Category: Fun

The Road To Popehat: "This Will Not Turn Out Well" Edition

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It's time for the Road to Popehat, the feature in which we check out the traffic logs, see what searches brought you here, and ask ourselves: why democracy, again?

This time: searches over the course of a single week, showing cunning plans that will not end well.

sample takedown request libel: COME AT ME BRO.

pro se litigant at divorce trial bad idea? Pardon me while I guffaw.

how to hide drugs from a police drug dog: You can wire your fee deposit to my trust account right away. I'll call the bail broker.

how to make violence funny: To you, or the victim?

where to put spy cam in bathroom: Isn't that what your LA is for, Congressman?

classy status for Facebook slander: Please. Facebook libel.

how long can you do rape in nm: NOT AT ALL. Jesus. I mean, unless you're a cop.

when is discrimination acceptable when recruiting: Oh, hey, is Ambercrombie hiring again?

minnesota state law on slapping a 16 year old: Have a glass of wine and take a walk first.

does a bullet leave the registered owners encription: No, seriously. WINE AND WALK. It's your kid for God's sake.

does disorderly conduct break the constitution: That depends on how hard you try.

looking for a classy big gold neck piece: Good luck with that.

thanksgiving objectivism: I understand you're very excited about what you learned first semester freshman year, but maybe some light chat about sports over dinner instead?

laws to protect elves: Sorry Hermey. You're on your own.

I Am Thankful For This Bit Of Fun

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Urban Ministries of Durham, a low-overhead charity devoted to assisting the elderly poor of Durham, North Carolina, has kicked off an interesting donation drive: naming rights for items that will assist their clients.

The items are many: toilets, canned vegetables, computers, a group meal donated by a local chef, a deodorant. Your naming options are virtually limitless. Name the item for your spouse, your child, your friend, your enemy, or someone you admire.

I donated the cost of a hygiene product, in the name of a prominent North Carolina politician.

Art Pope Adult Diaper of Infamy


The site allows you to advise the subject of your honor by email. You may inform your friends through Facebook or Twitter of your cleverness, or keep your good deed to yourself, taking private satisfaction in the knowledge that the Kathleen Sebelius Processed Meat Product of Managerial Incompetence is now a reality.

This is a clever use of social media, for a worthy charity. Why NOT brighten someone's day with the Anthea Butler Maxi-Pad of Supercilious Stupidity?


Now look what you people made me do:

John Steele Tampon of Stubborn Litigiousness

Another Hammer Drops On Prenda Law

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All of Popehat's Prenda coverage is collected here.

Last month I used up all the ones and zeroes in order to describe the trouble Prenda Law and the Prendateers are in across America. Could it get worse? Of course it could get worse. Today it did.

As you may recall, United States Magistrate Judge Franklin L. Noel reopened several closed Prenda cases in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota to explore whether Prenda had committed fraud at the court. After a hearing that will render Thanksgiving dinners at the Steele household forever awkward, Team Prenda attempted to disqualify Magistrate Judge Noel based on extravagant accusations of bias. You know, because that worked out so well for them with Judge Wright.

Today Magistrate Judge Noel dropped another hammer on Team Prenda. Unlike Judge Wright, he didn't dress up his order with Star Trek references. Team Prenda probably wishes he had.

The order is here. It's ugly for Team Prenda. After reciting the procedural history — and noting the growing array of judges that have sanctioned Team Prenda — Judge Noel made factual findings:


  • He "expressly disbelieves [John] Steele’s testimony" that Steele heard Alan Cooper give Mark Lutz permission to sign Cooper's name to copyright assignments.
  • He found that even though he had ordered Team Prenda to produce someone who could testify directly that the copyright assignments were valid — that is, whoever signed them —  that they "failed to produce an officer who was capable of testifying to the authenticity of each copyright assignment agreement."  He noted "the recent pattern of Lutz failing to appear when he is scheduled to testify under oath."
  • He described Alan Cooper's testimony — that Cooper never gave anyone permission to sign his name, and that Cooper didn't know his name was being used – and concluded that he "finds Cooper’s testimony credible."

