Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What comes in the mail after a week away

Being gone for one week, the stack of junk mail grew:

  • American Indian Education Foundation solicitation for donations, which includes bios of recipients.  The Better Business Bureau review states American Indian Education Foundation (a.k.a. American Indian Relief Council) it does not meet accountability standards #11 (board accountability) and #13 (accuracy of expenses).  

  • M3 Profit Accelerator, P.O. Box 243805, Boynton Beach, FL 33424.  This group promises a 2.034% return by November. They've identified the next "Google": Clicker (CLKZ.OB), which trades around $1.25 and hasn't made a profit in the last three years. Looks alot like a pump and dump scenario. Gosh, we can subscribe to the newletters for $1,495 for one year, $2,395 for two years.

  • Prospector Newsletters, P.O. Box 1081, Moline, Il 61266, promoting what Barrick Gold Corporation, ABX, might buy..  Amarok Resources, AMOK.OB, with a price of $1.23.  We can subscribe for $129 for one year -- and this includes the Mutual Fund Prospector.  No thanks.

  • Erik Dickson, P. O. 243805, Boynton Beach, FL 33424. [Note: the is the same address as "M3 Profit Accelerator]  He is promoting a penny stock, CrowdGather, CRWG.OG, which trades around $1.06.  No profits and most of its assets are intangibles.... no prospects. Gosh, we can subscribe for $495 for one year -- or 2 years for $840. What a deal.

  • The Douglas Report -- again. 702 Cathedral St. Baltimore, Maryland 21201. For $74 we can subscribe and find out the real scoop on doctors.

  • Dr. Jonathan Wright's Nutrition & Healing, 702 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201. By reading his newsletters ($74 per year), you can cure skin cancer, increase your muscles, and reverse osteoporosis.Can't wait.

  • Dr. Nan Kathryn Fuchs, P. O. Box 8051, Norcross, Georgia 30091-8051 sends up the "Journal of Natural Medicine," with a promotion for pills to help with digestion.  Onely $209.70 for 6 bottles of  pills (with 2 free) that contain herbal remedies.

  • Real Cures, P. O. Box 8051, Norcross, Georgia 30091-8051, which will help us remove arthritis permanently.  We can also learn how to cure allergies, prevent cancer, reduce blood pressure, lose weight, correct memory problems, and stop macular degeneration. Gosh, this is a miracle. Too bad that these newsletters -- at $57 per year -- won't do any of these.

  • Department of Health Sciences, 819 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, promises to help you discover what doctors don't want you to know. Sounds like a department at a medical school or university? Sure does. Is it? no.  The "Department of Health Sciences" resides in a renovated home in Baltimore, along with Agora, Publishing Services, LLC, and International Living. Check out the BBB review of Agora -- and then keep you money.

  • Police Family Survivors Fund, American Federation of Police & Concerned Citizens.  We've seen this before -- not a charity with high ratings for truly helping others.

  • Juvenon Inc. P. O. Box 432, Manteno, Illinois 60950-9910, promoting pills that "can end aging". They have peppered the Internet with glowing reviews of the pills. They are wise to the search for "juvenon" with "scam" -- with lots of promotional "reviews" that end up in this search.  Smart work -- but it still doesn't make their claims valid.  There is no scientific evidence to back the claims, and this is a diet supplement, not a drug, so it is under the FDA radar.
Thinking of taking dietary supplements? Get the facts from the National Institutes of Health.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pill pushing from "Schweiz Health"

Yesterday we got a newsletter from

Schweiz Health
655 Mulberry Road
Manteno, Il 60950-990

The approach of this is to promote its pills, which promise to extend your life (I got a kick out of the picture of a gray haired guy giving a piggy back to a gray haired lady -- gosh, these pills must be great!).  These newsletters appeal to the desire to stay young -- fixing backs, relieving sluggishness, preventing colds, and feeling young.  It will only cost you $60.

This company shares an address/identity with Bio Medical Solutions, Nutricell, Threesource, and Feenix LLC.

If I interpret the websites related to this miracle drug, it is basically fish oil, like the stuff you can buy at the grocery store.  Want to try fish oil?  You can do it at a lower cost by buying it locally.

National Foundation for Cancer Research: Careful out there!

Today brought a solicitation for the "2010 Annual Fund Drive" for the National Foundation for Cancer Research.  Address:

P.O. Box 96024
Washington D.C.

Well, a check with Charity Navigator turns up interesting information: 
  • Charity Navigator rates this charity with one star.  Why?  Consider that the organization pays only about one-third for cancer research -- the rest is for administrative expenses and fundraising expenses. 
  • Take a look also at the salaries of itst administrators -- too high for what this organization does.
What is the gimmick they offer?  Free mailing labesl of course.  Well, Dad has received thousands of mailing labels from organizations like this.  They tracked his address when he moved this past year and now he has lots of address labels that we simply have to throw out.  What a waste.  Why do they do this? Because it is an attempt to make you feel guilty -- you may want to donate if they are giving you something.  Problem is, so many organizations use this approach that those on the mailing list get far too many labels.

