Man Arrives Home To Find Belongings Sold By Squatter

According to a recent report from NBC News, a man from Puyallup, Washington, who was in the process of selling his family’s home, pulled into the driveway last Tuesday and discovered something wasn’t quite right. Ed Saurds, 58, expected to see his real estate agent’s car, but instead, saw an unknown Chevy that belonged to a young man who was waiting in the front hall.

“I asked: What are you doing in my house?” the former Air Force loadmaster remembered. “He said, ‘I’m here to buy the microwave.’ I said, ‘My microwave is not for sale.'”

While Saurs was away, an intruder had broken into his house, used it as a landing pad, and began selling his personal belongings on the internet. The items sold included a lawnmower, an iPod, the microwave, and Saur’s 84-year-old father’s golf clubs. The man who Saurs encountered initially was not the culprit, but one of the customers of the scam. Saurs recalls seeing the real perpetrator down the hall in the kitchen.

“He peered around and saw me coming, [so] I ran out the side and chased him.”

Unfortunately, his chase was unsuccessful, and the suspect escaped, though his image was caught on a nearby surveillance camera. Saurs reports several thousand dollars’ worth of items were stolen, including the new refrigerator and the house’s convection oven, known for cooking food 25% faster with less energy. (Points that probably contributed to the items’ speedy sales.) The appliances didn’t bother Ed nearly as much as the invasion of privacy.

“We’ve got 25 years of memories here. Christmases. My daughter was married in the backyard. …To cap it off with a violation like this? It doesn’t sit real well.”

Police took fingerprints from a water bottle left in the house by the suspect, who also left behind some assorted drug paraphernalia. No word from police on whether or not they’ve found a match.

Woman’s $20,000 Lottery Ticket Is Worthless

Winning the lottery can set you up for life. You can take all the money in one go, and pay off staggering debt, or invest in a business opportunity. You could also get the money as an annuity, and have an amazing source of income for decades. The Mega Millions annuity, for example, is paid out as one immediate payment followed by 29 annual payments that increase 5% each time.

Now, imagine being told that your winning lottery ticket doesn’t count.

When a Washington D.C. woman won $20,000, she couldn’t have been more excited, she told WJLA. However, the Virginia State Lottery said that her ticket doesn’t count. Apparently, Ardella Newman’s ticket had been issued in error.

Apparently, winning tickets have winning numbers at the top, but Newman’s winning numbers appeared toward the bottom. The Virginia Lottery said that this likely happened, because the machine cut the ticket in the wrong spot, basically allowing Newman to combine two tickets to win.

She argues that she bought it as one ticket, and that since the error wasn’t hers, she deserves to receive the winnings.

“I want the money that I thought I won. If you look at the ticket, it says I won this money,” said Newman. “It wasn’t anything that I did wrong. It’s what they did wrong.”

This isn’t the first time something like this happened in the lottery. Earlier this year, a New Mexico man’s $500,000 winning ticket was misprinted, making it worthless. Two numbers that looked like winners actually had extra digits that were printed as smudges. The New Mexico Lottery offered him $100 in the form of lottery tickets as compensation, but told him he wouldn’t receive the $500,000 under any circumstances. Now, he’s filed a lawsuit against the state lottery.

“It’s like I told them, I didn’t misprint it,” the New Mexico man told KOB. “I bought the ticket in good faith thinking if I won I was going to get my money.”

Newman has only filed a complaint, so far, while the Virginia Lottery says it’s investigating her case.

Acupuncture Could Lower High Blood Pressure, New Study Suggests

Acupuncture, the Chinese treatment of inserting one to 20 FDA-approved, metallic needles into a person’s body for between 15 to 30 minutes as a way to treat pain, has long been seen as a form of medicine without any genuine scientific benefits. However, more and more research has been proving acupuncture has real, medical benefits — including the ability to help lower blood pressure.

The new study, which was published in the journal Medical Acupuncture, analyzed acupuncture’s effects on 65 hypertensive patients who weren’t taking any hypertension medication at the time of the study.

Researchers divided them into two groups. The first received electroacupuncture — a low-intensity electrical stimulation on different needle points in the body — on the patients’ inner wrists and below their knees. The second group received electroacupuncture treatment on their forearms and lower legs.

In the first group, 70% of participants saw a reduction in blood pressure, which lasted for over a month, and a reduction in blood concentration levels of norepinephrine, a hormone and neurotransmitter that constricts blood vessels and elevates blood pressure.

