Am I a scammer?

Here’s a paradox for you. I did something really bad, but turned it into something really good. Does that make my action good or bad?

Right, context.

When I first decided to go back to work, I took advantage of a government program offered by my state. This service would help me build my resume, get around the lack of work for the past six years, and also give me a job coach to help me apply and keep on track. My job coach was an idiot.

Her idea of looking for work meant carousing Craig’s List, which is probably the worst place to find legitimate work. Red flags up all the way, I submitted applications to jobs she directed me too, while also applying to other places. I got a call back from a Craig’s Lister, went to this interview, and the guy hired me on the spot. Probably more to do with the fact my job coach happened to be gorgeous, and he was more than happy to have her stop in.

She was excited, and got me excited. I didn’t have a car at the time, and social services was more than happy to shell out the money for a cab back and forth until I got a car. And with the money I would be making, it would be more than enough to help me afford one.

I quickly found out this job was scamming seniors. We sold refurbished medical alert buttons as “brand new,” over the phone. Often, they didn’t even work. We lied constantly, claiming A ratings with the BBB (we had an F), a website (nope), and deception to hide the actual amount of the unit. And God forbid you wanted to return it. You had to pay a “restocking fee” to do so, and that fee was based on my boss’s mood at the moment.

My job coach offered me no direction, or help, in trying to get out of this job. She constantly reminded me, when I finally got the car and wanted out, that they paid for the cab. I owed them. Her excuse was that it was work, and I should do the work. Something tells me her paycheck depended on me having work, and if I lost my job, she would have negative repercussions. My boss, on the other hand, given I had Social Security and needed to report my income, constantly reminded me that he had dirt. Like my social security number, my parent’s address. He apparently stopped by my house once when I had the flu, “to make sure I was really sick.” I felt like I couldn’t even really tell my job coach what was actually happening.

My boss was also, as you can tell, abusive. He would walk in everyday and tell me to kill myself. He would also tell me to do something, then yell at me for it, claiming he didn’t remember telling me to do it so he must not have. Even his partner had it with the abuse he was giving me. All the while this man was holding vital information he could sell to the black market if he wanted too, and vague threats about knowing my mother’s address. It was a shitty situation all around.

And I felt a mix of guilt and pride in everything I did for the company. I was proud of my work, I ran that office. I really wasn’t in sales, and while I was forced on the phones now and again, my job was more back end. I hadn’t worked in six long years, collecting disability for an injury. I was working, I was contributing. From six years of recovering in a bed I built an effective office structure and ran it. There is a passage in Orwell’s, 1984, that talks about this phenomenon. You’re hired to do a job, and most people want to do their job well. So when you do it well it carries pride. Even when you know it’s wrong. Even when it defies your very ethics. Sometimes that pride is all you have, and you cherish it. It makes you feel better as you do something very wrong, because it gives you approval, moral. Something.

And at some point, I lost even that. Doing my job well became more to do with actual fear of my boss than anything pride related. The workplace was violent and unpredictable. Fights broke out, getting physical. No, I was never hit. I think some of the men there would not have allowed that to happen, so I felt safe from a physical altercation. But the verbal abuse didn’t make me feel better about it. Don’t even get me started on the blatant drug abuse happening.

So, I scammed seniors. I called elderly people and sold them a completely defective device and lied about it. I convinced them they needed this. I had their insurance information, doctor’s name, their address. I don’t know where my boss got his lists, but they were complete, and the information was more than convincing to most seniors. I stapled all their account information to the front of the file, gave a copy of that to the salesperson for their records (still with the information on it, which they took home), and put it right by the filing bookshelf left at the front door for any person who wandered in to take. Unlocked.

I wanted to walk away. But, my rent and electric bills, any of my bills, they could care less about my ethical feelings about the job. So, I had to keep going until I found another one. But, it was the holiday season. Over-saturation was a problem, I guess. Most legit jobs don’t hire you on the spot either. I sent out resumes hoping.

