I hope everyone has been enjoying the holidays? I've been going at a little slower pace here at Lazy Man and Money as I try to live up to my name by spending more time with friends and family. However, it's time to get back to work and I figured I'd start with this.
I received a harassing comment from an anonymous person representing themselves as "Better Find" last week on my MonaVie Scam? article:
Speaking of scammers, here is some info about the Massachusetts Homesteaders Exemption.
You must own, and reside on that property and you are required to be a permanent resident of Massachusetts to claim the exemption.
Hmmm, may be a problem [what he thinks my name is]. Have you not been a permanent resident of [where he thinks I live] for quite some time, all the while claiming the exemption in Mass as a permanent resident? tsk tsk.
You should publish some of these on your blog, readers may be quite interested. Maybe in the business section would be more suitable. Do you have a ‘How To Scam The Govt.’ section on [Lazy Man and Money]?
While the commenter wasn't accurate with what they thought my information was, the person did know enough and was specific enough to make me think, "This just doesn't seem to be a bluff. At least if it is a bluff, this person it is a pretty good one."
A Little Background about Me and MonaVie
The article I wrote garnered a lot of comments and a lot of information about the scam came to light. There was so much information that I had to create another website, MonaVie Scam to better organize the information and help people find it. With more than 100 articles, I still have only scratched a tiny fraction of what's in the comments here. That fraction is enough to provide irrefutable evidence supported by reputable third parties that MonaVie is a grossly overpriced product, with little nutritional value, wrapped in a poor business opportunity that may be an illegal pyramid scheme, which is itself wrapped in illegal medical claims, supported by nonsensical "scientific" studies, and tied to a fraudulent charity.
MonaVie, understandably, doesn't like this. In fact MonaVie has threatened legal action against me twice and they've turned to gaming Google to try to push my article down the search results. A reputable company would address the criticisms and take that as an opportunity to provide better value to its distributors and customers. A disreputable company that is built on scamming others, tries to hide what they doing. MonaVie's actions show their true intentions.
Leaving threatening comments like this is not unprecedented - a MonaVie scammer tried to blackmail me in the past.
That's enough background, let me give MonaVie an example on how one is open and publicly addresses criticisms - in this case, this cyber-stalker's claim.
Evaluating the Cyberstalker's Claim
On first glance, it seems like this person has obtained access to my private tax filings, right? That's the clear implication with the use of "claiming the exemption" and "How To Scam The Govt." quote. The unusual thing is that if this person actually had my tax filings, they would have realized that they had the wrong information about me. The other thing they would have noticed is that I haven't prepared my own taxes in years. I'm very sure that my enrolled agent wouldn't allow me to take a tax exemption in MA, when I file my taxes with CA as my primary residence. Not only would my tax person not allow it, it would be the easiest thing in the world to find in an audit.
When I talked to my enrolled agent, they explained that you can't claim a homesteaders exemption - there's no place on the tax form for such a thing. I didn't understand why until I contacted my real estate lawyer. He pointed out that the Massachusetts Homesteaders Exemption has nothing to do with taxes. here's a lawyer's explanation of Massachusetts Homesteaders Exemption:
"The estate of homestead, or 'homestead exemption', provides protection and security to homeowners, eliminating the threat that the equity in their principal residence could be exposed to satisfy common debts or obligations."
As you can tell, the "homestead exemption" isn't related to taxes, it is about providing a safe haven from debt collectors in the form of a primary residence. So for one to "claim a homesteader exemption", I would have to be in debt and I would have to invoke this form of protection - two things that aren't close to happening. As I have taken rental income from the property in question, it is clear that I wouldn't be able to "claim a homesteader exemption."
So where did this cyber-stalker come up with this? When you buy a home, you fill out a number of documents. If you have a good lawyer, you also fill out a Declaration of Homestead so that you can have this protection in case you need it. The document is a matter of public record. I could look up my mom's or anyone else's. It seems to me that the cyber-stalker looked up that I had filed this document when I bought my home. Confusing matters more, in some states, such as Florida it seems, there appears to be a homesteader tax exemption. With this you can see that you have to actively prove residency when taking that tax claim.
An exemption from having your primary residence taken away from you in a bankruptcy event (for example) and a tax exemption are two totally unrelated things.
To make the cyber-stalker look even more ridiculous, there's the fact that I probably can claim this equity protection in the future. My lawyer pointed to the great Massachusetts Homesteader FAQ on SalemDeeds.com (a Registry of Deeds in MA). Under "Can my Homestead be terminated?" is this:
"Yes, the estate of homestead may be terminated by any of the following methods:
abandonment of the home as a principal residence by the owner, owner’s spouse, former spouse or minor children, only as they apply to rights of the persons who abandoned the home. Military service shall not be considered abandonment;"
So while I have abandoned the home as a principal residence, our move was for my wife's military service. I'm exempt from abandonment, which means I can claim exemption as if I had lived there the entire time.
Grading this Cyber-stalker
Since this cyber-stalker thought he was going to teach me a lesson, I thought I'd flip it back on him. I'll play the teacher and grade the attempt:
- Sleuthing Skills: B - Give credit to where credit is due. He got enough information about me right. In my defense, I don't aim to be that anonymous, I just wanted to be able to share my income and net worth and other financial topics without it getting back to my manager at a job. It wasn't until MonaVie distributor Glenn Siesser threatened to kill me, that I thought it might be a good idea to remain anonymous for safety reasons. Still, I know how people can cyber-stalk me. It takes a little technical knowledge. I would have given him an A, but again, with some of the information inaccurate, I had to dock him a letter.
- Threat Appearance: A - I love the whole, "I caught you cheating on your taxes" angle because it A) looks like he had access to my taxes which is concerning and B) has what he feels is evidence is do me some kind of financial harm and/or jail time.
- Threat Substance: F- - It's hard for me to give a grade low enough on this one. It was wrong on every level possible.
- Final Grade: D - All the sleuthing skills and threats in the world don't add up to much without the substance to back it up. There's a reason why people aren't worried about empty threats.
It's interesting to me that someone would even have the thought process to try to attack me. It's not that I think of myself as untouchable, but that I'm just the messenger. If I were caught for tax evasion and/or murdering a dozen people, it still wouldn't change what MonaVie is. The attack itself only serves to make MonaVie look more desperate. It also puts an even brighter spotlight on the negative aspects of MLM and highlights why people should not get involved with them. I just don't see Ocean Spray employees cyber-stalking its critics.
This event serves not only backfires by tainting MonaVie's public image, but it also renews my focus to make the truth about such practices known. In all honesty, I haven't really cared much about MonaVie for some time. I considered that dead horse well-beaten long ago. MonaVie's been going downhill over the last couple of years. I'm much more concerned about Nerium and that scam, which is much more confusing for the average consumer and seems to have snarled many more people. However when this comes along, it brings my attention back to MonaVie.
Hmmm, may be a problem, Better Find and MonaVie.
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