Again, an imitation of a Social Security form -- wanting your money

Today brought a swarm of mail.  We got another appeal from "Dr. Sjuggerud" for getting Social Security benefits that we didn't know we were entitled to (and actually are not entitled to -- but it will cost us $49 to find out).

The address of this scammer:

Attn Dr. Sjuggerud
P.O. Box 925
Frederick, MD 21705-9913

Look familiar? Yep -- we get other "great" offers from this same group -- just under different names.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hampshire Laboratories: Cures for Prostate and a "Testosterone Lifter"

Ohm gosh, today we got two envelopes:

4828 Park Glen Road
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55416

Wm J. Hartman
4848 Park Glen Road
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55416

The first one will lift your testosterone, and the second one will keeping you from peeing all night.  This all comes from Hampshire Laboratories.  These "cures" according to the disclaimer are not "cures".  So what are they?  A waste of a lot of money.  $119.95 plus shipping for fixing your testosterone and $119.95 to fix your peeing.

So who are "Hampshire Laboratories"? and William J. Hartman? There is not much available.  Hampshire Laboratories sells herbal remedies that they claim (without evidence) fix your health problems.  The promotional materials even have reference lists that make things look very scientific.
Do these pills work? consider Antiiva, which is not necessarily safe and effective.

The tactics used in these promotions are the scare tactics used by many others:  "What the doctors won't tell you..." method of sales.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Douglass Report ... Again

These folks don'w give up.  Time to renew, again.  Since we've never subscribed, it is interesting that we keep getting the renewal notice.   This newsletter promises:
  • "CONQUER you dreaded urge to go" [Buy UroLogic for only $279.70]
  • "The truth about male menopause" [Subscribe and learn other medical news]
  • "Toe-curling, PRIMAL SCREAM SEX is yours for the taking!" [Buy Ultra Turbo HG for only $99.70]
The mailing address is the same as many other "cures", but a different "company" name:

  Real Advantage Nutrients
  P.O. Box 970
  Frederick, MD 21705-9913

The problem, of course, is that you won't know the ingredients of these pills until you receive them (and only if they feel like disclosing them), so you do not know if they are safe drugs or whether there are interactions with any other medicines.  This is an especially important issue for the elderly because they are more likely to be already taking prescriptions, and the chance of interactions is high.

A related company, NorthStar Nutrition (same address) sells Urologic -- but the link for the ingredients and dosage conveneintly do not work. [Gosh, the testimonials link does work]. Looking at other pills sites, the pills contain a "proprietary blend" of "Three-leaf caper (Opteva)(Crateva nurvala)(stem bark) Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)(herb) Silica (as colloidal anhydrous)". Got that?

FDA: Where are you?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Elite Stock Report: 273% profits in the next 60 days

Well, if you believe today's mail from the "Elite Stock Report", you are not familiar with stock returns, risks, and how stocks are marketed. Today's mailing is from the promotion company "Elite Stock Report", with "Colin McCabe", editor.

The return address on the envelope is:

Elite Stock Report
3120 25th Street South #347
Fargo, North Dakot 58103

But if you subscribe, you send your check for $999 to:

Elite Stock Report Order Processing Center #678
Box 8000
Sumas, Washington 98295

This newsletter is promoting oil and gas exploration stocks traded on the OTC Bulletin Board.  The warning signs:
  • Promoting stocks on the Bulletin Board
  • The "Elite Stock Report" is paid $300,000 by an email spammer, Emma Marketing Services, to promote the stock (it's in the small, gray print).
  • This newsletter promotes nothing but penny stocks.  If it's a penny stock, it's a loser's game.
  • The "promoter" is just that -- he is not a registered representative or an analyst.  Just a guy with a newsletter and a P.O. Box, who will cash your check.
Check out:
  1. An example of one of their touts: http://www.writingwithpersonality.com/pdf/EliteStock.pdf
  2. Check out one investigation of the "editor" Colin McCabe. And another one, which located its "headquarters" in a P.O. Box at the UPS store.
  3. When you subscribe, you are sending your check to a business called LetterLock.  This is an all-purpose anonymous drop-off location, conveniently on the U.S.-Canadian border.
  4. The general disclaimer should warn you that you are being sold a bill of goods.
  5. The stock, which is likely really Tuffnell Ltd (not Tuffnell Exploration), is a penny stock, that doesn't have any prospects.  Take a look at its stock price movements and financial statements.
  6. The major holder of this stock is George Dory (who is the Director, President, Secretary and Treasurer), and the Tuffnell is incorporated in Nevada by one of the many registered agents, Val-U-Corp, who serve as the registered agent (a.k.a. fronts) for 4,337 companies, mostly "blank check" companies.
  7. The company being touted, Tuffnell, according to its auditors "As discussed in Note 1 to the financial statements, the Company's absence of significant revenues, recurring losses from operations, and its need for additional financing in order to fund its projected loss in 2010 raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern. The 2009 financial statements do not include any adjustments that might result from the outcome of this uncertainty" [from its most recent 10-K report].
Be careful out there. If it is too good to be true, it's a con.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens

Today's mail brought the solicitation from the American Federation of Police and Concerned Citizens:
Police Survivors Fund
6350 Horizon Drive
Titusville, FL 32780-8002

The request is for a "gift of $40, $60, $80 or more" that is a renewal. But, of course, we have never donated to this fund, so it isn't really a renewal. But it is an attempt to get money from the elderly who believe in paying what is due on renewals of any tyep.

