by G. Gordon Dean
Price/Format: $4.99 ebook
Release: October 15, 2012
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Whoever said 'white-collar crime doesn’t pay' never lived in Washington D.C. TierGroup is a business consultancy firm located in the heart of DC. Its Division Heads have a very cold and calculating unorthodox approach to conducting business. Protecting and serving their clients is the only thing that matters. Nevertheless, loyalty can swing both ways in this journey through greed, corruption, and absolute lack of accountability.
As a former Las Vegas Casino Surveillance Director, Michael Crayter, a straight shooter, becomes an unaware, almost, employee of TierGroup in mid-2001. His transformation takes many shapes from idea man to fraud guru. He embarks on a journey to Iraq, through Hurricane Katrina and eventually takes part in one of the biggest scams in the history of the United States - the TARP funding program. His boss, Charles “The Czar” Zarin, is the ultimate manipulation mentor. Michael Crayter’s experience will last for more than eight years and will make his old Vegas job seem like child’s play.
The investment opportunities the United States has to offer during this timeframe are seemingly endless and the public joins in on the greed. The whole country is riding high on the inflated value train with careless abandonment. There are no regulations followed or laws unbroken by the Mortgage Lenders, Stock Brokers, and Bankers. The bubble is getting bigger and the clock is ticking. It's every man for himself. Divide and conquer. Borrow and spend. No one sees the tsunami coming, except for Charles Zarin. Capitalism will be turned upside down and the money spigot will run dry.
By late 2007 the bubble bursts and our country’s economy is left in ruins. The Treasury is sent in to bail out the white-collar thieves. While losing most of its clients TierGroup and Michael Crayter are left to fend for themselves. The tables are turned on the fat-cat bankers who caused the meltdown. Michael Crayter uses his hard gained experience to get even with the fake bastards. Almost everyone loyal to TierGroup gets away with highway robbery and the American taxpayer is left holding the bag. Michael Crayter begins to tell his story, in this Four Part first-person narrative, during a 2005 interview at FBI headquarters in Washington D.C.
I was brought into a private interview room at FBI Headquarters in Washington D.C. and was being interviewed by a few of America’s finest. The people in the room represented the FBI, SEC, NSA and CIA. Everyone’s eyes were on me and their interest was at a fever pitch. The interview room was equipped with high-tech digital equipment including cameras, recorders, facial expression software, scanners, and body monitors. FBI Agent Rios was leading the interview, but everyone was shooting out questions like a gatling gun.
“Mr. Crayter, how long have you lived in Washington D.C.?” Agent Rios asked.
“Where is Charles Zarin?” NSA Official George Wheeler asked.
“Answer the question Mr. Crayter!” Agent Rios exclaimed.
“Are you aware of the damage you are causing Mr. Crayter?” SEC-Assistant Director Patricia Gupta asked.
I had to defend myself and cover my ass.
“Wait a minute!” I said out loud. “You guys are going off the handle! I can’t answer everyone at the same time! And by the way, what’s the CIA doing here?!”
“Mr. Marcus is here strictly as an observer,” Agent Rios said.
“Mr. Crayter, we don’t have a lot of time for this,” George Wheeler said. “Several of your clients have big legal problems and we want to know what TierGroup has to do with it!”
It was time to lay it on thick.
“OK, everyone,” I said. “Calm down and give me a chance to answer your questions! After all, we’re professionals right? I really don’t have anything to say about our clients. You brought me in here and want answers that I can’t provide because I don’t know anything.”
“Mr. Crayter, just start from the beginning. Where, and how, did you learn about TierGroup? Think hard and don’t leave anything out.” Agent Rios said.
I started making things up as we continued the interview and I gave them very little information to follow up on. After two hours went by they finally let me go and told me that I was still under investigation. Here is what really happened.
Flashback to 2001...
As you may not already know, I grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada. Throughout the years of life in glitter gulch I was exposed to all kinds of shit, both legal and illegal. I thought I had seen it all. In the sixties Las Vegas had unions and organized crime. The seventies added skimming and prostitution. In the eighties, we had unregulated telemarketing, sports handicapping, book making, loan sharking, cheats and con artists. They all had the same goals in mind, separate you from your money. It was all very small potatoes compared to today. But the nineties started it all. The opportunity to rape and exploit anyone on a large scale didn’t take long to catch on. We had scams that involved the junk bond market, the internet, credit card numbers, Nigerian money, medical billing, mail fraud, patent infringement, and who can forget hacking. These days white-collar entities are making tremendous ill-gotten gains through extreme Ponzi schemes. Promoting fear, media manipulation, inflated earnings, insuring failure, market downturns, cyber warfare and stealing technology are the norm. Everything old is new again. Packaging the same shit and selling it a different way.
