Thursday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. Taliban/Al-qaeda embassy?
  2. It might be faith in the system, but do you really take civil breach of contract disputes to the police?
  3. Hosana-Tabor … asking the question why Mr Obama’s White House didn’t think the 2nd Amendment figured in the picture.
  4. Those anti-human activists.
  5. Property rights and digital content.
  6. One hard way to make a living, an example from the animal world.
  7. Human’s in the zoo for fun and profit.
  8. A supporter of the platitude man himself (Mr Obama) questions the soft content of GOP speechery. At least they (the GOP) haven’t picked up (to my knowledge) the Obama tactic of saying one thing to one group and the opposite the next day to another.
  9. China girding its loins for what purpose?
  10. Race that bike!
  11. Our anti-business White House in action.
  12. “No legal recourse” … oops, not true alas.
  13. Law without morals, not so good, in fact completely ineffective.

18 responses to “Thursday Highlights

  1. It might be faith in the system, but do you really take civil breach of contract disputes to the police?

    That’s not breach of contract, it’s fraud (maybe theft, I’m not a lawyer.) Anyway, the real lesson of that story (not that this should be news to anybody) is that criminalizing drugs (or any commodity, really) creates an entire extra-legal ecosystem that has to enforce its own rules or go without which reduces both respect for and participation in the primary “civilization”

  2. JA,
    I’m unclear on the distinction you make between fraud and breach of contract. And yes, it’s always been the case that swindlers first rule is that the mark be breaking the law in order to think they are stealing your money (and then you steal more of theirs in the swindle/scam). That way the mark won’t have the recourse of the law.

    But the point is, isn’t this a matter for which you contact a lawyer to file suit, not call 911?

  3. I remember my late father-in-law told me that Sears was a well known spot for theft. For some reason, in the 80’s it was exceptionally easy to shoplift from them and plenty of criminals made a minor career doing it. Anyway, quite often they would hang near Sears itself and offer TVs, VCRs, and other things for sale on the street!

    So a trick that started going around would be to take a box for a new VCR and fill it with wet newspaper. When someone brought it, they would trust the box because the weight felt right and wouldn’t open it until they got home. So leaving aside the shoplifting aspect, I’m pretty sure such a trick would be criminal fraud rather than simply breach of contract.

  4. Boonton,
    But again, going to court (or the police) for that is tricky. You have to tell the cop “Hello, I was trying to buy stolen goods from this dude on the street corner and got ripped off.” They don’t have any particular reason to be very sympathetic. Now the cops might follow up and see if they couldn’t get ya both, i.e., get all the information from you to track down the career shoplifter and at the same time string you up on a charge of attempting to purchase stolen goods.

    Why do you think it is criminal fraud to be defrauded when attempting to purchase (knowingly) stolen material?

  5. Boonton,
    A second thought on the police thing (which applies to the original knucklehead) … it might be possible (through a lawyer?) to try to ask for immunity for your crime (purchase of stolen goods or drugs) in return for cooperation in giving details/testimony against the other criminal (the seller).

  6. Boonton & JA,
    Seriously, I had an unanswered question here. If you feel you are defrauded (criminally or not) the recourse you take is to seek a lawyer not call 911. Right?

  7. I guess I’d never really thought about it. I guess it is a lawyer issue, although I’m not sure. If I walked out of a story after buying a box stuffed with rocks and there was a cop there, I might just go over to him/her. I’m assuming the woman in the story wasn’t particularly well-educated.

  8. But again, going to court (or the police) for that is tricky. You have to tell the cop “Hello, I was trying to buy stolen goods from this dude on the street corner and got ripped off.” They don’t have any particular reason to be very sympathetic

    OK, nonetheless at a certain point bait and switch becomes a criminal matter rather than just breech of contract. The women in the article was probably in the right to call the police….except for the matter that she was attempting to buy illegal drugs.

    Why do you think it is criminal fraud to be defrauded when attempting to purchase (knowingly) stolen material?

    The person isn’t claiming to sell stolen material, he’s claiming to sell a VCR. Selling a box of wet newspaper would be criminal fraud.

