Legal Thriller Author Examines 15 Amazing Scam Artists’ “Conspiracy Theory” Tricks

The best scams are built around conspiracy theories. They afford the ultimate shell game.

Why?

Because it gives the scam artist “cover.” It fortifies him with an automatic defense against his critics. It exonerates him from past failures. And, importantly, it provides an excuse for future delays, gives him time to run for cover when everything collapses. In other words, it creates the perfect stage setting from which to operate.

Overall, a well-developed conspiracy theory is a great rallying theme. It blends like minds, mutual resolve, shared purpose, goals. It breeds collective paranoia. There is, therefore, a set of basic rules the scam artist follows in producing this highly-desired atmosphere of “communal harmony” to embellish his “pitch. Accomplishing this enables him to fully exploit his con game in all of its ramifications. Hence, these are those rules-of-the-game he follows, rules to watch for, in order to protect yourself to the fullest.

1. Get your sucker-audience to focus on some elaborate conspiracy, one dedicated to stomping on courageous visionaries like yourself–you, the con man, being the one who is able to cut through the enemy’s monopoly and use his investors’ funds wisely to bestow benefits upon them–earn money, save money, awards, merits, fame–never before dreamed possible. If the victims fully subscribe to your hogwash, they will earn Brownie points along the way. Good mind game.

2. Now, get your foot in the door. Light a fire under your sucker-audience. Get them, as a group, ready to go bear hunting with a stick. Talk about your valiant battles with some government bureaucracy or private organization Get them stomping mad and eager to join you in your crusade against “them.”

3. Dispensing learned counsel in rapid-fire bursts, talk bravely about your battles with the bad guys trying to steal, or bury, your ideas. Fearlessly claim that you will shred,
obliterate, destroy your records before you will permit the indignity of allowing these to fall into “their” hands. Whip them into a frenzy, figuratively ready to chase a tornado in a convertible with the top down.

4. In addition to your “base” enemy, faceless government agencies of many types also make good whipping boys. These must also be made out to be “the enemy” you must bravely fight. Cite examples of their misdeeds. Cite the Law of Bureaucracy they follow: Nothing is ever accomplished by being reasonable.

5. Don’t fear investors who defect. There will always be some. Most will feel they’ve been suckered, and be too embarrassed to make a lot of noise about their misfortunes (of dealing with you). With the few who will protest too loudly, call them agents of the “Big Conspiracy” operating against you.
(“Do you see how they infiltrate?” you will ask of your remaining, loyal followers.)

6. Bury all attacks against you in a wave of minutia. Create enough distractions to mesmerize these people, put them to sleep over endless, meaningless detail. Tire them to the point where they will do anything to avert further debate, if only to stay awake.

7. Freely and frequently threaten your detractors with lawsuits. It will make a high percentage of them run for the tall grass, shut their mouths in fear.

8. Be the true crusader in every way. Stick closely to the scam artist’s parable: To thine own self be true, and lie like hell to everyone else. Say you are not in this for the money. Piously proclaim your altruistic intent: to save humanity.

9. Make your pitch to groups of people who have had faith, trust, and American Way values instilled in them from birth. Many groupings of senior citizens, religious types, family farmers fill this bill. These are your primary targets

10. Among other preferred groups are those already pre-conditioned to accepting conspiracy theories, like those who believe in the Flat Earth Society railings against Round-Worlders, in UFO cover-ups, and JFK assassination plots.

11. Always get your victims to focus on theory and abstractions. When their minds stray from this, fog their attention, get it away from any kind of evidence which can be measured. (This is especially important when trying to pawn off worthless, hi-tech junk.)

12. Be bold, loud. Make your claims and proclamations to all who will hear. People tend to think something so transparently out in the open could not possibly be a fly-by-night undertaking.

