According to the New York Post, friend-on-friend financial fraud has become so common over the past few years, prosecutors have had to coin a specific term for it. “We call these affinity frauds,” attorney Micki Shulman said, citing an uptick in “pal-on-pal swindles” that she blames on the economy. “It’s someone saying, ‘You can’t trust Wall Street, but you can trust me. I’m one of you – I’m from your church, I’m from your neighborhood, I’m from your same ethnic background.” For example, Sharmon Wade was sent to prison on Wednesday for swindling 15 friends out of over $1 million, telling his pals he could double their money if they’d invest in his new real estate company, “Covenant Equity Group.” He was lying, and he spent their cash on hotel rooms, trips to Miami, and Corvettes. The paper reports:
“[Wade] even threw a $100,000 “office Christmas party” at the Bryant Park Hotel – getting one victim to put the entire bash on her American Express card and promising her a great return on the “investment.” The fact that Wade had spent most of the ‘90s and the first half of the current decade in prison on drug and weapons convictions didn’t dissuade her.”
Yeah. Well. Hard to spot a crook when they’ve gone to your church and all, but just be wary around the former convict charging his awesome Christmas bash to your AmEx. That’s probably a red flag in a friendship.