This will be extremely difficult for Prenda to attack. A judge's evaluation of the credibility of witnesses at a hearing is entitled to great deference on any appeal.

From there, Magistrate Judge Noel made conclusions of law:

The copyright-assignment agreements attached as Exhibit B to each complaint in each of these five cases are not what they purport to be. Alan Cooper denies signing either agreement and also denies giving anyone else the authority to sign them on his behalf. AF Holdings failed to produce any credible evidence that the assignments were authentic. The Court has been the victim of a fraud perpetrated by AF Holdings, LLC. The Court concludes that the appropriate remedy for this fraud is to require AF Holdings to return all of the settlement money it received from all of the Defendants in these cases, and to pay all costs and fees (including attorneys’ fees) incurred by the Defendants. After all settlement payments are returned and other fees are paid, all five cases should be dismissed on the merits, with prejudice. [emphasis added]

Echoing Judge Wright, Magistrate Judge Noel left the rest up to other authorities:

The Court further concludes that, once all of the ill-gotten gains are fully disgorged from AF Holdings, it would not be a wise use of the Court’s limited resources to sua sponte attempt to fully untangle the relationship between Hansmeier, Steele, Duffy, Dugas, Lutz and Prenda Law, on the one hand—and the Plaintiff, AF Holdings, LLC., on the other. Such investigation can more effectively be conducted by federal and state law enforcement at the direction of the United States Attorney, the Minnesota Attorney General and the Boards of Professional Responsibility in the jurisdictions where the attorneys involved in this apparent scheme are licensed to practice law.

The judge also denied Mr. Cooper's motion to intervene in the case (as his decision rendered it moot) and denied as meritless the motion to disqualify him.

Savor this, from the ending summary of action ordered:

3. The Clerk of Court shall send a copy of this order to the following individuals and entities for the purpose of further investigation:

A. The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota. ATTN: John R. Marti, Acting United States Attorney. Address: U.S. Courthouse, 300 S. 4th St., Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55415.

B. The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office. ATTN: Lori Swanson, Attorney General. Address: 1400 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota St., St. Paul, MN 55101.

C. The Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility. Address: 1500 Landmark Towers, 345 St. Peter St., St. Paul 55102.

D. The Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois. Address: 130 E. Randolph Dr., Ste. 1500, Chicago, IL 60601-6219.

The wheels turn slowly, friends, but make no mistake, the wheels turn. The wheels are grinding down Team Prenda, and doing so faster and faster every month. With two different federal judges referring the matter to state bars and the U.S. Attorney's office, the probability of bar investigations and federal grand jury investigations approaches certainty.

Journal of the Shutdown: Back to How Things Used to Be

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Time counts and keeps countin', and we knows now finding the trick of borrowing trillions ain't no easy ride. But that's our trek, we gotta' travel it. And there ain't nobody knows where it's gonna' lead.

Still in all, every night we does the tell, so that we 'member who we was and where we came from… but most of all we 'members the men that funded us. And we lights the bonfire of billions, borrowed from the Chinese. 'Cause we knows there come a night, when they sees the distant light, and they'll be comin' home.

Journal of the Shutdown: Day 16

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A neighbor hammered on my bunker door this morning, telling me that the Republicans were refusing to pay for her birthcontrol. I dogged the hatch tighter.

Turning and turning in the widening partisanship,
The leaders cannot hear the lobbyists;
Budgets fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Republicans are loosed upon the world,
Website-dimmed healthcare is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of national parks is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of governing intensity.

Surely some fluke is at hand;
Surely birth control funding is at hand.
Birth Control Funding! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Cadueus
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with pharmacist body and a cash register head,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is selling over the counter options, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant tidewater birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty days of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough deal, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Washington to be born?

