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BlueHippo Scam Collected $15M, Only Shipped One PC

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the was-it-alienware dept.

Government 216

An anonymous reader writes "Turns out that those BlueHippo commercials advertising financing for computers and other electronics for anybody, regardless of credit, were way more sleazy than you thought. The FTC is bringing this fraud down, but not too soon. 'According to the FTC, the company's brazen business model continued without interruption after the 2008 settlement. "In fact, in the year following entry of this Court's Stipulated Final Judgment and Order for a Permanent Injunction, BlueHippo financed — at most — a single computer to the over 35,000 consumers who placed orders for computers that could be financed during the period,' the FTC told a court (PDF) yesterday. In the meantime, the company took in a cool $15 million in payments from consumers, who don't appear to have received anything in return.'"

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Why bother? (4, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094606)

Why bother running a successful business with a plan when you can run a fake business and get the hell out of Dodge when it starts coming down around you? The customers, of course, will want their money back, but will probably get a 15% off your next purchase coupon, good until yesterday, while the lawyers will get a few million to settle.

Re:Why bother? (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094900)

You mean like the "exotic financial instruments" crap excreted from Wall Street?

Re:Why bother? (4, Insightful)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094996)

Your post was going well, but I do not know why you decided to blame the lawyers in the end. Class action lawyers are usually the only people these scammers are afraid of. Government agencies are slow and it is rather rare that they actually go out of their way to chase scams. It is great that the FTC decided to go after those bluehippo people, but this is a very rare occurrence.

Usually when companies try to do something dodgy towards ordinary consumers they are mostly worried about the class action lawyers. Because there are lawyers out there that do nothing but look out for scams so that they can get their payday. Sure it usually ends up that the lawyers get a lot of the money and the scammed customers get a small check in the mail. But even if the lawyers get all the money they still take alot of money from the scammers and thus punish them, and that is actually a benefit to society.

Re:Why bother? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30095042)

If you want to blame something blame the people who want to spend money they don't have to finance an item that can be had for around 300 bucks. I don't believe these targets were randomly chosen. They were chosen because they already indicate they don't know how to handle money.

Re:Why bother? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30095134)

Only on DSlasdot (I wish) could blaming the victim of a scam be modded up.

Class Action Laywers and Scammers? (5, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095236)

Sorry, I don't believe it. Scammers don't run a solvent enterprise that a class-action lawyer would approach. The lawyer wants money, the scam is a scam, not an operating business, and doesn't hang around with money for a lawyer to recover.

Do you have any good examples?

Re:Class Action Laywers and Scammers? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30095372)

OK how about one involving this same guy CEO Joseph K. Rensin.

http://baltimore.bizjournals.com/baltimore/stories/2005/05/09/story7.html

This guy doesn't seem to be very worried about lawyers or the government since he has long since made enough money to live comfortably forever.

Re:Why bother? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095026)

Because if anyone of your customers or competitors is a bigger fat cat than you, the FTC will get you? ^^

I mean its not as if they got away with it...

Re:Why bother? (1)

Molochi (555357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095322)

If the money is gone, somebody got away with it.

The Wrath of the Almighty Bunghole? (1)

Pezbian (1641885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095250)

Looks like we have a good test target for one of those tungsten rod gravity projectile satellites.

I got the terms of yer settlement right here.

Shocking! (4, Interesting)

eihab (823648) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094626)

I remember watching their commercials and going to their website to check it out. The fine print clearly stated that you will not receive their computer printer/combo/etc. until after you mail off the last payment!

I thought to myself, who in their right mind would even consider giving this company a dime, but apparently there were 35,000 such individuals.

The lesson here folks: if it's too good to be true then it probably is.

Re:Shocking! (5, Funny)

lannocc (568669) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094658)

The fine print clearly stated

Oxymoron

Re:Shocking! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30094700)

That's what user mode in Opera is for. It makes any hidden text or fine print clearly visible in a normal font. I am sure there is a Firefox addon or setting that does something similar, but it is very hard if not impossible to make fine print stay hard to read with any decent web browser.

