Televison and Radio Appearances: Complete List
Book Mentions: Complete List
All Print Media, Online Media, and Blogosphere Mentions: Current Year • 2013 • 2012 • 2011 • 2010 • 2009 • 2008 • 2007 • 2006 • 2005
Sample Major Media Coverage (Excerpts Quoted Below)
February 21, 2014: Bloomberg - Why Drug Lords and Criminals Are So Risk-Averse by Ben Steverman
Convicted felon Sam E. Antar says stock-picking -- trusting in people and numbers you can’t directly verify -- sets you up as a mark for the unscrupulous. Antar was the chief financial officer of Crazy Eddie, Inc., an electronics chain led by Sam’s cousin, Eddie Antar. The chain collapsed under the weight of its fraud in 1989. “Investors live on hope and it’s the criminal’s job to take advantage of that hope,” Antar says.
The fact that he got caught is no consolation, Antar says. Regulators and investigative reporters have been losing the resources to uncover fraud. He points out, correctly, that the number of FBI white-collar crime prosecutions has fallen by half since the 1990s.
June 7, 2013: MarketWatch - Crazy Eddie fraudster says SEC can’t keep up. Corporate audits don’t work, give investors false sense of security by Ron D. Orol
I do not believe that most auditors are adequately trained to find fraud and do battle with fraudsters of my former caliber. Documents don’t commit fraud; the people controlling the documents commit fraud. For example, most auditors are not taught fraud psychology — the behavioral dynamics of fraud. Auditors are rarely taught about emotional manipulation and misdirection used by fraudsters to manipulate their behavior during audits and successfully carry out their crimes. They are unprepared for the psychological games played by fraudsters.
October 31, 2012: The Village Voice - Country Club Sopranos - American banks are on a massive crime spree. Obama and Romney hope you won't notice. By Pete Kotz
In a sense, Holder has granted the industry its own version of juvenile court. No matter how pervasive the crime, no matter how many thousands of victims, the major players can be assured of walking away with little more than a fine, released to the custody of their parents.
"When it comes to Wall Street, Eric Holder couldn't prosecute a ham sandwich that sold itself as kosher," says Sam Antar. "The Obama administration's record has been abysmal."
He should know. As the chief financial officer of a retail electronics chain in the 1980s, Antar pleaded guilty to multiple charges of fraud and conspiracy. He now describes himself as a "retired criminal" with a safer career: teaching FBI and IRS agents how to catch people just like him.
"It's kind of like Wall Street has a different set of rules than other industries," Antar says. "It's almost like stealing a billion dollars with a pencil is not as bad. You have a lesser chance of going to jail than if you mug somebody on the streets of New York."
And if Mitt Romney's elected, he'll make Bush and Obama look like disciples of Eliot Ness.
Romney has vowed to rescind even Obama's most modest gains, including too-big-to-fail laws. After all, he's never had an aversion to snuggling up with corruption.
June 29, 2012: Accounting Today - Crazy Eddie's Cousin Sam Sees Greater Potential for Fraud by Michael Cohn
But he believes the potential for fraud remains to this day, even in the aftermath of the Enron and Madoff scandals and reforms like Sarbanes-Oxley and the Dodd-Frank Act.
“In my day we had to deceive our auditors,” he said. “We had to distract them. Today I feel like a dinosaur because we don’t need to fool the auditors anymore. In many cases accounting firms are the enablers, if not the co-conspirators.”He pointed to examples like the financial restatements at Groupon and Overstock.com, which were both audited by Big Four firms. He has written about their accounting problems on his blog, White Collar Fraud.Antar also criticized Congress’s recently passed JOBS Act, which would lower many of the traditional auditing barriers and investor protection safeguards for so-called “emerging growth companies” seeking capital from investors.“I call it the License to Steal Act,” said Antar. “It would peel away the layers of compliance, peel away the internal controls and checks and balances. Why? To jumpstart the economy. The one interest group that gets full bipartisan support is white collar criminals. In the 25 years since Crazy Eddie’s, I don’t see any improvement. I see things getting worse, despite your fine efforts, because whatever you do—and you’re great organizations—you’ve got the politicians undercutting you.”
“White collar criminals do it because they can,” Sam Antar told the accountants and auditors in attendance. “It’s your job to make it harder for them.”
July 2, 2012: Financial Executives International - Sam E. Antar, Jonathan Marks, Address Anti-Fraud Collaboration by Edith Orenstein
July 6, 2012: NACD Directorship - Freudian Thinking to Prevent Fraud by NACD Editors
May 22, 2012: Philadelphia Inquirer - Crazy Eddie’s one-time CFO offers tips on spotting financial fraud by Erin E. Arvedlund
“The plain truth is that the accounting profession today, whether in the role of external auditor or internal auditor and accountant, does not have the sufficient education, training, skills, and experience necessary to match wits with criminals of my former caliber,” he told the audience. Antar runs a blog called WhiteCollarFraud.com, where he talks about his life as a former accountant and convicted felon. (Sam Antar cooperated with investigators and thus did not serve time in prison.)
In order to find fraud, investors have to spot patterns of inconsistencies in a company’s public disclosures, such as those found in mandated Securities and Exchange Commission filings, earnings, conference calls, media interviews, trade journals, and even Internet forums.
May 19, 2012: Barron's - Abraham J. Briloff: Champion of Accounting and Accountability by Gary Weiss
In fact, until his retirement from the City University of New York's Baruch College in 1987, Briloff was the Emanuel Saxe distinguished professor of accounting there. His lectures in introductory accounting were part of the required curriculum for students aiming to become certified public accountants, but were eagerly attended because Briloff did more than just recite rote nostrums.
"He wanted us not just to be bean counters but to look under the hood, to analyze the numbers, to question the validity of financial information," says Sam Antar, who attended Briloff's lectures while he was a student at Baruch in the late 1970s. Briloff's principles took quite a while to sink in for Antar, who, with his cousin Eddie Antar, masterminded the Crazy Eddie electronics-chain stock fraud of the 1980s, but now authors a blog (whitecollarfraud.com) that targets white-collar crime.
March 3, 2012: Wall Street Journal - Psychos on Wall Street by Al Lewis (Print) and Video
Mr. Antar pleaded guilty to felonies, but received no jail time, for assisting prosecutors in charges against his cousin, Eddie Antar, who famously advertised that his prices were just "In-sanne!" (frequently parodied on Saturday Night Live in the Dan Aykroyd-John Belushi era.)
"The reality is, to succeed on Wall Street you've got to be a psychopath in one form or another," Mr. Antar says.
Mr. Antar now teaches law-enforcement organizations how to spot psychos. He thinks of himself as a psychopath in remission, but he admits he could snap back at any time, much like a relapsing alcoholic.
February 15, 2012: TheStreet - Facebook's Biggest Surprise -- No Funny Numbers by Gary Weiss
Non-GAAP measures have been the bane of Silicon Valley and Internet firms over the years, and have been the cause of confusion and angst on many occasions. They have been the bane of the Internet retailer Overstock.com(OSTK), whose use of non-GAAP measures has been severely criticized by former Crazy Eddie accounting mastermind Sam Antar, as he has recounted in detail on his blog. Although Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne once criticized EBITDA as "the stupidest thing I ever heard emanate from Wall Street," he subsequently used that non-GAAP measure -- and he has never been confronted with his criticism of EBITDA at the company's quarterly conference calls.
December 28, 2011: Seven Days (Vermont's Independent Weekly) - Whatever Happened To....? by Andy Bromage
But one bean counter smelled trouble. Sam E. Antar, the accountant who cooked the books at appliance chain Crazy Eddie in the 1980s, claimed he had discovered numerous accounting “irregularities” in GMCR’s financial filings. He posted them on his blog, White Collar Fraud, and outlined them in a letter to the SEC that accused GMCR of selectively disclosing financial information, in violation of SEC regulations. In the past, Antar’s muckraking forced companies such as Overstock.com to admit accounting errors and revise financial reports. But his warnings over the spring and summer didn’t have a lasting negative effect on the coffee company; by September 19, GMCR’s stock had soared to $111.62 a share.