(apologies and image footnote)

History Must Be Curved

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I'm about to quote almost 700 words from a blog post, which normally would be considered long…but it's from an almost book-length series of posts, so as a proportion of the whole, it's actually quite short.

HISTORY MUST BE CURVED, for there is a horizon in the affairs of mankind. Beyond this horizon, events pass out of historical consciousness and into myth. Accounts are shortened, complexities sloughed off, analogous figures fused, traditions “abraded into anecdotes.” Real people become culture heroes: archetypical beings performing iconic deeds. (Vansina 1985)

In oral societies this horizon lies typically at eighty years; but historical consciousness endures longer in literate societies, and the horizon may fall as far back as three centuries. Arthur, a late 5th cent. war leader, had become by the time of Charlemagne the subject of an elaborate story cycle. Three centuries later, troubadours had done the same to Charlemagne himself. History had slipped over the horizon and become the stuff of legend. In AD 778, a Basque war party ambushed the Carolingian rear guard (Annales regni francorum). Forty years later, Einhard, a minister of Charlemagne, mentioned “Roland, prefect of the Breton Marches” among those killed (“Hruodlandus Brittannici limitis praefectus,” Vita karoli magni). But by 1098, Roland had become a “paladin” and the central character, the Basques had become Saracens, and a magic horn and tale of treachery had been added (La chanson de Roland). Compare the parallel fate of a Hopi narrative regarding a Navajo ambush (Vansina, pp. 19-20). This suggests that 17th century history has for the bulk of the population already become myth. Jamestown is reduced to “Pocahontas,” and Massachusetts boils down to “the First Thanksgiving.” And the story of how heliocentrism replaced geocentrism has become a Genesis Myth, in which a culture-hero performs iconic deeds that affirm the rightness of Our Modern World-view.

Conclusion: Our ancestors were not fools.

In three centuries, the long complex story of how the mobile Earth replaced the stationary Earth dipped below the horizon from History into Legend. Like all good legends, the story of heliocentrism and the culture-hero Galileo is simple and general and geared toward supporting the Rightness of the Modern worldview. But history is always detailed and particular.

The reasons for the stationary Earth were rooted in empirical experience and successful modeling. The dual motion of the Earth is not sensibly evident and was difficult to establish on empirical grounds. Heliocentrism triumphed first of all because Neoplatonic number mysticism had become au courant during the Renaissance, and Platonists equated mathematical elegance with physical evidence.

Resistance to heliocentrism was rooted in the science of the day and religion entered the picture mainly because the Church Fathers had interpreted Scripture in the light of that science. They weren’t about to change until there was solid evidence that the science (and hence the interpretation) was wrong; not in the middle of no honkin' Reformation they weren’t. Thomas Huxley said after investigating the affair that “the Church had the better case.” But Pierre Duhem put it differently. The Copernicans were “right for the wrong reasons.” The Ptolemaics were “wrong for the right reasons.”

Science doesn’t follow a mythic positivist ideal but the plural scientific methods described by Feyerabend: a mixture of empiricism, flights of fancy, intuition, aesthetics, doggedness, and jealousy. Scientific theories are underdetermined. Any finite set of facts can support multiple theories, and for a long time the available facts were equally explained by geostationary or geomobile models.

In the Legend, the conflict was between Science and Religion. But in the History, the conflict was between two groups of scientists, with churchmen lined up on all sides. Copernicanism was supported by humanist literati and opposed by Aristotelian physicists; so it was a mixed bag all around. Science does not take place in a bubble. International and domestic politics and individual personalities roil the pot as well. The mystery is not why Galileo failed to triumph – he didn’t have good evidence, made enemies of his friends, and stepped into a political minefield. The real mystery is why Kepler, who actually had the correct solution, constantly flew under the radar. A deviant Lutheran working in a Catholic monarchy, he pushed Copernicanism as strongly as Galileo; but no one hassled him over it. Too bad he couldn’t write his way out of a paper bag.

This is from the conclusion of Michael Flynn's masterful nine part essay on "The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown".

I can not recommend it highly enough.

