7 Things That Will Change Your Life in 2024. Well, Not Really But …

Silhouettes of people jumping for joyFFAImage by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

We thought that title would catch your attention and now that we have it, we’d like to clarify that these items listed below will not change your daily lifestyle; however, maybe, just maybe it will make life a little easier for you when you encounter these issues, as well as the knowledge you can gain from this (if you already don’t know about them), is, shall we say priceless!

1. How to Speak Directly to an IRS Representative

Papers from the IRS
Photo by Olga DeLawrence on Unsplash

We all know it’s almost impossible to reach an IRS agent on the phone, or is it? Well, we found the way. Here’s how:

1.  Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040
2. Reply to the Select Your Language option
3. It will ask you to press an option for your income taxes. Press 2
4. Next, press 1 for questions about a form already filed or a payment
5. Then  press 3 for all other questions
6. Again it will ask for all other questions, Press 2
Do not press any key when it asks for your SSN
Then press 2 for personal or individual tax questions
Then press 3 for all other inquiries

Congratulations! You have reached the point where an IRS agent will answer the call, but the time it will take them to answer, well you’re on your own on that one

Also, it may tell you to call back another time. Yes, after your fingers did all that walking. Our suggestion would be to try when they first open up.  If you’re lucky, it may ask you to enter your phone number and they will call you back. If so, definitely do it! The IRS will call you. It may be 5 or 6 or more hours later, but they will call back!

Source: support.taxslayerpro.com.

2. Do You Know the Difference Between Real and Fake Silver?

Whether you like it or not, China is a major seller of just about everything. We will not delve into the politics of this, but we’d like to make you aware that everything that is sold in China and other locations is not what it’s made up to be. 

Do you have silver jewelry, coins, or even bars?  Let’s talk about this.

A customer went onto a website and bought, what he thought was a great deal on American silver dollar coins. It turned out that these coins were fake.

How Did He Know the Silver Was Fake?

Easy. Get a magnet. Any magnet. Even a travel magnet that sticks to your refrigerator would work. Put your coin on the magnet. Did it stick to it? If yes, you have a fake!

Silver does not magnetize!!

3. Need Some Spare Change?

100 dollar bills
Well maybe not this much, but you get the picture! Photo Unsplash

These suggestions will not pay your rent or mortgage, but they can help you with some extra gas money (yes, even at today’s prices), provide tips at restaurants, get you a few extra bus or subway rides, or anything else where some pocket change would be a benefit.

Below are some tried and true methods where you can make that extra buck!

Take Surveys!

Believe it, some businesses will pay you to take surveys and the pennies do add up. Below are a few companies that are legitimate and will pay you for the services you provide, and you never pay anything to them.

If you like taking surveys, this one’s for you. You can register here. Pay nothing and you will periodically receive survey questions in your email from different businesses regarding how you like or don’t like a particular webpage, item, or service.

They pay anywhere from .20 to $2.00 per survey and it usually takes less than a minute or two to complete it. Now we know that .20 won’t get you anywhere, but as the email requests come in, you can watch the funds add up.

Usercrowd dashboard
Pennies add to dollars over time

This will not pay your monthly mortgage, but it may just help you with those little things in life you need to pay!

You can also register with the Apex Focus Group which will notify you of surveys and other evaluations that will pay you for your participation.

4. Need More Than Just Spare Change?

Sell Your Stuff!

Do you have items in your house or in the attic or basement that you don’t use anymore? Do you have old items that you once used as a hobby or that your grandfather gave you 10 years ago? Any old cameras, trains, or vintage books?  There are markets for them!

EBay would be your first source. Then you can drill down to other market resources such as those on Facebook. Also, try the ones who specialize in buying specific items such as trains or cameras.

Oh, Those Coffee Table Books!

So you’ve been have gathered those nice, picture books that look great on your coffee table, but now you have too many or you just want to part with them.

You have probably tried a garage sale and ended up getting $1 for what cost you $15 or if you live in an apartment, a garage sale would not exist. Maybe you tried eBay and got no bids or you went to your local book store but they won’t take them.

Well, help is on the way! If you live in the NYC area, there is one bookstore that would love to buy your table books. They won’t pay you market price, but their prices surely beat the $1 you got at your garage sale.

This is the Strand Book Store on 12St in Manhattan, but make sure you take a lot of your books so that you can accumulate some relative value for them, and a word of caution – if you drive, especially on a weekday, parking is horrendous, so you may want to take another driver with you who will stay in the driver’s seat while you visit the store. And yes, there will be a line to get in. Also, pack the books in a suitcase or similar travel case for ease of use.

So there you have it. All you need to do is find the right buyers and you can sell those things that have been lying around for the last 100 years.

Get Cash for Those Gift Cards!

Your grandmother gave you a $200 Apple gift card, but you are using Samsung Droid phones or you just got a $250 gift card for Target, but you would rather have the cash. Whatever the reason, there are ways you can trade in those cards for cash!

Here’s your solution!

There are companies that will buy your gift card and send you cash and you can do it online! The only caveat to this is that you won’t get full pay for them, but you will get between 85% – 90% payment, which is not bad.

Following are five legitimate gift card payment companies that will cash you out.

Raise.com
CardSell
CardCash
QuickCashMI
ClipKard

Lost Money!

Stacks of $10 bills
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Have you ever wondered if there is some money owed you that you forgot about? You’ll be surprised how many people are owed money that they are not aware of! If you live in New York State, you can go to the NYS Comptroller’s Office website and run a search for unclaimed funds.

If you want to search for unclaimed funds in another state, you can go to the National Association of Unclaimed Funds, select your state, and search your name.

Hey, you never know!

Be a Mystery Shopper!

Man wiht paper bag on his had referencing mystery shopping
iStock

Once you are registered with a mystery shopper company, you will get emails to visit a bank and discuss a loan or a bank account. The idea is that they want to see how the bank employee responds to your requests and that he/she follows all bank policies, based on the questions you ask. 

Sometimes, they will ask you to go ahead and open a bank account or accept the loan. You will be paid more than if you were just evaluating them.

But it doesn’t stop there. These companies will pay you to not just visit banks but also to evaluate retailers, gas stations, supermarkets, and even car dealerships. 

It is called mystery shopping and is legitimate!

Here are two companies that provide mystery shopping:

Athpower
Intelli-Shop

Your pay can differ widely and can range anywhere from $10 to $250 depending upon what they will ask you to do. Mystery shopping at locations (called shops) that require several hours to complete do pay the higher amounts of course.

