A man named Emmanuel Ekhator pleaded guilty a short time ago in federal court for heading up a con-ring  no doubt among other charges.  The screw-job ended up doing $70m in damages.  They were caught by the cooperative efforts of  various Canadian and United States law enforcement agencies, of which the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is the most intriguing.

The scheme was very simple; it went something iike this:.  A foreign person would call or contact a law firm asking for help in something, usually collecting a debt.  The law firm would think it had done so.  There would be a check.  The law firm was to take out its fees, and forward the money some how, presumably by means of another check–this time off the law firm or from an entity to which the law firm would be liable.   The check the firm had received would be confirmed by calling what the firm took to be an overseas bank, and the amount would be authorized or the first check would be declared to be satisfactory by one of the crooks.  Of course, the check was counterfeit. And so forth.

Of course, this is a tragic event, and many lives were set back a good distance, and a few were ruined in an economic sense, with there being horrifying side-consequences for many decent, well-meaning people.  Maybe some money will be recovered–maybe a lot if he controls the money and property; or course, Mr. Ekhaton pleaded to give up all he still had.  Mr. Ekhator (and it makes me sick to call him “Mr.” at all, rather than “Pig-Shit-Ruination-Villain) will do time, but I doubt enough.

One wonders if any of these firms will go into bankruptcy.  After all, Dewey through “sins” of its own has provided the high publicity exit so as to make the plunge less the “end of the world.”  (Besides, the Portland plaintiff’s firm of Williams Love O’Leary & Powers went under financially in 2011 but recently came out again, having settled a giant case against Pfizer.)

Setting that matter aside.  There are several other dimensions to this fiasco.  First, the law firms were sloppy.  They seem to have forgotten a fundamental rule of business commitment: check empirical statements empirically.  The starting hypothesis should be:

First, try to falsify the propositions presented and do so  based on reliable empirical evidence. Moving on:

Second, keep checking as the very odd cases evolves.  Committing the firm’s money to projects of any kind is an investment.  Ask this question:  Is this move prudent?  Remember vividly how easy self-deception can be, especially if you are a being in need. 

Third, mistakes like this derive from avarice, and the villains know its pervasive reach.  The spirit of greed frequently reeks out. 

Fourth, “idiot” decisions  also result from inexperience, ambition, alcohol., drugs, bitter already existing litigation, e,g., divorces, and so forth. 

Fifth, make sure several people are involved in the decision.  Consider having someone from the outside who knows about international financial dealings.  If nothing else, call some of you friends.  If it doesn’t feel right to at least one of them, back off or out. 

Sixth, the more complex, the more unusual, the less the parties are known in the financial press, and/or the less they are to be found of financial indices, the further distance a firm should keep. 

Seventh, do not try to cheat the cheater.  They are better than you are at this game.  They will fade off into the gloom, or they will beat you.  Under ground work is a different matter.

(On wonders how many cold “calls, emails,  something similar these wretched crooks tried.  (I’d say men, but there is a woman in Canada now under indictment schemes like this one are well-known.  There may be variations, but their fundamental structures are alike and the advance announcement all resemble each either. (Virtually all of them with which I have any familiarity, come from somewhere in Africa.) 

Now for the comical side of this whole thing.  One lawyer–maybe a victim–has stated publicly that this was a complicated scheme.  Alas, that is false.  It was anything but.  The opposite is true, even if it is made to look complex. And that has been known for a long time.  How could one go to law school and not realize this? 

Oh yes, and by the way.  Do not send these folks on to people you care about.  This is true for obvious reasons.  At the same time, do not send them to people  you despise.  Revenge can be a great joy, but this one may get you (1) murdered, (2) taken before the bar (3) or hauled into the conspiracy accusation against the Pig-Shit Gang so far as the U. S. Attorney is concerned, not to mention the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.