Madoff Gets 150 Yrs of Justice

Bernard Madoff, who ruined the lives of several thousands of consumer victims from all walks of life, will be spending the rest of his life in jail.

At his sentencing hearing on Monday morning June 29, 2009, he was given a 150 year sentence.

Madoff pulled off what is probably the greatest Ponzi scheme fraud in history and has been the subject of tons of press that you can read at your leisure elsewhere on the internet.

The scale of his fraud and deceit certainly seems to easily justify the harshest of sentences. Still, one has to wonder where all the money went and why others didn't get arrested too. It seems very hard to believe that no one knew what he was up to in his entire operation --- not even his relatives who worked for him. Perhaps that's another day's justice.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves from fraud, and get their money back, since 1978.

New GM Promises to Honor Warranties

Good news for owners of GM cars and trucks --- reports are that the "new" GM which comes out of bankruptcy will honor the "old" GM's warranty on the millions of cars and trucks on the road.

That announcement, although a promise yet to be fulfilled, puts it ahead of Chrysler, which issued only an ambiguous statement of possible warranty plans for the millions of Chrysler vehicle owners who still don't know where they stand for sure.

If you've got a GM or a Chrysler vehicle, and you have any defects or problems, get it in the shop right away, while your dealer is still around and willing to try to help you.

For now, GM owners can breathe a sigh of relief.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves since 1978.

Is Fraud Increasing?

The answer is yes according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). And, worse yet, it is expected to continue in the near future as the rescession takes its toll on jobs and wages.

The ACFE is the world's largest anti-fraud organization, dedicated to reducing business fraud. In their 2008 Report to the Nation, they found that nearly a trillion dollars of business annual revenues were siphoned off due to fraud. Now, their newest report indicates the level of business fraud is rising.

Rising faster than the Wall Street churning fraud of the late 80-early-1990's, that spawned Glenn Frey's hit song "I've Got Mine", the fraud investigators at ACFE said the expect fraud to continue to increase during the next 12 months too.

Their latest report is based on a survey of fraud investigators, who reported an increase in fraudulent activities in the last year over past years. The report, "Occupational
Fraud: A Study of the Impact of an Economic Recession", blames the increase on "intense financial pressures during the economic crisis." There mere existence of an opportunity for fraud to occur was not enough, according to ACFE.

As the ACFE President said, "Desperate people do desperate things."

These are tough times and they're right. The fear of personal disaster can cause many otherwise honest merchants and business people to consider and do things that might not occur in a normal economy. The result for you? Be more careful than ever. After all, the only thing that makes Bernie Madoff unusual nowadays, may be the sheer size of his fraud. The more ordinary acts of fraud may be happening all around you in ordinary small ways.

A fourth of the fraud discovered in the ACFE's 2008 Report was just plain overbilling. That could be as simple as bogus charge card billing or phone bill statement in small amounts of $15 or $20 which adds up to millions of dollars because many people don't look over their charge card bills carefully or just don't complain long enough or loud enough about the suspicious small charge on their account.

Don't waste your money. If you see a charge you didn't authorize on your account statement, call and demand that it be removed and don't take "no" for an answer. Then, report it to your state Attorney General's Consumer Fraud department and demand that they investigate.

Crooks will always be crooks, but these hard times are causing many near-crooks to turn the corner, costing consumers millions of their hard earned dollars.

Burdge Law Office

Helping consumers protect themselves since 1978.


Penske Buys Saturn

The Penske Auto Group has inked a deal with GM to buy Saturn. Included in the deal will be the brand itself, the parts inventory, and the right to distribute the Saturn vehicle line, which GM apparently will continue to build for another 2 years.

In addition to moving things along for GM, it also means a big sigh of relief for the roughly 360 Saturn dealers who General Motors had announced would be orphaned if a sale did not occur.

A Chinese company has announced its intention to buy the Hummer operation, But that still leaves Pontiac to contend with as GM keeps heading to a leaner operation that it hopes will be more profitable too.

There's no word yet on whether the sales would mean that the new owners would continue to honor the old GM warranties but under bankruptcy law the sales could occur in such a way that all old warranty rights were liquidated. Or not. We'll have to wait and see.

Burdge Law Office
Helping consumers protect themselves everyday since 1978.


Now, Let's Turn the Page

With GM having finally filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, maybe the auto industry and our whole economy can finally stop the dreading and nay-saying and move on. It's about time.

6,000 GM dealers received one of two letters from GM this week, the good one and the bad one. The bad one said "so long" basically. The good one, if you can call it that, set out new expectations for surviving dealers and new requirements too and gave a June 12 deadline to agree "or else" they'd find themselves being included in the bankruptcy and not invited along for the "survival ride" so to speak. Ok, so do it already, GM.

What this economy needs, we suspect, is for everyone to stop talking the doom and gloom trash and start getting over it and moving on.

At a concert in Dayton last night, the musician thanked the crowd for coming out and went on for another half minute or so to talk about the fact that we live in a resilient society in this country and that we will all survive the current economic mess and, perhaps, just keeping that in mind can help us to cope with the present and have more faith in the future. To be sure, we still need to be careful on this rocky road, but he had a good point about keeping in mind that the road does eventually lead us to a better spot.

It's time that Detroit, and the rest of us, turned the page. That starts with each of us. Then, maybe the media will realize that all of us regular folks have heard enough of the negative and tone it down too.