links for 2008-09-15

Paper Phishing?

Sometimes the old tricks are the best. AP reports of a man who allegedly claimed potion could turn paper into money:

ANOKA, Minn. – A 22-year-old Savage man faces charges of theft by swindling after allegedly claiming he had a chemical potion that could transform plain white paper into U.S. currency. Franklin T. Forlemu was scheduled to appear in Anoka County District Court on Monday for a hearing.

Police said Forlemu used a slight-of-hand trick to make it look like blank pieces of white paper were turned into $20 bills. A Coon Rapids grocery store owner fell for the trick and gave Forlemu about $70,000 in $100 bills, in hopes the money would be multiplied. Instead, the store owner got only white paper, and his money was gone, according to the criminal complaint.

Police said they found the cash in Forlemu’s apartment. Bryan Lindberg, an Anoka County prosecutor for 20 years, said the scam “is the most creative one I have seen.” The chemical potion Forlemu used was actually water, said Coon Rapids Detective Dave Westberg. Forlemu, an illegal immigrant from Africa, had no prior felony convictions and was released on personal recognizance. His public defender, Bryan Leary, said he needs to review the charges before commenting.

I particularly like the last sentence:

Westberg said the U.S. Secret Service did not file counterfeiting charges, but officials are watching the case.

Counterfeiting what, exactly?

Some other details from the Star Tribune:

According to the complaint, Forlemu went to Chang’s store, slipped blank pieces of paper between some $20 bills, donned a breathing mask and poured his mysterious concoction over the pile. When he was done, the blanks looked like twenties to Chang. Forlemu told him to get large sums of cash, and Chang came back with $70,000 in $100 bills.

He watched Forlemu put the blank slips between them and pour the solution on the stack, then wrap the wad in tinfoil and pour on more. Forlemu said the money and paper must be sealed for three hours before opening the windfall. But when Chang finally unwrapped the tinfoil stack, he found nothing but white paper.

I love the breathing mask touch. Classy.


Save Money: Fire Yourself

How often does this happen? Mankato editor resigns rather than cut staff

MANKATO, Minn. — The top editor of The Free Press announced she would resign rather than cut newsroom jobs to meet budget targets.

On Tuesday, The Free Press reported the decision by editor Deb Flemming to leave the company on April 9 as part of a broader cost-cutting plan. She informed her staff on Monday.

“Clearly, my leaving kept additional folks in the newsroom,” she said. “You need people to do the job. Without people, it will impact the quality of the product you give readers.”

Flemming, 50, said she wouldn’t be looking for another newspaper job, at least right away. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I’m really looking forward to a change.”

Hats off to her. I await a report that a consultant hired to cuts costs immediately scrapped his own contract on cost-cutting grounds.