Notes from a Far-Off Place

Right now, I'm sitting on a hardwood deck bar overlooking one of the most spectacular cays I've ever seen. I've got a frosty rum cocktail next to me and my only concern is keeping sand out of my laptop.

I arrived yesterday, and spent most of the day scuba diving in turquoise waters, then lounging on a white sand beach the consistency of powdered sugar. I returned to my villa and found that someone had taken the trouble to unpack for me. There were bouquets of tropical flowers throughout the space as well, although I couldn't say if they were new additions of if they were already there when I first checked in.

I found a beautiful seafood joint for dinner. Despite being exhausted from all of the travel and excitement, I forced myself to stay awake a while longer to hear some music. Back at the villa, the bed was turned down and draped in a canopy of mozzie net, candles lit and soft music played on the stereo. My invisible butler had thrown open the windows and shutters so that I could fall asleep to the sound of the ocean.

This morning, I hired a bike and cruised the coastline. The concierge at my resort warned me about flat tires and asked if I wanted a moped instead. I laughed and told him that, for the first time in months, there's nowhere I need to be...I've got all the time in the world.

As I kept one eye out for the promised potholes, I noticed a fruit stand along the side of the road. There, an older woman laughed maniacally as she deftly wielded a machete the size of my femur to hack the fruit. We chatted about her family as I ate, fruit juice dripping down my arm.

Back to the present tense...without even having to ask, a fresh cocktail just appeared at my side. Apparently my bartender knows what a tragedy it would be if I were to be found with an empty glass!

This trip was a bit unexpected. In fact, I only had about a day and a half to prepare. (But how much time do you really need to throw some beach gear into a bag and hop a flight?) It was a surprise thank you gift from a client...their way of thanking me for the nights and weekends sacrificed on behalf of that firm.

While my job can often be a chaotic mix of people, places and scheduling, there are times like this that make the idea of complaining unthinkable. One of the perks, to me, is the amount of travel. On any given week, I'm in some of the coolest cities in the country, and a few times a year, some of the coolest cities in the world.

And then there are experiences like this one. The toughest decision I'll have to make today is which beach to explore, or perhaps where to have dinner. I left my watch behind, and will pretty much spend the rest of this trip having no concept of time.


Were There Other Online Scams?

Casey Serin has continuously purported to be a real estate investor. But his saved files show a much stronger inclination toward making money online. Casey Serin’s Earth Mission Blog only dates back to Jan 2006, but his interest looks like it goes back to June 10, 2005 with his discovery of ProBlogger: Helping Bloggers Earn Money!

Casey Serin’s interests, not surprisingly, then take a turn toward learning about SEO, web marketing and shiny tech toys. How to Blog for Fun and Profit and How to Make a Million Dollars becomes the new favorite pastime. He also saves blogs he wishes to emulate, such as this one.

There are numerous saved sites for e-commerse (sic) solutions. At this point, we can only wonder if Casey Serin succeeded in ever establishing any online commerce schemes. While only he may know that for now, we can at least surmise that he might have gotten lucky here.

Keeping up with Casey Serin’s reading list can sometimes be frightening. As for this save, I can’t tell if he decided to follow the story to again point out how much worse he himself could have been, or if this item
set a new personal bar in terms of potentially criminal behavior.

Speaking of criminal behavior, Casey Serin started watching the ongoing stories at the Mortgage Fraud Blog and C. Robert Simpson’s company (he of the great Scotsman Guide article) around the same time. Simultaneously, young Casey Serin started lining up attorneys as well.

(Hmmm…do you think that, along with the advice to not detail your crimes online, that an attorney further advise you don’t keep an electronic trail to his door?)

But the original attorney may have been too pricey for the likes of Casey Serin. Either that, or Casey’s bottom-feeding extends to his sources for legal information. Legal information also turns up this interesting link.

But Casey Serin has many, as they say, friends in low places. In his “friends” folder, we find some sort of questionable “internet consultant” scheme. Then there’s the one who buys pre-foreclosure homes, but apparently even he didn’t want anything to do with Casey Serin’s ramshackle properties.

As you might imagine, there are hundreds of various pages saved for brokers, real estate clubs and other myriad opportunities. It’s not a great surprise that a good chunk of those links no longer work. In fact, one such entity, “Test My Loan” takes a prime spot in the Rip-Off Report. My goodness, Casey Serin is racking up a lot of ties to that website!

NEXT: All Good Things Coming!

Scripts and Finances

While Casey Serin was blogging about his desire to repay “every dirty penny,” his saved web links betray him. In fact, on September 23, 2006, he started a folder called “bankruptcy.”

A few days later, he finds a perfect source for his “liar loans” schtick The same day, he finds another source he tags “blog it,” seemingly in an attempt to show the world, “See! I’m not *this* bad!”