Finally, I had reached a last straw: my paycheck bounced. Three weeks before Christmas, when I had a deal with the Vet (poor kitty got sick) that I would pay her weekly payments on the bill every Friday (payday). And I couldn’t. She was, thankfully, understanding. Confused, but understanding. I had the check, I showed her the check, it was just worthless. When Monday rolled around, I demanded my check, told them I was going to cash it at their bank, and then once I had the cash in hand, I called them and told them I wasn’t coming back.

The office scrambled because no one else bothered to learn how to run it, even the boss. He couldn’t even get into his email. I got calls all day. Finally I picked up and said, “tell him to pretend I killed myself, like he told me to do everyday.” Then blocked every last one of them. To be honest, I was happy to be gone. I would have just put that blip out of my life forever. I wish I could say I was noble here, but I was scared. I was scared he may show up to my house because I wouldn’t help them in the scramble. For once I was happy to have a neighbor downstairs who called the police for any reason whatsoever. And also spied on anyone entering or exiting the building. And was also racist (since my boss wore a yam-mica, it was easy to tell he was Jewish, and she didn’t like Jews). Thank God for small favors, I guess. One point in favor of racist, paranoid, nosey neighbors.

I was also scared the job coach would come after me to collect the cab money, since I technically had broken the contract with them as well. And, now that I lacked work, had no extra income to pay it back if they did.

He forced my hand.

Social security knew I had the job, and likes to collect certain income back. It bases your correct pay, not just on the paychecks I’d been submitting, but also your IRS tax forms. The ones he never filed. We know what happens when you do that, right? If Al Capone couldn’t get away with it, I don’t know why he, as a small-time crook, thought he could.

I filled out whatever forms the IRS sent me, and called every number the IRS told me to call. It eventually reached the state prosecutor’s office who called me and built their case based on everything I told them. And I held nothing back. I also had a verbal contract on my silence, which is why I never spoke about this before. Five years of unprocessed guilt and fear.

In April of 2018, they settled. Most people will not even get a quarter of what they paid back. Some may not even be alive to. It turns out he had run this same scam three separate times under three separate companies for a number of years. They were looking for him. Anytime they got close, he would close shop and sign up a new partner to hold a new company name. I guess he underestimated how much I would have jumped on any opportunity to report him without fear of repercussion (what was he going to say to me, how dare you for me forgetting you reported your income to Social Security). He was also a convicted felon in New York, for trying to scam the insurance on a jewelry business he co-owned. And he was wanted for failing to pay back a previous civil suit, in which he telemarketed as a debt consolidation company. This fine got added to the new civil suit. Which means he probably won’t pay this one either, given his track record for not paying two other fines he owed on. No one will get their money back, will they?

Safety Alert Settlement

The above link will take you to the State of NJ’s official statement of the lawsuit and settlement. It’s over.

No, it’s so not over. It reopened under a new name in a different location by their third investor in the business I worked under. I don’t know, nor can I prove, that he is in any way still partnered with that investor. And until people start complaining to the FTC that they have lost money, the prosecutor can’t do anything but keep an eye on them from afar. In this country, you have the benefit of the doubt, even when, logically, we all know what you are doing, Jerry.

To those that stumbled here, and this story sounds uncomfortably familiar to you, or a family member, I am sorry. I don’t know how to forgive me either. I’m hoping that actively following up, speaking out, and agreeing to bring this man down for no benefit and completely terrified, served some penance. If he failed to settle, I was prepared to go to trial for you.

The job coach was fired, as was the boss of the agency. A complete overhaul and retraining was done to prevent other clients from falling into the cracks. I have cut ties with the service entirely.

Then I got a call from the FBI asking me questions about my scammer boss. They didn’t say why, or ask me for silence. They wouldn’t tell me anything. But, I will tell them everything they want to know. As long as they will remain proactive, so will I.

Here we go again…

School Shootings/Bullying

I want to start off my post echoing the sentiments of sorrow for those children in Florida.  Not only those dead, but those living through this nightmare.

I understand that this shooting has also sparked conversations about gun control and mental illness.  I think enough has been covered on that, and will continue to be covered.  I will leave those arguments to the politicians and lobbyists, to the professionals in the field and the students who will now suffer the psychological effects of surviving such a massacre; to the parents who will suffer the grief of losing a child so early.