So who is the AFP & CC?  We've seen them before: This is the organization that solicits quit frequenty to supposedly provide funding for surviving family members of fallen police officers.

How much do they provide?  According to Charity Navigator, http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=6610 :

Program expenses = 64%
Administrative expenses = 7.4%
Fundraising expenses = 28.5%

That leaves 0.1% for the survivors.

This is a well-orchestrated method of extracting funds from the elderly, most of whom would like to support our police force and believe that they are doing some good.  Unfortunately, this is not an organization that does anyone any good -- except the fundraisers.  So sad.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Senior Citizens League

We received an envelope today from "The Senior Citizens League" with a return address of Washington, DC 20090-7173.   Inside was a newsletter with an imitation post-it note, asking us to sign the "local area petition" to get Congress to pass the Emergency Social Security COLA so that folks receiving Social Security will receive $70 more every month.

Apparently, this organization is promoting getting the COLA adjustment for Social Security, even though the automatic COLA does not apply because there has not been inflation.  You don't get a COLA adjustment in any year where it is not necessary because here was not inflation.  This is a formula that has been in effect since 1975. [ The good news is that when we had deflation, social security payments were not lowered.]

And what do they really want?  $10 mailed to:
  TSCL Local Area Coordinator
  P.O. Box 97173
  Washington, DC 20090-7173

The plea for money is customized for our local community, which is pretty slick. But there is no "local" chapter here, so it is just a ploy to make it seem more legitimate.

A few warning signs:
  • They state that the "donation" is not tax deductible.  This should raise a caution flag.
  • They use "scare mailing" to solicit funds. See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/21/senior-citizens-group-ple_n_328344.html
  • This is the same group that sends out solicitations for "donations" for the "Notch" issue. See: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Notch+octogenarians+should+beware+of+Social+Security+scam.-a0181614553 and http://waysandmeans.house.gov/legacy/socsec/107cong/7-26-01/7-26klec.htm
  • This organization has been associated with previous scams. See http://www.madison.mt.gov/departments/sheriffs_office/SO_Msg/SeniorCitzScams.pdf 
  • The original corporation, The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA), Inc., was incorporated in Colorado as a nonprofit organization.
  • For the BBB report: http://www.bbb.org/charity-reviews/national/elderly/trea-senior-citizens-league-in-alexandria-va-1628  You will see that they raised $9 million through these mailings.
The use of scare tactics and misleading statements to raise "donations" (that are not tax deductible) is simply trying to take advantage of the elderly.  At $10 a piece, they got money from 900,000 elderly in 2008 (primarily from their Notch scare newsletter). 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"100 Medical Discoveries that Cure What Nothing Else Will"

The claims?  One is that you can "dry up cancer with bread." Another claim is that you can stop smoking in 5 seconds.  And many more just as wacky.

This mailing is from the "Health Sciences Institute":
P. O. Box 925
Frederick, MD 21705-9913

We've seen this address many times.  We get cures and hot stock tips from the same group.  The physical address is 14 West Mount Vernon Place, Baltimore, MD, shares the address with Agora.  For the BBB report, http://www.bbb.org/greater-maryland/business-reviews/publishers-book/agora-in-baltimore-md-211

The membership, with 12 issues, costs $49 -- and you get the free book on cures.  Wow, what a deal.

"GUARANTEED to help you restore up to 12 years of memory"

Today's mail brought several items.  One is a pitch for the newsletter "True Health", which will help you learn about restoring your memory. [ Dad fell for a lot of these "cures" for memory loss as he entered dementia, thinking that he was putting off memory loss.  Well, it didn't work.] You can join the "Gold Club" if you order a 12-month supply (with "free" reports and "free bottles of Memory Formula") for only $288.96. What a deal.

The company promoting this cure is:
True Health
P.O. Box 3703
Bessemer, Alabama 35023-9970

Also at P. O. Box 3703, Hueytown, Alabama 35023

The primary ingredient in the "Ultimate Memory Formula" is Phosphatidylserine, which is not found to be effective [see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phosphatidylserine].  While an earlier derivative was effective, there was risk of mad cow disease, so another formulation, using soy, is marketed. However, the test results on the bovine formulation are not necessarily transferable to the soy formulation.  In other words, scientific evidence does not support the key ingredient in Ultimate Memory Formula as effective in preventing memory loss.

The shame is that this marketed to the elderly, who want to hang on to their memory.  They are very susceptible to the marketing pitches, that have healthy, active seniors in the pictures and lost of testimonials.

The advertisement claims that this is FDA approved. Please check out the FDA website -- you'll see that it is not approved: http://www.fda.gov/Food/LabelingNutrition/LabelClaims/QualifiedHealthClaims/ucm073006.htm

False claims, targeting the elderly with very expensive "cures". Shame on them.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More from FC&A Publishing

Want the equivalent to Heloise -- helpful household hints -- in a more expensive book form? Well, for "only" four "easy" payments of $6.99 each, plus shipping and handling, you get the book "Fix it, Clean It and Make it Last".

This is the same group that sent a medical information "newsletter" last week:

Gayle K. Wood
FC&A Publishing
103 Clover Green
Peachtree City, GA 30269

Gosh -- they are experts in medicine and cleaning.

They don't seem to give up.  Dad has not bought anything from this "publisher" for over two years now, and they still send weekly newsletters with exciting offers.  Gotta give them credit for persistence.

Time Sensitive Documents: Oh my gosh, I must act fast.

Today's mail included a "Time sensitive Document: Reply Requested with a return address of Customer Service Dept., Post Offie Box 925, Frederick, MD 21705-9913.  This is so special that it was presorted bulk mail out of Bolingbrook, Illinois.

Inside were two items:
  • A form to allow us to subscribe to "True Wealth" for only $49.50 for one year or $69.00 for two years.
  • A newsletter made to look like tax forms, entitled "Get Social Security No Matter What Your Age".  This newsletter promises that you can qualify for $12,000 every year, file a secret 521-B and get an interest free loan up to $144,000, use a Form '3881-BK' and get $8,400 per year, and "time your filing of form 'SSA-25' and get an extra $700 per month for 8 years or more."
Gosh, this sounds good. It even is printed on something that has a form number "SA TW38" with something that looks like a bar code (similar to print outs from Social Security). Looks so "official". Gosh, this must be something important from the government.

But alas, this is a promotion for the newsletter that promised "secrets", with claims that other people have been able to get money from these secrets.

Check out:
  • There is no extra benefit or short-cut to social security. If you want to check out eligibility, see http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10035.html.
  • A Rip-off report about this company: http://www.ripoffreport.com/home-based-business/michael-j-palmer/michael-j-palmer-ripoff-secret-ne989.htm
  • One of the strategies is to withdraw your SS application if you retired at 62 [521-B]. This sounds interesting, but there is always a catch -- like repaying the government the money you already received.  See http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/handbook/handbook.15/handbook-1515.html. 
  • Another relates to "3881-BK", which is the SSA questionairre for children claiming social security benefits.  
  • The letter is supposedly from Steve Sjuggard (who uses "Dr." in some of his newsletters and websites). Want to see how Steve Sjuggard's investment "picks" turn out? Check out: http://www.cxoadvisory.com/individual-gurus/steve-sjuggerud/  You see that some win, some lose; but there is not a consistency in winning.
  • Investment U, Stansberry Research and  Agora are all related. It is likely that the website of the "Stock Gumshoe" is also connected to this group.
  • For more on Agora and Stansberry Research, see the SEC complaint at http://www.sec.gov/litigation/complaints/comp18090.htm.
  • The bio on "Dr." Steve Sjuggerud states that he has a doctorate in finance (and some say "International Finance").  I cannot locate any school claiming him as an alumnus, and his name does not appear in the WWW Directory in Finance (where most folks with a PhD in Finance are listed).
  • In the Division of Corporations, Florida, records, Steve Sjuggerud has three businesses: Sugarberry LLC, Beacon Street LLC, and Sjuggerud Capital.
There is a lot of drama in this newsletter about "secrets", social security, the government, and gold.  Similar drama as in the newsletters coming from the same source (Agora and gang).  What are these secrets?  They are just telling you what you could find out at www.ssa.gov. No more, no less.  Do you need to subscribe to a newsletter to find this stuff out? No.  Just go to the government web sites and the information is all there.  What you will learn is that none of these "secrets" really pertain to you.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Exclusive" membership in The Oxford Club

Gosh,  this is such an "exclusive club".  We are so honored, so thrilled.  Of course, with this membership, we get exclusive stock picks (buy low, sell high).

There is even reference to Harry Markowitz, who won a Nobel prize in Economics (they even got his first name wrong).  But Markowitz has nothing to do with this club or newsletter, but you might not interpret it that way as you read the newsletter that is enclosed.  You can "implement the strategy in just 20 minute and then go fishing."

Well, first off, Markowitz portfolio theory is not about picking hot stocks, avoiding inflation, and consistently outperforming the S&P.  I doubt that the newsletter author has even read Markowitz's seminal paper on portfolio theory.  Second, as it has been shown time and time again, no one can consistently beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis.  If you don't believe this, then you are ripe for falling for cons and "pies in the skies" (e.g. Madoff).  The scientific evidence debunks most of what this newsletter purports.

Much of the newsletter is devoted to oil, and is prepping you for their stock picks,which are likely penny stock exploratory companies.