Note that these mystery shopping companies are very stringent and you must follow their guidelines exactly as mentioned or they will not pay you. 

Participate in Research Studies

These are legitimate companies that need people to participate in physical studies and they can pay $25o or more. One example is where you would be called to play a role as a juror and listen to testimony from both the defense and prosecution attorneys.

No real names are given but they want to actually see how jurors would discuss the case. Others are studies with hearing folks discuss current events, finance and there is even one about what makeup to wear. Of course, the types of studies change over time, but there is always something to enroll in. Check it out!

Participate in Clinical Studies

Lab technicians looking at blood samples
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Have you seen those commercials that offer prescription drugs or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines (e.g. memory inducers, vitamins, etc.) and the narrator says “According to a clinical trial of over X participants…”? Did you know you can be one of those individuals who participates in these trials?

You may not be aware but all the major pharmaceutical companies, as well as other medical companies and organizations, offer people to participate in clinical studies such as these.

The trials can vary immensely but usually involve testing new drugs, vaccines, or other medical advancements, as well as studying a person’s reaction to previous diseases they may have had, such as Covid.

Here is the Pfizer website for clinical trials, but if you Google pharmaceutical study participants, you will get a whole list of providers that offer these studies.

The amount of pay also varies, from volunteering where you will not get paid to amounts that can range from $20 to over $150 per study.

Of course, you should be vigilant by researching these companies, as well as consulting with your medical professional prior to participating, especially if you have a medical issue or are in your senior years.

Rideshare

Just about everyone has heard about ridesharing. If you decide to be a driver you could potentially make a decent amount of money each week.

If ridesharing is too time-consuming for you, you could try delivering food. You pick the date and time when you will be doing the deliveries and get paid accordingly. 

Pay varies greatly, but expect to pull in anywhere from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars per day, depending upon the length of time you put into it.

Below are the major ‘eats’ delivery services that you can register with:
Uber Eats 
Grubhub
DoorDash

5. Do You Drive an Electric Vehicle?

Illustration of EV going to get charged
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

We bet your burning question is – how much money am I saving vs. driving a conventional gas car?  We did research and the answer is that it depends upon your driving habits, lifestyle, and location, but with that said, we were able to generalize an amount.

Some electric utility companies will tell you how much you have spent when charging your EV. We called our local electric utility company, which is in Nassau County, NY and established a formula. The information below came from PSEGLI.

Chart from PSEGLI that shows the monthy payment a user was charged for charging his EV at home
SMS

 

 

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By erring on the side of caution, we have estimated that for a standard EV, which usually consists of a 65kWh battery, the cost to charge the car to 80% from empty is equivalent to about 230 miles of driving and costs around $13.00 of home electrical costs. $13 is less than half as much if you would be gassing up your car for that same range at today’s gas prices, and it will only get worse for gas drivers and better for EV drivers as inflation keeps sticking its nose into our finances. 

6. Saving on Electricity

Did you know that most electrical utility companies offer a Time of Use (TOU) plan? What this plan does is provide you with peak, off-peak, and super off-peak hours when you can run your electrical devices and appliances. Of course, the super-off peak would be the time when electricity costs are the cheapest.

If you have a thermostat in your house or apartment, you can save a little more by not turning the control from a low value to a high value all at once. For example, if your thermostat is at 65 degrees and you want to make it warmer by changing it to 70 degrees, make the change gradually. If you increase it all at once, it puts more strain on the furnace and subsequently causes additional oil to be used up compared to if you change it gradually.

7. Yes Go Ahead and Buy That Sofa!

If your credit score is not up to par with the bank’s requirements, which usually means a FICO score of 660 or below you might be thinking you will not be able to purchase that furniture, computer, TV, or another item you so dearly wanted.

Well, fear no more. No credit check loans are available. What this usually consists of are companies that lease you the money to buy the item, and they come with no credit check.

Usually, they will offer you a payment plan where you can pay monthly but the key is to pay it off within three or four months. If after that period, you have not paid it down in full, the interest rates get pretty high. About 40% or so. But the bottom line is that you can purchase your item, but just be mindful of the consequences. Read the contract fully before you sign.

Some of the no-credit-check companies are Progressive Leasing and Vive.

Note: The sources provided in this article are for informational purposes only. Howard Fensterman is not affiliated with and does not endorse any companies or entities listed in this article. Please see our Disclaimer for more information.

Maintaining Healthy, Strong Teeth

Did you know that 50% of people say that the first thing they notice about a person is their smile? This is according to a recent study conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. If your teeth are discolored, chipped, damaged, or broken, this can affect your ability and willingness to smile. But don’t worry! A healthy, smile is attainable. You just need to follow these tips.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Vegetables

A healthy diet is not only good for our bodies and total health, but also for our teeth! A healthy diet provides the nutrients and fiber we need to keep our teeth strong and free from disease. Eating foods that are high in sugar, starches, and carbohydrates, such as candy, juices, and smoothies can increase the production of plaque acids that attack the enamel of our teeth. 

When it comes to a diet that’s great for your teeth, stick to fibrous whole fruits and vegetables, instead of juices or smoothies. The fiber in these whole fruits and veggies helps to naturally rinse away bacteria and food particles from the teeth. Leafy greens also help promote oral health. They are high in calcium and folic acid which may help treat gum disease in pregnant women according to the American Dental Association. 

Visit Your Dentist Every Six Months 

Visiting your dentist is incredibly important to the health of your teeth. A professional dental cleaning from your dentist every six months will help remove any buildup of plaque and tartar. Plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria that hardens and becomes tartar. If tartar is not cleaned, it can start to produce acids that damage the bone that supports the teeth. This can cause periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth loss.

Your dentist will also be able to check for plaque, cavities, and any other problems during your checkup. When caught early, teeth and gum problems are much easier to treat, keeping your teeth healthy, pain-free, and sparkling!

Brush Your Teeth

Woman brushing her teeth
Preventing gum disease starts with good dental health

For us baby boomers, you might remember the Crest commercial “I only had one cavity!” Well, a lot has changed since then and a target of zero would be the name of the game these days. But what Crest was trying to convey was that the more you brush your teeth, the better the chances of having fewer or no cavities.

Brushing correctly helps remove plaque. Toothpaste contains fluoride that helps teeth become resistant to decay and even helps remove early decay. 

