Hackers target CPAs: “Termination of your CPA license”

1) Creates an emotional/stressful situation that reduces carefulness (e.g., checking where the links are directing)

2) Establishes legitimacy: using existing organizations and quoting organization internal processes

3) Has a call to action: next steps require a response (via infected link)

Quite sophisticated, unfortunately. Here’s the full message:

SUBJECT: Termination of your CPA license.
FROM : Alicia Houston <support@bbb.org>

You’re receiving this email as a Certified Public Accountant and a member of AICPA.
Having trouble reading this email? View it in your browser.

Revocation of Accountant status due to income tax fraud accusations

Valued accountant officer,

We have been notified of your recent involvement in tax return fraudulent activity  on behalf of one of your clients. According to AICPA Bylaw Subsection 730 your Certified Public Accountant license can be terminated in case of the fact of presenting of a false or fraudulent income tax return on the member’s or a client’s behalf.

Please find the complaint below below and respond to it within 21 days. The failure to provide the clarifications within this period will result in cancellation of your CPA license.

Complaint.doc [attachment]

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Email: service@aicpa.org
Tel. 888.777.7077
Fax. 800.362.5066

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Are we ALL the 1 percent?

Despite confusion of the Occupy Wall Street protests, they have a point. For those who would like some facts, here they are:

According to the CIA World Fact Book rank of income inequality, the U.S. is slightly better than in Bulgaria, but we’re worse than Iran, China, and Russia.  As a democracy, that should be embarrassing.

Here’s how income is actually distributed nowadays:

If you’re one of the peons in light blue, don’t feel bad, because you’re STILL at the tops from a global perspective. According to the Global Rich List, a salary of just $35,000 will place you squarely in the Top 5%. Starting to feel like a greedy ne’er-do-well? You can give a donation to help someone truly in need.

$35,000 Income Puts you in the TOP 4.62%

How to Partner with a Large Corporation

Congratulations! Your startup is in the final negotiations with a large corporation for a joint venture. Except now they’re asking you to foot the (marketing) bill. It’s becoming less and less clear what they’re bringing to the table. But you’ve been pinning your hopes on this partnership, so it must be a good thing, right?

Here are some considerations.

Joint Marketing:

  1. Have company leverage existing resources/capacity (e.g., marketing people, graphic design) to reduce outside vendor costs
  2. Design the ramp-up period  (i.e., pilot) with testing/analytics to improve campaign efficiency.

Competition:

  1. The danger of working with a Goliath is that they often have the ability to squash you. Make sure your service maintains a competitive advantage so they won’t want to drop you in favor of another partner (or in-house solution)
  2. There are plenty of examples of large corporations considering partnerships, getting lots of inside information, and then deciding to do it themselves without the partner. Prevent this by focusing on the benefits / final outcome, rather than on the details of execution

How to Make a Bad Idea Good (or at least less bad)

I’ve been reading a lot of pitches lately, and many are obviously ill-fated. Here are some themes that would benefit most of them:

1) Cut the budget in half. Costs will be higher than expected, and returns will be lower than expected. Inflated numbers won’t fool anyone.

2) Plan the project in multiple phases. Then focus on phase 1 – it should make sense on its own.If it’s only value comes from the success of future phases, then that’s a problem.

3) If you can’t even explain it clearly, then what chance does it have of actually working? Simplify.

4) Money does not equal marketing does not equal success. There is often low correlation between each.

5) Time is not money. Spend the time, don’t spend the money. If your team doesn’t have the in-house capabilities, then it’s not the right team for the project.

6) Experience matters – but experience doesn’t matter. Past successes are great, but what’s even better is experience that will help with the current idea.

7) Think small – but be ready for success. How will the idea scale if it turns out to work?

8) How will it fail? How long will it take? How much will it cost? Will there be any salvageable value?

The Largest Computer Hardware Business on the Planet

Mr. Hurd will bring his expertise running the largest computer hardware  business on the planet to Oracle, where he may be able to revive the fortunes of Sun’s products at H.P.’s expense.

Who do you think wrote that statement? It sure sounds like a press release from Oracle. But it comes from the pen of Ashlee Vance at the New York Times. Does Ashlee even read what he copies and pastes?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/technology/07oracle.html?_r=1&hpw

Rushing Spies, or just middle-class Americans? The News Media Falls Short on Analysis (Again)

The New York Times, and essentially all the other media, have assumed the 11 middle-class people arrested are spies. This, even though there is insufficient evidence to even charge them for espionage.

Experts, on the other hand, wonder why such an elaborate spy ring would be so unfocused, ineffective, and unprofessional. Unfocused, because these 11 people lived middle-class lives, working in regular jobs, with no efforts made to obtain government positions or decision-making ability, or any type of access to anything. Ineffective because the most accurate source of news for a real estate agent in suburban New England was probably the New York Times (haha!). And unprofessional because some of the 11 admitted to having Russian ties, whereas true sleeper spies would have blended in completely.

So if these people are doing none of the stuff that we think of as actually espionage, why has the media labeled them as spies? It’s time for their friends, classmates, coworkers, employers, and universities to stand up for them and at least ensure they’re not tarred and feathered by the unthinking media.

They might, indeed, be spies after all. But let’s not assume so just because the government arrests them on trumped up money laundering charges.

A small victory for all U.S. citizens

With so much going wrong these days, at least all U.S. citizens and companies can breathe a sigh of relief at the following:

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in the Northern District of California rejected the Bush administration’s argument that no warrant was necessary to look through the electronic files of an American citizen who was returning home from a trip to South Korea.

Oh wait… that wasn’t the Bush administration that was claiming the right to seize a traveler’s laptop, keep in locked up for months, and examine it for contraband files without a warrant half a year later. That was the Obama administration. Fortunately the courts were there to prevent obscene abuse of executive power.

Read more here.