Dennis Herman
Let's Find Your New Home
Phone: (414)426-1784  |  Fax: 888-645-2580
Real Estate Info

Real Estate Info

The Origin of Information Gathering

We can look back on any point in history to see where information gathering, spying, and anti-spying came from. During the earliest days, tribes would spy on other tribes to determine defenses, population, and of course riches, what the other village had to offer. People could look from a distance, or infiltrate by just walking in. The art of spying has gained a new following and has taken on many new shapes. Internet spying is so sophisticated, people have no idea what information is stolen, gathered, or how it is used. This is no longer science fiction, but reality. How do we protect ourselves in a world of Internet espionage?

It would take hundreds of pages to list all the ways companies and individuals infiltrate your phone and computer. Avoiding such attacks is common sense, and involves choices. There are a number of products you can use to avoid spyware, and viruses. Antivirus products seem to be the best choices, but do they prevent spyware, keep spyware off your phone and computers, or add their own private brand? I guess you have to go back to read the agreement to find out. I'll bet you're in for a surprise when you do.

Spying has taken on a new dimension in this computer and cell phone age. Spying is big business and it ain't going away. I suppose we should have seen it coming when businesses were telling us, they were collecting information to make our computer and cell phone experience more enjoyable. For who, us or them? They are the ones making all the money.

Internet ad prices have sky rocketed over the past few years. Programs build on the foundation of stealing information and scrubbing it to retrieve anything worth selling has far exceeded the time scam artists were simply looking for charge card info, or enough information to steal ones identity. If someone finds out you are in the market for a new home or car, that information is worth money, and it is sold all over the globe. That opens the doors for popup ads as well as a huge number of scams heading your way. That's why it is important to guard against spyware at all costs.

I just went through a free offer ad. They give away products, claiming they are collecting reviews for major, name brand products. They might be, but the free product is not free. The agreement tells you, they are going to monitor your phone and share all that information with 3rd parties. Translation please. In other words, sell any information on your phone they can. You're driving and your phone is filled with ads from stores down the street. You search the address and phone number of a business. The Internet sends you a few related businesses in the area. What does that do? The keepers of the Internet Ad will put the highest paid businesses on a map or in a popup to get your attention. What does that mean? Do you think the business paying the most for advertising is going to have the best prices? Unlikely. It boils down to common sense economics.

Remember the old time mom and pop shops the Internet ran out of business? They lived above their corner store, had fair prices, and often ran a family business. The advent of the Internet swept people like those off the face of the earth. At first Internet advertising was free. Then very inexpensive. Now the costs are massive to say the least. First the competition was eliminated. Then the big boys moved in. The family type service was killed on the commerce battlefield so big business could fill the void. Internet spying is another breed of warfare, a dark, silent type.

Is all that spying doing you any good, or more harm than good? In the long run, where is all this spying going? Spyware can now control sales, choose which companies succeed and fail, elections, and even to a degree, the thoughts of a wide segment of our society. It is all change, slow but sure. When we look back, are they changes for a better life, or a life of increased control? Are we giving up our freedom? What is the cost going to be this time?

The New Phone Scam 2017

I am one of the few Real Estate Brokers, well businesses for that matter who has enough guts, or shall I say smarts to post their phone number on the front page of their website. Websites are like an electronic business card. Would you get business cards printed without your phone number and email address? It seems like that is the new way of doing business these days? If anyone handed you a business card with no phone number and no email address, would you do business with them?

I buck the new systems whenever I think they deteriorate the fabric of our society. My dad was in the army for 38 years, my brother for 12, and myself for 6 years. I would rather fight those scammers then to give into their threats. I am leaving my contact information online because I choose to, and I am not afraid of some guy in whatever country who thinks I am going to fall for whatever little trick they come up with. You see, I have the LORD on my side, and I trust His protection. God sees you, and has His own warning system.

Updates

I will be adding new articles to this site showing people how to use free, simple products on phones and computers to reduce the number of spam phone calls and emails. I use these free products in my business to filter out the scam artists and spam companies. Look for them in the future. Hit the FOLLOW button on the side for new updates.

Here is how it works.

One of the new scams these days is what I call the 2017 phone scam. It is really more like the $14.95 for 30 scam.

You get a phone call. These people actually leave messages and a call back number. The message says: “You have an important message, please call 232-555-1700 immediately.” Call the number and they ask for your charge card number. “Please deposit $14.95 to purchase additional minutes on the Buzz Network. Or something like that.

The thing is, they sell machines to run phone calls through that makes it look like the original call was from a local number. That is one way the scammers phone number is masked. This world is flooded with pay services who claim to be protecting the confidentiality of their customers, but are really the old style money laundering services for scammers. Everyone gets a cut of the money. They refer to that is honor among thieves.

What the Future Holds

The system was in the infant stages a few months ago and has quickly advanced. Now you may get a text message or email from the scammer before they place the phone call. With a Real Estate Agent, the text or email will entice the agent into thinking a big sale dropped out of the sky. A Dr. Soandso overseas is looking for a $500,000 home. Sounds like a quick sale with a huge commission. Then the phone call comes. Now what? All the agents needs to do is pay $14.95 over the phone to get a $30,000 commission. Seems like an easy decision. But who are you giving your charge card to, and are they going to stop at $15?

There will be newer variations to this scam in the future. History has shown, Real Estate Agents are usually the first variation or victims of many of the modern scams. The key is, never give your charge card number over the phone. Much of the spyware out there today can take your charge card and account numbers off your phone and sell them. Be careful with your phone. It can be opened and tapped into without you knowing.

Also, do not even try calling those numbers. Many phone companies act like a charge card company, allowing you to use your phone number like a charge card and adding it to your phone bill. My company doesn't do that, but if your company does, placing that call could result in a charge to your phone bill.

The Face of ISIS

No one will argue the fact, ISIS is a type of religious organization, and the world for the most part is at war with ISIS. Is there a better way of fighting a religious war than with religion? I wondered if anyone prayed about exposing the real people behind ISIS. I took it upon myself to pray about the situation for a number of weeks. I don't really follow the news. Most of what I write centers on real life experiences, and to tell you the truth, I don't trust the news any further than I could throw a television station. After a few weeks of prayer and the little I heard on the news about ISIS, I could put all the facts together in what seems to be a perfect order. You tell me if it makes any sense.