Be sure to gently brush your gums as well as your tongue to remove any food particles and plaque. Dentists recommend motorized brushes, but if you don’t have one, you can use a soft brush. “Hard bristles wear down your tooth structure,” says dentist Maricelle Abayon from Rochester, New York. 

Don’t brush your teeth too hard either. The plaque itself is loose and soft, so you don’t need to scrub it. Next time you brush your teeth, tell yourself that you are massaging them, not scrubbing them. Most importantly, brush, and don’t rush! Try turning on the timer on your phone or putting on your favorite song while brushing your teeth. Make sure to brush your teeth between two to three minutes for optimal protection against cavities. According to the American Dental Hygienists Association, “it takes two minutes for the tooth enamel to take in the fluoride in toothpaste, making the tooth surface more resistant to bacteria.” 

Floss Daily

Flossing twice daily, along with brushing, is very helpful in removing decay-causing plaque. It is a very important part of maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Flossing regularly might seem like an annoyance, but it takes only a minute or two and helps remove food and bacteria stuck in the spaces between the teeth that brushing or mouthwash can’t remove. When these spaces between the teeth are left unclean, it can lead to plaque and tartar, as well as bad breath! Keep your teeth fresh and healthy by flossing two to three times a day, especially before bed and in the morning. 

Stop smoking, including smokeless tobacco

Everyone knows smoking is bad for your health, including your lungs and your heart. Smoking is not just bad for your teeth, but it’s bad for your gums and mouth too. Smoking stains and discolors the teeth, making them turn yellow in just a short amount of time.

Long-term smoking can turn teeth brown, due to the nicotine and tar that’s in cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco can also wear down your teeth which can expose the roots of the teeth leaving them more susceptible to decay. Not only that, but smokeless tobacco such as chewing tobacco allows harmful chemicals to come into direct contact with teeth and gums, causing rapid tooth decay, gum disease, and even oral cancer.

Following these guidelines will help you to maintain a healthy mouth and avoid possible future complications. A little prevention now can go a long way later! 

What is Monkey Pox? Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Monkey Pox Illustration
iStock

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, it comes from monkeys. That was your question, right? Now let’s get to what it is exactly!

Monkeypox is a very rare virus that can be passed from monkeys and other animals to humans. It’s also known as pox or smallpox. Most people who get monkeypox don’t have any symptoms, but when they do appear they are usually mild.

If you catch it early enough, you can treat it at home; however, if it gets out of control, it could lead to potentially serious complications. Luckily there are ways to prevent contracting the disease. Keep reading for more information about how to avoid getting infected with Monkey Pox and its treatment.

Monkey Pox: Details

The virus has never been reported in humans in the US, but it can pop up in places where people are in contact with infected animals, like African countries and tropical areas in South America. Monkeypox gets its name from the fact that it was first discovered in monkeys.

People get infected with the virus when they’re in contact with a monkey or other animals like rodents that carry the infection, according to the CDC. Humans can also get infected from breathing in the droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneezing.

How Do You Get the Monkey Pox Virus?

The disease that’s only found in certain areas of the world, like Africa and tropical areas of South America. You can get it from coming into direct contact with infected animals, like monkeys or rodents, or through the air when someone coughs or sneezes.

While it’s extremely rare to find monkeypox in the U.S., it can happen when people travel to areas where the virus is present and bring it back home with them. If you’re in a situation where you or others may come into contact with infected animals, you should take extra precautions. Wear gloves when handling them, and try to avoid being bitten or scratched. Cover all cuts, scratches, and open wounds with bandages, and make sure to keep them dry. Be sure to frequently wash your hands and thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces that may have come into contact with the virus as well. Are sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Symptoms 

Most people who get monkeypox don’t have any symptoms, but when they do appear they are usually mild. The average incubation period is 12-14 days. You can get a rash – bumps on your skin that form a red or blue spot – swollen lymph nodes (small glands in your body that fight infection) – pain and/or itching at the site of the rash. Other symptoms include fever headaches, nausea, muscle aches, diarrhea, and bleeding inside the stomach or intestines.

Treatment 

If you think you’ve been infected with his virus, you should contact your doctor immediately. They can test your blood to see if it has been infected and you should stay away from others while you’re being tested.

Monkeypox can be treated. Your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics if you’re diagnosed with the infection. You might also be given antiviral drugs to slow the progression of the infection.

Prevention 

If you travel to areas that have a high risk of the virus, make sure you follow the recommendations mentioned above. Because it’s a rare infection, health officials don’t recommend vaccines, and they’re only available in certain countries.

Conclusion

Monkeypox is a very rare virus that can be passed from monkeys and other animals to humans.  Most people who get monkeypox don’t have any symptoms, but when they do appear they are usually mild. Luckily there are ways to prevent contracting the disease. Some precautions are to wear gloves when handling animals and try to avoid being bitten or scratched by them and follow the cleaning recommendations mentioned in this article, but if you are afraid of catching the disease, the best suggestion is to not go to the high-risk areas.

5 Health Dangers of Mold You Should Know About

Molding Fruit
Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

Mold can be a scary thing that can get you seriously ill, especially if it is on food and/or in your home. So what can we do about it? Let’s start with what it is.

Mold, What it Is!

It is one of the most common indoor air pollutants and it is tough to eliminate. If you have ever noticed a green, musty smell in your home, you might have noticed the presence of mold.

Mold gets its name from the Latin word “mollis,” which means smooth. It is a fungus that can grow anywhere in the world and usually resides in damp areas such as bathrooms, basements, and crawl spaces. Mold can grow in almost every corner of your home even in places where you wouldn’t think it can and can cause serious health issues.

In this article, we will discuss some of the most common health problems caused by exposure to mold and some of the things you can do to prevent these problems from happening.

What is the Most Common Health Problem Caused by Mold?

After decades of research, there are still no specific answers to the question of exactly what health problem mold causes. Some experts say that it can trigger a wide range of symptoms, while others are sure that it is not the direct cause of any health issues. According to one study, seven percent of the population has chronic health conditions that could be attributed to exposure to mold.

However, most experts agree that the chances of getting sick from mold exposure are higher if you have a respiratory disease, asthma, allergies, or a weakened immune system. It is also important to note that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of people who get sick from mold are exposed to it only once.

Health Symptoms of Exposure

If you feel any of these symptoms, you may have mold in your house. Of course, these can be the result of possible virus infections or other health-related issues not related to mold, so seeking medical help would be recommended if you feel the need to do so.