I am also not here to blame the victims.

One thing I feel fails to be covered in this mess is bullying.  I was a junior in high school when two students opened fire on Columbine High School.  The interviews that followed talked about troubled children and how much the two boys were bullied by their classmates.  Anti-bullying campaigns began to start in schools, and I followed suit, starting The Student/Community Alliance in my high school, to show the psychological effects of bullying and isolation from peers.  I was happy bullying was finally brought to the forefront, as bullying can cause consequences such as this to happen.

There is only so long a person can take it before they break.  Sometimes the break is into anger, causing backlash, to fight back, sometimes to the extreme, as in the case of Columbine High School.  Sometimes students turn that anger inwards, and the break is ending their own lives.  This is actually fairly common, but the media likes the sensationalism of a massacre, and the massacre to own’s own self often doesn’t make national news, or if it does, it’s very brief.

This is not talked about in the case of Florida.  It’s not mentioned at all.  And, while no one wants to blame the victim, and the world is very politically charged right now, sometimes we have to look inward.  Sometimes we have to look at ourselves in how this happened.  And no one is doing this.  I feel that gun control, mental health topics, and simply pushing this guy off as a “monster” is not going to solve this problem.  It will happen again, and again, and again.  It has.  The 90s had many school shootings.  I grew up in a time where this was at the forefront of every teacher.  When bullying started to become a conversation, because the student shooters that did not kill themselves, like Kipland Kinkel, spoke about the anger of being isolated from bullying peers.  We didn’t label these children as monsters and push them out as a fluke.  It was too common.

So where is this conversation now?

My thinking sparked from an interview with one of the students that a reporter spoke to the day of the shooting.  When they finally found out who the actual shooter was, the reporter went down the line, and one student spoke up.

He spoke about how this child was labeled as “weird” by his classmates.  No one spoke to him because he was so dark.  His social media sites indicated a child with some severe mental health problems who needed help, which prompted some students even contact the FBI out of concerns.  He ate by himself and it was even “joked” that he was voted most likely to shoot up the school.  That everyone knew it.

So, here you have a boy who had lost his parents, had no other family, and was adopted by a family, who then died.  (This is the latest stories coming out as of today, so this information may change over time).  He was staying with a sort of foster family until he turned 18.

Let’s start with this information only.  His parents were lost, and he was adopted into, according to latest reports, a fairly loving family.  He may have been a bit weird, but tell me what teenager isn’t.  The adoptive parents never appeared to have reported any serious problems with him, and the child has a clear legal history.

He lost them, and was invited to live with a local family who took him in.  His social media turned very dark, but the “foster” family never noted any dangerous implications from him.  The latest interview on today’s morning show, they are quoted, “we never knew we were living with a monster.”  That’s very sad to me, and says a lot of how they thought of him while he was living with them.  He was just “staying with them,” so they weren’t even an official foster family.  Did they check his social media?  Did they pay enough attention to a child who had lost the two parents who he had been raised by? The people he considered his mother and father? Are you just two people who “put him up so he could finish high school,” and now want no responsibility in your ignoring warning signs that there was a severe problem? I am aware he was in therapy, but therapists are not those who love you.  Did he feel love that he lost?

A child grieving, goes to school and is isolated by his peers.  Withdrawn, and therefore called “weird.”  Joked about.  When he ate lunch alone did you offer to go up and sit with him? How about instead of just being weird, did you consider grieving, especially at a young age, can cause a teenage mind, a still developing brain, to be awkward and reclusive?

Did anyone at that school do anything, instead of laughing about him in the hallways and even telling the cameras that you openly picked on him, joked about him, and didn’t attempt to talk to the kid?

How would you feel? Joked about by everyone in your school, isolated? Did he “not eat lunch with anyone” or did you not eat lunch with him? Was he so sad and isolated, lost his family, and anyone care? Did you go on social media and be excited that he was forced out of the school?

A massacre to one’s peers takes a lot of anger.  A lot.  This was personal, especially since he had left school.  And before you say, “everyone is bullied at some point in their life,” I am not talking about a little bit of schoolyard name-calling here.  That doesn’t cause this kind of anger.  I know that anger.

