A marketing company known for its Snuggie infomercials settled state and federal claims that it stuck consumers with hidden charges that almost doubled the cost of the product, a blanket with sleeves…
The company lured consumers with attractive “buy one, get one free” offers but didn’t adequately disclose that additional fees and handling charges almost erased the promise of the “free” item, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. Through confusing ordering processes, consumers sometimes were sold additional items which they didn’t intend to buy, Schneiderman said…
Hawthorne, New York-based Allstar Marketing Group LLC, which also sells the Perfect Brownie Pan and Magic Mesh screen, agreed to pay $8 million to settle Federal Trade Commission and New York state probes, Schneiderman said. The company also agreed to change the ordering process and make it clearer…
There was no finding that the company broke any laws, Allstar said in a statement. The company said it will provide “multiple opportunities for customers to confirm their orders before placing them” and will “clarify ordering and return procedures…”
Marketers must clearly disclose all costs, including processing and handling fees, said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
IMHO, what these scumbags are guilty of is behavior pretty the norm for a lot of the crap I see being sold to folks as “exclusive” and “seen only on TV”. When you’re not being hustled by hidden charges, you often run the risk of outright lies and myths worthy of a SuperPAC campaign commercial.
Visitors to Carlsbad, New Mexico, in proper summer attire
The contractor that operates the federal government’s underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico received a $1.9 million bonus just five days after an underground truck fire closed the facility.
The Albuquerque Journal reported Sunday that the U.S. Department of Energy awarded Nuclear Waste Partnership the funds based on an “excellent” job performance in maintaining the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad.
Some observers say last February’s fire and the radiation leak that followed nine days later show the contractor failed at its job.
Initial probes by federal regulators into both incidents identified a host of management and safety shortcomings.
The Department of Energy says it is not considering revising or terminating its contract with Nuclear Waste Partnership.
The company has a contract to operate the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant through 2017.
Consistency is the leading mental illness in our government. Time in office, time on the job is considered praiseworthy and a sign of qualification by the Senators and Congress-critters that dole out taxpayer dollars like so many blue ribbons at a hog-calling contest. Quality of work is meaningless.
The Waste Isolation Pilot Project was run badly enough that the chief executive at the site was fired as a result of the equipment fire and, separately, the radiation leak.
There are nations with an honorable civil service, competent, dedicated bureaucrats. The United States just doesn’t happen to be one of them.
UPDATE: $54 milliion fine from the state of New Mexico for crap safety.
Thanks, Mike, again
A New York City minister who was the subject of an Associated Press investigation about misspent 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina charity funds has agreed to repay $1.2 million that he took from his congregation to buy an 18th-century farmhouse on seven acres in rural New Jersey.
The Rev. Carl Keyes and his wife, the Rev. Donna Keyes, who jointly led the Glad Tidings Tabernacle in Manhattan, signed a legal judgment Wednesday settling a probe by the New York attorney general into a series of questionable church financial transactions.
Those deals included an illegal loan the couple took from the church in 2008 to buy a house in Stockton, New Jersey, near the Delaware River, and $500,000 the church loaned to an anti-poverty charity controlled by Carl Keyes, called Aid for the World.
Some of that money, the attorney general’s office said, was used to buy the minister and his wife a BMW. According to the settlement, which was scheduled to be officially announced Thursday, other funds were used to finance family trips to California, West Virginia, Africa and Florida, where the couple’s sons went to college.
Glad Tidings former executive director, Mark Costantin, agreed to repay $482,000 he still owed Glad Tidings on $1.2 million in loans he’d taken from the church, some of which were used to pay off the mortgage on his house in Chester, New York…
Three former members of the Glad Tidings’ board agreed to pay $50,000 in penalties for neglecting their oversight duties.
The attorney general’s office began its investigation after the AP raised numerous questions about Carl Keyes and two charities he controlled, including one that had received $4.8 million in donations intended to help victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina…
Using a combination of internal documents and public records, the AP also chronicled how the church disposed of $31 million it made by selling off its historic Manhattan church in 2007. That report included detail on some of the loan transactions that were the subject of Wednesday’s settlement. After the AP began asking questions, Keyes filed eight years of tax returns for Urban Life Ministries and three years for Aid for the World.
Nice to see the Fourth Estate behaving with traditional backbone. In a craft so often dazzled and dumbed-down by reclassification as media and entertainment, commitment to ethics, functioning as a genuine watchdog is too rare.
I holler at AP folks frequently enough – mostly their editors – about politics. Always nice to witness dedication to traditional standards of journalism.
More than 1,200 people are under investigation for a US military recruitment fraud during the Iraq war, officials say.
Two generals and dozens of colonels are implicated in the alleged scheme, in which referral fees were illegally collected for recruiting soldiers.
