Last Friday evening, Marcia MacMillan from CTV News Channel (a 24-hour news network in Canada) interviewed me and asked me what it’s like to be a white-collar criminal and what role, if any, did morality play in my decisions to commit crime.
Reflecting on my own white-collar criminal mind leaves no doubt that money is not the only motivating force compelling hardcore criminals to commit crimes. There was also a passion for the act, a sense of accomplishment, that made me enjoy committing my crimes. It is perhaps the same positive feelings of success that law-abiding citizens experience for a legitimate job well-done.
To better understand the behavior of white-collar criminals, take morality out of the equation. During my years at Crazy Eddie, we never had a single conversation about the morality of our actions. We did not give a damn about right and wrong.
Hardcore criminals don’t question their unethical and immoral conduct. Laws, morality, and ethics are weaknesses of other people. They don’t factor in except by limiting society’s behavior. In our society, morality dictates that people are entitled to the benefit of the doubt. Ironically, the “benefit of a doubt” limits the behavior of law-abiding citizens while giving criminals greater opportunity to commit their crimes. After all, no one likes to be called "a paranoid" or "impolite."
Our late President Ronald Reagan used to say "trust, but verify." That initial trust gives criminals the freedom to take steps to evade detection. For example, Joseph T. Wells, founder of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, described certain steps I took during Crazy Eddie’s audit to successfully execute my crimes:
Crazy Eddie’s auditors were provided a company office during their examination. They had a key to lock the desk—which they kept in a box of paperclips on top of the desk in full view. After the auditors left for the day, Eddie’s cohorts would unlock the desk, increase the inventory counts on the work-papers and photocopy the altered records. Were the auditors stupid? No, just too trusting. After all, no one wants…
Career criminal, master charmer Sam E. writes about his speaking engagement in Portland, where we met and I gathered material for part II of the No Redemption. The most fascinating aspect of Sam’s story is what his admissions teach us about human nature. But on a more practical level, understanding fraud and the techniques used to commit white collar crimes can give investors insight into the integrity of the companies they invest in. Companies built on fraud tend to implode under the weight of their own lies, eventually – can we find these companies early, before their business comes crashing down? (Stay tuned for part III) – Ilene
Last Friday, I was the key note speaker at the Oregon Health Care Fraud Working Group Training Seminar, sponsored by the United State Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon. I explained to the group that while emphasis on effective oversight and internal controls are important factors in preventing or deterring white-collar crime, not enough emphasis is given to the underlying psychology used by white-collar criminals to prey on their victims and effectively commit their crimes.
I have said many times that, "White-collar criminals consider your humanity as a weakness to be exploited in the execution of their crimes" and as the cold-blooded and ruthless criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie, I learned that you can steal far more with a smile than you can with a gun.
White-collar criminals use a combination of charm and deceit to achieve their objectives. The more likable and charming that I was as a criminal, the easier it was for me to successfully lie to my victims…
Here in the United States, four decades of drug war have had three consequences:
1. We have vastly increased the proportion of our population in prisons. The United States now incarcerates people at a rate nearly five times the world average. In part, that’s because the number of people in prison for drug offenses rose roughly from 41,000 in 1980 to 500,000 today. Until the war on drugs, our incarceration rate was roughly the same as that of other countries.
2. We have empowered criminals at home and terrorists abroad. One reason many prominent economists have favored easing drug laws is that interdiction raises prices, which increases profit margins for everyone, from the Latin drug cartels to the Taliban. Former presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia this year jointly implored the United States to adopt a new approach to narcotics, based on the public health campaign against tobacco.
3. We have squandered resources. Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard economist, found that federal, state and local governments spend $44.1 billion annually enforcing drug prohibitions. We spend seven times as much on drug interdiction, policing and imprisonment as on treatment.
It’s now broadly acknowledged that the drug war approach has failed.
MP: Note the "War on Drugs" is actually a war against generally peaceful American citizens who decide to buy, sell or ingest drugs that are somewhat arbitrarily considered to be illegal by government officials, e.g. cannabis sativa, an annual, dioecious flowering herb that grows naturally all over the world.
Anything can happen. At least, more things than you can imagine can happen.
Facebook, after trouncing yet another quarter’s earnings report, has now climbed to a market value greater than that of Berkshire Hathaway. It may be temporary, it may be forever. Regardless, at the current moment, a ten year old company with few physical assets and a small amount of employees is now worth more than an empire built by Warren Buffett over the course of 50 years.
How many people had the imagination to picture something like this as being within the realm of possibilities, let alone a likelihood?
The following are the M&A deals, rumors and chatter circulating on Wall Street for Wednesday July 27, 2016:
Sequenom Being Acquired by Lab Corp for $2.40/Share in Cash
Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (NYSE: LH) and Sequenom, Inc. (NASDAQ: SQNM) announced Wednesday, that they have entered into a definitive agreement aunder which LabCorp would acquire all of the outstanding shares of Sequenom in a cash tender offer for $2.40 per share, for an equity value of $302 million.
While no one expected movement out of the Federal Reserve, there is still usually some extra volatility post statement but it was quite limited today. The S&P 500 fell 0.12% while Apple’s (AAPL) jump helped lift the NASDAQ to a 0.58% gain – Apple is a massive component in the index. The Fed continues to be in “Goldilocks” mode – sanguine on the economy but certainly not enough to raise rates. And with the election coming up they won’t do it until December if at all this year; a far cry from the “4 rate hikes!” everyone was yelling as we entered 2016. (We were not yelling that).
By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.
It is a busy week for Elon Musk – Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) says it will need to raise more money for its new plans (shocker), the Gigafactory – by some metrics the largest manufacturer in the world is opening soon and Musk is making wild predictions about revenue on Model 3 sales (although little about earnings), and Tesla and Mobileye NV (NYSE:MBLY) parted ways yesterday in news which caused MBLY stock to tank before a bit of a recovery. With all the news it is hard to cover everything so below we will focus on the MBLY news and what it means for both companies. Many analysts note that Tesla is a small percentage of revenue for Mobileye so why focus on either? Because the news could be important and these co...
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After a three-year bull run that more than quadrupled its value by its peak last July, IBD’s Medical-Biomed/Biotech Industry Group plunged 50% by early February, hurt by backlashes against high drug prices and mergers that seek to lower corporate taxes.
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Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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