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The ponzi scheme puzzle : a history and analysis of con artists and victims Preview this item
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The ponzi scheme puzzle : a history and analysis of con artists and victims

Author: Tamar Frankel
Publisher: Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2012.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats

An exploration of Ponzi schemers' fascinating power of persuasion and deception, the reasons for their success and longevity, and the character of their victims.


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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Tamar Frankel
ISBN: 9780199926619 0199926611
OCLC Number: 851345711
Description: XVII, 231 p. ; 22 cm
Contents: PREFACE ; INTRODUCTION ; CHAPTER 1 CON ARTISTS AT WORK ; A. Three Stories of Ponzi Schemers ; 1. Charles Ponzi ; 2. Bernard Madoff ; 3. Gregory Bell ; B. The Basic Design ; 1. Drawing attention to the offer ; a. High Returns At No Risk ; b. Stories to Satisfy Investors' Curiosity ; c. Con Artists' Stories Are Exceptional and Creative. ; C. Gaining Trust and Concealing the Truth ; 1. Words Can Be Used to Signal Trust ; a. Words Can Denote Trustworthiness ; b. Signals to raise Trustworthiness ; c. It Depends On How You Say False Things. Specific Promises with Vague Roles ; d. The Way a Story Is Told Can Signal Truthfulness ; e. Refusing to Provide the Details of a Scheme Need Not Undermine Trust ; 2. Familiar Transaction Businesses and Forms Seem to Make Verification Superfluous ; 3. Hiding Fraud by Actions. Prompt Payments That Spell Trustworthiness, Low Risk, and Much More ; D. Hiding the Vulnerable Part of the Story: Secrecy and Costly Verification ; 1. Concealing the True Nature of the Ponzi Business ; 2. The Use of Justified Secrecy ; 3. Stories That Are Costly to Verify ; 4. Details That Hide the Truth by Drowning It ; a. Details Can Hide the Truth ; b. Complexity Helps Hide the Truth As Well ; E. Con Artists Deceptive Friendship, and Seeming Vulnerability by Age and Naivety ; 1. Deceptive Friendship and Love ; 2. Deceptive Weakness of Age and Seeming Naivety ; a. Old Age Can Deceive ; b. Naivety Can Deceive ; CHAPTER 2: SELLING THE STORIES ; A. Advertising ; 1. The Importance of Advertising ; 2. Where To Operate And How To Build a Reputation ; 3. Show Generosity ; 4. Entertain ; 5. Draw Attention by Engaging in Attention Drawing Conflicts ; B. Recruiting Helpers ; 1. Cooperation, Competition and Congregation Among Con Artists ; 2. Birds of a Feather Flock Together ; C. How Do Con Artists Approach Their Victims? ; 1. From Family and Friends to Institutions to Affinity Groups ; a. Introduction ; b. Affinity Groups: Ethnic and Religious Groups ; c. Religious Institutions ; d. Hybrid Institutions And Overtones ; 2. Technology Has a Growing Impact On The Growth Of Ponzi Schemes ; D. The Sales Force ; 1. Collecting and Distributing Information ; 2. Paid Sales Force ; 3. A Pure Sales Structure: Pyramid Schemes ; CHAPTER 3 CON ARTISTS' BEHAVIOR SEEMS A <"NORMAL USUAL BEHAVIOR>" ; A. Humans Have a Natural Ability To Pretend, Lie, And Influence Others ; 1. Humans And Even Primates Have Innate Abilities To Lie Convincingly ; 2. Signs Of Misleading Signals ; 3. Legitimate Lying ; 4. Exploiting The Weakness Of The Social System ; 5. The Slippery Slope: From Honesty To Fraud ; 6. Ponzi Schemes <"Businesses>" Mirror Respectability ; a. Legitimate Businesses: Banking and Financial institutions ; b. Stock Market Trading-Following The Trends ; c. Salespersons And Traders ; d. Entrepreneurs ; e. Con Artists Are Believable: They Believe in Their Activities And View Them As Businesses ; f. Longevity of the Businesses Breeds Respectability ; CHAPTER 4 A PROFILE OF THE CON ARTISTS AND THEIR VICTIMS ; A. The Dark Side Of Con Artists (And Some of Their Investors) ; 1. Con Artists Are Different From Most People ; 2. On Very Rare Occasions A Con Artist Might Resort To Murder ; 3. On Very Rare Occasions A Group Of Con Artists Can Be Deadly As Well ; 4. Con Artists Lack Empathy ; a. What Does Empathy Mean? ; b. Lacking Empathy Can Bring Repeat Frauds ; c. Lacking Empathy Can Render Con Artists More Effective ; d. People's