Favorite Media Interviews and Mentions
Antar is part of what Thomas describes as an “underground whistle-blower support network”—a loose fraternity of lawyers, accountants, and ex-law-enforcement types. The network sounds reminiscent of his father’s phone book: in any business, there is a premium on always knowing just the right person to call. When Thomas needed help with forensic accounting, Antar could comb through the public filings of a company and uncover subtle anomalies. He has initiated several cases with Thomas simply by scrutinizing a company’s books. In one instance, he received a substantial award. “The money didn’t make a difference in my life style,” he told me. “All I give a shit about is I have the latest iPhone.”
Today I want to mention another cost of distraction, however. Crime.
If you grew up anywhere near New York City in the 1970s and 80s, you know who Crazy Eddie is (His prices are INNNNNSAAAAAANE!). The ubiquitous electronics store with the never-ending TV ads succeeded for one reason: Crazy Eddie was a cheater. He eventually was convicted of tax fraud and went to jail. His cousin, Sam Antar, former company chief financial officer and also convicted of fraud, later became a forensic accountant. He also gives a mighty fine speech about how white-collar criminals commit crimes. They create diversions. “The distraction is more important than the lie,” he says over and over. He’s right.
You’ve seen it on TV, if you haven’t seen it yourself in person — pickpockets often bump into their victims to cause a distraction, then use that moment to steal a wallet or purse. That’s the simple version. Antar, speaking on the Bloomberg Odd Lots podcast a couple of years ago, explains how such distractions can work at scale. I won’t steal his material, it’s well worth the 10-minute watch on YouTube. But Eddie’s real talent wasn’t lying about sales taxes. It was distracting the auditors when they came every year.