Monday, November 24, 2014

Hotel General Manager Accused of Stealing Nearly $900,000 in Credit Card Scheme


ALLENDALE, MI – The former general manager of Sleep Inn hotel in Allendale is accused of stealing nearly $900,000 by directing credit card payments to her own accounts, according to an indictment unsealed Friday, Nov. 21.
Renata Nicole Annese is charged with 15 counts of wire fraud and a single count of money laundering.
The government is seeking forfeiture of property on Maplewood Drive in Jenison titled to Renata and Michael Annese. The government is seeking to recover $872,929.23, which investigators estimate to be proceeds of an alleged scheme that began in October 2006 and ended in April 2013, court records showed.
Renata Annese turned herself in Friday to U.S. Marshal’s Service, records showed. She has hired Grand Rapids attorney James Brady to represent her. He was not immediately available for comment on the allegations.
Annese was hired as general manager at Sleep Inn in Allendale in 2004, two years after it opened. The hotel is affiliated with Choice Hotels International, based in Rockville, Md. As general manager, she was responsible for daily operations of the hotel, including processing of credit card transactions, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Stella wrote in the indictment.
Here’s how Stella said the alleged scheme worked:
Credit and debit cards  at the hotel would cause wire transmissions to be made through corporate services in Arizona and then through a Shift4 system in Nevada. Shift4 then sent authorization requests to the issuing bank for each customer, and stored the authorized transactions in a “batch” on its computer system.
Once the customer’s stay was complete, credit and debit card authorizations were then converted to actual payments. Shift4 allows hotels to review and edit credit and debit card transactions before converting the authorizations into a final payment.
This process allows hotels to reserve authorizations in the event that a customer does not ultimately stay at the hotel or is dissatisfied with service and requires a refund.
Annese had sole responsibility for reviewing credit and debit card transactions. She would log onto Shift4’s system using a unique account number, user name and password to review, edit or remove transactions before releasing a daily batch for final processing and payment to the hotel.
She allegedly carried out the scheme by fraudulently editing batches of credit cards in the Shift4 system before releasing them for payment. She manually entered her credit or debit card account numbers into the system and used a customer’s name to make it look like the transaction belonged to that customer, Stella wrote.
“By using the customer’s name and making the transaction amount match the amount of the legitimate transaction with the customer’s card, Renata Nicole Annese made the fraudulent transaction appear to be a legitimate refund to that customer, Stella said.
The money laundering charge alleges she wrote a check for $18,930.84 to Betten Imports to buy a vehicle, Stella wrote in court records.


Monday, November 10, 2014

7 Reasons to Save

Reasons to save
If you would be wealthy, think of  saving as well as getting ~ Benjamin Franklin

 Did you start savings while you were very young? Do you still set aside an amount each month from your budget as savings? You should be saving like the rich and famous. There are 7 solid reasons why you should save:

 1. Good habit: The amount is not important, the habit is. When you can save, it means you are spending less than what you have earned. More likely than not, you do not incur unnecessary debt. You get what you need, but you think twice before getting something you want.

 2. Emergency fund: Life is unpredictable, especially when money is concerned. A nasty accident or an unexpected retrenchment can cause havoc in your financial affair. It is prudent to have a cash reserve to cover around three to six months’ living expenses. So, the first priority is to save for an emergency fund.

 3. Save for a big ticket item: it is a good strategy to save enough to buy a big ticket item in cash rather than using your credit card or getting a personal loan. You exercise self-control and avoid getting into debt and incur interest charges.

 4. Save for a down payment for a car: It is also a better way to save for a larger down payment for a new car. Your car loan will be smaller and you also pay for a smaller amount every month and your loan period is also shorter. The most important thing is that you will incur less interest charges.

 5. Save for a down payment on a house: A house is a big investment. It is necessary to get a housing loan to buy your dream home. It is also wise to save and pay more for an initially amount and borrow less.

