boingboing at June 16th, 2014 23:48 — #1
glitch at June 17th, 2014 00:01 — #2
Robbery is the crime of taking or attempting to take something of value by force or threat of force or by putting the victim in fear. At common law, robbery is defined as taking the property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the person of that property, by means of force or fear.
Emphasis is, naturally, mine.
There was no stopping of a $10 million (redundant "dollar") robbery. There was an evasion of a $10 million confidence trick, also known as a con or a scam.
More than that, I'm kind of nonplussed by this feature. I'm not exactly certain what to think about it. It could easily have been made up, and it reads a lot like a fictitious account to my ear. Then again it could be perfectly factual. There's no reasonable way to actually find out, since it's completely anonymous, and that kind of removes any real sense of importance or interest from the work. Knowing for certain whether it was fact or fiction would allow me to judge it appropriately, but as it stands it leaves me just oddly bemused.
Beyond that, it has some flimsy moral about "trusting your hunches", as if BoingBoing doesn't routinely point out to us that people have a lot of cognitive biases and are actually pretty bad at correctly reading complicated situations just like this. There's also the "we had spoken to Evil on the phone" line, which literally made me groan out loud.
I just don't get it. Why was this written? Who is the audience? What is it trying to convey beyond a vague, maybe-factual account of a possible high stakes scam? What's the tone supposed to be? What is the piece hoping to accomplish? I honestly can't tell.
It's not a particularly exciting account. It's very dry, and very vague, and nothing much of substance occured.
It's not even an amusing tale - even for being a notorious fabricator and exaggerator, previously covered Moran Cerf can still manage to be funny in the course of spinning a very similar yarn on a topic like this.
I just was underwhelmed by this piece.
daneel at June 17th, 2014 00:20 — #3
Well, except where it says it's by James Altucher, anyway.
Unusual to read about a hedge fund manager who prevents fraud, though.
l_mariachi at June 17th, 2014 00:51 — #4
If M had $25M of preferred stock in Famous Internet Company, why would he need to borrow $10M from anyone? If he’s so sure that this real estate deal is a better opportunity than his FIC investment (which he must be or he wouldn’t be putting the stock up as collateral,) why not sell $10M of the stock and use that cash to buy into the property?
Who would even accept stock as collateral for anything but a very short-term loan anyway? The whole point of collateral is that it’s a stable asset with a relatively knowable future value.
Also, a fax picture of paper shares?!? It’s a wonder Bill’s fund had any money left to lend, since odds are good he’d have sent it all to a Nigerian prince back in the 90s.
hamish_spencer at June 17th, 2014 01:01 — #5
By the sounds of this wannabe hero (i.e. turkey who nearly got duped), he's some sort of 'economist' or hedge fund manager which are simply alternative terms for 'THIEF' and 'LIAR'. The people involved in this operation are, ironically, far more trustworthy than anyone in the financial industries or 'Banksters' as I like to call them. These Banksters hide behind a elitist veil of legitimacy, all the while, robbing us all blind. I wish Mr All-toosh had lost his money, his job, his family and eventually his will to live... we'd all be a LOT BETTER OFF. But hey, congratulations on not falling for, what is essentially, the Nigerian scam in 2014, Einstein.
jeanbaptiste at June 17th, 2014 01:01 — #6
He stopped a $10 million dollar robbery?
He didn't even know what was going on until "Bill" told him. "Bill" was the one who called the number on the letter and eventually figured it out.
"We got disconnected." Good grief.
If I were the author (an "investor..who sits on the boards of several companies"), I would never ever ever tell this story to anyone. Ever.
samsa at June 17th, 2014 01:12 — #7
This is just an awfully dumb post for all of the reasons written above. It's stunningly ridiculous.
jeanbaptiste at June 17th, 2014 01:14 — #8
This story is so dumb I almost feel like we're being trolled with it. The more I read it, the odder (and funnier) it gets.
Could anyone read this story and think it was flattering to the author?
I think my favorite part is:
“JAMES!” he said.
I can imagine the tone in which this was said. I used to hear that tone a lot. When I was in Kindergarten.
mister44 at June 17th, 2014 01:16 — #9
Because the money is tied up in the stock with, hopefully, good growth potential. You need the liquid capital now so you take a loan out on it. If every thing goes well, you make money, pay back the loan with the money you made, all the while the stock you had continued to increase in price.
As I understand it, it's typical business practice to avoid spending your money if you can. Have a million in the bank? Great. Keep it there and take a loan out or gather investors. Oddly, people don't loan money to people who really need it. They loan money to people that will pay it back with interest in a timely manner.
glitch at June 17th, 2014 01:18 — #10
For various reasons, including my wife Claudia is slightly worried I could get killed, I am changing all of the names. All of the other details are intact.
I suppose that "all of the names" could very well not include the author and his wife - and indeed, googling the name seems to get hits that fit - but as I wasn't at all familiar with the name at first sight, and having just read that disclaimer, I assumed that all the names were fictitious and that it was a nom de plume.
That said, it's still completely unverifiable, if no longer completely anonymous.
An no personal offense to Mr. Altucher, but I wouldn't put it past a shrewd hedge fund manager to circulate a phony, unverifiable story to boost their business reputation.
"Who is your fund manager?"
"Oh, hey! I read about him! The guy who stopped that $10 million robbery with his willingness to trust and check up on the hunches of his associates! A man who has had real experience with all those "pirates" and "bad people" out there, but who is humble and downplays his involvement! I could really use a manager like that! Can you give me his number?"