Update: Green Mountain Coffee’s stock took a hit in October — but not because of Antar’s warnings. David Einhorn, the hedge-fund manager famous for predicting the downfall of Lehman Brothers, precipitated the plunge. In a presentation at an investor conference, Einhorn criticized GMCR for overspending, overcharging and “poor transparency.” GMCR shares promptly slid from $90 to a low of $56 before rebounding.
Is Antar compelled to say, “I told you so”? Not exactly. “David Einhorn is a brilliant man. He’s an 800-pound gorilla whose track record of ferreting out frauds like Lehman Brothers speaks for itself,” Antar says. “If Einhorn were a white-collar criminal like me, he’d be even faster and smarter. Unlike Einhorn, I have firsthand experience about how the game is played on both sides of the law.”
December 14, 2011: Forbes - Some Advice for MF Global Employees - Start Cooperating With The Feds! by Walter Pavlo
“Once you’re caught, it is all about what you know,” Sam told me in an interview. ”The FBI doesn’t care how sorry you are or what kind of wonderful family you have, they need information and information keeps you out of jail. It becomes a business transaction.” He has a point. The longer the investigation goes on, the more time and effort that are expended by the government, the less they need informants to tell what happened. At MF Global, there has to be someone who wants to continue to spend the holidays with their family each year. So if you work(ed) there and you know something then you better speak up….early.
“The government needs informants,” Antar said, “they are more credible at trial than any FBI agent because they were there, they can tell you exactly what happened, the motivations used to justify it and who did it. Juries eat it up.” So far, the top brass at MF Global is not really saying much. In fact, they are saying so little that it makes one wonder how these gentlemen even held the positions that they did.
November 13, 2011: Crain's New York Business - The Original Green Mountain roast-master by Aaron Elstein
One of the nation's top accounting sleuths, Sam Antar, has bagged yet another suspect: Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Mr. Antar first questioned Green Mountain's accounting on his blog, White Collar Fraud, back in September 2010 and issued numerous follow-ups.
October 20, 2011: The Street - Ex-Crazy Eddie CFO Joins Einhorn in Slamming Green Mountain by Chris Stuart
"The numbers just don't add up," Antar says. "Could it be stupidity? Yeah, sure, but there are so many violations here, I just have to believe that something is wrong."
Antar says he has no vested interest in the demise of Green Mountain. He says he has no position in the stock and, according to his Web site, "my investigations of these companies are a freebie for securities regulators to get me into heaven, though I doubt I will ever get there. My past sins are unforgivable."
August 4, 2011: Newsday - Ex-con's advice to execs - Be paranoid by Lisa Du
A convicted felon gave Long Island business and financial professionals something to think about Wednesday night.
Sam Antar, the former chief financial officer of the now-defunct Crazy Eddie electronics chain, spoke about his role in a series of accounting and security frauds the retailer committed, and offered his opinion on the psyche of the white-collar criminal. His talk was part of a networking event for business executives at The Chateau Caterers in Carle Place.
Antar’s advice to business professionals was simple: be paranoid.“You have to have a level of cynicism and skepticism,” he said. “You have to learn about professional paranoia. You have to learn not to trust so much, but to just verify.”
June 23, 2011: Forbes - Green Mountain Coffee's Trouble With Bean Counting by Christopher Faille
Yet Antar makes a convincing case that the numbers still don’t add up. The 10-Q report for the period ending March 26, 2011 indicates that at the beginning of the preceding 26-week period, the combined amount for both the sales return reserve and the bad debt reserve was $14.1 million.
During that 26-week period, the 10-Q’s Statement of Cash Flows indicates, the two reserves increased. The bad debts reserve increased by $400,000, and the return reserve by $5.262 million. This implies a combined increase of $5.7 million, implying again a combined reserve at the end of the period of $19.7 million.
Oddly, then, the company’s balance sheet for the same March 26, 2011 report shows the combined reserve at that time as $20.6 million.
There is, then, a discrepancy of $847,000 between the cash flow and the balance sheet figures for the same reserves.
June 15, 2011: Seven Days (Vermont's Independent Voice) - An Ex-Con Turned Accounting Expert Alleges "Irregularities" at Green Mountain Coffee by Andy Bromage
Today a reformed Antar, 54, teaches law-enforcement agencies, accountants and businesses how to identify fraud and “catch the crooks.” He’s a whistleblower for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and a corporate watchdog whose hard-charging blog, White Collar Fraud, has forced companies such as Overstock.com to admit they made accounting errors and revise their financial reports.
Now Antar is on the warpath against Vermont’s own Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, the Waterbury-based company whose name is synonymous with social and corporate responsibility. As the SEC continues its 10-month-old inquiry into the publicly traded company — and a shareholder lawsuit grinds through federal court — Antar claims he’s discovered numerous accounting “irregularities” in GMCR’s financial filings. Antar has detailed them in letters to the SEC, most recently in a June 6 correspondence that claims the company’s numbers “don’t add up.” The letter accuses Green Mountain Coffee Roasters of selectively disclosing financial information, in violation of SEC regulations.
“Do I smell a rat? Of course I smell a rat,” Antar says in a thick New York accent. “I’ll stick out my neck and say this: At the very least, they violated the law. Whether it was intentional or not, I’ll leave to the SEC and the class-action lawyers to decide.”
May 26, 2011: TheStreet.com - Accounting Fraud - A 'How-To'Guide by Scott Eden
First things first: Investors need to adopt a stance of extreme skepticism, what Sam E. Antar likes to call "professional paranoia." He should know. As the CFO of the infamous electronics retail chain Crazy Eddie's in the 1980s, he helped "mastermind" an A-level fraud that eventually cost investors hundreds of millions of dollars.
"I pretty much did everything that everybody else is doing now," Antar likes to say. "Maybe on a smaller scale, but I did it all. That's why the Crazy Eddie case is taught at colleges and universities, even today, 20 years later. It became like the all-in-one textbook case."
To avoid being duped, Antar says, amateur investors need to recalibrate how they understand financial reports. For Antar, they're little more than "marketing brochures. They exist to sell a product, and that product is stock. OK? Forget about internal auditors, external auditors, compliance people, whatever. Financial reports are there to present the company in the best light possible."
Crazy Eddie, for example, lasted three years as a public company following its IPO in 1984. "Before we imploded, the stock kept on rising no matter what the skeptics said," Antar recalls. "So here's the problem: Were the longs right? Or were the longs wrong -- and they traded right? In many cases, even though they're being probed by the SEC, even though there are a lot of legitimate questions being raised about these companies, their stock prices still go up. With Wall Street, it's all about the trade. So if you're gonna be a short seller, not only do you have to be right, you have to be right on time."
April 20, 2011: Reuters - Special Report: From Hannibal Lecter to Bernie Madoff by Matthew Goldstein (additional print link, video link)
Still, profiling has its champions -- even among some who've been convicted of white collar offenses.Sam Antar, the former chief financial officer of discount electronics retailer Crazy Eddie, who pleaded guilty to securities fraud for his role in a long-running accounting scam, says he sees some value in profiling. He told Reuters that greed often is a secondary motivation for many white collar offenders. He believes Madoff, for example, was driven mostly by "a sense of stature" and an unwillingness to show failure as an investor.
In his case, Antar said the main reason he helped cook the books at the once ubiquitous New York retail chain Crazy Eddie was loyalty to his family. His cousin Eddie Antar, the company's namesake, ran the business. But in 1993, Sam Antar testified against his cousin and helped convict him in exchange for a lighter sentence.
Today, Sam Antar works with law enforcement and goes around the country giving lectures on how to fight white collar crime. He also runs a popular blog at his website, whitecollarfraud.com, where he comments on usual trading activity in the markets.
In a recent interview, Antar told Reuters that FBI profilers are right to be wary of putting too much stock into interviews with white collar felons because they'll often say what a questioner wants to hear. In his view, once people become a scamster it's hard for them to ever really change.
"People like to ask me if I am redeemed," said Antar. "I like to say that I am possibly retired. The only reason I stopped was because I got caught."
