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Archive for March, 2015

Learn how easy it is to make fake passports and scam the rich into trusting you with thousands of dollars.

If the fraud industry were its own country, it would have the fifth strongest economy in the world, just ahead of the UK. Come and meet the fraudsters who’re making a killing from the fastest growing crime on Earth.

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Henry Sapiecha

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Sydney gangster Raphael Joseph once told the then US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, he would be “tortured or killed” if extradited back to Australia to face a murder charge.

Police are now certain he met that fate after sharing a bowl of noodles with friends at The Star casino in Sydney.

One year after his suspected murder, homicide detectives have revealed they believe a trusted associate lured the underworld figure to his death under the guise of a “meeting”.

Police say their investigation is gaining momentum after a team of detectives unravelled Mr Joseph’s connections to a number of criminal networks.

But his family are struggling to cope not knowing how he died or where he is.

“Just give us closure – at least let us know he is dead. I just want my mum to know he’s really dead,” his brother Rafael said.

“At least so he can have a grave, it’s the very least,” added brother Simon.

Mr Joseph, 38, believed to be a founding member of Assyrian gang DLAST HR, was dining with two close friends at Fat Noodle on March 20, 2014, when he received a text on his Blackberry.

Shortly afterwards, he asked one of his friends to drive him in his white Mercedes to a car park near Auburn McDonald’s to “meet someone”.

It was 11.15pm when the pair drove into dimly lit Dartbrook Road and pulled up behind a late model silver Holden Commodore, facing in the direction of Parramatta Road.

Mr Joseph, who has previously gone by the name of Rafi Tooma, and is known as “Huss” or “Hussoney”, told his friend to wait for 30 minutes before getting into the back seat of the Commodore.

His friend waited until 4am but Mr Joseph never came back.

The officer in charge of the case, Detective Sergeant Glenn Morfoot, said Mr Joseph, who was born in Iraq, was a highly sophisticated operator who worked at an international level with many different crime syndicates to import drugs.

“We believe a particular person or persons lured him to that meeting, double crossed him and we also strongly believe that the whole purpose of that meeting was for the sole purpose of kidnapping and murdering him,” Detective Sergeant Morfoot said.

“Obviously somebody who is well known to him and was trusted by him so much that he was prepared to go there and get into this car by himself, which is massive for somebody who operates at his high level – that is a fairly high level of trust,” he said.

He said police believed Mr Joseph had access to large amounts of cash and drugs and whoever killed him did so for financial gain.

“There was definitely a motivation in terms of getting hold of Joseph the person, rather than just a straight hit,” he said.

His brothers admit Mr Joseph led a mysterious life but he rarely spoke to them about what he did.

They cannot understand why anyone would want to harm their “gentle brother” who adored his nieces and nephews.

He had just been on a 10-day trip to Dubai with friends and watched soccer with his brother Simon two days before his disappearance.

“The whole family has collapsed because of this – it is a situation that is unbelievable and we don’t know how to deal with it. It’s been a year and we don’t know what to do,” Rafael said.

“I swear I cry 20 times a day, when I’m driving … and I cry and I think, why does it have to be this way?”

Detectives are not discounting Mr Joseph’s chequered past, but say a number of people have come forward about his activities in the days leading up to his death.

Mr Joseph was previously the subject of a four-year international manhunt after he was wanted in relation to the shooting murder of his alleged rival Bronx Boys gang member, Dimitri Debaz, outside Sydney’s Sefton Playhouse hotel on December 13, 2002.

Mr Joseph fled but was arrested in San Diego in 2006 by immigration officials, who later discovered he was one of NSW’s most wanted criminals.

In the petition to Condoleezza Rice, Mr Joseph’s US lawyer explained why his client had gone into hiding after the Debaz murder.

“A friend of [Mr Joseph’s], Sadi Jajo, was kidnapped a few months later, beaten up, shot twice in each leg, had a caustic liquid poured on his neck, and then dumped on the street,” the petition said.

“His kidnappers were attempting to obtain from him [Mr Joseph’s] location.”

Charges were not pursued after Mr Joseph was brought back to Australia.

Detective Sergeant Morfoot urged anyone who knew about Mr Joseph’s suspected murder to come forward, even if it was just anonymously, to let his family know where his body was.

Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000.

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Denver Police take girl into custody

An iPhone.

