Goodbye Shuttle Discovery

April 17, 2012

Photos courtesy: Joe Jacoby

By Angie Moreschi:

The Space Shuttle Discovery soared over the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida to the cheers of spectators, before flying out out of the Sunshine state for good.  It was a breathtaking site to watch America’s oldest shuttle mounted atop a NASA jetliner as it circled its home base one final time.

Read more

Death & Taxes Go Hand in Hand

April 16, 2012

By Angie Moreschi:

We’ve all heard the famous, old Benjamin Franklin quote:  “In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.”  Well, turns out, not only may that be true, but the two might be more intimately connected than we first realized.  A new study appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests more people die in auto accidents on tax day than on other days of the year.

The authors write:  We investigated the number of individuals involved in a fatal road crash on tax day under the pre-specified hypothesis that stressful deadlines might increase the risk of road trauma by impairing drivers or by compromising surrounding individuals from making compensatory adjustments.

They gathered data from the Internal Revenue Service and fatal road crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the past three decades (1980-2009).  The results according to the Harvard Health Blog showed that of more than 19,000 deaths analyzed, an average of 226 people died as a result of motor vehicle accidents on tax days, compared to 213 on other days.

The authors offered a few possible explanations for the increase in fatalities: the stress of tax day causing more distracted drivers; the idea of paying your taxes may lead to more drinking and driving; and the possibility that bleary eyed taxpayers are just more tired from staying up late and doing their taxes.

Dr. Robert Shmerling at Harvard Health Publications offered a few additional thoughts: People may drive more recklessly on tax day while rushing to post offices to mail their returns. There could simply be more people on the road on tax day due to tax preparation and mailing. Or maybe the findings are due to chance.

I guess this new study makes a case for avoiding that last minute rush to the Post Office and electronically filing your return with the IRS.  Either way, paying your taxes may feel like its killing you, especially in this economy, but here’s hoping you have a safe day.

Bank of America Sues Itself

April 13, 2012

Here we go again. First, as CWN reported in 2009,  Wells Fargo Sued Itself.  Now, it’s Bank of America’s turn.  Dow Jones Business Columnist and blogger Al Lewis flagged us to this latest nonsensical undertaking in the wacky world of foreclosures.

Essentially, Bank of America is foreclosing on a property on which it services the loan for an investor and holds a second mortgage. Uh-oh, that creates a bit of a conflict. What to do?  Let’s sue ourselves, of course. The company is literally seeking damages from itself in order to foreclose on a condo owner.  The Huffington Post’s Zach Carter lays out all the details here, if you’re interested.

For Bank of America, this is actually not the first time it’s sued itself in a foreclosure case.  The company has done so at least 11 times in Palm Beach County. “Naming the second-lien holder in the suit is necessary to eliminate the junior interest,” Bank of America spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens told the Huffington Post.

Back when Wells Fargo sued itself, Dow Jones Columnist Al Lewis opined, “It takes some pretty shameless lawyers and a rich culture of corporate stupidity for a company to sue itself.”

I guess not much has changed.

Yearly Dental X-rays Might Raise Brain Tumor Risk

April 11, 2012

There is new concern that having dental x-rays once a year on your entire mouth can increase your risk of getting a brain tumors.  A new study finds a correlation between past frequent dental x-rays, which are the most common source of exposure to ionizing radiation in the U.S, and an increased risk of developing meningioma. Click here to learn more in this report from CBS News This Morning.

Read more

Nigerian Scam Targets Lawyers

April 10, 2012

By Angie Moreschi:

Okay, this might have a bit of a Karma feel to it, but you’ve still got to wonder, how exactly do people keep falling for the Nigerian “pigeon drop” scam. That’s where you are contacted and told you can get a much bigger pay-out, but first, you just have to send some of your money to make the transaction possible. Right, good luck with that.

This time, attorneys, who you might think would know better, became the target, and, yes, many fell for it. Among them, the Minneapolis law firm of Milavetz, Gallop & Millavetz (MGM). The Minneapolis StarTribune reports MGM became a victim after receiving an email from someone claiming to be a Korean woman who needed help in securing a $400,000 legal settlement for an injury in their area.