ISIS uses the most radical form of any type of religion in this world in our present time. It is almost primitive. Did I say almost? I don't want to criticize any religion, but the media has already placed a name on their religion, and ISIS doesn't want to cover it up, but uses their religion as a recruiting tool. The thing that gets me is, whenever we see some offshoot Christian leader make a major mistake, take things past the limit, and advocate any type of hatred or violence against another group of people, Christian leaders stumble over one another to make it to the news microphones. I wish we would see that from Muslim leaders. But then again, is that lack of criticism from Muslim leaders, or the media fueling their own fires? In other words, filtering news to sell more advertising.

What we know about ISIS. We know they use the Internet to recruit members. How can a 13 year old boy contact ISIS leaders, but not one government agency anywhere in the world can locate a single laptop, phone, computer, or server? That seems rather odd. We know ISIS is in the oil business, the slave trade, and the sex slave industry. Quite a strange combination for a religious group. On the surface we can see their leaders use religion, or certain aspects of it to serve their ideals, and that is about it. That doesn't seem strange at all. Christian leaders do that all the time. The most popular Christian movements today are prosperity churches using a tiny part of the Bible to tell people, real Christians were meant to be wealthy. If they really had the power of the spirit they claim they have, then why aren't they doing something useful like ending poverty?

Oil is the big question mark I have. Any kid in a high school chemistry class could take an oil sample, test it, and with a basic back ground in geology, tell you just about where it came from. Governments spend billions, and have no clue. Oil is a solvent, and takes molecules from whatever it touches, limestone, granite, or whatever. Based on trace molecules in the oil, a good geologist can tell just about what well that oil came from. But governments all over the world claim they can't tell where oil came from once it is extracted from the ground.

There isn't a drop of oil that isn't covered by an insurance policy. Insurance companies are very good at keeping records, and know what oil they are insuring, and what oil they aren't going to payoff on if something happens. Insurance companies and pipelines us radioactive signatures to track oil. But governments insist, they have no way of telling where oil comes from. In the real world, you don't go buying goods and giving your allies enemy funds to build their war machine. But that;s what is happening in the pursuit of cheap oil these days. I wonder how that slave trade and sex trade works its way in. If we dug deep enough, I bet we'd find slaves sold all over the world. What is being done about that?

The Internet is another interesting fact concerning ISIS. We live in a world that tracks everyone in multiple ways using cell phones and all types of computers. Governments and businesses use computers to track people through the origin of emails, websites, search engines, and who knows what else. For the most part, this world has learned to live with that fact. But when it comes to ISIS, all the intelligence, know how, technology and money in the world hasn't been able to track ISIS leaders. Power houses like Google have been hired and paid who knows how much money to track ISIS to no avail. What do we know about ISIS leaders from those basic facts? They have to be computer geniuses to stay one step ahead of a world hunting them. Where did they learn those skills? From some university of course. That narrowed down the search quite a bit.

ISIS has to be a collection of some of the best computer minds in the world. So advanced, companies were afraid to hire them. Education is not cheap in this world. Imagine yourself a newly graduated student with the weight of an advanced degree debt on your shoulders. You're the best in the world, but can't get a job. That would burn in most people. So you use your skills to make money outside the system, below the radar.

Computer nerds to the nth degree usually aren't very good with the women. They actually become outcasts, shut ins, and isolate themselves. They pour their time and resources into their work, but can't shake the feeling of being lonely. ISIS leaders may not have had anything to do with the Muslim religion, but took bits and pieces of it to create their own brand of religion. A hatred of women fueled that plan. Hence, that is why we see ISIS radicals completely against giving women any shred of respect.

Based on basic profiling, it shouldn't be difficult to have a computer scan university records, student loan records, make a few contacts, and track those people down. But for some reason, common sense seems to have flown out the window. With all the resources and funds available to government agencies all over the world, nothing seems to be getting anywhere. We have to ask why.

Some say, “money is the root of all evil.” That may be true to an extent. What is true is, money is the root of all fear. Give people money and the fear of loosing it sets in. The fear of running out of money sets on every heart in this world. Money fuels this world, and its fears. I have to wonder how much governments need wars to gain a form of control. Sometimes the world doesn't make a whole lot of sense. But then again, it makes all the sense in the world.

Referral Scam

Well this is a brand new scam and this one really scares me. In previous articles I discussed how information is gathered from your computer and phone, then used against you. In most cases the stolen information is used to set up custom market campaigns aimed directly at you. It seems rather harmless to think people are using computers to categorize, group people, then market to them. It seems rather harmless to develop a computer program that can take all the information about your personal life, then create ads pointed directly at you. But someone always finds a way to misuse whatever this world seems to invent.

It seems scammers are using this new technology to focus custom scams on people, give them an offer they can't refuse, to at least look into. I just received an email from a scammer posing as another real estate agent from out of state. The scammer tells me, she has a lead on a buyer looking in the area. The emails tell me, this scammer was or is a real estate agent looking for ways to make more money, or someone who collected enough information off the Internet to know how the referral business works.

In the end, the scammer sends an email with the old, open this attachment routine. I'm not about to open an attachment, which is actually a link, to where? I have no idea. It is not a link to any real estate website, or MLS link to show me the home the buyer wants to see. I searched the host, which happens to be located in China. I know China does not deal with any local MLS in the United States. This is some of the information I've been able to dig up on the host.


Top digital marketing agency utlizing predictive analytics and geo-targeting for large B2B and B2C companies.

Notice a few words are not quite spelled right. That is another give away. Another give away is the link ends with php. That is a form file that often contains a virus, or at the very least, spyware, or a combination of both. It is the preferred cyber weapon used in the popular ransom scams.

Now how does a company in China figure out how the real estate market here in the US works? How do they fill in enough details to almost make it seem authentic, but of course, leave off enough major details so I can tell it is a scam?

This is scary because people are using computers to target and script scams. Where is all this leading? I don't think anyone has any idea. I do know, there is no government in this world who is going to do a thing about it. Governments are the biggest users and developers of spyware. They are not going to corner the market, or pass any restrictions. Governments are all trying to stay ahead of one another, and of course, figured out that whatever people invent and perfect on the Internet, can and will be used against the people who elect them.


