Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A little bit of inspiration

What inspires you? If you could travel 10 years back in time, what would you change?

I was over at a forum that I read from time to time. It's been 7 years since I actually joined that forum and 3 years to go before I can actually reflect back to see how far I've come since then.

No-one should be posting up their intimate financial details if they post under their real name. It would be great to contemplate the idea that I'm just one anonymous blogger in a world of 5 billion humans or so, but I know that no-one is ever anonymous on the internet.

Google is too powerful. It will trawl through everything with your name on it. Also, you are very likely traceable down to your IP Address. I previously listed some changes that you could implement to make the world a better place on my post
'100 ways to help the world and yourself'.

Anyway, a few points from the thread about what people would change if they could travel back in time, struck a chord within me:

* Wear sunscreen. Appreciate the power and beauty of now

* Get started on buying assets/property/shares that are affordable now
* Do something that scares you daily/annually
* Don't be reckless with other people's hearts
* Floss - your teeth are precious
* Calcium - your bones will thank you when you're older
* Knees - be nice to them
* Your body is the greatest instrument you will ever own
* Treasure your precious few friends from childhood who has grown up with you
* Spend time with family + friends... you never know the future
* Don't sell assets, always buy
* Play monopoly
* Buy quality, low maintenance type of houses/apartments
* Act on your views, ideas & opportunities
* Keep learning
* Take action!
* Take time out for yourself
* Always read the fine print before signing
* Build your multiple income streams, plant those investment seeds everywhere and they will grow into trees bearing fruit
* Take time to think and contemplate life and the future
* Don't listen to naysayers, doomsayers and negative people
* Take more risks, don't be afraid
* Don't date someone not right for you, have courage to break up earlier
* Buy property when you can afford one, don't wait too long
* Work smarter
* Live simply
* Today may be the halcyon days, don't wait for those days to come
* Don't jump on the first offer, consider every offer before deciding
* Pay your loans on principle and interest, don't always keep paying only interest
* Time is valuable and powerful
* It's dangerous to delegate 'due diligence' in its entirety to property managers/solicitors/conveyancers/brokers etc

You can always find someone with an opinion and advice everywhere you look, but that doesn't mean you should follow all their advice without your own research.
Advice is usually more useful if its from someone who has achieved in the area that you want to achieve in.

Maximising interest on your savings

It really pays to move your savings around. Those who are complacent by leaving their savings in a basic transaction account - the banks truly love you. They share the love with you by paying you a lousy 0.01% interest rate per annum.

It's been a while since I've looked around to see which bank is offering the best interest rate. If you don't need your money urgently or anytime soon, it may be more ideal for you to invest your funds in a term deposit. Because I intend on using my funds pretty soon for other purposes, the best thing for me to do is invest it into a high interest account. Flexibility to transfer funds in and out is essential for me at this point in time.

Typically, an online account with minimal human interaction will offer the best yield.
The more a bank can computerise their interaction with you, the less staff they need to hire and the less they need to spend on providing services, the higher the rates on offer. Pretty much a win-win situation for both party.

So after having researched who was offering what, I opened up an account with UBank. I first saw their advert in the SMH and thought...sounds dodgy...probably something dodgy...until I saw the smaller font under their name 'backed by NAB.' NAB is one of our big four banks so that sounds pretty credible. Still, everything should be investigated first.

I went to NAB's site and read up on the UBank initiative of theirs. It is pretty much NAB dressed in Green and trying to corner the online-high-interest-rate chasers. Er...that means me! :) Anyway, I have now opened up my account, it took about10-15 minutes to fill out the forms online and you will need verifying documents of course (Medicare, Tax File Number, Passport number etc). CBAs lousy offering of 4.5% pa pales in comparison to UBank's 6.01%pa variable interest rate. They both compound monthly.

UBank is structured almost like ING Direct. However, ING has been resting on their laurels. What are the best features to look for? High interest, no-fee savings account, bonus interest (total interest rate of 6.51%pa) if you really want to setup the Automatic Savings Plan (which is a pita and takes approximately 4 days before the funds are available).

I used to bank with Bankwest but their high interest is only temporary nowadays. Most other banks have high interest teaser rates but after 4-6 months they revert to rates that are pretty lame. Not to mention, I've been trying to cancel my Bankwest account for almost a year now, but they seem reluctant to let go! Crazy. I still get statements from them and my online banking is still operational despite sending them two cancellation requests by writing and calling them up.
Why should anyone remain loyal to their bank when their bank doesn't care about loyalty. Anyway, UBank are so confident in their interest rate that they even have a table of their competitors latest offerings . How convenient.

If you're looking for the banks that offer the highest interests, see the table at the beginning of this post.

Monday, August 2, 2010 is a scam so beware!

I'm not sure how long it takes Google to list and link my blog posts up to various topics so I'm doing my best in informing any potential buyers that AA Trans is a shipping container scam and do not under any circumstances, pay this swindler for shipping containers. It is a scam of evolving identities and this same fraudster keeps altering his/her identity slightly before going on ebay and online sale sites again to sell this fraud.

