“A common mistake made by victims of white collar crime is “unexamined acceptance.” No financial information received from any source should be taken for granted as being truthful and accurate without any critical analysis.”
Sam E. Antar
(former Crazy Eddie CFO and a convicted felon)
White collar crime is a crime of persuasion and deceit. Since the white collar criminal uses persuasion and deceit to commit their crimes, it follows that such felons are artful liars.
People often ask me what characteristics I look for in other people that alert me to possible criminal activity or at least unethical and deceitful people.
Not all questionable conduct is illegal. A person can be unethical or deceitful (however they are defined) without committing any illegal acts as defined under the law.
However, most criminals use tools like spinning (see below) in the conduct of their crimes.
The Art of Spinning:
Sell people hope. My cousin ‘Crazy Eddie’ Antar taught me that “people live on hope” and their hopes and dreams must be fed through our spin and lies. In any situation, if possible, accentuate the positive.
Make excuses as long as you can. Try to have your excuses based on at least one truthful fact even if the fact is unrelated to your actions and argument.
When you cannot dispute the underlying facts, accept them as true but rationalize your actions. You are allowed to make mistakes as long as you have no wrongful intent. Being stupid is not a crime…
My advice to the accounting profession, antifraud professionals, and Wall Street:
Do not trust, just verify. Verify, verify, and verify.
White collar criminals build a wall of false integrity around them to gain the trust of their victims.
White collar criminals measure their effectiveness by the comfort level of their victims.
White collar criminals consider your humanity, ethics, and good intentions as a weakness to be exploited in the execution of their crimes.
White collar crime can be more brutal than violent crime, since white collar crime imposes a collective harm on society.
No criminal finds morality and stops committing crime simply because another criminal went to jail.
We created artificial wealth, then we borrowed against it, and finally we spent it. When the artificial wealth disappeared, we had an implosion.
Our late and great former President Ronald Reagan used to say:
“Trust, but verify.”
As a convicted felon, I advise you:
“Don’t trust, just verify.”
“Verify, verify, verify.”
As a criminal, I considered people’s humanity as a weakness to be exploited.
The inclination to trust first and then verify, gave me the upper hand.
The criminal always has the initiative.
While you initially trust us, we work on ways to solidify your trust before you verify.
Hopefully, you will never verify.
However, by the time you get around to verifying, your skepticism will be corroded by our charm.
Therefore, when you ask questions, you will accept our deceptive answers as fact.
A word of advice from this convicted felon to the capital markets, securities analysts, journalists, the accounting profession, investors, and others, “The word ‘trust’ is a professional hazard you must leave at home before you go to work.”
While you hope, criminals prey…
My cousin Crazy Eddie Antar taught me that “people live on hope.” As white collar criminals, we preyed on your hopes and dreams by feeding you our spin and lies.
Investors demand confident leadership and strong financial performance from company managements. They want to hear management exuding confidence about their company’s future business prospects. Eddie and I built an image of strong and confident leadership by promising investors a prosperous future backed up by our phony financial reports.
As criminals, we considered the humanity of investors as a weakness to be exploited in the cold-blooded execution of our crimes. We measured our effectiveness by the comfort level of our victims.
My cousin Eddie and I built walls of false integrity around us to gain the trust of our victims. We claimed that Crazy Eddie’s accounting policies were “conservative.” In addition, we gave huge sums of money to charity and were involved in many popular social causes in an effort to make investors comfortable with us. While we were in effect, “helping old ladies cross the street,” we were heartlessly executing a massive fraud that wiped out the life savings of thousands of investors and ultimately caused a few thousand people to lose their jobs.
Eddie Antar and I never had a single conversation about morality or right and wrong. We simply did not care about the victims of our crimes. Our conversations only focused on the successful execution of our cold-blooded schemes to defraud investors.
At Crazy Eddie, we committed our crimes simply because we thought we could execute them successfully. We took advantage of investor’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations for a better future. More importantly, we fully exploited investor’s lack of skepticism that resulted from the wall of false integrity we built around ourselves.
Hope is a fine human quality that motivates us to build a better future. Unfortunately, criminals consider your hope as an exploitable weakness to aid them in the successful execution of their crimes.
Do not get mesmerized by neatly packaged story lines and well researched sound bites written by professional high paid media consultants. Criminals know how to “talk the talk and walk the walk” as they inspire you with false promises of a prosperous future…