Give Me Your Charge Card Number

There seems to be a new scam circling the globe. I'm on a few Christian dating sites and I've seen this a few times. A woman posts a few pictures, and really looks good for a woman in her 50's. Low and behold, she turns out to be in her 30's and maybe even 20's. Now what kind of a man would consider a woman half his age? I have no idea. My response is always, “I have a daughter older than you.”

Most Internet scams don't last too long on Christian dating sites, especially those with front page chat centers where people post Bible Studies, and all sorts of messages. This is what I don't get. Christians post messages about loving God, then as soon as a scammer gets on the site, they are all too eager to cast the first stone.

This is how the scam works. The woman looks for an older Christian man. Some of them I actually sent a message to, and they replied with their email address. Fine. We email and they attach a few pictures, then claims, she posted the wrong birth date, and gives you a new age. So you have a few pictures, and a new age. Temptation is supposed to set in at that stage, and your supposed to imagine yourself with a woman half your age. A few idle chats exchanging emails follow. Then the, “I need a favor,” part comes up.

“Can you help me out? I want to win this contest on a website. I really need you to vote for me. Can you do that for me? After you vote, we can meet. I would do anything to repay you.”

A small, simple request, and judging by those pictures, pretty easy to see where that, “anything,” is leading. So she sends a link. Sure enough, it is one of those, online porn sites with live videos. On the first page a request for a charge card number pops up over the live video. You can see where that is going. The site is designed to send common sense out the window.

I checked out that site. It is easy to do. Copy the site address, then go to one of the websites that keeps ratings and information on websites. Sure enough. That site has been in business for only a few days. They also use technology that hides their location and identity. The site is registered to some guy in the Middle East. Very interesting. How do I know I'm not emailing some guy in the Middle East? Now I got your attention. You'd have to be an idiot to give your charge card number to a site with no physical address, no phone number, no contact information, and no rating on the Internet. But it seems people do that everyday.

You can try checking the IP address the email is registered to, but that will only tell you the physical location of the server, or company the email address was originated. Scammers have a way of registering email accounts in the United States through Yahoo, Google, and others, to make it appear they are somewhere in the US. The actual physical location and machine IP number is now blocked, due to the amount of scammers using that information to threaten people. That opened the door for scammers to easily hide their location.

Those type of websites change identity after a few days of use. Use your head. Real websites use the company name in the website address, like Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and the rest of the legitimate world. Scammers make up a website like Dyr1415.com, or something like that. Which should be a dead giveaway.

There are ways to check to see if you are being scammed and ways to protect yourself. Make sure the site is secured, that little lock icon is in the address bar. Especially when you are on the charge card number page. If it is not a secured page, the scammer doesn't want to pay for the added security for obvious reasons. They don't care if someone else steals your charge card number as when they steal it. They already have plans to use it. And you get stuck with the bill.

I have no idea what lures people to those kinds of sites. Is this a new form of prostitution? Online prostitution. Early on I found online dating as a new frontier in ministry. Why not try to reach those people trying to lure others to their sites? This scam is far different than others I've seen 5 years ago,

A few years ago, women would meet a man, then on to Skype, or another video chat service. At least you could see the woman. Then notice she had an accent. The women took time to develop a relationship, then told you their problems, before asking for money. That was always the case, it all boils down to money. But I turned it around. I'd ask them if they prayed about their situation. I told women how to pray, and actually prayed with a few. I've actually seen a few turn their lives around. I've seen one turn her life over to Christ, then headed back to the streets to take young women off the streets into a better life. A real life.

This all reminds me of a story I once heard. Some people took a prostitute to Jesus, and asked Him if they should stone her, according to the law.. It seems to me a lot of Christians on those website think they are earning a gold star by throwing the first stone at people who obviously need help.

All I remember about that story is, all the men went away, as a matter of fact, they only brought the woman. What happened to the man? After the men dropped their rocks and walked away, Jesus told the woman, “your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more.”

I'm not a preacher or a theologian, but what was the woman supposed to do for a living? Chances are, that was all she knew. Who was there to train her for a new job, feed her, get her a place to live, or encourage her? People call themselves Christians, but only know how to cast stones.

Let's look at this world. It is not a nice place. Where do they get those women from? Let's face it, all those women are someone's daughter. Where are the parents? Do we write those woman off because their parents were crackheads, bad parents, didn't care, or didn't know how to raise their children? How many stones we going to cast at them? What about solutions? Where do these kids come from?

In other parts of the world, women have less value than animals, cattle and such. Search the Internet and in a heartbeat you will find more stories about abused women then you care to count. Some of those women come from societies with no hope. Let's face it, the sex trade and slave industry is alive and doing rather well all over the world. Look at the news. We hear about the occasional drug bust when ships are used to bring drugs into the US. When was the last time we heard about any government agency unveiling a sex trade, or sex slave shipment of young women brought into the US? Is it happening?

Outside of a few articles on the BBC, modern slavery has had to face little backlash from the media. Estimates say it is a 150 billion dollar industry. How many people does that equate to? Let's face it, many of those women on the Internet are bought and owned by Internet pimps. The question is, how do we help those women?

I remember an article on the Internet a few years ago. A reporter noticed a bus load of children getting off at a motel. He investigated the situation, and was told it was a government relief measure. Why only children from Mexico, and why at a motel? Put 2 and 2 together and what do we get. At any rate, that story was killed shortly after coming out, and no one knows what happened to those children, or why they were taken to motels. That's not the way relief agencies operate.

When we look back at that story about Jesus and the prostate He forgave, we have to ask, what did Jesus see in the situation? I'm sure Jesus knew a thing or two about how women were treated, led into a life of prostitution, or shall we say forced. Being a prostitute is not often a personal choice, but more like a form of slavery. Did that woman have a choice. Maybe that's why the man wasn't there. Oh, maybe the woman was just committing adultery, and was a housewife of something, or a single woman. Maybe she was a prostitute. Maybe she didn't have a choice. Maybe the man was missing to teach us a lesson. Where was the man that had sex with her? Where was the pimp that forced her into the sex trade? It seems we have the same mentality today, condemn the poor woman and forget the brains behind the operation.

