Today’s Illustration: Crazy Eddie’s

Former New York radio DJ Jerry Carroll
appeared in more than 7,500 commercials
as a Crazy Eddie pitchman.

Who: Eddie Antar — aka “Crazy Eddie”

  • Born December 18, 1947
  • A high school dropout at the age of 16
  • 1969 / co-founded “Crazy Eddie” — Kings Highway, Brooklyn, New York
  • Multi-millionaire by the 1980s
  • Turned into the SEC by family members, investigated by the FBI
  • Fled to Israel
  • Extradited back to the US
  • Convicted of one of the biggest frauds in the United States
  • Died 2016 / age 68

When: Crazy Eddie’s operated during the 1970s – 1980s

Where: Crazy Eddie’s began in the New York metropolitan area

What: It became a chain of electronic stores at 43 different locations

  • Tagline: “Crazy Eddie’s prices are insane!”
  • Sam Antar — was Eddie’s cousin and “Crazy Eddie’s” CPA
  • “[Eddie] Antar sold televisions from a small stand at the Port Authority, grabbing attention by talking fast and eventually wearing customers down. “He was like Fonzie. Very charismatic and very smart. You steal more with a smile than you do with a gun.” — Sam Antar [3]
  • “The ‘crazy’ adjective came from a customer who took note of Eddie’s salesmanship practices: He’d playfully bar patrons from leaving empty-handed and take their shoes as deposits for stereos; he even promised discounts to people who braved winter blizzards. Word spread of Eddie’s theatrical approach. More importantly, people began to realize he was gleefully ignoring federal guidelines concerning pricing.” [3]
  • Guaranteed customers to be selling at the lowest prices anywhere.
  • The Fairtrade laws established one standard retail price for all retailers — until 1987, when most states changed the laws.
  • Eddie skirted the law and discounted his merchandise.
  • He would buy many of his products from the black and grey market or other businesses that wanted to get rid of excess stock.
  • Customers paid in cash, and Eddie avoided paying taxes.
  • He also paid many of his employees under the table to avoid payroll taxes.
  • Also engaged in skimming and over-billing nationally known manufacturers for repairs
  • Eddie’s annual revenues: approximately $134 million / about $372 million in today’s money.[4]
  • Eddie’s was paying around 5 million in advertising a year.
  • “Crazy Eddie went public in 1984, the stock shot from $8 a share to $79—and the Antars held much of it. More than $145 million was raised from investors who had no idea Crazy Eddie was misrepresenting its financial profile.” [3]
  • 1983: “New Year’s Eve Massacre” — a family fight broke out, which went on until 1987, when it all fell apart.
  • “But by the end of the 1980s, the stores were bankrupt and Antar ended up serving more than six years in prison after it was discovered that Crazy Eddie routinely understated its income to avoid taxes and then committed securities fraud after going public.” [1]

  • Eddie fled to Israel for two years and was then extradited – in 1992
  • Eddie was sentenced to prison for 12 1/2 years in 1994, which was overturned on appeal, and served eight years on a plea deal in 1996
  • $120 million was recovered from off-shore accounts with Sam Antar as a cooperating witness.
  • Sam Antar (cousin to Eddie) received six months and a loss of his CPA license.

“It was really just the next business step,” he says. “I sold information to the government and got my freedom. . . . After being released from his “vacation,” Sam began to get invitations to lecture at universities and private businesses about white-collar fraud. “My rap sheet became more important than my resume.” [3]

Quotes:

“In business — and in life in general — he was daring and took chances, and wasn’t afraid of consequences” — advertising director Larry Weiss

“Money was always in the house. And if I needed it and I asked him, he would say, ‘Go underneath the bed and take what you need.’” [Up to $200,00 stashed under the bed at any one time] — Debbie Rosen Antar, Antar’s first wife

“We never spoke about right or wrong. It was just the way we did things.” – Sam Antar

“You steal more with a smile than you do with a gun.” – Sam Antar

“There’s no better motivator than a 20-year prison term.” – Sam Antar

“I didn’t cooperate because I found God. I cooperated to save my ass.” – Sam Antar

