Prepared by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
January 25, 2012
TIMESHARE MARKETING SCAMS
Timeshare owners across the country are being scammed out of millions of dollars by unscrupulous companies that promise to sell or rent the unsuspecting victims’ timeshares. In the typical scam, timeshare owners receive unexpected or uninvited telephone calls or e-mails from criminals posing as sales representatives for a timeshare resale company. The representative promises a quick sale, often within 60-90 days. The sales representatives often use high-pressure sales tactics to add a sense of urgency to the deal. Some victims have reported that sales representatives pressured them by claiming there was a buyer waiting in the wings, either on the other line or even present in the office.
Timeshare owners who agree to sell are told that they must pay an upfront fee to cover anything from listing and advertising fees to closing costs. Many victims have provided credit cards to pay the fees ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Once the fee is paid, timeshare owners report that the company becomes evasive – calls go unanswered, numbers are disconnected, and websites are inaccessible.
In some cases, timeshare owners who have been defrauded by a timeshare sales scheme have been subsequently contacted by an unscrupulous timeshare fraud recovery company as well. The representative from the recovery company promises assistance in recovering money lost in the sales scam. Some recovery companies require an up-front fee for services rendered while others promise no fees will be paid unless a refund is obtained for the timeshare owner. The IC3 has identified some instances where people involved with the recovery company also have a connection to the resale company, raising the possibility that timeshare owners are being scammed twice by the same people.
If you are contacted by someone offering to sell or rent your timeshare, the IC3 recommends using caution. Listed below are tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of a timeshare scheme:
Be wary if a company asks you for up-front fees to sell or rent your timeshare.
Read the fine print of any sales contract or rental agreement provided.
Anyone who believes they have been a victim of this type of scam should promptly report it to the IC3’s website at www.IC3.gov. The IC3’s complaint database links complaints together to refer them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for case consideration.
A repost in memory a gracious Lady who I had the privilege of meeting. Ava Bhasin aka Ava Aunty peacefully passed away today September 12, 2012. RIP Ava Aunty.
“If only I wasn’t Governor-General but just a grass-bachelor sailor I would have had the most wonderful time here. An exceptionally lovely Anglo-Indian girl, leading lady of the second play, attracted me more than any girl for years. And as luck would have it I absolutely clicked with her. I just saw enough of her on stage. After the show and sitting opposite her after the Club dinner to know we could have had a wonderful time…Isn’t it maddening I just can’t do anything about it. She was just my cup of tea. Pammy (his other daughter Pamela) was amused but luckily I don’t think mummy noticed anything…” – An extract from Mountbatten by Paul Ziegler. Lord Mountbatten had written this in a letter to his daughter Patricia after having met Ava Bhasin who played the leading role in a play presented by the Simla Amateur Dramatic Club (ADC), in the summer of 1948. Reference
There is a fragment of Indian History that nestles somewhere on the outskirts of Bengaluru in the form of an 85 year old lady, Ava Bhasin, who is an aspiring poet and a delightful remnant from the heady early post colonial days of the Indian sub continent when ball room dancing, politics, Gandhi, gymkhanas, tea parties, theatre and cricket came together to form a delightful spicy mix for a charming existence; The merry go round of the manor born.
Some weeks ago while I traversed the narrow by lanes of an ancient port city, Kochi, researching the life of the Jews in Jew Town, I was invited to meet Ava by my sister Sarita Kaul of Bali who was in Bengaluru to savor the delights of a family reunion. I was instructed to call her Ava Aunty and not to use any words that could be construed as four letters too many, if you get the drift. So here I am, after a fifteen hour road trip, sitting in front of Ava Aunty sipping a nice cup of fine Darjeeling and munching on a jaw breaking muruku (South Indian Snack).
Ava Bhasin is frail; her eyesight is diminishing but the will to live surges to the surface when she speaks about the day when she met her husband for the first time, the enchanting encounter with Mountbatten, birth of her three sons and the poems that she writes for posterity.
So how did you meet the Governor General?
