Every day someone on a news channel will talk about how “things have bottomed out” and “we are starting to come out of the recession / depression” with regards to our economy. I don’t know what the Government sees but I do know that everyone I speak to is bleeding from their pores! When fear comes in, common sense goes out the window. I myself live in a county that continues to suffer housing devaluation. This causes people to put their homes on the market for greatly reduced prices. Between that and foreclosures creating a housing glut, two things happen. First, people sacrifice everything to get out of the downward spiral. Then, the county passes an edict without a residential vote that covers schools staying open and an active police force. Hence, our property tax could increase by as much as 10%! Mind you, that is not based on the the reduced market value but on the inflated county assessed value. In business, the panic sets in because of the scarcity of profitable business from new and / or existing customers and this is when you start to do less than intelligent things to survive. You will get deluged by your sales force with less than qualified sales as they are just as desperate as you are. Your credit people will relax their standards too because they are being pushed by an equally stressed sale manager. By making these poorly qualified sales, your product and profit will be flushed down the toilet! The only way to win is to work smart before you work hard.
This article is from the Juyl 1, 2010 issue of the Florida Bar News. Mark Killian is the Managing Editor.
Attorneys are still falling for Internet scams
By Mark D. Killian
If you receive an unsolicited e-mail from someone in England or China or just about any foreign nation asking you to do collections work or facilitate the transfer of funds in a divorce or any other offer of good fees for what on the surface appears to be easy work, in all likelihood it’s a SCAM! That can’t be emphasized enough. Judith Equels, director of The Florida Bar’s The Florida Bar’s Law Office Management Assistance Service, said she recently received a call from someone at a bank in Inverness saying a lawyer was scammed. “The lawyer deposited a $691,000 cashier’s check sent from a Japanese company,” Equels said the banker told her. “Two days later, the lawyer wired out several hundred thousand. Shortly thereafter, the bank was notified that the cashier’s check was fraudulent.” Equels said the bank intends to collect from the attorney and wanted to know if they had to report the lawyer to the Bar. “I told them, ‘Yes,’” said Equels, noting the banker would not re-veal his name or the name of the lawyer. Clem Johnson, an auditor for the Bar’s lawyer regulation office in Tampa, said he’s no longer surprised when he hears of lawyers getting duped by fraudsters who troll the Internet for victims by sending out mass e-mails promising big paydays. “Believe it or not, there are attorneys in the state who are gullible enough to still fall for these things,” said Johnson, noting he has dealt recently with three attorneys who have been victimized by Internet thieves. In one instance, Johnson said the lawyer received a couple of checks from scam artists posing as a South African company that sells heavy equipment in the United States. The “South Africans” told the lawyer they needed his services to channel the funds to the company and that the lawyer could keep 10 percent of any transactions. Johnson said the lawyer did what the supposed client requested and sent $400,000 to the Bank of Yokohama in Japan. “Fortunately for him, the South Africans — or whoever they were — got things a little bit screwed up at the Bank of Yokohama and when the money came in, Yokohama said, ‘Huh? We don’t know anything about South Africans’ and they sent [the money] back to the Florida attorney,” Johnson said. Had the Bank of Yokohama not returned the funds, the lawyer would have been on the hook for the cash, he said. Lili Quintiliani, an assistant Bar ethics counsel, said another twist involves a scam real estate closing for an out-of-country buyer. “What is different about this is that a Realtor is scammed first then refers the sale to an attorney,” said Quintiliani. In this case, the scammers used the name of a real London physician, Dr. Peter Butler, a fictitious company, “Global Financial Management” and a supposed employee of the company, “Karen James.” If the scam goes far enough, the lawyer will receive a counterfeit bank or cashier’s check. There are ways for lawyers to protect themselves. Quintiliani said the first way is not to respond to unsolicited e-mails or do a Google search on the name of the e-mail sender, or key phrases from the e-mail, since scammers usually send out thousands of e-mails using the same assumed name. Quintiliani said there are now Internet sites set up to track such scams aimed at lawyers, and the search will likely link up to such a site if the scam e-mail is listed there. She noted one fraud scheme appropriated the name of a well-known Japanese sumo wrestler (without his knowledge). Lawyers, if they have the know-how, can also search the origin of the e-mail’s I.P. (Internet protocol) address. Some e-mails supposedly sent from Japan or China actually originated in Nigeria or other countries, Quintiliani said. Another is to check sites that are now dedicated to tracking those scams or providing some examples of scam.