Denver: Police arrested a 12-year-old Colorado girl accused of trying to kill her mother twice by poisoning her with bleach for taking away her iPhone, authorities said.

Boulder County Sheriff’s Commander Heidi Prentup said in a statement that the mother drank the caustic fluid on one of the two attempts, which both happened within a week this month.

On March 2, the girl poured bleach into a breakfast smoothie that she had prepared for her mother, Sheriff Prentup said.

“Mom noticed an odor of bleach in the drink and thought her daughter had cleaned the glass prior to making the beverage and did not rinse all the bleach out,” the police statement said.
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A similiar incident followed four days later.

Sheriff Prentup said the mother reported the girl to police, and that investigators then gathered enough evidence to take her into custody.

The girl was taken to a juvenile detention facility on Friday where is being held pending the filing of charges.

Reuters

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Nigerien soldiers hold up a Boko Haram flag that they had seized in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria.

Nigerien soldiers hold up a Boko Haram flag that they had seized in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria. Photo: Reuters

Damasak, Nigeria: Soldiers from Niger and Chad who liberated the Nigerian town of Damasak from Boko Haram militants have discovered the bodies of at least 70 people scattered under a bridge, a witness said.

In what appeared to be an execution site for the Islamist group, the bodies were strewn beneath the concrete bridge on one of the main roads leading out of the town.

The bodies were partially mummified by the dry desert air, suggesting that the killings had taken place some time ago.

Weapons captured from Boko Haram by Chadian and Nigerien soldiers are seen in the recently retaken town of Damasak.

Weapons captured from Boko Haram by Chadian and Nigerien soldiers are seen in the recently retaken town of Damasak. Photo: Reuters

Boko Haram has killed thousands of people in a six-year insurgency aimed at establishing an Islamic caliphate in northeast Nigeria. Damasak was seized by the Islamist group in November but recaptured by troops from Niger and Chad on Saturday as part of a multinational effort to wipe out the militants.
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Chadian soldiers, who said the bodies were discovered on Thursday, spoke of at least 100 corpses in the area around the dry river bed. A witness was able to count at least 70.

A trail of blackened blood was visible along the side of the bridge facing the bodies, suggesting they had been thrown off the side after being killed. Among the dead was the imam of the town.

A signpost painted by Boko Haram is seen in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, near where the massacre of its residents occurred.

A signpost painted by Boko Haram is seen in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, near where the massacre of its residents occurred. Photo: Reuters

All but around 50 of the town’s residents had fled by the time Damasak was recaptured. Those who remained were mostly too old or too sick to leave. The witness said a strong smell of decomposition in many parts of town suggested there could be more bodies concealed there.

Chad’s military spokesman Colonel Azem Bermandoa said the Chadians had asked Nigeria’s military to occupy the town, which lies close to the border with Niger, and would remain there until Nigerian troops arrived.

The regional offensive launched this year with Chad, Niger and Cameroon comes as Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and biggest economy, prepares to hold presidential elections on March 28.

Nigerian troops cross the Kaffin-Hausa bridge, which earlier had been destroyed by terrorists and reconstructed by military engineers at Damasak in north-eastern Nigeria Borno State.

Nigerian troops cross the Kaffin-Hausa bridge, which earlier had been destroyed by terrorists and reconstructed by military engineers at Damasak in north-eastern Nigeria Borno State. Photo: AFP

At the start of this year, Boko Haram controlled around 20 local government areas, a territory the size of Belgium. With the help of its foreign allies, Nigeria’s army said on Tuesday it had pushed the rebels out of all but three districts.

On Thursday, however, two security sources said that Boko Haram had killed at least 10 people in the town of Gamburu, on the border with Cameroon, demonstrating it can still attack civilians despite being forced into retreat.

President Goodluck Jonathan has been criticised for not doing enough to tackle the insurgency. His challenger Muhammadu Buhari has campaigned on a reputation for toughness gained when he was military ruler of Nigeria in the 1980s.

A Chadian soldier raises his automatic weapon to have his picture taken by another soldier  in the Nigerian city of Damasak.

A Chadian soldier raises his automatic weapon to have his picture taken by another soldier in the Nigerian city of Damasak. Photo: AP

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Protests after Christian nun allegedly pack raped in India

8 pack rapists detained in Bengal christian nun gang rape case,

Role of insiders probed say sources. Video report says it all here.

Indians hold vigils and protests after the alleged rape of a 75-year-old nun during an armed assault on a convent school.

