David Slifka: ‘In a past column, a reader asked you about the Tri-West Investment Club, and you said that it sounded like a Ponzi scheme that would end badly. Well, it has. Their web site contains the following notice, which is pretty funny as long as you didn’t lose any money:
…A Tri-West courier with investment checks and payroll experienced trouble en route for deposit in our Latvian payment account. The courier had to make an unscheduled layover and did not know he had to declare checks in excess of $10,000 USD. Airport authorities then confiscated these checks. We sent a notice to our members via e-mail and fax but a communications problem allowed only 5% of those messages to be received.
‘A new ‘payment date’ has been scheduled, but the web is aflutter with people desperately speculating what’s really going on. The answer, to most of us, is obvious.’
When buying a new car, Paul Johns adds to his comment last week, another route to a no-haggle good price is Costco.com. They sort of bury this service – but up top, click on SERVICES and you’ll see it. If you’re not a Costco member, it may work anyway – just fill out the form without a Costco membership number. Or, of course, become a Costco member, either because you qualify, or because you find a local business (your real estate agent?) that is a member to get you a gift membership.
There’s nothing like the ability to spot talent. I can’t tell you who this is, but a man with a nose for shows – the kind of guy who might back a hit and shun a flop – also has a passion for ponies. He went to the Kentucky Derby this spring and, through some combination of analysis and instinct, decided that Invisible Ink, going out at 50 to 1, was the sleeper in the crowd. He bet $15,000 on Invisible Ink in various combinations, including $200 on a winning Trifecta combination (in which, if I got this straight, you need to predict the order of the first three horses). Each $2 bet paid $12,300, so he turned that particular $200 into $1.2 million. Like a fantasy from ‘Guys and Dolls’ (‘I got the horse right here, his name is Paul Revere . . .’), which, for all I know, he produced. There is no moral to this story, I just love it.
May you have the luck of the Irish and the electric bill of the Amish. And may all your horses, if you are fool enough to bet on any, run like there’s no tomorrow.