On 26th of June, I had published a blog on my experience with a Sociopath. In case you missed it, its HERE.
On 16th September, 2016, Fortune published a shocking account of a VC firm called Asenqua Ventures. This firm was led by Albert Hu, who is currently locked up for long history of financial fraud & impersonating.
This firm did not exist.
This Hollywood style story of a Catch-Me-If-You-Can material, can be read HERE
If you have read both these accounts & have somewhat recovered from the shock, let me tell you how easy it is to build a company that doesn’t exist. You can then position yourself as an entrepreneur, VC or whatever you like. The world is your playground for fooling people into relationships, financial frauds & more.
Step #1: Build a website
This one is the easiest. For under $5, you can buy a domain name & design a simple website. Throw in some serious sounding stuff there about company’s values & beliefs. These are meant to bullshit people into believing your philosophy. If written well, they will believe it.
Step #2: Create fake email addresses of people, who do not exist!
Create a few personalities in your head & give them designations as you like. Create a co founder/ client servicing head etc Decide the tone of voice for each of these personalities, that don’t exist.
Imagine when a client writes in, you can respond from these multiple choices of emails. It gives an impression of running a large office with structured teams. I mean, its so simple. So, why not.
Yup. Impersonating/ impostering is an offence. Especially, if you make up personalities of people who don’t exist. Using it for personal/ professional gain is also a fraud. Besides being totally freaky.
Imagine creating a personality called – Jack. Now, we need to decide likes/ dislikes, upbringing of Jack. Lets see how he likes to write, what are his favorite words, should he be in mid 20’s? And, you have to switch on this personality in your head, each time you respond from the particular email. Isnt that twisted?
Impostering is a fun game for sociopaths. They get away with this audacity because as normal people, we cant even think of such behavior. Its impossible for us to imagine the time & energy needed to execute such bullshit.
But, for a con artist/fraud/sociopath- it’s a fun game. I was subjected to this experience & never once guessed that I was getting emails from a ghost email address.
Read up on a list of imposters & how they got away – HERE
Step #3: Create fake global office addresses
Choose a few strategic business locations of the world like Chicago, San Francisco, London, Dubai etc. Look up addresses of business centres like a Regus & simply use them to show as your own office.
Bingo! So, now you have a full fledged website, a large team (that doesn’t exist) & international offices. Nobody really cares to investigate if the business center addresses you have quoted, actually have your office in it. We just assume that if there’s information on website, its certainly true. Why would someone lie? Why would someone ever take a chance to get called out for falsifying information?
Step #4: Make second degree friends in the network of your targeted victims
This is a child’s play. Create a Twitter handle, Facebook profile & start observing the people you need to target in that ecosystem. Interact with them once in a while in a limited manner. Maintain an air of mystery about your exact nature of business. Always claim that you are too busy for socializing & all business should strictly happen through emails. Remember, the lesser you physically meet people, fewer chances of getting called out.
Invite selected people to your incidental office or coffee shops for a catch up. These soft targets are usually those who are too busy to read into the complex deception. However, they do end up becoming unsuspecting testimonials to your existence. They will confirm to others that the fraudster exists or that he has a physical office somewhere.
Ofcourse, you can always claim that your ‘large team’ is out on a retreat or somewhere on a client pitch, each time any one requests for meeting them.
Step #5: Cozy up to jourmalists & mediapersons to gain credibility
This is the most fun part for a fraudster/ sociopath. Not only are they building credibility, they also enjoy manipulating the media.
In today’s cluttered world of communication, editors do a poor job of checking the guest writer’s background. That leaves a huge open field for con artists to build their fake image.
Let me give you a specific example. A leading financial daily in our country, published a poorly written blog by the sociopath (mentioned in the earlier blog). Not only was the content crappy, it was full of fake claims about the business. The editorial team never bothered to fact check & published it. And so did a leading startup journal!
This gives further credibility to frauds. The editorial teams across the world are guilty of doing a shabby job of checking credentials when they invite guest posts. When these posts appear in media, they become a bragging right for the imposters. We are more keen to believe anything that is supported by a third party like a newspaper or journal.
Should the editors be pulled up for it? Absolutely. Are they pulled up for it? No. However, rising rates of such pretend biz is going to tighten the noose around media too. They are responsible for what they showcase in their publication. Like our friendly neighborhood leading financial daily, that takes great pride in its content & revamped style.
Congratulations! Now, you have a fabulous, international, glamorous business. Go ahead & claim whatever you like about yourself. Cos nobody is challenging the written word. We are inclined to believe everything that is in writing.
Food for thought
I am going to leave you with a few questions. Give it some thought, read up a little & let me know what you find. Answers to a few of these questions could save your career/life, one day. I will address them in a future blog. But, how about you spend some time on them too.
- Why do people lie?
- Why do people create fake personas when they know that one day they might get called out?
- What is the need of creating such intricate web of lies?
- Why risk your entire career if you got called out?
- Isn’t there fear/shame attached to being found out?
- How does one have the energies to create fake personas/ operate emails/ switch tone of voice every single day? Isnt that tiring? Then, why?
Ask yourself these questions & let me know what you find. Until then, be careful of these large, super slick businesses.
That don’t exist.