Archive for the ‘Cheating’ Category

Service of I Refuse

Monday, August 7th, 2023


Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

For at least two years the topic of high-profile people refusing to do what a boss or superior has asked of them has been bandied about dinner tables nationwide. We’ve seen examples of vibrant lines in the sand.

A colleague was approached to market a powerful organization he didn’t approve of. The accompanying fee was juicy yet he passed without regret. I’ve refused to do things asked by clients, bosses and high-powered acquaintances. “Big deal,” you say. That’s because you’re not a people pleaser. Those who succeed in service businesses usually are. My husband often wondered aloud how I could take some of the things that crossed my path in my PR role. He felt plenty of pressure in his work but the difference was that folks wanted what he was selling. He was an international banker.

Someone asked me to share insider information that the agency I worked for had access to. That was easy if awkward. I just glared and didn’t answer. In another instance, a client ordered me not to go to the press room to greet the editors and reporters I’d invited to his event. It was the most flagrant of many disagreements between us. A whistle blower told me this client signed my name to material I’d not written and distributed it. I resigned that account.

When in the days of mailing press kits a boss told me to follow up by “calling all media we haven’t heard from to learn if they received the package.” I never did. I thought, “That’s what return addresses are for and a busy person doesn’t want to hear that stupid question.” If there was important new information to share, that was a different story.

One boss, trying to save money, told me to use a line drawing from a book to accompany press materials. She’d deleted the credit I’d placed by the image. After a brief discussion I suggested we remove my name as a contact on the press releases. The drawing/book credit remained as did my name as contact. Another time I argued against a special activity in conjunction with an event proposed by a client. The activity remained on the schedule but appeared in none of the press materials I’d written. The client approved them all.

Nobody lives or dies as a result of all but one of my protests or silence. Imagine the potential risk if you disagree with policy and you are an air traffic controller, surgeon, emergency room doctor, nurse, pilot, medical researcher, teacher or politician to name a few essential occupations.

Are there instances in which you have drawn a line in sand and refused to answer a question or to do something that didn’t seem right even if a boss has ordered it? Are there examples in which you give a pass to someone who goes against their better judgment and follows a boss or client’s faulty instruction?


Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay  

Service of Taking Candy From a Baby

Monday, July 18th, 2022

There have always been those who look for the main chance. They’ll defraud if they must.

When I read “The Ethicist” column “What Can You Do When Cheaters Take Advantage of Charity?” in The New York Times, I immediately thought of my mother’s experience as a volunteer tax preparer for the AARP. The organization offered free tax prep and trained her to complete simple tax forms. She was assigned to a church on the upper east side of Manhattan. On occasion she had to direct wealthy co-op owners with complex investments to professionals telling them she wasn’t trained to help them. That was a polite way to say “toodaloo.” The word “free” attracted them.

The Avon, Conn. reader/volunteer at a food redistribution charity described his dilemma to Times columnist Kwame Anthony Appiah. A few times a week he picks up bakery goods and delivers them to local food banks, soup kitchens and the like. According to news sources such as CNN, “Long lines are back at food banks around the U.S. as working Americans overwhelmed by inflation turn to handouts to help feed their families.”

The reader wrote: “Some charitable organizations require no screening of clients. Anyone is free to pick up food at these locations. I have observed that some individuals visit several locations on the same day, collecting a greater quantity of food than any family could reasonably use in a week. In addition, judging by some of the client vehicles, it is likely that there are not an insignificant number of individuals who are taking food who do not truly need it. Not all of those people can be collecting food on someone else’s behalf.”

He continued: “Free food for the well-off does not meet the I.R.S. definition of a charity. What is the ethical responsibility of the charitable organizations who are distributing these donations to ensure that those who truly need the food are the ones that receive it?”

Appiah responded: “It’s unfortunate when cheaters take advantage of charity. But it’s unfortunate, too, when efforts to deter them create barriers to those in need. The rigorous way to avoid abuse would be to require people to go through the humiliating (and time-consuming) process of proving their need. That could involve a photo ID, a Social Security number and documented evidence of eligibility for federal or state food-assistance programs. (It wouldn’t involve an assessment of their vehicles; the Kelley Blue Book can’t tell you whether that woman with the nice Camry has hit a rough patch.)”

I agree with Appiah. Let the crooks abuse the system so as to leave the hungry with their dignity. Before the pandemic companies introducing a new juice, tea, snack or yogurt would hand out free samples on the street. I often took one to taste test. But the charity scammers getting free food are a different story. Who can exploit the largess of others depriving disadvantaged citizens of necessities when they can well pay for their own?

Are there dignified ways to vet food bank customers to weed out cheaters or should there be a policy of no questions asked? Do you know people who take advantage of programs meant for others?

People who can well afford to pay for their food in a supermarket like this take from food banks. Shameful.

