CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER

Why Suckering Americans Is a Booming Business

Business Fraud Is Thriving Amid Loose Regulation and Short-Term Gain Fixation

Bernard Madoff, who transformed his wealth management business into one of the biggest scams in history, arrives at Manhattan federal court on March 12, 2009. Photo by Louis Lanzano/Associated Press.

American capitalism has always provided openings for hucksters and outright swindlers.

For centuries, this society has been especially receptive to economic innovation and the strategies of wealth-seeking that so often accompany it. Openness to new technologies and new ways of doing business exacerbates information gaps between sellers and buyers. Those gaps, along with the enthusiasm that comes with new products and investment vehicles, create opportunities for fraudulent promoters and the bait-and-switch brigade.

As the journalist Edward Smith noted in the 1920s: “Every social change, every new invention brings to …

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