In a separate folder, we see that Casey Serin was composing both his messaging for potential home buyers as well as the script for his scammail that would go out to attract “private real estate investors.”

We also see the beginning of the idiotic and illegal raffle idea for the New Mexico house. And the early days of a Nevada corporation along with what promises to be a six-figure line of credit with no income documentation.

This would be important, since Casey Serin had a decent sized folder that focused on repairing bad credit. And in case that didn’t work, there’s always alternative sources for credit cards

While researching his various borrowing options, Casey Serin does indeed bookmark Prosper. Proving that he has a lengthy history of being strapped for cash, notorious lender CashCall is also bookmarked--as early as December of 2005.

And drawing into question, yet again, whether or not Casey Serin ever intended to repay his debts, he also saved a handy article that promises to “Reveal the Secrets of the Collections Industry.”

NEXT: Were There Other Online Scams?

What Could Social Bookmarking Reveal About Casey Serin?

Wow. WOW. Okay, kitty kats....we’ve all suspected for a while that Casey Serin is crazy. But “crazy” doesn’t begin to scratch the surface. As it turns out, Casey Serin is one cracked fucking nut.

I stumbled across a list of favorite websites that Casey Serin saved. At first glance, it reflects the same Casey Serin that we have seen over at IAFF for the past eight months: obsessed with quick and easy money, shiny objects, and all-around shady shit.

The first thing that strikes me is that the scope of Casey Serin’s frauds and schemes could have potentially stretched much further. The mortgage broker who unearthed the Earth Mission blog and stopped Casey Serin in his tracks should certainly get some recognition.

From Casey Serin’s saved links, we can see that he showed an interest in developing quite a long arm in real estate. He was searching commercial properties and mobile homes
alike. He seemed to be investigating real estate in Boulder, while Austin gets a few saved links.

Durham must have looked good, as did Raleigh. Then there was Los Angeles and La Quinta, Palm Springs and Rochester.

Phoenix, Portland and San Francisco were all on the research list. Then our little real estate mogul investigated preconstruction resort properties and luxury vacation homes, both in the U.S. and abroad.

In a ghastly example of irony, we find that Casey Serin was also looking into the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund for some sweet deals.

On a strange sidenote (that might become more clear as the story progresses) while Casey Serin investigated properties in Albuquerque, he felt compelled to include a church in that particular folder.

Another observation reveals precisely why Casey Serin’s properties fell to foreclosure. Out of his many saved websites, some fifty are for guru training, nearly 300 are blog or blog marketing related, two hundred or so are various real estate schemes/investment clubs, fifteen for travel, and only three relate to construction.

Of the construction links, one is the “Rein Club Pre-Launch Party” for the Ivana Tower in “Los Vegas” (sic). Like many of Casey Serin’s own hopes and dreams, the tower has since been cancelled.

Serin’s other saved construction-related sites don’t reveal anything such as “how to fix a leaky faucet,” as you might expect from a young go-getter who is looking to strike it rich in fix-and-flip properties. Rather, they are links to search contractors’ licenses.

As early as January 2006, Casey Serin was saving articles on the ka-“boom” cycle of real estate. Apparently this was good enough to save, but not good enough to heed the warnings.

NEXT: Scripts and Finances

Lost Sale

JANESVILLE, Wis. - This real estate agent will likely do a house check before letting her prospective customers tour on their own from now on, after a couple happened upon a homeowner dead in bed.

Linda Chabucos-Galow, a real estate agent with Shorewest, stood in the dining room while Justin and Colleen McKeen walked through a house Monday night.

Before long, she heard Colleen scream as the couple stood at the doorway.

"I thought, 'What's wrong?' Maybe it was a dead mouse or something," Chabucos-Galow said.

But then she peered into the bedroom and saw the body of Linda L. O'Leary, 55, the owner of the home. She had been dead for about two weeks, officials say.

"It looked like a Halloween prop," Chabucos-Galow said.

The uncovered body was wearing dark shorts. Chabucos-Galow said her legs were wrapped in material that appeared similar to cheesecloth or support hose.

"If we spent five minutes in there, I'd be stretching it," Chabucos-Galow said.

She said she then told the couple: "'We need to leave. This is not right. We need to get out of here.'"

Gale Kent, the Coldwell Banker First United Realty agent who listed the house, said the property was for sale "for a while," but wouldn't say how many times it had been shown in recent weeks.

From Yahoo! News

Casey Serin Saved?

So Casey Serin managed to beg the rent money to pay to Yulia. How disappointing for her. I don't know about you, but I'm thinking it came from his parents, who seem in no hurry to have his neverending foreclosure story move in with them.

To celebrate, he's off to Lake Tahoe. Tells Galina he needs to "get back to nature," but follows that by saying that he'll spend the time catching up on emails and moderating blog comments. Ha!