“It was never about the money. It was about the game. And we enjoyed the game.” – Sam Antar

“18-year crime spree conducted in the light of day.” [1]

^

Key Illustrative Thoughts:

  • lying/deception
  • stealing
  • 10 Commandments
  • depravity of man
  • temptation
  • upbringing/childhood
  • family
  • love of money
  • family
  • friendships
  • companions
  • greed
  • materialism
  • gain the whole world

^

Sermonic Example: (Using illustration method #2)

(include whatever details you find useful)

. . . . Now listen to what Sam Antar, the cousin of Eddie, the CPA accountant who attended business school for the sole purpose of internally managing the funds of “Crazy Eddies,” — listen to his words during an interview . . . . after it all fell apart . . . .

“We never spoke about right or wrong. It was just the way we did things.”

The issue of right and wrong never came up; it was never brought up. That discussion wasn’t had by them, not because they didn’t know it was wrong, or that they didn’t know right from wrong, but because they all knew where that discussion went, and it went against all they did — against “the way we did things.”

That is true with many a wrongdoer. The discussion never comes up as to what they are doing, or they have done is right or wrong  . . . .



Other Information & Links:

1. https://money.cnn.com/2016/09/11/technology/eddie-antar-obituary/index.html

2. https://whitecollarfraud.com/

3. https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/77976/crazy-eddie-rise-and-fall-electronics-stores-insanely-successful-criminal-enterprise

4. https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/FMfcgzGmvfXPKScVDtStwvczsSRNkmQc

https://thegreatfail.com/episode/crazy-eddie-the-fall-of-an-electronics-empire/

https://whitecollarfraud.com/crazy-eddie/the-fall-of-crazy-eddie/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crazy_Eddie

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/12/business/eddie-antar-retailer-and-felon-who-created-crazy-eddie-dies-at-68.html

Sam Antar:

“Sam Antar [first cousin to Eddie Antar] is a convicted felon and a former CPA. As the CFO of Crazy Eddie, Mr. Antar helped mastermind one of the largest securities frauds uncovered during the 1980s.

Today, Sam Antar is a forensic accountant. His primary work focuses on identifying and investigating public companies engaged in securities fraud by performing an in-depth (deep dive) forensic accounting analysis. He advises law enforcement agencies and professionals about white-collar crime and trains them to catch the crooks. His clients include government agencies, law firms, accounting firms, independent investment research firms, hedge funds, public companies, and other organizations.” [2]

“The whole purpose of the business was to commit premeditated fraud,” Sam tells mental_floss. “My family put me through college to help them commit more sophisticated fraud in the future. I was trained to be a criminal.

“People have a certain idea of Crazy Eddie. In reality, it was a dark criminal enterprise.” [3]

It was the late 1960s, and smaller, more portable transistors were about to usher in a new wave of products that would make Japanese brands like Sony and Panasonic household names. Before long, video game systems, VCRs, and camcorders would expand the market.

Initially, Antar sold televisions from a small stand at the Port Authority, grabbing attention by talking fast and eventually wearing customers down. “He was like Fonzie,” Sam says. “Very charismatic and very smart. You steal more with a smile than you do with a gun.” [3]

In 1980, Sam Antar graduated Baruch College of the City University of New York as a CPA and returned to Crazy Eddie full-time as its chief financial officer. By design, his education was to help the Antar family perpetuate fraud above and beyond skimming the register or selling inflated extended warranties.” [3]

“There’s no better motivator than a 20-year prison term,” Sam says. He told the government the entire story, from the skimming to the stock fraud. “I didn’t cooperate because I found God. I cooperated to save my ass.” [3]

In the end, Sam believes Crazy Eddie’s legacy comes down to two words: discount and fraud. For the Antars, no amount of legitimate success could equal the rush of beating the system.

“There’s a line in the Wall Street sequel about it not being about the money,” he says. “And that was true. It was never about the money. It was about the game. And we enjoyed the game.” [3]

 

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