Jul 28, 2023

George Santos, a first-term member of the House of Representatives, appears to be involved in a crypto-centric version of the classic Nigerian prince email scam geared toward a campaign donor, according to the New York Times.

Video transcript

We have George Santos back in the headlines with uh a, you know, very marginally crypto connected story, um which is that he apparently uh was soliciting. Well, it's not entirely clear what his end game was in this particular case, but he was approaching investors with the uh claim that he knew uh a Polish. Uh I don't know, rich person, I guess is about as specific as it gets um because we don't know the name of this individual um or if they even actually exist, but apparently George Santos was telling people um that there was a Polish guy who wanted to buy some crypto and that in order to do that, they needed to start an LLC for him. Um which as the, the story specifies, doesn't actually make sense on its face. Um The people that they approached uh ultimately backed out. Um and nothing really seems to have come of this. Uh but it's part of a uh obviously much larger pattern. Those who are familiar with Santos will know that he was engaged in all kinds of shenanigans uh to sort of fraudulently raise money, um or uh you know, misappropriate funds in organizations including his own campaign um to do things like buy himself cars and clothes. So, um, crypto obviously would inevitably enter into this. Um And, uh, that's, uh, you know, just another way, data point. He is also currently being prosecuted, um, or is in the process of getting close to prosecution. So we might get some more information about this down the road, but, uh, more than likely it's just fake. Uh, and he was trying to shake somebody down for some money. Um But why would crypto play a role in uh this, is it something that is just attractive to people who are gullible perhaps? Uh Danny Jen, what do y'all think? Yeah, I, I'll start off with this one. I, I just, I, you know, you're talking about whether this is weird, it's really just normal. Now, once again, we're seeing that George Sanchez is using creative ways to just pursue the grift and I want to give him points for creativity, but I can't because it's just a new take on an old scheme, like, like the headline points out the Nigerian Prince scheme in which someone reaches out to you saying that they're uh an important person in a tough financial spot and you can help rectify that and maybe you'll get some extra money uh back for it. But you know, I will say the 11 thing you have to look out for in investments like this is if the people who are trying to pitch you on this wonky sounding idea. Want you to sign an ND A? That's usually not a good sign because if you, if they're, if they have a good investment idea, then they're gonna want you to talk about it, they're gonna want you to tell other people how much money they made you. So if you, you have to be hush, hush about the way that you're attempting to make money, that's one big red flag among among many. Again, what others did you see in this case? Uh So many red flags. When we talk about this character, I read this and thought, wow, another dramatic uh story. I thought it was really, I guess not really interesting. I thought it was interesting that he targeted a loyal campaign donor, someone who has supported him in the past. And now the grift is the grift is being executed on this person. I thought it was so funny how this like vague language was used. You know, there's this rich Polish man and his crypto assets are frozen and all you need to do is open, open up an LLC to unfreeze those assets. It doesn't actually make sense, right? Like none of this actually makes sense. And so I'm happy that this person didn't get scammed. I think, um it's unfortunate that this headline is in the New York Times and people are going to read it and associate crypto with people like George Santos with, with the crimes that he's been charged with. And it's unfortunate that, you know, maybe we're going to hear some influential people reference this and say people like George Santos use crypto. And so therefore, it needs to be regulated. You know, George Santos has shown that he is not the best decision maker that he has allegedly committed many crimes without the use of crypto. And I think that's an important piece to point out here, David. And I think we have another story coming up, but just one last comment, I think that maybe the role of crypto here should be understood as a way to obfuscate, that will confuse people who think they maybe want to be aggressive investors and on the front edge. But if you don't actually understand what's going on, if it doesn't make sense, that's when you pull out like this guy apparently did. Um And, and that's, I think the lesson to take here is just because of what he says, crypto and waves their hands. That doesn't mean it's a real thing. And in fact, it could be, could be a warning. So if you do not individually and specifically understand everything that's going on, walk away, um I believe uh Danny, do you have a next story, Danny has the next story? But I have a question for you, David quickly before we go off to Danny. Uh I know you wrote a piece about Santas uh connections to FTX. There's like another little crypto angle there. And I would love for you to explain that to the audience before we move on. It's really um so his connection to FTX is pretty tangential. Um Basically, he had a uh donor sharing agreement with the wife of one of the principals in FTX who was under investigation. At least I'm not sure he's been charged yet. Um But uh George Santos did end up getting some donations from people at FTX because you know, the way donations in politics work is you're individually capped. And weirdly enough in this case, they decided to comply with campaign finance laws since obviously, um FTX uh and, and Sam Bateman for the charges in part uh have been campaign finance related, but in this case, they did kind of a swap and so George Santos wound up getting uh donations from some of the middle men who were funneling donations from, from FTX um illegally.

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