13. Shoot for only a small, initial amount of up-front money. Maybe $49, say, for a tape, DVD, and / or an information kit of some kind.. This, on the premise that, once the sucker has paid a bit of his required dues,, it’s easier to squeeze more out

14. You must have your investors forfeit their rights to legal action any way you can. Give them a–“ho hum, just routine”–document to sign. Pull this out from under a pile of documents, as if it is so insignificant it almost got lost. Or, hide your disclaimer in a nondisclosure agreement, in the smallest of small print you can arrange with your printer to crank out.

15. Enlist a small group of the most gullible to help you recruit the rest. (If you, as a potential participant, pay heed to the urgings of these discombobulated people, it would be like listening to a rap group named, Insane Clown Posse.)

It’s all a head shaker. Trying to cut through the haze and figure the con man’s’ psychological approach is much like being forced into making a choice between having double vision and hearing a constant echo. But, it’s worth the effort. Once you do sort it out and finally understand how to zero in on all of these traits and mannerisms, the working pattern of the con artist will be clearly spelled out for you. It is only then that you will be in the best position to protect yourself from any kind of curve ball he will throw your way.

Accident Claims Companies Could Be Bankrolling Terrorism

Accident claims companies are at the centre of a large-scale investigation by the Insurance Fraud Bureau, according to a report in Solicitors Journal. Many companies are under suspicion of colluding with solicitors firms in staging accidents and paying kickbacks in order to make money. Some of the fraudulent activity may have gone towards funding terrorism and drug dealing.

The process of paying kickbacks can be legal if there is complete transparency but not if the claims are revealed to be fraudulent, and while the IFB accepts that some solicitors may have been duped by accident claims companies they could still find themselves guilty of fraud through neglecting to keep thorough records.

Sue Jones, the IFB’s unit head, has warned solicitors to guard against this eventuality by making sure that they accurately record all transactions and referrals made to them by claims companies: ‘If insurers are saying, on a consistent basis, that they don’t believe that accidents are taking place, then you must review the situation. If you’ve paid a referral fee to a claims management company and you end up taking money into your client account from a fraudulent claim, then you could be facilitating that fraud. Some firms appear time and time again as being linked to claims management companies whose claims are rejected. You would think they would want to review the relationship.’

These sentiments were echoed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, a spokesman for whom stated: ‘We continue to warn solicitors that they must be careful in their dealings with claims introducers. For instance, they must fully explain any referral arrangement to their client at the beginning. They must make sure they know how the introducer obtained the client and explained the financial arrangement.’

The more worrying side of the story relates to where the fraudulent proceeds are going, with the IFB saying that the investigation is tied up with money laundering and extremist violence. ‘A lot of the money goes abroad, including to terrorist groups in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan,’ states Jones, adding that: ‘staged road traffic accidents were used to fund the IRA in the 1970s and 1980s. It was seen as an easy way to make money.’

Since its inception in 2006 the Insurance Fraud Bureau has been responsible for over 120 arrests and the retention of £5 million. Many of these breakthroughs have been in connection with the Proceeds of Crime Act of 2002, which states that: ‘it is a criminal offence for anyone to be involved in arrangements that they suspect facilitate (in any way) someone else in acquiring, retaining, using or controlling the proceeds of crime,’ and, more crucially for solicitors firms, ‘it is a criminal offence for anyone who works in a regulated financial firm not to report any dealing that they suspect, or ought to suspect, involves the proceeds of crime.’

Nostalgia for the Holidays

Christmas was yesterday and the comparison between this year and many years gone by was quite unique. Nostalgia has always played a part in this celebration. I remember the hushed expectation in the large gothic church of my early childhood filled with pine ropes, huge wreathes, the smells of candles, warm pine and polished wooden pews. I can still feel the starched collars of the choir robes with the huge bows that denoted what grade we were in.

My Father was the minister of music in that church and my Mother was in charge of the childrens choirs. Each year’s services were filled with amazing vocal and instrumental music – just filling the church with the awe inspiring richness of well-trained voices played against the enormous pipe organ and a small orchestra brought in for this momentous occasions.