The second group didn’t see the same lowered blood pressure effect as the first group, which suggests that the location of electroacupuncture has a role in determining the efficacy of the treatment.

“This clinical study is the culmination of more than a decade of bench research in this area,” said study author Dr. John Longhurst in the press release. “By using Western scientific rigor to validate an ancient Eastern therapy, we feel we have integrated Chinese and Western medicine and provided a beneficial guideline for treating a disease that affects millions in the U.S.”

High blood pressure is both a widespread and tricky problem. About one in three U.S. adults — 70 million — have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, it’s believed that only half of those adults have it under control, which means that half have a condition that could lead to stroke and heart disease.

Getting into shape, taking medication, or a combination of both can lower blood pressure, but these approaches don’t always work. Medication can also cause side effects, particularly among elderly.

The results of this new study are promising, in that they suggest acupuncture as a possible alternative that could help that some 35 million people get their high blood pressure in check.

As Dr. Longhurst explained, “Potentially, blood pressure can be kept low with a monthly follow-up treatment.”

McDonald’s Sweepstakes Are A Lot More Tricky Than Anyone Realized

A Mississippi woman has defied unbelievable odds to win $250,000 playing a McDonald’s sweepstakes game.

On September 1, the fast-food chain announced Megan D. as the winner, and presented her with the big check. She was one of four $250,000 winners, and plans to use the money to fund retirement and pay for other expenses.

In order to participate in the sweepstakes, players could peel a game piece from the McDonald’s meal, or enter an online code. Each week, there was a guaranteed jackpot of $250,000. According to officials, the fast-food chain gave away a cool $1 million during the nationwide promotion.

Companies often uses sweepstakes as a way to encourage people to do their marketing for them. Consumers can tell their family and friends about the contest — and the company — not only through a phone call or face to face, but instantly through social media, blogs, text messaging and e-mail, where the brand can be exposed to others. It was through a Facebook ad that Megan D. found out about the Minion Mania sweepstakes.

That’s not all. In addition to the increased generation of brand awareness, sweepstakes marketing is also cost-effective. It draws staggering amounts of participation, despite the rough odds of winning.

Consider McDonald’s most famous sweepstakes: its Monopoly contest.

Every sweepstakes needs to have a “no consideration” clause such as “no purchase necessary.” In 2012, a man decided to see if he could win the Monopoly contest without having to pay for anything at McDonald’s. He looked through the rules, and found that in order to participate without purchasing anything, he had to request game pieces be sent through the mail, using hand-written letters sent in a self-addressed stamped envelope. Since the cheapest thing on the menu that came with game pieces was the 99 cent hash brown, he realized that 90 cents in postage was a more cost-efficient way to play.

Ultimately he spent about 10 hours and $117 to send 100 letters and get 400 stamps. So while it is technically free to play, it’s more or less easier to purchase to participate.

Once participants do wind up playing (by purchasing something, most likely), they’re probably going to lose. Business Insider reported that there are about 602,490,060 game pieces in play, which means that there’s about 1.2 billion game stamps, or individual attempts to win. However, only one stamp in each of the sets is actually worth something.

The logical thing most people assume about the game is that each space is equally likely. For example, if McDonald’s wants the odds of drawing a green piece to be one in 1,000, they’ll make the odds of getting each of the green squares one in 1,000. What they actually reportedly do, though, is make one green piece show up about one in 10 times, and another show up one in 100,000 times, which means that the majority of the game pieces are essentially worthless, except for one from each set.

In other words, although McDonald’s does just give away copious amounts of prize money and other goods in its contests, sweepstakes marketing is an ingenious ploy to get more business. And people like Megan D. will wind up being a brand follower for the rest of their life. Who wouldn’t for $250,000?

Millennials Are Making Two Major Mistakes With Credit Cards

Considering the number of financial issues that have been thrust upon them by older generations, Millennials have been forced to adapt and learn how to be financially savvy, whether they like it or not. But a new NerdWallet survey reveals that, while these money-saving efforts might be well-intentioned, some habits — specifically relating to credit cards — might be hurting Millennials more than helping.

This generation, considered to be adults currently between the ages of 18 and 34, appears to be making two major mistakes: applying for a credit card without having the minimum qualifications, and avoiding credit cards altogether.

