Friends invited you to the casino. Nobody knows you are a professional fraudster. You win. Everyone buys you drinks and buys dinner and you fly away home feeling like a million bucks.”
“Any chance you would fly out and help me out?” In the end, most of the scripts he sent me featured a man pretending to be a high-ranking corporate executive asking me for help. Even though I knew he wasn’t who he said he was, I also knew he’d never been exposed.
My journey to his doorstep took some creative planning. His homes were not easy to find. I looked online and found his name, address and telephone number, and called. “Hello?”
“Mr. Jordan? This is Rick Singer,” I said.
“It’s Jack,” he said, a little too excitedly.
“Yes, I am Rick.”
“I have something I need to talk to you about, and I can come to see you?”
“Okay, let’s do it.” He had me hooked.
As a ghostwriter, the real author is completely forgotten. I had no intention of going to the meeting. My intention was to come along and type his scripts. But, on the night of the meeting, he told me he wasn’t ready to sign the contract.
When I told him that wasn’t a good idea, he said I needed to go because his work wasn’t done yet.
“You’re sitting down? How is it even possible to have six great scripts to show me,” he asked, trying to play off his deception as a nice surprise.
“Six isn’t a lot,” I said. “It’s not as if you’re trying to make a billion dollars.”
“It’s enough to take a vacation,” he said.
“Then you don’t need to see them.” I should have called it a night. I was beginning to sense that the fraud was unraveling. He didn’t want me to leave. “Please don’t leave. I need you to take them with you,” he said.
I could see he was making a final effort to hide his ruse. There was no more money, no sign of a market, and I had now seen him in person. He had no desire to pull off a heist on me, but instead, had begun to extend me a helping hand.
“I think you’re very talented,” he said. “And, it would make me happy to find you a job with us.”
“A job?” I thought about it. “A real job with real money. And I’d need to travel.”
“Well, it’s my job to find you a job.” He put his hand on my shoulder.
“You know,” he said, “the next one is a lot closer than you think.”
“What?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Really? You’re going to bring me to California? To Silicon Valley? I haven’t lived there in decades! And, what, there’s an opening at a consulting firm that’s looking to hire a guy who’s only twenty years old?”
“Okay,” I said. “Sure, let’s do it.” I tried to look like a solid friend, not a fearful and skeptical colleague who had already seen too much.
When I got home, I forwarded his address and phone number to my closest friends. I told them not to judge me until I’d seen what he was like in person.
I have a rule. If I can’t see it with my own two eyes, I don’t trust it. So, at the appointed time, I got in the car and made the long, uncomfortable journey across the country.