I was bullied because of my weight.  I had no friends, zero.  I was barked at in hallways, and even beaten up by guys.  I was always terrified of the last day of school, TERRIFIED, because kids could do what they wanted and they was no recourse.  In fourth grade I was sexual assaulted on the last day of school, and the teacher told me there was nothing he could do so to just ignore it.  On the bus ride home, in the fifth grade, a kid who had stolen a lighter by his older brother successfully lit my hair on fire.  I was able to get it out before serious damage occurred, but I still have nightmares about it.  Being surrounded by kids with nowhere to go, and my hair on fire while they laughed at me.  Told me I was less then a person.  I never took the bus home on the last day of school again.

My first suicide attempt happened in the fourth grade.  My mother found me just as I stuck my head through a homemade noose in my closet.  I had fashioned it out of a hanger.  She saw me jump off a box.  Thankfully, a hanger is a terrible thing to try and make a noose out of and jump off.  Or maybe it was my weight.  Either way it didn’t work, but I will always remember her face.  A mix of helplessness and horror.  She grabbed me and just cried.  We cried together.

In the sixth grade the police had to get involved.  We had bus stops where the school buses would pick us up.  Our school bus was running late.  As usual I was bullied, but that day four out of the boys picked up sticks.  They beat me with them.  Four boys.  I had taken one of those four boys to a baseball game last year.  These were kids who, in general, I considered my friends.  We hung out after school, played games of manhunt.  There weren’t a lot of kids my age, and really no girls, so while they picked on me, we also hung out.  At least they were nice to me some of the time.

And now they were beating me up.  Sadly, and to this day, one of the boys who was really mean to me, we never hung out, and I didn’t know his name.  That’s how much he meant to me.  We went to the same bus stop for a year, he was one of five boys, and I, the only girl, so there wasn’t a lot of us, and I never bothered to learn his name.  He didn’t even really know mine.  But here he was, one of these four boys beating me up, calling me a dog, telling me that no one would care if a dog like me got beat up.  I think what hurt the most was that fifth kid.  He could have done something about it.  His mother was a stay at home mom, and she was a few houses away from the bus stop.  I know this was before cell phones, but he sat there and read while I got beat up.  He “didn’t want to get involved.”   Want to know the sad part? This wasn’t the first time this had happened, it was just the first time the bus was so late that it gave the kids a sense of confidence and they just kept going.  The yellow bus didn’t save me until almost 45 minutes after it was scheduled to show up.  I was such a bloody, whipped mess that I had no choice but to tell.  The bus driver said nothing when I got on the bus, the girl who sat next to me, when she got on and saw my face forced me to say something.  This was a girl who picked on me as well, and I asked her why she cared, that she hated me.  She said, “I don’t hate you so much that you deserve that.”

The school and police deemed that quiet kid just as responsible and the mother actually confronted me about it.  Came up to me and confronted me, alone.  I told her that I never said her son was involved, that her son did nothing.  She wanted to know why her son, therefore, was in trouble.  I told her again, “because your son did NOTHING.  Do you get it?” I walked away and told my mom.  She was told never to speak to me again.

Sadly, this further isolated me from the kids in my neighborhood.  But, because of what the girl on the bus said, I actually got some self-confidence.  Maybe they don’t hate me.  I thought everyone hated me.  It kind of felt good, that even though they barked at me and called me horrible names, that they didn’t “hate” me.  Luckily, later that year a girl did move near, and we became fast friends.  So I didn’t care about the boys at the bus stop.  Two were better than one, and I now had a girl friend to sit with me at the stop.

I shared these stories because bullying is horrible.  It’s sad to be isolated and leads to incidents like the above.  I share these stories because they spark anger in me even today.  Even today I am angry that charges were never pursued.  I am afraid of what I will do, almost 20 years later, if I were to meet those kids again.  Part of me wants to go on their social media pages and tell their friends how they abused a woman.

That anger doesn’t go away because school is over.  And those are just a few of the incidents I suffered and survived from.  And I try to put myself in the shoes of a child who is so angry he brought a gun into the school and started firing.  What he really went through in his mind.  Maybe he isn’t a monster, just a kid who wanted it to stop.  Because in your mind it never stops.  And don’t tell me that even though he dropped out of school those students didn’t continue to say nasty things on his social media pages, or to each other knowing he could read it.