Mark, it was by accident that I took part in the Play, Half an Hour. Apparently the leading lady had been transferred i.e. her government job took her elsewhere so I was asked to take her place. I did. And it seems that the Earl and Countess Mountbatten of Burma were in the audience and I was singled out after the show to meet Mountbatten, who was Governor General of India at that time. Yes, we hit it off very well. Later we met once more at the Governor’s Lodge for a Garden Party for the cast of the ADC. I would have loved to have had an intellectual relationship with him. If the untoward had happened it would have had to be by accident. Nothing did, thankfully. However, on both occasions we had a conversation and it felt like we had known each other from another time. He was suave, handsome and a very bright fellow who was well known as a ladies’ man. But I was married and my boys were still babies, I couldn’t think, I was young, I was too overwhelmed. In hind sight I wonder if I had pursued him to continue our conversation where it would have led. Humm…
Where were you born?
In Calcutta, 1924. My parents met in London. Daddy, Bibhuti Bhushan Chatterjee, was studying for the Bar (he became a Barrister, Middle Temple) and my mummy, Vera, was a Nelsonhood. Her father worked in Buckingham Palace. She had a brother called Leslie who was in the Navy. I remember mummy narrating an incident concerning Uncle Leslie. It seems that when their ship was sailing through the Suez Canal to India they passed another ship in the night. On the other ship Uncle Leslie lay dying of TB. The ship hooted. It was a moving experience for mummy as she held my elder sister Sita, who was a few months old, in her arms. It was as if life and death were passing in the night.
How did you meet your husband?
I was at a party in Firpos on Chowringhee, a blossoming 16 year old! I always wore a saree because my mother wanted us to embrace our Indian roots. Across the table a gentleman kept staring at me. His name was Devraj Bhasin and he was about 15 years my senior. Devraj was smitten by me and promptly introduced himself. On hearing that mummy was well known for her hand embroidery he made an appointment and visited our home to ‘see’ her embroidery. It was an excuse to meet me.
We fell in love. My friends in the building helped me meet him. And then we decided to get married a year later.
My mother accompanied me to the Gurdwara for the marriage ceremony. Daddy didn’t know I was getting married. When we told him after the wedding he refused to see me and Devraj; and further called my husband a gambler because he was a Stock Broker.
After our marriage and before partition we went to Lahore where my eldest son was born. It was a beautiful city of colleges with a vibrant social life.
I think the name of the restaurant was ‘Faletis” (I am not sure if this is the correct spelling) where we used to go dancing, Ball room dancing. My husband was an excellent dancer. Lahore was a modern city. No one spoke of religion or even discussed it; everything was intellectual, very civilized. Do you know that the present Prime Minister of India, Shri Manmohan Singh, was born in Lahore? Hahahaha…the irony, the politics, why can’t we all just live in peace.
Before partition we left Lahore and went to Calcutta for a short while before finally settling in Delhi. I loved Delhi with its old world charm, the monuments, Gymkhana, social life, the evening walks in Lodhi Gardens.
After all these years I still recall the story of mummy when she arrived in India for the first time and went straight to Thakurma’s house (her mother-in law). On entering the house mummy touched her feet as per Indian tradition. They became friends for the rest of their lives. Often Thakurma would visit us but would bring her own food. As she was a widow it was forbidden to eat in her daughter in law’s home.
Mummy wanted to understand India, its customs and traditions. She wanted to become an Indian, though she was English. And for this and much more, I love her dearly.
Did you witness the full horror of the partition?
Not really. We would read about riots in the papers and if some area that we proposed to visit was dangerous we wouldn’t go there or in some cases never left the house for a few days.
During the immediate years of post partition I worked for Sarla Birla teaching refugees hand embroidery. The products they made were sold and the proceeds given to these unfortunate people. I worked with Sarla for around six years. We still keep in touch!
What inspires you to write poetry?
Kashmir and the stories of Habba Khatun. Habba was married to Prince Yusuf Chak of Kashmir. He was banished by the British to Bihar and she died alone in Kashmir.
I remember my visit to this heaven on earth, many years ago with my husband. We stayed in a House Boat. There is a beauty there that consoles the soul and soothes the senses. I don’t know what they are doing with it now, the futility of violence, the ingenuity with which people use hatred and bigotry in their daily life. This is sad. This is tragic.
Her self-published anthology of love poems is titled – The Touch of Things. This stanza from the title poem reflects a clean unwashed innocence with a touch of melancholia. Maybe it is a piece from the enchanting life she has led; a life that in her words ‘was worth reliving’.