April 1, 2011; The CPA Journal - Full Disclosure: All Investors Need to Know by Mary-Jo Kranacher
Sam E. Antar, convicted felon, former CPA, and former CFO of Crazy Eddie, underscores the significance of disclosure to financial reporting. “Read the footnotes first,” he advises investors on his White Collar Fraud website (whitecollarfraud.blogspot.com/p/advice.html). Crosschecking disclosures with those in prior periods can help investors spot inconsistencies and notice red flags of potential fraud. Antar warns that seemingly minor changes can have a huge impact on the bottom line. He speaks from experience. In the Crazy Eddie fraud, the change of a
single word, from “Purchase discounts and trade allowances are recognized when received” to “recognized when earned,” allowed him to inflate the company’s bottom line by approximately $20 million in 1987.
March 30, 2011: TheStreet - Today's Outrage: Skeptics Missing at SEC by Gary Weiss
As soon as the ink was dry on the bad news about Minkow, I and several dozen other recipients were instantly bombarded with emails from Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com (OSTK). Byrne, best known for blaming his company's endless problems on the "Sith Lord," was exultant about Minkow's woes. Minkow had never written about Byrne, but he was close to another convicted felon named Sam Antar, who masterminded the Crazy Eddie fraud and now exposes the kind of creeps that he used to be. The problem, for Byrne, is that Overstock is no Lennar, and Antar's posts on Overstock's accounting irregularities have been proven correct by Overstock's multiple restatements. Byrne, undeterred, had an Overstock employee post a blog item comparing his boss to that poor lady in Libya who came to the foreign media with rape allegations. Yep, you read that correctly.
Companies can get away with stuff like that -- phony blogs, mendacious lawsuits or just acting like creeps -- because we live in a society where CEOs can get away with murder and which relies on private research firms, short sellers and ex-cons to blow the whistle on them. Minkow, who once gave every sign of turning over a new leaf, has given a new lease on life to corporate charlatans everywhere. I hope he rots in jail.
March 1, 2011: CFO Magazine - Where There's Smoke, There's Fraud by Laton McCartney
As a convicted felon, Sam E. Antar, the former CFO for the now-defunct consumer-electronics chain Crazy Eddie, no doubt has regrets. Among them: he is no longer in the game at a time when corporate fraud is experiencing a resurgence. "If I were out of retirement today, I'd be bigger than Bernie Madoff," he boasts.
Antar says that despite the antifraud provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and the recently enacted Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, it remains as easy today for bad guys, both internal and external, to loot corporate coffers as it was during the Enron and WorldCom days. "Nothing's changed," he says. "Wall Street analysts are just as gullible, internal controls remain weak, and the SEC is underfunded and, at best, ineffective. Madoff only got caught because the economy tanked."
Antar won't get much of an argument from organizations that monitor corporate fraud. In fact, the consensus today is that financial shenanigans are markedly on the increase. "There's a lot more employee fraud and embezzlement today then there was 10 years ago, and this past year there was much more than a year ago," says Steve Pedneault of Forensic Accounting Services. "People blame the economy, but much of the fraud and embezzlement that's coming to the surface now was in the works for 4 or 5 years before the recession hit."
October 25, 2010 - WCAX TV - Whistleblower alleges insider trading at GMCR
Could a routine inquiry into accounting practices at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters lead to an insider trading investigation? A Wall Street whistleblower believes it's possible after reviewing documents from the Securities Exchange Commission.
The SEC is already conducting an informal inquiry into Green Mountain's "revenue recognition practices." And now Sam Antar, a securities expert who has worked with federal investigators, says public documents show a company executive sold thousands of shares just before the company publicly disclosed the SEC inquiry. The announcement of the inquiry was followed by a 16-percent drop in Green Mountain's stock price.
A group of shareholders are already suing the company, alleging executives artificially inflated the stock price and cashed in before the price drop. And Antar says the timing of the stock sale is the kind of thing that could trigger an insider trading investigation.
Antar knows first hand about being investigated by the SEC. He is a convicted felon, who admits to masterminding one of the largest securities frauds uncovered during the 1980s when he worked as the chief financial officer fo the Crazy Eddie electronics chain. Antar says he now works as an independent whistleblower, providing information to the SEC, FBI, IRS and Justice Dept.
September 20, 2010: TheStreet.com - AIG Case Proves Auditors Are Useless by Gary Weiss
One of my favorite bloggers, the former Crazy Eddie book-cooking mastermind Sam Antar, has a hobby of doing the kind of stuff that auditors are paid to do, which is, theoretically, to root out gamey accounting. He has single-handedly--just for kicks--uncovered accounting shenanigans at more public companies than you can shake a green eyeshade at. Every one of those companies had auditors, usually with Big Four accounting firms, that were supposed to actually find that kind of stuff.
September 5, 2010: Reuters - When short sellers fund journalists by Felix Salmon
Still, the fact is that someone like Sam Antar, for all his past history and possible conflicts, produces much more interesting, more insightful, more useful, and more transparent journalism than Ben Stein could ever dream of.
August 2, 2010: Crain's New York Business - Defense firm offers novel description of earnings by Aaron Elstein
But eagle-eyed accountant Sam Antar, former chief financial officer at electronics retailer Crazy Eddie, points out that things aren't quite as rosy as Comtech made them appear.
In Comtech's world, EBITDA not only means earnings before interest expenses, taxes and the rest, but also $2.3 million in something called amortization of stock-based compensation. That's a no-no, because as Mr. Antar observes, companies may not stray from the Securities and Exchange Commission's definition of EBITDA. If they do, they have to it call their results "adjusted EBITDA" or, perhaps in Comtech's case, "EBITDAASBC."
I sent an email to Comtech asking about this and will provide and update when the company responds.
July 26, 2010: The Street.com - Goldman Settlement Has One Loose End by Gary Weiss
Though I've seen it mentioned in one of the class actions against Goldman, what I'm not seeing in the debate over the Goldman victory, er, settlement is a less obvious issue. It arose briefly at the time the charges were filed in April, and was dealt with recently by only one commentator on my radar screen, my favorite white-collar crime blogger, Sam Antar of Crazy Eddie fame. Sam points out a gaping hole in the Goldman settlement: The famously "surprising" SEC lawsuit, which stunned investors and caused Goldman shares to plunge, was really no surprise at all. Even though Goldman co-general counsel Greg Palm told analysts at an April conference call that "nobody told us in advance," Goldman, in fact, had formal notice that charges were pending. Goldman received a "Wells notice" of the SEC's intent to file civil charges in July, 2009 -- nine months in advance. Some surprise
June 28, 2010: The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press - SEC subpoenas target whistle blowers' e-mail with reporters by Ellen Biltz
At least one government agency is using subpoenas to target e-mail between journalists and potential sources by going after the source.
Two self-proclaimed fraud convicts recently turned over thousands of documents rather than fight a Securities and Exchange Commission subpoena that asked for, among other things, e-mail the men had exchanged with reporters.
The SEC subpoenaed 37,000 documents about the business practices of Sam Antar and Barry Minkow -- including e-mail the two exchanged with Dow Jones reporters -- as part of a general investigation. Neither had been charged with or accused of wrongdoing.
While neither of the journalists, Michael Rapaport or Ben Dummett, has been subpoenaed themselves, the SEC has asked for copies of e-mail from Antar and Minkow that they’d sent to the reporters.
“It’s like saying, ‘I’m not allowed to hit you with my car from the front, but I can hit you from the back,” said Sam Antar, a former fraudster turned whistle blower who does private investigations of potentially fraudulent companies. “The SEC’s policy is a walking contradiction.”
Antar said he recently decided that fighting the subpoena wasn’t worth a legal battle with the SEC, but he isn’t happy with the agency’s attempt to circumvent their common practice of not subpoenaing the reporters themselves.
Antar says he sent more than 30,000 documents to the SEC for review, but not one of them was a communication with a journalist, from Dow Jones or anywhere else.
“Those files didn’t exist,” Antar said.
While Antar didn’t have any files to turnover, he said he does believe it is worth a public policy debate as to whether government agencies should be crafting subpoenas that target communication with journalists.
June 23, 2010: Reuters - When the SEC subpoenas journalists’ sources by Felix Salmon
Henry Blodget, like all other right-thinking individuals, is appalled at the SEC recapitulating its David Einhorn let’s-shoot-the-messenger errors with its subpoena of 37,000 documents from Sam Antar.