Re:Shocking! (2, Informative)

an unsound mind (1419599) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094882)

Control + Mouse Wheel.

Or Control + + if you don't have a mouse wheel.

Or View -> Zoom -> Zoom In if both options are inaccessible.

Re:Shocking! (5, Insightful)

sdiz (224607) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094892)

just make the fine print a jpeg file with low quality or embed in flash

Re:Shocking! (3, Interesting)

slarrg (931336) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094980)

No it's not, you do it like this [consumerist.com] .

Re:Shocking! (5, Funny)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095046)

This is the first time that the Nyquist sampling theorem has had an application to legal bullshit, I think. Wow.

Re:Shocking! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30095448)

In what country would a notice like that be legal? They might as well be printing white-on-white in a jpeg as to try that sort of rubbish.

Re:Shocking! (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094830)

Maybe he meant it was high quality...

Re:Shocking! (2, Informative)

spacefrog (313816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095264)

From some of the other (albeit suggestive) replies to this.

That's what user mode in Opera is for. It makes any hidden text or fine print clearly visible in a normal font. I am sure there is a Firefox addon or setting that does something similar, but it is very hard if not impossible to make fine print stay hard to read with any decent web browser.

An excellent suggestion for those who are already using Opera (an excellent browser, don't get me wrong. I adore Opera on my Blackberry and Wii.), but not something you need to switch away from Firefox/Iceweasel/Kin to achieve, or even install an add-on/extension for.

Edit (menu bar) -> Preferences (menu item) -> Content (tab) -> Fonts & Colors (group) -> Advanced (button) -> Minimum Font Size (dropdown list). The default is "None", set it to 10, 12, 14, or whatever is comfortable for your level of vision on your particular display. Kudos to the Mozilla folks for managing to hide that incredibly useful preference so well, but at least you only need to set it once! No additional add-on, extension, hack, greasemonkey script, usercontent CSS entry, etc. is needed.

For those stuck with or who insist on using MSIE, Tools (menu) -> Internet Options (menu item) -> Accessibility (button), then either tick "Ignore font sizes specified on webpages" (which is easy, but is way too global for many people's tastes), or tick "Format documents using my style sheet" and make a simple CSS file that has !important rules for minimum font size. Nope, not user-friendly in the least, but you can at least accomplish it without making your bad situation even worse.

I'm sure there are ways to accomplish this in Safari, etc. without too much effort as well, but you will have to ask Uncle Google for the particulars.

Re:Shocking! (2, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094666)

They were so massively overpriced... I wonder how many of the 35,000 actually sent in all the payments?

Also, if they were shutdown... I wonder why their site, http: //www. bluehippo .com/default.asp still works...

Re:Shocking! (2, Insightful)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095004)

Some people are truly desperate to fix/get credit so they take chances with places like this one. Its not an excuse for poor judgment,but everything that is done has a reason,good or bad.

Re:Shocking! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30095156)

I thought to myself, who in their right mind would even consider giving this company a dime, but apparently there were 35,000 such individuals.

lets see...

Their website says...

To login to your account simply enter your social security number and password (often your mother's maiden name) to the right.

I'm not from the US but is your SSN really something you should be using as a login?

From their faq...

We use SSL to encrypt your data (like most reputable sites).

Hmmm so your login is used to encrypt your data.. clever

Re:Shocking! (1)

Paco103 (758133) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095166)

Um. . . . too good to be true? Anyone ever calculate up what they give you for what your total payments would be? It was several times what the items were worth, and if you're not going to get them until you're done paying the outrageous markup, why not just save up? Seriously I thought these things were a scam before I even knew about them not shipping PC's. It really just proves how bad some people are with their money (and contracts). It's really just so much worse that the deal was already so heavily weighted against the consumer and it was *STILL* a scam.

