Donald Trump and the art of the scam | Opinion
Charles Ponzi did not invent the Ponzi scheme. The idea of reimbursing a group of investors with money provided by subsequent investors had been around for a long time before he embraced it. But Ponzi was so brazen and successful (for a time) in this ruse that his name has become a permanent synonym for it.
It should only be a matter of time before Donald Trump achieves similar immortality by using his last name as a term for “cheating” in any form. In his thoroughly shady business and political careers, he’s proven that you can trust what he says – to be wrong.
The latest confirmation of his invariable propensity has come from someone in a good position to know. Like most people who have done business with Trump, the people at accounting firm Mazars USA regret the experience. This month, they informed the Trump Organization that they could no longer guarantee the accuracy of the financial statements they had prepared for the company from 2011 to 2020.
In a court filing, Mazars said it reached that conclusion based on new information about the Trump Organization’s finances obtained from “internal and external sources.” She also attested to having “taken cognizance of deviations from generally accepted accounting principles in the United States of America”. Obviously, it appeared to the accountants that in his dealings with them Trump had not been confined within the bounds of truth.
The filing was filed in response to an investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who has already uncovered some of the untruths the Trump Organization has told – such as claiming Trump’s gilded Manhattan penthouse apartment occupied 30,000 square feet and was worth $327. million. In reality, it’s 11,000 square feet and, according to the company’s former CFO, it’s worth more than $127 million.
This latest development will stun anyone who has been in a coma for the past few decades. Insatiable duplicity, for Trump, is not just a habit; it is a business strategy, a way of life and an unbreakable addiction.
He’s the guy who, in 2001, built a 70-story building that he advertised as having 90. “I chose 90 because I thought that was a good number,” he said. he explains.
His fraudulent ways are a matter of voluminous public record. In 2019, his alleged charitable foundation was forced to close, pay a $2 million fine and return its remaining funds. It stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the former New York attorney general alleging “improper and extensive political activity, repeated and deliberate insider trading, and breach of basic fiduciary duties.”
He also spent $25 million to settle a lawsuit against Trump University, which had as much in common with real universities as astrology with astronomy. The aggrieved students said they paid thousands of dollars for lessons that turned out to be worthless.
His life has been an exercise in false advertising. When journalist Jonathan Greenberg was reporting for the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans in the 1980s, he concluded, after investigating what Trump had told him, that the so-called billionaire was only worth $200 million. dollars.
Even that figure, Greenberg later discovered, was grossly inflated. “Trump was so adept at scamming me that, until 35 years later, I had no idea I had been scammed,” he wrote in 2018.
What he learned in business translated beautifully into politics. Running in 2016, he assured gullible legions he would build a wall and make Mexico pay, pay off the national debt, close the trade deficit, create a ‘fantastic’ new health insurance program and sue women. who accused him of sexual acts. aggression and harassment. None of this happened.
Trump lied from the start of his term, sending his press secretary to insist his nomination crowd was bigger than Barack Obama’s, until the end when he still claimed the election of 2020 had been stolen from him. Since then, he has continued his campaign of slander.
Why wouldn’t he? Lying has always worked for him, and it still does: Only 28% of Republicans believe Joe Biden was legitimately elected, according to a January YouGov poll. A majority of GOP voters, according to a February CNN poll, want Trump as their nominee in 2024.
As the ultimate trickster, Trump surpasses Bernie Madoff, who defrauded investors of up to $65 billion. But after being ruthlessly defrauded, Madoff’s victims did not line up to be defrauded again.