Sam Antar, responding to Blodget, says (in an on-the-record email which the SEC is welcome to subpoena) that “the SEC’s subpoenaing of sources for their communications with journalists is no different than the government subpoenaing client communications with their attorneys as a way to breach the attorney-client privilege.” And he has a good point.
If the SEC were to ask Antar for emails he sent to his lawyer, he could simply refuse, on the grounds that such communications are protected. And the SEC itself is happy to admit that communications with journalists deserve some measure of protection, and that the SEC shouldn’t simply go on massive fishing expeditions in such circumstances: instead, it should be very specific about exactly what information it wants.
The Sam Antar subpoena, however, is obviously a fishing expedition: it even includes documents from Antar’s recent divorce. And it nullifies a huge amount of the welcome sentiment behind the SEC’s policy on asking for information from journalists, if the SEC can ignore all those guidelines when asking for information from journalists’ sources.
June 22, 2010: Portfolio.com - SEC Crazy Talk by Gary Weiss
Sam Antar is an unlikely whistleblower: a convicted felon who went to jail for his role in the Crazy Eddie stock scandal and now spends his time fighting securities fraud. He says the SEC has been giving him—and other whistleblowers—a hard time.
A couple of weeks ago, a man from New York by the name of Sam Antar forwarded a zip drive to the Securities and Exchange Commission containing 37,000 documents that regulators wanted to see—a quarter of a million pages in all. “Just to open each file,” he told me, “I calculated that at a rate of two files a minute, it would take an SEC investigator, working seven hours a day, eight weeks to get through them all.”
Antar spent weeks fighting the agency over this, but eventually he decided the legal expenses of fighting it in court would be too crushing. It’s hard to be too sympathetic with Antar at first blush. When the SEC wants documents, it should get them, right? After all, everyone wants a vigorous, crime-fighting SEC. But in this case, the commission wasn’t targeting adversaries, but allies.
June 1, 2010: CFO Magazine - Something Wicked This Way Comes by Maria Leone
If auditors are going to do a better job, they're going to need better training. So says Sam E. Antar, former CFO of Crazy Eddie Inc. and a convicted felon who now consults with companies and federal law-enforcement agencies on white collar–crime prevention. "Auditors are trained to look for bookkeeping errors," Antar says. "They are not required to take [a single] course in forensic accounting or criminology."
April 16, 2010: Huffington Post - Lead SEC-Goldman Counsel Richard Simpson Will Be 'Relentless' by Diane Tucker
Richard Simpson is a relentless litigator who brought the Antar clan to its knees," Sam Antar told me on the phone today. Sam is the cousin of Crazy Eddie Antar, the consumer electronics retailer charged with securities fraud and illegal insider trading in 1989. One of the largest securities frauds of its time, former U.S. Attorney Michael Chertoff called Eddie Antar "the Darth Vader of Capitalism."
Sam Antar offered to testify for Federal prosecutors in exchange for immunity. That's how the Crazy Eddie accountant came to work with Simpson, who is lead counsel in the SEC's fraud charges against Goldman-Sachs. "Rick is a tough adversary. I swear he works over 90 hours a week. He's focused, aggressive, and understands the way criminals operate. He knows accounting backward and forward, which is rare for an attorney. Richard Simpson is what the SEC should be today, but unfortunately is not."
Antar admits to being verbally abusive to Simpson back in the day and marveling at how the prosecutor kept his cool. "He is tough, but always a gentleman."
April 16, 2010: Alan Colmes Presents Liberaland - SEC Takes On Goldman Sachs – A Sea Change Or A Big Fish To Calm Waters? by William K. Wolfrum
Still, the SEC has come out swinging lately, promising to make regulation a part of their charter once more. Only two days ago, SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro said “the Commission will consider proposals designed to strengthen our oversight of the markets and promote greater fairness and efficiency.”
One interesting source, former “Crazy Eddie” fraudster-turned-whistleblower Sam Antar, said he believes this could be a tide-turning moment for the SEC, and that at the very least he expects them to go hard after Goldman Sachs. And Antar should know. The SEC’s lead investigator on the Goldman Sachs case - Richard Simpson - was also the lead investigator in the SEC case against “Crazy Eddie.”
“This is full court press,” said Antar, an admitted felon who writes at the Web site White Collar Fraud. “Simpson is a very tough litigator and is relentless. He works 90 hours a week day and night. He is brilliant!”
April 7, 2010: Jewish Daily Forward - After Arrests, Syrian Jews Slowly Adopt Charitable Reforms by Josh Nathan-Kazis
The certifications will create “a false sense of security concerning the behavior of certain corrupt charities and organizations within the Syrian community,” wrote former community member Sam E. Antar in an e-mail to the Forward. In 1991, Antar pleaded guilty to fraud as chief financial officer of Crazy Eddie Inc., a high-profile company that was run by Syrian Jews and went down in a flurry of indictments and Securities and Exchange Commission investigations in the early1990s. Antar now advises law enforcement and businesses on white-collar crime.
“It will simply ‘paper over’ the pervasive, systemic and widespread problem of tax evasion involving certain criminal elements within that community and do little, if anything, to prevent or deter criminal conduct,” Antar wrote.
Antar said that FBI agents have interviewed him in the course of what he believes to be an ongoing investigation into money laundering by Sephardic Jewish charities that goes beyond those cited in last summer’s scandal. A spokesman for the FBI’s New York office declined to comment on whether such an investigation was under way; a spokesman for the FBI’s New Jersey office did not respond to an inquiry.
March 24, 2010: Bloomberg BusinessWeek - Short Sellers Do Work of Cops on Doughnut Break by Susan Antilla
When hedge fund manager David Einhorn told an audience of investors in 2002 that he recommended shorting Allied, the SEC investigated him before they bothered to probe the company. The lukewarm probe the SEC wound up doing didn’t even include a visit to Allied headquarters two blocks from the SEC. Ultimately, the SEC’s documents on Allied were mysteriously deleted from the agency’s computers, the new Kotz report says.
In a classic SEC farce, the agency has acknowledged the shorts’ important role in balancing the boundless swamp of financial hype by slapping new curbs on them on Feb. 24.
No less an expert on white-collar crime than onetime jailbird Sam Antar, whose Web page says he masterminded “one of the largest securities frauds of its time” when he was chief financial officer of Crazy Eddie Inc. in the 1980s, says the way to counter market hype is to make it easier to research short- sale ideas and sue fraudsters. And trust me, Antar should know.
“There is nothing worse for a criminal to deal with than an adversary with a profit motive,” he told me in a telephone interview.
March 1, 2010: CFO Magazine - Now You Don't See It by Sarah Johnson
Distraction and deception go hand in hand, whether in a magic act or at a dishonest company. Sam Antar, the ex-CFO of electronics retailer Crazy Eddie, kept auditors away from the company's fraudulent practices in the 1980s in part by having his staff distract them with constant small talk and invitations to coffee and lunch. Around the same time, Barry Minkow, the founder of ZZZZ Best, kept auditors focused on the legitimate side of the business (carpet cleaning) and away from an "insurance restoration" unit, which was fake.
A 2009 study backs up that anecdotal evidence. Performed by researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the study demonstrates that auditors are less likely to find manipulated earnings when management directs their attention away from areas of financial statements that contain errors. (The study was recently voted best research paper by the American Accounting Association's auditing section.)
February 2, 2010: New York Times Notions on High and Low Finance Blog - Take That, You Jackapes by Floyd Norris
Addendum (Wednesday morning): There is speculation that I could be very wrong on that last forecast. Sam Antar, (the felon who used to be the CFO of Crazy Eddie and now looks for corporate officials who remind him of his old ways) suggests that Mr. Chidester’s sudden departure could be related to questions being asked by KPMG’s auditors.
