Keith Jones was scammed out of US$110,000 by a fraudulent investment firm. Not surprisingly, law enforcement initially had little interest in the case, so Mr. Jones decided to track down the criminals on his own, leading him from his home in Australia to Thailand. He made this high-quality and fascinating documentary of his sleuthing.
HSBC bank, which gave the scammers an account to rip off Mr. Jones, also refused to help him. (That's not surprising either, once you read Matt Taibbi's Rolling Stone article, "Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail How HSBC hooked up with drug traffickers and terrorists. And got away with it.")
Above, an update to Jones' story. Unfortunately, the criminals are still at large.
This story is one of deceit, theft, police incompetence, international loopholes and the apathy of a major corporate bank. It is also his story of how almost entirely on his own he tracked down a sophisticated gang of fraudsters.
This is his second time in Bangkok in two years, and exactly as before, he’d rather not be there, but unfortunately, sometimes, there are things that you just have to do whether you like it or not. He’s about to board an overnight train to Chiang Mai, a 14 hour journey to the north of Thailand. He’s making this film as a record of the atrocious and ridiculous events that have lead him to this point. He’s also making it as some sort of catharsis. Finally, he’s making it as a stark warning to others.
Life can be strange sometimes. One minute, you can be travelling along thinking that everything is okay, and almost out of nowhere, the malicious actions of another person can affect your life forever. His story begins back in Australia. He was working from his office one day, when the phone rang. It was the company calling themselves Humphrey Capital Investments, a global financial services group with offices in California and Singapore. Over the coming weeks, he had several informal conversations with their senior portfolio manager John Thompson. One of his recommendations was to invest in Nokia shares. This seemed to present a good buying opportunity.
Humphrey Capital Group sent him client forms, and after processing his application, they bought Nokia shares on his behalf. He subsequently paid the invoice by bank transfer to their company account at an HSBC bank in Hong Kong. Over the coming weeks, John Thompson rang him several times to discuss his portfolio, but at the end of the month, he rang to tell him that his company had been bought out by a group called Wellnic Investments. His new advisor would be Edward Martin, the Vice Chairman of Wellnic Investments. Wellnic’s credentials looked similarly impressive, and their website showed detailed information on the company.
A few days later, he had a call from Edward Martin, and like his predecessor, Edward had an American accent and came over as professional and friendly. He explained that he’d be his new advisor, and he looked forward to a long and profitable relationship, and that’s exactly how it turned out to be. Over a very long period, Keith Jones purchased a variety of low-risk US stocks, trusts and deposits. All trades were paid for through account at a HSBC Bank in Hong Kong.
Subsequently, like the proverbial lamb to the slaughter, he continued to make investments through the Wellnic Group. Within 12 months, he’d invested over $110,000 US dollars. Even saying it now makes him feel quite sick. You often hear that people are scammed through greed, and where unrealistic returns are involved, but most of his investments with Wellnic were supposed to pay around 10 to 12 percent per annum; good, but at the time, not unrealistic. In fact, it was only when things started to sound too good to be true that he became suspicious.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
The law, to take effect in early 2014, was passed Wednesday in both chambers of the Michigan Legislature and is protected by a rarely used legislative loophole which effectively insulates the measure from the governor’s veto power.
Opponents have equated the policy to “rape insurance,” as a woman would not be eligible to purchase the insurance rider once pregnant - regardless of the circumstances. The only exceptions to the policy are for a woman’s health in the case of miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies, or “to avert her death.”
“You couldn’t buy a rider once you were pregnant to have [an abortion] covered,” Meghan Groen, director of government relations for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, told RH Reality Check in November. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, I was raped and so now I’ll buy this rider.’ Nobody is anticipating being a victim of crime.”
A similar bill was vetoed last year by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who then called the proposal “too extreme.” In 2000, former Gov. John Engler also vetoed a similar bill.
This time around, an uncommon procedure allowed in the state’s constitution was used to circumvent Snyder and an overall referendum that would require the initiative to reach Michigan voters.