The church was filled with hundreds of well-dressed people and I loved the smells of perfume and the softness of all the fur coats worn by the women who loved to hug me.

As a child, I loved the services, but most of all, I loved to go to the rehearsals. This was where I could quietly drift up and down between the rows of pews and up in the balcony unnoticed – or at least I felt unnoticed. The grownups and older singers would rehearse in the evenings and my parents would be so involved in their jobs, that they had no time to wonder what I was up to. That was the way I preferred it. I loved wandering through the polished, quiet halls with no sound but my shoes and the singing voices echoing through out the huge building.

I always felt close to God then. I didn’t need someone to tell me whether or not He existed. I had experienced that spiritual awakening at a very young age and knew God’s presence in my own life. I didn’t know it was different for anyone else and so the heated arguments that I heard from others as I grew up and now, as an adult, that there was even a question about the existence of God, I always thought was rather silly.

I believe that God has a legal responsibility to make His presence known to anyone who asks sincerely AND we have a legal right to know who our Father is in such a way that there is no question as to God’s existence. I’ve known a few people who tried that and discovered the experience and peace that came with it so that for the first time, they were finally satisfied that not only was there God, but that He loved them uniquely.

It seems that writing about spiritual matters that include God or Christ is no longer a “politically correct” activity. There are many who abuse their foundational beliefs and who claim that their religious status is correct and anyone who believes anything other than “their version of the truth” is wrong and could very well be placed in eternal suffering.

I believe that some take their connection to God as a sign of their superiority – and their need for significance. It is easy to see how divisions between the “I’m part of the spiritual-speak crowd and you’re NOT” can easily further divide people from each other. It seems that using one’s spiritual power as a way to judge people and force them to believe any particular religious doctrine out of fear of eternal repercussions is very sad and really misses the point, in my opinion.

Back to Christmas present. This year, Jesus seemed to be even further removed from the airwaves and focus than ever before. Although Christmas was originally thrown in with the pagan winter solstice celebration, over the centuries, it became more of a focal point and the pagan celebrations took more of a back seat to the Christian rituals.

If one follows the Jewish calendar – and that was the calendar being used at the time, Jesus was actually born in the spring – around the equivalent of April – not the middle of winter, as most people have come to believe. Now, however, it seems that the trend is reversing so that Santa, the Grinch, and Charley Brown have won hearts more than the Christ Child.

My Christmas now is very quiet. I live in a different state with my husband and both parents have passed on. My children are grown and do not have children of their own. I am grateful for all the kinds of Christmases I’ve had over the years and I realize that Christmas is a time to reflect and remember why Christ was sent to earth by his Father in the first place (the Father and Christ are not the same being, as many state – really). He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel as an approach present. Yet, the rest of the world is to experience Him as a mediator between God and us.

God has a lot to answer to for the state of the world, don’t you think? However, if Christ could forgive His Father for the price Christ had to pay to be sent here; that of being killed by his own people, then can we also forgive God for the painful experiences of our lives? That’s what Paul wrote about when he said in II Corinthians 5:19-20 “For Christ’s sake, be conciliated to God.” This means that WE are the injured party, not God. He is the operator of the All and the ones who are dying are US. Therefore, to develop a close relationship with God, if it is wanted, we cannot do that until we forgive Him.

I know that may sound radical and topsy-turvey, but think about it for a moment. God knows what He’s doing and is not up somewhere wringing his hands because evil has the world out of control. This is not a battle between good and evil. Good has already won, (in the grand scheme of things – even though the evidence is not here now) and no matter what plans the minds of men may come up with to fulfill their own greedy plans, they can not ultimately prevail.

There is a bible translation, “The Concordant New Testament,” that is an excellent addition for both the serious student or the dedicated truth seeker. It can be found at Amazon or other bookstores.

