Fraud (from 14th century Latin) n – deceit, trickery, intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender legal rights: and art of deceiving or misrepresenting; imposter, cheat, one who is not who that person pretends to be: something that is not what it appears to be
Hoax (probable contraction of hocus, circa 1796) n – an act intended to trick or dupe: something accepted or established by fraud or fabrication; v – to trick into believing or accepting as genuine something false and often preposterous
Swindle (from Old English, coined circa 1782, “to vanish”) v – to take money or property by fraud or deceit.
– “Great Hoaxes, Swindles, Scandals, Cons, Stings and Scams” Joyce Madison, 1992
Frauds often have powerful counter-narratives.
When Wirecard went straight from a DAX-30 €12bn capitalisation to insolvency in June, we wondered not only why it had taken so long for the auditor to seek confirmation of cash balances but why so many investors had been hoodwinked for so long by its empty claims to have been a legitimate player at the epicentre of the digital payments industry. We had also long been inclined to believe that $4bn FTSE-100 member NMC Healthcare’s management had been siphoning off shareholders’ assets (and that the same was true of its smaller sister “fintech” company Finablr), but were bemused to see continued institutional demand for insider share placings and belief in faked takeover rumours, right up until the declared insolvency in March.
Whilst we think there is plentiful potential for further stock-market flops it is time to consider whether these serious corporate failings have now been dwarfed by the unnecessary damage caused by the “science” behind lockdown and the current parallel focus on a vaccine as the sole long-term COVID solution.
Part 1 – The hocus “science” behind lockdown
When lockdown was imposed, we were told we were facing a second Spanish flu pandemic (thought to have killed up to 50 million people); that hospitals would be overrun and there would be 500,000 deaths in the UK alone.