Casey Serin doesn't want the Haterz to pick on him for spending money on a trip, and convinces us he's staying cheap. Hell, when he first brought up Tahoe and all the glorious fucking nature, I assumed he was camping. Stupid me.

"I will share needs and provide a way for people to participate. It will be fun and profitable for everyone involved."

Oh, fuck. Everybody hold on to your wallets.

Let me warn you to not drain all of your hate on this particular item. I have to do some serious editing, but I've got some blog posts coming up today that will blow Casey's paltry revelation to shame. Trust me...this will be colorful.


Will Yulia Stick to Her Deadbeat Deadline?

The blogosphere is pulling for long-suffering Yulia Suprun, the sister-in-law who has been housing and feeding her deadbeat brother-in-law Casey Serin and her sister Galina Serin.

Per Sercasey, Yulia dropped the bomb that he's going to have to come up with the two months' missing back rent and prepay an additional two months' in advance (via certified funds, no less) if he is to stay in her home.

Readers have speculated that he's known about his impending eviction for much longer than he's letting on. And after pondering that for a bit, I'm going to have to agree.

In fact, I think this was a part of the suspiciously well-timed V-dubs break-in. Can't you picture Yulia Suprun, in the course of delivering her ultimatum, telling idiot brother-in-law Casey Serin, "Well, you can live in your car, then."

That would explain some of the missing pieces. After all, shattering the car's window himself just might engender the needed sympathy that he needs from his soft-hearted sister-in-law (not to mention a few ducats in his pocket from pawning the 'stolen' goods). It would also explain how no one heard or saw anything, even though the houses on that street are clearly stacked on top of one another.

Yulia, if you're googling yourself, you've got to know the contempt that millions of people around the world feel for your brother. And we recognize that you've been trying to be the "good sister" and take care of Galina.

One reader remarked here that he had sent you two separate emails detailing Casey Serin's felonious undertakings. I cannot imagine what it would be like to receive such an email, particularly when it concerns someone who married your little sister. Are your parents aware of this? Should you make them aware?

The intern-nets are backing Yulia Suprun on this one. Certainly, if she succeeds in evicting Casey Serin from her home, she'll be the first person in a long time that won't allow Casey Serin to pull another cheap con.

So will Yulia stick to her deadline? Will Casey Serin be homeless tonight?


We're All So Effing Special

It was just a matter of time. In fact, I was expecting it as I wrote. In reality, it didn't take very long for the morons to roost over the Generation layZee story.

An astute reader picked it up and put a thread of the same name on a forum called Aantares. In short order, the self-righteous Boomers came out of the mist to wave their Righteous Indignation flags.

The forum Admin, who had obviously read the post, went so far as to agree with the fact (definition:a thing done; the quality of being actual; something that has actual existence; an actual occurrence) that Boomers were responsible for the highest divorce rates in history.

I was kind enough to include this same link in the original post, so that readers questioning the voracity of this phrase could take a paltry second to quelch any disbelief themselves.

But really, isn't it just easier to look at the three sentences that other, ahem, Readers, have taken the time to post, and just comment on that? Certainly, Aantares poster Raksha prefers this method.

It starts just how I imagined it would when I originally wrote the Generation layZee piece:

"As a Baby Boomer mom, I can't even begin to tell you how outraged I am!!!"

Everyone, please note that Raksha is in a froth, as evidenced by her triple exclamation marks. Her insight into parenting, and how she herself is an icon of the institution, is presented as, well, as fact:

"Parenting was one of the very few things I DIDN'T fail at, dammit!!! I'm still not sure WHY I didn't fail, but I'm not about to let the purveyors of conventional wisdom tell me I failed when I didn't!"

Raksha, you silly twit. I am hardly a "purveyor of conventional wisdom." All four of the people who read this blog with any regularity are splitting their sides laughing right now.

"I believe one reason I didn't fail was BECAUSE I tried to be a friend to my kids whenever possible. Of course, you can't do that when they're very small, but I dislike authorities and authoritarianism and was never comfortable in that role."

Hmmm...sounds just a tish like you're actually validating the things I said in the original post, where I claimed that Boomers preferred to eschew parenting and take the more passive role of being their children's little buddies. Really, it's a tremendous model. As we can see from generational evidence, it's working out really well.

In fact, the generation who had grown friends in lieu of parents are now charged with producing functioning, contributing members of society themselves. Been in a coffee shop lately? A mall? A restaurant? Have you tried to enjoy a great meal while a toddler screams his head off a nearby table while the parents feign situational deafness? Have you tried to order at a counter and been nearly knocked over by a free-range small child?

"I think this statement is total and complete b.s. and furthermore I feel personally insulted by it."

Well, Raksha, if it feels good, do it. Wait...didn't I say that in the original piece?

