Larry’s Laws of Larceny- Law 16: The Smart Crook Makes the Abnormal Look Normal

Larry Beebe, CPA

The smart crook can work wonders with a high quality photocopier. Checks, deeds, and other documents can be created that appear to be genuine, but are as phony as a $3 bill.

Barry Mikow started a carpet cleaning business, ZZZZ Best, while in high school. He soon branched into the “insurance restoration business” to restore buildings damaged by natural disasters. The “insurance restoration business” didn’t exist. He and a partner forged all of the documents to create the company’s business and its revenue. At one point, he created documentation showing that he was renovating an eight story building in a small California town. He drove to the town only to discover that no building in the town exceeded three stories. No problem! He laid flat on his back on the sidewalk and took a picture up of the three story building, which now appeared to have 8 stories.

How can this type of fraud be discovered? Don’t accept critical documents at face value. Verify their validity. Don’t assume that real estate exists. Visit the site and verify ownership with the local recorder of deeds.

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