Trust is Good, Skepticism is Necessary

Jonathan Crystal
Jonathan Crystal
CFO, Crystal & Company

Ronald Reagan once quoted the Russian proverb: “Trust but verify.”

I was reminded of this when I read New York Magazine and Vanity Fair articles on “Anna Delvey” and the recent Miami Herald story on Anthony Gignac, the fake Saudi prince that went by “Sultan Bin Khalid Al-Saud”. Both examples are must-read tales of grift, deception, and chutzpah.

The Delvey and Gignac stories recall the incredible—and troubling—story of the man who presented himself as “Clark Rockefeller,” an alleged member of that storied family. These are just the latest chapters of a long tradition of con men and women who win their way into high society, a narrative that goes back at least 150 years to Princess Caraboo.

In the age of Google, we don’t want to believe that someone can still pull off this type of deception for any length of time. But as “Anna Delvey”, “Sultan Bin Khalid Al-Saud” and our own embezzler story illustrate, committed bad actors will always take advantage of the natural human desire to trust.

Bottom Line: Vigilance is a never-ending state of mind. There are always people who would presume to lighten your pockets. Trust but verify.

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