A Career Option for Bernie Madoff?

Bernard L. Madoff is not a young man, and if he is convicted of the crimes of which he stands accused, he may spend the rest of his life in prison.

But on the off chance he doesn’t, he may wish to consider Sam Antar, of Crazy Eddie fame, as a future role model.

Do you remember Crazy Eddie? A New York electronics chain known for its “insanely low prices” and its omnipresent TV ads, it was also a big piggy bank for the Antar family, who used all sorts of fraudulent bookkeeping to enrich themselves.

It ended quite badly for them. But here’s what Sam Antar is up to these days:

I will make myself available to speak to any individual or group for no compensation or cost. I will pay for all travel and lodging costs out of my own pocket. Any individual is welcome to ask me questions personally. I will make myself available by phone or e-mail at sam@whitecollarfraud.com.

My subject matter of my public appearances includes chilling straight talk about the mind, motivations, manipulations, and techniques of a fraudster. There are no self apologies, self pity, and self promotion. That is not my purpose. My purpose is to place you into my mean-spirited mindset [of] 20 years ago and show how vulnerable things still are today, even with the changes that have been made. You will leave with a completely different perspective on how to combat white-collar fraud.

I hope that by publicly exposing my own past criminal misdeeds that others will learn positively from them and use them as an example of how to avoid future frauds. I hope that others will volunteer and join me in this project.

I will not accept anything in return for any help I provide anyone — no thank-you letters, nothing. Contact me today for more information and to schedule a lecture.

Here is a list of Antar’s upcoming lectures:

* January 15, 2009: Institute of Internal Auditors in Long Beach, California
* February 9, 2009: Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey
* February 20, 2009: Institute of Management Accountants (Greenville, South Carolina Chapter) in South Carolina
* March 5, 2009: Stanford Law School and Stanford Business School in Stanford, California
* March 20, 2009: Institute of Internal Auditors at New York University in New York, New York
* April 13, 2009: Institute of Internal Auditors (Central Florida Chapter) in Orlando, Florida
* April 23, 2009: Louisiana Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA) in Natchez, Mississippi
* June 2, 2009: International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators (IAFCI) at the Seven Springs Resort outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
* June 26, 2009: Accounting Information Systems Educator Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado
* November 4, 2009: Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois

And here is Antar’s recipe for fighting white-collar crime — “A Powerful Punch 5 P’s” he calls it:

1. Prevention: Strong internal controls reviewed by competent and independent external auditors. Strong internal controls are barriers to crime for criminals. Internal controls help businesses operate more efficiently and effectively too.

2. Power: Legislation like Sarbanes-Oxley and standards issued by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

3. Professionalism: A better educated, skilled, trained, experienced, and independent accounting profession. All efforts at prevention, any legislation, and any standards issued will not be fully effective unless the accounting profession addresses its educational issues.

4. Prosecution: Aggressive prosecution of white-collar criminals. Such criminals must know that they will be prosecuted for their actions.

5. Prison: Strong punishment and accountability for those convicted of white-collar crimes. Such criminals must be held fully accountable for their actions.

Antar’s prescriptions might seem like boilerplate material, but if you look at this recent Madoff article, there’s a passage that shows how some rudimentary safeguards were indeed flouted:

As investors from Palm Beach to New York to London counted their losses on Friday in what Mr. Madoff himself described as a $50 billion fraud, federal authorities took control of what remained of his firm and began to pore over its books.

“But some investors said they had questioned Mr. Madoff’s supposed investment prowess years ago, pointing to his unnaturally steady returns, his vague investment strategy, and the obscure accounting firm that audited his books.”

Considering the nature of Madoff’s alleged crimes, however, and the depth of anger and betrayal that his victims must feel, I doubt he could do what Antar is doing without some serious armed security.

For former fraudsters who do want to follow in Antar’s footsteps and who, unlike Antar, might wish to make a few dollars in the process, there’s always Pros and Cons, a speakers bureau run by Gary Zeune, which has a slate of convicted embezzlers and other white-collar criminals. Given the nature of this economic maelstrom, I am guessing that Zeune’s business will be strong for quite some time to come.


I've been an accountant for nearly 30 years and have spent much of that time doing audits. I uncovered my first accounting fraud less than a year into my career and was dumped on for pointing it out. Nothing was done until more than a year later when it made a big splash in the local paper. I was fired sooner.

