Here’s a pretty fun and interesting podcast. How do you prepare for a life of crime? That too in the public markets, no less.
This is the story of Sam Antar, whose entire life was dedicated to being a criminal. As funny as it sounds, that’s the truth. The Antar family used to run an electronics chain. But competing against the bigger electronics chains was difficult. So, these guys decided to give it to the big guys. As Sam describes in the podcast:
We were not businessmen turned criminals, we were criminals running a business as a front. Crime was part of the business plan.
Back in the late '60s and '70s in the US, electronics manufacturers fixed the retail prices and retailers had to follow it. Which was a problem for the little guys, because they didn’t have the ad budgets to compete against the big guys. So Crazy Eddie and Sam Antar started skimming sales tax to compete. The used to the skimmed sales taxes to discount the prices to drive business.
Eventually, they took the company public in the hopes of taking it private once they had made enough money. But as the saying goes
The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
The scam unraveled, family members turned against each other and Sam had to co-operate with the authorities to save his “behind” as he puts it. What makes Sam unique is that unlike other fianncial frauds, where things happened due to a lapse of judgement or misstep, this was deliberately planned from the get go.
It’s an absolutely enjoyable episode, I’d highly recommend it.