The anti-choice group Right to Life Michigan used the obscure provision, which says that a proposal can go directly to the Legislature if three percent of state residents sign in support of the initiative. The House and Senate can then pass it without the possibility of the governor’s veto - if both chambers act within 40 days of the state canvassing board’s approval of the initiative’s validity. Right to Life submitted 315,477 signatures, more than the required 258,088.
The legislative initiative provision has been used only four times in the state’s history; three of those times were by Right to Life Michigan.
The Michigan Senate passed the bill 27 to 11, with all Republicans and one Democrat voting in support. The House approved the law by a vote of 62-47, with all Republicans, two Democrats, and one Independent supporting it.
“This is a huge government overreach and Right to Life went too far again,” said state Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D), according to the Detroit Free Press. “Do not underestimate the power of a lot of angry women and the men who support us. A yes vote puts you on the wrong side of history.”
But one Republican supporter said women are not monolithic on the issue.
"I respect the seriousness of the emotions. I went through an unplanned pregnancy. I've counseled people who've been raped that has resulted in pregnancies…,” said Rep. Margaret O'Brien, the AP reported. “But I've also seen women who've embraced those babies through rape and seen that that child shouldn't be punished for the horrendous act that happened to them."
Republicans said the move was legal and that signatures came from residents in all 83 state counties. They also claimed the measure makes sure abortions are not subsidized by taxpayers, though Groen pointed out that “it’s illegal in federal and state law for any taxpayer dollars to go toward abortion,” nor do federal dollars pay for abortions in the Affordable Care Act’s new insurance exchanges.
Michigan is the 24th state to ban most coverage of abortion care within the new insurance exchanges. Only eight other states have insurance restrictions as tough as Michigan’s new law.
During the debate over the bill, state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D) spoke out against the proposal, revealing that she was raped while in college 20 years ago.
“Thank God it didn’t result in a pregnancy because I can’t imagine going through what I went through and then having to consider what to do about an unwanted pregnancy from an attacker,” Whitmer said, according to AP. “If this were law then and I had become pregnant, I would not be able to have coverage because of this. How extreme, how extreme does this measure need to be?”
In late November, a statewide poll found that a narrow majority of likely Michigan voters said they opposed the effort to demand women buy an abortion coverage rider, the Detroit News reported.
Opponents to the law in and outside the Legislature have said they will soon begin efforts to overturn the policy via their own petition drive, the Detroit Free Press reported.
One year ago today
Sumo: debut graphic novel from Level Up illustrator Thien Pham: Thien Pham has just released his first solo graphic novel, Sumo.
Five years ago today
Report: Pentagon Pro-Troop Group Misspent Millions: A Defense Department project, supposedly designed to support U.S. troops, was used instead to channel millions of dollars to personal friends and allies of its chief.
Ten years ago today
Eyesore of the Month photos and commentary: Architectural critic James Howard Kunstler has a section on his website called "Eyesore of the Month," which includes a monthly photo of a hideous architectural blunder along with scathing commentary
The New Disruptors launched on December 5, 2012. I wanted to talk to people making stuff, creating art, or helping others get their work out there. The show is now at episode 53, and it's been a delightful year. I wanted to look back at early guests, and was able to get the folks who appeared on the first four episodes to chat briefly about what happened next. I talk in this show with Lisanne Pajot and James Swirksy, Indie Game: The Movie; Chris Anderson, then Wired and now 3DRobotics; Tony Konecny, Tonx (coffee); and Evan Ratliff, of The Atavist and Creativist. This episode is sponsored by TextExpander from Smile Software. http://smilesoftware.com/nd
Thanks to Smile Software's TextExpander for sponsoring this week's episode! TextExpander avoids the tedium of retyping common text, shortening URLs, and much more.
Things we mention in this episode:
I know regular listeners will be disappointed, but the show notes this time around are exceedingly short, as it's a reflective episode. These are the original episodes (in order that they appear in this anniversary check-in) for each guest or guests:
Pac-Man Fever with Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky, December 5, 2012.
Long Stories Still Told with Evan Ratliff, January 2, 2013.
Good from the First Drop with Tonx and Nik Bauman, December 19, 2012.
Come Fly with Me, Let’s Fly, Let’s Fly Away, December 12, 2012.