      • Eye irritation
      • Runny nose and congestion
      • Coughing
      • Sneezing
      • Sore throat
      • Skin rash
      • Headache

What Factors Increase the Risk of Getting Sick from Mold?

To decrease your chances of getting sick from mold exposure, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Some of the most common factors that make you more susceptible to mold are age, air pollution, genetics, health conditions, and exposure to it before you were born. In addition, if you have children with asthma, the chances that they will be exposed to mold are much higher than those without this condition. Let’s discuss each factor in more detail.

What are the Different Types of Mold?

There are a lot of different types of mold that can grow in different parts of your home. The most common types of mold include – Stachybotrys chartarum: This type is often found in air conditioning systems, ceiling tiles, and damp basements. It can also grow in wall voids.

      • Aspergillus: This type of mold is often found in kitchens, bathrooms, and basements. It is often present in humid environments.
      • Penicillium: This type is often found in foods. Possibly in packaged foods and certain environmental conditions may contaminate them during the packaging process.
      • Fusarium: This type can also be found in bathrooms and basements, as well as damp areas.
      • Mucor: This type of mold is often found in wet or humid places.
      • Other types, such as those found in soil, may also be present in your home.

How to Prevent Mold from Occurring

To prevent mold from occurring in your home, you need to control the factors that increase the risk of exposure to it. To do this, you need to be aware of some of the common causes of mold in your home.

These include:

      • Improper ventilation: Improper ventilation is the most common cause of indoor air pollution. This means that the air exchange in your home is not properly managed. If you have a home with an outdated system, it will get stuffed with all types of particles, including mold spores. The best way to deal with this is by installing a ventilation system that will help to keep the air clean.
      • Improper use of dehumidifiers: Dehumidifiers are very useful in the battle against indoor air pollution. However, if you constantly turn your dehumidifier on and off, you may release mold spores into the air. In such cases, it would be better to run the dehumidifier 24/7 and keep the house at a low temperature.
      • Excessive use of chemicals: Even though it is important to clean your home regularly, it is also important to use the appropriate products. Some household products, such as bleach and chlorine can be harsh on your respiratory system. Instead of using harsh chemicals, you should try using safer options such as baking soda and vinegar instead.

Conclusion

Mold is a very common problem and the sooner you take action, the better. In addition, the more you know about this type of indoor air pollution, the sooner you will be able to recognize it and take the appropriate steps to eliminate it. Dehumidifiers are great products for removing this fungus.

Mold can be a real problem for people with allergies or asthma, especially if the mold is in their bedroom. Everyone should be aware of the potential for it to grow in their environment and take appropriate precautions. In this article, we have discussed some of the most common dangers of mold and how you can avoid these dangers. Remember to be proactive and check your home regularly for mold.

Hippocrates The “Father of Medicine”

Bust of HippocratesEver hear of Hippocratic Corpus? Probably not, so let us explain. Hippocratic Corpus AKA Hippocratic Collection is a collection of medical essays attributed to the great Greek physician of antiquity – Hippocrates!

Born around 460 BC on the Greek island Cos, he led medicine away into an era of observation and diagnosis and attributing people’s illnesses to be naturally occurring, and was the result of a number of external factors; such as environmental factors, diet, and lifestyle choices. 

Twelfth-century Byzantine manuscript the Hippocratic Oath written in the form of a cross
Twelfth-century Byzantine manuscript the Hippocratic Oath written in the form of a cross

His documents outline discussions within a variety of fields of medicine, including attending to numerous illnesses, as well as detailing theories of medicine via his observations. Hippocrates was also akin to helping people who are ill in an ethical manner; hence, the Hippocratic Oath was born and is the oath that physicians still take today. In a nutshell, western society’s ethical practice of medicine is greatly attributed to this Greek doctor and his writings of Hippocratic Corpus.

Before Hippocrates

Ancient medicine was prescribed to the belief that diseases were caused by superstitions and gods, and there was the Greek god of medicine – Asclepius, who was one of the sons of Apollo. The snake that is entwined along the staff remains a symbol of modern medicine. It is called The Rod of Asclepius. You may have seen an illustration of this staff in medical publications and/or hospitals.

Hippocrates, often called the “father of medicine,” took a different approach.

With that said, it is important to recognize that Hippocratic medicine and its philosophies are far removed from modern medicine and largely inaccurate. During his time, the Greek taboo forbade the dissection of humans, and as such, Greek doctors at the time knew next to nothing about human anatomy. It was difficult, if not impossible, to determine when diseases materialized and how to diagnose the symptoms of a virus. 

Asclepius - Greek God of Medicine
Asclepius – Greek God of Medicine. Wikimedia

Despite the many aspects of Hippocratic medicine that did not stand the test of time, one of his greatest contributions was his dedication to observation and documentation. Not only would he and his followers take careful, regular notes, but also extended clinical observations into family history and environment. These records were recorded in a clear, objective manner so they could be passed down and used by other physicians. 

Because few documents have survived, it can be difficult to pinpoint what is fact and what is reverential storytelling. For instance, while the Hippocratic Oath is attributed to Hippocrates, new information shows it may actually have been written after his death. 

Unfortunately, after his death, little improvements were made to the practice of medicine as many considered his teachings too great to be altered; however, his name remains in the healthcare field and is so labeled “The Hippocratic Oath”.

 

 

Medicines of Antiquity

Similar to our discussion in Medical treatments of Antiquity, proving medicine during these periods was just as crude. Let’s take a look back as to what drugs were used to “cure” people with health ailments.

Salicylic Acid

 

Chemical breakdown of Salicylic acid
Biochemist writes Synthesis of acetylsalicylic acid concept.

Salicylic acid belongs to a class that falls into the category of drugs known as salicylates, which are natural chemicals found in plants, as well as fruits and vegetables. It is mother nature’s way of protecting plants from disease and insects.

Popular among the Native Americans, specifically the Cherokees, Salicylic acid was used to help people who had a fever, pain relievers, and related illnesses. It was not the plant itself, but the bark of the plant that was used.

Salicylic acid is a monohydroxybenzoic acid and is also found in plants in Europe. In the middle of the 19th century, Europeans mass-produced salicylic acid for use as a painkiller. It was considered the predecessor to modern-day aspirin and it is most popular today to decrease redness and swelling on the skin, which subsequently helps remove pimples.

