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How White-Collar Criminals Exploit Your Vanity – Beware of Compliments

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 it teaches 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 

How White-Collar Criminals Exploit Your Vanity – Beware of Compliments

By Sam Antar of White Collar Fraud 

Artwork by Marta Dahlig

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 and deceive them. People are far less skeptical of people who they like and the white-collar criminals know it and exploit it.

Rabbi Dr. Abraham Joshua Twerski, author of several books and a psychiatrist specializing in substance-abuse, once said:

Self-esteem is based on the realization of one’s capacities, of what can do. Vanity is the feeling that admiration and exaltation should be expressed for what one has done" 

Self-esteem is a positive character trait and unfortunately vanity helps build self-confidence and self-esteem. As a criminal, I took advantage of the vanity of my victims to make myself more likable to them, increase the likelihood that they would believe my lies. After all, who does not like a nice compliment, now and then?

For example, please watch the final scene of the movie "The Devil’s Advocate," where Lucifer, played by Al Pacino, convinces attorney Kevin Lomax, played by Keanu Reeves, to do an exclusive newspaper story and afterwards, proudly exclaims "Vanity, definitely my favorite, sin." Link here.

Like Lucifer, vanity is the favorite sin of the white-collar criminal and vanity is part of everyone’s humanity.

My friend Ilene (syndicated blogger, editor at Phil’s Stock World, and attorney) attended the Oregon Health Care Fraud Working Group Training Seminar and interviewed me. Her article can be read here.

After attending the lecture and having dinner together, she wonders:

As the prisoner in The Lady and The Tiger conundrum, I’m left wondering whether Sam’s telling the truth, and he’s still a criminal, or lying and is really on the path to redemption.

I am sorry Ilene, but Antar does not give closure.

To the rest of you, beware of smiles and compliments. You never know the true intentions behind any person’s charm.

I will never be able to get a date with anyone again, after this blog post!

Written by:

Sam E. Antar

Special thanks to the United State Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon, Tricia Leishman (Department of Justice) and Toni Slocum Regence (BlueCross Blue Shield). I donated my services and paid all travel, lodging etc. out of pocket as an accommodation to the Department of Justice.

Recommended Reading from my Blog:

12/28/08: A New Year’s Message from a Convicted Felon: While you hope, criminals prey

12/25/06: The Art of Spinning: How to Identify Possible White Collar Criminals or at Least Unethical and Deceitful People Who You Should Avoid 

Recommended Art:

Marta Dahlig – All Genre Gallery

Marta Dahlig’s blog

Disclosure:

I am a convicted felon and a former CPA. As the criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie, I helped Eddie Antar and other members of his family mastermind one of the largest securities frauds uncovered during the 1980′s. I committed my crimes in cold-blood for fun and profit, and simply because I could.

If it weren’t for the efforts of the FBI, SEC, Postal Inspector’s Office, US Attorney’s Office, and class action plaintiff’s lawyers who investigated, prosecuted, and sued me, I would still be the criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie today.

There is a saying, "It takes one to know one." Today, I work very closely with the FBI, IRS, SEC, Justice Department, and other federal and state law enforcement agencies in training them to identify and catch white-collar criminals.

Recently, I exposed financial reporting violations by Overstock.com (NASDAQ: OSTK) as an independent whistleblower. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Overstock.com and its CEO Patrick Byrne for securities law violations (Details herehere, and here).

I do not own Overstock.com securities long or short. My exposure of financial reporting violations by Overstock.com was a freebie to securities regulators to get me into heaven, though I doubt that I will ever there.  I do not seek or want forgiveness for my vicious crimes from my victims. I plan on frying in hell with other white-collar criminals for a very long time.  

Disclosure: none
Sam at Seeking Alpha: http://seekingalpha.com/author/sam-e-antar