The Fountain Pen Conspiracy : How a few dozen professional swindlers are fleecing hundreds of millions of dollars from banks, businesses, and private investors and why they are getting away with it by Jonathan Kwitny
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1973. First Edition. Hardcover. 326 pages ; 21 cm. $7.95 dust jacket. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding is firm.
This expos£ of a loosely connected crew of in-spired con men (most of them not in prison) is both an Arabian Nights saga of swindle and a manual of practical protection for small and big investors in the United States and abroad. The star operators, here uncovered by Jonathan Kwitny, a Wall Street Journal reporter, include:
—The notorious Dr. Noe, real name Clifford Noe, a Texan who has made a science of looting banks.
—The prominent churchman whose religious foundation, backed by a Dun & Bradstreet rating, distributed $26 million in fraudulent notes.
—Four St. Louisans who invented an offshore island bank that took an estimated $40 million through the sale of worthless insurance policies, stocks, cashier's checks, commercial loan commitments, and other securities.
—The Colorado financier who deserted his bankrupt $40 million empires in legitimate business to sail international waters on a private yacht laden with communications equipment, from whose decks he has been suspected of masterminding many of the con ring's activities.
These are just a few of the men who make up The Fountain Pen Conspiracy—possibly the biggest swindling operation now going. The conspiracy has already fleeced scores of millions of dollars not only from private suckers but also from venerable financial institutions here and abroad.
Swindle by amazing swindle, Kwitny has un-earthed and documented their big-money dis-appearing acts. He names names (both the vipers and their victims—including some famous Americans who have been used as fronts). He clarifies the ingenious maze of fake conglomerates, worthless Tennessee land deeds, assetless banks, phony mutual funds and corporate shells with impressive boards of directors at the heart of the con. He reveals what Florida city is now the cheaters' capital, shows how men and institutions of considerable stature can be bilked, and makes clear why it is so difficult to put these Fountain Pen Conspirators in jail and keep them there.
His book is both fascinating reading and basic equipment for the desks of private and institutional investors everywhere.
Jonathan Kwitny is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Born in Indianapolis, he graduated from the University of Missouri in 1962 and received an M.A. in history from New York University in 1964. He taught English with the Peace Corps in Nigeria and has been a reporter for the Perth Amboy News-Tribune and the New York Post. Mr. Kwitny is married and the father of a daughter.
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