Service of Where’s the Boss?

Thursday, April 7th, 2022


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I once shared here my wonder as to why resort hotel gift shops carried some of the things they do in addition to basic makeup, candy, snacks and local souvenirs. I soon figured it out when I learned of an employee who bought a set of luggage from one, charged it to his room and submitted it as a business expense. He was caught and fired.

Haven’t you been given a wad of receipt forms from a parking lot attendant when you needed only one to declare the parking fee on your trip expense report? These are petty workplace thefts that take place routinely.

Yet we hear of people who get away with $millions for long periods of time and think “who is watching the store?


Image by Firmbee from Pixabay

Here’s a vivid example that Neil Vigdor described in his New York Times article “Former Yale Official Admits to $40 Million Fraud Scheme.” The subhead: “For a decade, a Yale School of Medicine administrator used university funds to buy computer equipment, which she resold to pay for luxury cars, real estate and vacations, the authorities said.” She bought three homes in Connecticut, and a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon, Range Rover and Cadillac Escalade, the latter three of which she returned once caught.

A friend to whom I sent the article wrote: “Does not say much for her superiors to have missed the fact that the equipment was not there.” Didn’t someone notice the thousands of purchase orders she submitted for “computer devices and tablets that included Microsoft Surface Pros and iPads under the pretense that they were for medical studies.” She bought 8,000 iPads and Surface Pro tablets in 2021 and kept the purchase orders under $10 thousand to avoid scrutiny.

Yale spokesperson Karen N. Peart told Vigdor: “Since the incident, Yale has worked to identify and correct gaps in its internal financial controls.”  I’ll say! I once had a micro-managing client who argued with me over the rationale for a single FedEx charge.

According to her plea agreement the administrator is to return $40 million to Yale and owes $6 million in Federal taxes. Vigdor reported that “she faces a maximum sentence of 23 years in prison. Based on federal sentencing guidelines, her sentence is more likely to be in the range of eight to 10 years, with a fine of $30,000 to $300,000, according to the plea agreement.”

I wonder if anyone is held culpable at the University? Are there no budgets to adhere to? Do you know of similar rip-offs perpetuated because nobody is watching?

Service of “But Everyone Does It”

Monday, July 5th, 2021

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

People cheat on their taxes and some claim everyone does, but best not try. Ask Allen Weisselberg.

Taxes aren’t the only thing people fiddle with.  One friend lied to the anesthesiologist about her weight. She thought that was why she woke up in the middle of the operation. A doctor subsequently told me that wouldn’t happen for that reason. But still, not a good idea to underestimate.

Image by Niek Verlaan from Pixabay

What about people with healthy resumes and years of accomplishments under their professional belts who nonetheless cheat on theirs? Some report a degree they don’t have [which is nuts as it’s so easy to confirm]. Others stretch a three month stint into a year. Many companies make the background check the last thing in what can be a month’s long process, sometimes more. What a shame to be beached after all that. From the employer’s point of view, the thought would be that such a candidate could as easily cheat the company or its clients. “You’re only speaking about a seven month difference,” a few might argue. I say keep it to three if that’s the truth.

One friend learned that his mother was older than she’d admitted when he accompanied her to the doctor towards the end or her life. She hadn’t wanted to be older than his father which was the reason for the discrepancy.

Some people exaggerate their wealth [which I’ve never understood].

What other things do people do–that they shouldn’t–with the excuse that everyone also does it? Any repercussions?

Image by TheDigitalWay from Pixabay

Service of Plus ça Change, Plus C’est la Même Chose–Redux II

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

I interrupt my planned post for today to write this morning about a serious state of affairs regarding Corona-19 vaccine distribution: money can put you at the head of the line. I heard about it this morning.

Money impacted Vietnam War deferments. Sons of the wealthy who sought them got them. That was nothing new: deep enough pockets to hire the canniest lawyers have always plucked scoundrels off the hook for crimes committed.

How naive I was to think this wasn’t the case for today’s crisis. Here’s why:

Thousands of New York City Housing Authority development residents have been given the vaccine so for once, while I and my computer-savvy friends are struggling to wangle an appointment online, some with few resources or ability to do this were being served first. I was glad.

I admit that my requirements restrict my chances. I want to walk to my appointment–5 miles my limit–and a trip, alone, to dodgy neighborhoods, as many friends have suggested, is out of the question.

Simultaneously thousands of appointments have been cancelled in NYC this week for lack of vaccine. On his weekly segment on the WOR morning show today Arthur L. Caplan, Professor of Bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center, reported to hosts Len Berman and Michael Riedel that people were paying to jump the line. I hadn’t heard this before.

What’s worse: There are no punishments to thwart them he said. Dr. Caplan warned Len, who has a vaccine appointment for next week, not to count on it. He cautioned that it might take a month to sort out the clog in the system. The three men shared anecdotes of people–even from Canada–flying to Florida or lying about their ages to be vaccinated.