Touch the leaf. Touch the scar. Touch the white waters. Touch the music that comes from the flute. It is me. Touched with your love – Weeping and mute. Touched by the shadow of sorrows, The loss of your hand on my heart
At the end of the meeting Ava Bhasin rose ethereal like from the sofa and with her hand in my arm we walked quietly to the waiting car. And as it pulled away I watched a fragment of a beautiful life weave its way through the traffic and then fade into the haze of the twilight rush hour.
I will leave you with a few words from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a favorite of Ava Bhasin.
Lo! some we loved, the loveliest and the best
That Time and Fate of all their Vintage prest,
Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to Rest.
Five years ago this week, the FBI established its first Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Directorate to centralize and coordinate all WMD-related investigative activities, intelligence analysis capabilities, and technical expertise from across the Bureau. Recently, FBI.gov spoke with Dr.Vahid Majidi—the head of the WMD Directorate since its launch—on his office’s work over the past five years. Today, he talks about the current threat and specific focus of the directorate. Later this week, he’ll discuss case examples, lessons learned, and the future of the directorate.
Q. Why was the directorate created?
Majidi: The FBI has been in the WMD business for quite some time, more formally since 1995 when we created a program in our Counterterrorism Division to address the WMD threat. But obviously, a lot has happened in recent years. And it became clear that our WMD response crossed operational lines and also involved our counterintelligence, criminal, and cyber programs—not to mention the response and forensics expertise in the FBI Laboratory and the render-safe capabilities of our Critical Incident Response Group. We needed a single force to coordinate all of our WMD activities. The directorate gives us that.
Q. What does the WMD threat look like today?
Dr. Majidi: The nature of the threat hasn’t changed all that much over the past decade. International terrorist groups are still determined to get their hands on various forms of weapons of mass destruction—chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear. Organizations and nation states still want material and expertise for their own programs. And certain domestic groups are still trying to acquire materials needed for basic WMD applications—predominately chemical or biological in nature.
Q. What about all those white powder letters?
Dr. Majidi: Most turn out to be hoaxes, and they require a lot of investigative resources, but we have to investigate each and every incident. You never know when one of them will be real.
Q. Can you briefly explain how the WMD Directorate works?
Dr. Majidi: Absolutely. The main focus of our WMD Directorate—and the primary focus of our overall efforts—is prevention, to keep a WMD attack from ever taking place. To make that happen, we have several closely integrated activities that pull together resources from various parts of the FBI. Our countermeasures and preventions group includes a full spectrum of activities, from WMD training for domestic and international law enforcement partners…to outreach efforts to academia, industry, government, and retailers to help them spot indicators of potential WMD activity….to working with our government partners to formulate sound policies. The investigations and operations group addresses threatened or actual use of weapons of mass destruction, or the transfer of materials, knowledge, and technology needed to create a WMD. We also can and do collect evidence in contaminated areas, disarm hazardous devices, and provide command and control support in on-scene activities. Finally, our intelligence and analysis group serves as the foundation of our proactive approach to threats. Our analysts sort through data to identify relevant WMD information, and our agents work to identify sources of valuable intelligence. And because we are part of the intelligence community, we share information routinely with our partners. Through it all, we have a lot of activities and capabilities in play, and I think we’re making a real difference.
About Dr. Majidi.
Personally appointed by FBI Director Mueller, Dr. Vahid Majidi brings a highly credentialed background to his role as Assistant Director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Directorate. Dr. Majidi’s experience includes his service at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), a premier scientific organization with extensive research capabilities in areas essential to national security and civilian research programs. While at the Laboratory, Dr. Majidi led the Chemistry Division, directing critical programs in areas such as nuclear weapons-related research, non/counter-proliferation, homeland security, isotope science, applied energy, and nanoscale science and engineering.
In 2003, Dr. Majidi was appointed to be the Chief Science Advisor to the Department of Justice. Among his responsibilities was the coordination of science and technology policy among the Department’s component agencies as well as with state and local law enforcement entities. He served as the lead representative for biosecurity, pathogen forensics, DNA technologies, biometrics programs, and as the liaison to the scientific community.
