Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Fraud - Part I

I had noticed early in my life that this entity called money had a huge impact on the quality of life of people. It could get you what you wanted and make life a little easier for you. I couldn't help but notice that people with money seemed to lead comfortable and luxurious lives while those without seemed to live like beasts. So when I was young I decided that I would make for myself a lot of money. As I grew older, I noticed that people with money seemed to make all the money while those without seemed to do all the work, So not only was money an Jinn that got you what you wished for but it also got you more money. Only money can make more money. This seemed quite unfair to me of course, since I was not born into a wealthy family.

My parents were very moral and conscientious people who always taught me to do what was right and eschew the wrong. This is important because to understand me, you need to understand where I come from. I come from a typical middle class family. God and Government fearing, constantly concerned about the reputation of the family and a strong belief that education is the answer to everything. I had a
pleasant childhood and lots of friends. My mom made me work had at studies and dull as I was as a child, by the time I was a teenager, I became a good student. Good enough to get into IIT and then into IIM. By the standards of the small society I belong to, I was a success already. After all I had a wonderful education, what else could I want? Precisely because of the wonderful education my parents nudged me into, I was exposed to a whole new league. I saw money like I never did before. I saw what rich really meant. And I was uncomfortably conscious of the fact that I had none. I had prospects, I knew that, but money I had none. I knew that if I went down the path my parents had taught me, some day in the distant future, I'd be rich. But I also knew that there was no point in being rich after losing all my teeth and getting arthritis. I wanted to get rich fast.

Once I made up my mind that I wanted to get rich fast, I got to planning. I started off by listing all the ways I was aware of, by which a person could get rich fast. The good morals imbibed in me were strong enough to make me list out the legal ones first but not strong enough to prevent me from listing the illegal ones later. The first way I could think of making money fast was betting on the stock market. Trading I knew was like gambling, at least in the short run. And gambling I knew from the theoretical concepts of probability had a zero payoff if repeated enough number of times. So continued intra-day trading was out of the window. Investing in stocks I thought had future was another option. But though I could get rich this way, it wasn't fast enough. So on my thoughts went exploring all the legal options of getting rich quickly but either they had no guarantee or they needed a huge initial investment. Setting up a company of my own and selling it quick was another option but that was not easy. I had seen a lot of the ventures that my friends started go belly up and it was not a pretty sight.

I started to list the immoral/illegal options just for fun initially. Marrying into money seemed to fall somewhere in between. It was immoral but not illegal. But then I loved my girlfriend too much to think about it more. I loved her more than I loved money, so that was that. Stealing other people's money seemed a very good option but there were complications involved. Firstly people no longer kept a lot of cash or precious metal at home. It all went into the banks. Whatever little was kept at home was not enough to make me rich in a few hauls. I'd have to rob a lot of people over time and accumulate the money, maybe even invest it until I have enough. This was not attractive to me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I did not like violence, or even the possibility of violence. When you go to rob a house, there is always the possibility of violence. People are good creatures until they join together to form groups and I had no intention of physically harming anyone. Secondly, when you start robbing houses, the police start looking out for you at least after your 5th robbery. And robbing people was a lot tougher when the police are alert. What I was looking for was one quick haul that would set me for life.

But I was missing something here. There was one option I had not thought of as quickly as I should have and that was the suave smooth talking swindler. I had all the qualifications necessary, I wouldn't have to manufacture fake certificates to convince people of my pedigree. My record was impeccable and people somehow seemed to be able to trust me with responsibilities even those that I wouldn't trust myself with. The more I thought about it, the more sense it seemed to make and finally after a great deal of deliberation I decided that this was the best way.

Now all I needed was a fool proof plan. I was already working for a bank which was very fortuitous. This was not the regular kind of a bank you and I would go to but a boutique bank. It served the excessively wealthy, who were also usually excessively overweight I might add. I was in the business of wealth management for the very wealthy who were either too lazy or too stupid to invest their money themselves. Our bank usually took a good cut from the profits we made for the clients but blamed the markets when we lost them some money. As an employee of the bank, I served both the client and the bank. To put it succinctly, I was at the epicentre of the corporate greed. Now I'm not saying all this to justify what I would go on to do but am merely stating the facts. I have no moral qualms and I never said greed was bad. In fact it was my greed that led me to such a position in the first place. I belonged there.

To be continued...

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