'Free' lunches can cost you

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TANSTAAFL.

Coined by Robert Heinlein in the classic 1966 science fiction novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, the acronym stands for an aphorism we all should remember: "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."

This is exactly what the Securities and Exchange Commission found in a yearlong investigation of investment seminars aimed at senior citizens. It focused on 110 firms in seven states with the largest number of retirees: Florida, California, Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, Alabama and South Carolina.

In every case, the SEC found that investment firms were lying when they advertised a "free lunch educational workshop where nothing will be sold." After enticing the retirees into the "free" lunch or dinner seminars held at "upscale hotels, restaurants, retirement communities and golf courses," slick salesmen would descend on the attendees with pitches rife with "exaggerated and misleading" claims.

In more than a third of the cases the recommendations were found to be unsuitable or fraudulent. In almost two-thirds of the cases, the firms demonstrated weak or nonexistent supervision of what their salesmen were saying or doing.

"These findings are a wake-up call for securities regulators, the financial services industry and especially older investors," SEC Chairman Christopher Cox said at the SEC's recent Seniors Summit in Washington. Cox said regulators intend to put a stop to this abuse and promised swift punishment for the crooks.

Researchers reported at the summit that this was not an isolated problem. Eight of 10 senior citizens in the country have been targeted with these tactics. As soon as they get on a senior mailing list, most are bombarded with enticements to these scams through the U.S. mail.

So, remember: TANSTAAFL. Repeat it to yourself every time someone offers you something for nothing. It will save you money.

Comments (8) Add comment
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DeborahElliott2
4
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DeborahElliott2 09/24/07 - 02:24 am
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Incorrect grammer now. Just

Incorrect grammer now. Just because people in those old days didn't know how to properly say it doesn't mean we should keep it.

jaschild
9
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jaschild 09/24/07 - 03:39 am
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grammar?

grammar?

The_Last_Word
2
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The_Last_Word 09/24/07 - 04:36 am
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"There ain't no such thing as

"There ain't no such thing as a free lunch" is an old saying. It is an unitentional double negative. Like all old sayings, it communicates a truth in a few words.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 09/24/07 - 04:42 am
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Just read "The Moon Is a

Just read "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress". A delight to SF and philosophy fans.

Bizarro
13
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Bizarro 09/24/07 - 05:23 am
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I like the ole "Swimming with

I like the ole "Swimming with Sharks" essay.

erinm82
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erinm82 09/24/07 - 08:05 am
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Your worried about grammar

Your worried about grammar and missed the entire point of the article. The point is these senior citizens were getting scammed out of thier retirement savings. Shouldn't you be more upset with that then the improper use of grammar? No wonder this country is going to h*** and a hand basket. The priorities are all out of wack.

Daddyrabbit
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Daddyrabbit 09/24/07 - 08:22 am
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the old statement is true.

the old statement is true. Say it anyway you like, noone gives you something without sneaking something out the back door. Try it on your computer. If you've ever had spyware problems, look for the free screensaver or cursor you downloaded. Sure it didn't cost you to get it but it'll cost you to get rid of the spyware embedded in it. Same thing.

LaTwon
1
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LaTwon 09/24/07 - 09:04 am
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great cartoon from the

great cartoon from the 50's.......... here is the link...................
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhDgnzEAmvY&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Elewro...

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