Re:Shocking! (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095428)

It really is sad. They probably could have kept 3/4 of the money they got if they just shipped out computers. And they'd be legal and everything.

Re:Shocking! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30095184)

I remember watching their commercials and going to their website to check it out. The fine print clearly stated that you will not receive their computer printer/combo/etc. until after you mail off the last payment!

I thought to myself, who in their right mind would even consider giving this company a dime, but apparently there were 35,000 such individuals.

The lesson here folks: if it's too good to be true then it probably is.

I will send these 35,000 an ebook on how to not get taken by scams. For the one time low low price of $10.00. $350,000 humm Sounds nice.

Re:Shocking! (3, Funny)

michaelhood (667393) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095476)

The fine print clearly stated that you will not receive their computer printer/combo/etc. until after you mail off the last payment!

So it's like social security?

I'm fairly surprised, actually... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094644)

Not surprised that BlueHippo are a bunch of worthless subhumans; but that they would be so audacious about it.

Had they actually shipped a few thousand bottom-of-range refurb Compaqs or whatever, which are pretty damn cheap by the pallet load, they never would have attracted fire from the FTC. The way that their "business" was structured(at least back when I checked their website when I first heard about them), they should have been able to clear fairly impressive margins on the backs of the poor and clueless even without cheating. And, if they had avoided legally actionable fraud, they presumably would still be operating today.

Why would somebody do that? Is enforcement so weak that getting away with it is a rational expectation?

Re:I'm fairly surprised, actually... (2, Informative)

Lord Lemur (993283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094714)

It is always better to have to give it back then never to have had it. This has gone on for how many years. That money has been divided out to "share holders" and other Intrested parties I'm sure. Don't worry, they will BK before they payback anything in the ball park of Millions to anyone. So, yes it is a rational expectation.

Re:I'm fairly surprised, actually... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094928)

The thing is this sounds like blatant mail fraud which is a federal offense. The FBI should have been all over this back when the FTC had determined that these guys weren't shipping computers at all in April 2008. The company was formed in 2006 so it appears to me to be a cut and dry case. I really don't understand what could have been going on here that would cause the FTC to hold off for almost a year and a half.

Re:I'm fairly surprised, actually... (4, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094720)

Why would somebody do that? Is enforcement so weak that getting away with it is a rational expectation?

Yes. Bernard Madoff being a fantastic example of this.

Re:I'm fairly surprised, actually... (4, Interesting)

barzok (26681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094736)

Actually, Madoff never expected to make it as long as he did. He was surprised it took them so long to catch him.

Re:I'm fairly surprised, actually... (1, Flamebait)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095028)

In other words, you believe that Madoff intended to spend the rest of his life in prison?

Are you really that stupid?

Re:I'm fairly surprised, actually... (2, Informative)

Fizzol (598030) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095052)

barzok's post is correct, that's basically what Madoff himself admitted.

Re:I'm fairly surprised, actually... (1, Insightful)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095492)

But why would anyone believe something that:

1. Makes absolutely no sense.
2. Said by Madoff?

Re:I'm fairly surprised, actually... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30095070)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/bernard-madoff/5928899/Bernard-Madoff-surprised-fraud-was-not-uncovered-sooner.html

Read here motherfucker.

Re:I'm fairly surprised, actually... (1)

tqk (413719) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095472)

"In other words, you believe that Madoff intended to spend the rest of his life in prison?"

Intended, well, no.

Expected, yeah, once they caught up with him, which I suspect he always anticipated. I'm shocked at all the times he was on the carpet, yet was let free. I'm shocked at the level of oversight some of the (presumably) smartest people in the world exercise (none).

Hmm, no, maybe not smartest, just richest. Kinda stunning to see Palm Beach fall for such a cheap con job.

Re:I'm fairly surprised, actually... (3, Insightful)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095018)

Yes they may have been able to clear good margins if they had an efficient operation. But of course companies like that are rarely efficient, because a thief usually does not know how to do anything well other than stealing.

