Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The $100 Lunch Tip

This has nothing to do about wine and, as I have decided to do all my Christmas shopping at Park City this year (after Christmas), I find myself with gobs of time. I was rooting around my stack of collected business cards when a name from the past (and a current name in the news) came tumbling out.

Mr. "X" (I am not using his name because he is not in jail yet and I have learned to be careful in naming names) was an "investment advisor" that was touting huge returns in his off-shore portfolio on "can't miss" option trades. An aquaintance on hard times (now deceased) had arranged the lunch at "Tellers" in Hyde Park to entice me to add money to Mr. "X's" portfolio and to get my clients in early on this great deal.

Having lived in Miami for several years, I think I have a PhD in scams, and I smelled this one from the start. First off, Mr. "X" said that he was running late and did not have any of his materials because "he had left his briefcase in the Viper." (Feel free to use this at any time as an excuse for not having your materials with you, even if you don't have a Viper.) Next, he said he had no audited financials, and the portfolio was owned by an off-shore (Cayman?) company for tax purposes, and I couldn't look at the trading records. I was done right there considering this great "opportunity", but I enjoyed the rest of the lunch as I was hungry. Then came the clincher.

When he got the check he paid by credit card for the lunch bill and then with great flourish handed the waitress a crisp, new $100 bill. She squealed and was very excited, and he said as a poor kid growing up he thought it was "proper and righteous" to take care of the little people now that he had arrived. The waitress is probably the only one to come out ahead on his scam. I am sorry for those that were taken ($10 million plus), but it wasn't me, this time.

So Mr. "X", you didn't impress me much. Have fun in the big house, and say hello to Big Larry and the "Twins" for me. I heard that they're dying to meet you. And thanks again for lunch!


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