The fraud is said to have already cost the US government at least $29m (£17.7m) and may top $100m in total…
The National Guard programme – established in 2005 and later expanded to the Army and Army Reserve – paid soldiers, civilians and retirees $2,000 to $7,500 to recruit friends and family…
According to investigators, numerous schemes were used to defraud under the programme, which saw the Army pay out more than $300m for 130,000 recruits during the Iraq war.
High school principals and guidance counsellors were said to have accepted money for recruiting students who they knew were already planning to join the US military.
Other recruiters illegally accepted bonuses after forcing subordinates to register as recruiting assistants, before substituting their own bank account information.
More than 700 recruiters and 200 military officers are under investigation, and several former recruiters and soldiers have been indicted on federal charges.
“Clearly, we’re talking about one of the largest criminal investigations in the history of the Army,” financial oversight subcommittee chair Senator Claire McCaskill told USA Today.
“This is discouraging and depressing,” she added. “[It] is just a mess from top to bottom.”
It is kind of silly to expect more honesty from our military than we ever got from Congress or the Bush White House. Lying for profit was an established part of daily business – whether we look at Dick Cheney and Halliburton Industries or National Guard officers and the “recruits” they sent to Iraq. Only the size of the fraud is different.
And we actually arrest generals.
Could you teach me to grow these here poppies back in Texas?
A U.S. military investigation found no wrongdoing in a decision to keep building a $25 million regional headquarters in Afghanistan that local commanders said they didn’t need or want.
The 64,000-square-foot command headquarters in Helmand province, approved as part of a surge of U.S. troops to Afghanistan in 2009, has a war room, a briefing theater and enough office space for 1,500 people.
The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, John Sopko, criticized the project in July, saying he was “deeply troubled that the military may have spent taxpayer funds on a construction project that should have been stopped.”
Army Major General James Richardson, a deputy commander of United States Forces-Afghanistan, found “no evidence” that proceeding with construction amounted to any “violation of law or regulation,” according to a memo obtained yesterday on his investigation of the project at the request of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Sopko had said the headquarters risked becoming a “white elephant” to the Afghan government when most U.S. and allied forces depart by the end of next year. The inspector general has issued a stream of reports that he says show waste and mismanagement of U.S. spending in the country.
As early as April 2010, the local Marine commander of the region found the project “was no longer necessary to execute the mission” and requested its cancellation…
Not that the Pentagon and their overseers – the real ones in the military-industrial complex, not the incompetents in Congress – have any problem with cost overruns or producing structures and devices of no value whatsoever. After all, the worst case scenario – for them – is a minimal cost-plus structure. And the average American politician like the average American voter never has caught on to programs with costs inflated – since the guaranteed profit is based on “costs”.
In September the Texas Department of State Health blitzed the radio and TV with ads for a new teen abstinence website that will cost $1.2 million over the next year.
Texas has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country, and the new website aims to address the issue by promoting strict abstinence before marriage.
The website, ourtown4teens.org, is paid for with federal money from a program called the Title V State Abstinence Education Grant Program.
As such, there is no mention anywhere on the site of contraception. Title V recipients must use the money to support abstinence, and teach that sex outside marriage could have harmful psychological and physical effects.
Dearman is the one who doesn’t get up and dance
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has accused a former Oklahoma investment adviser and wedding singer of raising at least $4.7 million through various illegal schemes with the help of a Bartlesville businesswoman. The pair then used investors’ money on gambling and other personal expenses, as well as to pay off earlier investors, according to a court filing.
The SEC filed a civil suit against Larry J. Dearman Sr., 40, of Tulsa, and his friend and business associate Marya Gray, 50, of Bartlesville. The Bartlesville-based wireless service provider Bartnet Wireless and northwest Oklahoma convenience store chain Quench Bud’s also were named as defendants in the lawsuit, as well as shell company The Property Shoppe Inc….
The lawsuit claims Dearman fraudulently obtained millions of dollars from more than 30 clients. Dearman promised his clients he would invest their money into various businesses owned or controlled by Gray, the lawsuit says. Instead, Dearman and Gray used investors’ money to gamble and for personal expenses as well as to pay off other investors in a Ponzi-type scheme, the SEC claims.
Dearman stole an additional $700,000 from some of his clients “through various ruses,” the SEC said in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Tulsa.
“Dearman and Gray were able to lure these clients in part because many of them had known him and his family since childhood, thought of him as an active member of their church and knew him as a popular local wedding singer,” the SEC claims…
Gray gambled away more than $1.1 million over the course of the scheme, which lasted from 2008 to 2012, the SEC claims in its lawsuit.
Kind of gives you a clearer picture of the gullible voters in Oklahoma who keep on re-electing sleazy conservatives like Tom Coburn and James Inhofe. Quote the King James bible enough, blather about bringing free money to Oklahoma – blame everything bad on furriners and the federal government – you got it made.