Also, outfits like these are usually high pressure sales operations which means they have to pay their salespeople a lot of money per sale.

But in any event, I suspect they were planning on shipping the computers some time but they just did not get around to it because they were too lazy, and having too much fun making money to actually spend any money on computers.

Re:I'm fairly surprised, actually... (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095302)

No it isn't rational to expect you get away with it, it is just how scammers work. Part of it is many of them actually talk themselves in to believing that everything they do is ok. They aren't entirely rational, in that they are the kind of person who can't feel empathy for anyone else. Thus if it enriches them, they see it as ok.

Also greed can override the few functioning brain cells many people have. So they get greedy and try to take more and more, even though there's no real reason to and in doing so they are likely to lose everything. I mean look at the Enron execs. You are talking about people who already had enough money to have pretty much anything they wanted, and yet decided they had to have more and thus stole it.

Finally, some people just seem to refuse to be legit for whatever reason, even if it is a better idea. There was a guy here locally that was arrested for steaming change out of newspaper machines. Now while this was a few years ago, it still wasn't like a bunch of people bought from these. They'd get a few bucks at most. Also it took a good deal of effort to get in, they are sturdy metal boxes. Cops said he literally would have made more working a minimum wage job or being a panhandler. However for whatever reason, he'd convinced himself this was a good idea.

There's just no explaining some people.

Instead of referring to just "Blue Hippo" (5, Insightful)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094646)

How about naming the asshole or assholes behind it? So that way, if we see those lying thieves we'll know to run. Many times, these guys close up shop and just start all over again with a different business entity.

How many would invest with Bernie Madoff if he somehow miraculously got out of prison - regardless of the name of his company?

Re:Instead of referring to just "Blue Hippo" (5, Informative)

TSHTF (953742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094694)

From the court documents linked in the article: Joseph K. Rensin is the sole owner and shareholder of BlueHippo Funding, LLC. FTC 26. Mr. Rensin acted as Chief Executive Officer of BlueHippo from its inception in 2003 until July 20, 2009. See FTC 28 at 7-8; FTC 22G at 3. As CEO, BlueHippo's corporate officers, including the Chief Marketing Officer, reported directly to Mr. Rensin. FTC 28 at 20-22. In addition, Mr. Rensin was involved in BlueHippo's day-to-day operations, "manag[ing] the overall structure and direction of the business" and "overseeing the senior management team in formulating strategy." Id. at 22; FTC 22G at 3.

Re:Instead of referring to just "Blue Hippo" (5, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094810)

Previously, Rensin operated a collection agency [bizjournals.com] at the same address. He was sued for that one as well. And lost.

Re:Instead of referring to just "Blue Hippo" (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094912)

So why is the FTC throwing lawyers at BlueHippo instead of arresting Rensin?

Re:Instead of referring to just "Blue Hippo" (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095020)

I'm not sure the FTC has agents with police powers.

Re:Instead of referring to just "Blue Hippo" (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095064)

Well apparently BlueHippo was held in contempt by federal court in April.. and this isn't the first time they've been in trouble

The FTC isn't a police agency (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095484)

They can make regulatory rules in their area of authority, and they have the ability to bring people to civil court for failure to comply but that's all. They aren't a police agency they don't have anyone with arrest powers.

An arrest would have to come from someone like the FBI, or the state's police agency. However for that, there'd need to be a criminal charge brought by a government prosecutor.

Re:Instead of referring to just "Blue Hippo" (1)

rodgster (671476) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094704)

Just like with Madoff. I wonder, WTF was the "exit strategy"? Since the FTC has shut them down. I assume more than 1 person sent that final payment. It's a house of cards. When you build it. Don't you think about getting out before it collapses?