If you don’t believe in evolution, global warming, the Holocaust or Rwanda, then why would you believe that a deep water volcano erupting oil instead of lava could do us any long term damage? With the exception of a few fishermen and an increase in the price of seafood, the only problem is some minor oil globs that make it to shore and can probably be removed by a number of hyperactive Boy Scout troops! You should also know that I have purchased stock in Dawn Dishwashing Detergent on a litmus type toxicity paper that will measure just how poisonous your seafood is.
I don’t know how much money we should get from BP for dumping more oil into the Gulf than an entire fleet of Valdez’s could have. What I do know is that almost every country pays more for a gallon of gas than the United States. I also know that being addicted to oil is no different than being addicted to heroin! At first, it is free or cheap but eventually, it will cost you everything! What are we going to do about all the oil rigs? What are we doing to really advance alternative energy sources? Do you still have incandescent light bulbs at your house? Do you really recycle? Do you buy recycled goods? Do you bring you own bags when you grocery shop? If you want us, as a people, to make demands on other nations, then we must become what we want to see in others.
After doing business with clients for over a decade, I still get the occasional whispered call. There is a slight tremor in their voice that gets worse as this frightening sentence comes out. Yes, I do have a problem account, but it is overseas! That last part comes out almost like they were admitting to their wife that they had an S.T.D. It is actually hard not to laugh! The reality is that medium to large balance accounts that are overseas are easier to collect. In reality it is more like virgin territory that is just waiting to give up all its bounty. In our case – dollars! All these debtors, that are more than three hours out of the continental US time lines, are just not prepared for calls to them with strong follow-up calls, and if needed, in the debtor’s native tongue! This tactic shakes a whole new set of branches! When the debtor comes to grips with the fact that by your point of origin you are calling them at 2:30 AM your time, and if required, paying an international operator to pass along your demands in the native tongue of the debtor. The debtor now understands just how serious our client is about the recovery of their funds because you are willing to cross the time lines to collect the debt. Stop writing those accounts off or pretending they do not exist. Blow the dust off those bad boys and let us turn your dust bunnies into dollars. Comprende?
The government is practicing genocide on this nation’s people, and those that try the hardest and last the longest, are forced to suffer the most. While those involved in the profiteering that brought us all to our knees still sit on their thrones, as they are not punished or even chastised. They are the disciples of the dollar, having been only interested in short term promise with no concern for long term dollars. They have farmed out the future of our innovations to child labor countries, so that pennies can be paid, instead of an honest days pay for an honest days work.
They have stood by while a housing value glut was created by the sales of inflated value home loans until the lightening bolt of reality sizzled the bubble. Who was it that bailed out the banks and auto industry? How is it that these barons of bankruptcy make money, no matter which way the market goes, yet our property tax goes up even though our housing values go down? If you have a small business and you want money from a bank, you had better pray, because even though your non-refundable dollars bailed them out, they are not giving you a dime.
Hey, what about the oil spill? It seems that everyone is pointing fingers at who is responsible but we all know the truth and again who is ultimately most damaged by the spread of oil in our invaluable oceans? You guessed it, all of us!
It always seems that we as a people are getting the short end of the stick even though we didn’t do anything wrong. We follow like sheep and we get sheared every year anyway by a government that practices politics by taking care of those who already have plenty and those of us who work for a living and are struggling just to make ends meet, are shoved to the side of the road like snow cleared by the big political snow plow.
Yeah, you are right, I am just a collector. I work hard for my clients and I work hard for a living but don’t confuse relentless with ignorance. We are all fighting for survival. I just enhance my client’s odds.