So I may have taken a bit of literary freedom on one of the stories in scripture. But some of the movies I've seen depict that poor woman as a prostitute. I didn't plant that seed, but took it a step further, to look at her as a human being, and apply that concept to what I've read on the Internet about the modern sex trade.

On the other side of the coin so to speak, what about the man, or men in control? What about the man the woman committed adultery with? Was it a for profit act? Did the man pay to commit adultery? What about his motives? Was he working with a few friends to set her up? Was the woman working for a pimp? What about him? Why didn't they drag the pimp out to be stoned? Was that an honorable job back in those days? What about reaching those people? When we look a the story, we see the woman was dragged in front of Jesus, and forced down at His feet. At least she had the chance to see Jesus, and He had a chance to make an impression on her. The story shows us how prepared Jesus was to deal with any situation. But you had to be there. Was the man she had sex with in that crowd? Was he the first one to leave? What about the others? Were they also her customers? What were those men doing to get her out of the business? They were ready to cast stones.

No one knows for certain what Jesus wrote in the dust, but maybe it was a list of ways those men could have helped that woman, no matter what she was.

The question is, how can we help women who are forced into a life of crime, being prostitutes and scam artists? Let's face it, they are the only people who will present themselves, place themselves in the open. Although they do work within organized systems that mask their identity and location. We can plant a few seeds when those doors open. Or we can throw stones.

It is important to know a few things. Know when a scam is a scam. Encourage them to seek a better life. Although that may be impossible for many. If they ever got out of the house they are living in, in some cases they could be killed on the streets where they live, or returned to their country and stoned, or worse. It is a very touchy situation, We don't know much about the woman on the other side of the email, and they are reluctant to open up. If they are being watched, they can't open up.

In most cases the first contact is a well written letter. More like a form letter. I am so and so. I like this. I am looking for a man with a kind heart. Age doesn't matter to me. If you engage in a conversation with them, ask about where they are from. Appear interested in them as a person. If nothing else, that may touch them for a moment, and give them the only sincere joy they may ever feel. Look at their reply. Most of the time they reply is in broken English, not at all like the letter of introduction. Now you know you are working with an organization, and they are working from a script. Keep in mind, don't judge the person on the other end of an email by the picture. You may be communicating with a young lady, a pimp, or some teenage kid in a cyber cafe on the other side of the world. At any rate, they have a story, and are only looking for money. They may quickly move on. But if you distract them, at least they are not free at the moment to rip off someone else, and maybe, just maybe, you can plant a seed or two.

Obamacare

Maybe it's time to take a look at what that multi-billion dollar bill has done for this country. I am really ashamed to admit, I was on Obamacare. I think I'm the first in my family to be a member of the welfare system. Sure it is a new form of welfare. So what has Obamacare done for the elderly in this country? Created a new law to slap them in the face and lower their dignity to the ground.

Insurance rates have gone up so much, no one can afford them. Before Obamacare, my rates were a little over $100 a month, with a $2000 deductible, and 80/20 coverage after that. Not bad, but not the best. I was one of the millions of Americans who lost their jobs while approaching the age of 50, because the insurance company come in, and told the company, “if they didn't hire younger workers, (get ride of older workers) insurance rates were bound to double again. I used to pay the same amount for a family plan, then that cost was for individual plans.

When I first stated working, I was a private contractor in my 20's. I was paying for my own insurance, with a $200 deductible, and 80/10 coverage. I was paying less that $20 a month. I never went to the doctor, but when we had our first child, I didn't have any insurance. They doubled the price in my 30's and it didn't seem worth $150 a month for a family plan with a $2000 deductible and only 80/20 coverage, and now, pages of details not covered. Well I paid the entire bill. I wrote out one check for less than $2000 to cover everything. That seemed like a of money for an overnight stay in the hospital, but what could I do?

So what happened to this medical system in this country? The answer is summed up in one word, Healthnet. I like the word net at the end of their name. That is what they have this country in now. A little background on Healthnet. Years back, maybe about 12-15 years ago, the government decided to let a private company run medicare. Somehow Healthnet was their choice. The company got paid billions, a lot of money back then to shuffle paperwork. A lot of money. I read up on them, and thought they were the perfect place to put a large chuck of my retirement fund. So I bought a ton of their stock. Low and behold, one day at work, after getting let go as an engineer, and finding, no one would hire an experienced engineer approaching 50, because health insurance was a few hundred dollars a month, I went into real estate. I was on the computer, they weren't too fast back then, and I looked at my stocks. Healthnet was dropping like a rock. By the time I placed a sell order, all transactions were locked out. The next day the sell order initiated, and I was left with a few pennies. Um, Healthnet just about wiped out my entire retirement account.

I looked up everything I could find out about that company on the Internet. The FBI had been watching Healthnet for a long time. It seems they were double billing Medicare for a long time. A wire transfer of $500 million to an off shore bank triggered a sting. The FBI went in and ceased all their computers at the offices and in their homes. What happened? Nothing. A few days later all charges were dropped. A loop hole, or did the government step in and tell the FBI to leave them alone? We may never know. When it came time to choose a single entity to take control of the national healthcare system, Healthnet was the only choice.

I chose to invest a bundle in Healthnet based on the fact, they already purchased most of the other major health insurance companies. In other words, our social security was given to a company to create a healthcare monopoly. It sounds strange, but those records were on the Internet. The only company who made that information available to their investors suddenly lost their license and was taken off the Internet. Strongs, one of the most trusted investment firms was taken down by the government. They didn't want to play ball and hide what should be public information.

What ever happened to Social Security? I'm not stupid, I paid attention in school. That was before the federal government stepped in and took that over. SS was the answer to retirement. Each pay check we placed aside a little bit, about 15% in a fund for our retirement years. Later medicare came along, and took out about one third of that to cover any and ALL medical costs in our golden years. That was it. Medicare used to pay for everything. That's what used to be taught in school back in the days. I have no idea what they teach these days. What happened to SS? I also remember learning about the guy who invented the first socialized, national healthcare system in the world. He had his own brand of SS. That was in Germany just before WWII.

So where are we now? We are under the control of a monopoly a company used our SS to create. That should be a warning sign. High premiums are nothing more than another tax. Back in school I also learned, the Revolutionary war started over a few cents of tax on a create of tea. Now much tax do people pay on a cup of coffee these days? Some people pay more in taxes for the right to live in their homes than to the bank for their mortgages. Another unholy combination, government and banks. What about gas? We pay almost as much on taxes as for the gas. The list goes on.

