6 Secrets to Becoming a Fabulously Rich Scammer

As the saying goes, in America everyone deserves a second chance, especially scammers. Here are the 6 rules for getting a second (or third or fourth) chance to sell a giant scam:

1. Present a banal idea as “disruptive”. Adam Neumann, the founder of WeWork, touted his office-sharing startup as the first physical social network. In reality, it was nothing more than what you’d find in any coffee shop with customers in front of their laptops, but Neumann made it look so groundbreaking – “disruptive”, to use the lofty crook word – that JPMorgan, SoftBank and other investors sunk hundreds of millions into his business. At its peak, it was valued at some $47 billion.

2. Pocket the money. Neumann used some of his investors’ money to buy buildings which he then leased to WeWork. He also borrowed against his own stake in the company. And he was going to charge WeWork nearly $6 million to use his trademark of the word “We” after the company renamed itself “We Company.” He lived like a tycoon, with its own jet and penthouse apartments.

WeWork has never made a penny of profit. The prospectus for its initial public offering was widely derided as inconsistent. After Neumann was forced to disclose his personal conflicts of interest, the IPO collapsed and the company’s estimated value plummeted from $47 billion to around $4 billion (after being bailed out by Soft Bank).

3. Make sure your investors have their own investors, so they’ll want to save everything they can and won’t sue you. Neumann was not found guilty of criminal fraud. His early investors didn’t want to sue him because they wanted to salvage whatever they could of their investment and didn’t want to admit to their own investors that they had been duped. In fact, they paid Neumann more $1 billion to leave the board and waive their right to vote. Neumann collected an additional $185 million in advisory fees from WeWork. Meanwhile, other WeWork employees have been left on hold nearly worthless stock options and thousands have been made redundant.

4. Repeat the same. Neumann has just launched a new company called To flowwhich he says will “transform” the residential rental real estate market with reliable services and “community” features (he has also used the term “community” extensively with WeWork).

What about the previous Neumann scam? It’s forgotten. “Flow” has already attracted $350 million in funding from venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz – the biggest check ever written in a round of funding for a company. Andreesen values ​​Flow at over $1 billion before Neumann even opened its doors.

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Last week, Marc Andreesen explained in a blog post on his company’s website that the rental property market is “ripe for disruption”, especially now that so many people are working from home and “will experience far less, if any, of the social connections and friendships in the office enjoyed by local workers”. If that sounds a lot like the language Neumann uses to promote WeWork, it’s no coincidence. It worked once, so why not again? As Andreesen wrote, “we like to see repeat founders building on past successes by building on lessons learned”, and that for Neumann “there are many successes and lessons”.

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5. Never admit fault or defeat. Adam Neumann’s scam is a small change from Donald Trump’s – which also managed to fail upwards but in a much more spectacular way. The master scammer has defrauded customers, tenants, students, hoteliers, contractors and, finally, American voters. He never admits defeat. Trump turned every cheat into an even bigger cheat. As he infamously claimed, he could shoot someone in the center of Fifth Avenue and get away with it.

Trump has ‘disturbed’ American democracy with his big lie and attempted coup. Now, it seems, he is about to seek a second chance at the presidency.

6. Don’t be poor or black or brown. Not everyone in America gets a second chance. This is especially true for poor people or people of color, especially those convicted of crimes without a jury trial through plea bargains with prosecutors (who threaten to increase sentences if they do not plead guilty).

About 5.2 million Americans were unable to vote in the last presidential election due to ‘convictions’ for crimes, including one out of 13 black adults, according to the Sentencing Project. Last Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis touted the arrests of 20 people charged with “voter fraud,” who voted in 2020 but were convicted of crimes for which Florida made them ineligible to vote. (Many said they wouldn’t have voted if they had known they weren’t eligible.)

Millions more can’t find jobs because employers don’t want to consider people who have broken the law. (Unlike Marc Andreesen, most employers “don’t like to see people grow from lessons learned.”) Although some states and localities now prohibit employers and landlords from considering conviction records or arrest during their initial screening of candidates, one big mistake on the part of a poor or colored person can end their career and possibly their freedom.

But if you’re not poor or a person of color, you can get away with the behemoth Adam Neumann and Donald Trump ran off against. Just follow the steps listed above. Hell, you might even become president.

About Glenda Wait

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