Scott Patterson, ACFE Media Relations Specialist
Last week, when I read the news that Barry Minkow is expected to plead guilty to insider trading, it was with a streak of cynicism, perhaps, that my first thought was, “Here we go again.” Another “reformed” fraudster, another new chapter involving law enforcement, the courts and potential prison time.
This latest development with Minkow is a reminder that no matter what we see, hear or think we know about someone who has been convicted of fraud, there is never a guarantee that they are truly reformed. It’s just a refresher, really, because we’ve already seen fraud perpetrators demonstrate similar backslides.
Barry Webne was still giving fraud prevention presentations, calling himself a corporate crime consultant, while under investigation for committing his second accounting fraud. Webne was eventually sentenced to more than five years in prison for stealing $1 million from an Ohio communications firm. Read the news article here. Click on the photo to watch Webne's interview with the ACFE.
Kenneth Kemp described in an ACFE interview how, while serving as CFO for a small business, he wrote himself two $50,000 checks. He was prosecuted, but was offered a deal to pay restitution, which helped him avoid a conviction. With a clean slate, he moved on to a different company, where he committed the same crime.
Finally, who could forget Steve Comisar, aka “Brett Champion?” His book, America’s Guide to Fraud Prevention, is framed on the wall as part of the Fraud Museum here at ACFE headquarters. Not because of any fraud-fighting insight, mind you – but as a piece of fraud history. Comisar was a legendary con-artist described by the FBI as “the Jeffrey Dahmer of fraud.” He had been convicted and in and out of jail several times when he published his book as a sort of “coming out” as a reformed fraudster. Before long, however, Comisar was committing telemarketing scams, followed by extortion and threats – resulting in another trip to prison, where he now sits.
If Minkow does plead guilty, I hope that – after he serves whatever punishment he is given – he is able to make the most of his third chance.
Can fraudsters truly be reformed? Leave us your comments below.