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What is Environmental Science? - 04 Dec 2015 21:50


[[html]]As the population grows, the earth and its environment are involved in a struggle to meet the ever-increasing needs of humans, which have a widespread impact on the delicate balance between man and nature. Environmental science is the study of the interactions between the living and non living constituents of the environment, problems with specific emphasis on the role of humans, and the solutions to these problems. In the current scenario, with the world just about waking up to the damaging effects that our daily lives have on the earth's natural reserves, understanding the earth's processes, studying sustainable alternative energy sources, and reducing emissions are just a few of the subjects that are under research under the wide umbrella of environmental issues.<br><br>History<br><br><img src="" width="260" /><br><br>Concerns about man's tendency to exploit the earth and her natural reserves has been evidenced through the ages, with historical manuscripts dating as far back at the 16th century voicing warnings about rampant exploitation with little focus on repleting destroyed reserves, the effects of pollution, and the importance of the preservation of natural habitat. Many of these warnings were ignored, and conditions worsened until they reached the situation in which we are right now, where the cumulative effects of centuries of neglect and overuse with disregard for consequence have brought us. The evolution of this science is revealed in the following major events and attributed to:<br><br><object width="400" height="241"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="241"></embed></object><br><br>Thomas Malthus<br><br><img src="" width="373" /><br><br>As far back as 1798, Thomas Malthus released his 'Doctrine of Population Growth and Resource Scarcity', in which he emphasized that while agricultural growth was increasing at an arithmetic rate, population was increasing exponentially.<br><br><img src="" width="365" /><br><br>John Stuart Mill<br><br><img src="" width="325" /><br><br>In his 'Theory of the Steady State of Economy', published in 1848, Mill voiced his concerns about population growth rates, over-consumption, and distribution of wealth.<br><br><object width="400" height="241"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="241"></embed></object><br><br>Henry David Thoreau<br><br>Thoreau emphasized the benefits of leading a simple life, which reduces the impact on the environment, in his work 'Walden'.<br><br>The works of these noted minds lead to the Conservation Movement, under which national parks and sanctuaries were created and identified. <iframe src="" width="640" height="480"></iframe>
<br><br><object width="400" height="241"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="241"></embed></object><br><br>Clubs and organizations, like the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society were formed for the protection of the environment and endangered species. Following this came the Environmental Movement; Rachel Carson's controversial 'Silent Spring' (1962), where she warned about the destruction of the environment caused by pollution created by the human beings, Paul Ehrlich's 'Population Bomb' (1986), about the destruction of the environment owing to rising human needs and the cascading effect that was to follow. Meanwhile, Greenpeace was founded in 1969, and the first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. There was also widespread public appeal to save the environment and governments began passing regulations, like the EPA and Clean Air Act in 1970, and the Clean Water Act in 1972.<br><br>Finally came the Sustainability Movement, within which we now fall, with serious concerns regarding escalating issues like the ozone layer depletion, animal extinction, climate change, global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon footprints, and fast depleting energy reserves. These are the primary concerns related to environmental science.<br><br>This science and technology are closely linked, as advances in one of them can actually help in the sustainability of the other. Although technology and today's world with its overabundance of e-waste is one way of viewing the problem, it is also concerned with the building of hybrid cars, for example, or with studying the possibilities of <a href="">Construction</a> alternate energy sources, and a number of ways in which sustainability can become the norm instead of a rising concern. As everyday citizens, it's important to educate ourselves about the ways in which simple everyday lifestyle changes can reduce the damaging effects <a href="">Construction Industry</a> on our surroundings. As recycling becomes commonplace and more and more people become aware of the dangers that <a href="">Contractors</a> our current lives pose to the very environment that protects us, change is the need of the hour. Understanding about this phenomenon is a good step, but just a small one. So, let us help the environment in whatever small way we can, because green is the color to be.<br><br><object width="400" height="241"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="241"></embed></object><br><br>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

To Clean Up Foreclosure Mess, Banks Rely On Little-Known Industry Plagued By Fraud, Abuse - 04 Dec 2015 19:01