  1. The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown
  2. The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown: Down for the Count
  3. The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown:
    The Great Galileo-Scheiner Flame War of 1611-13
  4. The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown:
    The Down 'n Dirty Mud Wrassle
  5. The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown: Here's Mud in Yer Eye
  6. The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown: Comet Chameleon
  7. The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown: Time and Tides Wait Not
  8. The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown: Trial and Error
  9. The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown: From Plausible to Proven

If you find the idea in the first quoted paragraph above ("Beyond this horizon, events pass out of historical consciousness and into myth. Accounts are shortened, complexities sloughed off, analogous figures fused, traditions 'abraded into anecdotes.'") somewhere between tantalizing and fascinating, then you could do worse than to check out his Spiral Arm series of novels:

  1. January Dancer
  2. Up Jim River
  3. On the Razor's Edge
  4. In the Lion's Mouth

I loved the books.

Wikipedia has this to say about them:


This is a far future science fiction novel set in a universe populated with only humans and "pre-human" artifacts. It is told as a narrative presented with variations on English, Chinese, Indian, and Celtic words. The literary style has been described as extremely difficult to read due to the inclusion of non-English terms and historical accounts that are not common knowledge to most SF readers[1][2]. The characters in the story belong to 2 major factions of humanity: The United League of the Periphery, and the Confederacy of Central Worlds. The Confederacy is the remnant of Earth and its original colonies while the League is composed of the planets far out on the spiral arm of the galaxy. These 2 factions are in a galactic "cold war" and both have secretive pseudo-military agencies that feature prominently in the book. The story centers around the Confederacy and League agents seeking the answer to a mystery of the disappearance of ships in the rift between the spiral arm and the central worlds. The story's title comes from a "pre-human" artifact called the Dancer which is discovered early in the book. It exerts a subtle but very profound effect on various characters throughout the story. It is eventually revealed to be part of an ancient race of silicon based lifeforms called "The Folk of Sand and Iron" that have played a very significant but almost unknown role in human history. The story has 2 sequels and a third planned[3]. The January Dancer was a finalist for the 2009 Prometheus Award.

ObDisclosure about this review:

  1. I've never met Michael Flynn, and have no personal or economic stake in his success.
  2. I do, however, have a memetic stake. He thinks Deep Thoughts that I agree with. I wouldn't mind him getting funded so that he can keep writing.
  3. The links to his books above use the Amazon Popehat affiliate code. Read about how that money gets spent here.
  4. Depending on the reaction to this post, I may end up writing reviews of science fiction novels that I find worthy of note. Whether or not people like this one, I'm pretty likely to write one of my big-honkin' pieces on the topic of left/right/centrist post-apocalyptic novels.

UPDATE: Thanks for dropping by, Hacker News readers. If you liked this you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed. Popehat is a group blog. Ken is the most prolific blogger and covers civil rights law. I'm the second most prolific blogger (this week, at least) and talk about science, politics, and – upcoming – intended to dive deep into Urbit and will soon start writing reviews of science fiction novels. The other co-bloggers are also fascinating nerds and write about stuff that the typical news.yc reader would enjoy. Stick around!

Journal of the Great Shutdown: Day Four

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A family emergency is calling me out of town. I really hate to leave home at a time like this. I know – I just know – that the motorcycle gangs are gathering, and with Homeland Security down to a mere 86% of its strength, and with the Department of Defense no longer able to give MRAPs to local police departments and higher educational facilities because of the shutdown I can taste the chaos in the wind, like ashes and smoke from a burning once-great civilization.

Given the inevitable looting I can't help thinking that my home is a target (especially with all that gasoline and salted beef sitting in the garage).

Still, Mrs. Clark is handy with a crossbow and looks, frankly, hot as hell in white hockey armor. And I have to – I have to – go. I hope she'll be able to defend the juice, the precious juice.

I'll try to get back as soon as I can.

Stay strong, people. If you don't hear from me again, know that I had you – all of you – in my heart.

