Thursday, October 15, 2020

Pretty Ricky Member Indicted For PPP Fraud


Baby Blue Arrested on Paycheck Protection Loan Fraud

If you’re of a certain age, you’re probably familiar with the R&B group Pretty Ricky who made the song “Your Body” in the early 2000s. Well, one of the group’s members, Diamond Blue Smith, who goes by Baby Blue who’s also a cast member on Love & Hip Hop: Miami is in hot water over some alleged fraud.

That’s right. Police arrested him October 5, and a person named Tonye C. Johnson who owns a company called Synergy Towing & Transport LLC in Pennsylvania on Monday October 1.

According to court documents Baby Blue misappropriated $24 million in COVID-19 relief funds and spent it on a Ferrari. The Department of Justice has charged him with wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.

Court documents say they falsified documents to get a Paycheck Protection Program loan worth $426,717 for his company throwbackjersey.com LLC and got a $708,065 loan for his music label Blue Star Records, LLC.

Allegedly he withdrew $271,805 of the loan and used the money to buy a $96,000 Ferrari. The car and other luxury items were seized at the time of his arrest. 

The FBI's investigation revealed Smith was allegedly part of a broader scheme convincing others to file for the funds while taking kickbacks. There are at least 11 other defendants.

Paycheck protection loans were meant for small businesses to receive money in emergency and forgivable loans due to impacts from the pandemic. It was part of the $2 trillion CARES Act.

Baby Blue said in an Instagram post that he’s facing life in prison. And, while he should definitely spend at least 25 years in prison, I doubt he’ll get that long in prison. But if he does, hopefully he spends his time thinking about all the small business owners he screwed out of that money who had to close their doors because he's trash.

Coppell Texas Man Indicted on Paycheck Protection Program Fraud

And this other D-bag in Coppell Texas named Dinesh Sah, who a federal grand jury has indicted on 3 counts of wire fraud, 3 counts of fraud and one count of money laundering on Friday. Sah spent more than $17 million in PPP loans on bullshit...his lavish lifestyle.

He applied for the loans, using the pandemic to his advantage, and again, robbing small business owners of their livelihoods. According to the indictment, Sah submitted 15 fraudulent applications under various businesses that he owned or controlled to 8 different SBA lenders for about $24.8 million. 

Most of these businesses didn’t exist until after the CARES act was passed, and he claimed they had several employees with hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll expenses. They had none.

He also forged bank statements and falsified tax documents to support his applications. He received $17.7 million in loans, and he spent most of it on houses, a 2020 Bentley Convertible, and transferred millions to international bank accounts.

The government has currently sized more than $6.5 million of the money he received.

Illegal Ballot Collection Boxes Crop Up Around Southern and Central California 

The GOP has been caught committing the very fraud they claimed Democrats would do. Republican party members have been caught setting up fake ballot drop boxes here in the Blue state of California. The boxes were marked Official, misleading voters into dropping their official ballots into them.

It seems fans of Chester Cheetah realize he has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning an election in this state, and have resorted to the thing he’s done all his life...CHEATING! Elections Fraud is a felony, but there will likely be no one held accountable because the government refuses to punish the Cheeseball in Chief for any of his crimes.

These boxes have popped in Los Angeles, Fresno and Orange Counties. Ventura County has also reported these boxes, The boxes were located outside of places like gun stores, GOP campaign headquarters, and other places frequented by party members.

For years the Republican party in California has accused the Democrats of election rigging. However, it appears the accusers are the guilty ones.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Ephren Taylor II's Church Scam

Ephren Taylor II



Hey bookworms!

Look at that. Two in a row...we must be doing alright this month. No, but seriously, last week was a blur and I have no idea what happened yesterday. Maybe we should start journaling again, and by we, I mean I. At least that way I'd have a concrete way to recall the week's events. Old age is rough, I can barely remember my own name half the time. Time for some memory enhancers. But onto this week's topic.

Ephren Taylor Steals Churgoers' Life Savings


What can we say about Ephren Taylor, other than he's a lowlife who swindled $16 million from members of several megachurches across the country? Promising them 20% returns, they gave him their life savings for investments into community-building programs like housing projects, shopping centers, and juices bars.

According to him, he made his first million at 16 by inventing video games. He sold one to a gaming company and became a millionaire which led him to become a socially conscious investor. He parlayed his experience into becoming a public speaker and financial advisor who began speaking at churches, gaining investors from the congregations. 

This type of scheme is called affinity fraud in which a scammer targets people who are members of a specific group such as religious groups, community members, or families. Everyone trusts each other, and in the church, the pastor, who has invited to scammer into the pulpit, is the most trustworthy person. They wouldn't lead the flock astray. But, eventually, the scammer gets away with his misdeeds because there's no accountability to anyone.

It was all a Ponzi scheme, however, and Taylor used investors' money to fund his lifestyle: paying bills, car payments, and apartment rent. He even went as far as to fund his wife Meshelle's aspirations of being a pop star, paying for studio time, and a music video called "Billionaire (I don't care). Check out the talent on Mrs. Taylor!


At one point Taylor paid out dividends to investors, but soon he was in the wind. When investors came looking for him, he went as far as to bolt office doors so he wouldn't have to account for the whereabouts of their money. Well, the SEC couldn't have that. It launched an investigation into Taylor and discovered his dastardly deeds, and needless to say, Taylor was in its crosshairs.

 By 2010 his scheme came crashing in and he went into hiding. But his wife's vanity led authorities to him.

Once apprehended Taylor was charged with fraud, and ultimately sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was also sentenced to pay more than $15 million in reparations to his victims. It's unlikely they'll see that money, however since  Ephren Taylor is a liar.

Stay tuned for next week when Sunni will bring us the story of another bastard who's robbed people of their hard-earned money.

Until then...don't get scammed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

We're Famous and You're Not and the Worst Guest Ever



Hey Bookworms! 

How was that? We don't have a "name" for everyone who listens. So, we thought we'd test out a few. Do you like being called bookworms? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter or Instagram. 

Last week, we were featured on the YouTube true crime show, "Murder, Murder News" with Aurora Cady and Angelina. Check it out!

Murder Murder News


It was a good time. We got to talk about our inspiration and our favorite cases, and I even talk about the time I was duped into buying envelopes to stuff with Ponzi scheme mailers, only to realize I'd been scammed.

The Worst Guest Ever

So this week we discuss the weird happenings in Hawaii when a colonizer arrived to the Islands and thought he was revered as a God. Turns out, he was a guest who learned the hard way that when you're a visitor, you need to help do some dishes, or wash a load of laundry.

Not only did he act like an entitled child, he tried to kidnap King Kalaniʻōpuʻu. The Islanders weren't having it, and he got himself merked over his bullshit.

Check out the episode.

Until next week...Don't get scammed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Barry Minkow And His

So, its been a while. We're still in the throes of a pandemic, we've got an election coming up, and the California wildfires are leaving people and pets homeless. 

But, how are you?

We've finished Netflix, so Prime Video, and Apple TV are next. Just kidding, but some new seasons of shows have been added, and I have to say, Umbrella Academy did not disappoint.

In this week's episode, Sunni takes the reins with an episode of a California shyster that ran what seemed to be a successful carpet cleaning and restoration company. Only it was a front for organized crime that bilked investors out of tons of money.

Minkow's Money Madness

From a young age Barry Minkow knew he wanted money. He started his grift by selling his grandmother's jewelry. But at the age of nine, he started working for his mother's carpet cleaning company as a telemarketer.

But, he had an enterprising spirit, so he started his own carpet cleaning company, ZZZZ Best. It began as a carpet cleaning company, and whether he actually cleaned carpets, or not, who's to say?

Alas, Barry fell in with all kinds of shady characters who taught him to swindle with the best of them. He expanded his company to include insurance restorations. But, unfortunately, there were no restorations to be done. So, like any good criminal, he lied, lied, lied.

Somehow, Minkow managed to get his company into the public arena through fake addresses and bogus warehouse buildings he claimed to be offices/headquarters or what have you. And he even managed to obtain a board of directors to present the facade of being "on the level."

The Lies Are Exposed

As with most of businesses built on lies, Barry's little kingdom came crashing down.

So, at it's peak, ZZZZ Best sold on the stock market for $18 a share. This was in the 1980s, so at the time, it was a lot of money. It was valued at $280 million, and Barry was the youngest millionaire business owner.

But the company wasn't actually making as much money has he purported. And, he was looking for a way to get his money right. So, when he learned KeyServ, a cleaning company contracted with Sears was up for sale, he began the process of a merger. 

Well, that all fell through when someone learned of how Barry's business stayed afloat in the beginning. Credit card fraud. Not only did Barry involve himself in cc fraud, but check kiting and fraudulent banking practices.

Needless to say, Barry screwed himself, and as a result, he went to prison. Sentenced to 25 years in prison on March 27, 1989 he was also sentence to five years probation and ordered to pay restitution of $26 million, and was banned from serving as an officer or director of a public company by the SEC.

Barry is Free to Continue The Fuckery

But, like many non-people of color who are sentenced to prison for crimes they actually committed, Barry got an early release in 1995. While in prison he claimed to be a born-again Christian, and so began working as a pastor in Chatsworth CA.

And, of course, his fuckery soon began again. This time his target was the stock market. He started a fraud investigation company after one of his church members asked him to look into an investment firm, which turned out to be a $300 million ponzi scheme. 

Minkow began shorting company stocks, before he released a report on the companies. He accused the companies of fraud, and other issues. He made up things about companies causing stock prices to fall. 

Multiple companies sued him over his libelous reports, and most of them settled out of court.

However, one such company came at him with the wrath of God, effectively putting Barry back where he belongs.



Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Food Fukery

different types of food

 
When you buy food at the supermarket or eat at a restaurant you thing you're getting what you pay for, right? Well, you probably aren't.

In this week's episode we discuss the rampant amount of fraudulent foods you're getting. From bad labeling to straight up lying, it's a bunch of fuckery.

Pumpkin Puree


Pumpkin puree: You know, the canned orange stuff that’s lining the supermarket walls right now? The stuff you use to make all your favorite fall desserts that’s labeled “100% pumpkin”?! Yes, well, it’s actually made from 100% not pumpkin. The mix is made from a variety of winter squash (think butternut, Golden Delicious, Hubbard, and more). Libby’s, the brand that produces about 85% of the country’s canned “pumpkin” filling, has actually developed a certain variety of squash that they grow, package, and distribute to supermarkets across the country–all the while fooling innocent, trusting consumers into believing they’re eating a pumpkin.

As it turns out, pumpkins can be fairly stringy and watery; certain varieties of winter squash make a richer, sweeter puree that works way better for packing the now-ambiguous flavor we all love into our favorite fall dishes. Additionally, the USDA is fairly lenient with gourd terminology in general, which is why it’s perfectly legal to label a food product as “pumpkin” when, in reality, it’s made from a different variety of squash. 

So you’ve basically been eating butternut squash pie, squash bread, and drinking SQUASH FREAKING SPICE LATTES this entire time.

Parmesan Cheese


By law, Parmigiano-Reggiano is allowed to contain only three very simple ingredients: milk (produced in the Parma/Reggio region and less than 20 hours from cow to cheese), salt, and rennet (a natural enzyme from calf intestine). Three other ingredients, Cellulose Powder, Potassium Sorbate, and Cheese Cultures are not found in Parmigiano-Reggiano - they are completely illegal in its production. Yet all three are in Kraft 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese (I’m not sure if that means it is supposed to be 100% “parmesan” or simply 100% grated, which it certainly is). It’s far enough from the real thing that Kraft was legally forced to stop selling its cheese labeled Parmesan in Europe

Kobe Beef


Kobe beef is only produced in Japan. It’s a style of beef that comes from Kobe Japan and is from the Wagyu breed of cow. It’s very rare. So much so that you can only get at very select restaurants in the US. As such, many serve what’s known in the trade as “wangus,” a hybrid of domestically raised Wagyu breeds and common Angus and call it Kobe. And some don’t even bother using any Wagyu breed at all.

Wagyu beef is known for its pink color and it’s marbling and flavor. Kobe is even more desirable and goes through an extensive approval process to even be considered Kobe. And it’s very, very expensive.


Article from Bon Apetit goes into great depth and detail on the process. 