At the very least it's free advertisement and self promotion. It makes him look good - but not too good, so you're more likely to believe it! - and it tells us absolutely nothing about his actual business acumen or anything of real importance to the services he provides.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if it couldn't actually be classified as a minor form of confidence trick in itself? A harmless, legal one, but still.
skeptic at June 17th, 2014 01:37 — #11
"For various reasons, including my wife Claudia is slightly worried I
could get killed, I am changing all of the names. All of the other
details are intact."
Right, because by using his own real name and accompanying a bio, James Altucher has now rendered the story completely unrecognizable to the fraudster, who won't recognize any of the "factual" details, like the dollar amounts, specific contract details, the instance on the phone, etc. /s
And, presumably, with all the forged documents the fraudster wasn't using their own name away. So, er, what, exactly, is the point of all the name changing?
teapot at June 17th, 2014 01:55 — #12
1) Names changed to avoid further infuriating people trying to steal $10m. The 'bad guys' probably already have the author's name (since they hung up when "Bill" dropped it).
2) I had the same reaction to most here but I think the purpose of this article is to show that some scams are so well put together that even people who should know about and know how to identify such a scam are, despite all their knowledge on the matter, still able to be scammed.
3) This is particularly unusual because the fraudster wired him $15k. Of the scams I've read about (and I've spent far too long on 419eater.com) very rarely can you get a scammer to send you any money and in the cases where they do it's usually only a couple hundred dollars.
3b) Dude needs to spend a day reading www.419eater.com
l_mariachi at June 17th, 2014 02:02 — #13
But now you’re making two interrelated bets instead of one, and as anyone who’s spent time at the track can tell you, combination bets are for suckers.
If it were a legitimate plan, the only way for it to work for M would be if both the FIC stock and the real estate deal pan out handsomely. Bill is betting against M, but hedges with those usurious loan terms just in case M does hit the jackpot. M acts the part of a naïf with an untenable scheme, thus playing on Bill’s greed — M wants Bill to bet against him, because the only way Bill puts up the cash is if he thinks he’s ultimately screwing M out of the FIC stock.
None of this would be a problem if those people kept it amongst themselves, playing unfriendly games of Monopoly or Diplomacy or Liar’s Dice in their mahogany-panelled private clubs. But they do this shit in our economy.
ldobe at June 17th, 2014 02:23 — #14
And our economy is our public pool. Don't shit in it.
underground_net at June 17th, 2014 03:34 — #15
Shouldn't the article be called:
How I made my friend a quick $15,000!
dobby at June 17th, 2014 03:36 — #16
"We had spoken to Evil on the phone."
I think that while it is bad to commit fraud it is difficult to call this evil. These fraudsters have to have backing, they are rich already, and are taking money from people who invested in this fund, bad. But the fraud is infinitesimal compared to the "I'll make it legal" banking and home mortgage scams pulled over by the "with capitol" class against the wage slavery class which includes many doctors, lawyers, and airplane pilots along with burger flippers and janitors who are all only paid for their labor rather than rewarded for already being rich and being able to tax those who waste their time making and doing things.
So small scale investment fund fraud = bad, non-violent art museum heist also = bad, enslaving a whole economy at risk of homelessness and destroying any hope for economic growth for the 90%ers= evil.
Robin Hood was really not such a great guy but he is now seen as a resistance story against the neo-feudalism we are all seeing descend to crush us. Just because the laws are purchased to allow some stealing and outlaw others doesn't mean that the legal code still has any backing other than perhaps the state's monopoly on violence.
the_guernican at June 17th, 2014 04:03 — #17
"There’s a lot of bad people in the world. All they want to do is destroy and vanish. They roam the world like pirates."
Thank goodness for heroic former hedge fund managers, eh?
dobby at June 17th, 2014 04:11 — #18
On the surface I have no problem with a fund manager, I even tried it for a while. The problem is to maximize profit you have to cut corners, I quit when the fund moved to being all about packaging real estate loans. Business school for me was all about ethics post Enron, but reality was that in our rate of return environment everyone needs to create their own competitive scam to get those fractions of a percent towards beating inflation. The few points you do get by going with risk are actually not worth the risk in most cases if it comes with a management fee. Low return and high risk are a perfect plantation to take the retirement funds of ordinary workers and transfer them to funds as losses and fees with narry an apology for leaving people with nothing but social security poverty level payment after working their whole lives.
Everyone grew up with growth and the story went like this, save your money and your fund will partner with people to use the money to make or do stuff for a percentage return and it will grow, then retire when your own labor becomes worthless and you want to rest. Now the story still involves work and saving but without real growth going to the investing public it only allows those who have made the jump to the capitalist class to siphon off that retirement and other pools of money for themselves.
glitch at June 17th, 2014 04:13 — #19
Didn't you know? Blowing a scam and forcing the perpetrators to cover their tracks and go into hiding to avoid the authorities doesn't endanger you!
It's the besmirching of their good (fake) names to the public that counts! I mean sure, those names are going to be discarded like used tissues, but scam artists still have their pride!
namenotreserved at June 17th, 2014 04:40 — #20
I'm not sure who I'm supposed to root for here. M is trying to scam Bill, and Bill is trying to scam M back. We don't know anything about M, but Bill is a horrible person.
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