    A second thought on the police thing (which applies to the original knucklehead) … it might be possible (through a lawyer?) to try to ask for immunity for your crime (purchase of stolen goods or drugs) in return for cooperation in giving details/testimony against the other criminal (the seller).

    I suppose but since there’s no actual charge on you what are you asking for immunity from? You have to create a charge on you first by telling the police you committed a crime?

    If you feel you are defrauded (criminally or not) the recourse you take is to seek a lawyer not call 911. Right?

    I think with outright theft by fraud (i.e. the empty VCR box), I’d call the police. The worse they can do is tell me to file a civil suit. Even in that case, the call will generate a police report which could be useful evidence. Maybe I wouldn’t call 911 but I’d still be inclined to get a police report.

    For something more subtle….say I paid a guy to detail my car and he did a crappy job….I’d probably not involve the police.

  9. JA,
    If you walk our of a store with a box with rocks, you might go to the cops. If you buy a VCR on a street corner or out of a van in a parking lot … the police know and you know you are buying stolen goods. You’ve got a problem taking your complaint to them without seeking some sort of immunity from prosecution for knowingly purchasing stolen goods.

    Boonton,
    I’m sorry you buy a VCR from a guy in a van or on a streetcorner down the block from a big box store with a known “shoplifting” problem … selling you wet newspaper is fraud, but you are knowingly buying (or attempting to buy) stolen goods. Your explanation that you were to naive to realize that it might be stolen … I know ignorance of the law is no excuse. I wasn’t aware that ignorance as a personal attribute is a valid excuse.

  10. Naivity is irrelevent, the guy selling the box is guilty of theft by deception.

    See http://www.lrc.ky.gov/krs/514-00/040.pdf

  11. Boonton,
    Buying stolen property is a crime. Apparently you don’t think so that’s possible.

  12. Changing the subject. Fraud is still fraud. The newspaper in the VCR box is a crime whether or not you’re presenting it as stolen proprety or not.

  13. Boonton,
    Yes. I know. The question was if you encounter fraud whether you contact a lawyer or the police.

    And being defrauded by others when you are engaging in criminal activity is, I think, just a little muddier.

    The newspaper in the VCR box is a crime whether or not you’re presenting it as stolen proprety or not.

    That should read “The newspaper in the VCR box is a crime whether or not attempting to purchase stolen proprety (which is a crime) or not.” And is that right? If you present white powder as cocaine and sell it … is it a crime if the substance in question is just confectioners sugar? And if so, is the crime “attempting to defraud individuals attempting to purchase illegal materials by selling them mislabeled legal material?”

  14. The question was if you encounter fraud whether you contact a lawyer or the police.

    Theft by deception is a crime so in that case you’d contact police.

    And being defrauded by others when you are engaging in criminal activity is, I think, just a little muddier.

    Technically no. It would still be fraud. Now in terms of civil courts, courts will not uphold contracts that violate the law. So, say you contract with a prostitute and she takes your money but doesn’t provide services. She is in breech of contract, but no civil court would grant you a win in a lawsuit because your contract violated public policy.

    Theft by deception, though, would be a crime even if the underlying activity is illegal to begin with. Selling someone sugar while telling them its crack is a criminal act for you and the person could file a criminal complaint against you for it, believe it or not.

  15. Also I’m not sure ‘attempting to purchase stolen property’ is in itself a crime. Possession of stolen property is, though I’d imagine there’s some margin of forgiveness if you had no reason to think it was stolen.

  16. Boonton,
    According to this, if a reasonable person would realize that the goods were stolen, you are liable.

  17. Booonton,

    Selling someone sugar while telling them its crack is a criminal act for you and the person could file a criminal complaint against you for it, believe it or not.

    Right. But the person who is defrauded has to admit to a crime to prosecute their case, which makes them less likely to do so.

  18. Of course, but theft by deception can happen without the victim being engaged in a criminal act.

    You may want to look at http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-theft-by-deception.htm. ‘Advertising puffery’ is generally exempt from the criminal law, but within limits. Consider a person who opens an online business selling DVD players. The price is much lower than what you’d normally find, but there’s a four week wait. People place their orders, pay in advance only to discover 4 weeks later the business is shut down and the web site deactived. While you could sue the owner for breech of contract, this would almost certainly end up a criminal matter as well.

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