[[html]]Last March, a 23-year-old bank contractor cut through the secured gate at the entrance to a farm in Little Rock, Ark., and proceeded to a small house on the property. There, according to a police report, he broke the lock off one of the doors and forced his way inside.<br><br>The man, who police would later identify as David Cole, was allegedly there on official business: He worked in a little-known but booming industry that maintains and inspects millions of foreclosed and abandoned homes owned by mortgage lenders in the wake of an epochal real estate bust. The bank responsible for this particular home had presumably decided that the home was another discarded mess, and Cole's company had been dispatched to shore the building against the ravages of weather and decay.<br><br>The owner of the property, a recently widowed woman named Marie Osborne, acknowledges that she was indeed in foreclosure. She was away when Cole arrived, she said. Still, the house was very much hers and far from abandoned, as even a cursory review would have made clear, according to a lawsuit she subsequently filed.<br><br>When she returned home, Osborne was "astonished" to discover that her doors had been padlocked and her belongings ransacked, she claims. A grandfather clock was missing, along with an antique gold mirror, several televisions and family photos, Osborne alleges.<br><br>Osborne filed the lawsuit against those she asserts are responsible — Safeguard Properties, a Valley View, Ohio-based firm that has quietly become a giant in the business of tending to abandoned properties, and Daryl Cole, proprietor of Cole &amp; Sons, a local business that was supposedly acting as a subcontractor.<br><br>Neither Daryl Cole nor his son David returned requests for comment. Safeguard declined to comment, citing pending litigation. In response to a general question about the merits of dozens of lawsuits against the company — and scores of similar complaints lodged against others in the same line of work — a spokeswoman noted that Safeguard completed more than 14 million work orders last year.<br><br>That isnt to minimize the lawsuits, because our goal would be zero, the spokeswoman said. Even so, she added, instances like these are extremely rare.<br><br>But accounts such as Osbornes have become familiar as the "field services" industry sifts through the wreckage of a monumental wave of reckoning that has seen some 10 million homes slide into foreclosure since 2006. An investigation by The Huffington Post featuring interviews with more than two dozen independent bank contractors and a review of more than 100 lawsuits reveals that the industry, which experts estimate booked more than $2 billion in revenue last year, is plagued by allegations of misconduct and abuse.<br><br>According to lawsuits and police reports drawn from communities nationwide, contractors have emptied lived-in homes of all possessions, including jewelry, heirlooms, and — in at least one instance — the family cat. They have allegedly dumped trash illegally rather than paying for disposal, and have been accused of painting over potentially hazardous mold instead of removing it. They have allegedly forged paperwork, and used doctored photographs to bill banks and the federal government for services never performed.<br><br>Ive walked into houses that someone else was supposed to take care of that were in horrible shape, said Mimi Norris, who owns JR Services, a small company in Ohio that hires contractors to inspect and repair homes. I have gone to inspect properties reported as vacant that were still occupied. This happens too often.<br><br><object width="400" height="241"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="241"></embed></object><br><br>The troubles emanating from the home inspection and repair business are the product of unique forces that generated the business at hand. The same banks that contributed to the real estate bubble via overly aggressive, lightly supervised mortgage lending now confront a glut of overgrown, vacant, and damaged homes. <br><br>Some of these homes are foreclosed and owned by mortgage companies; others are abandoned but still in legal possession of the former owners. The banks also dispatch contractors to the homes of people who have fallen 45 days or more behind on their payments but are not in foreclosure to determine if they have been abandoned. All told, an estimated 3.3 million properties require either an inspection or some form of repair work each month.<br><br><img alt="foreclosure bank fraud" src=""/><br><br>A foreclosed home in Cincinnati. Contractors inspect or repair an estimated 3.3 million homes like this one <a href=""></a> each month.<br><br>Many of the contractors willing to engage in the dirty work of cleaning and repairing these homes have landed there by way of joblessness — among them laid-off loan officers and other mortgage industry refugees striving to make an honest living in a bad economy.<br><br>Others are felons or cheats drawn to a sector that boomed after the housing bubble popped, seeking opportunity in an industry with a history of underpaying its workers and neglecting background checks. Fierce competition among the businesses that hire these contractors and weak supervision by banks and federal agencies have prompted some workers to take shortcuts and to do work they are not licensed to do. <br><br>Adam Reynolds, a Naples, Fla., contractor who ran a field services company called REO Proz until it folded last year, said he was routinely dispatched by banks or larger field services companies to drill out locks to see whether properties were vacant, only to find that tenants still lived there and had never missed a payment. <br><br>Countless times," he said, he received orders to clean out properties that had personal photos on the shelves and fresh food in the refrigerator. <br><br>"I've even had an order sending me to a property that was never owned by any bank," he said. "I know it has got to be painstaking at the top to keep tabs on everyone, but these errors are life-changing for some people.<br><br>For the contractors, the work is by turns grim and dangerous. Entering other people's property armed with nothing more than flashlights, they sometimes encounter squatters and criminals who use boarded-up properties as drug dens, sometimes provoking violent confrontations. <br><br>Ive been chased by dogs, Ive been spat at, Ive had things thrown at me, said Mary Sisson a mother of three who inspects abandoned homes in the suburbs of New York City. Ive walked in on gang members.