And more ways to protect yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30094956)

With the job market being what it is these days, there are plenty of nasty job scams too, that aim to get free work or gather personal info for shady purposes. I'm still getting spam after applying to a Toronto internet marketing company in June.
A few things to watch for: A company hiring for essentially the same thing every week or two is worth a careful look before you leap. (I have a certain 'thoughtful' media company in Edmonton in mind.)
Perhaps a few enterprising souls could check government databases or ride the wayback machine to see who the 'responsible' individuals were before the days of infamy and post the info on an appropriate scam monitoring site or two? Perhaps a court decision or official finding of some kind that could be posted as a simple, but effective, statement of fact?

Childhood Memories (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30094656)

Hungry hungry hippos!!! I loved that game!

Winning gold at the scam olympics (2, Informative)

ZackSchil (560462) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094684)

I just went there and clicked a purchase button that said I needed to log in, but my SSN would do just fine to log in.

This is a pretty great scam.

Re:Winning gold at the scam olympics (5, Informative)

mkiwi (585287) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094766)

So they have your SSN for the user name. Just think of what they could do if they knew your mother's maiden name! Oh never mind, that's the password!
https://www.bluehippo.com/csv2/Login.aspx [bluehippo.com]

Re:Winning gold at the scam olympics (2, Insightful)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094816)

Normally, I would be horrified. But in this case I'd like to congratulate them on taking Darwinism to a new level. They not only took those saps for a wad for an over priced computer that they would rarely have had to deliver, they also got they keys to the kingdom in the form of ssan and mothers maiden name!

Re:Winning gold at the scam olympics (5, Funny)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095194)

At least they used HTTPS.

Re:Winning gold at the scam olympics (1)

dufachi (973647) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095254)

good lord.. I am speechless. 35,000 people thought it was a good idea to give this company their SSN *and* their mother's maiden name? And people wonder how come identity theft is so rampant.

Re:Winning gold at the scam olympics (3, Informative)

ECCN (1137677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095332)

No worries... They have alternate login information options, such as the harmless "Bank Account Number/Zipcode", etc.... https://www.bluehippo.com/csv2/LoginTrouble.aspx [bluehippo.com] The rampant stupidity of sheeple in dire straights never ceases to amaze me.

Re:Winning gold at the scam olympics (2, Informative)

julien dot (911974) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095424)

So they have your SSN for the user name. Just think of what they could do if they knew your mother's maiden name! Oh never mind, that's the password! https://www.bluehippo.com/csv2/Login.aspx [bluehippo.com]

Don't worry if you're having trouble logging in, you can also use your bank account number [bluehippo.com] .

Re:Winning gold at the scam olympics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30095430)

DUDE Look at the requirements if you click

"Trouble Logging in"

Any of these combination will grant you access

Social Security Number/Home Phone
BlueHippo Account Number/Home Phone
Social Security Number/House Number
Bank Account Number/Zip Code
Social Security Number/Password
( https://www.bluehippo.com/csv2/LoginTrouble.aspx [bluehippo.com] )

Now I only wonder once in if a person would be then able to see the SSN number ?

I'd do it! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30094690)

I wouldn't mind ripping off niggers, spics and fags. What else would they spend their money on? Drugs?

Re:I'd do it! (3, Insightful)

Rip Dick (1207150) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094718)

Hey! I like drugs...

Failed step 3 (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094832)

1. Scam idiots
2. Collect millions
3. Flee the country with your millions. Looks like China is about the only livable country without an extradition treaty to the US. Hong Kong sounds very nice.

almost. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30095278)

1. Scam idiots
2. Collect millions
3. JAIL!

if they shipped only one PC (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30094722)

How did they get 35,000 people to agree over the choice of a Windows desktop theme?

Is this the free market? (4, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094724)

So I see that Gates and Buffet said recently that the economy is picking back up and all is well and there is no reason for anyone to be worried and the free market is perfect.

