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Mommy's Little Con Man


Thomas and Hakan were off to another acquaintance of Thomas’s, a young, wealthy Kuwaiti named Waddah al-Mousa, who—this seemed to tickle Hakan—wore sandals a lot. Al-Mousa’s family had helped raise $30 million for Pulse~LINK, a California tech company that al-Mousa chaired. He invested $250,000 in Daedalus.

To Hakan, it must have all seemed very clubby. The dinners, the casual clothes, the farting, and in this atmosphere, it probably wasn’t difficult to press assurances on people. The important thing, Thomas and Hakan let investors know, was that if they increased their investment and pushed the fund’s assets to $5 million or $10 million or name the number, then Jackie would kick in $20 million of the family fortune. Perhaps, as one investor’s adviser concluded, “if this kid falls on his face, there’s money behind him to bail him out.” It worked like a charm.

After Thomas, with the entire Yalincak clan in tow, unexpectedly showed up on al-Mousa’s California doorstep, the Kuwaiti family’s investment jumped to $750,000. Healey’s and Cohen’s investments soon totaled $2.8 million. With Frank Meyer and Robert Doede, two more extremely sophisticated investors (Meyer had been chairman of Glenwood Capital Investments, a $5 billion fund that invests in hedge funds; Doede, head of Centurion Capital), the hook was the same. Hakan showed the prospectus—some versions listed al-Mousa as a member of the executive committee, a shock to him. Hakan gave Meyer the line about Jackie’s $20 million. Meyer and Doede hurriedly wired in $2.75 million. Unfortunately, on Hakan’s instructions, he sent it to a Yalincak family-holding-company account, rather than to a Daedalus account.

By May 6, 2005, the day Hakan was arrested, Daedalus had collected $7.4 million in outside investments, a lot of money to spend, if that’s what one has in mind.

A $20 million check from the Yalincaks was, in fact, deposited in Daedalus’s Morgan Stanley account October 21, 2004. It bounced eleven days later, but by that time it had served its purpose—al-Mousa was among those who saw a statement showing that the fund totaled $20.8 million.

In the days leading up to her arrest, I speak to Jackie often. She is gloomy. No one does gloomy like Jackie. There is the door-creak voice, the cascading health symptoms.

“How are you?” I ask.

“Not good,” she says, adding, in her special way, “Diabetes, heart.” Though her main worry continues to be Hakan. “Another inmate stab Hakan with a needle,” she tells me.

“Is there anything to do?” I ask.

She’s thinking about bail, which the judge said was possible if a suitable sponsor came forward.

“Do you know anyone?” Jackie wonders, which suggests, among other things, how isolated this family is.

I tell her I’ll look.

“I will pay,” she says.

As I ponder all this, Irene Kelly’s file arrives from an Indiana Superior Court. Denials notwithstanding, Irene Kelly is Ayferafat Yalincak and, now, I guess Jackie. Irene/Ayfer/Jackie—she’d been dark-haired in Indiana—impersonated an internist for six months in Indiana. Apparently her heavy accent and her baffling writing (her letters to the judge are in elementary English) didn’t immediately bother anyone. She’d forged documents and nicked the identity of a Canadian M.D., for which she spent almost two years in prison.

Jackie’s lie is so bald-faced, so inept, I wonder, how could she have insisted to me? I call her, angry at first, but soon resigned, the way so many others must have felt. Jackie is unyielding and, of course, believable. “That’s not me,” she says, dismay in her voice. “Nothing to do with me at all.”

I tell her that I also have probation papers that discharge her to 15 Charter Ridge Drive, Sandy Hook, Connecticut, the same address to which Thomas goes for vindaloo, the same address to which an NYU senior VP for development sends a thank-you note for the pledge to create the Yalincak Professorship of Ottoman Studies. (If any doubt lingered, Ayfer/Irene also has Jackie’s trademark, listing for the judge her recent afflictions: herniated disk, TB, ulcer, gallstones, cervical cancer.)

“Something is wrong,” Jackie tells me as if, momentarily, understanding my point of view. “I’m waiting for Hakan. After all this I will go back and talk to those people.” There’s more in the file. As part of her sentence, Jackie repaid a minister at Post Road Christian Church who’d lent the Yalincaks $4,200 from his retirement fund. “They didn’t have food,” says Minister Donald Johnson. A few days later, I come across a letter from a pastor who’d served in Japan when the Yalincaks lived there. He’s a Seventh-Day Adventist named Michael Walter, and he lent the Yalincaks $4,000 of his own money; he never got repaid.

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