<br><br>The full costs of the industrys shortcomings are borne by more than immediate victims: The consequences ripple out to surrounding communities. Shoddy repair work allows homes to disintegrate into eyesores and neighborhood hazards, attracting vagrants, junkies and thieves who tear out installations such as copper wiring. Pipes burst, filling basements with water, while broken windows allow rain to penetrate, spawning the growth of dangerous mold. Lawns grow into burgeoning forests, giving cover to destructive rodents and pests.<br><br>In Klamath Falls, Ore., Jonathan Hankins, his wife and young son said they were forced to abandon the home they bought from Freddie Mac last year after they started suffering from nosebleeds, respiratory problems and mouth sores. A home testing kit revealed that parts of the house were contaminated with 76 times the allowable maximum level of methamphetamine residue, Hankins said. A local realtor hired to clean out the property never reported that the home was used as a drug lab, Hankins said.<br><br>Last year, Secret Service agents working with the Federal Housing Finance Agency raided American Mortgage Field Services in Brooksville, Fla., north of Tampa. The owner recently pleaded guilty to creating fraudulent inspection reports for work that was never done over a three-year period, overbilling Bank of America, which hired the company to inspect Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac properties, by $12.7 million.<br><br>In addition to Fannie, Freddie and other mortgage companies, many abandoned and foreclosed homes are owned directly by the federal government, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which also hires contractors to watch over the homes. An audit last September by HUD's Office of Inspector General found that 60 percent of sampled homes were not properly maintained. The auditor who checked up on one home, near Santa Ana, Calif., commented in field notes that the property was "filthy" with "broken windows, roaches and hair in [the] sink" even though it was supposedly inspected just two days before by a contractor hired by HUD. <br><br>The most common problem appears to be inspectors breaking into still-occupied homes. Contractors are regularly dispatched to secure houses against damage from cold weather or to perform so-called "trash outs" in which they empty homes of belongings. Several contractors told The Huffington Post that they have frequently been sent on such jobs only to find on arrival that the legal owner still lives in the house. <iframe src="" width="640" height="480"></iframe>
<br><br>Most leave after they force their way inside and find family photos and other evidence that indicate a house is still occupied by its owner. Some do not.<br><br>PIRATE MENTALITY<br><br><object width="400" height="241"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="241"></embed></object><br><br>In Whippany, N.J., Lynn Stringas claims that contractors working for CoreLogic Field Services, a Westlake, Texas-based company working for Wells Fargo, forced their way into her home three separate times. Like many others who have had run-ins with bank contractors, her home was in the foreclosure process, but she was still the legal owner. <br><br>The last break-in came after Stringas and her attorney called the bank repeatedly, pleading that they stop, she said. On that final occasion, Stringas claims, the contractors kicked in the front door and dumped boxes of papers she had left in her kitchen throughout her house. <br><br>I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown, Stringas said.<br><br>In Punta Gorda, Fla., a Canadian couple vacationing in a rental home returned from a day at the beach to discover that their laptop computer, iPod and six bottles of wine were missing, according to a lawsuit by the owner filed in Florida circuit court. <br><br>A contractor, Victor Titenko, was sent by a field services company called Core Logic after someone wrongly determined the house was abandoned. According to a police report, Titenko denied taking the belongings, and also denied opening the refrigerator and removing a beer, though a can of beer bearing his fingerprints was found open on a counter.<br><br>Titenko could not be located for comment. Public records reveal that he has been arrested at least six times in Florida for burglary and robbery, along with larceny, narcotics possession and attempting to sell stolen goods. CoreLogic declined to comment.<br><br>The banking industry has a pirate mentality, said Matthew Weidner, an attorney in Sarasota, Fla., who has represented scores of homeowners in lawsuits against field services companies. They take the position that if you have a mortgage, they can break down your door whenever they want.<br><br>As Marie Osborne tells it, the presence of the valuables left in her Arkansas farmhouse should have been enough to establish clearly that her home was not abandoned. She claims in her lawsuit that anyone could have quickly surmised that her home was still occupied, given how family and workers were coming and going on a daily basis. A check of the electric and gas meters would have shown that utilities were turned on, she said.<br><br>The farm in Arkansas, as shown on Google Maps.<br><br>Osborne's account was confirmed by Lt. Jeff Allison, a Little Rock police detective who investigated the case. Allison estimated the value of the missing items at "several hundred thousand dollars," noting that some had belonged to movie stars and presidents. There was "no reason to think" the home was abandoned, Allison said. "You could have walked in and lived there that day." <br><br>Osborne's late-husband, William Jennings Osborne, made a fortune in the medical research industry. He was known both for his philanthropy and for his lavish Christmas light display, which attracted national attention and traffic jams so awful that neighbors eventually sued to halt the festivities. When he died in 2011, he left behind large debts, including an unpaid mortgage on the house, one of several that he owned. The homes would later sell at auction. But at the time of Coles visit, Marie Osborne was the legal owner of the horse farm.