 6. Accumulate an amount for investment: How do you invest? First you have to save a substantial amount and then you invest according to your risk tolerance. It is not enough just to save because the amount that you have saved plus the interest you have earned is not even enough to cover inflation. Making prudent investment is the w ay to conserve your purchasing power and build your wealth.

 7. The starting point of a care-free financial future: Your financial future starts with savings and ends with a financially independent retirement. Fortune starts with savings and it is the foundation of alth building. This is also the secret of the rich and famous.

 A penny saved is a penny earned. ~ Benjamin Franklin 


Monday, November 3, 2014

10 Situations to Avoid Getting a Loan

 10 siuations to avoid getting a laon
It is unwise in the following situations to obtain credit and get into debt. It will jeopardize your finance during an emergency situation like when you are out of work

1. No regular income: When your income fluctuates from month to month there is no way to do a budget and include the repayments of the loan into your monthly outlay. It is also unlikely for you to obtain a loan without a regular source of income 

2. Not within your budget: Don’t get a loan when there is no extra fund to meet monthly repayments 

3. Live a more expensive life style: When you can ill-afford to eat out at high end restaurants and buy branded goods, you still can satisfy your hunger in a less expensive way. The cost of branded goods includes frequent advertisements and a higher margin for profit. A less expensive brand is just as good without the high cost of advertisement and lower profit margin.

4. Replacing household items which are still in good working order: When you have the means there is no problem but don’t get a loan to replace electrical appliances or TV which are still in good working conditions.

5. Change a three-year old car to the latest model: The car is in tip-top condition, why raise a loan and incur unnecessary debt and pay interest?

6. Getting things you want: Borrow money to satisfy your ego? It’s stupid thing to do.

7. Sending your children overseas for further education: If it is within your means to study locally why incur a debt to send them overseas? Do you think it is a good thing to pledge your house to finance your children’s education abroad?

8. Throw a party to celebrate an occasion: Who cares about your celebration? Just do it among family members. Don’t get a personal loan just to spend it.

9. Holiday abroad: Have a good time locally instead of getting into debt and paying interest. Malaysia is one of the top ten destinations for holiday makers. Discover more about your own backyard.

10. Renovate your house: Don’t beautify your house when it is in good repair even though the bank encourages you to take a loan as the value of your property has appreciated over time. 

The only good thing to raise a loan is to get a roof over your head.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Reduce Your Expenses

Hard Choice  2
The financial crisis worldwide has devastated many rich people and worse still many others are out of job and even more are going to be unemployed soon. The situation is so bad that there are people who have resorted to taking their lives away to escape from the financial meltdown.

Count yourself lucky that you are still able to keep your job. It is time to review your spending pattern and reduce your expenses as the worst is yet to come.

Lifestyle changes: Examine your lifestyle. Are you still going on a spending spree?
No more impulsive buying and refrain from purchasing non-essential items. Don’t renew the gym membership. Cancel those subscriptions that you don’t have the time to read. Instead of going to the movies buy DVDs and watch at home. Terminate you connection to Astro and watch TV programmes instead.

Food: Instead of eating out you still can buy your favorite breakfast food and enjoy it at home. Eat more often at home because home-cooked food is healthier and cost less.

Health: Give up smoking and drinking. Drink water instead of carbonated drinks. Maintain good health to avoid incurring medical expenses.

Utility Bills: Make it a good habit to switch off all electrical appliances when they are not in use. Use energy saving light bulbs. Install a shower head to take bath. Turn on the air-conditioner and the fan during the early hours of the night and then turn off the air-conditioner later and allow the fan to circulate the air in the room. Make sure that there are no leaky faucets at home.

Your House: Make minor repairs before they become major ones.

Credit cards: Keep only those cards without annual fees. Use your cards only to take advantage of savings. For example, you use CIMB-PETRONAS card for petrol purchases and you use Citibank-Giant card for grocery shopping at Giant.

Shopping: Buy house brand items instead of popular brands at cheaper prices and the quality is more or less the same.

Books: For story books loan from the library instead of buying new ones because you read only once.

Big ticket items: When you need to replace expensive household items get zero interest installment plan from your credit cards so that you can spread the payments up to 12 months or more. By doing so your monthly budget will not be impacted and there is no additional cost to you.