To make matters worse, the outgoing administration left no plan with which the current one might run to help sort things out at local levels nationwide.

Do you feel all’s fair in an emergency and people with money deserve to go first because they’ve earned the right? Can you think of additional instances where money overrides first come first served?

Service of Discounts II

Monday, January 18th, 2021

I’m a lifelong discount shopper and I love sales.  I wrote about false advertising six years ago and a year before about a restaurant sued by an anti-religion group because it offered a discount to those who said grace before eating. Bait and switch irritates me most.

In the days I bought shirts for my husband at a well known haberdashery I was fooled year after year by signs in the window touting a 50 percent discount. You learned inside that you had to buy three shirts for the discount to kick in. I’d always hoped that they’d stop the shenanigans.

The words “UP TO” hidden in mouse type–in emails and online as well–get me too. It would take crack FBI detectives to find the one reduced item at “up to 70 percent off” usually available only in size extra small. Why not offer a generous 30 or 40 percent to all discounted items?

I ordered stationery online from a small company. The sponsored Facebook posting that caught my eye offered a 15 percent discount [they rarely if ever discount] and once on the site I responded to a request for my mobile phone number so they could send me texts. For this information they offered a 20 percent discount. I hesitated buying anything when I saw the total and I left the site. In an email, they offered me $5.00 to place an order.

But I got no discounts when I finally placed the order so I immediately wrote customer service–it was New Years weekend–and heard back promptly on the first business day. Meanwhile they had shipped my order. Customer service agreed to return 15 percent to my credit card in spite of my reminding the clerk about the 20 percent and the $5. I love the cards–I’ve bought from them before in person and online usually at full price–but will think 20 times before ordering again.

Are there discount practices that irk you? What percentage do you think is enough to move you to consider buying an item on sale–20? 30? 40? 70? Have you avoided retailers or manufacturers because you felt flimflammed by their sales practices?

Tip Gyp at Doordash

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

Seven years ago partners chef Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich paid a price–$5.25 million–for stiffing a percentage of the tips of their employees at Batali’s pricey Italian restaurants such as Babbo, Bar Jamon, Casa Mono and Esca to pay sommeliers’ salaries.

A chunk of the penalty money went to captains, servers, busboys and others.

Small potatoes by comparison but “The attorney general of Washington, D.C., is suing food-delivery company DoorDash Inc. for pocketing tips on deliveries,” wrote Allison Prang in The Wall Street Journal. To meet the minimum pay promised deliverymen and women the company applied the tip money customers added electronically. Workers were not given the tip in addition to the minimum.

Karl Racine, DC attorney general, said Doordash also deluded customers who thought they were giving a tip.  Prang wrote: “The attorney general is seeking a court order to force DoorDash to surrender the tips and pay civil penalties.”

Doordash claimed that “the assertions made in the complaint are without merit and we look forward to responding to them through the legal process.”

Why do profitable companies pick on the smallest fries–all of whom are essential to their success–to squeeze them out of their rightful compensation? Is it OK because the owners take the risk and make the investment in their companies or is it wrong under any circumstances?

Service of Research

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

I admire researchers for so many reasons. It can take decades for them to make a discovery and years more to prove it. Diligence, the ability to fight frustration and dissent are just three characteristics of this valiant group.

I was distressed to read Noam Cohen’s New York Times article, “M.I.T. Shuts Down ‘Food Computer’ Project” about the world-renowned research citadel. The allegedly promising venture–The Open Agricultural Initiative [OpenAg]–involved greenhouses, called food computers, designed for crops that grow in air–without soil or sunlight. In addition to those in food computers at the university there were larger greenhouses in shipping containers in Middletown, Mass.

Cohen wrote: “The once-celebrated M.I.T. Media Lab micro-greenhouses were supposed to grow food under virtually any conditions. In the end, they worked under almost none. And now, M.I.T. has turned off the lights, possibly for good.”

He added “The project has been accused of misleading sponsors and the public by exaggerating results while the Media Lab has been under scrutiny for its financial ties to the convicted sex offender and financier Jeffrey Epstein.”

The director of the OpenAg program, Caleb Harper, posted images and videos on social media “that looked like experiments” and exaggerated or made false claims. Former researchers said he bought plants and put them in the “food computers” pretending they’d grown there. They said that data would have “little scientific significance” because they could not “control the conditions within the boxes.”

The Middletown containers were closed down recently because they dumped wastewater “with 20 times the legal limit of nitrogen underground.”

According to Cohen, Harper boasted that food computers he’d sent Syrian refugees in camps gave them “the means to grow their own food inside the camp.” Instead, these computers ended up “in a Jordanian research lab where they faltered because of hot, dry conditions and technical failures.”