Arsenic

Despite it being a powder of death, arsenic was used in the Victorian era as a beauty cream. It has also been known to be used by the Chinese for medical purposes, but arsenic is a clear white odorless powder. Not the most effective treatments for facial creams or anything else for that matter.

Quinine

Quinine has been used by the Chinese for centuries for malaria but has some side effects, such as headache, ringing in the ears, eyesight issues, and sweating. It can also cause you to get sunburnt more easily. Additional side effects may include deafness, low blood platelets, and a possible irregular heartbeat.  Studies on pregnancies are so far been inconclusive.

Quinine is derived from the plant Artemisia annua, where the drug Artemisinin was extracted. This antimalarial drug has been used ever since the 1940s. It was even tested during the early stages of covid to see if this drug can help with preventing the virus from infecting us.

Snake Oil

Snake Oil in a Bottle
Photo by R+R Medicinals on Unsplash

Snake Oil became a popular remedy for sore aches and pains. Originally used by the Chinese when they immigrated to America to work on the railroad and then used by the citizens as well.

During this time, the Choctaw Native Americans were also using snake oil for medical reasons. This ‘remedy’ stayed popular all the way up to the early 20th century. 

Antiseptics

The Listerine name came from Joseph Lister, a 19th-century English physician who used antiseptics during surgery.

Lister’s son marketed the product and then Jordan Lambert, the co-founder of the Warner-Lambert drug firm started selling it in the late 1800s.

Targeted as a mouthwash for sale in 1915, thousands purchased it mainly to rid themselves of bad breath.

Syringes

One of the first syringes to be used were all glass syringes and a pioneer in researching the manufacture of this device was Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD), founded in 1897 by Maxwell W. Becton and Fairleigh S. Dickinson and the company is around with nearly 30,000 employees in over 50 countries. They were also a pioneer in the manufacture of hypodermic needles.

In 1924, Becton, Dickinson produced a syringe designed specifically for insulin injection. In 1924, they introduced the BD Yale Luer-Lok Syringe, (see below), designed by Fairleigh Dickinson, Sr. The Luer-Lok provided a simple method of attaching and removing the needle to and from the syringe. Now called ‘Luer Lock’ connectors, they remain the standard for syringes in the U.S.

Vapo-Cresolene Vaporizer

Vapo-Cresolene Vaporizor consisting of lamp and stand, for the treatment of respiratory complaints, in original carton, by Vapo-Cresolene Company, U.S.A. Object alongside box, full view on black background.
“Vaporizer, New York, United States, 1880-1893 (vaporizer)” is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Coal tar is a mixture used to make coal into gas. This ingredient was used extensively in the late 19th century for all kinds of products, including ointments, shampoos, and medicines. One popular product that entered the market in 1879 was “Vapo-Cresolene”, which was used as a vaporizer to cure respiratory diseases; such as pneumonia, whooping cough, and diphtheria, as well as a host of other ailments. It came with a lamp that was used to heat the liquid cresol with an open flame.

In 1908, studies from the American Medical Association disputed these claims, but nevertheless, the product continued to be sold anyway up to the 1950s.

Interesting are the instructions shown in the image above and rewritten below:

Fill the lamp with the best Kerosene (Petroleum) Oil obtainable. Alcohol will explode the lamp if used in it. Light the lamp allowing as large a flame as possible; but care be taken for the first fifteen minutes to see that it does not smoke. Place the lamp under the Vaporizor. Place the Vaporizor in a tin or crockery dish to guard against overturning, and set the same on a table near the bed, but out of reach of small children. Lastly, fill the movable cup with Cresolene. Tarry sediment remaining in the cup may be removed with alcohol. “Cresolene should be vaporized in a bedroom of ordinary size and the doors and windows should be kept closed while the Vaporizor is in use. In oppressive weather a window may be open for ventilation. The most convenient time to use the Vaporizor is at night. The cup full of Cresolene is generally sufficient for a night’s treatment. The most delicate child or person in good health experiences no injury. Large doses of whisky, vinegar, Epsom or Glauber Salts should be given once if Cresolene is swallowed or if it falls one the skin, apply cinegar [SIC]or alcohol. The odor of Cresolene will soon pass away if the room is thoroughly aired during the day. Cresolene imparts a burning sensation to the skin and is poisonous if taken internally, it should therefore, be kept out of reach of children.”.

 

 

Fast Food and the Deceptions that Follow It

Fast Food hamburger on a bub
Tasty? Yes. Health? Not really. Photo by Miguel Andrade on Unsplash

In our previous article, we discussed the link between processed foods and cancer. In this article, we will concentrate on the fast food industry and how some of these businesses use deceptive techniques to lure the consumers in.

Processed and fast foods are a staple dietary items in contemporary eating habits and lifestyles. They have been internalized so seamlessly that people don’t stop devouring them even after knowing the unhealthy consequences of their consumption.

Obesity tops the list of health issues faced by US citizens and the $200 billion fast-food industry plays a significant role in aggravating this problem. Therefore, these unhealthy food options, full of calories and bad nutrients can be easily quoted as ‘junk food’.   

Apart from dealing with unhealthy meals, some processed and fast food establishments also use certain unscrupulous advertising techniques to retain their customers and to sustain their revenue stream. Let’s have a closer look at what these deceptions are.  

Fat-Free Meals are Healthy Options

Fast Food
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

After the excessive demonizing of fat as an unhealthy nutrient, people have become quite careful in its consumption. Fast foods are traditionally known for their rich fat content. This new trend of avoiding fats has forced the industry to come up with the option of fat-free meal options.

These options indeed have less fat content, but there is another side to this. The extravaganza of tastes present in processed and fast foods is attributed to the presence of a high amount of fats. Meals with low fat don’t taste as good as typical fat-enriched items. Therefore, to compensate for the taste of low-fat meals, some synthetic additives are added to them.  

These substitutes are worse in their health implications as compared to the original fats. So, it’s only a fallacy that low-fat fast food options are any healthy.

No Trans Fat is Included in the Meal

Trans fat is considered one of the unhealthiest nutrients present in any food item and junk meals contain a considerable amount of them. As people have come to know about the effects of trans fats on cholesterol levels and the cardiovascular system, the fast-food industry has reduced its amount in their products.  

However, they can’t exclude them entirely because it is a necessary constituent of processed foods. As per food regulations, they are allowed to call any food product free of trans fats if it contains less than 0.5 grams per packaging. So, even if the label of any processed food product reads ‘Trans fat-free’, you can’t be sure whether it’s entirely free of this bad fat.  

Many people now know the bad effects of trans fats, but they don’t know the term ‘hydrogenated’ is also used in place of ‘trans’. The processed food industry cleverly exploits this lack of awareness by replacing the word ‘trans’ with ‘hydrogenated’ on the labels.

Processed and Fast Foods Made of Whole Grains are Healthy

Man holding hamburger in bun
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Whole grains are healthy as compared to refined variants. So, fast foods made of whole-grain should also be healthy or less harmful than the regular junk meals made of refined grains? The answer to this question should be in the affirmative, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.  

To maintain the consistency and texture of their products, processed and fast food ventures use the whole grain which is gone through ultra grinding and crushing. Even though this whole grain flour contains all the healthy constitutes (kernel, husk), but it has been ground in such fine powder that it loses its characteristic of late digestion.

Therefore, the whole grain fast food options are not very dissimilar to their fine grain counterparts because they are equally capable of raising the blood glucose level.

Gluten-free Fast Foods Have Similar Benefits

Going gluten-free is in fashion these days. One research shows that around 1.5 percent of the US population has adopted a gluten-free diet and nearly 33 percent among them don’t have wheat intolerance or celiac disease.  

Gluten-free diets are healthy and there is no harm in adopting them even if you don’t have any digestive issues. However, gluten-free fast foods are altogether a different thing. Wheat in such fast food products is replaced by different finely processed starches of corn and potatoes with a high glycemic index. Moreover, gluten-free fast food options are way expensive than traditional options.

With gluten-free fast foods, you might not be munching wheat anymore, but you will be consuming excessive glucose content in the form of starch which is unhealthy.  

Distortion of Caloric Factsheet

With the prevalence of modern diet plans, people have become more conscious of their daily calorie count. The junk and processed food industry is also aware of this. Therefore, they have made the business of the caloric value of their products pretty complex for consumers to understand. Sometimes they mention caloric value and sugar content in the product separately and sometimes merge the multiple servings in one product and only mention the calorie count of only one serving on the label.

All these tricks are played to mislead people about the real caloric value of their food products which usually reach unhealthy proportions.

Inclusion of Small Amounts of Beneficial Ingredients Makes Their Products Healthy

If you have ever noticed, ads of processed and fast foods often promote the healthy ingredients in their products, which is by comparison to the entire meal is minimal. This gimmick is done to make people think that they are eating something healthy. In reality, the inclusion of such a negligible amount of healthy ingredients doesn’t offset the bad effects of a plethora of inferior ingredients that are included in their products.  

Concealing Unhealthy Ingredients  

The fast-food industry quite often uses technical terms for the ingredients that might be unhealthy for human consumption. For instance, monosodium glutamate, a sodium salt, might be labeled as E621 on the packaging of processed foods. Similarly, sugar is mentioned with alternate terms such as corn syrup or fructose syrup.  

Sometimes, it’s intentionally done to trick people into believing that the food they are consuming is free of any detrimental ingredient.

Fast foods and processed dietary options are rarely healthy. Therefore, over-relying on such products is not a sensible thing to do. Try to maintain your diets as organic as possible to remain healthy.

White Collar Crimes During COVID

Suspicious looking man with mask on
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

We have previously spoken about criminal activity in general. Now we are going to delve deeper into the different types of crimes committed and how the coronavirus pandemic has become part of ongoing criminal activity.

The legal definition describes white-collar crime as a “crime that is committed by salaried professional workers or persons in business and that usually involves a form of financial theft or fraud (as in securities dealing)”. Hundreds and thousands of white-collar crimes are performed every year. In some cases, the double-crossing executor is caught and in other times, they go undetected or undetected for years.  

Even more scandalous are the situations in which the con artists frame someone for the crimes they have committed. It’s deceit within deceit. Even more dangerous is the fact that these crimes are usually committed by well-to-do and respectable people. They snatch money right under everyone’s noses with none the wiser.

But not all of these crimes are based on money (although a large percentage are). Take a look at former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. He is currently serving time not for fraudulent financial activity, but for perjury. 

Perhaps the only redeeming quality of white-collar criminals is that they don’t use violence. They only use the weapon they know best, their Machiavellian minds.   

COVID and Crime

Regardless of how they occur, the COVID pandemic has opened the doors for criminals to expand. According to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, organized criminal activity has diminished, but other white-collar crimes have been initiated. From selling fake masks to calling potential victims to give up their investments to get a vaccine.

The federal government is on its tracks though and they have been focusing on people who are illegitimately using money from the $2 trillion federal stimulus package, known as the CARES Act, which is being used to help businesses suffering from financial losses due to the pandemic.

Specifically, the feds are going after those who steal or try to steal money from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which are loans given to businesses to keep them ‘alive’ and give them financial funding so that employees do not have to be laid off.

Recently in Texas, a man was trying to fraud the government of $24 million via fraudulent PPP loans. He used 11 different business names, each filing for a loan. He succeeded in obtaining about $17 million in forgivable loans before he was caught and brought to justice.

Bribery

Bribery is a common crime among the nefarious workforce. This entails accepting gifts, money, or other favors to treat the bribee differently from other individuals and there’s no doubt that some unscrupulous individuals are taking bribes to stay silent about some criminal workings regarding fake masks and other PPE essentials that society needs. 

Our suggestion is to research the store (brick and mortar or online) to see their reviews and background. Also, check if the items are FDA insured.

Ponzi Schemes

Ponzi schemes are one of the most favorite criminal activities among criminals and the worst nightmare for ordinary people like you and me. The crime itself is named after the notorious swindler and con artist who was known by many names, the most famous one being Charles Ponzi. 

A Ponzi scheme is an illegal investment where the embezzler gathers a pool of investors and builds their trust enough to convince them to invest their money, sometimes their entire retirement. Promises of high profits and exceptional rewards are made. Once the swindler succeeds, the criminal disappears without leaving any traces behind.    

Most of the time, white-collar criminals resort to a Ponzi scheme to acquire money from new investors to pay off the “profits” to the old ones. Sometimes, it is done just to earn quick and easy money, but if caught they could get hefty prison time.

The losses from this type of scheme could be as small as a few dollars or as large as billions of dollars. One of the most famous scandals in the history of white-collar crimes is that of Bernie Madoff. The estimated size of his fraud was $64.8 billion. Regardless, he got caught and is currently serving his time at the age of 80. He was sentenced to 150 years of imprisonment. 

