Our favorite 1980s felon, Sam "The Ham" Antar has given his enthusiastic endorsement to every fraudster's favorite audit firm: Tip for Fraudsters: Every criminal mastermind loves to hire PwC pic.twitter.com/CeinNT9w1C — Sam E. Antar (@SamAntar) March 28, 2014 Hey Sam, can you grab us one of those Koozies? Thanks, guy!
The SEC busted yet another alleged pyramid scheme, and this one implicated the cloud in their malfeasance: The SEC alleges that three entities collectively operating under the business names WCM and WCM777 are posing as multi-level marketing companies in the business of selling third-party cloud computing services, which can include website hosting, data storage, and […]
DC cops are looking for help from the public in tracking down the loser in jorts who nabbed two Dell laptops from the DC Auditor’s Office located at 700 block of 14th Street, NW. On Monday, April 16, at approximately 5:30pm, this scrub in a white t-shirt and blue cargo shorts entered the DC Auditor's […]
Earlier this week we shared with you the latest analysis from KPMG that listed “key fraudster traits” and some of them seemed to describe a lot of the people you have worked or are currently working for. Things like “volatile,” “unreliability,” “unhappy,” and “self-interested” describes everyone I’ve ever been in around in the corporate world to one extent or another.
Since I was skeptical of this list, I asked Sam Antar what he thought of it. If you’ve been reading us for awhile, you’re familiar with Sam. If you’re new, I’ll do a quick refresher. Sam was the CFO of Crazy Eddie’s and was one of the masterminds behind one of the biggest financial frauds of the 1980s. While you (and I) were eating cereal in front of the TV on Saturday morning, Sam and his cousin Eddie were selling electronics and home appliances to our parents for rock bottom prices, while ripping off the government and investors for untold millions of dollars. In other words, the guy is a crook and knew/knows lots of crooks and knows their hopes (read: money), their dreams (read: money) all that crap (read: more money) and what they’ll do to get them. With that, Sam told me what he thought of KPMG’s analysis:
I was both a friendly and likable crook who treated my enablers real well as I took advantage of them. I treated my victims even better than my enablers, as I emptied their pockets. Old saying, “You can steal more with a smile, than a gun.” KPMG knows nothing about the character traits of criminals. They couldn’t even catch me as Crazy Eddie’s auditors. They trusted me!
So maybe – JUST MAYBE – you should also be wary of the client or co-worker that you really like because he/she takes you to lunch every day, gets you laid, takes you for rides in a fancy car or invites you to coke-fueled weekend ragers with seemingly no strings attached. Plus any client that has a viral marketing campaign should get an extra look:
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?
Allegedly of course! Despite our best wishes for a forensic accountants to be fraud-busting crusaders that pursue truth, justice and all that crap, this corner of the profession is not immune from shiesty characters.
Lewis Freeman, “Miami’s go-to forensic accountant”, has been charged with embezzling $2.6 million from his clients. The Miami Herald is reporting that Lew has pleaded not guilty but is planning to change his plea to guilty “within a few weeks” while his attorneys try to negotiate a lighter sentence. The Herald also reports that two other employees of his firm, including the CFO, will be charged as co-conspirators in the case.
When you think about it, this really exposes Freeman as not being a very smart guy, just smarter than the people he was ripping off. As criminal mastermind Sam Antar told us in an email, “Lewis Freeman may have been considered ‘Miami’s go-to forensic accountant’ but he was not a very bright guy. He simply took old money from his client’s trust accounts and replenished it with new money. As a forensic accountant, he should have known that ultimately such Ponzi schemes end up collapsing over time.”
Despite this, Freeman was able to carry on the scheme for approximately a decade, swindling up to 250 victims.
Wondering what this latest development meant in terms of fraud involving forensic accountants, Sam told us, “Forensic accountants turned white collar criminals present a real challenge for law enforcement, since they (excluding Lewis Freeman) are far more sophisticated in their knowledge of anti-fraud measures and are more innovative in exploiting weaknesses in internal controls than the common white collar criminal.”
And don’t worry, they’re out there, “Freeman is probably not the only forensic accountant turned Ponzi schemer out there. The smarter and more sophisticated one’s have not been caught yet,” Sam said. Got it. Suspect everyone.
We first mentioned Lewis Freeman last fall when his firm was under investigation by the FBI and that his firm briefly served as the Chief Restructuring Officer for the Palm Beach Funds that were part of the Tom Petters orgy of fraud.
The bright side is we can’t foresee any scenario where the image of accountants gets worse.
The gamut of accounting bloggers that we’re acquainted with are good people despite their individual proclivities. Things like paranoid fantasies that involve every level of government bureaucracy (we’re looking straight at you, JDA) and perverse obsessions with stilettos that even freak us out (ahem, Francine) don’t make anyone a bad person, just well, weird.
That being said, it was only a matter of time before an accountant/blogger actually turned out to be criminal*.
Russ Fox at Taxable Talk:
About a year ago I discover a tax blog called Apirl15.com. I doubt we’ll be seeing any more of this blog; according to an affidavit from an IRS Special Agent, the proprietor of the blog has admitted to embezzling $8.5 million.
William Murray, a CPA from Sacramento, allegedly told his clients to pay their taxes through a “trust account” system. This “service” would help the clients and make things easier for them. Mr. Murray also allegedly had clients send money that he would allegedly “loan” to other clients.
William “No, not Bill” Murray used the client money for the run-of-the-mill stuff: cars, houses, entertainment (i.e. hookers, llelo), plus it’s alleged that he’s a degenerate gambler. A model citizen really.
Despite this blow to the accounting blogosphere image, you can sleep well knowing that if we ever ask for your money it will be used for the purposes of providing you with the finest accounting
rag news publication possible. There are reputations at stake.
April 15th No More [Taxable Talk via Tax Update Blog]
*You were a criminal before you started blogging, Sam.