The problem with titlesJerome MayneAdvice,Fraud
Do you think that fraud only involves multi-million dollar
scams? Do you imagine that fraud only involves the elaborate plans
of a ring of fraudsters? If you commit fraud and are caught, you
might expect to lose your license or be fired. We all know this,
and yet, it's not a deterrent for everyone in this business.
Why don't we all put the kibosh on every tenuous situation? Is
it because we don't think we will ever be caught? Do we think that
what we are doing is actually "fraud lite?"
By December of 1998 I had amassed many titles during my 32
years. To name the major ones, I was a son, brother, father and
husband. On the top of my professional list of titles was president
of my own mortgage broker company. However, during that cold,
wintry month of 1998, my professional title changed.
On Dec. 18, 1998, I was indicted for conspiracy to commit mail
fraud, wire fraud and money laundering--a crime that took place
four years earlier, when I was a lowly little loan officer. I lost
my title as president of Mayne Mortgage and I gained the title of
felon. Over the next nine months--pre-trial, guilty plea,
sentencing and reporting to federal prison--my title changed again
to inmate number 08657-041.
Here are some things I learned about committing fraud: if you
cross the line and are caught, you still have a mother and a
father. But, if, God forbid, something happens to them while you're
in prison, you won't be able to go to their aid. If you cross the
line, you'll still be someone's spouse, but you won't be able to do
anything about it when they tell you they've met someone else. If
you cross the line you'll still be a parent, but you'll miss the
first day of kindergarten, the first loose tooth and the first bike
ride. The judge doesn't deliver the stigma and the extra hell
associated with an indictment and conviction. The real punishment
doesn't appear in the federal sentencing guidelines. Sure, it lists
a 21-24 month sentence, restitution and revocation of voting
rights. But, the judge will never tell you that your entire family
will have to pay the price, too. You wouldn't know this by reading
the newspaper, but the harshest part of the sentence has very
little to do with prison and much more to do with life.
As a society, we have become numb to the reports of crime and
punishment. We hear in the news that someone received three or 10
years for their involvement in a fraud scheme. Unless you know one
of the parties involved in the scheme (or if it's you), the
response is typically, "Oh," and then it's off to the next meeting.
Aside from the fact that most of us can't fathom losing our freedom
for more than a day or two, we also don't think about that
Everyone in this business, every day, has the opportunity to
commit fraud, to omit facts or to look the other way. Some of us
might be unaware of what we are doing. Maybe we were trained that
way--as if certain acts or omissions are just "business as usual."
But fraud is fraud. And let me assure you, the consequences are
much greater than a "title" change from letters to numbers. So, the
next time you have that funny feeling in your stomach or the next
time you say to yourself, "Everybody does it," think twice. It
isn't worth losing the "titles" in life that we take for granted
every day. Do the right thing, and don't risk having to hear your
little boy refer to someone else as "Daddy."
Jerome Mayne is a professional public speaker, dedicated to
raising fraud awareness among finance industry professionals
through presentations, including "Fraud and Consequence." Jerome is
currently writing a book about his experiences to be published by
The Mortgage Press Ltd. Advanced copies may be reserved online
through MortgageProShop, www.mortgageproshop.com.
He may be reached by phone at (612) 919-3007, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or