If you thought scams were a 21st century innovation, think again. Long before the internet existed, fraudsters were taking other people’s money. Try our quiz and test your knowledge of financial fraud.
By Nigel Bowen
- History’s first recorded shareholder revolt occurred after what company allegedly had its account books “smeared with bacon” so they would be “eaten by dogs”?
- Charles Ponzi’s (initially legitimate) business was based on the arbitrage of what type of coupon?
- Lehman Brothers staff used an accounting loophole to make a temporary sale (for short-term financing purposes) look like a permanent one that took a risky asset off the books. What was this loophole known as?
- For what crime did Alan Bond serve his longest prison term?
- Who was the first victim of fraudster Frank ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Abagnale Jr?
- Who is famous for pioneering the use of the “money box” (which could supposedly copy banknotes), as well as running a counterfeiting operation so successful it threatened to undermine confidence in the greenback, not to mention attempting to sell the Eiffel Tower for scrap metal?
- What type of accounting did Enron executives misuse to cook the company’s books?
- Bernie Madoff convinced the likes of Kevin Bacon, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg he could deliver a return of exactly 11 per cent per annum for 15 years due to what volatility-minimising investment strategy?
- Independent audit committees became common after what US company was exposed in 1938 for overstating inventory, creating fake purchase orders and stealing cash from sales?
- What is the Republic of Poyais and why is it infamous?
- Which telecommunications company was able to inflate its assets by US$11 billion by using fake accounting entries to increase revenues, as well as underreporting line costs by capitalising rather than expensing?
- Name the stock trader, later convicted of insider trading, who in 1986 famously said, “I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.”
- The Dutch East India Company. Source
- An international reply coupon, which can be exchanged for one or more airmail postage stamps. Source
- A ‘Repo 105’. Source
- Bond had several brushes with the law from the age of 14. His longest stint was four years in jail after pleading guilty to siphoning A$1.2 billion from Bell Resources. Source
- His father, who ended up with a US$3400 (A$4645) bill after giving 15-year-old Frank a petrol card. Frank would have the card overcharged and then split the “profit” with the service-station attendant. Source
- Count Victor Lustig. Source
- Mark-to-marketing accounting. Source
- A strategy centred on proprietary option collars. Source
- Drug and chemical company McKesson & Robbins. Source
- A fictional South American country. Scottish conman Gregor MacGregor sold ‘Poyaisan’ land certificates to hundreds of British and French investors, 250 of whom attempted to emigrate to the non-existent nation. Source
- Worldcom. Source
- Ivan Boesky, the real-life inspiration for Gordon Gekko. Source