November 2009: Newsweek 20/10 Bernie Madoff's Giant Ponzi Scheme by Sam Antar
Madoff was a serial economic predator for 20 years and the only reason he stopped was because he got caught. He didn’t get caught because of the SEC and the auditors. It was our imploding financial system. More than three quarters of these kinds of schemes are found out not during the execution but during the implosion. The SEC has less than one 10th of the power as the NYPD and they have to police the capital markets. That’s why we’re going to continue having these crimes over and over again. We had skimmed money for about 15 years before we went public at Crazy Eddie. After we went public, we just put back some of our skimmed money as sales. Just like the SEC with Madoff, our auditors never really followed the money. Our auditors trusted but didn’t really verify, when they should have not trusted and only verified.
October 9, 2009: CNN.com - Financial fraud 101 -- Accounting for criminals by Kevin Voigt
So Antar would pair "cute hot female" employees with male auditors as part of his distraction strategy. "In effect, I was a fraudster, matchmaker and pimp," said Antar, who avoided jail time by working with the U.S. government, and now advises government agencies and businesses on avoiding accounting fraud.
October 4, 2009: Crain's New York Business - Crazy Like a Fox by Aaron Elstein - (Download)
Sam E. Antar knows a thing or three about fraud. He was chief financial officer at Crazy Eddie, the infamous appliance retailer with “insaaaaane” prices that skimmed profits, evaded taxes, laundered cash and fudged inventories for a Madoff-esque 15 years before collapsing in 1987.
Mr. Antar pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges, but avoided jail by turning against the relatives who ran the business with him. He was the government’s star witness at a 1993 trial. His cousin, Chief Executive Eddie Antar, ultimately went to prison for about seven years.
Now Sam Antar, 52, is using the expertise he gained as a criminal to uncover accounting problems at
other companies. Exhibit A for him these days is Overstock.com Inc.,an online retailer with a recent history
of accounting issues.
Despite his felonious past, Sam Antar has earned credibility with law enforcement officials. He’s spent much of the past decade talking to the FBI, the Justice Department, the IRS, accounting students and business groups, explaining how Crazy Eddie fooled auditors for so long.The former CPA says he feels bad about what he did and
wants to help overmatched investigators as they try to root out savvy fraudsters.
“He knows accounting backwards and forwards,” says Richard Simpson, an SEC attorney who helped lead the government’s probe into Crazy Eddie.
October 2, 2009: CNN.com - Redemption and the white collar criminal by Kevin Voigt
Another convicted white-collar felon, Sam Antar, is more circumspect on the subject of redemption. Although he now lectures government organizations and businesses about white-collar crime, he stops short of saying he’s "reformed."
“If I tell you I’m not a criminal any more, should you really believe me?” said Antar, who cooked the books in a multi-million securities fraud in the 1980s. “White-collar criminals wrap themselves around a wall of false integrity.”
As more white-collar criminals get collared, questions surrounding rehabilitation will likely grow, too.
October 2, 2009: CNN.com - Suicide, lies, and videotape: The real "Informant!" by Kevin Voigt
And as Whitacre showed, whistle blowers often don't have noble motives. "The movie should be taken very, very seriously," said Sam Antar, a CPA who turned government witness against his employer in the 1980's.
"In white-collar cases, the governments have to rely on informants ... in effect, relying on unsavory characters to make their case," said Antar, who now advises government agencies on white-collar crime.
"What happened in 'The Informant,' is he had an agenda to become head honcho of the company," Antar said. "The mistake the FBI agents made in the movie is they fell in love with their witness. It turned out there was a dark side they didn't know about."
September 23, 2009: Jewish Week - Still Searching For Repentance by Adam Dickter
When Sam Antar recites the viduy list of sins in the Yom Kippur liturgy Monday, it will be a like a checklist of his past.
He has stolen. He has cheated. He has betrayed. He has caused others to sin.
And by his own admission, he loved every minute of it.
“I enjoyed committing my crimes, and I did it for fun and profit,” says the former chief financial officer of the Crazy Eddie electronics chain, who helped bilk customers, investors and the government out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
August 26, 2009: Jewish Daily Forward - ‘Crazy’ Eddie’s Cousin, a Former Fraudster, Speaks Out on Syrian ‘Subculture of Crime’ by Rebecca Dube
Sam E. Antar wants you to know up front: He’s no hero.
The former chief financial officer of Crazy Eddie Inc. whose testimony helped convict his cousin, Eddie Antar, in 1993 takes an almost gleeful tone when confessing his sins. He lied. He committed fraud. He skimmed money. He misled investigators. And when he came clean, providing the information and testimony that helped topple the fraudulent Crazy Eddie empire, he did so only to save himself from prison.
“I committed my crimes, and I did it for fun and profit,” Antar, 52, said in a recent interview with the Forward at a diner in midtown Manhattan. “And if I stopped committing my crimes, it was only because I got caught. So I’m not going to pretend to you to be some kind of born-again moral person.”
Still, as a reformed criminal — he teaches seminars to the IRS, the Justice Department and other organizations on how to combat white-collar crime — as well as a lifelong member of Brooklyn’s Syrian Jewish community, Antar offers a unique perspective on the current scandal involving allegations of money laundering by three prominent Syrian rabbis, part of an FBI investigation that led to 44 arrests in July. And he’s not shy about sharing his opinions.
August 17, 2009: Atlantic City Press - Crazy Eddie's cousin stars in Republican hearing on corruption by Derek Harper
Wiry, animated and admittedly corrupt, Antar got laughs when he took his seat and thanked the five Republican assemblymen on the panel "for inviting the only member of the criminal class."
When political consultant George Dredden suggested regular polygraph tests for state politicians, Antar supported it, saying they should be used for anti-corruption screenings. He said Crazy Eddie staffers were regularly subject to polygraph exams to ensure they were not revealing their schemes to law enforcement officials.
Antar also advocated paying bounties to whistle-blowers.
But he said the best thing to reduce corruption would be putting a greater emphasis on white-collar crime investigations, coupled with greater available information and increased business disclosure.
With the number of victims, white-collar crime is more socially devastating than almost any other crime, he said.
August 11, 2009: Dow Jones Newswires - DJ in the Money: Critics Claim InterOil Misled Investors by Michael Rapoport
NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--InterOil Corp. (IOC) has a long history of jumping the gun, and now its critics are jumping on the company about it.
For years, the energy company has made encouraging announcements about itsprogress in finding natural gas at its key Papua New Guinea drilling projecttalking of a "world class" find, or a "world record" flow of gas, or a flow so strong that stemming it was like "trying to stop the Mississippi." Yet, despite InterOil's optimistic statements, it's never been able to report any proven, viable gas reserves under regulators' standards.
Now, two of the company's biggest critics contend that some of InterOil's rosy statements have violated securities regulations. And these critics speak from experience: They're both reformed financial criminals.
Barry Minkow and Sam Antar, who now work to uncover corporate fraud, allege that InterOil misled investors when it indicated that drilling tests it has conducted at its gas find validate its plans to build a gas-processing plant that is critical to the company's future. In fact, InterOil itself acknowledges it hasn't yet confirmed whether the gas it has found in the ground can be recovered, and whether its find can be exploited commercially.
Minkow has commissioned a geologist's report, at his own expense, that Contends that InterOil's statements are premature and that plenty of questions have yet to be answered before the company can say its gas resources and development plans are viable.
Minkow said InterOil's disclosures have been "deceptive and outrageous." He believes the company has hyped its drilling results to enable it to get more financing."They are announcement machines, they are money-raising machines," he said.
Antar called InterOil's statements "a false and misleading disclosure, or an omission of a material fact."
Wayne Andrews, an InterOil spokesman, said the company "is confident that there has been no violation of its disclosure obligations in this instance or any other."
Andrews also noted InterOil has had an outside engineering firm evaluate its find; that assessment estimated that the company's natural-gas prospecting area held resources of 3.43 trillion cubic feet of gas, and possibly up to
4.73 trillion. While InterOil hasn't yet been able to count any of that amount as verified reserves, Andrews said the company firmly believes the report is "entirely accurate."
Minkow's geology report, prepared by geologist Renato Bertani of Thompson &Knight Global Energy Services LLC, paints a different picture.
The Minkow-commissioned report says "many uncertainties still remain" regarding InterOil's gas find - including the volume of reserves and whether the reservoir of gas will be productive over the long term. It's "simply premature," according to the report, for InterOil to claim that its tests mean it has sufficient gas to go ahead with its plans to build a major plant
to process liquified natural gas, or LNG.
