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American Greed
Old 01-10-2014, 08:45 AM   #1
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American Greed

I watch this show on and off during the week and I am always surprised at how seemingly intelligent people can be taken by some slick talking person with promise of a guaranteed rate of return. I am also shocked at how little oversight and regulation there is concerning so called financial advisors, counselors, wealth managers, etc. The most despicable are those who prey on older widows and retired folks who unwittingly fall for the sales pitch. The other thing that is amazing, those when caught, tried, and convicted usually get fairly light sentences.

Personally I think the death sentence would be a too lenient punishment for these reprobates.
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Old 01-10-2014, 12:58 PM   #2
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I too am amazed at the light sentences the crooks get, and that people actually fall for the outrageous claims some of these cons make.....

I watched one the other night where a guy was hawking 55 gallon drums full of DIRT, claiming they were mixtures of gold, silver and other precious metals....The drums were stored in a pole barn type building with hand-scrawled numbers and letters on them...looked like something you'd see at the local scrap yard....

And when you hear the dollar amounts just handed over.....I guess the cons know that no matter how much information is available out there, there are still enough people who will believe these stories..

And as far as elderly people getting cleaned out of their savings, that just gives credence to the articles I've read that warn how when you get older, your financial acumen drops off....

Seems like all the cons need are a printing press capable of making a glossy brochure, and a hokey name....and big words with capital letters in the descriptions...

The other scary thing is that the cons appear to be SO GOOD at what they do...and to think there are ponzi schemes out there RIGHT NOW being funded by suckers.....
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Old 01-10-2014, 01:39 PM   #3
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I watch this show on and off during the week and I am always surprised at how seemingly intelligent people can be taken by some slick talking person with promise of a guaranteed rate of return. I am also shocked at how little oversight and regulation there is concerning so called financial advisors, counselors, wealth managers, etc. The most despicable are those who prey on older widows and retired folks who unwittingly fall for the sales pitch. The other thing that is amazing, those when caught, tried, and convicted usually get fairly light sentences. Personally I think the death sentence would be a too lenient punishment for these reprobates.
Frayne, as a frequent watcher of that show, I too, am mystified by these light sentences. Hit them in the leg a few times with a few stray shots before you find the forehead. They destroy peoples entire lives, their whole life's fortune, and leave many vulnerable at an older age unable to recover. Yes, many people were naive and dumb to the schemes, but the bottom line is they did nothing wrong.
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Old 01-10-2014, 01:49 PM   #4
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My parents and sister were both taken by a sleazy financial adviser that sold them funds with huge up front loads and variable annuities they don't need. I'm sure he would defend every sale if he were challenged. It's the norm to see people make bad decisions like this. The members in this forum are such outliers. Most people don't want to take the time to understand financial management, and they fall for sales pitches that sound good rather than taking the time to research and learn on their own.
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Old 01-10-2014, 02:56 PM   #5
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They destroy peoples entire lives, their whole life's fortune, and leave many vulnerable at an older age unable to recover. Yes, many people were naive and dumb to the schemes, but the bottom line is they did nothing wrong.
Unfortunately, we cannot legislate good moral and ethical behavior. I haven't seen the show and have no desire to, as it would just annoy and upset me. It is a sad fact that we share this world with many who don't have the same basic values. No doubt they find ways to justify their actions to themselves (or simply to refuse to acknowledge how their actions adversely affect others).
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Old 01-10-2014, 03:06 PM   #6
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Interesting...same punishment?

https://www.zillner.com/insights/tru...-deal-for-you/
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File Type: jpg common_types_of_fraud.jpg (36.3 KB, 22 views)
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Old 01-10-2014, 05:09 PM   #7
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I too am amazed at the light sentences the crooks get, and that people actually fall for the outrageous claims some of these cons make.....
When I worked in the Fraud Section doing financial fraud investigations that was a never-ending source of frustration to me and everyone else in the office. The only source of consolation was saying "Well, I did my job...."

The reasons for the light sentences are simple. Prison space is limited and expensive, and what the general population (i.e., voters) are most concerned about are robbers and rapists, not fraudsters.
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Old 01-10-2014, 05:42 PM   #8
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None of us are as smart as we think we are

In the late 70s or early 80s I was taken in by one. He was the president of a large growing bank and had an office in an impressive high rise in our city. He had made a lot of money for people that I knew personally. There were big tax advantages then for real estate limited partnerships. The returns were large, but not outlandish, considering there were also tax losses. Unfortunately, the tax losses turned into real losses, his bank went bust, and I believe went to jail for a while. I checked out this guy as well as I could, he was indeed a successful business leader in our city. He looked like a real investor, but he was just betting on the greater fool theory of investing to get good returns, and he lost.

None of us are completely immune to this kind of tactic at some point in our life. Thankfully, my investment and stock market fiascoes happened very early in my life, and I learned my lessons. I am just so glad that I learned this lesson early. I pity the poor folks who never get involved with the markets until late in life, when they have a large pension to invest. Learning lessons early is the key. None of us are as smart as we like to think.
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Old 01-10-2014, 06:00 PM   #9
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When I worked in the Fraud Section doing financial fraud investigations that was a never-ending source of frustration to me and everyone else in the office. The only source of consolation was saying "Well, I did my job...." The reasons for the light sentences are simple. Prison space is limited and expensive, and what the general population (i.e., voters) are most concerned about are robbers and rapists, not fraudsters.
I would imagine that would be very frustrating on your part, as it probably takes a lot of investigatory time and research to nail them. My solution to the prison overcrowding preventing the fraudsters from appropriate jail time would be simple.... Instead of a weekly meeting with parole officer, a weekly meeting with a expert in caning imported from Singapore. Many of these crooks go back into this "business" after release. Would serve as a painful reminder not to return to his ways of the past...
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Old 01-10-2014, 06:08 PM   #10
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My solution to the prison overcrowding preventing the fraudsters from appropriate jail time would be simple.... Instead of a weekly meeting with parole officer, a weekly meeting with a expert in caning imported from Singapore.
You're preaching to the choir....
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Old 01-10-2014, 06:13 PM   #11
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It would be great to see these crooks have to do some public service, the kind of stuff Mother Theresa did with India's poorest and sickest. Emptying bed pans for 8 hours on their day off would be a good start.
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Old 01-10-2014, 06:38 PM   #12
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I know that if I was one of those scam artists (which I am not), I would plan on hiding several million until I got out of prison. Then I could be on easy street for my retirement. I would suspect the smart ones think ahead like that.

