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The Pretender: How Martin Frankel Fooled the Financial World and Led the Feds on One of the Most Publicized Manhunts in Historyby Ellen Pollock
Synopses & Reviews
How could a two-bit investor, too paralyzed with fear to trade stocks, bilk insurance companies out of $200 million?
How could a gawky misfit with an obsessive terror of germs induce a harem of attractive young women to feud over him?
How could a recluse from Toledo, Ohio, penetrate the circles of political and financial power in Washington, D.C., and New York City without leaving his house?
How could a Jewish guy with a passion for S&M sex persuade the Vatican to go into business with him?
And how could he do all this without anybody noticing?
Now the whole amazing story of how Martin Frankel pulled off one of the greatest financial scams of the century is revealed by "The Wall Street Journal's" Ellen Joan Pollock, who was a lead writer on the reporting team that broke story after story as Frankel eluded the FBI's four-month international manhunt.
"The Pretender" chronicles how a bumbling thirty year old used his financial skills to build an intricate Ponzi scheme based on lies and his amazing gift for luring businessmen — including Democratic powerbroker Robert Strauss — into his web. Frankel's stolen millions allowed him to transform himself easily from mama's boy to corporate mogul. His creation of a phony Catholic charity drew the interest of priests with close Vatican ties as well as a new group of mysterious business partners. But his attempts to go "global" proved more challenging and aroused the suspicions of state regulators. Frantic that his empire was about to unravel, Frankel vanished from his multimillion-dollar Greenwich, Connecticut, mansion, leaving behind a mysterious fire, a dozen or so heartbroken women, and some very confused law-enforcement officials. His bizarre scamper through Europe as a fugitive would ultimately climax in a German hotel room.
Frankel's world was peopled with desperate businessmen, well-heeled con artists, women looking for love, vindictive husbands, diamond merchants, private eyes — the whole colorful cast of characters that propelled this fast-moving drama.
"The Pretender" is filled with countless revelations from business associates and former lovers — many of whom were interviewed for the first time for this book. What finally makes "The Pretender" so compelling is that it is a snapshot of a peculiar moment in business history. Just as figures like Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken epitomized the deal-crazed eighties, Martin Frankel is the quintessential criminal of the millionaire-a-minute nineties.
Martin Frankel was a small-town "mama's boy." He was also a financial wizard with big dreams. Pollock, a lead writer on "The Wall Street Journal"Us Pulitzer Prize-nominated coverage of the Frankel affair, draws on interviews and extensive research to recreate Frankel's life and times. This is not only the stunning portrait of a scoundrel, but a fascinating look at decidedly unorthodox period in business history.
This is the unbelievable-but-true account of Martin Frankel — a timid, two-bit investor with a dark side who pulled off one of the greatest financial scams of the century and led the FBI on a four-month global chase before finally being caught.
The Pretender chronicles how a bumbling thirty-year-old Midwesterner, a lifelong gawky misfit, built an intricate, fraudulent moneymaking scheme that bilked insurance companies out of $200 million. Transforming himself from mama's boy to corporate mogul, Martin Frankel entered a world peopled with desperate businessmen, political power brokers, masterful con artists, vulnerable women, vindictive husbands, and charitable priests — and spun his web of lies deep inside the power centers of Washington, D.C., New York, and the Vatican. But such success and excess aroused the suspicions of the authorities, and Frankel vanished from his opulent mansion-leaving behind a mysterious fire and some very confused law-enforcement officials-and ran for his life across Europe.
About the Author
Ellen Joan Pollock is a senior special writer of page one features at The Wall Street Journal, where she has worked for more than twelve years. She has focused on personalities from George W. Bush to Michael Jackson to Ronald Perelman, and spent several years covering the Whitewater scandal. She is also the author of Turks and Brahmins. She lives in New York with her husband and daughter.
Table of Contents
Cast of Characters
Prologue: The Fire
CHAPTER ONE A Real Job
CHAPTER TWO Marty's First Fraud
CHAPTER THREE A Creative Partnership
CHAPTER FOUR A Special Trust
CHAPTER FIVE Phone Pals
CHAPTER SIX Domestic Bliss
CHAPTER SEVEN Mounting Pressure
CHAPTER EIGHT Mr. Corbally and Mr. Strauss
CHAPTER NINE Getting Religion
CHAPTER TEN Enter the Consultants
CHAPTER ELEVEN A Credibility Gap
CHAPTER TWELVE Unmasked in Greenwich
CHAPTER THIRTEEN Trouble
CHAPTER FOURTEEN Escape Plans
CHAPTER FIFTEEN A Summons to Mississippi
CHAPTER SIXTEEN On the Road
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN Betrayal
Epilogue: The Homecoming
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