Tag Archives: NWI

Scams Hit Northwest Indiana

Scam artists and less-than-honest businesses seem to be running wild in Northwest Indiana lately. Within one week, three different articles appeared in the NWI Times:

  1. AG Zoeller files lawsuits against local businesses
  2. National rental scam reaches NWI
  3. C.P. police warn of telephone scam; two residents victims

We’ve got a full line of scams and rip-offs here: car dealerships rolling back odometers, shady mortgage schemes, the grandchild-in-trouble telephone scam and a few Craigslist rental property scams.

The articles above do a fine job of presenting the details of each situation; no need to rehash here. The real lesson is this: always be aware of potential scams, watch out for anyone promising to lower your mortgage payment, never take an online classified ad at face value, never wire money to anyone who contacted you first, and always get a Carfax report before you buy a used auto.

The bad guys are out there, and they have a variety of methods at their disposal. All the rest of us can do is be informed, ask questions and stay vigilant. But those simple tools go a long way towards keeping yourself away from scams and fraud.

Alleged national fraud ring busted: let’s do the math!

This item appeared in today’s edition of the NWI Times.

If you don’t want to read the whole thing, here’s a summary: four people from Indianapolis were arrested for allegedly running a fraud ring in which involved adding themselves to other people’s financial accounts. Four others (two from Northwest Indiana) are also named in the case.

They are alleged to have taken around $200,000 over the course of three years. The first thing I thought when I saw that number was, “Isn’t that an awfully small amount?”

Assuming the facts are as stated in the article, and that all eight people are guilty (which has not been proven yet, I know—this is a purely educational discussion), let’s do the math:

$200,000 divided by eight people equals $25,000 for each person. That, divided by the three years, equals $8,333.33 each per year.

That’s not exactly a major haul, is it?

Think about it:

$8,333.33 divided by 52 weeks per year equals $160.26 per week. Divide that by the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, and these people would have had to work just over 22 hours per week at minimum wage to match their income from this fraud scheme.

In other words, they could have worked a drive-through window for less than 4½ hours a day (assuming a five-day week) and come out ahead, with the added advantage of not having to serve jail time for doing it.

I wonder how hard they worked to create and maintain this scheme. I’ll bet it involved a lot more sweat than handing sacks of burgers to people in cars would have, though.

Again, we have a justice system in this country, so these people could all be completely innocent. I just thought the math was kind of interesting.

The Fraud Prevention Unit in print

It’s official: I’m making the leap from blogging to print media. The Chronicle, a weekly newspaper serving Portage, Valparaiso, Chesterton and Hobart, has picked me up for a monthly column on the topic of fraud prevention.

The column will run on the fourth Wednesday of each month, and will feature the same kinds of material I cover here, albeit in a more formal style (alas, the print medium comes with a word limit and established stylistic traditions…no room for the usual tangents and obscure references).

The first one goes out tomorrow (July 28, 2010). Be sure to check it out.