What about those gas prices. They always remain the same. I had a good month, made some money, and Obamacare dropped me. I've been getting quotes from companies. They are like gas stations. All of them have the exact same price, within a few cents. And the coverage these days? Come on now. Over $450 a month, $20.000 deductible, and then only 80/20 coverage. The premium is almost half of what I take home in commissions, and less after operating expenses. Quite a HIGH tax if you ask me. I told them forget it, just let me die. Unplug the machine, or let me bleed to death. I don't have much left to give to my kids, but I'll be damned if I'll let the government or some insurance company take it. Sure I'm told, “that is the law. You have to pay.” What are they going to do to me? Throw me in jail? Hey, I get free healthcare in prison. What a country we live in.

Let's look at that 80/20 in real time figures. In less than10 years the average family plan has gone up from $120 a month to almost $1200 a month, or more. The price of gas is not that much different. I can still buy most food, and a pair of pants for about the same price. So inflation is not that much of a factor. Prices on medical service have gone through the roof. Why? Let me show you.

Say a service used to cost the hospital $10 for a test. Healthnet steps in and tells the hospital to charge $100 for that same procedure. Does it really cost $90 more. Who is getting paid that $90? Where does it go? Let me tell you.

You have a HUGE deductible, so you pay the $100. It all goes through Healthnet, who keeps the $90, and pays for the $10 test. Um, a new definition of PROFIT. Say you reached your deductible for the year, and you only have to pay 20%. The bill is $100, you pay $20. Healthnet keeps $10, and pays the hospital $10. They can't loose. Healthnet gets your premiums every month, and since they raised prices so much, you pay for the actual service, and Healthnet still makes a 100% profit from every doctor visit.

But the taxes get better. Doctors and nurses make a lot of money. But they pay huge liability insurance fees. Who do you think they pay those premiums to? You got it, Healthnet under their umbrella of liability insurance companies operating under all kinds of different names. What a racket. Raise prices in any area, and make more money. This is all nothing nothing but hidden taxes. And what are people doing? NOTHING but paying. Can you imagine the kickbacks our elected officials are getting? No wonder they need so much vacation time.

Science and the Media

It seems to be a good thing, blending science with media. But look at hurricane Irma and what that has done so far, and where it may be leading. The media predicted the worst of the worst from the beginning. At the present time, it seems to be the wise choice to error on the side of the worst case scenario. People got out of the path of the storm, and millions of lives may be saved because the media predicted the worst case path of that storm.

Looking back, it seemed impossible for a storm that size, drifting to the west, to make such a sharp turn and head north. A few hours later, that's what happened. A live look at the radar shows how Irma left Cuba and is heading north to Florida. Much weaker than first predicted, but still a threatening storm.

The media can be used for good and bad. In this case, it seems like a mixture of both. During the last election we've experienced a shift in the media. We've seen fake news stations, or whatever they are called, make enormous headway on the Internet, and always seems to be on top of every Internet search. Some Internet articles show how some of those people, doing little more than running a news station on their laptop are make $30,000 a week and more. They make it through clicks on the advertising they sell on their websites. Making that much money allowed them to buy first place on just about every search engine. Now we have a real problem.

Those fake news stations made a living out of posting the most unbelievable stories found on the Internet. At first it was made up characters. Then famous actors and other people. The stories weren't real, but people sucked them up. People posted and re-posted links all over social media. Then came the election.

In the last election, no one could tell the truth from stories the fake media made up, In one short year, the general public accepted the fake media as gospel. They became more popular than tabloid papers at the checkout. People were making millions, and paying for the most outlandish stories on the face of the earth. Like real life was no longer bazaar enough for this world.

Real news stations paid attention to what was happening and wanted a piece of the pie. But how? Well when was the last time you read an unbiased news article, just reporting the facts, and letting the public decide? The fake news services made a lot of money, and that lure of increased profits has remolded the media forever.

Look at any news site. They take forever to load, use the latest technology to pop up every which way but loose on your computer and phone, and in more ways than you imagine, force advertising on you.

The regular news stations learned spy techniques from the fake stations. Anything you click on the fake stations sends tracking cookies, spyware, and even viruses to your phone or computer in an instant. If nothing else, those fake news stations know computers, and how to use them. Computer programs take information off your computer, look at it, make specific lists of the audience that visits their sites, and from there, they determine what kind of stories to write. The regular media has a name for that. Demographics is nothing new. The media has been using it for years to increase following, and sell advertising. Demographics has been a major tool in the sale of advertising for years. It used to be limited to income, race, and a few other factors. Today demographics has expanded to include everything people can steal from your phone and computer. Why do you think every fast food store offers special apps for free? Not to make your life easier. Those apps allow those stores to gather every bit of information from your phone and use it against you. More money can be made from selling private information the selling french fries. That's how those media sites make their money. They install all kinds of junk on your computer and sell the information to anyone. The real and fake news stations are focusing on gathering and selling information.

Explode any news story into a catastrophe people can't help but follow and your hit count goes way up. We now are stuck with real and fake news competing with one another to exaggerate the facts to the Nth degree.

Science is another self centered attention getter. Look at some of the fields in science. Someone digs up an bone and says it's a million years old. The next bone, 2 million years old. The next, 6 million years old. We are into the billions of years old now. No one was there. No one knows for sure. But when a scientist wants to make a name for himself, and make some money writing a book, who can argue with him? He is the expert. The same is true with any piece of pottery a scientist digs up. They look at a piece of pottery the size of a quarter and write all kinds of stuff about the culture that used to exist at that location. They make up dates, populations, diet, forms of worship, social structure, and all kinds of other speculations.

Mix science with the media and what do you have? There aren't enough ingredients to come up with anything close to the truth. You have nothing more than scientists guessing at an outcome in an effort to make a name for themselves, and media editing what they say to sensationalize every word to take their story over the top. All in all, money is at the center of it all, and truth has been cast to the side as a waste of time and resources.

