Is Character Destiny? The Story of Barry Minkow
January 11, 2012
I just read a great, albeit long article in my current edition of Fortune Magazine about fraudster Barry Minkow. This story has it all: from love, crime, betrayal, corporate greed, personal greed and rags to riches, to prison stripes! A simple blog posting will not do this story justice. Fortune did a great job, Kudos to the author, Roger Parloff.
Why am I writing about it and what does it have to do with background screening, employment checks, criminal searches, credit reports or anything to do with background checks? One sentence, captured me to read on and think about our industry and the current debate of criminal recidivism. That sentence; “His story is hard to read without pondering the question; Is Character Destiny?” Is it? I don’t know, I don’t think it is overall.(Character being your destiny) I mean it’s a strong general statement and could unintentionally stereotype some ex-criminals. Is Character Destiny? It really begs the question; if you have a previous record and you just have the type of character that says, “Let’s make a quick buck. Do it the easy way and break the law,” do you have any chance at redemption? It plays into what many of us in the industry argue all the time; there are just some bad people out there, period.
I promise, I will get to the link. One more thing that caught my eye and that definitely ties him to the employment screening industry was one of his past side businesses. In 2008, Minkow created a business that would comb through databases looking for inflated educational credentials on the part of corporate officers. Great idea, right? Sounds like he could have been a pioneer in the screening industry, one of us, one of the good guys!! Well, he took this a step further. When he found a discrepancy he would short the stock, leak the story to a reporter and when the priced dipped, make a nice profit. He exposed resume embellishments at more than a dozen companies, including MGM Mirage, Broadcom and EchoStar. Yeah, not one of us, not one of the good guys….not so much!
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