As NBC News reported, nearly 50% of all Millennials have applied for a credit card because of an advertisement or limited-time promotional deal. The good news is that credit card companies are still monitoring qualifications closely, so that the country doesn’t experience another major financial crisis similar to that of 2008. This means that Millennials who fail to meet the qualifications aren’t getting approved for credit cards they can’t handle.

The bad news is that, whenever a person applies for a credit card, his or her credit score is affected, slightly more so when the line of credit is denied. Add up multiple applications over a short period of time, and the individual will begin to see a low credit score for no apparent reason.

The other major problem that Millennials are making, TIME stated, is that they’re avoiding credit cards entirely. Almost one-third of this generation has never applied for a credit card, according to the NerdWallet data, and this negatively impacts one’s credit score as well, because 15% of a person’s total score is based on his or her credit history length.

Many financial advisers believe that these two problems are exacerbated by the fact that Millennials are, quite often, choosing the wrong company or type of card when they finally do apply for a credit card. These young adults are particularly astute when it comes to seeing through temporary promotional offers and too-good-to-be-true promises; instead, the majority of Millennials (60%) value factors such as customer service and convenience.

While that predisposition is beneficial in most cases, it also means that credit card companies can win over Millennials easily by ensuring that a friendly and persuasive sales rep is taking care of them.

Delicious E-Cig Flavors Helping Many Smokers to Make the Switch

While traditional cigarettes may not become completely extinct during our lifetime, the big tobacco companies now have their biggest competition ever.

E-cigarettes, or “e-cigs”, are electronic alternatives to cigarettes that have become the popular choice for many Americans who enjoy the wide assortment of e-liquid flavors available to them.

According to Health News Florida, one former smoker is echoing these praises and credits them for helping him stop smoking.

“Now that I switched to this, I just can’t stop smoking it,” said South Florida resident Juan Uranga. “It’s really helped with the cigarettes…I don’t even smoke them anymore.”

Health benefits aside, a major reason Juan and many others are switching to e-cigs is the vast array of vaping flavors for sale available to them, from classic tobacco to fruit-flavored options.

“It’s popular because there are millions of flavors,” said Florida smoke shop owner Sadallah Kahuk. “You can go from a cereal to a dessert to caramel to bacon.”

According to the Inlander, some companies are getting especially creative, offering flavors such as guava nectar, bubble gum, and super-menthol flavors that leave your mouth feeling cool and refreshed.

It’s safe to say that it isn’t very hard to find an e-cig flavor that you like, whatever your preference may be. The only real question is what your favorite one will end up being.

Popularity Rises, Results Remain Stagnant for Annuity Buyers

Over the last several years the financial market has rebounded, jobs are starting to come back, and overall the U.S. is much more financially secure than in the years directly following the “Great Recession.” Nevertheless, people are showing apprehension when it comes to how and where they choose to invest their savings.

Even with current interest rates low, there is a trend upward in the purchase of annuities. According to the news outlet, sales of annuities rose 3% in 2014. These type of annuity policies are especially popular with Baby Boomers as more and more rapidly approach retirement age.

As the piece also points out, it is the conservative, fixed-rate annuities that are enjoying the most success, as opposed to volatile versions that rely more on stocks. These safer options, however, only usually yield payments of just 2-3%. When you consider it’s not uncommon for annual annuity fees to reach levels of 3%, it might be time to ask yourself if playing it so close to the chest is really worth it.

While it’s certainly smart to be conservative and risk-averse with the majority of your retirement savings, at some point you need to determine what the net gain will be. You might as well keep your money stashed away in a box under your bed, instead of paying fees that drain your capital, leaving you the same amount you started with.

In other words, it might be time to start looking into slightly more aggressive investment options. If you already spent your retirement investment money on the purchase of an aforementioned annuity, it’s still not too late. There are many reputable companies in the business of buying annuities for cash settlements.

If you go this route, you will then have money on hand to invest in slightly riskier, but potentially more rewarding options. According to a piece in the Chicago Tribune, one-third of Americans think there’s better than a 50% chance they will outlive their savings. Not losing money is great, but not making the money you have work for you isn’t helping you either.

As has been the case throughout history whether in business, love, finances, or life: You gotta risk it to get the biscuit.

Accidental DNA Discovery Suggests Multiple Migrations Comprised the ‘First’ Americans

We know that a group of early humans crossed the Bering land bridge from Siberia over to the North American continent about 23,000 years ago, but scientists have always assumed that this group spread out across North America before venturing farther South.

