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Category: Blog

SEC Hits New York Ticket Reseller with Fraud Charges

The leaders of a New York ticket resale company charged with bilking investors out of millions of dollars in cash took “keep it in the family” to a whole new level, according to federal investigators. The Securities and Exchange Commission in April charged James Siniscalchi with stealing money from investors that was supposed to be used to gobble up high-demand tickets for theatre, sporting and other events and then resell them for a profit. Siniscalchi took control of the operation after his cousin, Joseph Meli, plead guilty to criminal charges of defrauding 130 investors out of $95 million without ever […]

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Artificial Intelligence Raises Music Copyright Questions

Algorithms and artificial intelligence are changing the way people live and work, from learning the natural language intricacies of Siri and Alexa users and predicting how Tesla drivers will want their seats and air conditioning set up to harnessing quantum computing to tackle some of life’s biggest issues, like poverty and disease. The AI revolution is also putting its stamp on the music world, including by using algorithms to write and record new tunes. That raises a number of complicated copyright issues, as The Verge recently reported. Among them: Who owns the copyright to music created by artificial intelligence? And […]

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Immigration Investment Fraud Scheme Nets PNC Bank

PNC bank was recently accused of setting up a sham account to help fraudsters milk an immigrant investment program for more than $40 million. Foreign investors in the Palm House Hotel, a failed condo-hotel project in Palm Beach, Fla., in March sued developer Robert Matthews. They say Matthews and others used money meant for the project as a personal slush fund to buy a yacht and various luxury homes. The investors are now also accusing PNC Bank of participating in the fraud by claiming to create an escrow account for the project investments, which instead operated as a business checking […]

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Warren Buffet Victimized by Ponzi Scheme

It turns out anyone can be victimized by investment fraud, even Warren Buffett. Buffett’s firm Berkshire Hathaway recently posted a $377 million loss related to investments in a fraudulent solar energy company, according to Bloomberg News. The firm gave $340 million to California-based DC Solar with the expectation that it would be able to use tax credits for solar energy investments to trim its tax bill. Federal prosecutors say DC solar, a mobile solar generator producer, took money from Berkshire Hathaway and other new investors to pay off older investors. The company produced only a fraction of the some 12,000 […]

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Hemp Farmers Can Now Seek Intellectual Property Protection

The Trump administration is offering to extend important legal rights for some of the biggest players in the hemp industry. The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced that hemp farmers can now apply for intellectual property protections for their seed varieties. That would prevent other growers from using those unique types of seeds without permission for up to 20 years. “Certificate owners have rights to exclude others from marketing and selling their varieties, manage the use of their varieties by other breeders, and enjoy legal protection of their work,” the USDA said in an April announcement. Applications will be […]

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Senate Intellectual Property Panel Looking at Illegal Sports Streaming

Lawmakers in the nation’s capital are taking a closer look at illegal sports streaming and the impact that pirated versions of games could have on the intellectual property rights of professional sports leagues, live event producers and television companies. The response may eventually include increasing criminal penalties. “Strong IP rights are vital to making these events possible,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said during a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “One of the reasons that illegal streaming has exploded in recent years is that the federal criminal law has not kept pace with the growth of illegal streaming technology.” Tillis is […]

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Comedian Louis C.K. Turns to Copyright in Comeback Attempt

Louis C.K. is making a stab at a comeback, less than two years after sexual misconduct allegations cost the comedian his television show, a Netflix special and a variety of movie roles. The only catch is that the funny man doesn’t want anyone recording his performances as he tries new material out on the road. Comedy clubs are forcing C.K. fans to put their cell phones away if they want to see the shows, New York Magazine reports. They’re also posting notices making clear that the comedian owns the copyright in all of the jokes that he performs and intends […]

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European Union Copyright Law Raises Internet Censorship Concerns

Are new copyright protections in Europe a long overdue bolstering of intellectual property rights or a heavy handed attempt to stifle the flow of information? It may depend who you ask. A majority of European Union countries in April voted in favor sweeping new online copyright protections. The directive, which member countries will have two years to start enforcing, requires search engines like Google to pay for aggregated content. It will also make YouTube and other sharing content sharing platforms legally responsible for copyright-protected material that users post without permission from the copyright owner. The law is meant to give […]

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Cattle Investment Scam Lands Kansas City Man Behind Bars

Fraud comes in all shapes and sizes, including down home on the range. A Kansas City man is looking at eight years in the slammer for ripping people off in a cattle investment scam. Cameron Hager recently admitted to running a nearly $5 million investment scheme in which he duped investors into helping him buy herds of cattle that he said he would later sell at a substantial profit. The only problem was that he never bought any cattle, despite taking money from nearly 100 investors. Instead, Hager used the cash to pay the mortgage on his home and cover […]

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Instagram Users at Center of New Investment Fraud Scheme

A popular social media application is a new tool for fraudsters trying to rip off would be investors, according to a British watchdog group. Action Fraud says it has seen a spike in get-rich quick schemes on Instagram, the photo sharing app owned by Facebook. Fraudsters regularly use promises of big profits in mere hours and professional looking images to encourage Instagrammers to send more than $600 in initial investments, according to the United Kingdom based group. Action Fraud said it received more than 350 reports of this kind of fraud, totaling more than $3.2 million in losses, in a […]

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