Fish

In 2013 I actually wrote an article about this for Digital Journal about fish mislabeling. At the time it was ⅓ of fish in grocery stores and sushi restaurants were being passed off as other types of fish.

At the time a 2-year Oceana study determined a fuckton of fish was lislabed...Ocean test the fish DNA and discovered what was going on. They’re still fighting to fix the issue.

A whole lot of the fish we buy at your favorite restaurant, the supermarket, or even your local fish store aren’t what they say they are. They often substitute white fish for other types of fish. And even label farm-raised fish as wild-caught to make the consumer pay a higher price for a lower quality fish. Gordon Ramsay would skewer these people.

Some of the most commonly faked fish are:

Slickhead and tilapia which are passed off as Alaskan or Pacific cod, king mackerel and whitefin weakfish labeled as grouper, blueline tilefish as Alaskan or Pacific halibut and, Pacific ocean perch, yellowtail rockfish, giltheaded sea bream, madai, tilapia, white bass all being labeled as red snapper.

This can be problematic because of the mercury levels in specific types of fish. There is a Do Not Eat list of types of fish that are too dangerous to eat 

Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive is high-quality olives mashed into a paste and pressed to express its oil that is then bottled. But’s likely that that’s not what your getting. It’s estimated that 80% of the olive oil people are getting is either low-quality olive oil, mixed olive oil from older harvests and low-quality oils, or ranid oil. 


Why? Because the FDA doesn’t actually regulate olive oil. There are no rules to stop these brands from lying to you on their labels. Some olive oil producers are working to get the FED to set standards for calling olive oil extra virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil, and just plain old olive oil. But, for now there’s bupkis to ensure you’re getting what you’re paying for. Because EVOO is more expensive than the just plain old oo.


For now, here are some of the companies to watch for. Check your cupboards because you probably have one of these on your shelf which means you paid an inflated price for garbage olive oil.


  • Mezzetta

  • Pompeian

  • Mazola

  • Primadonna

  • Sasso

  • Colavita

  • Antica Badia

  • Whole Foods

  • Felippo Berio

  • Safeway

  • Coricelli

  • Bertolli


Also, bottled in Italy doesn’t mean made in Italy. You could be getting olive oil from olives grown in other Mediterranean countries, which are from lower quality olives. If your olive oil isn’t grown, produced, or made it Italy, but bottled in Italy, it’s probably not what you think it is.

Honey

If you have a local honey farmer, you really should be kissing their bee-suited asses. Because apparently honey is the 3rd most faked food in the U.S. Yep…


So, there’s manuka honey, which is produced in New Zealand. But since, it extremely hard to differentiate from regular old orange pollen honey or clover honey.



Excerpted from Forbes:

“The position of the American Beekeeping Federation is that real honey must have pollen, but lots of other domestic honey producers disagree and ultrafilter theirs to remove the pollen, which helps keeps the product from crystallizing.


One legitimate fear is that countries like China use the ultra-filtration or ultra-purification processes to mask the origin of the honey, which is then transshipped [sent to an intermediate country and relabeled as a product of that country to disguise its real origin] and sometimes mixed with a small amount of pollinated honey, from say India, to throw off testers. Sometimes Chinese honey is cut with much cheaper corn syrup or fructose syrup to enhance profit margins, and sometimes Chinese producers even feed corn syrup to the bees to get it into the honey more “naturally.” The importation of Chinese honey was specifically banned because it is so often adulterated.


The American Beekeeping Federation is the industry group representing U.S. producers of non-ultrafiltered honey. They petitioned the FDA to create a “standard of identity” for honey

 the FDA summarily denied this request. While it told the federation that it shared their “concerns about adulterated and misbranded honey,” regulators chose to defer to Webster’s, literally, citing the dictionary’s definition as adequate: “a thick, sweet, syrupy substance that bees make as food from the nectar of flowers and store in honeycombs.”


One legitimate fear is that countries like China use the ultra-filtration or ultra-purification processes to mask the origin of the honey, which is then transshipped [sent to an intermediate country and relabeled as a product of that country to disguise its real origin] and sometimes mixed with a small amount of pollinated honey, from say India, to throw off testers. Sometimes Chinese honey is cut with much cheaper corn syrup or fructose syrup to enhance profit margins, and sometimes Chinese producers even feed corn syrup to the bees to get it into the honey more “naturally.” The importation of Chinese honey was specifically banned because it is so often adulterated.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Sad Case of Milli Vanilli

Rob and Fab

Welcome back, readers/listeners!