<br><br>Cole was arrested and is set to stand trial in the next few months on a burglary charge. According to police, he worked for a company owned by his father, Daryl Cole. According to public records, Daryl Cole is a convicted sex offender who pled guilty in 2008 to using the Web to solicit an officer who was posing as a 14-year-old girl. <br><br>Allison said that the elder Cole told police that his son told him he had burned the televisions. None of the items from the house were recovered.<br><br>Whether Cole &amp; Sons worked directly for Safeguard or indirectly through another contractor cannot be determined from public records. But the very fact that the company was dispatched to attend to Osborne's property highlights what critics portray as a major problem with the industry: scant background checks to ensure that people without criminal backgrounds are sent into other peoples homes.<br><br>A Safeguard spokeswoman said the company requires background checks for the "business principals" of direct vendors it hires, and expects them to do the same with employees and subcontractors they might use. <br><br>Plaintiffs' lawyers allege that companies like Safeguard, and the banks and federal agencies that hire them, are failing in their obligation to oversee the low-paid, little-trained and itinerant workers who often actually do the jobs. Several bank agents told the HuffPost that while many contractors appear to be scrupulous and careful, sloppy mistakes and dangerous shortcuts amount to routine events. <br><br><object width="400" height="241"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="241"></embed></object><br><br>"Out here in the field there is no oversight," said Brent Johnson, an Iowa-based contractor who has worked in the industry for 15 years. "This is the Wild West. The American public is buying homes at a reduced cost and thinking they are getting a good deal, but they are buying nightmares."<br><br>NOT WORTH THE DANGER<br><br><img src="" width="335" /><br><br>Two decades ago, banks themselves generally took care of foreclosed and abandoned properties. But as the mortgage industry grew, lenders began parceling out the work to a handful of large field services companies, which established networks of subcontractors in states across the country.<br><br>The housing crash and subsequent increase in foreclosures dramatically enhanced demand for such services. At the end of 2007, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-controlled mortgage companies that together own or guarantee roughly half of all mortgages in the United States, held 48,000 foreclosed homes on their own ledgers. By the end of 2010, that number had grown almost fivefold to 235,000.<br><br>As of January, 1.5 million homes were in the foreclosure process or were owned by banks or a federal agency, according to RealtyTrac, an online real estate data company. In addition, 1.8 million homeowners were delinquent by at least 60 days on their mortgages, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. These numbers have remained high even as the housing market has more broadly shown recent signs of recovery. <br><br>The swelling numbers of foreclosed and abandoned homes — along with those that are still occupied but in default, requiring a monthly inspection to verify occupancy — created a rare job opportunity for mortgage industry castaways. In the years since the crash, more than 10,000 have filled the ranks of the field contracting services industry, knocking on doors, taking photos of front lawns and repairing broken windows and toilets — often at the same homes they built or helped finance only a few years earlier.<br><br>All of a sudden we saw an enormous influx of people wanting to get in on the money and not really knowing what they were doing," said Norris, who owns the Ohio property inspection company. <br><br>Many of these contractors started small businesses with the aim of capturing some share of the work flowing from the largest field services companies, a group that includes Safeguard, Corelogic, Lender Processing Services in Jacksonville, Fla., and Cyprexx Services in Bradenton, Fla. These small companies, in turn, often hire contractors of their own, which sometimes farm the work out yet again. <br><br>With each layer of subcontracting, though, oversight tends to diminish along with compensation, generating pressure and opportunity to cut corners, contractors said.<br><br>There can be two or three companies between you and the bank taking chunks of this money out for doing nothing but shuffling paperwork, said Wayne Frazier, a general contractor in Maryland.<br><br>The trickle-down effect often means that banks and taxpayers arent getting much for each dollar spent. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development pays a maximum of $30 for an initial home inspection and $20 for each subsequent inspection, according to agency pricing sheets. <br><br>Angie Montgomery in Cincinnati said she earns $3 per inspection — $4 if the job requires that she go inside a house. Out of that, she must pay for gas and car maintenance, along with liability insurance premiums. She must also contend, she said, with angry homeowners who see her as an agent of the same bank that they are fighting with to avoid foreclosure. She has been yelled at, bitten by dogs and once entered a home where the vindictive former owner had cut a hole in the floor, then covered it with a carpet, she said.<br><br><img alt="bank contractors" src=""/><br><br>Angie Montgomery, a property inspector in Cincinnati, snaps a photo of a vacant home.