Let me know what your thoughts are. Be specific in your comments. I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Without Disruptive Innovation, Many IP Law Firms Destined to Meet Same Fate As Buggy Whip Makers

A possible upside to the recent economic downturn is that many previously accepted business models are being revealed as in need of substantial reinvention or even total elimination. The billable hour/leverage law firm model for legal services is one of these increasingly maligned business models, and is now appearing to be in danger of ending up in the dustbin of history. Specifically, even those who benefit handsomely from the billable hour, such as the Cravath firm’s many $800 per hour lawyers, now realize the fundamental irrationality of charging a client for time spent instead of value provided. This alone should signal that change is in the air.

Notwithstanding the growing conversation about the need for alternative client service models, I fear that the majority of IP law firms will either try to ignore the desire for change or will respond by offering only incremental modifications to their existing methods of providing legal services to their clients. As someone with considerable experience dealing with IP lawyers, I believe that, unfortunately, the conservative nature of most IP attorneys means that IP firms will likely lag behind in client service innovations. Thus, I am of the opinion that many prestigious and historically highly profitable IP law firms will in the foreseeable future cease to exist.

I reach this conclusion as a result of various salient experiences. In one of these, several years ago, I approached a managing partner of a well-known IP law firm with suggestions of how to decrease the number of attorney hours expended on client matters. At that time, the firm was beginning to experience considerable push back from clients about the cost of routine legal services. I noted to the managing partner that he could lower the cost non-substantive e.g., administrative client IP matters, by assigning such tasks to lower billing paralegals. His response to this idea: “If paralegals did the work, what would the 1st and 2nd year associates do?”

Of course, the central premise of the managing partner’s response was that in order to keep the gears of the firm’s billable hour/leverage partner model turning smoothly, he needed to keep the young associates busy billing by the hour. The existing paradigm of his law firm required that it keep hiring associates to increase partner leverage and ensure that they efficiently billed clients by the hour, with a significant portion of each associate’s billed time directly going into the partner’s pockets. Left out of this business model was whether the clients’ best interests were properly served by the model that best served the law firm’s partnership.

Clearly, this law firm was not well managed, which might serve as an excuse for the managing partner’s self-serving perspective on client IP legal services. However, my experience as a corporate buyer of IP legal services further revealed that that the billable hour/leverage partner business model was an arrangement that frequently ut the client–which was now me–after the law firm’s interests.

As an in-house counsel spending several $100K’s per year for legal services at a number of respected IP firms, I consistently felt that when I called outside counsel for assistance the first thought that popped into the lawyer’s mind was “So glad she called–I wonder how much work this call is going to lead to?” More often than not, I got the sense that my outside IP lawyers viewed my legal concerns as problems for them to solve on a per hour basis, not as issues that might affect the profits of the company for which I worked. The difference is subtle, but critical: the context of the former is lawyer as a service provider, whereas the latter is lawyer as a business partner.

Against these experiences, I was not surprised at what I heard recently when discussing my feelings about the billable hour/leverage model with a partner friend at one of the top IP specialty law firms in the US. This partner echoed my sentiments about the need for innovation in IP client services. However, she also indicated that most of her firm’s partners do not recognize that there is a problem with the way they currently provide IP legal services to their clients. As she told it, many of her more senior partners have been living well on the billable hour/leverage model, so they currently see little need to modify their behavior. My partner friend nonetheless realizes that her law firm is critically ill and is likely to soon experience something akin to sudden cardiac arrest. Sadly, she is not a member of her law firm’s management and, since there is no upper level recognition that change is needed, it would serve little purpose for her to raise her concerns to those partners who could effect change (and would probably not be politically expedient for her to do so).

The failure of these currently well-compensated IP law firm partners to recognize the shifting winds of their client’s acceptance of their billing practices–the fundamental basis of their law firm’s business model–mirrors the response of entrenched interests throughout history to innovations that did not mesh with their existing business model paradigm. Moreover, the inability of many IP law firms to recognize the climate for change leads me to believe that many of these venerated law firms will soon meet the fate of buggy whip manufacturers if they do not innovate in the manner by which they provide legal services to their clients.

