By Mike Ferrucci
Just because white-collar criminals don’t use violence to commit their crimes doesn’t mean they have regrets when they get caught. At least that was the attitude of the ex-white collar criminal, Sam Antar, who gave a lecture at Mayo Concert Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 20.
“Remorse doesn’t matter, actions matter,” Antar said.
Antar lectured students and faculty about his involvement in the infamous “Crazy Eddie” scandal. He quoted the character of Gordon Gekko from the film “Wall Street” to explain why white-collar criminals commit their crimes: “It’s not the money … It’s the game.”
Antar boasted about his role in the crime and claimed to possess no sense of guilt. Despite claiming he has no sense of guilt, the endeavor he has undertaken after his arrest can be considered admirable: educating people about white-collar crime, and helping them understand how to avoid being manipulated by frauds.
His advice is geared toward financial matters, but applies to all human relationships. He stressed above all else, “Be careful about the sincerity of praise.” He said people are easily manipulated as a result of vanity, and because people trust a “genuine” smile.
Sam Antar and his cousin, Eddie Antar, were raised without any sense of ethics in a household that promoted manipulating others for their own benefit. Eddie Antar was the mastermind of the “Crazy Eddie” scandal — he desired wealth and fame and did not care who he hurt along the way.
Eddie provided Sam with an accounting education, and Sam’s involvement was integral to the scandal’s success. Through his knowledge of the U.S. economic system and the powers afforded to him as a certified public accountant, Antar insured rookie auditors were sent to perform inspections into Eddie’s business and, moreover, helped mask the skimming of money in the form of taxes from the U.S. government.
The U.S. government discovered the fraud perpetrated by the cousins, and, after Eddie Antar fled to Israel, Sam Antar decided to come clean and help the government.
“I didn’t want to bend down, pick up a bar of soap, and figure out who my boyfriend was going to be,” Sam Antar said.
Ultimately, Sam Antar served six months under house arrest and paid a $30,000 fine, a mere slap on the wrist for helping to steal millions of dollars from the government, investors and consumers.
Over the years, he worked with the FBI and other government agencies to expose corruption and provide insight into the complex psyche of white-collar criminals. In addition, he took it upon himself to expose corruption in other companies such as overstock.com.
Sam Antar praised the College for hosting him, characterizing the decision as brave.
“People think education has to be sugar-coated,” Sam Antar said. “One thing this school is very brave about is that they brought in a criminal. I’m not here to tell you that I’m a remorseful character or that I’ve found God.
“I said I committed my crimes simply because I could. You don’t have to be like me, but there’s a lot to be learned. What it teaches you is that there are people out there who have no empathy whatsoever for their victims.”
Sam Antar’s efforts to educate people on resisting financial scandals resonated with students.
“He helped to do a bad thing, but he’s not a bad person,” said freshman open-options business major Liz Rozansky. “He learned from his selfish actions and is now making amends.”