<br><br>A Craigslist search for "property inspector" turned up dozens of ads looking for people to inspect homes for as little as $1 or $2 per job. For so little money, inspectors often don't bother to get out of their cars, let alone knock on doors, talk to neighbors or check to see if utilities are turned on, experienced contractors said. <br><br>The same market forces that have brought down pay for home inspections have bled into the <a href=""></a> other types of cleaning and repair work contractors commonly do. <br><br>Buczek Enterprises, a company in Derby, N.Y., advertises that it will pay $30 to mow grass up to a foot high, and on a lawn up to 10,000 square feet, or a little bit bigger than a baseball diamond. Rates that low may not even cover travel time and fuel costs, experienced contractors said. <br><br>Many contractors facing this pay squeeze said they have simply stopped accepting such jobs, concluding that the meager pay is not worth the risk or hassle. <br><br><img src="" width="289" /><br><br>Im an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, said Sean Dougherty, a contractor in Pennsylvania. And it is more hostile here working for these companies.<br><br>UNSCRUPULOUS MONEY<br><br>With both oversight and pay at a minimum, the conditions are ripe for those willing to cut corners and commit fraud, industry veterans said.<br><br>The most prevalent form of misconduct is the practice of simply charging for work done poorly, or not done at all, a HuffPost review found. Though field services contractors are required to submit photographs documenting their work, follow-up inspections indicate this form of verification is not always sufficient, or is sometimes falsified.<br><br>An audit by HUD's Inspector General last September found that one Las Vegas field services company, Innotion Enterprises, had failed to maintain "at a high standard of care" more than one-third of the properties audited.<br><br>At one home, HUD auditors discovered weeds that were four feet high — even though a photo submitted 13 days before showed a contractor pulling weeds. During another review, an HUD auditor found that a contractor who claimed to have installed safety rails on a front porch had not bothered to attach them with screws or nails to hold them in place. The cost to HUD for this botched work: approximately $360 per home, per month.<br><br>A phone number for Innotion was disconnected.<br><br>Another HUD Inspector General audit — the one that determined that 60 percent of sampled homes were not properly maintained — also found that HUD continued to dole out contracts to companies after the agency had identified performance issues with those same companies.<br><br>The report concluded that the agency did not have adequate procedures in place to ensure consistent and adequate enforcement of contracts.<br><br>Every concern raised by the Office of the Inspector in the [audit] has been addressed," said Jerry Brown, a HUD spokesman in a statement. "We have started working on the fixes and we anticipate they will be completed by Sept. 30, 2013. The OIG has been briefed on our plan and is fully aware of our commitment to right the wrongs."<br><br>Though HUD oversees a relatively small number of abandoned and vacant homes — about 40,000 at any given time — experienced contractors said the same issues are at play throughout the industry. Bruce Davenport, a Georgia contractor who fixes up vacant homes, estimated that 70 percent of the properties he visits show signs of jobs half-done, or not done at all.<br><br>Sometimes the evidence of misconduct is apparent to anyone who happens by a foreclosed home.<br><br>In Lehigh Acres, a Florida exurb among the hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, police arrested Don Zilen in 2011 after he admitted to illegally dumping more than 10,000 pounds of trash that he pulled out of two homes into the backyard of a vacant house near where he lived.<br><br>According to a pay record for the job — which Zilen also unwisely dumped — Fannie Mae had hired Cyprexx Services to clean out the houses. Cyprexx hired a local company, REO Proz, which hired Zilen.<br><br>Adam Reynolds, the former owner of REO Proz, told HuffPost that licensed dumpsites charge to accept waste, so Zilen likely calculated that he could save a few hundred dollars by emptying the trash in someone's backyard. Reynolds said that Zilen had passed a background check, but acknowledged that he did not perform such checks on all subcontractors. "Sometimes we hired them on a whim," he said. <br><br>'REASONABLE EFFORTS'<br><br>The failure by the industry to consistently vet contractors echoes practices that led to past investigations and rule-changes. In 2005, for example, a South Florida Sun-Sentinel investigation found that government inspectors entrusted to verify damage claims for the Federal Emergency Management Agency included criminals with records for embezzlement, drug dealing and robbery. FEMA subsequently tightened its screening requirements. <br><br>HUD did not respond to requests for comment about what steps the agency takes to vet its contractors. Broadly, regulations that govern federal contracts require "reasonable efforts" to not include an individual as a "principal" whom "due diligence would have exposed as having engaged in conduct that is in conflict with the contractors code of business ethics and conduct."<br><br>In the case of one Atlanta field services company, a simple background check may have prevented what some contractors allege was a short-lived, but costly scam.<br><br>Brandon Lambert and his business partner, Jason Mathis, opened Premier Property Management Services last August using $70,000 in seed money from a local businessman, Mike Edwards, as starting capital.<br><br><img src="" width="351" /><br><br>Registration papers indicate that Lambert was chief financial officer for the company. He is also a convicted felon, having served two stints in prison for check fraud and forging documents, according to public records.<br><br>Over a three-month span, Lambert and Mathis hired contractors to clean and preserve hundreds of properties. In October, the company abruptly shut its doors. <br><br>Seven former contractors who maintained homes for the company allege that Lambert and Mathis owe tens of thousands of dollars for work that was done, but not paid for. Two of the contractors have filed claims in Atlanta courts. Edwards said that he hasn't recovered any of his investment money.