When I decided to work for TierGroup and move to DC it was early 2001. I was looking forward to getting out of the rat race that Vegas had become. I was single, forty two, and working as Director of Casino Surveillance at the Vantage Hotel and Casino. What a grind! I was always considered the straight guy and everyone stayed away from me. I was tired of the casino business, the desert, and the hot weather. The opportunity to get out and make a career change was more than appealing. There was nothing holding me back.
I was on duty at the casino, I think it was on a Monday night because it was kind of slow. I normally went down to the cafeteria for dinner and after that would make what we call a ‘table check’ on the floor. That means we would look for anything unusual like slot or table cheats, people who were Brown or Black booked, and any unusual electronic devices people might be using. I didn’t notice anything unusual so I went over to the VIP area to speak to Al Parese, the casino host.
“Hey big Al! What’s doin, what’s shakin’?" I asked with a smile.
Big Al walked over to me and mentioned that there was a gentleman playing baccarat alone and that he was approving higher limit bets for him. We always checked these players out because we wanted to know who they were and everything else we can find out about them. High limit players are commonly known as ‘Sharks’ who bet in the tens of thousands, or ‘Whales’ who bet hundreds of thousands. It’s our form of market research. If we can keep them coming in, we keep the lights on. I went over and introduced myself to the player, but didn’t tell him what my job title at the Vantage was.
He introduced himself as Jack Cole. He was a very professional looking man, about 55 years old. Jack Cole was a very common name so I gave the signal to Al Parese to have him checked out. He was very cordial and asked if I would give him a short tour around the hotel. Being as slow as it was I had no problem giving him a tour. The first thing we did was cash in his chips at the cage. He had the option of taking cash or a check. He took a check and we went for a walk through the hotel.
“So tell me, Michael, what do you do here?” Jack Cole asked.
“I’m actually head of Casino Surveillance for this property,” I said. “That’s got to be a challenging position. I’ll bet you find your share of cheats and the criminal type,” Jack Cole said.
“You are right,” I said. “It can be a challenge but honestly, for me, it’s not that hard. I grew up here so one way or another you run across all kinds of folks. I’ve been around this for a long time. As far as the criminal types, there aren’t as many as there used to be. You don’t have to live in Vegas to commit crimes or fraud these days. Most of this town gets your ‘middle class’ and lower-end tourists wanting to get away. So what do you do, Jack?" I asked in a direct tone.
“I’m an associate working with a Washington D.C. consultancy group. We provide a wide range of services to top tier companies worldwide."
“Are you a lobbyist group?" I asked.
“You might say that,” he answered. “We are a very diversified group servicing seventeen different industry sectors, both public and private. We serve our clientele exclusively. I can tell you this, there aren’t very many companies that offer what we provide, maybe two or three worldwide."
“Sounds very interesting,” I said in a curious tone of voice.
“Oh it is! It definitely is!" Jack said.
We kept talking as we toured the hotel and somewhere in the conversation, I mentioned that I was tired of the casino business and was thinking about some kind of career change. As we walked by the casino host I got the OK signal. Jack Cole was not on our radar. I walked Jack to the hotel elevators, and thanked him for being our guest.
“If there’s anything you need, let us know." I said.
As the elevator doors were closing Jack stopped them, and gave me his card.
“Listen, why don’t you give me a call when you are serious about making a change. We just might have a position in our company that requires your talents. We have a web site that promotes our services, but it doesn’t really convey what we do. Here, take my card and call me if you get serious about my offer. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!
Little did I know, Jack Cole and I had just concluded a brief job interview. A week later I called him and said I was interested, and wanted to know more. He e-mailed over a detailed job description and other relevant information. My job title would be Vice President of Operations but it basically amounted to conducting employee surveillance at TierGroup. But it would turn out to be much more than that. Once he knew I was interested in filling the position, he followed up with more E-mail for background checks and other requirements. He said my position at the casino, background and experience would bring added value to the company. There wouldn’t be a problem with me coming on board.
I did my own due diligence on TierGroup and nothing unusual came up. There was very little, if any, information about the company. No red flags, lawsuits, bankruptcies, fraud, or internet news. It was a private company so there was no requirement to list principals or partners, and it all checked out OK. I did find out that TierGroup had no listed its valuation compared to its size. They were like those office ultra-private market movers and shakers you hear about in New York City. Who wouldn’t want that? At least I could feel comfortable in the fact that they weren’t going under anytime soon. Or at least it appeared to be that way.