Many elements of the fraud charges against M would seem to have applicability to markets. The macher thing, where he was seen as a "macher," a big-hearted big shot. His denying to some people the favor of taking their funds. His friend the tall partner who would mention at clubs that "Bernie earned me 12% this year and he's not open to the public but I can probably get you in." Cialdini apparently calls this a triple threat fraud where someone else mentions how great M is, and then you don't investigate because it would be an affront to the accomplice (who you don't know is getting a fee), and you use all your energy to see if you can get in rather than to investigate the performance. Amazing is that we've all been subject to reports of returns in the security field that seem way out of line with those actually achieved.

Sam Marx comments:

In addition, because M owned and ran a large brokerage firm, the "mark" would feel that his investment was getting some illegal inside advantage that resulted in high returns, such as front running. Most, if not all, confidence games rely on the greed of the mark. You never hear about successful Ponzi Schemes that have been successfully unwound.

James Sogi writes:

That's a good point. Its the reverse of the survivor bias. Let's call it the loser syndrome, where the losses are hidden, as the successful con, the mark doesn't know he's been taken. Further if he does, he doesn't want to blow the whistle because of either romance, his own complicity or blameworthiness. On a more common scale, the denial syndrome often glosses over and forgets failures, losses, defects, losing trades, that extra drink

James Goldcamp writes:

The surprising part of this to me is much less the regulatory overnight or lack thereof, but the third party fiduciary roles. Where was the administrator and the auditors of the funds? How could this have happened? Will it turn out that he invented counterfeit bank and Prime Broker statements and if so did he personally have the technical means to do so? (Unless he was his own PB, but it's hard to believe any reasonably sophisticated investor like Tre~0nt would buy into such a set-up). I have to ask, how did the trial balance, balance?

Victor Niederhoffer requests:

Let us never forget the human tragedies here. I cry when I read the letters of people who had their life savings or wealth or retirement or plans ruined by this. My goodness, what a terrible crime and way to live one's life.

Ronald Weber writes:

Tragic indeed, but I can’t help to quote the good old Livermore, almost one century ago, on the average investor:

“He wants to get something for nothing. He does not wish to work. He doesn’t even wish to have to think.”

“There is profit in studying the human factors-the ease with which human beings beleive what it pleases them to believe; and how they allow themselves-indeed, urge themselves- to be influenced by their cupidity or by the dollar-cost of the average man’s carelessness. Fear and hope remain the same.”

“Investments were not wanted. The demand was for easy money; for the sure gambling profit.”


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