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American greed (tv show) anyone watch this?
Old 07-28-2014, 09:32 PM   #1
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American greed (tv show) anyone watch this?

I saw a few episodes of this recently and marathoned my way through season 7. It basically profiles various con men and fraudsters and the millions and millions (sometimes billions) of damage they inflict.

It should be required viewing for anyone who is currently in or trying to ER. While watching the show it is a pretty stark reminder that there are a lot of sharks out there preying on the elderly. I'm not old yet but even i've been approached by various "investment advisors" who throw out some hooks.

The scale of some of these scams are amazing. Madoff was really the tip of the iceberg. There's a lot of these guys running around everywhere and when they get busted it doesn't always make national news.
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Old 07-28-2014, 09:39 PM   #2
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That show reinforces two viewpoints of mine... 1) The death penalty needs to include these scam artists 2) How dumb people can be. Some of them falling prey to promises of guaranteed 12-15% yearly return, while we are all tickled pink when we can lock in 3% CDs?


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Old 07-28-2014, 09:58 PM   #3
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I watch it when new shows come on. It just amazes me what cons people will fall for.

About 10 years ago, a friend and I visited R. Allen Stanford's office in Houston to inquire about the 12% CDs he was selling. We backed away when we saw they were not backed by the FDIC and backed by a bank in Antigua.

Stanford was locked up in our town's jail (Conroe, Texas) for several months when he got busted. He got worked over pretty good by a few of the inmates while in there. I guess he sold some of the inmate's families some CDs or whatever he was conning.
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Old 07-28-2014, 10:38 PM   #4
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Good to hear some of the people got some "payback" on their investments!


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Old 07-28-2014, 10:43 PM   #5
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I guess one of the lessons to be drawn is that a lot of folks look for the quick win that is in general to good to be true. (The number of schemes that guarantee returns outside the realm of what can be guaranteed is vast). A lot of affinity based fraud is also shown. Somehow I think that financial education ought to include measures to tell if something is to good to be true.
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Old 07-29-2014, 07:04 AM   #6
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Yeah...A good friend of mine recently got scammed on a silver pyramid scheme. He kept mentioning to me how much he had on his investment and how I should put money in it, too. He put in almost $250,000 of his own money and in a couple years had 1.5 million. The bells were ringing in my head...no way would I risk money on that. Being a Vanguard man I advised him to diversify and put some of his pot into mutual funds. But, greed was talking. The scammer is now serving time and my friend and his brother are out of $350,000. I am now retired and he will probably work till he is dead. When people get hooked by greed they will not listen to advise, nor logic. We both had plans to retire and do things together.
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Old 07-29-2014, 07:54 AM   #7
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I watch the show. What amazes me is most of these scams only fell apart when we had the market crash 2008. Seems like many could still be going on today without a steep market correction?
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Old 07-29-2014, 08:30 AM   #8
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Yeah, I'm hooked on this show. DH and I have observed that most of the time it really takes two. Yes, sometimes the victims are vulnerable because they're not very knowledgeable about finances or they're very trusting (and I hope there's a special place in hell for people who use their religious affiliations to garner trust).

Others, though, seem to have been smart enough to understand that if their side of the deal is 15% per year, guaranteed, no risk, then someone else is getting the bad end of the deal, but they don't care as long as it's not them. One of Madoff's victims I saw profiled on another show was a stock broker. Please- she didn't realize that what she was getting was too good to be true?
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Old 07-29-2014, 09:05 AM   #9
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I use to watch the show but after a while it became boring because all the plots were either get-rich-quick scams like junior versions of Madoff or institutional scams like bank fraud, card-counters, or counterfeiting.

I share the posts about finding it tough to fathom how people could fall for these scams wlthough the ones based on affinity I find the most repulsive. Also, a lot of these high-return scams began in 2008 or 2009 when people were looking for way to get good returns as the markets were crashing so they became more vulnerable to them.
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Old 07-29-2014, 09:47 AM   #10
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We watch it occasionally. It is very entertaining. The thing is they are just cherry-picking the stories because they could run the whole show from Vancouver and never run out of fodder. So they have to be selective.
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Old 07-29-2014, 10:20 AM   #11
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It's an expensive lesson to learn that there is no get-rich-quick magic out there. Unfortunately, I've seen a few episodes where things led to death (or was that another program?). Greed works both ways between con man and want-to-get-rich quick customer. I just hope I don't fall into one when I get senile.
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Old 07-29-2014, 10:22 AM   #12
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These con artists' biggest mistake was not being too big to fail.
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Old 07-29-2014, 10:25 AM   #13
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Yeah, we're hooked. I agree that most are the same scheme, classic Ponzi.

I think what's disturbing is that as they filter out their marks, the people who are smart enough to back away don't or can't ring any alarm bells to shut these things down. I know we watched one episode where a financial type went undercover voluntarily when he saw the preposterousness of the offerings and helped to bring it down with authorities. Some of the penalties given out are appropriate, but in most cases the number of ruined lives eclipses the sentences by a wide wide margin.

All newbie investors ought to watch at least 10 episodes!
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Old 07-30-2014, 11:31 AM   #14
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Old 07-30-2014, 11:55 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mulligan View Post
Some of them falling prey to promises of guaranteed 12-15% yearly return, while we are all tickled pink when we can lock in 3% CDs?


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But remember that the genius (if you would call it that) of Mr Madoff's scam was offering a reasonable 7%-8% and you had to be 'introduced' in order to invest with him. No big red flags.
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Old 07-30-2014, 11:58 AM   #16
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I enjoy the show because we winter in Fort Lauderdale where many of the scammers lived.

Always interesting to drive by those big houses with the $8MM yachts and wonder how many of them are made of paper and how it's only a matter of time....
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Old 08-01-2014, 09:28 AM   #17
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My favourite episode was the story of Rita Crundwell, the treasurer of tiny Dixon, Illinois who stole $54 million (!) from the town's funds to pay for her horse hobby. Incredible.

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Originally Posted by marko View Post
I enjoy the show because we winter in Fort Lauderdale where many of the scammers lived. Always interesting to drive by those big houses with the $8MM yachts and wonder how many of them are made of paper and how it's only a matter of time....
It does seem like many of the scam artists profiled on the show operated out of Florida.
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Old 08-01-2014, 09:53 AM   #18
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It does seem like many of the scam artists profiled on the show operated out of Florida.
Could be that I'm watching another show called American Greed.
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Old 08-02-2014, 01:07 PM   #19
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As a number of folks have mentioned, I have viewed it a few times and am always stunned at the financial ignorance of so many of my fellow Americans. On the other hand I am also interested in the scammer and how clever they are.
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