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Millennium Bank $68 Mill Ponzi Scheme Uncovered

March 28, 2009 | Credit Cards | 3 Comments
ponzi-scheme

Another Ponzi scheme has been uncovered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  This time it’s the Caribbean-based Millennium Bank who misled customers in believing that they were depositing money in safe and secure CDs with returns of up to 321% higher than legitimate bank CDs.

Below is an excerpt from the press release.

“The Securities and Exchange Commission has obtained an emergency court order halting a $68 million Ponzi scheme involving the sale of fictitious high-yield certificates of deposit (CDs) by Caribbean-based Millennium Bank.

The SEC alleges that the scheme targeted U.S. investors and misled them into believing they were putting their money in supposedly safe and secure CDs that purportedly offered returns that were up to 321 percent higher than legitimate bank-issued CDs.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that William J. Wise of Raleigh, N.C., and Kristi M. Hoegel of Napa, Calif., orchestrated the scheme through Millennium Bank, its Geneva, Switzerland-based parent United Trust of Switzerland S.A., and U.S.-based affiliates UT of S, LLC and Millennium Financial Group. In addition to Wise and Kristi Hoegel and these entities, the SEC has charged Jacqueline S. Hoegel (who is the mother of Kristi Hoegel), Brijesh Chopra, and Philippe Angeloni for their roles in the scheme.”

For the complete press release visit www.sec.gov.

Easily Find Scholarships to Help Pay for College

March 23, 2009 | Credit Cards | No Comments
fastweb

With today’s high cost of college, finding a scholarship can really help reduce your expenses.  One great way to find scholarship is to use FastWeb

FastWeb also helps students choose a college, pay for college, find jobs and internships; best of all, it’s free.  Since the site launched in 1995, 34 million students have created FastWeb accounts and last year, 1 out of 3 college-bound high school seniors used the site.

When registering to use the site, each FastWeb user must answer a detailed questionnaire about them. The site then uses this data to generate personalized information of scholarships, colleges, internships, jobs, and more.

FastWeb’s scholarship database has the most comprehensive and accurate compilation of national, community, and college-specific scholarships available anywhere. The database is updated continuously by the company’s research team. FastWeb’s database contains more than 1.3 million scholarships worth over $3 billion.  All this for free!

For more information visit FastWeb.com.

Video: World’s Worst Credit Card

March 8, 2009 | Credit Cards | Videos | No Comments

Below is an interesting video of the world’s worst credit card ever by Continental Finance issued by First Bank of Delaware.  It’s interesting how people with bad credit get penalized with outrageous interest rates and fees.  These people already have no money and are being asked to pay more.  While the responsible people with good credit pay less.  It definitely pays to have good credit!

Video:  World’s Worst Credit Card Ever

Capital One Offering 0% Interest Credit Card for 1 Year

February 26, 2009 | Credit Cards | 1 Comment

If you have credit card debt with a high interest rate, you have to seriously consider transferring your balance to the

Capital One No Hassle Miles Rewards Credit Card
.  Capital One is offering 0% purchase APR until 2/2010, after its 13.9% variable.  There is no cost to transfer your balance and no annual fee.

Below are the card’s  features:

  • 1.25 miles for each dollar spent on purchases
  • No blackout dates and no seat restrictions
  • 0% intro APR on purchases until February 2010
  • Rewards of 1.25 miles per $1 spent on purchases
  • Purchase APR: 0% until February 2010; after 13.9% variable
  • Transfer APR: 13.9% variable
  • Transfer Fee: $0
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Credit Limit: $500–$20,000

 

You must have excellent credit to get the card.  But don’t fear if you have average credit Capital One has other cards to consider.

Visit CapitalOne.com for more information.

Top 7 FAQ’s About the 2009 Home Buyer Tax Credit

February 26, 2009 | Credit Cards | No Comments
first-time-home-buyers

The recently approved economic stimulus package includes a $8,000 maximum tax credit for first-time homebuyers in 2009.  Below are the top 7 frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) about the tax credit.

1. Who is eligible for the Home Buyer tax credit?

First time home (new or used) buyers are eligible for the tax credit. You must purchase a home on or after 1/1/2009 and before 12/1/2009.  Remember the purchase date is the date when you close and the title of the property transfers to you as the home owner.

2. What is the defined as a first-time home buyer?

Per U.S. laws, a first-time home buyer is a buyer who has not owned a residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase. For married taxpayers, the couple’s homeownership history has to be tested to determine if they qualify for first-time home buyer status.  If one party of a married couple has owned a home within the three-year period, then the couple will not be eligible for the tax credit.

