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Posts tagged “scams”

By Robert Rapier on Nov 27, 2009 with no responses

Son of Xethanol Goes Bankrupt

I have written several essays on Xethanol over the past few years. If you recall, they were a poster child for the theme of “overpromise, boost your stock price, and get rich quick” on biofuels. For me, this story dates back to 2006, when an investigative journalist working for Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban e-mailed me and asked about the company’s claims. They had announced that thy would “be the first to commercialize cellulosic ethanol” (if I had a nickel for every time I have heard that), and they issued press releases at every opportunity. It worked for a while – at one point their market cap was something like half a billion dollars – despite the fact that there… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Oct 7, 2009 with no responses

Updates on the Diablo Scammer

Update 12-09-09: All of the scammer’s websites that he tried to use when scamming me are now offline. Further, I am cooperating with the authorities to actually track him down and bring him to justice. You can read about the initial account here: Exposing a Two-Bit Scammer Update 12-03-09: This saga has also been mentioned over at The Consumerist. (And thank you to people who have forwarded me game keys). There are two things I want to clear up. First, I am not the person who posted the story at Reddit. I only became aware of the story because I saw the traffic coming in from Reddit on my Stat Counter. Second, a number of the commenters at The Consumerist… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on with 16 responses

Exposing a Two-Bit Scammer

Update 12-9-09: This story continues to get a lot of hits (it has been accessed 18,291 times since someone linked to it at Reddit two weeks ago), and I am aware that with the updates it has gotten really, really long. But people keep e-mailing me and asking for updates. Therefore, I am taking out the updates and putting them in a separate story: Updates on the Diablo Scammer Below is the initial story (with a few updates inserted into the story). ———————– My regular readers can ignore this, as it has nothing to do with energy or the environment. This post is about a small-time scammer who tried to rip me off – and who has been ripping others… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 26, 2009 with 1 response

An E-Fuel MicroFueler Dealer Responds

After publishing the previous story, I went back and searched through my Gmail to see when I had first heard about the E-Fuel MicroFueler. It turns out that about a year ago a regular reader of my blog – and someone I had exchanged a number of e-mails with – sent me the first bit of information and asked for my opinion. He told me at that time that he had become a dealer of these systems. At the time, the idea was to use sugar as the feedstock. I made a number of comments, including my concern that the capital costs alone were too high to make the unit economical. I said that I felt like they would need… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 23, 2009 with 1 response

Another Journalist Fails Due Diligence 101

I have had a number of people ask me about the E-Fuel MicroFueler, so at one point I did a bit of investigating. It is essentially a small still, but apparently has a fermentation capability if the feedstock contains sugar. However, they stress that it works best with wastes that contain alcohols (which a still would simply clean up) and they say in their FAQ that “under most circumstances consumers will contract with their dealer to service the MicroFueler and maintain a regular delivery and supply of feedstock.” What that means to me is that they will send you spoiled beer or wine, and the person who failed Economics 101 and bought one of these can then use electricity to… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Mar 9, 2009 with 9 responses

How To Sniff Out a Fraud

I tend to get a lot of e-mails from people either claiming to have invented the next big thing in alternative energy, or from people who want to know if a particular company has something that seems worthwhile. Generally, I can sniff out the scams and pseudoscientists pretty quickly. There are lots of telltale signs. In general there will be no patents, nor patents pending. They will often tell tales of having their invention suppressed. A secret catalyst or secret formulation is another frequent theme. (People too often ascribe magical properties to catalysts. Catalysts can speed up a reaction, but they do not allow you to get around the laws of thermodynamics.) Scam companies will often incorporate a hot buzzword… Continue»