HMCS Toronto boarding party
A Canadian navy crew was all smiles after making one of the largest heroin seizures ever on the high seas…when it intercepted a boat transporting between $150-million and $250-million worth of drugs on the Indian Ocean.
The Department of National Defence said HMCS Toronto seized about 500 kilograms of heroin from the boat on Friday. The exact location of the incident was undisclosed, because it’s part of a Canadian Forces counter-terrorism operation…
The discovery began late Thursday night when a naval helicopter — codenamed Raptor, after Toronto’s basketball team — spotted the small fishing boat in the water and began tracking it. Patchell told CBC News that fishing vessels called dhows are often used in that region of the world to carry drugs.
A team boarded the vessel Friday morning and began to search.
“Very early on in the boarding, we got the reports back that they found one or two suspicious packages,” Patchell said. “Didn’t take too long before three packages turned into 500 packages of heroin…”
“I had some intelligence that indicated some of these vessels we’ve been tracking may be carrying narcotics, but certainly nothing of this size was expected,” Patchell said…
Canada’s naval ships have been patrolling the Indian Ocean and Horn of Africa since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.
Uh, why? The 9-11 attacks didn’t originate there. Bin Laden hasn’t been near that part of Africa since the mid-1980’s. It would be nice if this Anglophone Navy was spending their time interfering with piracy in the region – but, no special mention of that as a goal from the Commander.
We get to hear on a daily basis about activities that have somehow prevented dozens of attacks upon every one of our nations – with no evidence whatsoever because it’s “classified”. Sometime – a century from now – someone will open a couple of sealed vaults and possibly list the results of millions of dollars per hour spent on Homeland Security.
A Michigan woman who won the lottery but continued to receive food assistance from the state government has had her benefits pulled, officials said.
Amanda Clayton hit it big playing the Michigan Lottery. Like many winners, she used her $1 million prize to buy a new house. But the Lincoln Park, Michigan, resident continued to receive money in another form — $200 a month in state food assistance, according to CNN Detroit affiliate WDIV.
…On Thursday, the state’s Department of Human Services announced that she is no longer getting the benefits.
According to Michigan law, welfare recipients must report any changes in assets or income to the agency within 10 days. The department “relies on clients being forthcoming about their actual financial status. If they are not, and continue to accept benefits, they may face criminal investigation and be required to pay back those benefits,” Director Maura Corrigan said in a statement…
“I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn’t, I thought, maybe, it was OK because I’m not working,” Clayton, 24, told WDIV when it asked whether it was appropriate for her to receive the money…
In October, Clayton walked away with $1 million in the “Make Me Rich!” lottery game show. She also bought a car…
After taking a lump sum and paying taxes, the unemployed woman said she ended up with just more than $500,000.
Asked if she had the right to the public assistance money, Clayton answered, “I kind of do. I have no income, and I have bills to pay. I have two houses.”
Sheesh. Somewhere inside that peabrain there are an insufficient numbers of functional synapses.
What does she think she is? An oil company?
New Mexico State Court
A Santa Fe federal court jury has awarded a woman $1.26 million in damages from a debt-collection law firm that pursued her for three years in a case of mistaken identity.
Denver-based Farrell & Sandlin twice filed to garnish the wages of Lucinda Yazzie of Farmington — the second time despite assurances from her employer that the collectors had the wrong person — and didn’t back off until Yazzie filed her federal court lawsuit, said Rob Treinen of Albuquerque, Yazzie’s attorney.
“They had been on notice that they had been pursuing the wrong person for three years,” Treinen said. “They just would not stop coming after her.”
Treinen said the jury awarded Yazzie $161,000 in actual damages for emotional distress and $1.1 million in punitive damages.
The Target credit card debt that the firm was trying to recover — the responsibility of another person named Lucinda Yazzie, with a different Social Security number, address and other identifiers — was about $5,000, Treinen said…
But Farrell & Sandlin filed a complaint in state court for money due against the wrong Lucinda Yazzie in April 2007 and obtained a garnishment of wages writ against her employer, a Farmington energy company. Yazzie couldn’t solve the problem with calls to Farrell & Sandlin, but the garnishment was dropped when Yazzie’s boss filed an answer saying she was the wrong person…
U.S. District Judge Bruce Black, in a pretrial order in the case, wrote that Farrell & Sandlin admitted that the Social Security number of the actual debtor “was changed in the Law Firm’s records by an unauthorized act of a former employee” and as a result the firm went after the wrong Lucinda Yazzie.
Target National Bank, the financial arm of Target stores, had provided the firm with correct information, the judge’s order says.
Aside from the egregious incompetence of the debt collection firm – Farrell & Sandlin – there is nothing that matches the sheer stupidity of the bureaucratic hacks working in the state court system who also had access to the fact that wrong information was being used to harass Ms. Yazzie.
And still they issued an order to garnish her wages – twice! They should all be fired and forced to find an honest job.