So what is "The Oxford Club"? It is one of the organizations connected to some of the other groups at P.O. Box 925, Frederick, Maryland.  Check them out at the BBB: http://www.bbb.org/greater-maryland/business-reviews/publishers-book/agora-in-baltimore-md-211 Apparently, not only can this company pick hot stocks to generate unbelievable returns (I am being sarcastic here), but it also has nutrition advice, hawks "cures", and helps you avoid taxes, among other things.  Exclusive?  It means that you are on the mailing list of this company and are considered susceptible to mail-order advertisements. 

Want to know more about "The Oxford Club"? Check out:
http://www.stockgumshoe.com/2008/12/claim-your-gas-rebate-check-oxford-club.html  for a discussion of one of their "tips".

The hype on The Oxford Club is also provided by Investment U, which happens to be a website of the Oxford Club.  Note the disclaimer on this website-- the folks dispensing advice are not registered to do so.  This is a big warning sign.  These folks are not qualified to give investment advice, but are doing so any way.  Check out the qualifications of the "Investment Advisers", and then run the names through BrokerCheck at www.finra.org .  It's always a good idea to check out the folks giving the advice.

The old adage, "If it is too good to be true it probably is" applies to The Oxford Club. At random, one out of many "picks" will hit the jackpot, but the odds are that you will lose your money by following hot stock tips from anyone. If they were so hot, then the "Club" would really be exclusive and would trade on these -- and not have to make money touting a newsletter.  As you read the newsletter, consider that anyone can look back at stock movements and identify a big mover and its gains -- and talk this up as if they predicted it.

Be careful out there.  In general, stocks are risky.  When you start getting in to the penny stocks, you are really talking about significant risk -- that most of us should not consider.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Scott Smith's Swiss Confidential

Today's junk mail comes in the form of a newsletter/booklet "Special Alert, "Secret Gold Deal" that "could make 10 times your investment in the next 4 months."

Sounds great, right?  Well, here are a few observations:
  1. Making 10 times your investment in 4 months is, effectively, earning a 900% return on 4 months, which on an annual basis (without even considering compounding), is a 2,700% return. Sounds great!  But the reality is quite different.  Out-sized returns like that just don't happen.  
  2. Yes, the penny stock that is his hot-stock pick has just bought mining rights from another company, but:
    • This is not news (the transaction began last year and was finalized this year), and
    • The fact that a successful mining company sold mining rights to a not-yet-developed want-to-mine company, should tell you something about those mining rights [if they were so valuable, why didn't the succesful company keep them?]
  3.  The author claims "My inner circle of investors put their money into ..." and claims that they had a great return. Well, you and I could look back on many stocks and state "If only ..".  The author goes on to says that a 50 cent investment per share grew to $39.50 per share. 
    • The risk of all the investments he discusses are significant. 
    • The stock he claims to have predicted a movement for is Seabridge Gold.  It's stock history dates back to 2004 and it has never traded at 50 cents and has never closed above $38 per share. 
  4. Looking at a stock in isolation is not a good idea.  Is it appropriate for your portfolio?  Are you prepared for the risk?  The company that he is touting is a penny stock company, Constitutional Mining, CMIN.OBB.  This is a company that has not had operations -- it is in the exploratory stage.  This means: high risk, no proven track record.  Not many of us have portfolios that can handles this risk.
    The "newsletter" has lots of drama in terms of economic news, which is the usual "buy gold" fear-mongering.  He even has testimonials from investor who earned high returns.  Don't believe these returns -- this is not typical. You cannot earn out-sized returns without out-sized risk (or fraud). Just consider the investors in Madoff's scheme or any other investment fraud.

    What is he selling?  His reports, sent through email.  The "best value" is only $362.90.  And, if you act fast, you can also get a free book with your subscription.

    A few things to consider:
    1. Is the person recommending this investment a successful investor? The author claims to have worked with Credit Suisse in Derivatives, but you don't know much more than that.  Having been employed by an investment house does not make you an expert. 
    2. Is he trained in analysis?  Anyone can look back and identify great investments. If you cut out the drama in his verbage, is there substance there?  Not much.
    3. What is this person's track record with respect to the advice that he is giving?  Track his hot stock (CMIN) and any other of his pitches over the next year before you take him seriously. It is best to gauge performance over 1, 3 and 5 years.
    4. Is there any information that you can get from him that you could not get elsewhere? I doubt it. The "news" he mentions is at least 6 months old. Check out the company he is touting at www.sec.gov, using the links to the company filings, and at finance.google.com.  
    5. Should you really be in penny stocks?  The answer for most everyone is No.  These are high risk stocks and you should be prepared to lose everything you put in them.

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Mind, Mood & Memory: the "cure" for memory loss

    The mailing from Mind, Mood & Memory has a return address of P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL,  The claim on the envelope is "Loss of memory does not have to be part of aging!", with a Free Issue sticker shown from the outside.

    Inside is a letter with the heading is "Massachusetts General Hospital", along with flyers for a newsletter.

