Archive for November, 2010

Avoid holiday rip-offs, scams

Okay, well I might have been a little frivolous in my “throw- caution-to-the-wind” approach to Thanksgiving dinner. Truthfully, I almost died.

It looked so good on my third helping and who can turn down another round of oyster dressing because you know, oysters are said to be aphrodisiacs but, well, I guess I didn’t think it through because after eating, the only thing I was interested in doing was trying not to die. I was sitting on the couch, bloated like three-day old road kill. Somehow we survived it as I hope you did.

Back to business.

It has already started. Christmas rip-offs and scams are all over the place and despite warnings and all the good information out there on avoiding them, people still seem to walk right into trouble as if they just got off the bus from Sesame Street.

Wake up!

Fraud can be avoided.

Here are some things we call “clues” in police work.

Watch out if:

  • The deal sounds too good to be true.
  • There’s high pressure to act right away.
  • A promise of …

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Off-duty at Thanksgiving: Guilt just gets in way of the gravy

We are on the threshold of another Thanksgiving holiday. Once again it’s diet-be-damned as we dive into the depths of too much food and the various ways we rationalize it before, during and after the feast.

The most common is the “Starting Tomorrow” speech as one piles the dressing on top of the mashed potatoes that are piled on the other kind of dressing that rests on the 16 slices of turkey.

“Tomorrow I’ll be getting back to my diet of six calories a day, along with 16 hours of non-stop exercise.”

We’re never actually starting the diet and rigorous exercise program after Thanksgiving but rather continuing the workout that would easily train us for any upcoming decathlon. Everyone nods in false agreement that makes the person feel better.

“I’ll just eat small portions.”

This one is followed by six trips of small portions — the last two trips hopefully unseen.

Another favorite is the person who proclaims a pre-Thanksgiving fasting ritual: “I haven’t eaten in six months just so …

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My holiday safety tips

Yep, it’s that time of year again. I’ll bet you can name a bunch of ways to stay safe through the holidays without being told anything. You should be able to. The cops and everyone else say the same thing every year:

• Don’t leave your GPS, laptop, wallet, M-16, Rolex, pan flute or other valuables in the car while you’re inside shopping.

• Don’t leave your house unlocked with no alarm and the porch lights on all day and the mail stacked up and a sign that says “Out of Town” on the front door.

• Don’t leave your purse in the child-seat of the shopping cart, open with your wallet sitting there, begging to be stolen.

• Don’t leave your car on while you walk inside the convenient store to buy something.

• Don’t send your name, date of birth and Social Security number, along with your bank account number, to that guy, the only living relative of the super-rich and recently deceased oil baron in the Great Providence of Neusabee because he happened to have found only you on the …

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Buying or selling something? Make it a face-to-face cash deal

A man answers an ad on Craigslist. The ad says they will hunt a car loan for him. All he needs to do is send $500, his name, date of birth, Social Security number and even his birth certificate to a guy known only as Dennis.

The victim did just that. The man later reports to the police that he never heard back from Dennis.

How many of you would do this?

This isn’t an error in judgment. It’s just stupid. We get dozens of similar reports each week.

You’re selling a $500 lawn mower on Craigslist or the online paper. You’re contacted by a man who said he wants to purchase the mower. He’ll send you $1,500. Deposit it and then send a money order for the balance of $1,000 to an address in another city for “shipping.”

You deposit the money order or check, then you send a money order as requested to the address. A couple of days later your bank said the money order you received was no good.

Yours was and it’s now gone to a P.O. box to be collected by the crook.

Now this one is …

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Life is short. Enjoy it now

Life is short isn’t it?

I heard a song the other day that said: “Life is a game you can’t win so enjoy the ride.” I’m sure that there are about a hundred variations of that in song or poems or drunken reflections, but it’s all true.

I figure I’ve delivered a couple of dozen death messages in my career—mostly in the early days when I worked the road.

The first time was unbelievably hard. All I can remember is taking advice from “The Godfather” movie, choosing to deliver the bad news quickly. It was something that I always remembered. They know you’re there for bad news because it’s all over your face. There is no sense asking them to sit or otherwise prolong what you need to say. It’s once you say it that you need to take time with them.

People react differently. Some get angry, some just don’t believe a word of it and some just stare at you.

I worked a traffic fatality one night. I drove to the woman’s apartment and spoke with her fiancé. I sat him down and told him she had …

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