InterOil will have to spend a lot more money drilling additional wells and conducting long-term testing before it can say with authority that its find is commercially viable, the report says. That could make the gas find less profitable, or even mean that it isn't worth it for InterOil to spend the money to pursue it.
That means, Minkow contends, that InterOil misled investors when it said in March that its testing "clearly confirms" its gas discovery has enough resource potential for the company to proceed with plans for the LNG plant. In that same statement, InterOil acknowledged that there is "no guarantee" that the gas it has found will ultimately be able to be extracted and sold commercially.
Minkow said he plans to post his geologist's report online this week, and that he has already provided it to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Spokesmen for both agencies didn't provide any comment.
Minkow and Antar are both convicted felons - Minkow went to prison for fraud at his ZZZZ Best Co. carpet-cleaning business, and Antar was one of the masterminds of a major fraud at electronics retailer Crazy Eddie. Both now work as fraud investigators and advise others how to uncover fraud.
Minkow says he has a short position in InterOil via put options - a market bet that the company's stock will decline - but hasn't traded in that position in weeks. Antar says he has no position in InterOil, long or short, but has conducted paid research on InterOil for Minkow.
Minkow's and Antar's allegations are unproven, of course. No government or regulatory body has accused the company of doing anything improper.
What can be said, though, is that this adds to the stockpile of questions about InterOil - such as the recent concerns about whether InterOil had omitted information from its public disclosures about who helped it raise $95 million in a critical financing last year.
It's also clear that the company still has nothing to show for its years of work - no proven, viable reserves, still. Years in which it's raised several hundred million dollars from investors, lenders and partners in a series of stock offerings and other financings, aided by those optimistic statements about its progress.
InterOil has a market value of about $1 billion. If its claims about a worldclass gas find prove valid, maybe it's worth that much, or more.
But that's the question, isn't it? If.
July 28, 2009: Jewish Week - Syrian Community Moving To Limit Damage After Sting
But last week’s arrests may be the tip of the iceberg, says a former businessman in the community who has been on the wrong side of federal prosecutions.?
“This was one guy who turned in 44 people,” said Sam Antar. “When you have 44 people worried about going to jail, some of them are going to turn in other people. That’s what the government does. It flips witnesses.”?
Antar, who provided evidence against his cousin, Eddie Antar, in the Crazy Eddie investor fraud case of the late 1980s, says the desire to stay out of jail should not be underestimated as a motivating factor. His own testimony as chief financial officer of the electronics chain put Eddie Antar and another cousin in jail and resulted in Sam being fined and sentenced to community service. “There are 300 agents on this case, and they are not going away after the 44 arrests,” says Antar, who now lectures to companies and law enforcement about white-collar crime.
Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Marra, told The Jewish Week in an e-mail: “For those who were charged last week, the next step in the process is to present their cases to the grand jury for potential indictment. ... We do not say in advance that we anticipate charging other individuals.”?
While insisting the vast majority of Syrian Jews are law-abiding, Antar said that the community’s tight-knit, insular nature, the amount of interconnected families and the deep level of trust provide a natural framework for keeping secrets.
“You have here an alleged crime that was committed by a group of people who shared several common characteristics,” said Antar. “Religion, race, ethnicity and social background. It’s no different than other organized conspirators, like the mob, the Eastern European gangsters, the South American cartels. When you build bonds between people, their crimes can go undetected for very long periods of time.”
July 24, 2009: New York Times - Brooklyn Blogs Buzzing With Talk About Rabbis by Paul Vitello
For Sam E. Antar, a Brooklyn-born member of the Sephardic community who went to prison for business fraud and now advises law enforcement agencies and companies on how to detect white-collar crime, the blogger’s question pointed to the essence of organized fraud: the total trust among participants.
“I’m not saying these guys, I’m just saying in general — but in every organized white-collar crime, you have to have a group of people bound by relationships that everybody believes are indestructible,” said Mr. Antar, 62, who was the chief financial officer of the Crazy Eddie discount electronics chain and the cousin of its namesake, Eddie Antar, who was also convicted of fraud.
Being tight-knit — normally considered a plus for any group — “that can work both ways,” he said. Cautioning again that he was speaking hypothetically, he added: “When the F.B.I. gets a good grip on a guy who belongs to a network like that, it’s like, they can pull the string and the whole thing unravels.”
July 22, 2009: Jewish Week - UPDATED: Syrian Jewish Insider: “Not Surprised” by Arrest of Prominent Rabbis in Breaking FBI Investigation
Sam Antar, the former CFO of the Crazy Eddy TV and appliance empire who went to jail in that fraud case, now holds seminars for federal agencies – including the IRS – on the ins and outs of white-collar crime.
Antar told The Jewish Week that “Most people in this community are law-abiding hard-working Americans and the alleged actions of a few people are no reflection on the entire community. But I'm not surprised when I see this kind of thing happen.”
Small, tight-knit communities such as the Syrian Jewish enclave in New Jersey and Brooklyn are are particularly prone to white-collar crime, he said.
“It happens all the time in all kinds of closed, insular communities, and these crimes are the toughest to crack,” he said. “The people are bound not just by economic incentives, but cultural, religious, ethnic and family ties. They tend to be highly coordinated, and they can take years to investigate.”
Antar predicted that when the dust settles “hundreds” of people could be implicated.
April 10, 2009: Baltimore Business Journal - Take it from a real thief: Ask a lot of questions before investing your cash by Heather Harlan Warnack
Sammy Antar stole the show.
The former chief financial officer of Crazy Eddie Inc., who masterminded a major securities fraud in the 1980s, recently served as a panelist for a financial crimes conference I attended in New York.
“My name is Sammy Antar, and I’m a crook,” he said during an April 1 session at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
What an opener. “You can steal more with a smile than you can with a gun,” Antar continued.
He’s right. Just ask Bernie Madoff and Sir Allen Stanford. Not to mention their victims, some of whom are right here in Maryland. So how were these and other “businessmen” allowed to get away with it? To put it simply, they preyed on the public’s trust and lack of understanding.
April 10, 2009: Sacramento Bee - Ponzi schemes flourish with vulnerable victims, underfunded watchdogs by Andrew McIntosh
With a twisted, toothy sort of grin, he especially likes to greet a room full of perfect strangers with: "Hi, I'm Sam Antar, and I'm a crook."
Antar wants you to understand how Ponzi operators and fraudsters steal money by taking advantage of "nice people" for years, only to be arrested after their schemes collapse and lives are wrecked.
"Criminals like me consider your humanity a weakness to be exploited in the execution of our crimes," Antar told participants at a recent conference at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "We can steal more money with a smile than we can steal with a gun."
His unvarnished message is an unnerving but timely one: It seems a new Ponzi scheme is unraveling every day, a Bernie Madoff lurking at every turn.
March 2, 2009: New York Post - IT'S IN-SAANE! 'VILE' CRAZY EDDIE RETURNING WITH NEW OWNER by Rebecca Rosenberg
Bringing Crazy Eddie back is downright loony, says Sam Antar, the nephew of founder Eddie Antar and the CFO who helped cook the books and spent six months in house arrest for it. Eddie skipped to Israel, was extradited and spent 7½ years in prison.
"Imagine starting a new investment firm called Bernie Madoff or a corporation by the name of Enron? It's nuts," said Sam Antar.
"The name has a vile, ugly history - because of the crimes we committed. We lost investors millions of dollars."
February 11, 2009: Conde Nast Portfolio (March Issue) - Preventing the Next Bernie Madoff by Gary Weiss
A second variety of organizational deviants identified by Sherman—the ones with “goals that are deviant from societal norms or laws”—is the group Madoff obviously belongs to, as do the deceitful boiler-room
subprime-lending operators that encouraged people to lie on their mortgage applications to get the deals done. Sam Antar, a convicted securities swindler, believes people like Madoff often don’t set out to become criminals. “He just started the scam and then it built on itself and he couldn’t get out,” suggests Antar, who served as chief financial officer of consumer-electronics retailer Crazy Eddie in the 1980s, when it was involved in several fraudulent schemes; now he lectures law enforcement on how to prevent white-collar crime.