    I don't doubt that there is science in this newsletter, considering the source, but the newsletter is sent to our address each month without use subscribing.  We simply toss it when it comes, but we never subscribed.  Perhaps they are counting on the "guilt" factor: we receive the newsletter and therefore feel obligated to pay for it.  However, we checked with the post office and if we never subscribed, we don't have to pay.

    Unfortunately, when the elderly receive these mailings, they may feel obligated to pay for the subscription even if they never wanted it.  This is a tactic that we can attribute to the publishing company, Interlink Media, rather than Massachusetts General Hospital.

    Second Opinion offering cures for diabetes, heart attacks, and cancer

    Second Opinion is a newsletter with a return address of P.O. Box 8051, Norcross, Georgia 30091-8051.  Interestingly, the post mark is from Maryland.

    The claims in the newsletter are outlandish, but the two-year subscription will cost you only $77. There are lots of ailments discussed in the newsletter, with lots of testimonials.

    This newsletter has the same address as:
    • Advanced Bionutrituonals
    • Soundview Communications
    • Dr. Frank Shallenberger's Real Cures
    • Women's Health Letter
    • Tipping Point Stocks
    Check out the BBB report on these companies: http://www.bbb.org/atlanta/business-reviews/publishers-periodical/soundview-communications-in-norcross-ga-8051

    The approach of this newsletter is the emphasis on common diseases that many elderly are concerned with or have experience with.  The prospect "to heal cancers" give some folks hope. But the question arises: Is it possible that someone may forgo conventional treatments in favor of these simple "cures"?

    The Douglass Report

    We received an "urgent Note from Dr. Bill Douglass, with a return address on the envelope from William C. Douglas II, MD, 702 Cathedral St., Baltimore, MD 21201. This is the same address for the Health Sciences Institute, Ndi Solutions, Northstar Nutritionals.Agora, and Agora Financial.

    Inside was a letter "From the desk of William Campbell Douglas II, MD, along with a "Loyal Reader Special Offer Certificate" that offers the Douglas Report for $54, plus a free report Real Solutions from Medicine's Notorious Myth-Buster".  It discusses things that the "FDA, Big Business and Big Pharma" won't let you know.  Another "us v. them" scare approach to selling newsletters.

    The address for this report is the same addresss for the FC&A newsletters.

    Check out the BBB rating on this group of affiliated/related companies: http://www.bbb.org/greater-maryland/business-reviews/publishers-book/agora-in-baltimore-md-211

    Saturday, June 19, 2010

    Nutrition & Healing & Dr. Jonathan V. Wright

    We received a renewal notice (1 year or 2 year) for something that we do not subscribe to.  My Dad, as he entered dementia, would write a check for every renewal notice that came in the mail.  This is an extremely common practice, and is particularly troubling because the elderly do not want to be forgetful and not renew a subscription.

    So what is in the envelope besides the "renewal" that saves us 50%?
    • "Urgent vitamin news!" because the "mainstream is still cheating you out of the best health possible"
    • Journal of Anti-Aging Research, a newletter that warns "Beware of America's Vitamin D Fraud". Send for a 6-month supply of Healthy Aging pills for only $309.70.
    • A "From the publisher letter entitled "You Could See Clearly Again" in bright orange, large font.  Send for a copy of the book The Read Without Glasses Method for only $39.95 plus shipping.
    • A flyer entitled "The little pink secret to the hottest sex of your life" (Ultra Turbo HG is only $12.95).
    • A flyer entitled "Scientists SOLVE the greatest joint challenge".  Send for 6 bottles of SynerFlex for only $219.70.  Gosh, there is also free shipping on this one.
    So who is Jonathan Wright and how does he know more than the "mainstream"?
    • Check out one of Wright's problems with the FDA at http://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEducation/Nonrecorg/aqa.html 
    • Check out QuackWatch's discussion of the American Quack Association: http://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEducation/nonrecorg.html
    • One of the addresses used in the newsletters is P. O. Box 925, Frederick, MD 21705-9838, is the same address as The Douglass Report, another medical "advisory" that sells newsletters, books, and cures.
    • Another of the addresses used in the newsletters is P. O. Box 970, Frederick, MD 21705-9838, which is also the address for a "nutritional" company, NorthStar Nutritionals.  [Check out complaints about North Star Nutritional, at  http://www.ripoffreport.com/alternative-health/north-star-nutrition/north-star-nutritional-tainted-d46dc.htm] .
    • Still another P.O. Box used is P. O. Box 969, Frederick, MD 21705-9900.
    • Jonathan Wright seems to have significant support from others in the Alternative Medicine field.
    This "us against them" approach to healthcare is worrisome.  I do believe that there are some natural remedies that can help someone (e.g., when I put a paste made of Adolf's Meat Tenderizer on a insect bite, this seems to help quite a bit), but the drama in these newsletters is a bit much.  There is no proof, with well-developed science, that supports some of what this company promotes. Also, no where are the ingredients of the promoted pills provided.  Even if the "remedy" is potentially helpful, drug interactions with other "nutritional" medicine or someone's prescriptions can be troublesome.  

