“This Came From That Florida Insurance Scam That I Did.”

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Photo: AP

We always in the back of our minds kind of assumed that criminals didn't really talk about their work. That they didn't acknowledge — not even with other criminals, not even the ones they were committing crimes with — the illegality or the dastardly nature of their chosen line of work, and that if they did talk about it, they used kind of vague language or A code, if not out of actual conscience or shame, then at least out of paranoia or pride. Like, they wouldn't refer to the handbags they were selling as "counterfeit" or call their work a "scam." They'd call it a "product" or a "deal," like any other businessman. Right?

Actually, no. While the folks charged in New Jersey yesterday had at one point bothered to come up with code names for a few things — in the court complaints, one of the defendants instructs another to "pick up the potatoes," referring to cash, and they delivered payments concealed in Power Rangers boxes and Cinnabon cereal boxes (which, by the way, we didn't even know made a cereal, but how cool is that?) — for the most part it appears they were pretty open about their work. Throughout the complaints, which contain transcripts from conversations, Solomon Dwek — the real-estate mogul who became an FBI informant in an attempt to lessen his own sentence for bank fraud — openly brags about his "scams" and so forth, and no one tells him to watch his language.

For instance:

• In one conversation with money-laundering rabbi Ben Haim, Dwek explains that the proceeds of a $50,000 check "came from that guy who was holding, uh, my, uh, money for me on that Florida insurance, uh, scam that I did."

• Later he explains to the rabbi the origin of the funds he wished Ben Haim to launder for him: "This is a check for, uh, fifty thousand from that, uh, bank, uh, schnookie deal."

• When he goes back again, he explains that business in a new area is booming. "Things are picking back up in my, uh, knock-off-pocketbook business, my counterfeit business."

• He also boasted about said counterfeit business: "They switch the labels.
They look better than the real thing. You, your wife wouldn't
be able to tell the difference. That's how good these guys are." (That last bit did concern Haim, actually. Afterward, he warned Dwek that the counterfeit-handbag business was "dangerous." "If you get caught," Haim said, "you go to jail.")

Who knew?! The criminal underworld is way more tolerant than we thought. Do you also think that old-lady muggers brag about the 72-year-old they just took down, or that purse snatchers describe themselves as purse snatchers when meeting new people?

Millionaire, Patron and Now Informant [NYT]