The New Disruptors is a podcast about people who make art, things, or connections finding new ways to reach an audience and build a community. Glenn Fleishman is the host, and he talks with new guests every week. Find previous episodes at the podcast's home.
Support The New Disruptors directly as a patron at Patreon starting at $1 for each podcast episode, with on-air thanks, premiums, and more at higher levels of support. We do this show with your help.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
The suit, filed this week in the United States District Court for the Western District in Grand Rapids, accuses the Battle Creek Police Department of violating the Fourth Amendment-protected right to privacy of past and present female officers. Three of them have obtained an attorney and are now seeking unspecified monetary relief.
According to the claim, Inspector Maria Alonso of the department’s Internal Affairs Division was told in late 2012 that there had been instances of theft occurring in the women’s’ locker room of the Battle Creek Police Department. Upon approval of her superiors, Alonso installed a surveillance camera in the room sometime the following January and used evidence obtained by it to allegedly implicate a plaintiff in the case of robbing co-workers by rifling through their lockers.
Plaintiff Laurie Gillespie was shown the video shortly after and, according to the complaint, was depicted in the clip “going through at least two open lockers” while in uniform.
That same tape also caught Gillespie disrobing on film and captured her bare breasts, however, which were then screened to the defendants during the viewing of the surveillance footage in which several men were also present.
“Plaintiff Gillespie was extremely embarrassed and started crying,” her attorneys claim in the paperwork. Nevertheless, Alonso continued to play the tape before an audience and Gillespie was reportedly told not to speak of it unless she wanted to be fired. She was ultimately terminated less than two months later.
Gillespie “had an expectation of privacy in this locker room,” her attorneys write in the complaint. “She believed the locker room was for females only.She had no knowledge of a camera ever being installed in the locker room.”
“There was no legal review of the plans before the cameras were installed,” her attorney, Hugh Davis of Detroit, told the BC Enquirer on Wednesday. “As far as we know they did not seek any legal authority or a lawyer’s opinion.”
Two current employees of the BCPD have since signed off as plaintiffs as well and say they had no knowledge that video and audio recordings would be made in a room where they regularly disrobed upon a presumed expectation of privacy.
“The acts of defendants, and each of them, were undertaken intentionally, maliciously, recklessly and with callous disregard for plaintiffs’ rights and welfare,” their attorneys claim, adding that the incident has left the plaintiffs with “a loss of personal privacy and self-esteem” as well as “shame and shock.”
Attorneys for Gillespie and co-plaintiffs Jennifer McCaughna and Shawn O’Bryant list the City of Battle Creek, Police Chief Jackie Hampton, Deputy Chief James Saylor, Inspector Alonso, Deputy Inspector Randy Reinstein, Lt. Stephen Bush and Sgt. Chad Fickle as all defendants in the case.
Brought forth by seven unnamed juvenile prisoners, the case hinges on the idea that the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) has consistently failed to keep prisoners under the age of 18 apart from the more hardened adult inmates. It alleges that at least two of the plaintiffs were repeatedly raped because their older cellmates were selling access to the younger ones. It goes on to implicate corrections officers for allowing the rape to continue.
“MDOC staff was aware of the assaults and aware that male adult prisoners were paying John Doe 5’s cellmate access for access to John Doe 5 for purposes of sexually assaulting him,” the suit claims.
Deborah LeBelle, an attorney based in Ann Arbor, told MLive.com that she was aware of the suit when it was initially filed in October, but decided to bring it back to light because of the seriousness of the allegations. When the suit was re-filed, it was classified as a violation of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, a Michigan law that forbids differential treatment based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status.
LeBelle told the Michigan news site she was stunned that teens who may have barely gone through puberty are locked up with adults – which also increases their risk of recidivism.
“I didn’t know the extent of the damage those choices had wrought in Michigan until I started talking to the youth,” she said. “And, I found it heartbreaking…If you put all of these together; I saw it as a tragic waste.”
The class-action suit cites seven plaintiffs, but was filed on behalf of more than 500 others who have been put in dangerous situations because of treatment from staff and inmates. It also accuses the MDOC of violating the Prison Rape Elimination Act by failing to adhere to guidelines that demand prisoners under the age of 18 have no sight, sound, or physical contact with adult prisoners.