3. How is the tax credit amount calculated?

The tax credit is 10% of a house purchase price up to $8,000 maximum.

4. What are the income requirements for claiming the tax credit?

Single tax payers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of more than $75,000 and married couples with a MAGI of more than $150,000 will see a reduction in the tax credit. For single tax payers with MAGI of more than $95,000 and married tax payers over $170,000 the tax credit is zero.

5. How do I claim the first time home tax credit?

You will claim the tax credit on your federal income tax return.  You well need to complete IRS Form 5405 to determine the tax credit and then claim it on Line 69 of your 1040 income tax return.  It’s a pretty easy!

6. What types of homes will qualify for the tax credit?

Any home that will be used as your primary residence will qualify, which includes single-family detached homes, townhouses, condominiums, manufactured or mobile homes and houseboats.

7. What does it mean by the credit being refundable?

If the tax payer has little or no federal income tax liability that can be reduced by the credit, the IRS will send you a check for the credit.

Get $200/$100 to Open Chase Business Checking Account

February 21, 2009 | Credit Cards | No Comments

Owners of Chase Business Credit Card can qualify for a $200 bonus for opening a Chase Business Checking account. For those of you who don’t have the Chase Business Credit Card, you can get a $100 bonus. Chase will deposit $200 or $100 into your new Chase Business Checking account within 10 business days of confirming the $500 deposit requirement.

A $500 minimum deposit is required and you can choose from four different plans based on the size of your business and the services you require. The least expensive option allows up to 200 transactions per month and provides several ways to have the monthly maintenance fees waived, such as linking your new checking account to your credit card account. The offer ends March 28, 2009.

Visit the following links ($200 bonus or $100 bonus) to print the coupon and bring it to your local Chase Bank or call 1-800-CHASE24 (1-800-242-7324).

Make Money Using Credit Cards

February 7, 2009 | Credit Cards | 1 Comment

I never pay with cash unless I have to.  My wife and I use credit cards for practically everything we purchase.  Many of our monthly bills are paid by credit card.  The reason we do this?  To make money!  We don’t pay credit card companies (late fees / finance fees); credit card companies pay us (cash back).

For years I used Discover Card (note: currently offering a $50 cash back bonus to sign up), which paid 1% cash back, and would earn me about $300 per year.  Not a lot of money but hey – it pays a few bills.

When my wife and I were dating long distance I switched to an AirTran Visa card and was able to earn a few free tickets which amounted to about 1% cash back.  Then we got married and stopped flying as much.  I then switched to CapitalOne No Hassle Visa, which offers 2 miles for every dollar of monthly spending above $1,000, and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases.  The cool thing about this card is you can take the rewards as cash, gift card, buy products, or book airline tickets.  I’ve always taken the cash.

Several months ago, I signed up for the Amex Plum Card because they offered 2% cash back if you spend over $5,000 for the month, and 1% cash back if you spend less.   The trick is you have to pay your balance in full within 10 days of the statement closing date to get the discount.  The nice thing is the cash back is credited to your account automatically.  No need to redeem anything.

Unfortunately, the Amex Plum Card has changed the terms for new customers.  New customers get a 1.5% discount on eligible purchases made that month.  Existing customers are “grandfathered” in under the old terms.  The first year annual fee is waived, after it’s a $185 per year.

Another cool thing about the Amex Plum Card is this; if you run into cash flow problems and can’t pay the bill on time, they will allow you to pay at least 10% of the balance and defer payment of the remaining balance without penalty until the closing date of your next bill cycle.  I never plan on using this because I want the cash back, so I pay on time.

If you want 2% cash back no matter how much you spend each month, there’s good news.  The Schwab Bank Invest First Visa Signature and the Fidelity Rewards American Express credit cards give you unlimited 2% cash back on purchases, automatically deposited into a brokerage account each month.  There’s no limit on the cash back you can earn, no minimum monthly purchase amount, and there are no annual fees.  That’s a great deal and I’m considering signing up!

WARNING! In order for you to make money using credit cards, you must pay off the entire bill and never be late.  If you don’t pay off the bill in full, or if you are late paying, you will incur finance and late fees.  The idea here is to not pay the credit card company any money; you want them to pay you!  So if you are an impulsive shopper with a credit card and you can’t control yourself, pay cash.

Below is what my wife and I earned last year by using our cash back credit cards for personal and business expenses (Amex Plum Card and CapitalOne):

Cash Back Earning in 2008

CapitalOne = $425
Amex Plum Card = $1,111
Late Fees = $0
Finance Fees = $0
Total = $1,536

 

Note: Check out our list of Best Credit Card Deals