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Nigerian Scam Supporter Sentenced June 25, 2008

Posted by Reginald Johnson in Africa, Business, Crime, Culture, Government, International, Legal, News, Prisons.
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Washington, DC is known for many things:  organisational national conferences are often held here, the beauty of the national monuments, the President of the United States resides here, and even the stoic charm of the Smithsonian.  But the nation’s capitol is also known for one other thing:  scams!  Today in the District of Columbia, a Washington woman was sentenced  to two years in prison and five years of supervised release for her role in an Internet counterfeit check scheme.  Some of you might find that hard to believe in such an awesome city, but it’s true.

In March, Edna Fiedler pleaded guilty to attempting to defraud U.S. citizens in a scheme known as a Nigerian check scam.  At some point in time, you might have even received either an email associated with her, or some other email with basically the same concept, or desire:  t0 defraud you of your money!

Her involvement goes as such:  Fiedler helped her accomplices in Nigeria send fake checks to people who had agreed to cash the checks on behalf of the sender, keeping some of the proceeds and sending the rest back.

This a far cry from just sending a fake check in the mail after the person being scammed as sent a real one.  Also this particular scam is harder to catch since the person receiving the scamming check too legitimate to banks and other financial institutions.

The Nigerians found people willing to cash the fake checks via e-mail.

They would send their names as well as fake documents that looked like Wal-Mart money orders, Bank of America checks, U.S. Postal Service checks and American Express traveler’s checks to Fiedler. They told her how to fill out the checks and where to send them.

The recipients most likely thought they were helping out someone who needed a person in the U.S. to cash a check for them  They were able to get the money by cashing the checks, and sent most of it to either Fiedler or her Nigerian accomplices. However, once the checks were discovered to be fake, the people who cashed them were responsible for the full amount.

The banks would cash the checks and a few days later, would be discovered to be fake.

All told, Fiedler sent out $609,000 (US) worth of phony checks and money orders. When U.S. Secret Service agents investigating the case searched Fiedler’s house, they found additional fake checks worth more than $1.1 million that she was preparing to send out.

At a recent conference in Seattle, a representative from the U.S. Postal Service and Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna described ways they’re working to shut down these kinds of scams, particularly because they often involve people who don’t realize that they’re taking part in illegal activities.

The U.S. Postal Service recently sent 15 postal investigators to Lagos, Nigeria, and during a three-month period there, they helped intercept counterfeit checks, lottery tickets and eBay overpayment schemes with a face value of $2.1 billion, Chris Siouris, a cyber investigator at the U.S. Postal Inspector, said at the recent conference. Siouris, McKenna and others are pushing for ways to better educate Internet users so that people don’t unwittingly help out in these kinds of e-mail scams.

Hospitals Being Streched June 24, 2008

Posted by Reginald Johnson in Uncategorized.
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The economy is hurting everyone.  The housing industry, the food industry, the transportation industry, the movie industry.  But another group is also suffering…the medical industry.  More importantly, the hospitals.

With the American public have to strech their paychecks, many people are struggling to pay tfor their basic needs.

As a result, local hospitals are seeing a rise in their charity care line items. The good  [and sometimes bad] of it is, hospitals almost never turn away health care to people regardless of their ability to pay. In the cases where a patient is unable to pay because they don’t have insurance, Medicare or Medicaid, hospitals absorb the cost as charity care.

This is becoming more common than not.  Hospital’s emergency response (ER) wards were already reaching critical levels with many people referring to these wards as primary care centres.

Hospital administrators say charity care costs are going up, and for a myriad of reasons, including patients who don’t have insurance or are underinsured. Rising gas and food prices and flattening wages only compound the problem.

At one particular hospital in New Hampshire, the amount of charity has risen from this time last year — from about $8 million during the first half of 2007 to about $15 million in the first half of 2008.

It may be true that the hospitals have done a better job at reaching out to people that need health care, but many people have insurance plans with high deductibles, so they shoulder more of the health costs.  With that in mind, hospitals are the last to get paid,  When people are having to pay $4.50 a gallon for gas and their living wage hasn’t increased, something has to be let give.

Hospitals base their charity care policies on the federal poverty level — about $10,400 a year for a single person; about $22,000 for a family of four — whether the patients are on Medicare or Medicaid, or have any kind of insurance and how much.

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