Saturday,
December 20, 2014

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Fraud Conference Examines the Mind Behind the Crime

Former Crazy Eddie Chief Financial Officer Describes Fraudsters' Strategy When They Dupe Victims

Sam Antar

Sam Antar, the keynote speaker at the Jindal School’s ninth annual Fraud Conference, said fraud is about diversion, “making someone look this way while you’re doing something over here.”

A felon who played a big role in the infamous Crazy Eddie scheme in the 1970s and 1980s said it’s not about what you can do to crack down on fraud. It’s all about what not to do.

Sam Antar, the former chief financial officer of the New York-based appliance retailer with “insaaaaane” prices, described how to understand the mind of a fraudster during the ninth annual Fraud Conference recently hosted by the Naveen Jindal School of Management.

The conference, which also featured sessions on cybersecurity and cyberwarfare, drew a sold-out crowd of nearly 700 professionals, the biggest audience the event has ever drawn.

Antar said fraud is about diversion, “making someone look this way while you’re doing something over here.”

“You can steal more with a smile than you can with a gun,” he said.

Fraud Conference

The Fraud Conference, held annually by the Naveen Jindal School of Management, is one of the most recognized fraud summits for professionals in the internal auditing field. It brings together auditing professionals, students, government and law enforcement representatives. To learn more about the internal auditing program at UT Dallas, visit:

To understand the mind of a criminal, you have to understand human relationships. Criminals prey on the trusting nature of people and take advantage of personal relationships “because only then can we take advantage of our victim,” Antar said.

“It’s easier to steal from somebody, deceive somebody, when they like you.”

During his keynote address, Antar showed a clip from the movie Wall Street and quoted the character of Gordon Gekko to explain why white-collar criminals commit their crimes: “It’s not about the money. It’s the game.”

“The only reason I’m here now is because I got caught,” he said.

Crazy Eddie skimmed profits, evaded taxes, laundered money, fudged inventories and was even featured on Saturday Night Live before the business collapsed in 1987.

“It was a 20-year crime, and we took advantage of every opportunity along the way,” Antar said.

To avoid prison, Antar testified against his relatives who ran the business with him and pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

It’s easier to steal from somebody, deceive somebody, when they like you.

Sam Antar,
former chief financial officer of appliance retailer
Crazy Eddie

He now uses his criminal expertise to expose accounting problems at other companies and advise the FBI, the Justice Department, the IRS, accounting students and business groups about how to root out savvy fraudsters.

While part of the Crazy Eddie scam, Antar said he never obstructed auditors from doing their work.

But he used multiple techniques to distract them, such as hiring young, inexperienced auditors and diverting them with attractive women while they worked.

After Antar spoke, attorneys from the eastern and northern Texas branches of the U.S. Attorney’s Office asked him how companies can prevent fraud, what motivated him to become a government witness, why he believes ethics classes don’t work and why he comes across as having little remorse for his crimes.

“Remorse is just a matter of words. But I’m getting up and standing in front of 700 people and admitting my sins … can you do that?” Antar said. “Redemption is action. You’re not going to learn if you don’t hear from people like me.”

Media Contact: Jill Glass, UT Dallas, (972) 883-5989, jglass@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu


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