When you are careful in your spending you will soon develop into a thrifty habit.


Monday, October 27, 2014

The Best Credit Card Deal at Ringgit Plus

There is an exclusive offer at   RinggitPlus When you apply online at their site for an HSBC credit card you will get a free tablet (HuaWei Mediapad 7 Youth 2) upon approval of your application. This is in addition to all the goodies offered by HSBC as mentioned in my article, The Best Credit Card to Apply for Now.  The offer from HSBC includes an HTC smartphone  and up to RM1199 cashback .The special offer from RinggtiPlus is valid from October 5, 2014 to January 8, 2015. You can read their terms and conditions here 

 RinggitPlus is Malaysia's leading comparison website. They offer comprehensive free services in the following areas:

Personal loans and home loans
Savings, current accounts, fixed deposits
Home broadband plans
Dining, gadgets, fashion, household items discounts
Insurance: Travel Insurance, Critical illnesses, medical cards   

There is also a blog offers educational articles about financial matters

For all things relating to money it pays to visit this site first to get the best deal.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Get your Credit Score at Credit Bureau Malaysia

Apart from CTOS and CCRIS database you can obtain a copy of your credit report form Credit Bureau Malaysia. In fact this is the only place to obtain your Credit Grade, Credit Score and Probability of Default.

To obtain your copy of individual credit report, you go to their website at and then you click Self Enquiry Report followed by Individual Report;  you will see a Self Enquiry Checklist in three pages. Complete the form and sign on the second and third copy and then you email or fax the completed forms with the required documents. Before sending the documents remember to transfer RM2 to their account 512352604549 at MBB. You will receive your report on the same day by email.   
 I have got a credit score of 575 out of 900 and my credit grade is CC. The probability of my defaulting based on statistics and the population average, within the next 12 months is 4.54%. You can see the MySCoRE Assessment here:

MySCoRE Assessment

According to Credit Bureau Malaysia, to maintain a healthy credit you should:   

1.     Always pay your bills on time
·         Even if it is the minimum payment
·         Late payments will effect negatively in your credit report
(eg : interest charges/outstanding amount may accumulate higher than limit of credit)
2.     Keep balance of your accounts/credit cards at or at least 35% of your total credit limit. (eg ; Credit Card limit RM 4000, balance maintain at RM1400)
3.     Try to obtain a mix form of credit. (eg; Housing, Hire Purchase, Credit Card)
·         A credit card is a very risky term of credit, hence obtaining a mixed credit term allows the lender to gauge you better.

4.     Don't apply for too much credit at once
·         The rule of thumb of 'everything in moderation' also applies to credit applications
·         Note that obtaining a lot of credit will in turn deem you as a risky customer/paymaster.
·         Note that the limit of the Credit Card is taken into account, not the outstanding for evaluation by the credit grantor

5.     Keep track of your credit report for at least 2 years

·         Regular checks help ensure that your credit information is intact /accurate.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Best Credit Card to Apply For Now

HSBC credit cards

I have already got three credit cards and I have also bought the cheapest smartphone in Malaysia recently; otherwise I will definitely apply for an HSBC credit card today.

According to their online promotion here you will receive the following goodies upon approval of your application:

·         Swipe your HSBC credit card one time within 30 days from the date of welcome letter, you get RM50 cash back.

·         When you are among the first 2500 new cardholders to spend RM1500 within the same 30 days period, you will get an HTC smartphone (model HTC Desire 210) worth RM499.

·         When you apply online you get additional RM50 cash back.

·         Waive the annual fees when you swipe your HSBC credit card for a minimum of 12 swipes in a year.

A useful tip to qualify for the Smartphone:

You can spend RM1500 wisely to qualify for the reward by buying a big ticket item with zero interest installment plan. Get a laptop or tablet or sign up for an online course and invest in yourself.

When you looking for a smartphone and a new credit card, look no further apply for an HSBC credit card now. The offer ends December 7, 2014. 
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