Hundreds of priests, school girls and other protesters staged a peaceful rally on Monday in the Indian city of Kolkata to support an elderly nun who was gang-raped at her convent school.

Nuns dressed in white habits joined other women of all backgrounds and ages, including girls still in their uniforms, to express their sorrow over the attack and anger over incessant levels of sexual assault in India.

Holding placards and banners that read “This world belongs to women” and “We want rape-free India”, the crowd gathered quietly in a park in the centre of the eastern city as speakers took to a makeshift stage nearby to condemn the “unacceptable” attack.

Hindu nationalist Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been heavily criticised for not speaking out earlier against religious violence and has also faced flak for remaining silent on a spate of attacks on churches.

Hindu nationalist Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been heavily criticised for not speaking out earlier against religious violence and has also faced flak for remaining silent on a spate of attacks on churches. Photo: AFP

“We are not violent, we are not witches. And we will launch a big protest if attacks on Christian minorities continue,” Kolkata businesswoman Hari Joseph Marien said.
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Bank manager Partha Tripathi said she was prompted to join the protest because the crime was one “against humanity,” adding: “It seems that even animals (behave) better.”

Later in the evening, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee faced hundreds of angry protesters in Ranaghat, 70 kilometres from Kolkata, where she had gone to meet the nun who is recovering in hospital.

This closed circuit television image captured on Saturday at the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Ranaghat and released by West Bengal Police shows two of the ten suspects in the gang-rape of a 71-year-old nun at the convent.

This closed circuit television image captured on Saturday at the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Ranaghat and released by West Bengal Police shows two of the ten suspects in the gang-rape of a 71-year-old nun at the convent. Photo: AFP

The woman, aged in her 70s, needed surgery from injuries suffered during the attack.

The protesters, who were chanting slogans demanding justice and arrest of the alleged rapists, blocked Banerjee’s car from leaving the hospital.

The chaos continued for over half an hour before the minister assured the protesters of immediate police action.

Indian Christians and social activists take part in a peace-rally and protest against the gang-rape of a nun in Allahabad on Monday.

Indian Christians and social activists take part in a peace-rally and protest against the gang-rape of a nun in Allahabad on Monday. Photo: Sanjay Kanojia

‘Shocked and appalled’ 

The nun, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was attacked after the robbers ransacked the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Ranaghat and stole cash and other items.

A holy scripture was also torn and a statue of Jesus was broken.

A woman holds a poster of Mother Teresa during a vigil. Christians in India said on Monday that the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi had not done enough to protect their religion after a spate of attacks.

A woman holds a poster of Mother Teresa during a vigil. Christians in India said on Monday that the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi had not done enough to protect their religion after a spate of attacks. Photo: Reuters

Police said Monday 10 men have been detained for questioning but no arrests have been made, even though the faces of four of the robbers were captured on CCTV footage.

The assault on the nun is the latest in a string of high-profile rapes in India and comes after a spate of attacks on churches that prompted Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi to promise a crackdown on religious violence.

Priests and other Christian leaders have blamed those attacks on religious hardliners, who are said to have become emboldened since Modi swept to power at general elections last May.

The car carrying Indian Chief Minister of the state of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee (centre) is surrounded by angry demonstrators during a protest following the rape of a nun near the Convent of Jesus and Mary at Ranaghat, north of Kolkata, on Monday.

The car carrying Indian Chief Minister of the state of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee (centre) is surrounded by angry demonstrators during a protest following the rape of a nun near the Convent of Jesus and Mary at Ranaghat, north of Kolkata, on Monday. Photo: AFP

Modi had been heavily criticised for not speaking out earlier against religious violence and has also faced flak for remaining silent about a spate of mass “re-conversions” of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.

Archbishop of Kolkata Thomas D’Souza stressed the morning rally was not against any political party, as fear and dismay mount in India’s Christian community, which has been deeply upset over the recent attacks on churches.

D’Souza estimated that a couple of thousand people took part in the rally at which prayers were held and candles lit alongside a statue of Mother Teresa, a missionary who worked tirelessly in the slums of Kolkata.

A man holds a placard as Indian Christians and others condemn the gang-rape of a nun at a Christian missionary school in eastern India.

A man holds a placard as Indian Christians and others condemn the gang-rape of a nun at a Christian missionary school in eastern India. Photo: AP

“We have assurances from the government that the miscreants will be arrested, but not much headway has been made in this regard,” he said of the rape.

