A complete financial education should include learning about widespread unsavory Wall Street business practices—not merely the legitimate or meritorious. Young investors should be taught what happens day-to-day in the real world of finance, not just how things are supposed to work in a perfect world where everyone plays by the rules. Schools and professors who teach the rules alone are negligent and put students, at a minimum, at a competitive disadvantage. For the student of investing, the choice is simple—either study bad behavior and be forewarned, or risk losing everything you own.
Today there is broad consensus across the nation, among educators, legislators and the business community, that Americans lack the knowledge they need to successfully handle financial complexities they will encounter over their lives. In an effort to bridge the gap, financial literacy courses are increasingly mandated, or offered to young students in high schools and colleges. That’s great news.
However, in my opinion, existing financial literacy programs largely miss the mark by failing to teach students about investment scamming. Not only is the study of scamming intriguing to the young and old—often far more interesting than “dry” finance—if you ignore scamming you fail to give students a complete picture of the world of investing.
How To Steal A Lot of Money—Legally opens with this promise: “I can teach you to lie, cheat and steal a lot of money—billions—legally. I’ve done it before and I can do it again. I am confident that with my help, you can do this.”
I go on to explain that as the nation’s leading investment forensics expert, I’ve spent a lifetime studying the greatest swindlers—many of whom no one has ever heard of because they never got caught. On the other hand, some of the most dangerous actors are well-known, highly respected, global financial institutions whose thievery has never been fully exposed.
More often than the general public or even victims ever image, I’ve revealed that financial losses are caused by wrongdoing—unethical, self-dealing financial advisers who drain client accounts for their own benefit. It’s a wealth transfer game these investment con men and women play: Your wealth, over time, gets transferred to them.
The premise of the book is simple: There is value in studying stealing. You can learn as much from studying scamming as you can from traditional financial literacy programs because so much of what passes as financial advice is, in fact, a bogus money grab. My estimate—based upon decades of highly-specialized experience—is that well over half of all investing involves scamming of one sort or another.
It is my hope and belief that through learning the art of investment scamming at the highest levels—implicating many of the world’s most respected and trusted (and therefore most dangerous) financial firms—you and your family will be better able to defend yourselves in the life and death struggle that plays out every day between investors and Wall Street.
Lying, cheating and stealing are so commonplace in life generally, and in the world of investing especially, that they are not the exceptions. Scamming mercilessly overwhelms any so-called rules and devours those who play by them. So, learning the “rules” without learning the even greater larcenous exceptions makes no sense—its reckless.
Schools and professors who teach the rules alone are negligent and put students, at a minimum, at a competitive disadvantage, or, worse still, in harm’s way.
An education which ignores, or excludes, the study of pervasive repugnancies only ensure that certain unscrupulous insiders will continue to be able to blithely manipulate and mislead the clueless masses, depriving investors of their hard-earned savings and undermining confidence.
For the student of investing, the choice is simple—either study bad behavior and be forewarned, or risk losing everything you own.