Police corruption thrives when the watchdogs—the municipal government and the senior police officials—are indifferent or ineffective. Antar says the parallels with the Securities and Exchange Commission are compelling. The failures of its enforcement staff, starved for resources under chairman Christopher Cox, mirror the inability in past years to confront police corruption. Those failures were documented by Sherman and chronicled in such books as Robert Daley’s Prince of the City and Peter Maas’ Serpico, the story of a whistleblower (played by Al Pacino in the 1978 film) who fought NYPD corruption. Recently, the SEC’s handling of whistleblowers has also come under scrutiny because of the way it ignored Harry Markopolos, who had tried again and again since 2000 to call the agency’s attention to Madoff and his family.
December 16, 2008: New York Times Freakonomics Blog - A career option for Bernie Madoff? by Stephen J. Dubner
Bernard L. Madoff is not a young man, and if he is convicted of the crimes of which he stands accused, he may spend the rest of his life in prison.
But on the off chance he doesn’t, he may wish to consider Sam Antar, of Crazy Eddie fame, as a future role model.
December 1, 2008: Journal of Accountancy - Smart Stops on the Web
IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE
Who knows fraud better than a fraudster? Sam E. Antar, former Crazy Eddie Inc. CFO and convicted felon, shares his views and advice on white collar crime, securities fraud, internal controls, Sarbanes-Oxley and more on his blog. The introduction states, “The well-educated, skilled, and experienced accountant is the first line of defense for the capitalist system.” And, toward that end, Antar points out inconsistencies in companies, organizations and governments, offers how-tos on detecting fraud, and muses on wrongdoings. You can browse by the most popular posts, learn more about the Crazy Eddie fraud scheme, check out fraud facts, and find related blogs in his list of links.
March 27, 2008: The Gaineville Sun -Ex-con speaks about his crimes during conference for auditors by Megan Rolland
A man who perpetrated a multimillion-dollar fraud detailed his crimes Wednesday morning to a room full of internal auditors.
"I loved being a criminal," said Sam Antar, who said he became a CPA so his family business could execute better crimes. "I loved screwing people over."
Antar on Wednesday kicked off a two-day conference hosted by the North Central Florida Institute of Internal Auditors.
He is the former chief financial officer for Crazy Eddie Inc., a New York-based appliance store that disintegrated more than a decade and a half ago amidst a $120 million fraud investigation.
"It was a 20-year crime and we took advantage of every opportunity along the way," Antar said.
Some 17 years ago, Antar avoided a lengthy prison sentence by telling federal prosecutors all about his family's multimillion-dollar scams. Now Antar travels on his own dime to instill important tools in auditors to help them catch thieves.
Cynicism was Antar's single most important message.
"How do you know I'm still not a crook?" he asked the crowd of auditors at the Paramount Hotel.
Antar said criminals prey on the humanity and trusting nature of auditors to get away with their crimes.
There are about 50 members in the local chapter of the auditing association.
The association's treasurer, Brian Mikell, said that auditors need a way to meet and band together.
"Auditors are kind of people unto themselves," said Mikell, who is an auditor at the University of Florida.
Internal auditors have the job of telling their bosses bad news about the company - not an easy task, Mikell said.
Antar said his family's crime, for which his cousin Eddie Antar served prison time, began as a simple case of bait and switch.
"Once you start, it's a slippery slope," Sam Antar said. "There's no end."
The company falsified inventory, skimmed millions off the top of sales taxes, and became a publicly traded company with over-inflated stock.
Bank accounts were set up in Tel Aviv, Israel, to hide the unaccounted-for millions, and money was laundered back into the U.S. through Panama, Antar said.
Compared to more recent scandals at Enron and WorldCom, Crazy Eddie's might seem small-time, but in its day, the scam shocked the financial world, organizers of Wednesday's event said.
In response to the increase in business crimes, the federal government passed a bill in 2002 commonly called Sarbanes-Oxley. It requires, among other things, that publicly traded companies have internal auditors.
The vice president of the regional chapter of Institute of Internal Auditors, said that change in law has cost businesses millions as they come into compliance.
Those who attended the conference were a mix of internal and external auditors and chief financial officers. The employees came from companies including Shands Hospital, Girl Scouts Association, city of Gainesville, Alachua County Sheriff's Office and many others.
While Antar talked about inventory or retail fraud, other speakers both Wednesday and today will discuss other types of fraud including construction fraud, identity theft and insurance fraud.
March 3, 2008: Jackson Clarion Ledger - Exec snared in 1980s fraud urges skepticism by Nell Luter Floyd
Millsaps students told to verify information.
White-collar criminals are charming people who want to gain the trust of their accountants and auditors, a former executive involved in one of the largest securities frauds of the 1980s said on Monday.
"By the time you get to the point where you start asking questions, we'll have built up your comfort level and you'll think, 'This kid can't be a thief,' " said Sam Antar, a former certified public accountant and chief financial officer of Crazy Eddie's Inc., a consumer electronics chain located primarily in the Northeast that went bankrupt in 1989.
Antar spoke to an audience of about 100 people at Millsaps College.
He was the key government witness in both criminal and civil prosecutions related to Crazy Eddie's fraud and now speaks about fraud for free. He pays for all his costs of travel and lodging.
In a strategic plan published by the FBI in 2004, the FBI noted it was investigating 189 major corporate fraud cases, with 18 valued at $1 billion or greater.
Antar advised students to verify what a client being audited says and then extend trust rather than extending trust and then verifying what's said.
"In your profession the word trust should be shoved down the toilet," Antar said.
White-collar criminals are self-confident and make friends with auditors, he said. They cooperate and provide requested information but distract auditors from doing their job, he said. "You can steal more with a smile than a gun," he said.
Alonia Carey, a senior at Millsaps who is majoring in accounting, said she'll remember Antar's advice to maintain skepticism and "not just remember all the things you learned in the classroom."
Antar's stories about how he would wine and dine auditors and became their friends made an impression, said Anasa Bailey, a senior at Millsaps who is majoring in accounting. "You have to let business be business," she said.
Brad Hatchett, a senior manager with KPMG, said fraud is a risk accountants are exposed to daily. KPMG has CPAs who specialize in uncovering fraud, he said.
Antar described how some of Crazy Eddie's employees were paid off the books and the Antar family regularly skimmed thousands of dollars to reduce reported taxable income. When the company grew to have 1,000 employees, skimming became harder and was replaced by a money-laundering scheme to inflate same-store earnings and also inventory fraud.
The company went public in 1984, and Crazy Eddie's reported income was adjusted higher to increase stock prices, so insiders could sell stock at inflated values, he said. Eventually, the fraud's purpose became covering up previous frauds, he said.
At its peak, Crazy Eddie had 43 stores in four states and earned more than $300 million in sales.
Antar, who said he was making $300,000 annually when he was in his 20s, said he enjoyed distracting young auditors from their work. "I liked taking those students that came from the best schools and running circles around them," he said.
Remaining members of the Antar family lost control of the company in a hostile takeover bid in 1987, and Antar said he was "coerced" to cooperate.
December 17, 2007: Fortune Magazine Special Issue Investor's Guide 2008 - Takes One to Know One by Peter Carbonara
While he sneers at words like "redemption," in more reflective moments Sam E. admits he does it, at least in part, to atone. "I feel guilty about what I did. I want to give back to society," he says.
Antar offers himself for public inspection not as a diabolical accounting genius but as Mr. Bad Example, a living object lesson in basic criminal behavior. After he's been introduced at one of his speaking gigs, for instance, he generally thanks the audience for their hospitality - and then scolds them for being chumps. One October morning he told a classroom filled with amused Columbia University graduate business students, "All too often we give the white-collar criminal a pass. If I were a serial killer, a child molester, a rapist, you wouldn't applaud me. You'd be throwing eggs - am I right?" And then he's off to the races, talking about Crazy Eddie and the "artful liars" responsible for the "brutality of white-collar crime."
October 11, 2007: The Asbury Park Press - Agents get "Crazy" advice about white collar-crime by Bob Jordan
MANALAPAN — Sam E. Antar is still crazy after all these years.
