If you have ever served in the US military in a combat zone, you know what stolen valor is: claiming to have been awarded some of our country's highest awards and decorations, for service in a combat role, when you have not been so designated, with the intent to receive monetary or other tangible benefits as the result. The Stolen Valor Act makes such conduct a Federal crime, and there is nothing more despicable than an individual claiming to have received such an award, when such is untrue, and using that lie for material gain.
Unfortunately, this law is limited to military awards for exemplary service; it does not extend to efforts to cash in on purported civilian government service, or affiliation with those who might have distinguished themselves, while engaged in such service. Now, on to our story.
Recently, a company in the compliance industry was contacted by a firm that wanted to take advantage of the other firm's banking clients, to obtain assistance in finding a bank sponsor, among the firm's clients, who were financial institutions. Apparently, it was because the inquiring firm was unable to secure a sponsor on its own. Members of this firm openly boasted about their close connections with governmental clients, and entities, especially in the intelligence field.
Now, let's take a close look at the firm seeking a bank to sponsor its cards; while their purported qualifications of senior staff are detailed on the company's website, the names of the officers do not appear, making verification of specific work experience impossible. We do know who the CEO is, because he is the one who approached the compliance firm.
A check of this individual's work history shows service at several Florida banks over the years, but also shows his role in a high profile while-collar criminal case against a union president, where the individual, who worked at this union's offices, appears to have received immunity from prosecution, and acted as a confidential informant.
When this person's father relocated to South Florida decades ago, with his family, he Anglicized his family name, from the original Southern European one. This new last name happened to be the exact same as one of America's most prominent, and successful, leaders in the Federal intelligence community. Now, we see the son, since grown up, claiming to be the grandson, or nephew, of this famous intelligence officer, and using that purported relationship to insinuate himself into the confidence of potential clients, including financial institutions.
This is not my conclusion; investigative journalists have made inquiries in the family's genealogy, supplemented it with interviews, and concluded that there is absolutely no family connection, between the famous government official, and the individual claiming to be his grandson; the entire story is fabricated, and a fraud.
Thereafter, we see this individual offering his services, together with his " government connections," to financial institutions suffering under regulatory sanctions, with him promising to obtain a release of such sanctions. He presented documents purporting to show his association with law enforcement agencies, and government regulators, but there was no factual basis for the documents, and they appear to have been altered to include his name.
You know where this is going, I am sure: notwithstanding the payments of six figure upfront fees, none of the banks obtains the promised relief, and his now former embarrassed bank clients lick their wounds in private. Even an American law enforcement agency was conned into advancing license fees for a prepaid credit card project that never materialized, and as a result, a Federal agent was forced to take early retirement, in disgrace.
Yes, the compliance firm declined to work with the fraudster. Since the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001, we have seen a proliferation of companies in the AML/CFT compliance field, and some are indeed posers, totally unqualified to render services to the financial community, but when we see fraudsters, who take improper advantage of banks that are seeking to recover from sanctions and civil penalties, it is time to speak up.
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock
Journals of Monte Friesner