Journal of the Great Shutdown: Day Three

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Good news and bad.

Craigslist and the internet are still up (for now), and I even managed to get ahold of a blacksmith. He said he could make me a crossbow, but it would take two weeks and cost $3,000. He's busy working on a commission for a decorative railing and would charge extra if I wanted a rush job.

The fools. Decorative railing? Before this apocalypse is over, the only use that railing will be get is by savage 14 year old cannibals using it to roast the bodies of the yuppies who commissioned it over a cooking fire made of splintered remains of their tasteful Shaker furniture.

So, a bust on the leaf spring crossbow…but the blacksmith – and I hope he comes through this cataclysm all right – told me that Cabelas might have some in stock.

I drove to the nearest one, not wanting to trust that UPS will still be running by the weekend, and found a
"Barnett Recruit"
for $299. Oddly, there was no frantic mob of panic buyers.

I leaned across the counter and told the clerk that if he didn't want to accept US dollars – what with the apocalypse and all – I was willing to trade him salted beef, but he looked uncomfortable and said that his manager would prefer it if I used plastic.

I bought five crossbows – trade goods – and their entire stock of bolts. I also picked up another water filter (20% off sale!).

After that I stopped by the hardware store where I bought 10 jerry cans, and then filled them at the gas station. That should keep the generator running until I can figure out how to set up a still and find a supply of pig shit. My credit card is getting maxed out, but if this government budget impasse lasts another few days the entire financial system will be in ruins anyway, so what do I care?

Thinking of the generator made me realize that I'd need light bulbs, so I stopped at a Target on the way home.

I looked for 100 watt incandescent light bulbs, but the shelf where they used to be was bare. I found a clerk. He was just 17 or so, and too dumb to realize that he should be escaping the chaos with a boy scout troop up in the hills instead of working in the doomed wreckage of civilization.

"Can I get some 100 watt bulbs from the back? Maybe a pallet? Or two?"

He shook his head sadly. "No, there are no 100 watt incandescent bulbs."

"They're gone already?"

"Yeah, you know. Because of the government."

I clapped my hand on his pimply shoulder in silent solidarity.

It's starting, people. It's starting.

May God protect us all.

Journal of the Great Shutdown: Day Two

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My trip to Petco was uneventful. A cheerful greeter at the door handed me a coupon for Eukenuba Lamb and Rice dog food, so I bought that instead of the Dinky Dee I had set out for.

I don't know who's more foolish: the greeter standing there, cheerfully helping shoppers, or the other customers who weren't panicking and hoarding like I was. Don't these idiots realize that the government is shut down?!?!

The lack of rioting at Petco encouraged me – might there still be actual human food on the shelves at other stores? Swung by Whole Foods where I saw canned goods…and large cuts of beef and pork on sale at $1.99 / lb. Remembering a trick from Lucifer's hammer, I bought all the meat I could fit in the shopping cart, took it home, sliced it thin, and dehydrated it.

As I stayed up until 4am slicing meat I couldn't help but dwell on the fact that the customers at Whole Foods are just as deluded as those at Petco. Fools. Pathetic fools. The societal breakdown might not be that obvious yet, but by day three of the government shutdown they'll be hammering at my door, looking for salted beef.

Sadly, I've realized that my preparations aren't as far along as they should be. Ammunition will soon grow scarce, and I'll need other weapons to defend myself from bikers and feral children once the government shutdown really hits. I recall from Dies the Fire that crossbows can be made from truck leaf springs. I'm going to go onto Craigslist to try to find a blacksmith or craftsman I can barter with, but I fear it may already be too late – has Craigslist survived this long?

For that matter, will this missive ever reach you, dear readers?

The FCC has furloughed 98% of its employees, so I worry that without thousands of government heroes to keep the internet from collapsing, when I click "post" this message will go nowhere. I may have to find an alternative way to get this note to you.

If this message takes days, weeks, or even months to reach you, please understand – that's the best we can hope for with no government.