And that isn’t talked about.  Our responsibility in the making of this “monster” isn’t talked about at all.  And it needs to be.  Because all the gun control and mental health treatment in the world isn’t going to prevent this from happening again if parents continue to wipe their bullying child under the rug.  If schools don’t educate, and if kids isolate one another and pick on them until the person can’t take it anymore.

So I believe there is no monster in this.  The student’s that talked the media that day spoke about how he smelled, how he dressed.  They were still picking on him as their classmates laid dead.  Both sides are in the wrong.  Did they deserve to die for it? Absolutely not.  Is what he did okay, or normal? Absolutely not.  Did he have other mental illnesses going on that contributed to this? Probably.  Should he have had access to a gun due to that? Well, looks like from what he was suffering from, the answer would be no.  Would gun control and mental health reforms be a good thing in preventing this? Yeah.  Would having those things in place have prevented this? I don’t think so.

Our conversation should be about bullying.  The access to the gun isn’t the problem, he could have done this with a bat, an ax, a knife.  This is a kid who was so angry at the world, and the world just ignored him and added fire to it everyday.  And instead, the world is turning away from him AGAIN, labeling him as a monster, even by his own friends he was living with.  He has no one on his side.  He didn’t have anyone on his side in high school, the people he loved are dead, and the world wants to use him for political fodder on gun control.

We are the monsters here.  They didn’t deserve to die, no one did.  But this kid was failed.  Is continuing to be failed before our very eyes.  And no one cares, no one will stop it.  He is now being bullied by the world.

Does he deserve that?



So, I decided to be bold.  To go where I want this blog to go.  Politics and Religion are scary subjects to me.  I don’t like to isolate people, and I certainly don’t want to preach.  But, that’s what I like to write, or what seems to be writing itself.  So, here we go:

Politics.  Honestly, Democrat or Republican, I don’t care about the party.  It’s him.  I don’t like him.  Even writing this scares me.  Somehow I feel that this will come to bite me later on.  I don’t know what he’s going to do with our country, I don’t know where we are going.  But I feel it’s bad.

You know, he didn’t even tell us what he was doing? The State of the Union (or, as the tickets reportedly said, “State of the Uniom,” but I don’t know how true that is), but the speech didn’t say… anything.

Sure, I love our soldiers, and whatever he said about God and our country was beautiful.  I love how he highlighted our heroes.  Well, he did that whenever the clapping stopped.  It was actually hard to follow.  Too much clapping.  But it’s not my main concern.  It’s what he didn’t say.

He didn’t say anything about what he was doing this year.  And, really, I love our soldiers and God and this country.  I love our heroes and the work they do, and I daydream about what heroic things I would do if faced in their situation (even though I’d probably not do anything heroic if such things would happen; just cower in a corner crying).  I admire them.

But that’s not what a State of the Union is.  And that, honestly, scared me into silence.  (see how heroic I am?).  Distraction is a wonderful tool.  How can you not like what he said? It’s beautifully patriotic.  It’s hard to speak of it’s inappropriateness.  But it wasn’t the appropriate time.  And he knew that.  He distracted us.  He either has no plan, and is running our country on whatever whim he has at the moment.  Or he has a plan he doesn’t want us to know.  Though, I fear it’s probably a mix of both, which is scary enough when you consider this isn’t some hotel chain, but a chain of States.  This is a country we are talking about.  My country.

Part of me feels like, if he continues, I would be jailed for saying any of this.  Maybe it’s an irrational fear, a slippery slope fallacy.  Maybe I’m too influenced by the media and my father’s obsession with everything WW2 related.  Maybe he won’t do anything, or maybe we have opened the door for worse.  It’s not so much him, but what he’s setting us up for.  For what’s next to come.  Germany had a bad, incompetent leader who was destroying an already destroyed country.  He opened the door for some one to come in who was better.  Russia did the same.  From monarchy to Lenin’s revolt, to a “better” Stalin.