But how can it be perfect if the we cannot protect those who need protection most from those who would steal their money. If $1 gets spent by ACORN in a questionable manner, an act of congress is immediately enacted,but when those not so well off are robbed, we can't even make the criminal parties stop, much less put them in jail.

Or look at Verizon. They are stealing from their customers in $1.99 increments. And don't tell me it is not stealing. If you went to store and got charged for everything you put in your shopping cart before you checked out and left the store, and the store refused to refund you money if you did not actually want the merchandise, I am sure the cops would be called.

Of course Billg loves the free market. If a contractor installs unlicensed versions of MS Office on a clients computer, that contractor can earn a million dollars bounty forreporting the company, and then the BSA has every right to put the company out of business with exorbitant and irrational penalties. But if MS steals software, they can just blame it on a contractor and then apologize.

People are decrying the direction of the US, but I think after the past several years of pretty constant theft of tax dollars and personal property by the elite, a change was and is necessary.

Re:Is this the free market? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30094844)

Verizon DOES NOT represent the free market. How many times do you fucktards have to be told this?

Aside from that, this has nothing to do with the free market. No supporter of the free market would shrug off fraud as justifiable.

Re:Is this the free market? (4, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094960)

People are decrying the direction of the US, but I think after the past several years of pretty constant theft of tax dollars and personal property by the elite, a change was and is necessary.

Are you trying to say that what has happened recently isn't theft by the elite? If you are you seriously need to wake up. Instead of Verizon taking from their customers with little scams and contract foolery we now have big brother telling us that it doesn't matter if we like it or not; he's going to take from you regardless of position.

We've effectively gone from a system that we could opt out of (for the most part) into one where the government forces you to give it up till you bleed. Tell me how much better things are again?

Your problem with the free market is that you don't seem to know the difference between a luxury and a necessity. If you don't like Verizon's business practices boycott them. No one was twisting your arm. Now you have no choice.

Re:Is this the free market? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30095084)

... after the past several years of pretty constant theft of tax dollars and personal property by the elite...

Are you trying to say that what has happened recently isn't theft by the elite?

I don't understand your question to him.

I think both of you are complimentary - he's referring to commercial predators, you're referring to governmental predators.

------

If you don't like Verizon's business practices boycott them.

I thought it's like a monopoly or duopoly in some places?

Re:Is this the free market? (5, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095282)

We've effectively gone from a system that we could opt out of (for the most part) into one where the government forces you to give it up till you bleed. Tell me how much better things are again?

I see your point, but the idea you're missing is that much of technology moves from a luxury to a necessity very quickly. Ten years ago you could compete in the job market with no computer skills, and that's no longer the case. Shorter patent lifespans would allow companies to profit from good research, but not set back an entire society to profit a single corporation. Imagine if GE came out with a solar panel that was dirt cheap to manufacture, but charged 400 times more than it cost to make. China, India, and Russia could reverse engineer the product, and then we'd be competing with international companies that pay far less for electricity.

Furthermore, you have zero input on the actions of corporations who provide these necessary luxuries, like oil, electricity, information infrastructure, and so on. At some point, you have to assign a third party with more power to keep them in check, or we'll all be living in company towns, shopping at company stores, which isn't a hell of a lot better than soviet communism.

Re:Is this the free market? (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095390)

? You need a smartphone?

Re:Is this the free market? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30095350)

That is the point being made about the free market system, you can sign up with verizon in good faith and then subsequently realize you don't like a particular business practice. Once you realize that they are cheating you, poisoning drinking water, or suffocating babies it is too late and you are stuck in a contract with no way out except to give them more money. Only after this will you be able to boycott them, the problem is how much damage they cause in the process, before people catch on. Face it, a phone is a necessity in our economy, whether it be land locked or not. Try conducting a job search without one, you'll never know if you got hired. When you are poor a phone call is cheaper than gas used driving around to check on job applications. Pay phones are dinosaurs that most people cannot locate when hard pressed, and they cost more than a nickel these days.