    Can it hurt anyone?  Absolutely.  These are often unproven, definitely unregulated "remedies".  There is nothing wrong with harmless nutrients, and there is nothing wrong with some good old folk remedies, but there is something wrong about taking some of the ingredients in these "cures".  

    I once sat down with my Dad's "stash" of "nutitional products" and found he was taking a dangerous level of Bilberry, and that this may interact with a prescription that he was taking at the time. There was Bilberry in two of his "nutritional supplements", and this is dangerous along with the blood thinner the doctor prescribed.  Dad never thought that there could be any interaction between "natural" remedies and his prescriptions, and I suspect that he is not alone in this misconception.

    The use of the "renewal" when no subscription exists, pushing specific pills from specific companies, and dramatic language should at least make you more cautious.

    American Federation of Police & Concerned Citizens

    Today's device to extract money from the elderly comes from the "American Federation of Police & Concerned Citizens" (AFPCC).  Dad donated to this "cause" many times in another state, for its local "chapter", but when we changed his address, the current envelope is customized to indicate our town's "chapter". Great software, if nothing else.

    Within the envelope are the following items:
    • A letter highlighting "Peace Officers Memorial Day, with an emergency appeal
    • A flyer claiming "We need your help", with a disclosure of financial information availability on the reverse.
    • Two envelopes (not pre-paid), for the donation; one to be mailed by June 30th and the other by July 31st.
    What do we know about the AFPCC?
    • Address is 6350 Horizon Drive, Titusville, FL 32780-8002
    • Website: www.afp-cc.org
    • Portion of donations going to anything other than salaries and fundraising expenses: 0% (in fact, they spend more on salaries and fundraising than they took in recently, according to Charity Navigator: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=6610 )
    • The "charity" shares the same address, etc., as the American Police Hall of Fame. Previously, the two shared the same website.

    Thursday, June 17, 2010

    FC&A Medical Publishing: Medical advice

    Today's offering is for a book entitled Your Body Can Heal Itself: Over 87 Foods Everyone Should Eat. This came from FC&A Medical Publishing, 103 Clover Green, Peactree City, GA 30269.  When you open the envelope, there is a "From the desk of Charlotte Garner" note (with a "note" indicating "Please read if you love good food - CG" and another envelope.

    Inside the inner envelope is a certificate for "Free No-Risk Preview Certificate" for the trial book, plus another book that I will receive for three payments of $9.99 each. The offer expires July 15, 2010, so I have to act fast.   If I want the "free" book, I have to take on the other book -- there is no other option provided.

    So, who is FC&A Medical Publishing?
    • According to Publishers Global Inc., it is a publisher of self-help health books.
    • It publishes advice in the form of a secret cure each week.
    • It purports that "skeptics of natural healing proven wrong".
    • It has a large number of self-promotional web postings.
    • It is also a publisher of books on fixing things around the house, among other things.
    • The formerly listed editor, Frank W. Cawood (now Gayle K. Wood) used to sell transfer patterns for t-shirts (back in 1991). My, how his expertise changed.
    • The company appears to have begun as Frank Cawood and Associates (hence the FC&A).
    • There is no scientific proof offered for any of the purported cures, and there does not appear to be anyone with medical credentials associated with FC&A Medical Publishing.

    Harmless? I am not so sure. The problem that I have with companies like this is that they may deter folks from taking the medicines they should be taking. I don't have anything against some natural or simple remedies (e.g., I like to get calcium buildup off of sinks and showers using vinegar instead of harsh chemicals), but giving someone expectations that there are miracle cures may encourage them to forgo their prescription drugs.  Giving up cholesterol drugs, blood thinners, and cancer treatments for the hope of a "natural" cure is dangerous.

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    CRGE.OBB: Pump and dump?

    My father decended into dementia over a period of years. In this process, he got taken advantage of by every mail con available. Two years after taking care of his affairs and switching his mailing address to ours, he still receives mail for miracle cures, hot stock investments, etc., -- the same types of cons that wiped out his savings.

    Therefore, I am starting this blog to inform any and all of some of these cons so that you can be on the alert for some of these in case your mother or father is getting these in the mail.

    I am in the financial field, so the stock "tips" are particularly irratating. Today's "hot stock" tip comes from "M3 Profit Accelerator," which is signed by "Shawn Ambrosino" who claims to be an analyst. You can find the Internet equivalent at http://www.smallcapfortunes.com/clenergen-3-29/index.html.

    The stock that they are promoting is Clenergen Corp (CRGE) [formerly American Bonanza Resources]. Now the first clue that something is amiss is that they provide the ticker, but not the extension that indicates that it is on the OTC Bulletin Board. If you check this company out at the SEC web site, www.sec.gov, you will see that company has no revenues, minor expenses, and no cash flow. In its form as American Bonanza Resources, it appeared to be a company without any activity. CRGE shows some signs of life (mostly through a recent recapitalization), but at www.sec.gov you will see that it is late in its required financial filing for this fiscal period.

    The brochure has lots of facts and figures, but nothing concrete about the company. Hype and no substance. Classic.

