Thursday, April 02, 2009

Criminal Lessons Learned from the FBI

My FBI Citizens Academy completed its 5th week last night, and I've picked up a few tips that ought to come in handy for anybody contemplating a life in crime. In the spirit of sharing, here goes:

1. Be Nice to Support Staff. 10 years ago, Charles Cacioppo, Jr., had a pretty good thing going. He had lots of highly profitable work getting funneled to him from Rockhurst University, in exchange for a few bribes to the guy who parceled out the work. The problem was, he treated his secretary like dirt. And, when he brought his son into the business, and the son started treating the same secretary like dirt, she called an FBI agent she knew, who had treated her respectfully even as he was helping to prosecute one of her relatives. Secretaries know everything, and this secretary was fed up enough to provide all the details to the FBI. If Cacioppo's son had called her "ma'am" instead of "stupid b****" that day, who knows, Cacioppo might never have seen the inside of a prison cell.

2. Don't Talk So Much. Especially if you're in prison. Even if there isn't a guard around, and you think your cellmate is your buddy.

3. Pay Attention to Your Surroundings. If you're a jet-setting corporate executive, flying all over the world working with other companies to set up an elaborate price-fixing scheme, take a second to look around. Don't you think it's odd that the exact same lamp shows up in your hotel rooms and conference rooms all over the world?

4. But Not Always. On the other hand, sometimes looking around isn't a great idea. If you've taken hostages, and the FBI hostage negotiator wants you to come to the window for a second, it's probably not a good idea. Just sayin'.

5. Stop Trusting Criminals. This is the biggest and most important tip of all. The problem with most crime is that it involves other criminals, and, really, criminals tend not to be the most dependable of associates. Think about it. If your freedom hinges on somebody doing what you want them to do, and that somebody happens to be a criminal, there's a serious flaw in your plan. Eventually, somebody's going to get caught for something, and they might benefit from offering information about you. Or, they might get greedy, and figure out ways to cut you out of the enterprise. Or, even if they happen to be loyal and non-greedy criminals (a rare breed), they might just be colossally stupid, and expose your enterprise accidentally. Perhaps by not following the above lessons 1-3 (if they violate lesson #4, you probably won't have to worry about them ratting you out anymore).


All of these rules are supplemental to the number one rule of crime that my father taught me years ago. I can't remember what the transgression was that triggered his sage advice, but he told me, "Dan, go ahead and lie, cheat, and steal. But before you do it, make sure that you can get away with it, and that you'll wind up with enough to live in luxury for the rest of your life. Otherwise, don't do it. It's not worth losing your integrity for less than that." A whole lot of criminals would be in a much better position today if someone had offered them that lesson.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Nuke said...

Thanks for layin down the learning man!

4/02/2009 11:00 AM  
Blogger Owen said...

Amen to this. I just finished reading All the President's Men for the second time and it was the "satellite crew" -- the secretaries and event planners who broke a long time before the main plumbers. That's why I'm nice to people. Not because I commit wiretapping, I just like to keep my options open.

4/02/2009 6:46 PM  
Anonymous GMC70 said...

Seems to me, Dan, those are in fact rules for not just criminals, but nearly everybody.

No. 1 just makes you a decent human being.

No. 2 is always a good choice; saying too little is nearly always preferrable to saying too much.

No. 3 is simple basic good sense, whether crossing the street, riding in public transportation, etc. It's a basic survival skill, and you might learn something besides.

No. 4 is just not taking No. 3 to the extreme; awareness is good, paranoia is bad.

No. 5 - duh.

I'm still jealous, Dude. Did you get to go to the range?

4/03/2009 8:42 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

GMC - Not yet, but it's coming. And thanks for catching the fact that I was writing for a larger audience than the criminals who read this blog.

4/03/2009 5:49 PM  

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