How do I know? I know someone who is a victim of this scam and it serves to remind me and everyone else to be wary when transacting your shopping online. I've researched into this scam and have discovered a few things. There are a few issues involved here:

Identity theft of Andrew Avis from the legitimate AA Transport Pty Ltd business by fraudster/scam artist "Alex Anderson" (highly likely a faked name). He stole Andrew Avis' company name and ABN number to document his invoice. Address theft by using a fake address 44 Botany Road. However a quick Google (map & streetview) and a phone call from me confirms that the business at that address is Community Broadcasting Association of Australia and they have nothing to do with shipping containers.

2) The
scam artist has a bank account with Bank of Queensland (BOQ) (bsb: 124 036, account: 21472696) - do NOT under any circumstances, deposit your payment into this account because you will be scammed. I contacted BOQ yesterday and Sharon at their WA/Perth call centre said that it wasn't any of their business to deal with third parties (myself) and that they can't do anything about it. This is why fraudsters/scammers continue to proliferate. If banks such as the BOQ can't be pro-active in tackling the first mention of scam involvement then these scammers can keep conning many victims until the police can get their act together and interfere- this may take a long time since they have so many cases on hand.

Beware because it appears that this shipping container fraudster has been operating a string of frauds along the exact same line since last year. And no-one has stopped them yet! The same things occur again and again based on my investigation of the latest scam.

3)The domain was registered only on 7th July this year. So only 1 month ago. You can check it up yourself on a popular IT domain search site

A website so newly registered should scream out beware.

4)This "" scam appears to be the third shipping container scam devised by the same person/group who scammed over 90 people last year and this year with "freight.forward" , "vicremovals - and now scam.

Unfortunately for the person I know, they have already transferred funds to the BOQ account and that $2,500 is most likely a write off. If you have found yourself the victim of a scam, the steps you should take to sort out the mess and try to recover your funds will be:

1)If you paid by
paypal or credit card, then you can dispute the transaction with paypal or your bank and request a chargeback
2)If you paid by
direct deposit or cash then it's highly likely that you have unfortunately lost your money and the avenue of refund is very minimal
Contact your bank ASAP regardless of whatever means you used to pay the transaction or dodgy invoice
Contact your local police and report the theft/crime/fraud/scam
Contact the government agencies ASIC and ACCC to report the fraud/scam so that they can start investigations

To read further materials on how to spot and identify scams you can visit the following sites:
Some basic checkups that you can do yourself before you pay anyone when shopping online is:

1)Check their selling history or lack of history

2)Warning signs:

*A product is advertised at a very low price.
*The seller and any initial bidders have a very poor rating on an auction site.
*The other party wants to complete the sale outside of the auction site (if you do this, you lose any protections that the site operator offer to their users).
*The other party insists on immediate payment, or payment by electronic funds transfer or a wire service.
*The online shopping website does not provide adequate information about privacy, terms and conditions of use, dispute resolution or contact details.

3)If they issue you an invoice, do a thorough search on government databases(eg: ASIC) on the company name, who it is registered to, whether the address matches the company name, check Google map/streetview to give you a better idea (warning flags if you are buying from a shop yet the Google map/streetview points you at a residential house that looks nothing like a shop!)

4)Google the business and check whitepages/yellow pages registrations and call the number on those listings to verify

5)Check their domain on and if it has been newly registered then that may also be a warning sign

6)You can also check their IP Address with can be found by looking at where emails originated from). For example, an email that I received from Amicroe Pty Ltd had the following IP numbers "" and when searched it came back with the right match which you can see here

7)Be careful when you are buying from a company that is supposed to be local, however after your research, you see that the domains/IP Addresses are registered in some foreign countries

8)Check that the ABN is valid and still active and matches the company name. You can do this with ASIC -

9)Ask yourself if the claims made about the product are reasonable or just too good to be true. Be suspicious of online shopping websites that do not give their full contact details (physical or street address as well as phone and fax numbers).

10)Be very careful about paying by credit card and make sure the website used for payments is secure. Look for an unbroken key or lock at the bottom(this can also be at the top) of the browser window, or a web address beginning with ‘https//:’

11)Be wary when the person or company that you're transacting with has a sense of urgency about them when they try to get you to pay. This 'AA Trans' scam fellow used the following words to invoke a sense of urgency "I only have a few spots left this week so I'm really running out of time" - yep he was definitely running out of time...time to collect the funds and hurry off to the next scam victim before someone catches wind of the scam and the police is on their trail

Anyway, I hope that my recap of my investigations may shed light on how you can also investigate a business, person or transaction before you deal with them to verify that it is indeed, authentic and that you are not being scammed. Unfortunately for the poor victims swindled, it was painful for them to actually drive out to 44 Botany Road, Alexandria in search of their undelivered shipping containers only to discover that there is no shipping container site. It is infact the site of office buildings and takeaway food shops and urban development.

It is too late to regret after you've been scammed. All you can hope for is to protect yourself against future scams.

[Edit 12/05/12: The shipping container scammer appears to be making the rounds in the United Kingdom and London this time around- pls visit this post and have a read so that you don't get scammed:  ]