Why Won't Nice Girls Ever Write Me Back? :(

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I am a writer looking for good blogs like yours where I can contribute professionally written and proofread articles. I'm just wondering if you accept guest posts?

If you do currently accept contributions, do you allow links inside the main article? Also, are there any fees I might need to pay?

Looking forward to hearing from you soon. :)



Dear Victoria,

Thank you for your inquiry.

What kinds of subjects do your articles address? Would it be possible to suggest a topic suited for my blog?



Thanks for your reply.

Generally I prefer to be guided by the publisher in terms of what they would like covered. This way you get an article that fits in with the overall voice of your blog. Do you have any strong preferences in terms of what should or shouldn't be covered?



Dear Victoria,

Thank you for your response.

I appreciate your offer to craft an article that fits with the voice of our blog. The term I hear most often to describe our voice is "shouty," but that's mostly from people who are frankly very judgmental. I prefer the term "mellifluous" to describe our voice. I previously preferred "jumentous" because it sounds nice, like a combination of momentous and jubilant, but then I looked it up and no.

Right now, Victoria, we're particularly interested in the equine risks to our children — or, as we prefer to say to convey the fulsome nature and extent of the threat, Our Children. I don't know about Australia, but in America right now pony rides are very popular. You see pony rides at the birthday parties of imminently bankrupt social climbing parents, at open-air farmer's markets in the suburbs, at at fairs, carnivals, and other community events operated by persons susceptible to being depicted in HBO series. The sight of the ponies fills children with delight, Victoria. But too seldom is the question asked — are they SAFE?

Please let me know if you would like for me to elaborate.

Also, what type of links would you like to put in the articles? May I hope they would add value and provide information likely to be of interest to our readers?

Very truly yours,


[no response]





RMZ Fire Safety: The Investigation Continues

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Last week I launched a new mail fraud investigation of an entity calling itself RMZ Fire Safety. I outlined the reasons I suspected that the outfit was bogus — chief of which was they sent an invoice for services they didn't render, and I could find no trace of their existence.

One of my purposes was to create a presence for RMZ Fire Safety on Google so that when other businesses received their invoice they would find my post, and hopefully send tips about further invoices.

It's working.

A tipster received an RMZ invoice at her business, Googled it, found my post, and sent me this invoice.

The second invoice strongly corroborates the fraud. First, it's yet another business that got the invoice despite never having heard of RMZ Fire Safety or receiving services from it. Second, the "Account #" — which for a legitimate business would reflect each customer's individual number — is identical to the "Account #" on the first invoice I received. That's typical of mail fraud schemes.

I've given the invoices to a Postal Inspector I happened to meet on some other matter. Never mind which one that was.

Keep sending in the invoices, and I will keep forwarding them to the Postal Inspectors. In addition, if anyone has any ideas on getting information on the persons associated with the phone number — (626) 373-8717, using Google Voice — let me know.

A New Mail Fraud Investigation: "RMZ Fire Safety"

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Long-time readers may remember my Anatomy of a Scam Investigation series, in which I documented my investigation of apparent mail fraud by a company called UST Development and its principal David Bell. UST's gambit, as you may recall, was sending misleading solicitations crafted to look like invoices.

Yesterday a fan of that series sent me a tip about a new subject for investigation: an invoice for a company called "RMZ Fire Safety." The tipster — let's call him G — works for a business in Los Angeles County that received an invoice from RMZ Fire Safety. G reports that RMZ Fire Safety did not do the work reflected in the invoice for the business and that the business had never heard of RMZ Fire Safety, and suggested the invoice might be worth an inquiry.

The game's afoot! You know my methods.

The Invoice: The invoice is here. I've redacted identifying information about G's business. The invoice is extremely cursory. Note that it states a charge of $413.11, including tax, for "Annual State Required Fire Safety Equipment Inspection, Test, and Certification." The invoice comes from "RMZ Fire Safety" with an address of 1407 Foothill Blvd., #614, La Verne, California 91750, and a phone number of (626) 373-8717.1 There is no indication whatsoever that the document is a solicitation rather than an invoice for services rendered. Again, G reports the services were never rendered and that his company has had no contact with "RMZ Fire Safety."

