Saturday, December 17, 2005

Strange Tales of Financial Wrongs

Doctors, Lawyers and other high income types getting paid for questionable items from FEMA, identities stolen from dead people and individuals being tricked into becoming "mules?" Here are some bizarre and odd stories being reported in the world of Fraud, Phishing and Financial Misdeeds.

The Sun Sentinel (South Florida) reports that "a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency of the United States) program to reimburse applicants for generators and storm cleanup items has benefited middle- and upper-income Floridians the most and so far cost taxpayers more than $332 million for the past two hurricane seasons."

Here is a rather sad item reported in the story, which illustrates the insanity of this. "A Fort Lauderdale teen with serious medical problems had to insert catheters by candlelight when the Oct. 24 storm knocked out power. His family couldn't afford a generator."

The moral of this story is that if you are privileged and can afford to buy the "extras", the government will reimburse you for it. On the other hand, if you are poor and can't afford these "extras" you are out of luck. Although, not technically fraud if sanctioned by the government, it should be.

No wonder we have a deficit and even with the deficit, we as a society aren't helping those, who are the most deserving.

Here is the story, FEMA reimbursements mainly benefit higher income groups.

Helen Huntley of the Saint Petersburg Times reported that, "Florida's Attorney General Charlie Crist gathered law enforcement and government officials, retailers and bankers in Tampa to home in on the problem.

"I'm glad they're on the case, but that doesn't mean we can relax. It's still smart for all of us to do what we can to make sure our personal information doesn't end up in the wrong hands. Among other things, we need to be careful when we're using credit cards, which account for about a third of all Floridians' identity fraud complaints, or entering any personal information

But you may not have thought about protecting the dead, who can be easy targets because it may take weeks or months for financial institutions to find out about a death. Younger people's deaths may never be reported to credit bureaus or Social Security. Family members end up trying to straighten out the mess."

Stealing the identities of the dead is nothing new, but with Florida's large population of senior citizens, it apparently has become a major issue for them. Victimizing the dead and spouses of the "recently departed" is rather "ghoulish" and a good example of the complete lack of morals that the criminals involved in this activity have.

The Florida Attorney General's Office has a Web site ( theft) with helpful information.

For the full article with prevention tips, please read Death is no defense against ID theft.

Here is another interesting recent story being reported in New Zealand by Rob Stock.

"Don't be an ass - watch out for the mule scam.

That's the warning from police and banks as overseas internet criminals come up with new variations on their scheme.

Mule scams are a money laundering scheme in which scamsters who have stolen money from one New Zealander inveigle another into transferring it out of the country."

These scams are covered extensively by the World Privacy Forum, who also provides a lot of great information meant to inspire awareness.

Here is a recent post, I did on a similar subject, Secret Shoppers Scammed.

For the story by Rob Stock, go to: Tricky ways to lure mules.

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