Don’t get caught up in phone calls or emails that ask you to invest in their products, specifically PPE products before doing thorough research, but even better, why bother? Just hang up! 

Embezzlement 

Embezzlement involves the illegal theft of money through tampering with documents and entries. Since it is a white-collar crime, it is done in secret and often involves cases where trusted employees embezzle their employers. In embezzlement cases, employees are accused of stealing money from their employer by slyly diverting funds from their company’s account to their personal bank accounts. 

Except for people in certain positions in their company, not everyone can manage that. Mostly, embezzlement is done by accountants who are managing their company’s funds or by investment advisors who can misuse their client’s money behind their backs. 

Embezzlement cases on a small level are considered a misdemeanor. However, when a specified amount of money or property value is exceeded, it becomes a major felony. 

Tax Evasion

Individuals and businesses of every country are obliged to pay taxes under their state or federal law taxes. Deliberate tax evasion is a white-collar crime in which the felon illegally avoids taxes either by tampering with their tax documents or through the illegal transference of properties. There are endless tactics that criminals use to achieve their goals.

Tax evasion is one of the most common types of white-collar crime and anyone from an average middle-class worker to a billionaire tycoon may commit it. On a lower level, people might simply enter a false amount on their tax forms, whereas on a higher level, a felon might go as far as changing the will of a dead relative to avoid estate taxes by moving the property around. If or when caught, it could lead to some severe criminal charges.  

The effects of these crimes are substantial and often trigger a butterfly effect. To curtail them, countries have introduced numerous regulations on the federal and state level.

If a person is caught in any of the above white-collar crimes, the case would be prosecuted in federal court. Some people become a victim of these crimes and others get caught up in it for being so close to it. In either case, it is advisable to hire a lawyer to protect your rights, and if possible, get back the embezzled money.  

 

Understanding The Grief of a Bereaved Person During COVID

Candles in glass holderEver since the coronavirus broke out, the world has seen a staggering number of deaths, and although we are seeing reduced amounts of deaths, the death toll continues to rise. This means that people worldwide are continuing to lose loved ones.

Bearing the Death of a Dear One

Losing a person close to you is unquestionably the most agonizing experience that everyone has to go through at some point in time. Regardless of how healthily a person leads their life, they will see the final end, leaving behind mourners grieving over the irreplaceable loss. Despite being a universal truth, death remains an out-of-bounds subject that mustn’t be mentioned in gatherings unless at a funeral. This shying away from such an inevitable reality has made people quite insensitive (though inadvertently) and awkward when it comes to dealing with someone’s death and their survivors. 

Because we don’t like to discuss death and processing the loss of a loved one, when someone actually dies in our circles, we are often tongue-tied and unaware of the right/appropriate words to say to the grieving family. Consequently, many of us end up saying insensitive platitudes, such as you have to move on, or you need to stay strong.

The mentioned phrases may seem harmless, but they bear explosive impact for those in mourning. A large majority of people don’t even realize that unless they have experienced the pain of losing someone close to themselves. That’s the truth about grief. You don’t understand it unless it’s yours. And that’s okay; not knowing what to say to someone in mourning is fine; in fact, it’s far better than saying something pointless and unintentionally hurtful. 

If you want to understand how to help someone dealing with the loss of a loved one, here is a detailed guide on comprehending the trauma of bereavement. 

Grief is Personal, Like One’s Life- REMEMBER THAT!

The most fundamental thing when wanting to help a grieving person is realizing and accepting that you are an outsider of their pain; you CANNOT begin to understand what they are going through. So, don’t even try to come off as someone who knows what grief is unless, of course, you have been through it yourself. But even then, we would suggest keeping your experience to yourself because, as mentioned above, grief is personal. Don’t tell your story until you are asked for it. Let the other person deal with their emotions and accept the reality in their way.

Be Present But Don’t Be Intrusive

Whenever we hear about a death in our circle, we immediately feel sympathetic and wish to show our concern for the bereaved party. And more often than not, we do that by getting in their faces and dictating them on how they should act. For instance, we tell them to control themselves and not to cry much because that’s not what the deceased would want, or we tear apart two members of the mourning family when they hug to cry.

 That’s not to say that any of our actions are ill-intended; if anything, they come from a place of love and care. But what we don’t realize is that forcing a mourner to stop crying or telling them to eat when they want to be left alone is not helpful. It’s infuriating.

You want to show concern, just be present! Don’t get overbearing and intrusive because you care for the grieving person’s wellbeing so much. If you wish to help, tell them you are there for them in whatever they need, whenever they need it. And if they ask you to leave them alone, do THAT! Let them decide what they want. You may think that doing so is not the right thing, but that’s actually the best you can do.

Try to Avoid these Platitudes

Stay strong
This shall pass
You are so strong; it’ll be okay
You will get through this
You need to move on
You have to remain strong for your family
They (the deceased member) would want to see you happy
They are in a better place
They are not in pain anymore

That doesn’t mean don’t use them, but use common sense and apply these words at an appropriate time.  As noted above, you cannot understand grief until it’s your own, unless it’s your front row at the funeral. Naturally, you cannot (even with all your sincerity and love for the bereaved family) comprehend the magnitude of trauma the other person is going through. So, when you don’t know what it’s like to lose a loved one, how can you say empty words whose impact you cannot fathom? Therefore, DON’T throw those mundane phrases you hear people using at funerals to comfort someone in mourning.

If you want to show concern, you don’t need to use words. Sometimes just being physically present and not speaking can do more for someone in pain than saying thoughtless sentences that won’t make much difference.

Additionally, with your presence noted, see if there is something you can do for them without asking. For example, the person grieving says “I don’t know what’s taking so long for my daughter to come here”. You might want to take it on yourself to make some calls to find out where she is and relay that message to your friend/relative.

What to Say to Someone in Mourning

If you found out someone you genuinely care about lost a dear one to the coronavirus or to any other fatal cause for that matter and you want to comfort them, here’s what you need to do.

Leave them a message telling them that you are terribly sorry for their loss and you are here for them should they need anything. You should also mention that you do not understand their suffering, but you want to help them in any way possible.

And once you have expressed your wish of doing something for the grieving party, don’t bug them by repeatedly asking if there’s anything you can do. Let them come to you. When they go back to work or resume classes, leave a message saying that you hope they have a fantastic day or that you are sending lots of positive vibes their way.

