1. My debit card was used to buy classified ads online selling non-existent purebred puppies.
2. People answering these ads were told to send money by Western Union to an office in Mineral Wells, Texas. The price of the puppies was such a "bargain" people would send money.
3. Ads were run in Craigslist in Mineral Wells for "secret shoppers". The people answering the ads were told they were to "test" Western Union's service by collecting wire transfers and then sending the money to Russia.
Most of the the people who fall for this nonsense are lower-class people (for some reason, more "designer dogs" are sold to the poor than the rich) who still believe in the free lunch and "stories" spun by fraudsters.
The boys order more and more merchandise for the store, but stop paying invoices. They sell goods and keep the cash. They stop paying rent, taxes, employee withholding, or whatever. Other goods leave through the back door and are sold on the street. Within a few months, the store is bankrupt - heavily in debt - and the boys leave with all the money, leaving the "Mark" to suffer through bankruptcy and the loss of his business.
It also happens in "legitimate" business as well - which is why cons are getting harder and harder to spot - they have spilled over into the legitimate business world. "Entrepreneurs" like Mitt Romney and Bain Capital will buy up a run-down company, strip it of assets, load it up with debt, let it fail, and then let the government bail out the pension fund - 40 cents on the dollar. All perfectly legal, too. If you tried to take them to court, they would just argue they are shitty businessmen who didn't know what they were doing - but of course they did, they knew exactly what they were doing. There is often more profit in failure than in success.
1. Since anyone in that era could get a "liar's loan", it was possible to have a straw-man (usually someone owing money to the mob, or someone willing to do this for a small amount of cash) buy a house on a liar's loan. They never make any payments on the loan. They get to live there for a few months, however.2. Before the house is foreclosed upon (which can take months or years in some States) the house is "sold" to another straw-man buyer for say, $100,000 more than the purchase price in step #1 above. At closing the first stray-man ends up with this $100,000, which he hands over to the mob (or ends up floating in a canal somewhere). Pure 100% profit, tax-free. Capital gains on a primary residence are tax-free. The two straw men might get a "taste" of this profit, or merely not have their kneecaps shattered. They get a place to live for a few months to a year, a small amount of money, and have their credit ratings ruined in return.3. REPEAT - as many as five to six times on one single property. Some properties were bought and sold and bought in the same day, yielding hundreds of thousands in profits. You use crooked appraisers and mortgage brokers to push the deals through. You use a broken-down attorney to do the closings, and throw him a bone as well. If you have this going on with a dozen or a hundred houses, you can make millions and millions of dollars in a short period of time.
Homeowners in these inflated neighborhoods - in Atlanta and Miami - also took a hit, as they saw their homes mysteriously "appreciate" in value according to recent comp sales. Many real buyers were dumb enough to pay purchase prices based on these false "comps" - or refinanced their homes based on them. Much of this fraud took place in poorer neighborhoods, too, pricing locals out of their own homes, at least temporarily.
Al Gore once said we were transitioning from a manufacturing-based economy to an information-based economy. He may be right about that. But I think the next step is transitioning from an information-based economy to a fraud-based economy. In the future - perhaps a future that has already arrived - we will simply spend all the hours of the day trying to defraud one another, while robots do all the real work.
Hey, maybe then we can all be Tony Soprano and get a "taste"!