The project attracted $millions in sponsorship funds and heaps of positive publicity including the likes of “60 Minutes” and a TED Talk.  I wager it received the acclaim and financial support based on its affiliation with M.I.T. Such shenanigans can’t help the university’s reputation and I wonder who minds the store in such institutions to prevent this kind of tempting fabrication from happening more often.

Service of a Cheating Heart: Match in Dutch with the FTC

Monday, September 30th, 2019

I had a crush on a boy in 11th grade. One of the girls I thought was a friend told me he’d asked about me when it turned out she’d made it up. I never trusted her after that [and clearly I never forgot]. The takeaway: Don’t fool around in matters of the heart if you want to keep a friend.

Match.com executives, adults I assume, never learned that lesson if the Federal Trade Commission [FTC] is on to something.

Dave Sebastian wrote “FTC Sues Match for Allegedly Tricking Users With Fake Ads– Online-dating platform allegedly offered certain guarantees but failed to provide promised services” in The Wall Street Journal.

The most damming allegation in the article was far worse than scamming people to join up and not giving them an easy way out. Match.com dangled hope to the lovelorn when there was none. “Until May 2018, Match sent emails to nonsubscribers that said someone had expressed interest in them, according to the FTC. But consumers, many of whom ended up purchasing the subscriptions, were unaware that the emails received could be from scammers, the FTC said in its complaint.”

And then Sebastian added: “The FTC said Match found that nearly 500,000 subscriptions were purchased within 24 hours of receiving an advertisement touting fraudulent communication between June 2016 and May 2018.”

Sebastian quoted the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Andrew Smith who told him: “We believe that Match.com conned people into paying for subscriptions via messages the company knew were from scammers. Online dating services obviously shouldn’t be using romance scammers as a way to fatten their bottom line.’ ”

Match owns Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid and other dating sites. I know people who have made magnificent matches via online dating services and am heartbroken to read that the mother company felt it had to cheat. If I’ve been to two weddings of couples who met this way and know several others with longtime relationships, didn’t a successful pioneer in this business have enough case histories to promote its services legitimately?

Have you tried an online dating service? Did it work out for you? If you never have, does knowing this make you be less likely to give it a try? Does it bother you that one of the top services cheated to get customers or is it par for the course for all businesses these days and worthy of no more than a big shrug?

Service of Who Are Students Cheating–Themselves or Future Employers &/or Customers?

Monday, August 26th, 2019

I’ve written previously about high school and college students paid to take tests for others and ghost writers who draft college and grad student papers for a fee. A newer twist to student cheating is brought to us via the web: hundreds of sites claim to offer tutoring but actually sell offers to complete assignments with original work.

According to Tawnell D. Hobbs in The Wall Street Journal, “As the school year starts off, colleges and high schools are increasing steps to spot and fight a persistent form of cheating in which students find someone online to do their homework.”

The paltry and lackluster solutions offered in the article don’t portend much success. And it sure has taken schools a long time to wake up. One participant in the article said he’d worked for the cheating websites for a decade and he stopped eight years ago.

Because they won’t want to pay for multiple drafts, posits Hobbs, some high school teachers require multiple drafts thinking that some “aren’t likely to pay someone” for more than one. This doesn’t sound like an effective preventative to me–how much does it cost to copy a few pages?

Other teachers have students increase the work they do in class. Fine, but this solution doesn’t address cheating on homework.

Some public school districts, such as Wake County’s in Cary, N.C. have upped the punishment–the severest being suspension.

Hobbs reported that students should expect to pay from $15 to a few hundred dollars for their homework assignments. One fixer out of Tulsa charges on average $20-$30 for math, chemistry and physics. The person was so bold as to be interviewed by this prominent reporter and allow his name to be published. I’ve deliberately not mentioned his name.

Another participant in the article said that for 10 years and until 2011 he earned $60,000/year working for the cheating websites. “’I would take students through entire semesters. Once they’ve used your words,’ it’s hard for them to start turning in their own work without getting caught, he said.”

Tricia Bertram Gallant, director of the Academic Integrity Office at the University of California—San Diego told Hobbs “We as a society have let this get out of control. We’ve reached a new level when people are willing to admit they do this for a living.”

Hobbs reported that “a Wall Street Journal review of 100 websites offering tutoring help or writing services, or both, found they promise custom high-school and college work. Some websites offer to run work through anti-plagiarism programs to prove it is original.”

Students are also bold to admit that they cheat!

According to Hobbs student gripes with the websites include missed deadlines or poor work “according to complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau and online reviews.”

Will I need to wonder if my appendix or other body part is being removed or repaired by a doctor who, in med school, paid someone to complete that particular procedure’s homework? What happens to these students when they get a job–can they perform? Does the cheating ever stop? Were you an instructor would you implement pop quizzes so as to compare the quality of work with what you received in homework assignments? Is there a solution with teeth?

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz