My first time happened in the early 1990s shortly after we moved to Montreal. I had just begun working at Bank of Montreal. My boss, Bert Poirier, was very tough. He invited me to join a meeting. He said I would find it “interesting.”
The potential client was named Robert and lived in the Turks and Caicos islands, a well-known offshore center for hidden money. He arrived at our Montreal office with two Quebeckers who spoke English but mostly French. Robert didn’t speak a word of French. Instead of setting out pages of financial figures to support what he wanted us to finance, he laid out books of pictures. The pictures showed him socializing with Middle Eastern princes in white robes. They were his sources of funds. He also had a resume indicating vast experience as a financier. His project was some kind of mine in a remote part of Northern Quebec. Bank of Montreal would handle the investments and his banking needs. Robert barely talked about the project and seemed to know little about mining. Instead, he told us about his royal backers and how he’d known them for years. When he learned that Bert was very active in Kiwanis, he launched into a story about how he was making his fortune so he could give money to nonprofits to help children. The two Quebec-based men said almost nothing.
Bert and I listened. Then Bert dropped the bomb. We would need to see his passport and would be doing an investigation with the RCMP and Interpol before we did any of his business. Bert had no idea how to do that. Robert then spoke to me quietly. Could just the two of us go outside the conference room and talk? I said no. Robert then revealed that he had some tax issues. He was the problem. He tore up his resume and said he would be out of the deal. We would just do business with the two Quebeckers. He gathered up his photo books and left the room. The two Quebeckers were left there with us and weren’t sure what to do.
We had no idea what his real game was. Probably to launder cash through the bank. Bert was sure that the two Quebeckers probably knew almost as little about Robert as we did. They were most likely unemployed and looking for a paycheck.
Has a con man or woman tried to fleece you? Hit reply, I’d love to hear about it.