It's been a while. I know. Several factors come into play about the missing blog posts. But, it's mainly because, I believe I may having an existential crisis? 

At, least that's how it feels. I might need mood elevators...

But I digress. Let's get into this week's topic...Milli Vanilli and Frank Farian!

The Late 80s, Early 90s Were Weird

So, during our talk Sunni kept singing her version of "Girl You Know It's True." Not wanting this song to get stuck in my head, I tried to think of their other songs, but could remember them.

However, this was quickly remedied when I had an epiphany. Blame it on the Rain! That's right. That was the other song they had that was A-MA-ZING.


But what I think is funny is, some if you listen to the lyrics to some of these songs, they make no sense. 😂 Like, "Baby, love is stronger than thunder." And, he wants to spend his life with her, but he wants her not to forget his number. It sounds like they haven't even had a first date yet... Just so many unanswered questions about these songs. 

Yes, they were written by Frank Farian, whose first language is not English, but they make no sense.

The Swedish are famous making hit after hit, after hit in English. Hello, ABBA! But Germans...not so much.

Anyway. That's what I found to be funny. Because Frank Furian obviously created a juggernaut business of making artists lipsync to songs that had already been produced.

Lipsyncing as a Money Maker?

Who creating music and using more attractive faces to put it out was such a moneymaker? I feel like I've seen a movie about this.

It's about a songwriter to believes he's not attractive enough to perform his own songs, so he hires someone to be the face. And of course in the end, he realizes looks don't matter. Or some shit like that.

Either way, I think it wouldn't have been such a scandal had we known from the start. Did we even ever find out who actually recorded the songs? What's the name of that band? Where are they now? I need answers!

It's funny how so many people were butt hurt over this, meanwhile, the government has been lying to us for years, and they have no problem with that. But, again, I digress.

It's Time For Jerry's Final Thought

We've come a long way from Milli Vanilli. It's sad what happened to Fab, but Rob is still pushing, so at least there's a silver lining.

But, I believe transparency would've been better for these two. Nowadays, we want more transparency with everything, right? 

We want to know where our food is sourced. We want to know what our leaders are doing. We want to know how our money is being spent.

Well, here's a little transparency from me. We'll never have true transparency until we weed out the bad apples among us in all areas...business, politics, healthcare, law enforcement, education, etc We have a long way to go, people.

Until next week, Don't Get Scammed.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Post BlackOut-Black Lives Matter-COVID19 and Other Traumatic Experience

HELLO!

Yep, it's been a while since we've had a blog post. And, there's a reason for that.

With everything going on in the country: the unfortunate, traumatic, unnecessary death of George Floyd, COVID-19, and president bent on dividing this country, a break from life was needed.

Now, I won't say I've spent that last few weeks in a stupor, but--with senses dulled is more accurate.

Sure, we've been trying to find ways to lift our spirits. Sunni's been active in her garden, growing corn, pumpkins, beets, and lots of wonderful and nutritious delights.

I've been trying to not go insane. I had partially taken to bed unless I needed to leave the house. It wasn't pretty. But it's how I maintained my sanity, and that's just what it is.

But we still recorded episodes--our latest being the blackout episode to stand in solidarity with the protests of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose life was literally crushed out of him by three policemen and one who stood idly by.

I wrote a poem about what he might've been thinking in his last moments. And, one day, when it's not so bitter in my heart, I'll read it aloud. But at this point I can't do it without crying, so...

For now, let's just keep it positive.

We've got some goodies to share with y'all in upcoming episodes. And by goodies, no, I don't mean free shit.

But some garbage people doing garbage people deeds. Such as an auto manufacturer that lied to the government to make a buck. We're working on some stuff for you guys. Our listeners.

Don't worry. Once the mental health is back to optimal functionality, the blog will be an entertaining addition to the podcast episodes.

But, for now, thank you for sticking around with us. It's been a GD rollercoaster.

Much love, and until next week,

Don't Get Scammed.

💓💓