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Money-making schemes in the tough economy

Moseyin’ Along

September 21, 2011
By Joyce Schenk, COLUMNIST
From newspapers to television to the Internet, the list of weird ways to make money in these hard times is growing at warp speed. The variety and ingenuity of the schemes involved is a testament to both the depth of the economic downturn and the unstoppable imagination of the American people.

I recently heard of one enterprising young lady who designed a web site targeting the generosity of strangers. The site, which has since shut down, had a name that urged donations. The gal included a photo of herself, looking suitably desperate, along with a write up of her current financials such as outstanding loans, lost job and health issues. Folks were apparently drawn in to the young lady’s web. By the time the site was closed, she had taken in more than $40,000.

In the area of property, even though the recession has resulted in a massive loss of value for existing homes, there are still some folks making money on land through ingenious approaches. For instance, some entrepreneurs I read about have been selling square-foot “lots” in prime resort areas like Key West, Aspen or even one of the Caribbean islands.

The sellers, who actually have small holdings in these popular places, are discovering gold by “sub-dividing.” On paper only, they are cutting their “land” into more tiny pieces than are actually possible.

In these mini transactions, the only item required of the seller is an impressive document describing the general area of the buyer’s real estate. The “deed” gives the happy mini-landowner bragging rights on his piece of paradise in Florida, Colorado or on that Caribbean island.

And, speaking of prime real estate, a Beverly Hills widow recently formulated a scheme to help pay for her $1.6 million mortgage.

Her husband, who had been dead for two decades, happened to be at rest in a crypt located above that of Marilyn Monroe. The widow, certain her late husband wouldn’t mind being relocated, put the crypt up at auction. She did eventually get one bid for more than $2 million, but it proved to be a joke. At this point, her husband is still resting comfortably in his upscale location and the widow is looking for other means of raising money to satisfy her massive mortgage.

Another outlandish scheme I read about was set up by a would-be bank robber. The inventive guy put an ad on Craigslist for “construction workers,” promising to pay $30 per hour.

Naturally, the ad drew great interest. Those responding were instructed to wear a certain type of clothing and to meet in front of the local Bank of America branch at a stipulated time.

The bank robber’s clever plan was to dress as he had instructed those answering the ad. At the given time, he would be inside the building, robbing the bank. Then he’d leave and mingle, undetected, in the crowd of “construction workers.”

In the end, the would-be robber was apprehended, the ad respondents didn’t get the job, and each was subjected to long questioning by the police. The local law officials admitted they found the whole episode one of the strangest they had seen.

In looking into this growing trend toward outlandish money making schemes, I came across the ultimate means of turning the bad economy to a plus. A guy named Steve Gillman has come up with a book, “101 Weird Ways to Make Money.” In a perfect “making lemonade out of lemons” move, the author may just have found the ideal legal means of profiting from today’s tanking economy.


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