Prior to his career at LANL and the Department of Justice, Dr. Majidi was a tenured associate professor of chemistry at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Majidi earned his BS degree in chemistry from Eastern Michigan University and his PhD from Wayne State University. After his graduate work he spent two years as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Texas (Austin). He has published numerous scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals and has served on the editorial boards for several international journals.
Professor Unni Wikan, Norwegian Professor of Social Anthropology University of Oslo Norway
I am sorry for writing to you in a public forum but I think it is important now that you come forward to explain this horrible incident. You are a celebrated anthropologist who so kindly gave me an interview for my magazine sometime back. In the interview you spoke about the rapes in Norway that were committed by immigrants and the reasons thereof. Perhaps now is the best time to help your country to come to terms with this tragedy by presenting the factors that contributed to this tragedy. I am sure it will help in creating a more transparent view of the problem of immigrants and the clash of cultures.
I trust you are in good health. My regards to your mother who lives in the Tundra.
MU – “I will not blame the rapes on Norwegian women. But Norwegian women must understand that we live in a Multicultural society and adapt themselves to it.” “Norwegian women must take their share of responsibility for these rapes.”
You stated this in reference to high profile incidents in Norway involving immigrant men and the local (Norwegian) women. Do you think the reverse will happen in Bali, like attacks on ‘visitor women scantily clad’ by ‘locals’ because the ‘visitors’ have shown ignorance of the social norms and/or not understood the prevalent culture?
UW – I have never said that women must take their share of responsibility for rapes. This is sheer misrepresentation of my statement. The rapist bears full responsibility for rape, which is a crime. What I did say was that many immigrants come from societies where the way many Norwegian women dress and behave is misunderstood to mean that they are immoral. In a multicultural society, it is an advantage if people learn something about one another´s codes of communication. The same applies if you are a tourist. It is a sad fact of life that women are exposed much more than men to sexual violence. So women need to be careful, and knowledge is power. But full responsibility for rape resides with the rapist.
Chief DUSM Ken Deal, District of Colorado (303) 335-3400
DUSM Charlie Ahmad, District of Colorado – Fugitive Location and Apprehension Group (303) 335-3400;
USMS Office of Public Affairs (202) 307-9065
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Marshals have added a convicted child molester to their 15 Most Wanted fugitive list. Richard Carl Heeringa is wanted in Colorado by the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Marshals led Fugitive Location and Apprehension Group Task Force.
Following a two-week trial in April 2010, a jury found Heeringa guilty of 17 counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and failure to register as a sex offender. He is facing more than 500 years in prison.
Heeringa fled in the middle of the night on April 15, 2010, the same day the jury reached their guilty verdict. He has not been seen since.
Heeringa, 55, has two other sex assault cases pending in Colorado and previously served 12 years in prison in Michigan following a sex assault conviction there.
Shortly after being released from prison in 2004, Heeringa met a single mother from Colorado. In 2005, he moved to Colorado and began living with the mother and her daughter. He soon began sexually abusing the 12 year old and continued the abuse until January 2008, when the child came forward with allegations of sexual abuse.
Authorities do not believe Heeringa will change his criminal ways and want to find him before he victimizes another young girl.
Heeringa has a history of working in construction and had his own construction company in the past. He is very self-sufficient and could easily make a living as a handyman. He is in good physical shape, skilled in martial arts and has been a hunter in the past, so he could live in the wilderness for a while.
He was born in Michigan and has family there. He also has ties to Georgia and California.
“This man is very dangerous and we need the public’s help to bring Herringa to justice,” said Sheriff David A. Weaver.
Heeringa is 6 feet, 1 inch tall and weighs 200 pounds. He has brown hair and blue eyes. He has scars on his abdomen, right knee, upper left arm and face.
Heeringa is considered armed and dangerous.
A reward of up to $25,000 is offered for information leading directly to Heeranga’s arrest.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to contact the nearest U.S. Marshals office or the U.S. Marshals Service Communications Center at 1-800-336-0102.
“Mother Mary’s son is coming soon so we should be prepared for that and therefore we must avoid committing sins, She is sad about the state of the world and that is why she is crying”, said Sini Joy, pointing to the statue of the Mother in a glass case that stood on the other side of the room. The statue began emitting red colored tears, water, honey, milk and the aroma of jasmine within two days of Sini having bought it from a shop in Ernakulam, over 5 years ago.