If you watch American Greed enough you will notice that, in many cases, all the scammed funds are not fully accounted for. Wonder why?
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Old 01-10-2014, 06:41 PM   #13
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I know that if I was one of those scam artists (which I am not), I would plan on hiding several million until I got out of prison. Then I could be on easy street for my retirement. I would suspect the smart ones think ahead like that.

If you watch American Greed enough you will notice that, in many cases, all the scammed funds are not fully accounted for. Wonder why?

**But you gotta wonder if people with that underlying personality trait of being dishonest can ever change....even after what little jail time they do get.....
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Old 01-10-2014, 08:10 PM   #14
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He looked like a real investor, but he was just betting on the greater fool theory of investing to get good returns, and he lost.
Isn't anyone who buys a stock without much dividend and a high PE banking on a greater fool? This investor cannot make his money and return in the normal course of business, he much count on some other 'investor" paying even more for his expensive stock.


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Old 01-11-2014, 12:52 AM   #15
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**But you gotta wonder if people with that underlying personality trait of being dishonest can ever change....even after what little jail time they do get.....
I don't believe so. Recently, I ran into a crazy neighbor and family members which prompted me to study personality disorders and other relevant subject. It led me to believe that pathological liars, sociopaths, and such will remain so without proper treatment.
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:36 AM   #16
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In the late 70s or early 80s I was taken in by one. He was the president of a large growing bank and had an office in an impressive high rise in our city. He had made a lot of money for people that I knew personally. There were big tax advantages then for real estate limited partnerships. The returns were large, but not outlandish, considering there were also tax losses. Unfortunately, the tax losses turned into real losses, his bank went bust, and I believe went to jail for a while. I checked out this guy as well as I could, he was indeed a successful business leader in our city. He looked like a real investor, but he was just betting on the greater fool theory of investing to get good returns, and he lost.

None of us are completely immune to this kind of tactic at some point in our life. Thankfully, my investment and stock market fiascoes happened very early in my life, and I learned my lessons. I am just so glad that I learned this lesson early. I pity the poor folks who never get involved with the markets until late in life, when they have a large pension to invest. Learning lessons early is the key. None of us are as smart as we like to think.
I don't know what your situation was but San Diego seems or seemed to be full of these scams. The "J David" one, I used to work for surgeons and many surgeons and lawyers in San Diego were scammed by him and his high investment returns. This was early 1980s.

Then there was "Pioneer Mortgage" one of my Grandmothers was getting a 14% return on mortgages for many years until that totally collapsed. She died about six months later. This sounds mean but she literally lived for money and when the money dried up, her reason for living was gone, she was 92. This was early 1990s when that blew up.

I think some says "Hey I am getting 15% returns guaranteed, or 30% or whatever, to their friends and then the greed kicks in. Hey why am I getting 2% from my "value" fund and my buddies are making so much more.

I have seen "American Greed" many times and the psychology behind the scammer and the victims is fascinating.
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:47 AM   #17
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In many areas of life people hear what they want to hear. The big frauds like Madoff had people begging to be let into his scheme. I also love this show, it blows me away.
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:30 AM   #18
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In the late 70s or early 80s I was taken in by one. He was the president of a large growing bank and had an office in an impressive high rise in our city. He had made a lot of money for people that I knew personally. There were big tax advantages then for real estate limited partnerships. The returns were large, but not outlandish, considering there were also tax losses. Unfortunately, the tax losses turned into real losses, his bank went bust, and I believe went to jail for a while. I checked out this guy as well as I could, he was indeed a successful business leader in our city. He looked like a real investor, but he was just betting on the greater fool theory of investing to get good returns, and he lost.

None of us are completely immune to this kind of tactic at some point in our life. Thankfully, my investment and stock market fiascoes happened very early in my life, and I learned my lessons. I am just so glad that I learned this lesson early. I pity the poor folks who never get involved with the markets until late in life, when they have a large pension to invest. Learning lessons early is the key. None of us are as smart as we like to think.

Not sure if what you put down is actual fraud or just bad business...

As an example... back in the 80s many banks were failing... people would say 'these guys should go to jail'.... my response was 'stupid is not illegal'... IOW, if the person did not break a law (as you suggest, he was using the greater fool theory which is not illegal), then you just had a bad investment and were not defrauded....

Just saying there is a difference....
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:34 AM   #19
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One of the things that 'protect' a lot of us is that we are not trying to make a killing...

Investing in index funds means that you are not trying to beat the market, but just trying to match it.... a big difference in mind set...
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Old 01-11-2014, 08:47 AM   #20
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Interesting...same punishment?
Hmmm, I must object to their answer - how can just 11% be "Poor/Overpriced financial products", given how large the "financial advisor" industry is? Maybe if they only counted people with fees > 2%/year...
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