Friday, September 6, 2013

Fools and Their Money

  Yesterday's newspaper seemed particularly rife with ways to separate fools from their money.

  One full-page advertisement hawked a device that would allow all Americans to receive free television. Further, it proclaims that "Federal law makes TV network giants broadcast free TV signals regionally." Readers are advised that after making their one-time purchase (for $49), they will never have to pay to watch TV again. (Buried in the text is a line that says "it saves a ton of money because it won't pull in expensive cable-only channels like ESPN, so there's never a monthly bill." Well, yes, without a cable or satellite hook-up, you can't receive such channels and so you don't pay for them.)

  Potential customers are advised to check the chart on the page for the first two digits of their zip code and to call immediately if they are there. What a surprise -- every zip code in 49 of the fifty states is included! The one state that is not? California, which, I guess, is exempt from federal law.

  So, what is this fabulous device? It's an antenna that allows you to pick up over-the-air TV transmissions from your local stations. Gee, just like we all used to do back before there was cable and satellite TV.

  Bet I can find a better antenna somewhere else for a lot less than $49...


   Another full-page ad says that you should convert your cash to gold immediately because their experts predict that the price of gold (currently about $1380 an ounce) could skyrocket to over $5,000 an ounce in the future.  "In our opinion, smart individuals are moving up to 30% of their assets into U.S. government gold coins."

 Your opportunity to cash in on this incredible windfall is to buy up the $5 gold coins they have for sale. They are offering these coins (each containing 1/10th of an ounce of gold) for the fabulous price of $158 each, or $1,580 an ounce! So with gold currently selling for $1380 an ounce, you are starting out $200 in the hole. This sure seems like a great plan.

  Oh, by the way, if you still want in on this fabulous investment, they will make special arrangements for purchases of more than $50,000.


  My favorite of the ads, however, is the one offering "vault bags of rarely seen U.S. Gov't minted coins." For just $29, you can get a bag weighing "almost a quarter pound," filled with "rarely seen Indian Head collector coins dating back to 1913." You might know them better as nickels.

  How many nickels are in a quarter pound? By my calculations, that would be twenty-two of them, with a face value of $1.10! These "Buffalo nickels" were issued from 1913 through 1938 and there are a few that are worth big bucks to coin collectors. But I think it's a safe bet you won't be finding any of those in the bags.

  The ad advises you to stock up on these "nest eggs" for children, grandchildren or someone you might want to impress. "You just won't believe the expression on their faces when you hand them these heavy Vault bags."  Sorry, but I can just imagine the expression of someone who is handed a $29 bag of nickels!


Two words, folks: Caveat emptor!

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