Thursday, January 10, 2008

Con Men Scored Big With Saddam Hussein Currency--Learn How They Did It

--Unconscionable foreign currency scam targets, mainly, U.S. Armed Services Personnel serving in Iraq

A duck's quack does not echo. Foreign exchange not only encompasses mystique, intrigue, but an ideal, echoless shield to hide behind.

Just before the Saddam execution, before the first of the year, 2007, we purchased some Iraqi currency, 5-dinar (pronounced DEE-nar) notes to 250-dinar notes--all sporting portrait photos of a smiling Saddam on their face--for an average price of 38 cents each. Right after the execution--a matter of just one week--the price tripled, to about $1.10 each. We simply stashed these away in our safe deposit box and forgot them.

Quickly thereafter, it seems, con men--those who love to play their games in foreign exchange--found what they believed to be a bonanza. Just one month later, February, 2007, the Better Business Bureau was suddenly flooded with complaints from around the world. The scam involved originated from a Chicago area office-space-rental cubicle, found vacated when located. The con men were selling these obsolete bills for prices ranging from several hundred to thousands of dollars each. Strange twist is: these orders were never delivered. (Could it be that the price went even higher?) Many of the victims turned out to be our service men and women in Iraq. We'd say doing hard time in a Saudi prison would be fitting punishment for these scam artists, for this focus of the scam alone.

It should have been abundantly clear that, with the demise of the Iraqi dictator--actually well before that, when he was overthrown in 2003--these bills were strictly a memorabilia item for collectors. Investors were told that big value increases were in store for them--if the value of Iraqi money were to increase. This implies that a money market element could stimulate growth. Wrong. As "dead currency" this was not the case.

There seems to be some inherent wisdom in this con man joke, as it applies to this unconscionable scam: What's the difference between a con man and a catfish? Answer: one is a scum-sucking bottom dweller, and the other is a fish.

Apparently, parties unknown and unfound raked in a huge amount of money with this scam. What further can be said on the subject? Only the summation: when in doubt subscribe to that sacrosanct legalism: caveat emptor, let the buyer (sucker) beware.


Ione Hesber said...

Bottom feeders is right. This is about as dispicable as it's possible to get.

Ione Hesber said...

I meant to add that it's very frustrating that these people have not been caught. I don't normally believe in capital punishment, but in their case I might be willing to make an exception.

McAlee said...

I remember reading about this at the time. I guess the Better Business Bureau in the Chicago area was overrun. It is sad to think that there was never any resolution, that these contemptible people got away with this.

Jack Payne said...

This is a case in point, showing the necessity for early bell-ringing. Sadly, far too many of these cons are developed, completed, and abandoned before any meaningful law enforcement kicks in.

Earl T. Clydson said...

The conflict between currency markets and collector's markets is one universally misunderstood it seems. Con men often cash in on this ignorance. This is a good example of poor understanding leading to big losses for the innocent.

Earl T. Clydson said...

With gold going over $900 an ounce for the first time ever it's not hard to see why this old scam has new appeal.

The Uneasy Supplicant said...

Hi Jack
Earl is so right. As for the individuals that get away, sadly they will continue to do so until better law enforcement is implemented.
Great post!