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November 19, 2013 | By David Lazarus
Lu has been receiving pitches for gas-line insurance for her home. She wants to know if it's worth it. Many homeowners receive such solicitations. Sometimes they look like they were sent by a utility. Sometimes they're more straightforward about being from a private company. The nuts and bolts are usually the same. You pay a monthly fee and you'll be covered in case there's any problem with your gas line. ASK LAZ: Smart answers to consumer questions But there are catches.
March 26, 2014 | By Michael Hiltzik
A big part of the argument made by enemies of the Affordable Care Act that the Act is hurting Medicare applies to a category of health plan known as Medicare Advantage. New evidence has just come in showing that Medicare Advantage is a ripoff that fattens the health insurance industry while scarcely helping its enrollees , all at public expense. Medicare Advantage plans differ from traditional Medicare by offering its enrollees ostensibly better care and sometimes broader services--free eyeglasses, even gym memberships--in return for reimbursements from the government that are 14% higher than traditional Medicare reimbursements, or more.
November 1, 2013 | By Ricardo Lopez
The Internal Revenue Service warned about a telephone scam in which targeted taxpayers are told they owe money and must pay up immediately. The IRS on Thursday said the operation was sophisticated. The scammers are able to provide would-be victims the last four digits of their Social Security numbers and have the ability to spoof the agency's toll-free number on caller ID. “This scam has hit taxpayers in nearly every state in the country," said Danny Werfel, acting commissioner.
March 22, 2014 | Ricardo Lopez
If the IRS is calling and demanding you pay up or else, it's probably not the IRS. In what officials in Washington are calling the largest of its kind, a sophisticated phone scam has swindled 20,000 people nationally out of a combined $1 million. Scammers are armed with enough information and technological know-how to bilk taxpayers, often convincing unsuspecting victims because they can recite the last four digits of their Social Security number, officials said. The call that comes in appears to be -- at least on caller ID -- from the Internal Revenue Service.
January 2, 2012 | By Hugo Martin
If you get a suspicious email that appears to be from American Airlines, it could be part of a scam to pilfer personal information. The airline suspects that hackers have sent out, as recently as November, what are known as "phishing" emails intended to mislead people into giving up information such as their passwords to the airline's reward program. To warn customers, American Airlines has posted several examples of the phony emails on its website. One such email says the recipient has paid $278 for a flight to New York and should download the ticket.
January 31, 2010 | Kathy M. Kristof, Personal Finance
The e-mail said it came from CareerBuilder and offered a job opportunity as a "trading assistant," which it described as an easy part-time job with "considerable" compensation. There's just one hitch: It was not an e-mail from, the No. 1 online job website partly owned by Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times, and it was not a job. It was part of a cynical scam that's becoming widespread in the waning days of the recession. This scam is just part of an evolving cacophony of employment frauds that prey on the millions of Americans who are out of work.
August 6, 2013 | By Walter Hamilton
In an age of rampant online investment fraud, it's almost refreshing that the latest scam involves only a telephone. Federal regulators are warning investors to beware of scammers pitching high-yielding certificates of deposit. The thieves pose as brokers of a big-name investment firm, then coax victims to reveal financial data so they can steal their identities and loot their bank accounts. The twist is that the scammers steal money the old-fashioned way: by calling unsuspecting victims on the phone.
August 8, 1993
Regarding "Scouts to Do Survey of Business Licenses" (Focus, July 30): What's going on here? Are the Boy Scouts now working for the government in Tustin as tax collectors? If so, why? Business licenses are nothing but a scam. They are just another scheme to shake down businesses. They don't prove skills or abilities or honesty. Business licenses should be abolished. I can't believe the Boy Scouts of America, of all people, would be a part of a shakedown.
November 4, 2007 | From a Times Staff Writer
The pitch: Fire-affected customers can get their power back. The scam: It'll cost you. The charges: Southern California Edison has warned that con artists posing as utility employees or contractors may be working the wildfire areas, offering to restore power for a fee or to collect money to avoid having power turned off. The advice: Always ask for identification, especially if asked for money or personal information. Get as much information as possible, including name, department and a business phone number.