It takes people who are fed up and a good guy in sheep’s clothing.  But, I don’t think Trump will go down easily.  And I do feel like the system is set up to re-balance itself.  Whatever is coming will certainly be Trump’s branding.  But I do worry it’s going to be Trump himself.  Or, if he is actually impeached…. well… impeachment is just charges, remember Nixon resigned before being impeached, and Clinton, our only successfully impeached president, continued until his presidency officially ended.  Impeachment is just an investigation, it is not a throw-away.  And we need to actually charge him with something.  It’s also a violation of the law to investigate some one just to charge them with anything.  It would be like an officer following you around, looking at your records, and showing up with a search warrant to look at everything because he want’s to accuse you of something, as soon as he can find out what that is.  They can’t do that, even to our president.  It does violate his rights as a citizen.

But let’s say we do.  We find something.  Impeachment isn’t eviction.  I highly doubt if charges are filed against him and an official investigation starts, it means he will step down.  He’s free to continue to run the country into the ground.  The best case scenario is actually the worse case scenario.  Pence takes over.  I don’t know if he’d be a really good boy, and leave well enough alone to quietly be replaced in the next election, or he’s worse.  Which is how these things tend to go.  Replacing one incompetent reality TV star leader who has no idea what he’s doing (well, minus the reality TV fame) with something worse.  Like Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, Castro.  All revolutionary replacements to what people thought was the worst.

But it could just be irrational.  He could just finish his four (long) years, and go quietly (if he keeps to his word about not running again, and as you know his word means sh**.)

It’s not a party issue.  It’s him.  I can’t believe it happened, but at the same time I can.  I watch the news call a home-made ammeter porn actress “American Royalty.”   I don’t even watch the show, or follow celebrity news, but everything she touches, her entire family, is followed almost more than actual royalty.  I can’t not watch, she’s everywhere.  The whole family.  I feel like I know more about them and what they are doing then I do about my own family comings and goings.

Who knows, maybe one of them will follow in Trump’s footsteps.

See what we opened the door too? Worse.  You, unqualified, non-political, everyday man or woman, you too can become president.  Why not?

It’s why I don’t want Oprah.  We don’t need another reality TV star actress to run our country.  Reagan was a lucky fluke.  But he was also really involved in politics.  Not business or show business politics, real running the country politics.  With a politically motivated wife who wanted both she and her husband to succeed.  We can’t just hope some one “outside” will come in with better ideas.  No more actors, hotel business owners, reality TV star hosts for me.  For us.

I’m scared of him.  I’m poor, I’m hurt.  I worry about the people I represent, or used to represent (working with the developmentally disabled).  I worry that I can’t work for a little while and what that means for me.  I worry about what that means for clients like the ones I worked with.  I’m worried that by typing this he will mark me as some kind of terrorist.  He doesn’t take criticism very well, and he fired his own family.  His wife can’t stand him and he says creepy things about his daughters.  The man is paranoid and a bit insane.  I personally think he’s a psychopath.  He could take this country for everything we got, break us for his wallet, and flee.  And not care about the damage one bit.

I don’t want a president who doesn’t care.  Whose interests appear to be expanding a business empire on our dime.  He can walk away after and not give a damn about what happens to us.  Not feel bad.  Not feel anything.  He’s practically begging a crazy man to throw a nuke at us just so he can play general in a war.  He wants our country to be bombed.  It’s a game of dare only thousands of innocent people will be killed, and many more sick.  Of OUR people.  The people he’s been hired to care for and protect.  And he’s daring a man crazier then him to bomb us! He’s openly saying we are commodities.

I’m not expendable so a man who has never served any military position can play war with nuclear bombs.  Yeah, North Korea is bad.  But there are things we can do besides taunting him to throw a missile so we have a reason to invade.  How about just leaving him alone? If Trump wanted a war he can convince the UN to allow us to go in for crimes against humanity.  “Peace mission” or whatever you want to call it, you know, that’s a thing.  (Yeah, I know China is really the issue with that).  But he’d rather nuke his own people.  He WANTS the man to throw the nuke to bypass China.

And I wonder if that somehow makes him worse then the man he’s taunting.