What law would you pass to stop a lawbreaker? (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094962)

But how can it be perfect if the we cannot protect those who need protection most from those who would steal their money.

The free market is not perfect.

But how on earth would you stop someone like this in an un-free market? Remember they are quite willing from the outset to break any law. If all the laws you pass men nothing to them, how have you helped except make it harder for honest people to run a business, who then quit leaving more room open for scams?

Re:Is this the free market? (5, Informative)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095006)

So I see that Gates and Buffet said recently that the economy is picking back up and all is well and there is no reason for anyone to be worried and the free market is perfect.

But how can it be perfect if the we cannot protect those who need protection most from those who would steal their money.

The elderly are doing the same thing to workers right now through Social Security and Medicare.

We're promised future product (retirement money and health care) if we make payments up front. And it's unlikely the state will be able to deliver since they've already spent the money.

Sound familiar?

Re:Is this the free market? (1)

Lucidus (681639) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095446)

Look, I understand that the situation with Social Security and Medicare is messy, and that you are concerned about how this will affect your future, but resenting the elderly - or accusing them of stealing - is just stupid. People who paid into the system over the 40 or 50 years of their working lives quite reasonably expect to receive the benefits they earned and were promised. Do you want your parents and grandparents to die, homeless and destitute, because the government failed them?

Re:Is this the free market? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30095008)

I don't have any idea why you think the free market is going to protect the weak and stupid. The entire concept of the free market is to fleece the weak and stupid. Welcome to reality.

No one can protect... (3, Insightful)

Hasai (131313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095056)

...the Sucker.

Somewhere, P. T. Barnum is laughing at you.

Re:Is this the free market? (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095098)

People are decrying the direction of the US, but I think after the past several years of pretty constant theft of tax dollars and personal property by the elite, a change was and is necessary.

Anyone over the age of 25 who decries the direction of the US isn't referring to the horizontal direction, but the vertical.

Re:Is this the free market? (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095436)

Shhhh, more than a single axis political scale scares him.

hahah call the number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30094730)

call the bull hipo number in the story. it took them under 15secs to ask for my bank info and close the deal.

Immoral people (5, Insightful)

blindbat (189141) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094782)

You can never make enough laws to keep people like this from exploiting others.

It would never occur to those of us who have been raised with an inkling of an idea of good and evil to treat others in such a despicable manner.

It has nothing to do with free market. It is an issue of ethics and values.

Without the adoption of some standard of right and good within the individual heart, there is no hope of restraining people from similar scams.

Re:Immoral people (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094908)

"Without the adoption of some standard of right and good within the individual heart, there is no hope of restraining people from similar scams."

So which standard shall we use? "Survival of the fittest" or "the golden rule"?

Re:Immoral people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30094998)

How about slow, public execution and forced sterilization of his entire family tree?

Re:Immoral people (2, Informative)

blindbat (189141) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095150)

The golden rule works very well, but it only works on a voluntary basis.

See http://godsvaluesystem.com/ [godsvaluesystem.com] for a discussion of "sacrificial love for the benefit of others" as a value system.

There is actually a free book on relationships from that perspective that even a non-religious person would find helpful at http://blackstripespublishing.com/ [blackstrip...ishing.com]

Re:Immoral people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30095404)

Right now it is the "survival of the fittest," and they attribute it to the natural order of things as if its the best and only way. The problem is that evolution is not survival of the fittest, it is the ability to survive in a particular environment and have viable offspring. Being small and nimble is sometimes an advantage and sometimes being a behemoth confers some advantage. Since it is environmentally specific, it is therefore an imperfect rule to guide the morals of society.

     

Re:Immoral people (5, Interesting)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095078)

"Policemen and laws can never replace customs, traditions and moral values as a means for regulating human behavior. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. Our increased reliance on laws to regulate behavior is a measure of how uncivilized we’ve become." -Walter Williams, “Laws Are a Poor Substitute for Common Decency, Moral Values,” Deseret News, Apr. 29, 2009, A15

Your statement reminded me of this quote.