Company Search Techniques: The California Secretary of State's Business Search website reveals no corporation, LLC, or LLP called "RMZ Fire Safety," and no companies with "RMZ" in the title with matching addresses. Could "RMZ Fire Safety" be a fictitious business name — a d.b.a.? Perhaps, but even though both G's business and "RMZ Fire Safety" are in Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk website reveals no fictitious business name statement filed for "RMZ Fire Safety." I like to emphasize resources anyone can use in these posts, but I also searched public records databases on Westlaw, including "Combined Corporate Records & Business Registration Records" for all states, and found no record of a "RMZ Fire Safety."

License Search: If RMZ Fire Safety is performing "Annual State Required Fire Safety Equipment Inspection, Test, and Certification" at G's business, like the invoice suggests, then it would require licenses, unless that description is quite misleading and is only intended to refer to portable items like fire extinguishers and not to equipment like sprinklers. California requires fire protection contractor's license in some circumstances and a State Fire Marshal's license in others. The website for California's Contractors State License Board reveals no license in the name of "RMZ Fire Safety." I inquired with the California Fire Marshal and found no record of a license with them.

Google Search: A Google search for "RMZ Fire Safety" (with quotation marks) reveals one false hit on a spreadsheet uploaded by a user "rmz" but no hits about the business. A broader search for RMZ Fire Safety (without quotation marks) reveals nothing about the business. Google does reveal an Indian real estate developer called "RMZ Corp" with no apparent presence in the United States. For what it is worth, it is not unusual for scammers to use business names similar to those of established businesses, as my investigation of David Bell and UST Development discussed.

Contact Information Search: A Google search of 1407 Foothill Boulevard in La Verne reveals it to be a commercial mailbox establishment. There are no apparent Google hits for that address with box #614. I find no useful Google hits for phone number (626) 373-8717. This is unusual for a genuine business.

Better Business Bureau: Searching the Better Business Bureau's database reveals no hits for "RMZ Fire Safety" or the phone number it lists on its invoice.

Shoe Leather: Some investigations require a direct approach. I called (626) 373-8717. I got a series of recordings, one saying that it was trying to reach the Google Voice customer. Eventually I got a voice-mail box for RMZ Fire Safety. I left a message identifying myself and leaving a phone number, explaining that I write about fraud investigations, had reviewed an invoice from RMZ Fire Safety for services the recipient says were not rendered, and could find no record of RMZ Fire Safety existing. I asked for a return call. I haven't gotten one.

Conclusion: This evidence, taken together, strongly suggests that the "RMZ Fire Safety" invoice is fraudulent. It's not conclusive. It's possible that RMZ Fire Safety is just a name that a real business is using, and it hasn't registered it as a fictitious business name for some reason, and it's brand new and that's why it has left no web traces, and that the invoice was sent to G's business by accident. It's possible that RMZ Fire Safety did perform services at G's business and G just doesn't know about it and RMZ Fire Safety just coincidentally has left no trace of its existence online. RMZ Fire Safety might (as UST Development did) fall back on the "this is a solicitation, not an invoice" defense, though that defense would be unconvincing given the text of the invoice and would also be invalid under federal law, which requires clear disclaimers on solicitations designed to look like invoices.

I will try calling "RMZ Fire Safety" again. Meanwhile, this post will establish a presence for "RMZ Fire Safety" on the web, so others receiving invoices and Googling it (or its phone number or address) will see this post and perhaps send me tips or other invoices. If you want to help with this investigation, I welcome your insight, and particularly welcome you posting something elsewhere about RMZ Fire Safety with a link here to increase the chances that business owners who receive invoices and Google RMZ Fire Safety will find this post.

Meanwhile, I am reporting RMZ Fire Safety to appropriate authorities by methods explained in this post.

To be continued . . .