The incident adds to a grim record of sexual assaults in India and comes during a raging debate over the banning of a documentary about a December 2012 gang-rape in New Delhi that sparked national and international outrage.

“I am shocked and appalled that something like this could happen,” 20-year-old American Brianna Miller, who is studying in Kolkata, said at the rally.

Indian residents and members of the Christian community take part in a vigil and protest against the gang-rape of a 71-year-old nun at a convent-school in Kolkata on Monday.

Indian residents and members of the Christian community take part in a vigil and protest against the gang-rape of a 71-year-old nun at a convent-school in Kolkata on Monday. Photo: AFP

Modi in February pledged a crackdown on religious violence and freedom of worship for all faiths in the wake of the vandalism and arson attacks on churches.

Around 80 per cent of India’s 1.2 billion population is Hindu, but it is also home to large numbers of Muslims, Christians and Buddhists.

His government again came under criticism on Monday, with opposition lawmakers raising the nun’s rape in the national parliament.

“Our PM has been saying again and again that he will ensure there is no attack on minorities. What is the sanctity of such assurances then?” asked D. Raja, a member of the Communist Party of India.

AFP

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Accused: Lian Bin "Robert" Xie.

Accused: Lian Bin “Robert” Xie. Photo: Danielle Smith

Shortly before Robert Xie allegedly murdered five people, a young woman told her friend he had inappropriately touched her, a court has heard.

The subject came “completely out of the blue” while the two women were lying down and talking in a tent during a camping trip in the Illawara region, the NSW Supreme Court heard on Monday.

The friend gave evidence that about two years earlier she had told the woman that she had been sexually abused.

And the woman then revealed that “something similar” had happened to her.
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The friend told the court: “We were just lying there. I suppose we were just talking and she asked me: ‘How come I can remain so normal.’ ”

The court heard that the woman then went on to say: “You know what happened … something similar I suppose you would say happened to me.

“I don’t want to talk about it but it was similar.”

The alleged conversation happened in April, May or June of 2009, the court heard.

Mr Xie is on trial for murdering his brother-in-law Min “Norman” Lin, Min’s wife Yun, “Lilly”, her sister Yun Bin “Irene” Lin and Lilly’s two sons Terry and Henry in their North Epping home on July 18, 2009.

The woman, who cannot be identified, has previously given evidence that Mr Xie touched her sexually before the killings and sexually abused her afterwards.

The friend gave evidence that after the conversation in the tent, the woman tried to avoid the subject and would “walk off” or “brush it off”.

“I did ask her once in a while,” the friend said.

“She would say I’m busy or she would run off, she would avoid that in general or anything to do with that topic.

“I told her I would always be here if she ever wanted to ask me questions or if she wanted to talk about it, she could talk to me.”

When the friend was questioned by police at her home after the killings, she mentioned the conversation the two had shared at the camp.

Mr Xie has pleaded not guilty to murder in relation to the killings.

The Crown has argued that his sexual interest in the young woman was one of his motives for the killings.

The hearing continues.

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Moscow: Two men have appeared in court in Moscow charged with the murder of Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov, after another suspect blew himself up with a grenade as police surrounded him in Chechnya.

Zaur Dadayev and Anzor Gubashev, both from Russia’s troubled North Caucasus region, appeared at the Russian capital’s Basmanny Court, where the judge said Mr Dadayev had confessed to the crime under questioning

Zaur Dadayev, charged with the murder of Boris Nemtsov, inside a defendants' cage in Moscow.

Zaur Dadayev, charged with the murder of Boris Nemtsov, inside a defendants’ cage in Moscow. Photo: Reuters

Three other men, Shagid Gubashev, Tamerlan Eskerkhanov and Khamzat Bakhayev, were formally arrested as suspected accomplices. All five were remanded in custody.

The five men were frogmarched into Moscow’s Basmanny court on Sunday, forced by masked security officers gripping their bound arms to walk doubled over, a Reuters reporter at the court said. They stood in metal cages in the courtroom as television crews were ushered in to film them.

During the hearing, the latter three men tried to hide their faces with their jackets, while Mr Dadayev looked defiantly at the cameras. No motive for the killing was suggested.

Tamerlan Eskerkhanov was arrested as a suspected accomplice in the killing.