Raksha, you know why you should be "completely outraged" and "personally insulted?" Because I wrote that piece just for you, precious. You are so unique and special that I decided to write an entire blog post about your specific style of parenting and how your children are subsequently performing in the world.

Since I obviously fell short in making you feel good about yourself, I am forced to apologize. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings. I can only imagine the tremendous ripple effect this has produced in your life...loss of appetite, sleep deprivation, unable to perform simple tasks. My word, this blog should come with some sort of disclaimer akin to those in drug commercials!

But the thing is, sweetie, you never read the damn post. You're just an ignorant breeder who took one line out of a 984-word piece and drew a wealth of assumptions. Had you actually bothered to read the article before spewing your ignorant (definition: destitute of knowledge or education; lacking knowledge or comprehension of the thing specified; resulting from or showing lack of knowledge or intelligence; unaware; uninformed) opinion, you would have seen that the post painted the broadest strokes of generational traits.

After all, people spend entire professional careers trying to identify and catalogue generational characteristics. I feel confident in asserting that I came nowhere close in a blog post.

But you're unique and special, Raksha. You can apparantly not only debunk the theory from the twenty words that you read, you can do it all because you're living proof! Your children are no doubt miracles. And it is precisely because you are so special that I am devoting an entire blog post to you.

But it's not like you'll actually read it.

New Layout, v.2

Well, after spending most of the weekend beating my head against my desk, I think we've got a more workable and visually appealing version of the blog.

I was sick to death of the green (sorry, Leigh!) and wanted to shift into some warmer tones. As for functionality, there might still need to be some tweaks, so let me know if you have problems with anything.

Again, clicking on the title will display the comments beneath that post. For those of you who like more than one post per page, the archives are now broken out weekly, so you can use that function if you like. If you're like me and prefer to see one per page, clicking on the "older" or "newer" buttons beneath a post will scroll to the next (or, of course, the titles under each weekly calendar posting).

I haven't added a new picture of the blog's namesake, Chloe Sevigny. There are too many hideous options from which to choose, and I'm at the exhausted point of thinking everything is absolutely hysterical right now.

Thank you, everyone, for putting up with this weekend's myriad versions of layouts and color schemes. They were certainly not good, so I appreciate your tolerance with the changeover!


Live Long and "Prosper"

"Prosper, America's first people-to-people lending marketplace, was created to make consumer lending more financially and socially rewarding for everyone.

The way Prosper works is intuitive to people who have used eBay. Instead of listing and bidding on items, people list and bid on loans using Prosper's online auction platform.

People who want to lend set the minimum interest rate they are willing to earn and bid in increments of $50 to $25,000 on loan listings they select. People who lend can easily diversify using "standing orders", which automatically make many small loans to different borrowers.

In addition to criteria commonly used by institutional lenders, such as credit scores, people who lend can consider borrowers' group affiliations. Groups on Prosper are critical to bringing people together for the common goal of borrowing at better rates. Groups earn reputations according to their members' repayment records. Groups with successful repayment histories should attract more lenders offering lower rates.

Borrowers create loan listings for up to $25,000 and set the maximum rate they are willing to pay a lender. Then the auction begins as people who lend bid down the interest rate. Once the auction ends, Prosper takes the bids with the lowest rates and combines them into one simple loan. Prosper handles all on-going loan administration tasks including loan repayment and collections on behalf of the matched borrower and lenders.

Prosper's rigid privacy policy reflects co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Chris Larsen's longstanding history as an advocate of stringent consumer financial privacy protection laws and practices. Prosper does not sell, rent, or share members' personal information with third party marketers. Prosper members are in control of how much personal information—if any—is revealed on the website and with other members. Prosper's security and identity verification systems are state of the art, and consistent with those used by banks, brokerages and institutional creditors.

Prosper generates revenue by collecting a one-time 1% or 2% fee on funded loans from borrowers, and assessing a 0.5% or 1.0% annual loan servicing fee to lenders. Backed by Accel Partners, Benchmark Capital, Fidelity Ventures, and Omidyar Network, Prosper has raised approximately $20 million. Prosper's marketplace platform is patent pending."

So when Casey Serin talks about a strange $8k loan to a stranger in Dallas, I tend to think that this was the vehicle. Conversely, are some of Prosper's various lenders facilitating the shell corp, cash-back schemes, or penny stock debacle?

New Layout!

After all of that green, I had to go to the other end of the color spectrum. I'm far from thrilled with the overall look, but at least at this point, the blog should be fully functional. While there are still some things that need to be worked out, I do hope it will be a lot more user friendly!

A tip: By clicking the post title, you should be able to see all comments for that particular post. To post a comment, we've got the pop-up version. I've never noticed a problem with using it with pop-up blocker, but just a heads-up none the less.

Anyway, I've been doing this all night and am completely knackered. Have to sleep now. Hopefully any amazing news or fun stories will hold off until I awake!