Let’s admit it. We all want to be rich and sometimes famous – more often than not just rich. Have you watched the CNBC show American Greed? I watch it all the time.
I stated to watch American Greed about a year ago when I came across it one night while I was working late and wanted some background noise – I turned my head and stated to watch. Unfortunately, my work was never finished that night because I could not believe what I was watching and what some businessman do for fame and fortune. The question I ask myself is don’t these scammers realize that there party will be over when people ask for their money back? Or are they that caught up that they can’t think past the end of the month. Did Bernie Madoff, pardon the pun, not understand that people will one day need the money they entrusted with him?
Take for instance one of their featured stories, former Rabbi Sholam Weiss, and young, energetic entrepreneur who turned a small plumbing supply company into a million dollar company, he was loud, confident, loved bright lights and women. In addition to leaning business he’s also learning the art of a con man. Before he caught he leads federal agents on a international manhunt, changes identities, but then get caught in 2000.
Weiss the con was finally convicted of multiple fraud and money laundering counts and sentenced to 845 years in prison for looting the National Heritage Life Insurance of a staggering $450 million.
The sentences imposed on Weiss and his accomplice Michael Blutrich was the lengthiest known in the world for a white collar crime. Weiss was convicted on 78 counts including racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering and ordered to pay $125 million in restitution and $123 million in penalties. About a dozen individuals were convicted for involvement in the collapse; another defendant, Keith Pound, received a 750-year sentence, and $139 million in restitution. Pound died in prison in 2004 at age 51.
At the end of the day the show exposes the greed in investors, companies, and businessmen alike and makes you wonder if any investment in a company is a safe place to park your money.
Just remember nothing is guaranteed, not even banks (look at Cyprus). I almost think that some of the investors who lose money to these people deserve to lose it (I’m not serious about that). It’s sad to see honest, hardworking individuals lose their life savings to these cons, but at the end of the day some of these “deals” are so “too good to be true” it baffles me why anyone would give them a dime to begin with.
I suggest you watch CNBC’s American Greed: Scams, Schemes, and Broken Dreams on Thursdays at 10p ET/PT, and learn what people will do for just plain ol’ paper.