<br><br>Premier Property was a middleman, or an "order mill" as some contractors call these companies. At least least half a dozen larger field services companies hired it to clean out and preserve properties for entities including HUD, according to contractors who spoke to HuffPost.<br><br>It's not clear what steps, if any, these companies take to vet the contractors they hire to carry out work orders. <br><br>Asset Management Services, or AMS, in Bristol, Pa., is one of the companies that hired Premier Property to maintain foreclosed homes, several contractors said. On its website, AMS boasts that its highly skilled and trained property technicians manage thousands of assets across the nation.<br><br>AMS did not respond to a request for comment. Beth Meade, a former AMS employee hired in the fall of 2011, said almost all of her colleagues were temporary workers earning minimum wage and that they received little training. She said she was assigned with one other worker to oversee a portfolio of 125 properties in northern Florida owned by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., which had taken title to them after a bank failure.<br><br>Meade said she hired contractors to inspect and preserve homes by searching general contractors and Florida using Google. She said she didnt know if the contractors she hired had criminal pasts or whether they were licensed to do repair work — or even whether there is a licensing requirement in Florida.<br><br>In an interview, Edwards said that he should have known better than to loan Lambert and Mathis money without better vetting their backgrounds. He said that he cut off the funding after it seemed clear that Lambert was "making up numbers." He said he did not expect to be repaid and that he is not pursuing legal action, having concluded it would be fruitless.<br><br>Opinions <a href=""></a> differ on what happened: Edwards said he thinks Mathis and Lambert were simply bad businessmen; former contractors told HuffPost they believe the pair intentionally cheated them. <br><br>After Premier Property collapsed — or was looted — Mathis and Lambert appear to have stayed in the Atlanta area.<br><br>In December, a Georgia company called American Contracting Consultants Inc. listed Mathis as its "registered agent" in public filings. Antwane Adams, also listed as a registered agent of the company, told HuffPost that he is a childhood friend of Mathis. Adams said the business came about after Mathis approached with an opportunity: If he and his wife would pitch in just a few thousand dollars, Mathis and Lambert would help them launch a new business in the property preservation industry. Adams said he did not know anything about the industry prior to the proposal.<br><br>In January, Adams said, he began hearing from contractors who claimed the two men owed them money. When confronted with the allegations, Mathis and Lambert "up and disappeared," Adams said, taking with them tools and other equipment.<br><br>Adams said he was working to remove Mathis's name from registration documents. "We've been getting a lot of grief about this," he said.<br><br>This story appears in Issue 44 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store, available Friday, April 12.<br><br>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

The best time to buy things, month by month - 03 Dec 2015 18:24


[[html]]Every day you probably get e-mail, texts, tweets, and circulars announcing great sales. The days of watching the calendar and buying products at the time of year when prices are lowest would appear to be over.<br><br>Or are they? Consumer Reports' product-research experts, who monitor prices, have found that deep discounts for some things still go by the calendar. Some sales are tied to the introduction of new models, while others are long-standing traditions, like January white sales. <br><br>Use the month-by-month information below to see when <a href="">Maid Service</a> you can typically find the best prices on a variety of products.But keep your eye on your apps, e-mail, and Sunday circulars, too, because there will always be <a href="">Maid Service</a> exceptions. And bear in mind that the best time to save money isn't always when you'll find the best selection. Sales on some items occur when a season is coming to an end and inventories are thin.<br><br>Bedding<br><br>Linens<br><br>Toys<br><br><img src="" width="314" /><br><br>Treadmills and ellipticals<br><br>TVs<br><br>Winter clothing<br><br>(For more on these items, and shopping tips, see 6 products on deep discount in January.)<br><br>Humidifiers<br><br><img src="" width="268" /><br><br><object width="400" height="241"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="241"></embed></object><br><br>Indoor furniture<br><br>Treadmills and ellipticals<br><br>(For more on these items, and shopping tips, see 4 products on deep discount in February.)<br><br>Digital cameras<br><br>Humidifiers<br><br>Small consumer electronics (MP3 players, DVD and Blu-ray players, etc.)<br><br>TVs<br><br>Winter sports gear<br><br>(For more on these items, and shopping tips, see 5 products on deep discount in March.)<br><br>Laptop computers<br><br>Desktop computers<br><br>Digital cameras<br><br><object width="400" height="241"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="241"></embed></object><br><br>Lawn mowers<br><br>Spring clothing<br><br>(For more on these items, and shopping tips, see 5 products on deep discount in April.)<br><br>Athletic apparel and shoes<br><br>Camping and outdoor gear<br><br>Carpeting<br><br>Cordless phones<br><br>Lawn mowers<br><br>Mattresses<br><br>Small consumer electronics<br><br>(For more on these items, and shopping <a href="">Maid</a> tips, see 7 products on deep discount <a href="">Cleaning Nyc</a> in May.)