Raspberry Ketone Strength Scam?

I’m writing this hoping other people will come forward with similar stories. (Don’t forget to read the important updates at the end of this post. Additionally, I’ve written out a strategy that will likely help track these scammers down faster.) On 9/16/2014, Josh, a former agent at the “customer service company” at the center of this scam responded.

Yesterday, 8/13/2014, I logged in and checked my credit card statement like I do routinely. I noticed an odd authorization for $49.95 from 888-368-0967.com. This was suspicious because I did not recently buy anything for $49.95 and had never heard of that company.

Visiting the site did not help either. It appears to be a third party site that provides the customer service and, apparently, billing for other websites online.

Continue reading

Another reason to not trust Obamacare

I am so fortunate that I have health care provided by my employer.

We all have heard the troubles that the healthcare.gov website has had with uptime and stability. However, what hasn’t really been discussed is the site’s poor security.

The data obtained by Healthcare.gov is one of the largest collections of personal information ever assembled. It links information between seven different federal agencies and state agencies and government contractors.

The website requires users to provide personal information like birth dates, social security numbers, and household incomes in order to obtain information about potential health coverage. But security experts have expressed concern about flaws in the site that put this personal data at risk and subject users to the threat of identity theft.

One of our witnesses, David Kennedy, is a “white hat hacker,” who is hired by companies around the world to test the security of their online systems by essentially hacking their websites. During the hearing, Mr. Kennedy gave a demonstration of the healthcare.gov website’s vulnerabilities showing in real-time that hackers can access personal information on the website. It’s clear that not only is the website vulnerable, it’s under attack.

When asked whether he believed the website had already been compromised by hackers, Mr. Kennedy testified that he believed the website has either already been hacked or soon will be.

The massive amount of personal information collected by the Healthcare.gov website creates a tempting target for scam artists. Identity theft jeopardizes credit ratings and personal finances.


Additionally, aside from the technological problems, the navigators, which are there to help the public navigate the site, have not received background checks and yet have access to thousands of people’s private health records.

The Obamacare legislation is absolutely horrendous. Giving all this information to the government is irresponsible. If I did not have health insurance already, I would rather pay the fine than surrender personal information voluntarily to the government. I would at least want multiple non-government independent auditors to verify the security of the site as well as provide transparency on who has viewed my information. Hospitals are required to have records of the time and people that access medical records…why shouldn’t the government be held to the same standards?

Obama’s presidency so far seems constructed to pave the way to a totalitarian system. The ultimate goal is total reliance on the government from everything from health care to what we should be teaching our children. If we don’t make the transition back to smaller government, history will look back on the Obama presidency as the beginning of the decline of American supremacy. (Full disclosure, I feel that the last few Presidents, including GWB contributed to the problem by increasing debt but just not as quickly or to the level that Obama has forced.)

Somewhere there are socialists in their graves laughing as the United States tries her hand at centralized planning. You’d think that with nearly the entire 20th century being a showcase of failed communist states, we’d learn. Obama and the democrats must not have studied history or paid attention the day they were supposed to read Orwell’s 1984.

As George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

My Thought on the Debt Crisis & Government Shutdown

I am truly scared for the future of the United States. Wasn’t it just a few months ago that we were having another discussion in Congress related to raising the debt limit? That disaster was averted by allowing the sequestration cuts. What I don’t understand is how this is all happening again. It should simply be a matter of not spending more than you make.

Rather than continuing to raise the debt limit, why don’t we decrease spending or at least hold it at the level of inflation. Congress should be forced to pass a balanced budget each year that does not spend more than it takes in in taxes (exceptions could be made for War and other emergencies). The welfare and entitlement system should be overhauled so that only truly qualified people are allowed to be on it as a temporizing measure. Revenue increasing (code word for increasing taxes) is not the way to go about it.

The United States, I think, is not too far gone that we could still save ourselves if the federal government just stepped out of the way. Lower taxes to encourage productivity. Increase the number of green cards available for the talented foreigners that would still love to come to this country. And, we must do this before China grabs them with talks of their version of what has always been called, ‘the American Dream.’

Continue reading

You Know This Was Coming…New PenFed Terms

Remember when I posted back in January 2012 about PenFed changing the terms on its cash back card? My concern was that once a credit card switched over to giving points instead of cash, it made it easily to devalue those points. That just recently happened. Instead of getting 5 points for gas and 3 points for the supermarket, now it is 3 points and 2 points, respectively. (Source.)

And, to top it off, PenFed is changing the terms of its Cash Back card as well. Effective October 31st, the card will pay back 3% on gas and have a $25 annual fee. If you have a qualifying product, such as a minimum of $1,000 in a money market account, then you get to keep the 5% cash back on gas without having to pay an annual fee. Both new arraignments also reduce the percentage back on all other purchases from 0.25% to 0%.

While it wouldn’t be the end of the world to add a money market account, I would prefer to buy dividend paying growth stocks with it rather than lose out to inflation eating away at the meager money market rates.

My goal is to switch my cash back card at PenFed to a PenFed card that does not have an annual fee. I’d lose the rewards aspect of it, but since Schwab’s card went away, I have no other card but PenFed that does not have a foreign transaction fee. If I ever travel abroad again, I’d use it solely for that purpose.

For my gas and grocery purchases I’d switch back to my Bank of America card on which I earn 3% on gas and 2% on groceries. Not quite the 5% that I was receiving earlier but enough for the convenience of not having to reduce my equity purchasing power by $1000.

Update (9/24/2013):

Well, I just got off the phone with Pentagon Federal Credit Union to try and switch my Cash Rewards to a card that didn’t have an annual yield. I didn’t want to cancel it entirely because it is my only card with no foreign transaction fee. For a credit card company, I never thought the customer service of Schwab’s former credit card offering could be beat. However, I believe that PenFed might do it. No hold time and super friendly (and non-accented) customer service. She told me that in order to keep my 5% cash back on gas and avoid the $25 annual fee, all I had to do was create a minimum of $25 to a Money Market Savings account.

Wow! She even helped me set it up right then and there over the phone. According to the letter I received I was under the impression that I would need to add an active checking account or a Money Market Certificate ($1000 minimum). I thought maybe I had found something new, but it turns out that the guys at FatWallet had already discussed this, though not until page 4 on the forum. This is great news because the card has a ton of benefits and the customer service can’t be beat.

Atlas Shrugged in Real Life

Right now I’m about 100 pages from finishing Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I’m at the section where (spoiler…spoiler) John Galt commandeers a radio station that the entire country is listening and speaks for 70 pages(!!). (This is the only portion of the book that I have found becoming a little repetitive and monotonous…) While Ayn Rand’s philosophy is contained throughout the whole novel, it is here that she lays out her entire philosophy in one long diatribe through the mouth of John Galt.

I’ve also been highlighting interesting quotes throughout the book as I’ve been working my way through it on my Nook. My goal is to write a future blog post in which I list all these quotations and then discuss them in context. More on that later…

Two recent financial news stories draw so much of a parallel to Atlas Shrugged that I had to bring up the comparison here. It is absolutely scary how similar the world that Ayn Rand envisions is becoming like our own. Everyone in Congress and the government, but especially Obama and the democrats, should be required to read Atlas Shrugged.

Financial story #1: A few months ago in Cyprus it was announced that 47.5% of savings held in Cypriot banks above USD$132,000 would be lost taken in order for the country to receive a eurozone rescue package. And, to stop the expected run on banks, restrictions on withdrawals and transfers were imposed.

Financial story #2: Recently it was announced that the government of Poland

would transfer to the state – i.e., confiscate – the bulk of assets owned by the country’s private pension funds (many of them owned by such foreign firms as PIMCO parent Allianz, AXA, Generali, ING and Aviva), without offering any compensation. In effect, the state just nationalized roughly half of the private sector pension fund assets, although it had a more politically correct name for it: pension overhaul.

The Polish finance minister stated that this change would reduce the public debt by 8% of GDP. Poland has restrictions on issuing more debt if the public debt percent of GDP goes past 50% and 55%. By stealing this money Poland can borrow more debt until it once again reaches its threshold.

And then guess what the government can do once again? It can simply confiscate from the private sector once more until there is nothing more left to take.

How long before the US begins a similar path? How long before the government will decide that private citizens who have sacrificed their entire working lives to save for retirement now have more than they need to retire? Why should John retire with $2 million in the bank when Paul down the street has saved little and is reliant on government handouts? Wouldn’t it be for the common good of the United States to distribute retirement money fairly? John surely doesn’t need all of that money to be comfortable.

How long before the US government decides to tax money held in a Roth IRA or 401k? Would anyone that mattered really be that upset? After all, over half the country isn’t paying federal income taxes yet still votes. Couldn’t these citizens simply vote for “equitable” distribution of that wealth?

These questions are exactly what is addressed and happens in Atlas Shrugged. I just hope that we can ward off this same story from playing out in the United States as it has started to throughout Europe.

New SmugMug

SmugMug just released a huge update to how their photo galleries are displayed. It was built from the ground up and looks gorgeous. You can read about the details of that here: The New SmugMug Is Here

My old SmugMug page I thought looked decent and was functional. However, when compared with the updated gallery layouts that are available now, it seems extremely outdated.

Here is what my main page looked like before:

Old SmugMug Main Page

Old SmugMug Main Page

Continue reading

Rising Inequality Under Obama

Obama proclaimed in [his] second Inaugural Address, “our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.” But that is exactly what is happening under Obama’s economy.

Under Reagan, the rich got richer and the poor got richer. After Reaganomics took hold in 1983, incomes for every quintile, from the top 20% to the bottom 20%, rose. The poverty rate also declined for every year thereafter while Reagan was President.

But President Obama is following exactly the opposite of every policy of Reaganomics, so he is getting basically the opposite results. The incomes of the top 20% have still been rising under Obama. But the incomes of everyone else, the bottom 80%, have been falling!

Source: The American Spectator: Obama’s Rising Inequality

And, from the Investor Business Daily:

Research by University of California economist Emmanuel Saez shows that since the Obama recovery started in June 2009, the average income of the top 1% grew 11.2% in real terms through 2011.

The bottom 99%, in contrast, saw their incomes shrink by 0.4%.

As a result, 121% of the gains in real income during Obama’s recovery have gone to the top 1%. By comparison, the top 1% captured 65% of income gains during the Bush expansion of 2002-07, and 45% of the gains under Clinton’s expansion in the 1990s.

The Census Bureau’s official measure of income inequality — called the Gini index — shows similar results. During the Bush years, the index was flat overall — finishing in 2008 exactly where it started in 2001.

It’s gone up each year since Obama has been president and now stands at all-time highs.

Heck, even the liberal Daily Kos understands this: Income Inequality has grown much faster under Obama than George W. Bush


Here’s one more example of why our government is in so much debt. There’s just so many examples of this that it is outrageous!

Confession: You’re paying my phone bill.

In the past month, I have received three shiny new cell phones, courtesy of American taxpayers, that should never have fallen into my hands.

The Federal Communications Commission oversees the so-called Lifeline program, created in 1984 to make sure impoverished Americans had telephone service available to call their moms, bosses, and 911. In 2008, the FCC expanded the program to offer subsidized cell-phone service, and since then, the expenses of running the program have soared. In 2012, the program’s costs had risen to $2.189 billion, up from $822 million before wireless carriers were included. As of June, there were 13.8 million active Lifeline subscriptions.

To be eligible for Lifeline, the applicant is supposed to be receiving some significant government benefit — food stamps, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, public housing assistance, etc. But because welfare eligibility has expanded under the Obama administration, more people than ever before are qualified to receive “free” cell-phone service — part of the reason why Lifeline mobiles have become commonly known as Obamaphones. Alternatively, applicants can qualify if their household income is less than 136 percent of the federal poverty line.

Continue reading at National Review Online: Me and My Obamaphones

And, of course you can’t talk about Obamaphones without including the obligatory and classic YouTube video:


Blocked: With emotions high and traffic stopped, tensions rose as protestors blocked the Los Angeles freeway Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362973/Protests-erupt-coast-coast-George-Zimmerman-goes-FREE-Second-day-demonstrations-planned-night-anger.html#ixzz2ZBMyeW8J

Blocked: With emotions high and traffic stopped, tensions rose as protestors blocked the Los Angeles freeway
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362973/Protests-erupt-coast-coast-George-Zimmerman-goes-FREE-Second-day-demonstrations-planned-night-anger.html#ixzz2ZBMyeW8J

Halted: Traffic came to a halt Sunday evening on Los Angeles' I-10 freeway as Trayvon Martin supporters swarmed the road in protest of his killer's acquittal, stopping all traffic Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362973/Protests-erupt-coast-coast-George-Zimmerman-goes-FREE-Second-day-demonstrations-planned-night-anger.html#ixzz2ZBMdRBea

Halted: Traffic came to a halt Sunday evening on Los Angeles’ I-10 freeway as Trayvon Martin supporters swarmed the road in protest of his killer’s acquittal, stopping all traffic
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362973/Protests-erupt-coast-coast-George-Zimmerman-goes-FREE-Second-day-demonstrations-planned-night-anger.html#ixzz2ZBMdRBea

Continue reading