    You can subscribe to their newletter for $2,395 for two years. What a deal. The authors are also experts on lots of other subjects. Trinity Investment Research, incorporated in Florida (which is a giveaway because FL provides cloaking), is at the same address [103 NE 4th St. Delray Beach FL] (and owners) as 32 other companies, including Best Life Herbals, Natures Perfection, and Premier Turf. There is no evidence that any of the parties to these 32 companies (the threesome: Kyle Hodges, Alison Kacurov, and Brian Sodi) have financial experience or financial education. None show up at FINRA.org.

    Shawn Ambrosino claims to be an analyst. If you check him out on the website for one of the "associated" newsletters, www.bestlife-herbals/about/, you will see that he claims to have been a professional wrestler and now edits a health magazine.

    The company involved recently with CRGE's unregistered securities is Vastani Trading Company, which is a company incorporated in Germany. Ownership of the company is not clear.

    The CEO of the Florida subsidiary of CRGE, is Robert D. Kohn [6165 NW 123rd, Coral Springs, FL], who is also listed on a large number of other businesses incorporated in Florida. These business are not necessarily in the same line of business as CRGE.

    The stock of CRGE.OBB is trading around 93 cents per share. If you go to finance.google.com or finance.yahoo.com and check out the trading, you will see the spikes in the price (as high as $1.20) when they ship these newsletters out.

    Financial facts about CRGE:
    Year end Oct 2009
    • Revenues = $0
    • General, selling and administrative expenses = $1.072 million
    • Research and development = $0
    • Net loss = -$1.072 million
    • Total assets = $63 thousand
    • Shareholders' equity = -$488 thousand
    • Cash flow from operations = -$899 thousand

    Be careful out there. If a company does not have revenues and a company that purports to be doing research has no R&D, there is no reason to get into the stock. Think you want to play the pump and dump and can figure out when to get in or out? Think again -- the market maker(s) for the stock control all.

    Some further clues. Check out the disclaimer at www.bestpennystockbroker.com (bold added):
    "IMPORTANT NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER: This featured company sponsored advertising issue of The M3 Profit Accelerator does not purport to provide an analysis of any company’s financial position, operations or prospects and this is not to be construed as a recommendation by The M3 Profit Accelerator or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any security. Enhance Skin Products, (EHSK), the company featured in this issue, appears as paid advertising, paid by Medford Financial Ltd to provide public awareness for EHSK. Medford Financial Ltd has approved and signed off as “approved for public dissemination” all statements made herein regarding EHSK’s history, assets, technologies, current as well as prospective business operations and industry information. The M3 Profit Accelerator and Capital Financial Media (CFM) have used outside research and writers using public information to create the advertisement coming from The M3 Profit Accelerator about EHSK. Although the information contained in this advertisement is believed to be reliable, The M3 Profit Accelerator, its publisher (Trinity Investment Research) and CFM makes no warranties as to the accuracy of any of the content herein and accepts no liability for how readers may choose to utilize the content. Readers should perform their own due-diligence, including consulting with a licensed, qualified investment professional or analyst. Further, readers are strongly urged to independently verify all statements made in this advertisement and perform extensive due diligence on this or any other advertised company. The M3 Profit Accelerator is not offering securities for sale. An offer to buy or sell can be made only with accompanying disclosure documents and only in the states and provinces for which they are approved. Many states have established rules requiring the approval of a security by a state security administrator. Check with http://www.nasaa.org or call your state security administrator to determine whether a particular security is licensed for sale in your state. Many companies have information filed with state securities regulators and many will supply investors with additional information on request. CFM has received and managed a total production budget of $550,000 for this and other online advertising efforts and will retain any amounts over and above the cost of production, copywriting services, mailing and other distribution expenses, as a fee for its services. The M3 Profit Accelerator is paid $1500 as an editorial fee from CFM and also expects to receive new subscriber revenue as a result of this advertising effort. *More information can be received from Enhance Skin Product’s investor relations firm, or at the Enhance Skin Product’s website www.enhanceskinproducts.com. Further, specific financial information, filings and disclosures as well as general investor information about publicly traded companies like EHSK, advice to investors and other investor resources are available at the Securities and Exchange Commission website www.sec.gov and www.nasd.com. Any investment should be made only after consulting with a qualified investment advisor and after reviewing the publicly available financial statements of and other information about the company and verifying that the investment is appropriate and suitable. Investing in securities is highly speculative and carries a great deal of risk especially as to new companies with limited operations and no history of earnings. The information contained herein contains forward-looking information within the meaning of section 27a of the Securities Act of 1993, as amended, and section 21e of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, including statements regarding expected growth of the featured company. In accordance with the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act, Enhance Skin Products notes that statements contained herein that look forward in time, which include everything other than historical information, involve risks and uncertainties that may affect the Company’s actual results of operations. Factors that could cause actual results to differ include the size and growth of the market, the Company’s ability to fund its capital requirements in the near term and in the long term; pricing pressures, technology issues etc. "

    The fine print is always important. Note that Capital Media, Trinity Publishing, and M3 Profit Accelerator are all run by the same folks.