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Mommy's Little Con Man


With Jackie, as with Hakan, facts turn out to be mutable things. I do some checking. Finding inconsistencies is like a drinking game, fun for a while. For instance, UBS is not, as Hakan reported, Daedalus’s offshore administrator. (The UBS CEO in the Cayman Islands doesn’t believe the fund exists.) Anchin, Block & Anchin has done no auditing work, though it is the auditor in forms. The Yalincak Family Foundation is not a Delaware corporation, though that’s what Hakan told me. And, when Pastor Walter met the Yalincaks in Japan in 1991, he saw just two children. I don’t believe Hakan had a twin brother, buried in Belgium or in Turkey.

The untruths, along with Irene Kelly’s thick file, leave little doubt: Jackie was a con artist—and not a very sophisticated one. Hakan, I can’t help but think, offers another possibility. With his overachieving ways, his facility for math, his hereditary intrepidness with the facts, he is a generational improvement. After all, posing as a doctor isn’t really much of a fleecing. Jackie wore a bright white coat. Still, she punched a clock. The next iteration, though, offers enhancements. It’s the big con, the one in which the mark not only invests but goes home for more, as did Cannavo and al-Mousa, and Healey and Cohen.

“We are not hedge-fund people,” Jackie once told me. And yet, for a con artist little is better-suited than a hedge fund. There are no credentials to forge. Indeed, anyone can run money; as long as a manager reports good results, investors stay happy. And as long as you keep raising money, you’ve got a good shot at staying in business.

Whether or not Hakan made many trades, little of what he did looks like a hedge fund. I asked one of Hakan’s lawyer’s if he had records of trades. “No,” says Chan, “and not for lack of trying.”

As for the $1.25 million that Hakan gave a beaming NYU as down payment on his $21 million pledge: Those funds came again from Daedalus’ Morgan Stanley account, mainly, say Cohen’s lawyers, from investments by Cohen and Healey.

Together, Jackie and Hakan, along with their indispensable props—a Waspy, credit-poor Matthew Thomas; a white-shoe attorney; and a grateful NYU—managed to convince people who ought to know better that an undergrad history major was running a hedge fund after classes.

What Jackie and Hakan have left is each other—and me, possibly their last friend, or, I sometimes imagine, their final mark. Jackie turns to me now, as if we have a special bond. Perhaps we do. It’s funny, but even with all I know about her, I can’t help but like Jackie, her hectoring English, her maternal insistence, pinching in at every edge. Even her hallucinatory claims—family fortunes and people dying (Hakan told me another brother keeled over just last month) and multi-million-dollar checks arriving at the door—these stories, I find, have the charm of entertainment. Who else works so hard?

Lately, I recall Jackie with her shopping bag of documents on that couch, asking me, “Who got hurt? I can’t see.”

The U.S. Attorney will take another view. The morning after Jackie promised me that she and Hakan would get to the bottom of the Irene Kelly mix-up, she is arrested. Hakan too is charged again. They’d always been in this, in everything, together. Last week, they were in handcuffs in the same court. The government says they used fake documents to lure investors into a hedge fund that appeared mostly phony.

I think of one of my last conversations with Jackie.

“How are you?” I’d asked her by phone.

“Not good,” came that shoe-scrape of a voice. “Last night coma.” Jackie’s escalating symptomatology was, I knew by then, a kind of lobbying. This woman suffers, help her. Who could blame her? She still searched for someone to sponsor Hakan for bail. We put our heads together. Who?” I wondered, playing my part.

“Clergy, maybe,” said Jackie. Of course.

Jackie was calling from the road. She was on her way to see Hakan; she went every day. There was one more thing. “Will you visit him?” she wanted to know. He was still lonely. “He likes you.” Whatever else she is, Jackie is an unshakably attached mother. That, at least, I believe.

“I will,” I said.


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