You Can’t Fix Stupid: The Iraqi Dinar Scam Lives
Jay Adkisson, Contributor
In the words of popular comedian Ron White, “You can’t fix stupid.” That phrase, as elegant in its simplicity as it is frankly true, applies with special fervor to those who continue to believe that they are about to make millions, billions, or even trillions by investing in Iraqi dinars.
Yes, I know this has been written about before. Fellow Forbes’ contributor John Wasik wrote about this scam last January at http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnwasik/2012/01/19/the-curse-of-saddam-iraqi-dinar-deals/ And even various law enforcement agencies are publicly warning about this scam, such as that of the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions at http://www.dfi.wa.gov/consumers/alerts/iraqi-dinar-scams.htm
Yet this scam continues to persist, and hardly a week goes by that some sucker or another doesn’t call my office to inquire about asset protection planning for the untold riches that he or she is about to receive when the Dinar finally re-valuates by 100 times or more.
Of course, they can’t pay my legal fees now for such planning because every last cent is invested in the Dinars. But they can pay me when they finally reap their great reward.
Which is never.
Scams involving the arbitrage of foreign currencies have been around as long as there have been, well, foreign currencies. In the modern age, many pyramid schemes have been disguised as sophisticated “FOREX trading programs” — but in fact, the scammers weren’t doing any trading at all, but simply paying old investors with the money from new investors. Charles Ponzi, the modern Father of such schemes, would be proud.
In fact, FOREX scams became so widespread in the 1990s — playing on the speculation regarding the then-new Euro — that the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission was compelled to put out a great deal of warnings about these scams. This collection is now found at http://www.cftc.gov/ConsumerProtection/FraudAwarenessPrevention/CFTCFraudAdvisories/fraudadv_forex and applies with equal weight to the Dinar scam.
There exists an entire army of FOREX scammers who spend their entire days looking for suckers, which unfortunately include the most vulnerable in our society such as the elderly. For those folks in or nearing retirement whose ordinary investments didn’t quite get them where they needed to be, these scam artists are ready, willing and able to divest them of their remaining wealth with promises of high “risk free” returns trading in FOREX. But that money is just disappearing to banks in Belize or elsewhere.
The FOREX scams didn’t involve any actual purchases of foreign currency, but simply scam artists running utterly bogus “statements” off their printers that showed huge returns, right up until the time that the scammers disappeared. Some of the Dinar scams operate the same way: You don’t actually get any Dinars, but instead just a statement showing that you have Dinars or some sort of phony-baloney “Certificate” of ownership.
But — and this is why the Dinar scam has been largely successful — with the Dinar scam you can actually get the cold hard Dinars if you want them. Yep, suckers around America have their closets and garages full of bales of Dinars, just waiting for that glorious day when they will re-valuate.
Which is never.
To help sell the scam, the scam artists have set up all sorts of websites and bulletin boards and newsletter and social media and you-name-it to try to create the impression that the Dinars are valuable and are about to re-valuate at any moment. I’ve had people tell me that their Dinars are going to re-valuate “within the week” or “by the end of the month”, and they’ve been telling me for years.
All of this reminds me of the “Magic Bean Scheme” which was a pyramid scheme run in my native Oklahoma by some creative scammers. The idea was that you could buy from the scammers a certain type of expensive bean that when left in a jar of water for a couple of weeks would produce valuable “bean juice” that could then be re-sold for a large profit. The key was, according to the scammers, you had to shake the jars every few hours to get the desired result.
Of course, the scammers threw some of their own money in to get the scam started. The first few people made some good money selling their bean juice, and of course they told their friends and family about this new sure-fire way to make a fortune. Soon enough many folks in Oklahoma were brewing “bean juice” in their garages, going out every couple of hours to shake the jars so that the bean juice would form faster. “Honey, it’s 4:00 a.m., and you turn to shake the jars.”
Then, one day after selling enough of the expensive beans, the scammers vamoosed and there were a lot of folks in Oklahoma with closets and garages full of jars of worthless beans and juice in them — turned out the beans were just ordinary navy beans. My guess is that there are still people out there who have never given up on the beans, still turning them, and still expecting that bean juice to result in untold riches.
Ditto for the Dinars, the bales of which some suckers having in their closets and garages, taking up space and waiting for the day when they finally re-valuate.
Which is never.
Unfortunately, a bad thing about human nature is that once folks believe in a story, they refuse to believe they have been scammed. Often they are embarrassed, and figure that to admit they were wrong is worse than simply keeping their useless whatevers in the closet or out in the garage. But others are really, truly convinced that their initial investment was a good one, and no amount of proof or logic can dissuade them.
Even after Charles Ponzi died, some of his followers bought OUIJA boards and tried to channel his dead soul to find out when their utterly worthless investments would become valuable as he promised. Time and time again, I’ve watched as the victims of pyramid schemes continue to believe that they are about to get rich even as the perpetrators went to jail.
For me, after telling these folks they’ve been scammed and hearing their denials, I’ve been betting these folks who call me up to $5,000 in free legal work if the Dinar re-valuates in 30 days, against a gift certificate from a steakhouse. Suffice it to say that I’m going to be in good beef for some time. Which brings me back to Ron White, who is absolutely right: “You can’t fix stupid.“
And that goes for the Dinars, and the idea that they will soon re-valuate, thus leading current investors to great riches.
Which is never.