March 21, 2014 | By Ricardo Lopez
An Internal Revenue Service watchdog is warning taxpayers of a scam that so far has swindled 20,000 people out of a combined $1 million, officials said Thursday. The Treasury inspector general for Taxpayer Administration said sophisticated scammers are cold-calling people claiming to be from the IRS and are armed with enough information, such as the last four digits of a person's Social Security number, to convince victims to wire them money. "This is the largest scam of its kind that we have ever seen," said J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for Tax Administration.  The scammers have targeted thousands of people in nearly every state, the agency said.  Callers claim to be from the IRS and tell people they owe taxes that must be paid immediately using a pre-paid debit card or through a wire transfer.
March 15, 2014 | By Lee Romney
KING CITY, Calif. - Angel Pineda tucked his white cowboy hat under a folding chair in the packed church hall and listened. First came the civil rights presentation - on what to do if pulled over by police. " I want a lawyer ," American Civil Liberties Union staffer Daisy Vieyra, who had come from San Francisco, enunciated in English. "I want a lawyer," the crowd repeated. Then came the indignation, as local residents and advocates from outside this southern Salinas Valley agricultural community made it clear that tomorrow's King City will not be the same as yesterday's.
March 4, 2014 | By Tina Susman
NEW YORK -- A Long Island man who admitted helping his father fake his own drowning was sentenced to a year in jail Tuesday, the latest twist in an unwieldy case that became a textbook example of how not to get away with it. Jonathan Roth, 23, apologized as he was sentenced Tuesday in Mineola, N.Y., 17 months after he reported his father, Raymond Roth, missing in the waves off a popular Long Island beach. "I realize what I did was wrong," said the younger Roth, who could have avoided jail time if he had complied with a deal his attorney struck with Nassau County prosecutors last year.
February 26, 2014 | By Michael Hiltzik
The long-awaited Republican tax reform plan was released today by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich). It's being hailed as a breakthrough in putting real reform on the table, but also being instantly eulogized as dead-on-arrival in a Congress that wants no part of any tax reform, now or ever.  Still, it's instructive to examine the Camp plan for a primer on the latest mathematical trickery aimed at making something that...
February 12, 2014
Re "Like the DMV, but with more fees," Column, Feb. 7 The online DMV look-alike scam has other incarnations. As a reasonably intelligent retired professional, I recently attempted to file change-of-address information with the U.S. Postal Service. I came upon a very official-looking website. I filled in the requisite information, which included my credit card, being aware that the Postal Service requires a token $1 payment to confirm your identity. When I reviewed my credit card statement, I noticed a $39 charge.
January 17, 2014 | By E. Scott Reckard
In what they call an unprecedented case, authorities have accused six Fresno residents of abusing a squatters-rights law to steal no fewer than 23 properties across California. The homes range from shacks in rural hamlets and a house near the Twenty Mule Team Museum in Boron to a condo near the yacht slips in Marina del Rey. The defendants “lied to the courts” to stake claims to apparently abandoned homes in nine counties, California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris said in a news release.
January 13, 2014 | By Jeff Gottlieb
Former Bell City Administrator Robert Rizzo is expected in court Monday and is expected to plead guilty to filing false tax returns. From 2005 through 2010, the year he was ousted from his job after his salary was revealed, Rizzo claimed more than $770,000 in phantom losses on his tax returns, further inflating his take-home pay. He is already facing 10 to 12 years in prison for his role in a corruption scandal, but agreed to plead guilty to...
December 6, 2013 | By Meg James
It seemed too good to be true. About a month ago, I was outside our house in Los Angeles watering plants as darkness settled in. Two guys approached me with a question. Who provided my television service? Was it DirecTV? Dish Network? Time Warner Cable? The pair promised that no matter which company it was, they could offer a better deal. As they walked up our driveway, I got a closer look. One guy was wearing a red polo shirt with Dish Network logos and a red Dish Network ball cap. The other guy was in a blue polo shirt and blue ball cap sporting DirecTV logos.
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