total pay, certain benefits, and taxes withheld. Additional analysis may include tracing bank deposits to ensure that all wages were used for the benefit of the family.
  • Taxable Interest and Tax Exempt Interest – These items of income must be considered when calculating income available for support. They are also important because they can point to bank, investment, and brokerage accounts that may not have been specifically disclosed in the family law case.

    Read moreUsing Tax Return Information in Divorce Cases

Selecting a Financial Expert Witness

In commercial litigation, many cases require some kind of expert. Whether it is a financial expert, an engineering expert, a fraud expert, a valuation expert, or some other type of expert witness, the process of selecting one cannot be taking lightly. The effectiveness of your expert witness could win or lose a case for you, so it is important to carefully consider what makes a good expert witness.

Qualifications and Credentials
One of the first steps in evaluating your expert is looking at the education and credentials of the person. The potential expert needs substance in this area to have a reasonable chance of standing up to any challenges by opposing counsel.

In addition to college degrees, you should look at the licenses and professional certificates held by the expert witness. What are the most important certificates in this person’s field? Does this person have them? Are the certificates held by the expert actually worthwhile?

Read moreSelecting a Financial Expert Witness

Using Expenditures to Calculate Income in Divorce

It is sometimes difficult to determine the income of individuals who will be paying child support or spousal support. This can often be the case when dealing with self-employed individuals.

If the reports of income made by the spouse or parent don’t seem to make sense, it may be necessary to look at his or her lifestyle to determine income. In this situation, we look at the expenditures made by the person and calculate the level of income necessary to fund those expenditures.

Tracy Coenen explains the process in this video.

Read moreUsing Expenditures to Calculate Income in Divorce

Updates to MLM Income Disclosure Statements

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 … Read more Updates to MLM Income Disclosure Statements

Forensic Accounting Software

The financial part of a complex case can become overwhelming quickly. Particularly in cases involving white collar crime, securities fraud, Ponzi schemes, or other fraud recoveries, the trail of financial documentation is often very long. A forensic accountant needs to examine tens of thousands of transactions and piece together the evidence in a way that attorneys, judges, and juries can understand.

When there are mountains of data, the investigator needs a way to quickly examine the data, assemble it in a format that is usable, find connections between transactions, and quantify results. Traditional forensic accounting techniques are no longer effective in these types of investigations. The volume of data can quickly overwhelm the investigator, and this affects the quality of the results.

Size Matters
Previously, the forensic accountant would use a technique called “scoping” or “sampling” when  the volume of financial documentation exceeded the bandwidth of the staff. For example, he might decide that all transactions under $1,000 are too small and insignificant to the investigation, and will only examine transactions larger than this threshold. Alternatively, the investigator might examine only transactions of a certain type or involving certain parties.

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