As it turns out, MGM was not alone. The government had begun a secret investigation of Nigerian collection scams that target U.S. attorneys. A Nigerian man and a Canadian resident were indicted in the case, but much of it remains under seal. Still, the government says the two were part of an international conspiracy targeting lawyers and law firms, which nailed 80 victims to the tune of at least $32 million. In all, there were some 300 known targets, with attempts to steal more than $100 million.

Scamming law firms

So, how do highly educated, skeptical attorneys fall for this? According to the federal indictment in Pennsylvania, it went down like this: A co-conspirator contacts a law firm, usually by e-mail, seeking help to collect a legal settlement or payments from a divorce or real estate transaction. Another co-conspirator poses as a representative of the party who owes the money and then delivers a counterfeit check. After the check supposedly clears, the money is wired to a bank, usually in Asia, from which it disappears. Click here to read the full story in the Minneapolis StarTribune.

Law Firm Blames its Bank

Of course, we’re talking about lawyers being ripped off here, so while the money has disappeared, they believe someone needs to pay. In the case of MGM, the law firm is going after the bank, which frankly continues the whole karma thing.

Robert Milavetz of MGM says its bank, Wells Fargo, is at fault and should pay them back. The firm deposited the fake check from the Nigerian scammers in its Wells Fargo account. Then, in an effort to perform due diligence called the bank to make sure the check had cleared. Bank employees apparently told the firm that “yes” indeed the check had cleared. Of course, it had not. So, when the firm wired the money to Asia, their “client” disappeared with the loot. If we learned anything from the mortgage meltdown, it was to be careful about trusting what your bank tells you… but we digress.

In the end, Milavetz is going after Wells Fargo alleging the bank knowingly engaged in a transaction that involved criminal activity or was knowingly blind to the facts and law. The firm is seeking $396,500 from the bank. Wells Fargo issued a brief statement on the lawsuit saying, “We believe the allegations have no merit. We will vigorously defend, and expect to prevail.”

It’s little comfort to know that even supposedly smart guys get duped by this, but if you take anything away here, remember, there’s no such thing as easy money!

10 Things Health Care Reform Would Do, that you may not realize

April 5, 2012

Health Care Reform is at the center of a political tug of war that affects us all.  As important as this is to our lives, few Americans actually know what the law actually does.

As the Supreme Court ponders whether to declare it unconstitutional, CNN decided to break out 10 examples of what changes the law makes that could affect your life in unexpected ways.  Everything from taxing tanning beds to requiring your doctor to disclose what perks they get from pharmaceutical companies to free preventive care for things like mammograms, physical exams, colonoscopies, and vaccinations.

Here is the list.  Click here to read more about each item:

1. How many goodies your doctors get
2. More breastfeeding rooms and breaks
3. Caloric reality at every major chain restaurants
4. Abstinence-only education
5. Flexible spending accounts stiffen
6. Tanning will cost you
7. Support for wellness programs at work
8. Free preventive care
9. Home visits to expecting families
10. Health plans you can read

A Burning Question – Why Couches?

April 5, 2012

Big congratulations to the University of Kentucky basketball team for winning the NCAA championship.  But in the category of things totally random, Chris Hoyer asks this burning question – why couches?

Read more

How Much Do Prescription Drug Coupons Help?

April 5, 2012

Even if you have health insurance, the ridiculously high co-pay for certain drugs can make you feel like you don’t. To try and ease that pain, many consumers are turning to coupons from drug manufacturers. Almost 19 million people who regularly take medication used a drug coupon last year, according to a Consumer Reports survey. Click here to learn more in this report from WEWS in Cleveland.

Fight Foreclosure – Make ‘Em “Produce the Note”

April 1, 2012

Fight Foreclosure: Make ‘Em Produce The Note!

Using the “produce the note” strategy is something all homeowners facing foreclosure can do. If you believe you’ve been treated unfairly, fight back. We have created templates for a legal request, a letter to your lender and a motion to compel to help you through the process. Read the step by step “how to” under the videos.

Special note: In some states, a lender can foreclose on your home without going to court. These are called non-judicial foreclosure states. You can still use the “Produce the Note” strategyin these states, but it takes a few more steps on your part.


Produce the Note – Steps To Follow:

Read more