Archive for December, 2014

The Album, a short story by Lee Tabas

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On a crisp Sunday in late October, I fished in Valley ForgeNationalHistoricalPark.    In the fall, when it rains, sometimes the biggest trout migrate to spawn.  Battling against the swollen currents allows them to move upstream over rock ledges and shallow areas that they normally could not breach.   The rain came through several days earlier; unfortunately, the fish no longer were on the move. I got skunked.

Many people enjoyed the bright colors and sun in the Park that day.  As I crossed Route 23, the main road through the Park just south of Washington’s headquarters, I noticed a photo album along the side of the road.  I picked it up and began to leaf through the 30 or 40 photos with handwritten captions.  It appeared to celebrate family; some of the photos showed a young man, identified as little Jimmy, a 7 or 8 year old who everyone loved. Then there were a couple of pet photos.  Further on the caption was Pops or Dad, ”a great guy”.

As I leafed further through the book, my eyebrows lifted a bit when I saw the nude photos of a woman, with the caption “great body, luv ya babe” or something similar.   The author was probably a guy, who presented the book to his girlfriend.

I flipped to the front and to the back cover, but no name or contact information could be found.

There is a large rock memorializing the beginning of the Horseshoe Trail which starts in Valley Forge, and heads out 80 miles to join up with the Appalachian Trail in Central Pennsylvania. It seemed like a prominent spot, so I stood the Album up on the rock, and walked to my car. While putting away my gear, I thought about the album, and how it might have gotten where I found it.  It could have been forgotten while the guy and girl were on a picnic or a hike in the park.   Then it struck me that perhaps the guy and girl were driving on Route 23, and she was offended by the album and the pictures, they had a fight, and she tossed it out of the window.

p.s. I drove by there a few days later and the album was no longer on the rock. Either: 1) the happy couple came to reclaim it, or 2) someone else took it, or 3) your answer.

Simple Stupid

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 Most people have loads of passwords, and are paranoid about cybercrime, malware, phony eastern European credit card charges and other schemes. These are certainly concerns, but let’s get a bit more low-tech.  Recently, I was contacted about serving as an expert in a matter regarding embezzlement from bank accounts. A lawyer’s long-time assistant had taken money over a long period from his attorney escrow account.  The lawyer never reviewed the bank statements and relied on the assistant to keep track of the account; of course you know the results.

I consulted in another matter where an unsophisticated person received a lot of money as a settlement for injuries sustained.  That person’s attorney put the money into a bank account for him.  A careless banker and that banker’s unscrupulous friend helped relieve him of most of it.   The point, simple stupid, is that with very few exceptions, you need to be involved, whether you detest it or not, in reviewing your financial matters, and financial matters for which you have responsibility.

In our smart phone world, why would anyone want to have paper bank or brokerage statements?  The reason is that you are more likely to look at paper that comes in the U.S. mail, as opposed to email. I serve as trustee for a bunch of accounts, and treasurer for several entities. Some people might not dwell too much on the responsibilities one carries as a trustee, but that is a mistake.  Years ago, I was a trustee of a day school that did not pay its federal withholding taxes. Subsequently, all of the trustees had a tax levy filed against them.  That focused my attention.

If you are a trustee of an organization that has a “full opinion” Certified Public Accountant audit, you can pretty much relax. The accountants will review the books, and you are probably safe.  But, most organizations can’t afford, and don’t need full opinion audits.  With anything less, you are on your own, and the accountant will get the person/organization to sign some forms to say so and absolve them of any responsibility.  If you are on an Advisory Board, don’t worry.   Advisory Boards have no official responsibility.

I suggest the following for your own finances:  Get your important bank or brokerage statements where there are cash, check or electronic transfers in hard copy.  Review the pages that have the copies of the checks on them, or other pages that show the payees to be sure that there is nothing with which you are not familiar. If it is a business account handled by others, test check the same thing from time to time. If you have responsibility as a Trustee, or other officer for someone else’s money, in addition to the above, confirm that each account is reconciled monthly.

If you don’t want to take the time to do these things, consider resigning because you have the responsibility for any wrongdoing.

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TABASFUNDING provides entrepreneurs with funding to acquire or expand businesses in the form of flexible loans from $100,000 to $750,000, or more. We supplement bank and other funds, and consider most types of businesses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.   Please call 610-896-2400 or email Lee@Tabasfunding.com for further information.

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LEE TABAS is available as a consultant or an expert witness.  Areas of expertise include:  general business, management, problem asset resolution, marketing, acquisition or sale of businesses, relationship development, loan policies, high performance banking, and business funding.  Please call 610-896-2400 or email Lee@Tabasfunding.com for further information.