Notes From the Fieldby Martin Weil

Posts Tagged ‘Fraud’

March 18, 2015

If the IRS Calls … Hang Up!

I first heard about this scam from my CPA colleague Peter Montgomery who made an amusing tale out of call he received from a woman claiming to be an IRS agent. According to the linked article, this is a very sophisticated operation and thousands of individuals have been duped.

“The IRS doesn’t call people up out of the blue,” says the article and the IRS.

Timothy Camus, a Treasury deputy inspector general for tax administration, explained to the AP, “If someone calls unexpectedly claiming to be from the IRS with aggressive threats if you do not pay immediately, it is a scam artist calling.”

If you do get a call that you suspect to be a scam, hang up the phone right away, and then report the incident at the taxpayer administration hotline (800-366-4484).

August 21, 2014

Mob Guy Doesn’t Trust Wall Street

I did a lot of things at times with people on Wall Street. A lot of guys are shady, and they did shady things with me, and I don’t trust them.

Self-described former boss of the Colombo crime family, Michael Franzese, who spent 10 years in prison after he was convicted on federal racketeering charges, on CNBC

August 5, 2014

New Research on Aging and Financial Decision Making

… as people age, they become more focused on maximizing positive emotions and social interactions—and more determined to block out negative experiences. This process, which experts call socioemotional selectivity, leads older people—including the affluent—to pay more attention to those who make them feel content and comfortable. At the same time, they are more likely to neglect warning signs that might have been obvious at a younger age.

From the always thoughtful Jason Zweig in the WSJ on new research into older adults and finances.

June 13, 2013

America’s Worst Charities

The Tampa Bay Times, in conjunction with the Center for Investigative Reporting, has published a Pulitzer-Prize worthy expose of some of the worst charities in the US.  As one who used to work in this field, I find it outrageous that there are organizations with meritorious-sounding names intentionally taking advantage of the public’s goodwill solely for their own personal profit. Furthermore by adopting names that are easy to confuse with more established charities and causes, these practices sow confusion and mistrust amongst donors and hurt contributions to legitimate agencies.

The 50 worst charities in America devote less than 4 percent of donations raised to direct cash aid. Some charities give even less. Over a decade, one diabetes charity raised nearly $14 million and gave about $10,000 to patients. Six spent nothing at all on direct cash aid. …

The 50 worst have raised more than $1 billion in the past 10 years, but only a fraction went to anyone other than the charities’ operators and professional solicitors.

If you are unsure about a charity, I recommend checking them out at Charity WatchGuidestar, or GiveWell among others. A standard metric for measuring the “goodness” of a charity has traditionally been what percentage they spend on direct service (as opposed to overhead and fundraising) and this is one of the major criteria used by these rating agencies.  As I pointed out before in this space, (AIDS Ride founder) Dan Pallotta has a very different view on overhead costs (though not one that would exonerate the criminal behavior at the charities in the TB article), and he presents this in a thought-provoking TED Talk.

Thanks to The Big Picture for the Tampa Bay Times article pointer.

July 25, 2011

The mind of a financial criminal

The 1980’s financial fraud of “Crazy” Eddie Antar is exposed on this episode of NPR’s Planet Money by Sam Antar, a cautionary tale that foreshadows Enron and Bernie Madoff.


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