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Thu Feb 21, 2013, 10:00 PM

Some personal ancedotes-family members' experiences with business criminals

I have three examples of white-collar crime being perpetrated (or attempted, at least) on members of my family and friends of the family. (No names will be given, details will be fairly vague..you know the drill).

First, some years back at my immediate family's house, we had our air conditioning system examined by a certain company. Well, the people they had sent out told my parents that they had discovered a problem with the system, so we needed to replace it with a new system. My mom, being somewhat curious about this, asked for a second opinion from someone from another company. Turns out, the air conditioning was fine, except for the fact that it had been deliberately rewired backwards so that it wouldn't work. Someone who knew what they were doing (ie from the company) had done this.

The second example happened to a member of my extended family. Her husband had signed up for some "free" oil changes for their car, along with some other discounted services. Well, this relative agreed to meet the person who provided the oil changes and services, and he told her to come back when he was finished working on the car. In a nutshell....the guy preyed on my relative's lack of detailed knowledge of the mechanics of a car by (again) deliberately screwing up certain parts of the car while he worked on it. It was only when my relative showed a close friend (a mechanic) of hers the car that she realized that she had been ripped off.

The third and final example didn't happen to a member of my family, but an old friend of my mom's side of the family and his wife. They had been looking for a reputable person to help manage their financial assets and found a guy who seemed very highly regarded. He came over to their house and was very charming in his sales pitch to them, to the point that he built enough trust for them to agree to allow him to take care of a good part of their family wealth. Well, as it turns out, this guy was a predator who, with my family friend and his wife, had just had his latest success in conning a household out of its assets. What's more, this man was (is) a member of a politically prominent family in that particular metro area, with connections in the senior ranks of police departments and city councils. In other words-he was both a merciless sociopath and connected to people in high places. The couple that had been conned thus decided that they wouldn't seek justice.

White-collar, business, and professional crime are disturbingly common in our society, yet at the same time, it's hard to concretely prove that someone is intentionally conning you or ripping you off. If anyone else has an anecdote or story that they are willing to share, an experience of white-collar crime, feel free to share what you are comfortable sharing in this thread(If not, I totally understand).

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Reply Some personal ancedotes-family members' experiences with business criminals (Original post)
YoungDemCA Feb 2013 OP
hunter Feb 2013 #1
Fuddnik Feb 2013 #2
Archae Feb 2013 #3
AirmensMom Feb 2013 #4

Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 12:45 AM

1. There was a smog test shop I used to take our cars to...

... the owner, an older gentleman was very nice and fixed small things like cracked hoses almost for free. He'd be apologetic and say, "I'm going to have to charge you $3 for that," and I'd be thinking, hell I wouldn't even stick my hands back there for $3.

He retired and sold the place. The guy who bought it was not a nice man. Next time I went there this new owner's flunky looked over the car all professional-like, did some preliminary tests and declared the car needed $300 worth of repairs to pass. I knew that was bullshit. We had a pissing match over it and then he wanted to charge me $80 for his "diagnosis" but I finally got my keys back without paying and left. I looked the car over at home, didn't see anything wrong with it, and took it to another place (which I'm still using many years later) where it passed the smog test without any problem.

The crooked guy still owns the shop and whenever he starts to get a really bad reputation he lets the old flunkies go, hires some new ones and puts up an "Under New Management" banner. And yep, he's buddies with the Chamber of Commerce types.

Most of my stories are about car places, probably because I know my cars. I have a great mechanic too.

Second story -- I was driving to visit my son in college and the car was overheating. The school he went to has a lot of students from wealthy families. (My son is not, he made it through on scholarships, by working, and too many loans...) Anyways I didn't want to waste any time messing with the car so I dropped it off at the shop nearest the school and asked them to take a look at it while I was hanging out with my son. A few hours later they called and informed me it would cost $800 to repair because they'd have to replace the radiator, the fan, the hoses, and a whole lot of other crap. The damned car's not even worth $800. So I thought, no way... But I imagine many parents of students at that school think $800 is nothing. I took the car back from the shop and went to work on it in the school's parking lot. The only thing wrong with it was the thermostat. It wasn't opening all the way. A new thermostat cost $8. I only lost a little bit of radiator fluid which I managed to catch in a plastic tray I found in a dumpster. I poured the spilled fluid down a toilet in my son's dorm because it's not the sort of stuff that should go down a storm drain.




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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 12:52 AM

2. In Florida, always get 2nd and even 3rd opinions on HVAC service.

Twice, they've tried to rip me off.

One company called and spoke to my wife, just after we moved here, with a $19.95 AC "tune up". Check it out, replace filters, etc. These two clowns showed up, and before long, he was pointing out supposed "mold in our vents. And we needed this and that. The relays were bad on the AC (according to him), and the whole system needed cleaned and replaced ($75 for each vent) and another $1600 to replace the AC unit. I told them to finish the "tune-up, and that's it. I noticed when the left, the AC wasn't working, and with more checking, the never replaced the filters. I checked the relays, and there was a inline breaker that was pulled out, and laying there inside the AC breaker box. I plugged it back in, and it worked fine again. And I replaced the filters myself for less than $10.00.

About a year ago, on the coldest night of the year, the heat quit. I called two companies. The first charged a $39 "service charge", hich would be deducted from any repair bill. Sure enough, the whole system was shot again, and had to be replaced for $2,000. Minus the $39 of course. I told him, no thanks. He was no serviceman. He was dressed in a suit. So, he was charging me $39 for another tune up, and to try to sell me a new unit.

The second guy, who was in a service truck, and dressed like a serviceman, got there, checked it out, and showed me where an old heating element (one of two) was rusted and broke. He called the warehouse, and the part was in stock, but he had to drive into Tampa and pick it up the next morning, and he could repair it then for $200. Pay him when he's finished. The next morning, he fixed it, and it's worked fine since.

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 12:52 AM

3. Kirby vacuum cleaner sales is a racket.

I applied for a job they advertised in the want ads, to repair Kirbys.

"We have all the repair people we need, but we need sales people..."

And for Kirby, sales is going door-to-door with that heavy vacuum cleaner.

Three weeks later, the same ad was STILL in our local newspaper.

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Response to YoungDemCA (Original post)

Fri Feb 22, 2013, 07:13 AM

4. We're not quite finished with our nightmare.

When we are, I will say more. Suffice it to say that a prominent business managed to steal our life savings and force us to mortgage our future. Extortion, plain and simple. Yes, we sought justice, but ran out of funds. The legal system in this country is a joke.

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