Re:Immoral people (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30095088)

well, at least they didn't pirate music, because that is the WORST type of criminal

and so what? (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095340)

your criticism is only valid if complete enforcement was ever a goal anyone ever considered practical

law enforcement is just a maintenance function of civilization:

1. it never ends
2. it can never possibly be done to completion

and the realization of either truth isn't discouraging or disenheartening. it's just the way it is

people with a moral compass and people who will screw little old ladies out of their hard earned cash are both reborn in every generation anew, in a sort of statistical stasis. its an eternal state, and we must continually pursue and punish wrongdoers, forever, job permanently incomplete

so frustrating (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30094800)

I'm not doing great financially, but those of us in the know are pretty good about staying on the connected side of the digital divide.

Not only that, but we are the same folks that keep old parts around and every now and then are able to build a workable setup for someone that could really use a computer. People that are thrilled to have something, even if it comes with a CRT monitor and has a 7 year old video card.

I've 'volunteered' hours working on crappy emachines for people because I know they can't go out and buy something fast and great.

F you BlueHippo. I know these people personally, and a computer means a lot to them.

Go Try to log in... (5, Informative)

jesseck (942036) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094818)

I went to their website (Google for bluehippo), and when I clicked "Purchase" I was taken to a login screen.. where my username is my SSN, and password is my mother's maiden name. Yeah, I'll give them some more personal info after I enter that...

Re:Go Try to log in... (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094970)

Username: 457-55-5462 [wikipedia.org]

Password: Davis

Re:Go Try to log in... (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095136)

mother's maiden name

Password: Davis

Re:Go Try to log in... (5, Informative)

CaroKann (795685) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095012)

If you have trouble logging in with that, their helpful "Trouble Logging In" screen gives you plenty of other ways to log in. You just have to select and enter one of the following combinations:

Social Security Number/Home Phone
BlueHippo Account Number/Home Phone
Social Security Number/House Number
Bank Account Number/Zip Code (!)
Social Security Number/Password (Mothers Maiden Name?)

Didn't receive anything in return? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094828)

In the meantime, the company took in a cool $15 million in payments from consumers, who don't appear to have received anything in return.

      Well, they received a lot of advertising, didn't they?

Even their logo was stolen (2, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30094852)

Compare BlueHippo's logo to Demby Wishingwell from Playskool's Weebles videos and toys. Is it coincidental? [pineight.com]

Forget the White Elephant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30094856)

Dude! You got a BlueHippoed!

The guy isn't new in this business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30094920)

just like in VINCENT HUMPHRIES's story in Business Week [businessweek.com]

The pitchman (2, Funny)

SKiRgE (411560) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095102)

Yeah, but who here cringed every single time he said the word labtop instead of laptop?

Hey Libtards (-1, Flamebait)

blackpaw (240313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095128)

There's a microcosm of your unregulated "free market" in action.

Now back to your corner and masturbating to Ayn Rand audio books.

Re:Hey Libtards (3, Insightful)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095442)

If schools actually taught things like basic economics and proper math this wouldn't be a problem.

Their phone number still works (4, Informative)

whois (27479) | more than 4 years ago | (#30095398)

I just called it and got through to someone calling themselves Danny Archer. They did not provide a company name in their greetings instead asking immediately for my first name.

If they're shut down they need to be shut down.

Should've answered with... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30095498)

They did not provide a company name in their greetings instead asking immediately for my first name.

Should've told him your first name was "Detective" to see how he reacted.

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot - Over? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30095400)

Not only do I not know what "those BlueHippo commercials advertising financing for computers and other electronics for anybody, regardless of credit" are, I don't know why such would be "News for Nerds, Stuff That Matters".

WTF?

Anyone? Anyone?

Gosh, I'm SO happy I'm a Slashdot subscriber.

Not really.

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