Empathy Is Socially Important ; 5. How Do Con Artists Present Themselves? ; a. Protecting the Weak Ego: We Are Special! ; 6. Con artists' mechanisms of ego protection and justifications ; a. Denial ; b. Blaming The Government ; c. Blaming The Laws ; d. Blaming The Victims ; e. Blaming Others, But Avoiding A Show Of Weakness ; f. Our Actions Are Justified. Others Are Fraudulent, And We Must Protect Ourselves Against Them By Defrauding First; Besides, Everyone Does It ; g. Our Good Works Testify To The Legitimacy of Our Actions ; B. The Profile Of The Victims. What Kind of Persons Are the Sophisticated Victims? What Makes Some People More Vulnerable to Ponzi Schemes Than Others? ; 1. The Dark Side of Some Investors: Lacking Empathy Toward Other Investors And Shared Greed ; 2. Investors In Ponzi Schemes, Who Suspect Or Know The Nature Of The <"Investment>" Yet Invest. ; 3. The Element of Greed ; 4. What Drives the Victims? ; a. Gullibility ; b. Risk-Tolerance may cover tolerance to the risk of being caught for illegal activities ; c. An optimistic nature and outlook on life affects risk tolerance ; d. Social Status ; e. The role of education in risk tolerance is unclear ; f. A Reminder of the Stories in Chapter 1: The Ways Con Artists Make Their Offers ; 5. The Dark Side of Some Investors and Their Representatives: Lack of Empathy Towards Other Investors and Shared Greed ; a. Investors in Ponzi schemes, who suspect or know the nature of the <"investment>" yet invest in it, do not demonstrate empathy with their fellow investors ; b. How do sophisticated victims of Ponzi schemes view themselves? ; 6. How Do Some Victims React To the Discovery of Con Artists by the Government? ; a. The victims' attitude towards the government ; b. The nature of a Ponzi scheme justifies this view of some investors ; D. The Issue of Addiction. Ponzi Schemes Are Addictive For Con Artists And For Some of Their Victims. The Slippery Slope to Addiction and Illegality ; 1. What Is Addiction? ; 2. What Causes An Insatiable Craving For More, And A Loss Of Self-Control? ; 3. What Are Con Artists and Perhaps Their Victims Usually Addicted To? ; 4. Con Artists Are Repeat Offenders ; CHAPTER 5. HOW DOES THE PUBLIC VIEW THE CON ARTISTS AND THE VICTIMS? ; A. America Is Ambivalent About Its Con Artists ; 1. Con Artists That Defrauded Small Investors Are Viewed Somewhat Differently ; 2. When Con Artists Mimic The Power Elite, They Are Close To, And Live Like, The Very Wealthy And Politically Powerful ; 3. The <"Barren and Destructive Creators>" The Benefits of Creative Harm ; 4. Con Artists Can Be Corrupting Teachers ; B. How does the Public View the Victims? ; 1. With Few Exceptions, People View The Victims Of Con Artists Differently Than They View The Victims Of Violent Crimes ; 2. A Related Reason For Condemning The Victims Is That They Did Not Do Their Homework. ; C. Are There Available Protections For Sophisticated Potential Victims? ; 1. Red flag: a very high return-low risk. ; 2. Red flag: The mystery source of the higher returns. ; 3. Red flag: Continuous offerings of obligations ; 4. Red flag: Con artists' activities outside the legal protections ; 5. Other red flag signals ; 6. Separating Business, Emotion, And Faith ; 7. Advice To Investors As Protection Against Affinity Scams Is Similar ; CHAPTER 6. THE LEGAL AFTERMATH ; A. Collecting the Assets and Mediating Among the Victims ; B. The Issues Error! ; C. Who Collects the Remaining Assets? ; D. Who, Among the <"Helpers>" of Con Artists, Must Pay? ; 1. Who Helps The Con Artists? ; 2. What About Suspecting Helpers? ; E. How To Divide the Remaining Assets? ; F. Are All Victims Equal? They Are Not ; 1. Distinguishing between initial investment and profits ; 2. Markets and stolen goods: Policy issues ; 3. What about victims that <"smelled a rat>" and decided to withdraw their money after collecting the profits? ; EPILOGUE
Responsibility: Tamar Frankel.


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A financial thriller, a masterly page-turning inquiry into tragi-comic gullibility and greed, of Ponzi victims and perpetrators alike. The belief in market rationality (another confidence trick?) and Read more...

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