<br><br>Camcorders<br><br>Carpeting<br><br>Computers<br><br>Indoor furniture<br><br>Pots, pans, and dishware<br><br>Small consumer electronics<br><br>Summer sports <a href="">Office Cleaning</a> gear<br><br>Swimwear<br><br>(For more on these items, and shopping tips, see 8 products on deep discount in June)<br><br>Camcorders<br><br>Indoor furniture<br><br>Outdoor furniture<br><br>Swimwear<br><br>(For more on these items, and shopping tips, see Products on deep discount in July)<br><br>Air conditioners<br><br>Backpacks<br><br>Dehumidifiers<br><br><object width="400" height="241"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="241"></embed></object><br><br>Outdoor furniture<br><br>Snow blowers<br><br>(For more on these items, and shopping tips, see 5 products on deep discount in August.)<br><br>Bikes<br><br>Digital cameras<br><br>Gas grills<br><br>Lawn mowers<br><br>Shrubs, trees, and perennials<br><br>Small consumer electronics<br><br><img src="" width="370" /><br><br>Snow blowers<br><br>(For more on these items, and shopping tips, see 7 products on sale in September.)<br><br><object width="400" height="241"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="241"></embed></object><br><br>Bikes<br><br>Computers<br><br>Digital cameras<br><br>Gas grills<br><br>Lawn mowers<br><br><object width="400" height="241"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="241"></embed></object><br><br>Winter coats<br><br>(For more on these items, and shopping tips, see 6 products on sale in October.)<br><br>Baby products<br><br><img src="" width="382" /><br><br>Bikes<br><br>Camcorders<br><br>Gas grills<br><br>GPS navigators<br><br>Toys<br><br>TVs<br><br>(For more on these items, and shopping tips, see 7 products on deep discount in November.)<br><br>Bikes<br><br>Camcorders<br><br>Gas grills<br><br>GPS navigators<br><br>Home appliances, large and small<br><br><img src="" width="275" /><br><br>Small consumer electronics<br><br>Toys<br><br>TVs<br><br>(For more on these items, and shopping tips, see 8 products on deep discount in December.)<br><br>Want an even better deal? Haggle, haggle, haggle.<br><br>In a Consumer Reports National Research Center survey of 2,000 American adults about their haggling habits, 89 percent of people who said they haggled received a better price at least once.<br><br>To increase the odds you can negotiate a better deal, remember that nothing is off limits. You should always be polite. And make sure you know what constitutes a fair price before you start. For more tips on becoming an expert haggler, read our tips on effective bargaining.<br><br>Copyright 2005-2014 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission. Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this site.<br><br>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) | - 22 Jul 2015 22:53


[[html]]Internet Search Tricks<br><br><img class="og-img" src="data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw==" data-src="" alt="" height="93" width="137"/><br><br>Are you an efficient Googler, or do you wade through a dozen pages looking for what you need? Relax - there are a handful of tricks that will get you where you want to go.<br><br>Video SEO Tips<br><br><img class="og-img" src="data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw==" data-src="" alt="" height="76" width="137"/><br><br>Video SEO tips are necessary for everyone who is interested in letting others download or watch his or her video on the internet. This article presents information on the best practices and tips for video SEO.<br><br>Best Way to Optimize Your Website<br><br><img class="og-img" src="data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw==" data-src="" alt="" height="101" width="137"/><br><br>Increased competition on the web demands that your website must be optimized effectively to make it a success. In this Buzzle article, we tell you how to do exactly that so that you get maximum visibility.<br><br>Role of Professional SEO Services<br><br><img class="og-img" src="data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw==" data-src="" alt="" height="91" width="137"/><br><br>Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays a vital role in deciding the fate of <a href="">performance based marketing companies</a> website. Websites which are in accordance with SEO guidelines always have a significant advantage over their competitors. Here is <a href="">concept of return on investment online</a> on this.<br><br>List of Internet Search Engines<br><br><img class="og-img" src="data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw==" data-src="" alt="" height="150" width="137"/><br><br>The term 'search engine' reminds us of the phenomenally popular search engine, Google. But there are several other search engines that are unique in their own special way. To browse through a list of all the Internet search engines…<br><br>How Does a Search Engine Work?<br><br><img class="og-img" src="data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw==" data-src="" alt="" height="132" width="137"/><br><br><img src="" width="368" /><br><br>Search engines are software that help web users search for information on the Internet. They let the Internet users find what they are looking for, by crawling the web <a href=""></a> to index pages so as to render the most relevant and the best…<br><br>Top 3 Internet Search Engines<br><br><img class="og-img" src="data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw==" data-src="" alt="" height="137" width="137"/><br><br>All of us have used the three giant search engines, Google (the 'good' monster), Yahoo (the 'never-say-die' monster), <a href="">what are stock investments online</a> MSN Live (the 'still-trying-to-convince' monster). <a href="">read</a> on to judge who truly delivers what we expect out of…<br><br><a href=''></a><br><br>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

The Most Complicated Internet Marketing Technique by Margarette Mcbride - 10 Jul 2015 08:40


