Ponzimonium out there

Every day, someone is scammed by a con artist. It’s occurring more than ever according to government data. Slick fraudsters, masters of deception, and outright crooks are at it every day, all day, trying to get your money.

For example, according to emails, you’d think I’m one fortunate fellow. A large inheritance from a distant relative I didn’t even know maybe coming my way. My email address won a lottery worth several million (although I’ve not entered any contest). The money will help because a woman wrote about her botched surgery in Peru. She needs cash to get healthy. She will be forever indebted once I help out. Sounds like a good trade. I thought these and other emails seemed suspicious, but I’m also a beneficiary of a scam fraud fund for folks who have been robbed by schemers of one sort or another. So, I’ve got that going for me.

None of these ever work out, yet people fall for the cons all the time.

We recall the Bernie Madoff scandal from 2008 — where for years he actually made off with an estimated $50 billion — in the mother of all Ponzi schemes. Even the online gaming website for Full Tilt Poker is allegedly a Ponzi scam according to the Department of Justice. It appears that $444 million may have been stolen. It’s Ponzimonium out there and people need to be on extra special alert to avoid swindlers’ webs.

One thing folks can do is get educated. Financial literacy is the key to not becoming a victim. The website
mymoney.gov is a place to start. Also, in the new book “Ponzimonium: How Scam Artists Are Ripping Off America,” I lay out 20 Red Flags of Fraud and provide an investors’ check list to use before investing. For more information, go to the Government Printing Office bookstore at gpo.gov. (http://1.usa.gov/oxtHEx)

Here are a few of those red flags:

1. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

2. The investment promises little or no risk of loss or promises you won’t lose money.

3. Profits or rates of return on an investment are guaranteed regardless of the direction of markets.

4. The investment is difficult to understand or incomprehensible.

5. There is a need for secrecy. Not being able to get written information about a potential investment should raise suspicions.

Bottom line: be super suspicious and exceptionally careful. It is your hard-earned money.

I’ve gotta run here. Another email just arrived. It appears a rich princess is distressed and needs assistance. She seems nice and calls me “Dear Beloved.”

• Chilton is a commissioner on the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.


Wed, 02/22/2017 - 11:53

Stand with Alaskans and stand with Planned Parenthood

I appreciate Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s recent decision to support repealing the Trump administration’s global gag rule. The global gag rule bans federal money for overseas family planning programs if the programs also provide abortion, or provide information about abortion. The global gag rule puts thousands of lives at risk, and Murkowski has rightly recognized that. I praise Murkowski, and want her to know that Alaskans stand with her in supporting access to family planning services. This means that we support Planned Parenthood, and we hope she will stand with us in the coming weeks by refusing to vote for any changes to the Affordable Care Act that include defunding Planned Parenthood. Read more

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:42

Alaska editorial: The opioid issue

This editorial first appeared in the Ketchikan Daily News:

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Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:41

Expanding apprenticeship in rural Alaska

We are proud to announce a new statewide training initiative: the Alaska Maritime Apprenticeship Program. Over the past year, the Calista Corporation, in partnership with the state and federal government, has built a Registered Apprenticeship program to train Alaskans for careers on deck, in the engine room, and in the galley, earning both a salary and an industry-recognized credential. Working with a group of companies including Brice Marine and Yukon River Towing, we are expanding career and training opportunities for Alaskans in the maritime industry.

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Wed, 02/22/2017 - 08:40

Transboundary mining: Defending Alaska’s interests

It is a big week for Alaska’s capital city. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan are in town to address the Alaska State Legislature, the United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) Board of Directors, and all Alaskans. There are a number of issues on which the state of Alaska, including our elected decision makers at both the state and federal levels, can show unity. One of those critical issues is asking the U.S. federal government to defend Alaskan interests in the Alaska-British Columbia (B.C.) transboundary mining issue.

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