Where is all this going? For a while it looked like Irma was heading west, and may turn south. All their predictions were about to fail, and they would all look like fools. So call in a new expert to make up a new story. You can find all kinds of junk on the media about that storm. The media hired experts to take computer animations of that storm and transpose evil faces and ancient symbols on the screen for your viewing pleasure. But wait, we have an important announcement to follow about this fabulous copper cookware you can't live without. Food won't stick. It cooks without hardly any heat. Food almost jumps in on its own, and it has some miraculous healing powers. But if you act now, we will double the offer....

You'd be a fool not to see how money has become the leading god in this story. Money makes the world go around. If scientists knew what made those storms go around, we may be getting some place. In the mean time, we are stuck with a handful of people trying to prove to the world they are smarter than rain and high winds. Lots of luck with that.

As fake and standard media compete, expect the worst. As science gets another foot in the door, expect common sense to go out the window. What will that leave is with? A flock of sheep prepared for the slaughter. As sensationalism increases, we don't know where that will lead and how fast it will travel anymore than those scientists could guess what Irma was going to do and when she was going to do it. All we know for sure is, we need to fear more than physical storms in our time.

 2017 Real Estate Market in July

 
Well you can look at any figures you want to, all of them will tell you, this is a sellers market like never before. Fewer people are listing their homes for sale, so prices have been going up over the entire year of 2017. Sounds like a good time to sell. But let's look at both sides of the picture.

If you're moving up to a larger house, you can sell your existing home for more money, but you'll have to pay more for that next, larger home. On the other hand, if you're moving down, that is down sizing, you'll get more for your property, but only pay a fraction more for the newer, smaller home.

If you have investment property, you can win, and not have to worry much. Take the profit and run. Play the waiting game for prices to drop. Foreclosures are still on the rise. Homes of all sizes and shapes are meeting the courtroom, but not the market. Why the stock piling? It is driving up prices, but sooner or later, they have to go. This could be a win-win market for investors who want to enjoy a little cash in the bank until the market is ripe for buying. If investors took the cash, and put it in the bank all over America, that may be enough to drive down interest rates, which could add another advantage to those who choose to sell now and wait out the market.


If I show up with a cell phone to take pictures of your house, just fire me.


Many people overlook one of the major aspects of selling a home, the pictures. Sure the Internet helps to sell a lot of homes, but like everything else with a computer, garbage in, garbage out.

What does it take to present a house on the Internet in a fashion it deserves? Which may in fact effect the actual selling price.

Cameras come in all shapes, sizes, and qualities. Some are in fact better than others. Reviews are still written on cameras by professionals who make a living in the world of photography. You don't need a $1000 camera to take pictures of a home, nor do you need an 18 MP camera. As a matter of fact, you don't want to make your picture files too large. You never know how the Internet site they are displayed on will compress them. Compression causes a lot of distortion on pictures, and can ruin a really good shot. I shoot for picture files of about 100,000 bytes, which is rather small, and often difficult to find on a quality, modern camera. I often use files on the 150,000 to 200,000 byte range. Compression is minimal, they load much quicker, and if you check the websites, the standard seems to be about 100,000 bytes on the pictures displayed on most websites. Avoiding too drastic of a compression ratio is rule number one. Smaller files also upload much quicker.

Is flash or natural light better? Well I make enough money from selling a house to go through all the rooms two or three times. I take pictures with and without a flash, then look at them on my computer screen to decide which to upload to the Internet. I may take as many as 100 pictures, then choose 25 to add to the websites.

The camera lens is another major factor. I use cameras with 25 and 24mm lenses. Don't ask me what the other standard is, I'm and old 35mm guy. The new digital zoom cameras are great. I choose to use a bridge camera. Not as high of quality as the big money models, but great optics, and a lot of features. I can tell the difference between my 24 and 25mm camera. The 24mm is what to shoot for, and gives about the best wide angle picture you need inside a house. Especially small rooms. Getting a wider angle, like a 20-22mm would be a plus, but try and find one.

The 25mm camera does a great job, is simple to use, and has great optics. I prefer Fuji camera based on their optics, that is lenses, and the fact they use standard AA batteries. Getting quality, name brand rechargeable batteries is another plus. Good batteries last ears, and take over 300 pictures in a single charge.

Looking for the right angle to take a picture of each room is no problem. I take pictures from all 4 corners. There is a little trade secret I use to make rooms appear much larger than they really are. The 24mm wide angle lens in only the beginning.

I also take a series of pictures I don't put on the Internet. The basement, walls, the electrical box, water heater, furnace, and if appliances are included, I take pictures of those. I use those as back ups, just to avoid any possible issues. It's called, working smarter.

Craigslist Scam 2017

 

It seems that Craigslist scam is alive and well. It is simple. Someone overseas looks through Craigslist ads for homes. They pick a few for sale, copy everything, and place it in the rental section. Um, sounds like copyright infringement. The person overseas, and at time in the US, sets a drop dead rental price. Rent an entire house with a garage for only $400 a month. Well someone is going to answer that ad. And the scammer will find people to wire him money.

They want a few months rent and a security deposit. Usually about $2000. I used to put my listings on Craigslist. All I got was headaches, and threats.

A few years ago someone copied an ad I had on houses for sale and set up a rental ad on Craigslist. Well someone wired the scammer $2000. The scammer told the guy to call the number on the sign to get the keys. So I get a call asking for the keys. I explained how the scam worked. But the guy tells me he is coming after me for either the keys or his money. Well low and behold, this is not a victim-less crime when someone is threatening to shoot you.

I called the police. They wouldn't do anything. I called the Realty Association attorney. It took a long time to explain that one to them. I also called the FBI. We tried to get Craigslist to take the ad off the Internet. We went on a 4-way conversation via phone, myself, the attorney, the FBI agent, and the owner of Craigslist. After telling Craigslist the problem, and asking him to remove the ad, his comment was, “freedom of speech. Sue me.” And hung up. Well the attorney and FBI agreed, there was nothing anyone could do.

I no longer advertise on Craigslist. There is no need to place a listing on Craigslist, and endanger yourself, expose people to scams, and also endanger the seller's family. Today the MLS listing service sends all listings to dozens of websites. Craigslist is not included for obvious reasons. As soon as I add a listing to the local MLS, that listing goes all over the world. It is part of marketing today.