[[html]]SEO or search engine optimization is one of the most popular types of Internet marketing techniques used in across the world. Why <a href="">web development australia</a> You Need trends search engine optimisation marketingMany webmasters, or even just bloggers, have come to use the capabilities of SEO to increase the quality and quantity of visitors visiting their website or blogs. However, though very effective, many have said that SEO is one of the most complicated Internet marketing techniques used in the market today.<br><br>What made it complicated, particularly in todays current trends, is because of the growing competition, in which almost all web development and marketing companies provide SEO services to their clients. Another reason why it became very complicated is because of the ever changing algorithms of search engines, which requires SEO specialists to upgrade their techniques frequently.&#13;<br><br>SEO of today&#13;<br><br>According to many experts, such as those from SEO Philippines companies, the SEO industry have changed so much since it was first used in Internet marketing. Many have even said that SEO specialists in the past had it easier compared to what the market has become a short span of time. One popular example of a huge change is the shift of using reciprocal linking to one-way linking.&#13;<br><br>Reciprocal linking&#13;<br><br><img style="float:right;margin:10px;border:none;" src="" width="364" /><br><br>Reciprocal linking was one of the most popular techniques used in early SEO. It involves creating a mutual link between two objects, commonly between two websites to ensure mutual traffic. One of its most popular method is the use of three-way linking, which involves 3 websites linking with each other (this technique is still used in many SEO campaigns).&#13;<br><br>However, one problem faced by link builders in that time is that some webmasters, after exchanging links from other websites, would then remove the links in their websites without the knowledge of their linking partners. This would then cause their websites <a href="">lead generation service gold coast</a> to achieve a one-way link without reciprocating. &#13;<br><br>However, according to many SEO Philippines experts, this method is considered a violation between websites. Because of this, a number of new techniques have been introduced to avoid this from happening. This is with the use of one-way linking techniques.&#13;<br><br>One-way linking&#13;<br><br>One-way linking is a technique which is much more effective compared to reciprocal linking. It is a hyperlink that points to a website without any reciprocal link; thus the link goes "one-way" in direction. Many experts consider this as more natural in the eyes of search engines compared to reciprocal linking.&#13;<br><br>Compared to reciprocal linking, one-way linking involves a number of techniques without having to exchange links between websites. One of the most popular are blog commenting, forum signature, as well as article marketing.&#13;<br><br>Blog commenting involves leaving comments in blogs or any other publicly accessible discussion boards with links pointing to a website. This technique has become one of the most popular link building technique used in SEO. Forum signatures, however, involves the It is a hyperlink that points to a website without any reciprocal link; thus the link goes "one-way" in direction.&#13;<br><br>Another technique, article marketing, has now become a very popular method used in SEO because these articles are known to provide high quality links to a website. According to many SEO Philippines experts, the more popular the article gets, the more quality of links it can provide to websites.&#13;<br><br>Complications of one-way linking in todays market&#13;<br><br>Similar to <a href="">web design services australia</a> what happened in reciprocal linking, one-way linking have also been abused by many webmasters because of its efficiency to create one-way links to their websites. Blog commenting and forum posting have been under attack by spammers, while article marketing have been duplicated to create more articles across the Internet with links in it. &#13;<br><br>Because of the ever changing algorithms of search engines, which have now detected the use of duplicate contents and articles, as well as the use of techniques which makes these links ineffective for many search engines, such as the use of the nofollow tag in blogs and forums or the use or redirection, SEO has become more and more complicated over the years, even for those that doesnt use spamming techniques to increase their websites relevance in search engines.Visit for more info<br><br><a href=''></a><br><br>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

Computer Programming 101 - 10 Jul 2015 01:27


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Slava Rybalka - Los Angeles SEO and Marketing Examiner - Industry. - 09 Jul 2015 21:51


[[html]]Tarzana <a href="">seo services australia</a> SEO and Marketing Examiner<br><br>Slava Rybalka is the SEO specialist of T3Leads. His love of logic, creating and completing tasks, and the thrill of seeing the project's end success, make this the perfect job for him. &#13;<br><br>&#13;<br><br>Prior to working at T3leads, Slava was a <a href="">lead generation service gold coast</a> Project Manager at Medialine, a Personal Effectiveness coach, a machine operator at GE, a teacher of English at Gomel State University. Slava holds MA in Counseling from <a href="">web design gold coast</a> the University of Manchester.&#13;<br><br>&#13;<br><br><img style="float:right;margin:10px;border:none;" src="" width="301" /><br><br>In addition to his <a href="">web development australia</a> passion for Search Engine and Search Media Optimization, he likes travelling and meeting new people.<br><br>Contact Subscribe <br><br><img src="" width="260" /><br><br><a href=''>http://www. Why You Need news search engine <a href="">web design company australia</a> optimization</a><br><br>[[/html]] - Comments: 0

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