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I found this link from one of the ebooks

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here is the full text:

There was a time when a salesman of miracle products could travel from city to city and country to country, not worrying much about his reputation. Nowadays that's not so easy. You can be tarred and feathered on the World Wide Web. Today anyone anywhere can check out a potential American partner or business deal without leaving home.

I wanted to investigate enthusiastic claims made for Antares Corp., a vending machine outfit in Culver City, California, made by its president, one Dana M. Bashor. My first stop was KnowX.com (www.knowx.com), a service that checks American county and federal courthouses nationwide for tax liens, judgments, bankruptcies and lawsuits. Its fee: just $1.50 per name and category searched.

KnowX turned up about half a dozen lawsuits since 1990 against Bashor or Antares Corp., as well as a $46,175 tax lien placed by the California State Franchise Tax Board in 1997. For another $15, KnowX provided a fuller description, including the names of the parties, filing dates, names of courts and docket numbers.

I called my home state's securities department (I got their number from www.nasaa.org ) and requested a check of names through the Central Registration Depository. That database, not carried on the Web, showed that in 1991 Connecticut had brought a cease-and-desist action against Orion Products Corp., Dana Bashor, president. Orion, an affiliate of Antares, settled by paying $2,500.

I then browsed the Dow Jones Interactive, Lexis-Nexis and Dialog media databases that contain the full text or abstracts of thousands of newspapers, magazines and television news shows. Now Antares began to come into focus. Bashor, Antares and Orion Products had paid a $1 million fine to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 1996. Among the civil charges: misrepresenting potential earnings and the ease of finding locations for vending machines. (It's all summarized on the FTC's Web site, www.ftc.gov.) The defendants admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to reforms.

A 1996 story detailed a fraud lawsuit against Antares (a suit KnowX had missed). A call to the U.S. Better Business Bureau hotline revealed that Antares had settled all 26 complaints against it.

I then used Web search engines to find vending machine trade organizations. After ordering back copies of trade pub- lications and a book on operating vending machines, I was prepared for the presentation Antares wanted to make to me.

On the appointed day I went to a hotel ballroom and examined the company's compact vending machine. A big-screen video showed a trim, bearded, confident Bashor talking about how he had designed the machine. But the IBM Intellectual Property Network-www.patents.ibm.com-lists all patents since 1974. No mention there of Bashor, Orion Products or Antares Corp.

Antares salespeople disclosed the FTC action but not the specific allegations or the $1 million fine. They also gave prices for the machines. The minimum purchase-three machines-would cost $19,137, less a $1,150 discount. Total: $17,987, or $6,000 a machine.

Fair price? Back on the Web, I located independent dealers selling comparable machines for around $2,500.

And on a vending machine site (www.vendline.com), I found people trying to sell Antares machines-often less than a year old-for as little as $1,500. (The company stresses that its price included aftersale support and service.)

I wanted to talk to some buyers. That FTC settlement required Antares to provide five references in my county of residence. "They [Antares] make it sound like you could make $2,000 a week," said the first I called, a retired teacher who figured he had earned $1.10 an hour-not counting the opportunity cost of his investment. A second had no complaints about his investment-but noted he had bought extra machines very cheaply, secondhand.

I sent about $10 to each of several different state regulators for Antares filings. (The addresses are listed at www.ftc.gov.) Washington state requires both balance sheets and income statements, and they were quite revealing. On only $3,300 in total capital, Antares paid shareholders-Bashor is probably the only one-a $400,000 dividend in late 1998. Clearly, selling machines was a far more "amazing moneymaking" opportunity than buying them.

Thanks to the Internet, investigating before investing has never been easier.

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