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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

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.