Arbitration Scam on Consumers

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Back in the day, arbitration was a reasonable alternative to court rooms. Consumers could seek justice when they were wronged, but in a forum that was quicker and cheaper than going to court. Unfortunately, arbitration has become nothing but a scam on consumers. Companies force consumers into arbitration via their contracts, mainly because the process favors the companies so heavily.

Namely, the arbitration clauses prohibit consumers from banding together to file class action lawsuits. Class action suits have a tarnished image, but are often the only option when there are thousands of consumers who have been harmed by products and services, but the monetary harm to each is relatively small. It is financially impossible for each consumer to pursue a relatively small case, so banding together in class action lawsuits creates economics that make sense. Continue reading

What is an Accounting Review?

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An independent financial statement audit done by external auditors is the most extensive attest service provided by auditors, and it is still limited. A review of financial statements by an independent auditor is even more limited in scope.

Reviews amount to auditors looking at account balances and determining whether or not the balances look reasonable. They will perform some analytical procedures on the financial statements to further analyze the numbers. On occasion, they may ask to see some details about accounts and their balances, but this happens on a very limited basis. Continue reading

Multi-Level Marketing is not a Business (It’s a Pyramid Scheme)

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direct-selling-pyramid-schemeOver the weekend, cracked.com posted an insightful article about the realities of multi-level marketing. Simply put, MLM is the same thing as pyramid scheme. It’s not a business. Almost everyone loses money. The behaviors are cult-like. And you will NOT be successful with MLM, so don’t bother trying to recruit your friends and family.

Author Kathy Benjamin calls pyramid schemes the world’s fastest growing industry, and she is right. You see the evidence all over Facebook. Several of you friends are inviting you to their party, or they’re posting staged before and after pictures and leaving cryptic messages that say “ask me how!” They often will not mention the name of the product they’re pushing, because they know they’ll lose you as a potential victim if you Google the product before they can fill your head with lies about how good the product is. Continue reading

Finding a Thief: Personal Red Flags of Fraud

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As victims of occupational fraud reflect on crimes committed against their companies, they wonder if there were any signs that a fraud was occurring. They wonder how a trusted employee could steal from the company. Sadly, frauds are committed by people in positions of trust. What is it about those people that leads them to commit fraud?

Corporate thieves have many things in common with one another. There are many tell-tale characteristics about people and their lifestyles that signal the potential for fraud. These range from personal financial circumstances to attitudes on the job. A few of these traits alone do not indicate the potential for fraud, but the probability rises as we identify more of the characteristics.  Continue reading

Essential Oils Scam: NOT a Medical Treatment

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Social media has been exploding over the last year with claims that essential oils have cured all sorts of diseases and illnesses. Obviously, this is a total scam. Even worse, essential oils are being pushed through multi-level marketing (also a scam) with companies such as doTERRA and Young Living.

What is the real story about essential oils and multi-level marketing? As our friend Lazy Man has said: No, Your MLM Health Product Doesn’t “Work.” (This most definitely includes Medifast, Herbalife, Xyngular, Isagenix, Usana, and any other MLM with a “health product.”)  Continue reading

Divorce Financials: The Lifestyle Analysis and the Search for Hidden Income or Assets

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Tracy explains the purpose of a lifestyle analysis in a divorce case, and the process used to analyze the family’s finances. The lifestyle analysis may be used to determine how much money is required to continue living the lifestyle the parties had while married. It may also be used to find hidden income or hidden assets, and Tracy discusses how she may uncover these items.

Family Lies: Fraud in Family Business

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Trust is inherent in any good business. We continuously place trust in our employees and in those with whom we do business. But that trust which is so necessary to the operation of a business is also the impetus for thieves to profit.

It is unfortunate that fraud occurs when and where you least expect it. Blood may be thicker than water, but that doesn’t protect a company from theft by family members. In fact, it may be just that trust between family members that is exploited by a dishonest sibling, uncle or cousin.

Some fraud experts suspect that fraud occurs more often in family businesses than other businesses, and that the increased fraud risk is due to the trust factor. Family members put more trust in one another and therefore grant one another more access and opportunities for fraud. The controls in family businesses may be lax, particularly as they relate to the oversight of management’s activities. Continue reading

Making the Most of an Expert Witness

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gavel-moneyMore than ever, competent and dynamic expert witnesses are critical to winning legal cases. Even if a case doesn’t go to trial, a credible expert can be the key to settling the case for your client.

I believe that an expert witness has the opportunity to make or break a case. We all know that there are few chances to fix a bad opinion when you go to court. There is one chance to express the correct opinion and support it fully. A faulty opinion, or one with little reliable support, can doom a case.

Some attorneys have their preferred experts, while others get referrals from colleagues. Each attorney works with an expert witness in the way that she or he is comfortable. However, it never hurts to hear about it from the other side. This is my perspective on best utilizing your expert witness to her or his full value. Continue reading

Ridiculing Roca Labs

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loca-rocaIf Roca Labs (seller of weight loss goop it claims is just like gastric bypass surgery) hasn’t brought enough shame to itself (remember the fake endorsement, the other fake endorsement, the child porn doctor who tells us the products are wonderful, the bogus DMCA takedown notices, its suit against a witness against Roca, threats to sue just about anyone who wrote about the company’s tactics, and on and on….), today additional shame has been brought its way thanks to Marc Randazza.

Roca Labs sued Randazza, counsel for PissedConsumer.com and Opinion Corp. There are currently multiple suits pending between Roca Labs and Opinion Corp, basically all because Roca Labs doesn’t want Opinion Corp to provide a forum for unhappy customers to tell the public about Roca’s horrible product. Continue reading

The Fight Against Fraud: Arm Yourself With Prevention

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Fraud is big business. Companies are at the greatest risk of fraud from their employees, since the employees have easy access to information and assets. Some experts estimate that companies lose 5% of their revenues to internal fraud. At a company with annual sales of $100 million, that means that $5 million is walking out the door each year.

Executives tell themselves that their company isn’t the norm. They do better than average. They certainly haven’t been a victim of internal fraud to the tune of 5% of revenues. The sad truth is that they don’t know exactly how much has been stolen from their companies because they aren’t aware of all the fraudulent activities committed. Five percent is an average level of fraud for a company, and it would be wise for executives to take this number seriously. Continue reading