Since then, I have been peripherally involved with the Enron post bankruptcy and have seen many other unsavory situations. Sarbanes Oxley was supposed to deal with this, but I have come to the conclusion that nothing will ever be successful because:

1) the partners want the business and will always rationalize turning a blind eye. The managers want to meet their budgets and move on.

2) dealing with difficult issues is a sure way to go over budget and few in the profession really have the brains to deal with such problems, anyway. Whenever, I discuss similar issues, only a few peers respond positively. I've found that even those who are not immediately negative, will run you down behind your back. It took a divorce to recently reveal the extent of this, where I currently work.

3) young accountants "on the make" are interested in these scams, but its only to put another arrow in their quiver. Their training is almost like a "how to" manual. I've had friends who were tossed out of job interviews for expressing scepticism about the legality of a potential employers suggested approaches.


David Dashiells

A new constitutional amendment might be in order:
A well regulated market, being necessary for the stability of the economy and therefore the pursuit of happiness, the right of the people to make and enforce laws governing the financial industry shall not be infringed.


I am not cofident there is anyway to stop this behavior. From paperclips to billions, people seem to find ways to get around systems and steal for personal gain. Itis sad really. I can sleep at night knowing I work for what I earn. I don't believe there is a way to enforce this attitude as a law.


I wonder how he refuses to accept thank-you letters...

Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and a convicted felon)

"I am not cofident there is anyway to stop this behavior."

I respectfully disagree. You have to think like a criminal.

Debbie R.

I think Bernie Madoff deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Is there any ability in white collar fraud to go after the personal wealth/property of the individuals involved in the fraud? If not, why? Criminal's families should not continue to benefit from the ill gotten gains once the crook goes to jail. Jail is not enough of a deterent.

Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and a convicted felon)

"I wonder how he refuses to accept thank-you letters..."

Some people send them anyway despite me telling them otherwise.

Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and a convicted felon)

young accountants "on the make" are interested in these scams, but its only to put another arrow in their quiver."

Respectfully disagree.

Auditing is boring and most criminals know that. Most young staff auditors just want to get through the boring process of auditing.

Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and a convicted felon)

"Criminal's families should not continue to benefit from the ill gotten gains once the crook goes to jail."

The government will follow fraudulent conveyences to family members.

Steffen H. Pøhner

Free lectures? I guess his prices truly are insane.


How do these speakers address the following questions--the ones my mom would be asking if she read this blog--

1. Why should I trust what you say, if you are a crook?

2. Are you really sorry for what you did, or just sorry you got caught? If you hadn't gotten caught you'd still be doing it.

Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and a convicted felon)

There are "no happy endings." Redemption does not help victims.


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Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and a convicted felon)

Excellent questions:

"How do these speakers address the following questions-the ones my mom would be asking if she read this blog-"

"Why should I trust what you say, if you are a crook?"

I tell them not to trust me, just verify.

I do all my fraud lectures for free and all pay travel costs out of pocket.

My point is that criminals build walls of false integrity around them.

"Are you really sorry for what you did, or just sorry you got caught? If you hadn't gotten caught you'd still be doing it."

If I did not get caught, I would probably still be a criminal today. I only "cooperated" with the government and my victims to reduce my sentence. Feeling sorry does not help victims of my crimes.

Sam E. Antar

Joshua Frank

The difference between what's criminal and what's perfectly legal--if creative--accounting is so blurred that it encourages a culture of cheating. Instead of training smarter auditors and spinning up an arms race with ever smarter accountants, maybe they should just simplify the rules to something like what the rest of us have to live with and then fraud would be obvious. These fancy accounting rules are just corporate welfare anyway.


How about making people account for and fix the mistakes they have made it? It works in kindergarten...


Since Sam Antar is on this blog, I can't resist the opportunity to ask him a question.

During your time at Crazy Eddie, there must have been times when you almost got caught but dodged the bullet. Is there any lesson from one of these incidents that an investor today could use to spot accounting fraud? What sort of scrutiny were you most afraid of?

Joe Smith

Internal fraud contributes to an estimated 30% of business failures.

Auditors are almost useless. I have seen an audit firm simply ignore the fact that a business doing a million dollars a week in legitimate business was showing five million dollars a week flowing through their bank account.

John Faughnan

Mr Antar.

Many people do bad things.

Few attempt to make amends.

I appreciate your efforts.

I'm not sure 'thank you' is the right phrase, and you don't want thanks anyway, but it is a good thing that you now do.

michael webster


Sam Antar turned state's evidence which convicted his cousin Eddie Antar.

Both he and Barry Minkow are acting to prevent fraud, with no illusions that their continued attempts are redemption wash away the past.