Last week, I took the day off from work and headed down the 101 to sit in on former Crazy Eddie CFO and self-proclaimed criminal Sam E. Antar speaking to Stanford MBA students on, what else, fraud and the criminal mind. Sam is a friend of both JDA and Going Concern and it was excellent to see him recount the Crazy Eddie story to an auditorium of future MBAs.
Ironically, he showed up wearing an SEC baseball cap, which is akin to JDA owning a Federal Reserve hoodie (I do) and didn’t waste a second getting to the point of his visit.
“I’m gonna be the guy that fucks you guys up,” he told the room before beginning the presentation, “I’m a racist and a scum bag but I hate everyone equally.”
I could literally see the audience squirm in response. I already knew Sam was a tad offensive and was counting on getting an extra dose of it; there was no squirming in the media corner.
“Political correctness helps the criminal, not you,” he explained, “It limits your behavior, not the criminal’s.”
Sam went into auditor standards like the fraud triangle though insisted there is no such thing as rationalization. “Criminals know right from wrong. We don’t plan on failure.”
We even got to see a vintage Crazy Eddie ad spot as Sam’s presentation was spliced with images from the 2006 Court TV episode of Masterminds detailing the Crazy Eddie fraud. That’s for the sections that Sam doesn’t tell you; the details are plentiful in his spiel though don’t let that catch you off guard, he insists he is still just as dangerous as he was before he was caught.
You can get the Crazy Eddie backstory from Sam’s Web site (if you aren’t fortunate enough to be able to play hooky and see him spook Stanford MBA students in person) here, here, and here. If you get the chance, I highly recommend checking him out live (leave your valuables in the car).
And then there’s the video of Sam and Eddie meeting up decades after their fraud was discovered — and Sam gave up his family (and, consequently, himself) — that I recommend you not miss.
So long as there are unqualified auditors being piled into audits they aren’t trained to perform, there will be guys like Sam E. Antar figuring out a way to distract, deter, and delude them, no matter what it takes. For Crazy Eddie, it didn’t take much. What’s to say things have changed?
Sam Antar Photograph by Buck Ennis for Crain’s New York Business and Investment News.