Antar — who came clean after participating in the massive white-collar crime activity of the former Crazy Eddie discount electronics chain — spoke to about 80 Internal Revenue Service agents and other Treasury Department personnel in a continuing education seminar Sept. 27 at the Monmouth County Library headquarters, Symmes Road.
The program agenda listed Antar as a "former accountant."
"He said that's a mistake," said Special Agent Alan Drucker during the introduction of Antar. He said, "I should be introduced as Sam Antar, crook."
As he has in other appearances in front of college students, professional groups and law enforcement agencies, Antar described Crazy Eddie — a company best-known for its over-the-top TV commercials during the 1970s and 1980s — as little more than a criminal enterprise.
"White-collar crime is a crime of persuasion," Antar said. "It's all about breaking down barriers between the criminal and his victim. It's all a confidence game. There's a saying that you can get more (flies) with honey than vinegar."
Antar said he speaks publicly about the Crazy Eddie days to educate people about white-collar crime. The company was founded in 1969 by Antar's cousin Eddie, who had a home in Ocean Township, and uncle Sam M. Antar, a longtime Long Branch resident. Edison-based Crazy Eddie grew to about 40 stores and more than 2,000 employees by 1987. Antar said the principals skimmed cash, understated the company's earnings and underpaid its taxes.
"We never once had a conversation about morality," Antar said. "We didn't care about people."
Antar offered thoughts about the long-term impact of cheating investors and tricking customers.
"White-collar crime is just as brutal as violent crime. It should be treated as such," said Antar, adding that the financial consequences to the fleeced are "devastating."
"What about the 3,000 people who lost their jobs (at Crazy Eddie stores)?" Antar said.
He has said he got off light: six months of house arrest and $30,000 in fines.
On Antar's Web site, he says, "Crazy Eddie Antar was coined by U.S. Attorney Michael Chertoff as "the Darth Vader of Capitalism.' This securities fraud cost investors hundreds of millions of dollars, cost many people their life savings, cost many people their jobs and careers, cost creditors hundreds of millions of dollars, and many people's suffering that cannot be measured."
June 25, 2007: The New York Post - Lost & Found at Crazy Eddie Confronts 'Dirty Thug' in Famed Scandal by Adam Buckman
THIS reunion is insaaaaane!
It's the first face-to-face meeting in 20 years between cousins Eddie and Sam Antar, the founder and chief financial officer, respectively, of the Crazy Eddie electronics stores.
The chain of 43 stores - made famous by the iconic radio and TV commercials that ran throughout the 1980s featuring radio personality Jerry Carroll as Crazy Eddie, whose prices were "insaaaaane!" - went bankrupt in 1989 following accusations that the two cousins had skimmed millions of dollars from the company.
Eddie, now 59, was eventually convicted of various conspiracy and racketeering charges and went to prison. Sam, now 50, avoided prison by testifying against Eddie.
This week, they'll be seen together - for the first time since the scandalous collapse of the company tore their family apart - in a bitter "reunion" engineered for CNBC by business journalist and CNBC contributor Herb Greenberg.
Their get-together is part of a 12-minute segment that will be seen on CNBC's "Business Nation" Wednesday night at 10.
On the show, the two cousins, who still live in Brooklyn but do not speak, confront each other in a room at the Sherry Netherlands Hotel that was reserved for the interview.
Greenberg said the meeting came about after Eddie Antar read a story Greenberg had written about Sam Antar in the Wall Street Journal.
"[Eddie] wanted to confront [Sam] with certain things," Greenberg told The Post. "Sam also wanted to confront Eddie. He had been wanting to do this for a very long period of time. And out of that gelled the piece."
The meeting was highly-charged. "I was sitting there sort of in the middle of it trying to keep control and at one point Sam was just barraging Eddie with insults," Greenberg said. "At one point, I swore Eddie was going to bolt."
Sam Antar now works as a forensic accountant who assists law-enforcement organizations in investigating white-collar crimes. Greenberg said Sam is racked with guilt over his criminal past and likely felt a confrontation with Eddie would somehow be therapeutic.
"You brought us up to be crooks, Eddie!" Sam tells his older cousin on the CNBC show. "Everything I became came from you, Eddie! Now I don't blame myself, but everything I became I learned from you! Don't try to control the topic of conversation! You're not a big [expletive deleted] anymore, Eddie! You're a two-bit thug just like I am!"
In reply, Eddie blamed "the culture" in which he was raised, according to Greenberg.
He said he cannot determine if the meeting was cathartic for Sam. One thing it didn't do was bring the two closer together.
"They're not on speaking terms and I don't believe they'll ever be on speaking terms," Greenberg said.
March 19, 2007: The Columbia Tribune - Speaker warns audience of fraud: White-collar criminal says schools must teach ethics by Crystal Neo
Long before the Enron scandal broke, there was Crazy Eddie Inc., a bygone consumer electronics retail chain that was engaged in one of the largest security frauds in the 1980s.
Employees were paid off the books, and for every $5 Crazy Eddie reported as income, the company skimmed $1. The company was also involved in inventory fraud. This securities fraud cost investors hundreds of millions of dollars and cost many people their life savings.
Sam Antar, former chief financial officer of Crazy Eddie and a convicted felon, delivered his presentation at Friday’s Richard M. Orin Ethics Symposium on white-collar crime.
Antar gave his speech at the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Business. According to materials from MU, Antar gives free presentations on white-collar crime "to assist in paying for what he feels is his personal debt to society."
He is frank about his bad acts: "It’s not because I found God. … It’s not because I wrap myself with the American flag. … The only reason why I’m speaking to you today - maybe as a non-criminal - is because I got caught. Had I not gotten caught, I’d still be a criminal today."
Focusing on the case study of Crazy Eddie’s securities fraud, he said fraud is detected because it becomes unsustainable and/or the co-conspirators start fighting each other. Crazy Eddie was started in 1971 in Brooklyn, N.Y. At its peak, Crazy Eddie had 43 stores in four states and earned more than $300 million in sales.
The lack of fraud courses in business and accounting schools is a worryin trend, he said.
"Eighty percent of business and accountancy students go to colleges that do not have courses on fraud," Antar said. "They will never learn about the biggest detriment to their livelihood and profession. They will never learn about criminals like me.
"I committed crimes just because I could. I took advantage of the lack of cynicism, I took advantage of the lack of skepticism. To us, committing a crime is simply another goal, a cold-hearted goal. To us, it’s just another project. If we can succeed in it, fine. If not, we’ll just find another way to succeed in our crime."
For his crime, Antar was let off with what he described as "an extremely light sentence" of six months of house arrest and a $20,000 fine under a civil law charge. The business’s co-founder and Antar’s cousin, Eddie Antar, was imprisoned for eight years.
Antar complained that even if colleges do offer fraud classes, it is a suggestion - not a requirement - so most people do not take it. People tend to focus on how to handle the clients and bring in the money, he said. This puts them at a disadvantage to spot corporate crimes because they are not trained to ask the right questions, Antar said.
MU offers courses on fraud examination and forensic accounting at the graduate level. Although both courses are offered as electives, about two-thirds of the graduate students take one or both of them, said Thomas Howard, director of the School of Accountancy. Howard agreed that such classes provide "exposure that every student should have." But he added that not all colleges are able to offer them because of the scope of topics that need to be covered in a limited time.
Antar stressed the need to verify and ask questions. He noted that 92 to 95 percent of white-collar criminals have no previous criminal record. This includes Enron founder Ken Lay and Antar himself.
A former Columbian, Lay was convicted of one of the most sprawling business frauds in U.S. history. The founder of Enron Corp. died before he could be sentenced to prison. Lay donated $1.1 million in stocks to MU in 1999 to establish an endowed chair of economics in his name. A spokeswoman from MU said the chair has not yet been filled.
Antar also observed that before he delivered his speech, the audience applauded for him. He pointed out that had he been a serial criminal or a child molester, the audience would have been throwing eggs at him instead.
"Too many people today think of white-collar crime in the abstract. The problem is, people don’t realize that white-collar crime can be just as brutal as violent crimes," Antar said.