Old land deal quietly haunts Mick Mulvaney as he serves as Trump’s chief of staff

Mick Mulvaney was a young businessman and budding politician 11 years ago when he became co-owner of a company that wanted to build a strip mall near a busy intersection in this upscale bedroom community outside Charlotte.

All that was needed was money.

The company cobbled together the financing — which included borrowing $1.4 million from a family firm owned by a prominent local businessman named Charles Fonville Sr., according to court records and interviews.

Eventually, the project fell apart. The mall never got built. And Mulvaney moved on, building a political career as a firebrand fiscal hawk and tea party pioneer in Congress who railed against out-of-control government deficits — eventually rising a few weeks ago to be President Trump’s acting chief of staff.

Fonville, however, said his company has not received the $2.5 million with interest that he said it is owed. In explaining the debt to a Senate committee during his 2017 confirmation hearing, Mulvaney cast it as a casualty of a bad real estate deal, saying the sum “will go unpaid.”

Today, their dispute is at the center of a legal battle playing out behind the scenes in South Carolina as Mulvaney guides Trump through a high-stakes budget showdown with congressional Democrats.

.. The fight threatens to tarnish Mulvaney’s image as fiscally responsible, just as he has reached the most influential position of his career.

Fonville’s company has filed a claim in a South Carolina court against two companies in which Mulvaney has an ownership stake, accusing them of ­

  • “intent to deceive,”
  • “fraudulent acts” and
  • “breach of contract” to avoid repayment. ]

The heart of Fonville’s allegation: When a new Mulvaney-linked company was formed and sought to foreclose on the first company Mulvaney co-owned, it was a maneuver to avoid paying the debt owed to Fonville.

.. Mulvaney was not sued individually, but late last year — while he was running the Office of Management and Budget and carrying out his duties as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — he traveled to Charlotte to be deposed in the case, his attorney said.

.. “I can’t believe he treated me the way he did,” Fonville said during interviews about the case, including one last month as he visited the property that kicked off the dispute. “It is not a small piece of money. You are talking about a couple of million dollars.”

“I have tried to call him,” said Fonville, 83, who said he is a Republican who voted for Trump. “He never called me back. I had thought Mick was an ethical person.” 

Mulvaney declined to comment. The White House referred questions to Mulvaney’s lawyer, John R. Buric, who said Mulvaney has done nothing wrong.

Episode 876: Patent Deception

World Patent Marketing’s pitch to inventors was simple: Pay us lots of money, and we’ll take care of the complicated patent office details. Hundreds of tinkerers and would-be visionaries took this deal.

After all, the patent system is complicated. Marketing is tricky. It can be hard to find factories. But, for new inventors, it’s hard to tell a legitimate service from a scam. It was especially hard to tell with World Patent Marketing, which boasted an advisory board that included Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

If you want more, check out this piece in the Miami New Times, by Brittany Shammas, who joins us on this week’s show.

Has Microsoft Office 365 Beat Phishing?

In my personal use of 0365, I get somewhere between 50-200 personal emails a day. On average, I still have 1 to 3 phishing emails getting to me each day. Not only are they still arriving, but their sophistication and targeting are up. I still get phishing attempts from banks and other companies I don’t do business with, but it seems the phishing attempts that seem to have advanced knowledge of the companies and services I do do business with seem to be increasing. I’ve just assumed they are getting clues from my social media postings and other information leaks.

.. For example, people buying houses now have to be aware of compromised mortgage agents who’s email has been taken over by a phisher, who then sends a bogus request for the closing payment to the buyer to wire the money to another bank. The house buyers were expecting the wire transfer request, and it appears from the email account of the person they were told to expect the wire transfer request from. It appears legitimate in every way, including the amount of the money they were told to expect to have to bring to closing, with the only changed details being the bank they are wiring the money to. If the unsuspecting home buyer wires the money to the wrong bank, they are often permanently out of the money (if not the house they were wanting to buy unless they can and want to pay the closing costs again).

.. Like mortgage closing payment fraud, all spear phishing is increasing in sophistication. It is coming from people and businesses you trust. Regardless of what any vendor tells you, their anti-phishing miss rate will never be zero. I’ve been in the computer security business for over three decades. And each year, I hear from some vendor how they finally have phishing beat. And each year, it seems to get worse. Despite every vendor’s best effort, it seems more phishes are hitting my inbox than ever before

.. Even if a vendor solved the email phishing problem at work, it doesn’t stop email phishes from getting to your employees. Most employees have personal email accounts, and if that service has a non-zero phishing rate, then you and your company still need to educate those employees with security awareness training. Just because you solve the problem at work doesn’t mean the problem is gone.

Money Mules: How A Data Breach Turns Into Cash

Once a cybercriminal gets their hands on thousands of credit cards, now what? They obviously can’t go on a shopping spree and have everything shipped to their house, right?

Instead, they rely on a high-tech mix of services and scams to turn the stolen credit cards into stolen goods. It starts with shipping labels – a critical part of the scam. Black market services exist to print labels with carriers that are sold to cybercriminals – often by those proficient in taking over accounts with access to shipping services.

But labels alone don’t get the job done; to remain unknown, cybercriminals need a “drop network” – which includes a group of unsuspecting individuals who act as “mules” to receive good purchased with the credit cards and ship them to their next destination.