Now, it seems that at least two groups of travelers made the perilous journey — leading researchers to state, for the first time, that another “ghost population” managed to cross the Bering bridge and venture down to Central and South America, without leaving any traces of their passing along the way.

A new report published in the online academic journal Nature states that researchers have found DNA evidence linking two Amazonian tribes, the Surui and the Karitiana, to current populations in Papua New Guinea and Aboriginal Australian tribes. This newly discovered genome means that the Surui and the Karitiana are more closely related to populations across the Pacific than to Native Americans in the north.

According to Fox News, lead author and researcher Pontus Skoglund of the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School stated that his team made the “unexpected discovery by using statistical methods that test whether a set of populations are equally related to a set of other populations.”

The team expected to find that Amazonian tribes have more in common with descendants of Native American tribes, which would have confirmed that there was just one major voyage of early humans across the Bering bridge.

This new “ghost population,” which appears to have no direct descendants on any continent, is now being called “Population Y” — a term derived from the word “Ypykuera,” which means “ancestor” in the ancient language of the Surui and Karitiana people.

Scientists often refer to “ghost populations” to reference villages or cultures that vanished without explanation; early U.S. history dating back before the Revolutionary War even boasts of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, which vanished into thin air after shipments of supplies from England were delayed for three years.

Similar to the multiple journeys that early American colonists made, scientists now believe that there was a period of mass migration from Siberia over to the Americas, but that several groups made individual journeys and settled in different locations.

There are no confirmed dates when each of these migrations likely occurred, nor do researchers know why each group decided to make the journey.

New Studies Show that Frozen Donor Eggs May Reduce Chance of Pregnancy

According to a new study, patients who are undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) might reduce their chances of give birth by freezing their donor eggs.

One in eight couples, or 12% of married women, have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. Infertility experts use methods such as IVF as a treatment for couples trying to have a baby. During the IVF process, donated egg and sperm are fertilized in a lab environment, and the egg is placed into the woman’s uterus to carry.

CBS News reports that the new study, published in August’s edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined over 11,000 IVF procedures that used donor eggs. Twenty percent of the eggs in the study had been frozen.

The results of the study showed that only 47% of the IVF procedures that used frozen eggs resulted in a live birth. When a fresh donor egg was used, 56% of women were able to give birth.

“Our research demonstrated that – contrary to some claims made mostly by commercial interests – frozen eggs offer a lower change of a pregnancy and delivery chance after IVF than fresh eggs,” Says Dr. Norbert Gleicher, co-author of the study and chief scientist with the Center for Human Reproduction in New York City.

So far, it is not clear how the freezing of the eggs results in fewer birth rates. The authors of the study hypothesize that the quality of the egg is lessened during the freezing or thawing processes.

The study had some limitations. Since the statistics were anonymous, researchers were unable to control variables that may have skewed with the results, such as the ages of the donors or patients, or the specific reasons for their issues with infertility. Until more research can be done, doctors recommend that patients discuss all the advantages and disadvantages of their treatment options.

D.C. Electronic Billboards Show Pictures Of Missing Children

A billboard campaign started by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was launched on August 12. The billboards featured the faces of missing children, such as Sarah and Jacob Hoggle, who have been missing since September 7th, 2014.

The campaign is referred to as the “Summer of Hope,” and was designed to spread the word about young children who have been reported missing. The plan is to distribute these advertisements to the D.C. and Baltimore area, and then spread the campaign to the rest of the country. The ads will be shown in 50 Metro stations in D.C., and 14 shelters and billboards in Baltimore.

Recent research by OTX, a global consumer research and consulting firm, showed that 63% of adults find that advertising on digital signage catches their attention. This is what the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are counting on.

“Now that I’m not capable of being out there on TV every day. I’m back at work. I’m capable of keeping it out there the way that I am, this really helps,” says Troy Turner, the father of Sarah and Jacob Hoggle. Turner expresses how grateful he is for the campaign, “The fact that it’s a national campaign also helps since we have leads all over the place.”

Bethesda Magazine reports that the mother of the children, Catherine Hoggle, has been placed in a mental hospital for schizophrenia. Though she has been charged with abducting the kids, Hoggle has not provided the police with any information on their whereabouts.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported that there were over 460,000 missing children claims made to the U.S. police in the last year.

The billboards are expected to stay up throughout all of August. In the coming weeks, the campaigns is expected to spread across other major cities, including Chicago and Los Angeles.