Sini is a devout follower of the Mother. In fact a number of years ago a small statue of the Mother, which she had at home, began to weep. The local parish priest, Father Solomon, removed it and placed it in St. Joseph’s Church.
Sometime after this incident, Sini had a dream in which Mother Mary instructed her to install a five foot statue at her home. When she told the parish priest, he did not allow her to buy such a large statue but gave her permission to get a smaller one.
The present statue is three feet in height with a price tag of US$150. It was bought from St.Paul’s, a shop in Ernakulam and was paid for by Sini’s aunt. Within a few days the statue began to bleed red tears, honey, milk, water and also to emit an aroma of jasmine. Father Thampy, from the Bishop’s House, Father Anthony Jacob (parish priest of Loreto), Father Sebastian (parish priest of St.Joseph’s) visited Sini’s home and inspected the statue. They instructed her to shift the statue from the inner part of her house to the front room. They even paid for the renovation of the room. Bishop Stephen Athipuzti of Allepy has set up a group headed by Father James Anaparambil to investigate the matter. They have yet to submit a report.
“Have there been any miracles “, I asked
“Yes. People have been cured of breast cancer, blindness, barren couples have had children and even a person who was paralyzed from the waist down can now walk. These miracles are for change, we must change ourselves, change from this terrible life of anger, hate and violence to one of love and peace. We must confess our sins and redeem ourselves before the Mother, before the Lord. Do you know many people from other faiths come here to pray for forgiveness, for peace, for happiness. We are going through terrible and frightening times. We must learn to love each other and to help each other,” she replied in a low voice.
“So how much money do you collect from the faithful?”
“Nothing! First I do not allow people to leave money either at the foot of Mother Mary nor do I allow them to give me anything. This is NOT about money. It is about my faith, our faith,” said Sini.
‘Are there any prayers conducted here?”
“Every day at 2 p.m. we recite the rosary and every first Saturday of the month people from all over Cochin arrive to recite the rosary one thousand times. It begins at 7p.m. and ends early the following morning at 3 a.m. We prepare food for the faithful. Some people after eating this food have told us that their ailments were cured or wishes granted.
Also, sometimes when we are praying, Mother Mary answers us by crying red tears, emitting honey, water and milk from her body and sending us the sweet smell of jasmine. The experience is beautiful and calms many of us.”
“What does your husband do and do you have any children?”
“My husband, Sebastian Joy, is a carpenter and today is my only child’s birthday. His name is Feyon Anthony and he is nine years old.”
“And what do you do?”
“I am a mother, a wife and co-coordinator of the zonal charismatic groups of sixteen churches. Take this,” she said putting a few small printed cards in my pocket, “Pray to Mother Mary and she will protect and help you. But you must help others around you whoever they maybe. We are one, all of us”.
I said a small prayer and left, humbled by the all-pervasive presence of the Mother and the nagging feeling… the answer to the question I had been searching for so long – Are there miracles, do they happen and why…
Till a week ago, the Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple in Thiruvananthapuram was just one among the popular Vaishnavite temples dotting the state’s spiritual landscape. But halfway through an inventory assessment done by a team of observers following a Supreme Court directive, it has emerged as probably the richest temple in the country.
The story unfolding in the state capital has all the elements of an Amar Chitra Katha – an ancient temple, cellars lying unopened for centuries, a forgotten treasure worth thousands of crores (one crore is 10 million) etc.
Mounds of precious gems, lakhs (hundreds of thousands) of gold coins, diamond studded crowns, idols in gold, long gold chains, gold rings and bars, gold barrels etc., were discovered when the metal doors of the secret cellar were opened.
Several bags of coins from the erstwhile Travancore Royal Family rule, coins from the Napoleonic era and the East India Company period were also discovered from the secret cellars of the temple.
Rough estimate of the value of the treasure so far unearthed is around US$ 20 Billion. The figure is almost double the wealth of the Tirupati temple. The actual valuation could be much more if the antique value of the articles is taken into account and could well be enough to wipe out the country’s fiscal deficit.
The value is bound to go up as two more cellars are to be opened by the team of observers…
End of The Times of India Report
MESSAGE FOR MY READERS
So how will all this treasure be used? Apparently it will remain locked up in the cellars. It will not be used for getting rid of poverty, education or for any other social cause. 😦