Tamerlan Eskerkhanov was arrested as a suspected accomplice in the killing. Photo: Reuters

A judge ruled that all five should be held in custody and said that one of them, Mr Dadayev, had admitted his involvement in the killing when questioned by investigators.

“Dadayev’s involvement in committing this crime is confirmed by, apart from his own confession, the totality of evidence gathered as part of this criminal case,” Judge Natalia Mushnikova told the court.

In Chechnya, a sixth suspect, Bislan Shavanov, blew himself up with a grenade as police tried to detain him, Russian media reported. Officers were said to have surrounded him at an apartment in Grozny on Saturday evening, when he was killed by a hand grenade that exploded as he tossed it towards them.

Shagid Gubashev and Ramzan Bakhayev hide their faces at court on Sunday.

Shagid Gubashev and Ramzan Bakhayev hide their faces at court on Sunday. Photo: Reuters

Mr Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead as he walked on a bridge near the Kremlin with his girlfriend on February 27.

The two accused men were reportedly detained in the republic of Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya. Officials suggested that they were suspected hit men and that the masterminds behind the murder were still at large.

The main question many Russians want answered is who ordered the brazen assassination of Mr Nemtsov, the first killing of a such an important political figure in many years. Given the fact that the shooting took place within sight of the Kremlin, among the most heavily guarded sites in Moscow, opposition figures have accused the government of complicity in the crime, which it has denied.

Mourners lay flowers and candles at the spot where Boris Nemtsov was gunned down.

Mourners lay flowers and candles at the spot where Boris Nemtsov was gunned down. Photo: AP

Mr Nemtsov was one of the government’s most persistent critics and was due to publish a report that he said would reveal the involvement of the Russian military in the war in Ukraine. The Kremlin has called Russians fighting in Ukraine “volunteers”.

The court hearings were given extensive coverage on state-controlled media, and presented as proof the authorities are conducting a thorough investigation. But associates of Mr Nemtsov say they will not be satisfied unless prosecutors track down whoever orchestrated the killing, rather than just the people who pulled the trigger.

There was no word from investigators on who the suspects were alleged to have been working for. The judge presiding over the hearings said investigators were still looking for others they believe were involved in the killing.

In the North Caucasus, the acting head of the Security Council in Ingushetia, Albert Barakhoev, said Mr Dadayev had worked as a law enforcement officer, serving as deputy commander of a battalion of Interior Ministry troops assigned to fight Islamist insurgents. It was unclear whether he was still with the unit.

The other main suspect, Mr Kubashev, had worked for a private security company in Moscow as a guard in a hypermarket, according to Mr Barakhoev. Both are between 30 and 35 years old, he said.

Ajmani Dadayev, the mother of Mr Dadayev, told state television that the Kubashev brothers were her nephews. The suspects had worked in Moscow for years without any problems, she said.

Chechnya, a mainly Muslim region, has seen violent separatist insurgencies over the past two decades. It is now firmly under the control of its leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, a former rebel who changed sides and pledges loyalty to Putin.

Telegraph, London, New York Times, Reuters

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Tokyo: Japanese police have arrested a man for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting more than 100 women who believed they were taking part in a medical study, detectives and local media said Tuesday.

Detectives say scores of women responded to adverts seeking volunteers for “clinical research measuring blood pressure during sleep” over two years to November 2013.

They believe Hideyuki Noguchi, 54, gave the women sedatives after luring them to hotels and hot spring resorts.

Once the women were unconscious, he raped them and filmed each assault, police said.
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Footage of the attacks was posted on the internet or sold to producers of porn films, allegedly netting Noguchi more than 10 million yen ($110,417.50), TBS and other broadcasters said.

Noguchi is not know to have any medical training or expertise.

A spokesman for police in Chiba, east of Tokyo, said officers had confirmed at least 39 victims, aged from their teens to their 40s in Tokyo, Chiba, Osaka, Tochigi and Shizuoka.

Detectives believe they are just a fraction of the total number of women whom Noguchi attacked, thought to number well over 100, media reports said.

AFP

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Henry Sapiecha

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Published on 6 Aug 2014

Arthur “Artorius” Williams is an American-born counterfeiter and subject of the book The Art of Making Money by Jason Kersten. He is most known for having counterfeited the 1996-issued $100 Bill, the quality of which is on par with the supernote. He currently resides in Chicago. His story was featured on NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show on June 15, 2009. He was also featured in a season 5 episode of American Greed.