Then there is a problem with some of those sites. I looked at a listing on one of those sites today. They were using outdated pictures. They added the listing, but not the updates. I guess you have to check those websites. But there may be a hundred of them, and their sites are not what I would consider user friendly. It is difficult to find out how to change your own listing, and I had to change pictures one at a time.

Well the Internet has come a long way. A simple program would tell Craigslist when information is being copied and placed in other ads. That would help protect a lot of people. But that takes a bit of know how, planning, and money.

 
This is a page to add some vital information about the real estate industry and how the internet has effected it. While the internet has the potential to reduce advertising costs, and lower the cost of selling real estate, the internet has actually had the opposite effect on the real estate market overall. Rising advertising costs, brokers and agents bidding against one another for market share, scams, spam, and other factors have all added to the cost of operating in the real estate market, and that cost has been passed onto consumers. In real estate, that is mainly the homeowner selling their home, which of course has been passed onto home buyers.
 
I do not invest in online advertising, and have written a collection of articles outlining why it is not only expensive to advertise on the internet, but online advertising carries other risks. 
 
In my way of doing business, the savings is passed onto the consumer. Lower commission rates allows sellers the option of passing their savings onto the buyer, or seeing a larger return on their real estate investment. This is simple economics, In many cases, the degree of service is actually higher, at a reduced cost, based on the simple fact, I work for my customers, not the advertising agency. 
 
I work mainly out of Sheboygan County, just outside of Sheboygan, Sheboygan Falls, Kohler, Plymouth, Cascade, Adell, West Bend, and all points from Fond du Lac, south to Fond du Lac. 
 
 

Internet Bullying on Steroids

It seems most people use one or more forms of Internet social media these days. Internet Social Media (ISM) opens up a whole new field for advertising in the Real Estate market. Smart agents should be able to figure out how to use this as a vital tool to keep in touch with all their friends, so they don't forget, they have someone they know, and can trust when it comes time to sell their homes, and/or look for a new home.

ISM is not very difficult to use. All the ISM's I've used encourage people to invite all their friends. Some offer a feature that will invite friends for you. They ask for permission to access your address book, and send out form letter invitations. Which is not a very good idea. On the old Internet, I had to send out a personal invitation to people I knew to get them to join the new social media … what would you call them? Clubs, or what?

Today I get maybe 4-8 phone calls a day from people selling me stuff. I mean junk. Their programs to use ISM. That is phone calls. I have no idea how many emails I delete everyday, and how many get sent to the junk folder automatically. Today we have so called experts who can make you rich by flipping a few switches on ISM that will make the money roll in. So what has social media and the term, “friend,” become? What is a friend in ISM? A way to make money? Is that what Real Estate has become? Maybe that's why I try to avoid ISM. I like the old ways. Let's talk. A handshake is as good as my word.

I do, or should say, I have used social media. I didn't invite a whole lot of people. Most of them were via a phone call, or talking to them in the same room, when I told them about the ISM I was using. Is that old fashion or what? After that, I did send out a few invitations, but for the most part, people ran across me, and sent me that form letter friend request.

One of those ISM pages I had centered on a church I was involved with. They always seemed to find things to disagree on. Some discussions were rather heated. I usually tried to avoid getting involved, but you know the feeling, after a while you feel a need to voice your opinion, or maybe two.

I sat back as one group attacked another. I could see the divisions, and as usual with religious matters, people took one sentence, often part of a sentence, and wrote a book about what they thought it means. Eventually I decided to look into what the Bible actually said about the issue. I noticed one side clung onto a handful of what they referred to as proof texts, while some people taking the other side referred to stories in the Bible. Entire stories that made sense.

I know and use about 24 rules to study scripture. There are ways, like using a Concordance to look up the original Hebrew or Greek meaning of words. I found out the people using proof texts didn't do that. The proof text they used would only stand up when they placed a personal meaning on a few key words. Key words is another method of study I also use. Key words formed links between the stories I studied. I used a series of related stories, to apply the general rule, not to base a belief on 1-2 texts.

By the time I finished writing a series of studies on that subject, I had thousands of followers on that ISM account. The studies used and covered every rule of interpretation in a way, it was almost impossible to argue the point without taking those stories out of the Bible, or insisting they don't belong in the Bible.

I had no idea so many people put that subject on a life and death level, and some of the higher ranking people in that church took a personal interest in the matter. I guess I ruffled a few feathers. After posting my simple studies, someone rallied a bunch of people and my ISM account was locked out. Later I heard that group spent a huge sum of money, over a million dollars to buy advertising on that ISM platform. Um, that didn't make sense. A church who had to go to a so called social media expert to make friends. Something sounded rather odd about that.

I didn't sweat it. I had another ISM account. I just stayed away from controversial religious subjects, I learned my lesson. People with the most money win on social media. That was only the beginning of that lesson.

I just posted a few articles explaining how foolish it is to spend tons of money on the Internet to advertise a business like Real Estate on ISM. I also posted an article on spam emails, which looking back, are largely generated by companies selling programs to turn ISM into a cash making machine. Am I wrong? Think about it. If you are paying a company to find friends, are they really friends? Those friends are supposed to turn into paying customers. Anyone with an ounce of common sense will know, the person who pays a ton of money to make friends will pass that expense onto anyone who becomes a customer. Is that anyway to treat a friend?

After posting a few articles explaining how the rising cost of Internet advertising is leading to an increased cost of doing business, one of my ISM accounts was locked out. I can't get to it. Is that another case of, the people with money win on social media?

Most people look at Internet bullying as kids writing unkind words about another kid. That is child's play compared to what I've seen. Read something you don't like, what can you do? You can agree to disagree. If that comments cuts into your business, you can contact the company running the show, and demand that person's account be canceled. Is that fair, or is that the new generation of Internet bullying?

Not many people appreciate or like spam emails, viruses, spyware, and other things spread all over the Internet designed to collect personal details about people, so some company can make a fortune from selling your personal information. That is the new Internet gossip. Major companies want us to either accept it as a way of life, or learn to ignore it. They disguise Internet gossip under the phrase, “friend,” to make it palatable. And we are supposed to look at that as a necessary evil, the new way of life. If we disagree, we loose our entire friend list, and are not welcome in any social media circle. Is that right?