Playing out this analogy, buggy whip manufacturers met their demise because they thought they were in the buggy whip business when they were actually in the transportation business. When buggy whips became obsolete, so did these formerly prosperous manufacturers. Notably, buggy whip manufacturers possessed the ability to change and thrive in the new world of the automobile. They already held strong business relationships with the buggy manufacturers that became the first automobile companies. They also employed skilled craftsmen who could have turned their efforts to making leather seat covers or other aspects of the automobile. These buggy whip manufacturers needed only to accept that they needed to ride the wave of innovation occurring at that time and reinvent themselves as suppliers to automobile manufacturers instead of buggy makers.

Like buggy whip manufacturers, I believe that many lawyers have become so entrenched in the law firm business that they have effectively forgotten that they are first legal services providers. As people charged with ensuring the continued vitality of the business, law firm lawyers often become primarily fee generators in that the fees are obtained from billing clients by the hour for legal services. Care and feeding of the law firm and its partners by ensuring constant creation of billable hours therefore often takes precedence over the legal needs of clients. Also analogous to buggy whip manufactures, IP lawyers working in law firms have the ability to change to prevent obsolescence. Indeed, these lawyers possess the requisite skills to continue practicing their craft outside of the existing paradigm of the law firm. Still further akin to buggy whip manufacturers, lawyers also have the existing relationships with customers i.e., clients, which gives them a valuable head start over newcomers who wish to enter the IP legal service arena using innovative, but unfamiliar, client service models.

Using the well-known picture of obsolescence presented by buggy whip manufacturers more than 100 years ago, I believe that IP lawyers who recognize that they must embrace innovation in the way they provide IP legal services to clients will be poised for success when their clients decide that the time for change has arrived. On the other hand, lawyers who believe they are in the IP law firm business will invariably be left behind when innovations in client service enter the marketplace that render the law firm business model obsolete.

IP lawyers should not expect that they will be able to predict when their clients will demand change. As with the customers of buggy whip manufacturers, law firm clients will not serve their IP counsel with notice warning prior to taking their business to lawyers who provide them with innovative, and more client-centric, service models. To the contrary, when clients are finally presented with acceptable alternatives, they will naturally migrate to the innovation that best meets their business needs. The result will be that one day, these currently successful IP lawyers will likely wake up to realize that they are losing their clients in droves to lawyers who succeeded in developing and introducing an innovative client service model to the world. And, as most lawyers will tell you, once a client is gone, they are likely gone forever.

Not only will clients fail to announce that they intend to leave their law firm before they do so, they also will not tell their lawyers how you can serve them better. Why should they–they are not in the business of providing legal services. Accordingly, mutually beneficial client service innovations must be generated by and because of lawyer action. But, because of their inherently conservative nature, I believe that many IP lawyers may fail to realize that innovation is critical until it is too late to preserve their client base.

Some might contend that complaints about the billable hour model have abounded for many years, but no major changes have occurred to date, thus indicating that most clients may be all bluster and no action. While it is certainly true that clients exerted no real pressure on lawyers for change in the past, circumstances are markedly different today than before. Disruptive innovation is rocketing through society, and many formerly solid business models, such as newspapers and recorded music, are now teetering on the cusp of demise as a result.

The signals are there that law IP firms that rely on the billable hour/leverage model appear poised to experience significant stress from clients and critics in the near future. Those relying on this model for their livelihood would be well-served to look for innovative ways to address this changing environment. In short, those who think that the billable hour/leverage law firm model will escape the transformative business innovations of the current era are merely “whistling past the graveyard.” IP law firms, as well as other types of law firms, must innovate now and innovate big or I fear they will suffer the fate of the buggy whip makers.