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Personal Finance from Forbes.com

  • Move For Business Or Stay Around For Mom's Sake?
    Janette feels completely torn. Her mother, who lives an hour away, is ill and refuses home help.  Janette (name changed to protect her identity) visits weekly and does a lot of chores for her.  She feels a sense of duty, especially as two of her siblings do not wish to be involved in their mom's care at all.
  • Backpacking Solo In South America
    French citizen Christy Offret shares her tips and adventures from the road, two months into her South American backpacking journey.
  • How To Use A Secured Card To Rebuild Your Credit
    Who among us hasn’t needed a second chance? Or a first opportunity? For the millions of Americans who were battered by the Great Recession and came out of it with a tattered credit score, plus the legions of young people who haven’t had a chance to earn and spend money
  • Social Security's Proper Role In Your Retirement Plan
    Could you live on Social Security? That seems to be a stock answer for many folks nearing retirement, and it's a tremendously misguided view.
  • How To Get The Most Out Of Your College Tour
    Too many college campus tours focus on the student union and amenities instead of visits to financial aid, career services and professors’ offices.
  • 3 Steps To Double Your Retirement Portfolio Safely
    As May creeps toward us you will begin to hear traders talking about the "Halloween indicator" or using the phrase "Sell in May and go away."
  • SEC Charges TelexFree With Fraud, Alleges $1.1 Billion Pyramid Scheme
    The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced it filed charges on April 15, 2014, against multiple companies under the TelexFree umbrella, accusing the companies of orchestrating a massive pyramid scheme that targeted Dominican and Brazilian immigrants and took in at least several hundred million dollars from investors worldwide. In addition to TelexFree, the Commission also named eight TelexFree officers and promoters: James M. Merrill, Carlos N. Wanzeler, Steven M. Labriola, Joseph H. Craft, Sanderley Rodrigues de Vasconcelos, Santiago de la Rosa, Randy N. Crosby, and Faith R. Sloan (collectively, "Defendants"). Each has been charged with multiple violations of federal securities laws. In addition to the charges, the Commission also announced it had obtained an asset freeze securing millions of dollars in funds.  According to the Commission, while investors continue to enroll every day, "it is clear the pyramid has collapsed." The unsealing of the charges come days after TelexFree declared bankruptcy in a Nevada federal court and was subsequently the target of an administrative action by Massachusetts securities regulators accusing the company of being a massive $1.1 billion pyramid and Ponzi scheme.  According to authorities, TelexFree advertised itself as a substitute to landline phone services through the sale of its voice over internet protocol (“VoIP”) program, 99TelexFREE.  In addition, the company also sought participants for a passive income program that promised outsized returns through either a $289 or $1,375 investment (as well as a $50 administrative fee).  Investors were able to invest by credit card.  The $289 program offers one advertisement kit and ten VoIP Programs, while the $1,375 option allows the purchaser to receive five advertisement kits and fifty VoIP Programs.  By using the so-called advertisement kits, which is an “effortless” process consisting of several minutes of work per advertisement, participants are purportedly able to generate extensive returns without the need for any VoIP Program sales.  In addition, participants received an additional VoIP Program for posting a daily advertisement, which they were then able to sell to TelexFree for $20. Through these efforts, participants in either program were promised astronomical returns.  For example, a participant investing $289 that simply placed one advertisement per day could receive an annual profit of at least $681 – a return exceeding 200%.  Similarly, a participant investing $1,375 and placing five advertisements daily could receive profit of $3,675 – a return over 250%.  Not surprisingly, these large returns spurred the participation by many thousands of investors worldwide. TelexFree also paid handsome commissions to promoters, including bonuses of up to $100 per member recruited and further incentives for direct and indirect participants in their "network."  Additionally, promoters were promised 2% of all payments to each participant in their network that had at least one active VoIP customer.  According to the Commission, Defendants Vasconcelos, De La Rosa, Crosby, and Sloan were among "the most successful promoters of TelexFree." The Commission accused TelexFree of multiple material misrepresentations and omissions to investors, including but not limited to:
  • SEC Accuses Former BP Employee Of Insider Trading During Deepwater Horizon Spill
    The Securities and Exchange Commission charged a former 20-year veteran of BP with insider trading during the immediate aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and subsequent oil spill, alleging the employee avoided more than $100,000 in losses as BP's share price dropped by nearly 50% as news of the spill's magnitude emerged.  Keith A. Seilhan, a senior responder for BP during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, agreed to settle claims that he violated federal securities laws by selling his family's entire $1 million portfolio of BP securities after he learned that the public estimations of the spill's magnitude were grossly understated.  Without admitting or denying the allegations, Seilhan agreed to pay (i) $105,409 of ill-gotten gains; (ii) $13,300 in prejudgment interest; and (iii) a civil penalty of $105,409. According to the Commission, after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20, 2010, Seilhan was designated to BP's Incident Command Center in Houma, Louisiana, where he was responsible for overseeing the initial oil collection and clean-up operations.  In his position as Incident Commander, Seilhan learned of nonpublic information relating to the seriousness of the disaster, including initial oil flow estimates from the sunken rig that were significantly greater than the public estimate of  5,000 barrels per day.  Indeed, those private estimates were between 52,700 and 62,200 barrels per day - a 10x increase than that provided to the public.
  • How Are Pets Handled In Divorce?
    How Are Pets Handled In Divorce? Researchers estimate that about 50% of American marriages end in divorce. They also say that 62% of American households include at least one pet. So, it seems reasonable to conclude that many divorcing couples are pet owners. But when a married couple calls it quits, what happens to their furry friends?
  • Million-Mile View Of Investment Value
    Imagine we’re on an intergalactic spaceship traveling far away from Earth. It’s a quiet day. There are no meteor storms or alien encounters to contend with. We’re sitting in the Solar Lounge discussing a topic of great interest to both of us – the root elements of investment value. Our dialogue is as follows: What defines investment value? Is it the return of an investment over time? We contemplate this and decide that return cannot be a good definition of value because inflation causes prices to rise, which is not an increase in real value. Then inflation gains are taxed by governments, which reduces real value.
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