It's not very difficult to learn how to use social media for free. I don't think anyone has any problem with that. But when money is involved, we all of a sudden see a never ending influx of ever changing rules where the rich get richer, and the poor who are smart enough to use the system for free, are not welcome.

I already made up my mind. Call me a rebel, but I am not paying anyone a dime to find me new friends. Friends like that I don't need. I build friendship the old fashion way, through trust. A rare commodity these days. These days, selling off everything you know about a friend for a nickle is a daily routine to survive, pay for that new car, or take that vacation. People act more like crack attics than real friends, and we are supposed to accept that as the new social media. How much is your friendship worth? Have you put a price on it. When I look at Real Estate and the direction it is going, you maybe should ask the agent you are thinking about working with, how much did you pay for the information you have on me, and how much is that going to cost me? Can we really accept the price social media has placed on friendship?

 Online Real Estate Auctions

 
Online auctions is another thing to watch out for when you're on the Internet. Especially when you're looking for a house. As a licensed Broker in Wisconsin, I had to take a number of classes on auctions, and be able to explain the basic process to buyers willing to bid on houses at an action. One of those laws of course says, an auctioneer has to be licensed by the state of Wisconsin. The auctioneer has to follow certain standards in advertising. There are laws concerning disclosure, like major defects. The auctioneer has to follow guidelines to put a package together for potential bidders. I'm not an expert on auctions, and don't want lead people into thinking I am an expert. My training is just enough for me to tell when buyers are dealing with a legitimate auction process, and when they are dealing on shaky internet ground.

There have been a number of online auction sites that have popped up on the Internet. Some of them deal with real estate. It can be alluring to a buyer. The site will post a low-low price to attract people. But look into those sites. Do they display the name, address, contact information, and license number for a state licensed auctioneer? Some online sites use overseas firms to auction off real estate and handle all the details. I could make a list of some of the state laws they break. Some firms allow anyone on the property, before and after the auction. If you do win the bidding process, the house has a lock box, and anyone can have the code. Do they keep records in case something happens? I know a buyer who won a bid, went to look at the house before paying the deposit, and found the house stripped bear.

There is an endless list of things that could go wrong when you purchase real estate. We like to keep that list to a minimum. The ideal situation is to make certain the buyer has knowledge of all the major defects and knows what they are buying. That's why I always suggest an inspection, by a state licensed inspector. But can you get an inspection after you win a bid? Read the fine print, the seller may not allow an inspection after winning the bid.

Using overseas companies creates a sort of safe harbor for a seller. If there is a major defect with the title you didn't find out about until after paying a huge deposit, or paid in full, how are you going to have an overseas company handle the situation? What about other possible defects? What are you going to do? There's not a whole lot you can do.

I talked to a few real estate attorneys about online auctions. They are not a good thing to get involved with. Unless they are state licensed. One attorney called an online auction site and told them what they were doing was illegal. They took down the site in Wisconsin until they worked out a new loophole, a way around the laws. Now they are back up.

Sure you hear about success stories, but there are a number of sad stories along those lines. People who have lost everything because they didn't understand the situation they were dealing with. Better to be safe than sorry. I know how to find some of the best buys in real estate without taking all those unnecessary risks.

E-mail Spam How to Avoid it

One of the worst aspects about the Internet is all that spam email. In Real Estate it seems we are targets for spam emails, especially those containing viruses. Major viruses usually hit major banks for some reason. Since real estate agents deal with banks on a day to day basis, that may be one of the reasons. Let's talk about Internet and email security.

I use Thunderbird as an email server program. They are very good at identifying spam email and viruses attached to emails. Thunderbird has an option I use. I take the spam email address and have everything from that address dumped into the junk folder. I must have 300 addresses in that system.

I found out a few years ago how I was loosing customers. I used gmail as an email account for some time. But as soon as I buyers were getting close to writing an offer, some other agent would jump in, knowing how much the buyer was qualified to borrow and a few details about what they were looking for. Put 2 and 2 together and what do you come up with? Internet thieves.


Some Real Estate Agents advertise on websites with search engines for people to search for homes. I've paid for advertising on those sites. They send agents leads, information on buyers looking for homes. Sounds good on the surface, but where do those websites get their information from?

Every lead I ever received from those websites was a customer I was already working with. How did those companies get the buyer's information? From the emails we exchanged. I sent them out using gmail at the time, which is like sending out emails for anyone to read. Gmail sells your emails off to anyone with a nickle.

Once I noticed the patterns, looked at some information on the Internet, and asked the company exactly where they got their leads from, the answer was shocking. Leads are collected from unidentified overseas sources. What is that? I envisioned a guy in Russia sitting around in his underwear with a program that intercepts, and scrubs emails looking for information to sell. Then I thought, what about ISIS? They use the Internet to recruit people. They are so advanced in computer software, no government can trace their location, and neither can anyone else. The government went to Google, the experts on tracing computers. The best minds in the world can't find where ISIS is operating from.

Whose to say ISIS is not selling information to real estate advertising companies. That threat was enough for me to drop all the Internet advertising and lead generation services.

Back to emails. I can communicate with most businesses in the real estate industry with no problems. Some title companies are very advanced in security as are most banks. I only use my secured server email address, which is very difficult to intercept. Everything is safe until we get close to the closing. Most customers use gmail, yahoo, and other free email services. The moment I sent them closing statements for review, my email is flooded with all kinds of spam emails containing some of the worst viruses in the world. I get emails from all over the world. You have to know how to identify where the email was sent from. I know the local offices I work with do not have information sent from overseas. I have to know what is legitimate and what is spam, and what is a virus. These days I have to explain to people, bring the check to the closing. Do not send any money to anyone without first checking with me. Free email services may sound great, but they are public information and have to be treated as such. You have to be extra careful these days. Explaining Internet security has become a part of the services Real Estate Agents should be discussing with their clients.

Another security flaw I've seen is texting. Read the agreement in you texting app on your phone. They can collect and sell all the information in your texts and on your phone, That's why I do not use my phone for email. Some agents want me to text them the lock box number for a house I am listing. NEVER! I will never take that risk. I talked to some people about making a law forbidding agents from sending lock box information using text messages. All I get back is, everyone does it. Well not me. I take my clients security and confidentiality seriously.

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Realty Executives Elite
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