The Golden Age of the Grifter
Welcome to the new age of fraud. When nonsense or obvious lies - stated with a salesman's panache and a touch of psychological manipulation or gaslighting - will strip even "sophisticated" people of their judgment, dignity and savings.
Today - far too many people lie. And lie with brazen gusto. And are indignant if you dare speak the truth. Just keep quiet and go happily along.
Last week, the world was shocked to learn that it's latest king with no clothing was a 30-year old unkempt billionaire savant and fraudster named Samuel Bankman-Fried. He was so weird - growing an unkempt mop of hair, wearing dirty clothes and hoodies, sleeping in a communal penthouse condo in the Bahamas - and spreading around $40 million in stolen money to the likes of President Biden and his party - that he just had to be "real."
Except he was not. Like Bernie Madoff and countless fraudsters before him, he was trafficking in lies - to grab other people's money.
SBF - as he liked to be called - made and lost billions in the ultimate fantasy nonsense. Fake money called "Cryptocurrency." Money not backed by any commodity or the credit of a real government. Money grounded in a pretend computer equation called "blockchain." In other words....nothing.
At age 27, SBF traveled to China in 2019 - and came back two years later claiming to be worth $14 billion. (Your alarm bells over foreign intelligence should be ringing).
SBF co-founded a Crypto "exchange" called FTX, and founded his own pretend cryptocurrency. Then - promising huge profits to the greedy - and spouting a lot of silly pop marketing mumbo-jumbo - he gathered tens of billions in real money from retirement pension funds, and other real investors. Until he diverted $10 billion or so to his "consulting" firm. And then billions more, backed by his own pretend cryptocurrency.
Then it all crashed - with billions missing and losses in potentially the tens of billions.
Readers of this newspaper might recall SBF and his partner Ryan Salame spreading $5-7 million around Long Island this past summer - trying to grab seats in the US Congress. They spent $4 million trying to block Republican Nick LaLota in NY1 - and working with Salame's sometime girlfriend Michelle "Bond" (a/k/a Bogonja) in a put-up fake "Pied Piper" primary. Thanks largely to the power of the Suffolk Republicans - and their effective and focused Chair Jesse Garcia - LaLota won.
SBF and Salame spent nearly a million each on Joshua Lafazan (NY3) and Laura Gillen (NY4) - but both also lost. The only one of their candidates who won was Republican George Santos in NY3.
And it wasn't just unprincipled and money-bedazzled Long Island politicians who took their bait. Bill Clinton, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, football superstar Tom Brady and his fashion model ex-wife Gisele Bundchen - all shilled for SBF and Salame.
Character matters. Truth matters. And if we as a people don't re-connect with the concept of objective truth - then we will be wide-open for the next iteration of SBF.