Williams was born on Thanksgiving, 1972. Raised on the south side of Chicago in the projects on 31st and Halsted, Williams grew up to be diehard White Sox fan. He was schooled in the ancient art of counterfeiting by his master “Da Vinci” at the age of 15. Due to his teacher’s untimely disappearance, Williams was soon recruited by Chicago’s street underworld. As a teenager, he had one child from a girl he knew from the Southside of Chicago. After numerous close stints with the law, he moved to Texas where he met and fell in love with and married a young woman by the name of Natalie.

In 1996, The U.S. treasury had made a focused effort to stop counterfeiting by releasing new bills. The first to be released was the $100 note. While on a shopping trip with his new wife, Natalie, Art held the new note in his hand and became obsessed. It was his first time seeing the new bill, which had been released while he was locked up.

The complex note reignited his passion for counterfeiting. He studied the new features closely, focusing in on the watermark, security thread, color-shifting ink and micro-printed details. He immediately began working on ways to defeat these new security hurdles.

His past caught up with him, and Williams received an extended sentence of 7 years for conspiracy to make counterfeit money.

Paramount Pictures is in negotiations with director D.J. Caruso (Eagle Eye, Disturbia) and actor Chris Pine (Star Trek) to make The Art of Making Money early next year, says Variety.

Brian Robbins is producing with Sharla Sumpter and Brad Weston. Frank Baldwin wrote the script.

Pine would play Art Williams, the alias for a Chicago man who rose from petty theft to become a master counterfeiter.

Paramount acquired the project based on a 2005 Rolling Stone article by Jason Kersten, who turned his reporting into the book “The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter.” Source:Variety October 12, 2009.

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Henry Sapiecha

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Published on 4 Mar 2014

Forbes:”If indeed, $50 billion was lost, as apparently Madoff claims, it is the largest such fraud in history, and one that might even shame the conman whose name is attached to this brand of deception. In 1920, Charles Ponzi, an Italian immigrant, began advertising that he could make a 50% return for investors in only 45 days. Incredibly, Ponzi began taking in money from all over New England and New Jersey. By July of 1920, he was making millions as people mortgaged their homes and invested their life savings. As with all frauds, he was discovered to have a jail record and was indicted on 86 counts of fraud. Some tens of millions of dollars were invested with him.”

In the streamlined (if somewhat simplified) opening of Ripped Off: Madoff and the Scamming of America, it is noted that “he puts a face on what we’ve all been feeling.” It’s a succinct and accurate characterization of the man who ran an elaborate, decades-long Ponzi scheme, bilking countless private investors and charities out of an estimated $65 billion dollars. The disclosure of his fraud, in the midst of the worst economic landscape since the Great Depression, grafted the face of a real-life villain onto the greed and excess of the Bush years–it’s hard to personify (or even understand) a credit default swap or a NINA loan, but this was a guy that we could point at and say, “Him! Get him!”

The History Channel’s short documentary examination of the Madoff scandal utilizes interviews with journalists, historians, and victims, in addition to some excellent archival footage (particularly those chilling tapes of Madoff holding court in the late 1990s as a wise elder statesman of the financial world). The special contains some valuable biographical information, not only of Madoff’s humble beginnings as a Queens-born stock broker, but of Carlo Ponzi (the namesake of the Ponzi scheme) and other con artists who operated in Madoff’s style, though perhaps not to his excess.

There’s plenty of solid information to be found here–how the lure of the Madoff investment was its exclusivity (he didn’t let just anyone throw away their money with him) and it’s slow steady performance (one victim notes, quite convincingly, “this was not a get-rich-quick scheme”); the tale of Harry Markopolis, the financial analyst who attempted, for the better part of a decade, to alert the SEC that Madoff was a crook; and the tragic story of Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, the hedge fund operator who responded to the news that his fund’s $1.4 billion investment with Madoff wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on by slashing his wrists in his Manhattan office.

The documentary moves a breakneck pace, a flurry of images and definitions and images and soundbites, though for all of the information it contains, it occasionally sacrifices nuance for the sake of a quick pulse. The misfortune of Ripped Off is that it follows Frontline’s superior examination of the scandal, The Madoff Affair, into the marketplace; that program was simply stronger, with better access to more people on the inside and a more in-depth analysis of the Madoff story. Taken on its own terms, however, Ripped Off is a solid, if less than spectacular, television documentary program.

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Henry Sapiecha

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