At least two prisoners claim they were not only raped by fellow convicts, but also victimized by MDOC staff.
“From late 2012 until early 2013, a female MDOC staff member repeatedly opened John Doe 4’s cell for purposes of engaging in coerced sexual intercourse with him,” the suit claims.
Another has come forward to assert that he was sent to solitary confinement for reporting a staff member who let an older inmate into his cell to rape him.
“Upon his release from solitary confinement, John Doe 2 was physically assaulted again with a knife, resulting in a scar across the face and marking him as a victim and an ongoing target for other prisoners,” the suit claims.
The victims are seeking more than $25,000 in damages. The suit was filed in Washtenaw Trial Court, with the MDOC, various MDOC staff members, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder named as defendants.
The re-filing comes after the MDOC filed a motion to dismiss an unrelated lawsuit from the union representing corrections officers. Hundreds of guards previously signed onto a suit claiming the MDOC violated state and federal labor laws by refusing to pay corrections officers for time spent before and after each shift, when they made and received reports, inspected equipment, and received new assignments.
South Africa: the working class fights back. "In South Africa, most of those who are on the better-off side of the huge social inequalities which have persisted since the end of apartheid – be they staunch supporters of capitalism, or just liberal do-gooders – watched the build up of the miners’ strike wave which followed the Marikana massacre, with total disbelief..."Topic(s):
Chemical weapons were likely used by forces in Syria in five of seven attacks investigated in Syria, the UN team of experts said in a report released Thursday.
"The United Nations Mission concludes that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic," said chief UN investigator Ake Sellstrom.
The report said that in several instances, victims included soldiers and civilians. However, it was not always possible to determine direct links between the attacks, victims, and alleged sites of the incidents.
“The United Nations Mission collected clear and convincing evidence that chemical weapons were used also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale in the Ghouta area of Damascus on 21 August 2013,” the report concludes.
The UN team says this overall assessment is based on findings of “impacted and exploded surface-to-surface rockets...found to contain Sarin”; in areas around where patients were affected, the environment was found to be “contaminated by Sarin”; over 50 interviews with survivors and health workers provided “corroboration of the medical and scientific results”; many patients and survivors were “diagnosed as intoxicated by an organophosphorous compound”; and blood and urine samples taken from the same patients tested “positive for Sarin and Sarin signatures.”
The boy, Hunter Yelton, made national headlines earlier this week when it was learned that the Canon City school system classified the kiss as a form of “sexual harassment” that would be listed as an infraction on his disciplinary record.
"This is taking it to an extreme that doesn't need to be met with a 6-year-old," the boy’s mother, Jennifer Saunders, told KRDO. "Now my son's asking questions, 'What is sex, mommy?'"
Late Wednesday, though, the school acknowledged having a change of heart on how to proceed with the case. KRDO News reported that evening that Canon School Superintendent Robin Gooldy met with parents of Yelton and agreed to reclassify the offense from “sexual harassment” to “misconduct.”
Parents of the first-grade girl on the receiving end of the kiss say the school was right to initially take action, though, which included a temporary suspension for Yelton that has since been lifted.
According to the girl’s mother, Jade Masters-Ownbey, the boy attempted to kiss her daughter "over and over" without her permission, “sneaking up on her” to do it.
"I've had to coach her about what to do when you don't want someone touching you, but they won't stop," she told the Canon City Daily Record.
"It was during class yeah," the boy explained to KRDO went the story first began to go viral. "We were doing reading group and I leaned over and kissed her on the hand. That's what happened."
Originally, the school suggested they would stand by their decision to temporarily ban Yelton from class, and KRDO reported "They're hoping the suspension changes Hunter's behavior."
Now amid a backlash brought on by what the local television station calls a “tidal wave of negative publicity,” the school is bowed to public pressure and agreed to reassess their allegations against the child.
"Our main interest in this is having the behavior stop because the story is not just about the student that was disciplined, it is also about the student receiving the unwanted advances," Superintendent Gooldy told KRDO.