Simply put, only express your sincere wishes by sending positive messages, don’t add any empty words or dictations in your texts.

You can also supply them with COVID bereavement groups. Something most people won’t think about.

The Bottom Line

If you are not one of the bereaved, don’t act like you know how that feels or try to be ‘helpful’ by telling them to move on! The most thoughtful thing you can do for a grieving family is just letting them know that you’re here for them and give them all the time in the world to heal and move forward with the unfillable void in their hearts.

One More Thing

As distasteful as this may sound, we want to emphasize the following, because it is all too common. When you do speak to a person who just lost a loved one, do not, under any circumstances talk about inheritance or what money they have left.

Top Scams of Recent Times

Fraud Alert Banner from FTCCorporate scams have always been a part of the post-industrialization world and now with COVID, it is much worse.

With that said, we thought you’d like to know how the extent and scope of fraudulent activity had increased by the end of the 20th century. And although scams involving the coronavirus have not reached the level of those mentioned below, we think it may be only a matter of time before a COVID fraud materializes that equates to these monster scams below, unless law enforcement takes an active role in controlling it. 

All these financial and accounting scandals had one thing in common i.e. they were instigated by a handful of voracious insiders whose actions brought about grave consequences for hundreds and thousands of people and the companies in question. 

Here, we will delve into brief details of some of the biggest accounting and financial scams of recent times. We will discuss them in descending order using the category of the amount of money involved in these scandals. 

Enron’s Bankruptcy 

Enron Building Texas
Enron Complex. (Wikipedia Public Domain)

Enron Corporation was a hot favorite option for investors. At its peak, a single share of Enron soared over $90. This Texas-based energy and services company was doing fine when the news broke out (via a whistleblower) that they are keeping their debts off the balance sheet in collusion with their auditing firm and showing inflated revenues to maintain the stock market standing of the company. 

As we know, such information spreads like wildfire and the same happened in the case of Enron’s exposé. In the coming days, the shareholders would collectively lose $74 billion with stock price dipping unprecedentedly from $90 to under $1 within 12 months. Enron’s then CEO and his predecessor were accused of hiding the debts and misleading the investors.

Aftermath 

The then CEO of the company, Jeff Skillings, was sentenced to 24 years in federal prison while the company claimed bankruptcy in the following days. They entirely ceased its operations six years after the scandal was unearthed. The auditing firm, Arthur Anderson, had to face severe fallout of the scandal because the entire company got indicted for fudging the accounts of Enron. However, the conviction was later turned over. By then, the company was already out of business.

Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme 

100 dollar bills
Photo Unsplash

A Wall Street Investment LLC, Bernier Madoff Investment Securities instigated probably the biggest Ponzi scheme of history by ripping off roughly $65 billion from the investors. The company’s CEO Bernie Madoff, a well-known stockbroker of his time, orchestrated this fraud along with his accountant and second-in-command. 

The scheme started to unearth just after the US had experienced its worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression. Madoff was playing a simple Ponzi scheme of scamming investors by returning their own money to each other. No actual profit was being made with these transactions, with the exception of the money that went into Madoff’s portfolio and the bank accounts of his accomplices. 

In 2005, the same Ponzi scheme was on the brink of getting unraveled because the investors requested a large sum of money in redemptions after hearing rumors that they were being ripped off. However, Madoff managed to handle the situation through the credit lines he had established with his 50 years of working in stock investments.

Aftermath 

Since Bernie Madoff ran one of the biggest brokerage firms of Wall Street, its freeze of assets sent a ripple down the industry where many companies had to provisionally terminate their operations. His philanthropic works were also hit by the scam. Madoff pled guilty in March 2009 and was sentenced to 150 years in federal prison, with the restitution penalty of $170 billion. 

The collapse of Lehman Brothers 

Lehman Brothers were one of the largest investment firms in the United States. But the notorious financial crisis of 2008 also proved to be the end of this global financial services provider. During that time of economical catastrophe, when things had already gone south for financial institutions, it was discovered that the company was hiding the loans of over $50 billion in the disguise of toxic assets sold off to different banks in the Cayman Islands with the understanding that they would be bought back after a short time period. 

Aftermath 

The news acted as the final nail in the coffin of Lehman Brothers, which was already struggling with the fast depletion of cash. Its stock price experienced a drastic dip of 45% with a 66% rise in the company’s debt. 

Finally, the company had to announce bankruptcy. No penalties or prison times were given due to lack of evidence. The downfall of Lehman Brothers was the leading headline of 2008’s financial crisis. 

Freddie Mac’s Misstatement of Earnings 

Freddie Mac was a big home mortgage corporation that had complete patronage of the federal government. In 2003, an investigation from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) found out that the company was misstating and understating its earnings. The difference between instated and actual earnings was a staggering $5 billion. It was later understood that all the key players (CEO, COO, and CFO) were part of this false assertion. 

In its defense, the company stated that it had to do this manipulation of accounts to meet the steady growth objective of Wall Street. It was a shocker for Wall Street pundits who always considered Freddie Mac as a top and steady performer. 

Aftermath

All three top executives were fired and the company was fined for $120 million in civil penalties. The company was also obliged to overhaul its governance and accounting structure through a consent order from the SEC. 

AIG Scandal 

AIG Headquarters Building NY
AIG Headquarters Building NY Photo: Wikipedia Public Domain

American Insurance Group (AIG) is a US-based multinational insurance firm, having its operations covering over 100 countries and serving millions of customers. In 2005, through whistleblowing, an SEC investigation was started against the company. The company’s CEO was held responsible for accounting fraud for approximately $4 billion in the form of stock manipulations and rigging of bids. The company showed the loans as revenues and artificially inflated the stock prices in collusion with traders. 

Aftermath 

The CEO was fired without being convicted of any criminal charges and the company had to pay several multi-million penalties in the coming years. The total amount of paid penalties exceeded $2.5 billion. However, the company recovered from this crisis. These days, the stock price of AIG revolves around $56 per share, as per the listings on the NYSE.

Conclusion

As you can see, almost all of the financial scandals that we have discussed involved a few individuals whose shenanigans have had their fall out on millions of people and an entire industry.  A wise man once said ‘How do you expect to continuously do something bad and not expect to get caught?”.  It will catch up with you! 

The COVID scams such as this one are still small in comparison, but who knows what will happen in the future?