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Equilibrium Scam Tilts the Scales of Street Justice

Discussion in 'Forex Articles' started by Pharaoh, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. Pharaoh

    Pharaoh Colonel

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    Equilibrium Scam Tilts the Scales of Street Justice
    by Pharaoh
    Incurable Writing Addict

    Note: Wow! Just finished posting yesterday's article and got a “You've GOT to see this!” message from our very own AsstModerator. I'd like to thank FPA member LPIPS for sending it in to the FPA.


    The news (good or bad, depends on your own point of view) is that street justice has already come to the world of forex.

    I see suggestions and threats of violence over scams all the time. Even in our own forums, people sometimes say we should put the scammers up against the wall and shoot them (Even the gentle soul and incredibly kind person known as Ernest8Fingers – ha ha!). Personally, I'm in favor of extremely severe punishments for large scale financial crimes, but like to see a proper trial conducted first. A death penalty for a criminal who had ruined hundreds or thousands of people's lives wouldn't bother me at all, if the accused gets a proper chance to defend him/herself against the charges and all proper legal appeals are exhausted.

    (For those of you who find my writing a bit lengthy, go ahead a skip ahead to the paragraph starting with “There's a reason”. I'm going to fill in some background before telling what happened.)

    South Africa is the richest country in all of sub-Saharan Africa (I'll leave it to the South Africans and a couple of North African countries to debate who is the richest of all). Like all countries, it has problems, but my friends from there have told me tales of it's enchanting beauty. It's definitely on my short list of places I'd love to visit in the next few years. Like all countries, it has financial scams, and like all rich countries, some of those scams can be huge.

    Servaas Louwrens has a long history of being in trouble with the authorities over fiscal matters. In 2002, he disappeared, along with his brother Theuns Louwrens and about 40 million ZAR (about $5 million US at today's conversion rates) when the Equilibrium scheme collapsed, taking with in about $50 million. It seems that Equilibrium was some sort of Ponzi or pyramid style scam using forex for cover. There were rumors they might have been kidnapped by some of their victims, but this turned out to be false. One of their associates was not so lucky.

    Somehow, Servaas Louwrens managed to weasel out of the charges and ended up starting several other schemes. These served to make plenty of money for him, but not for his investors. Currently, he's wanted by the South African authorities. In 2002, he turned himself in rather than risk facing the hundreds of people who lost their life savings. This time, he didn't turn himself in. Instead, he walked into the offices of South Africa;s M-Net news site and gave a sad (and very familiar) story, trying to justify his actions and telling how he was trying to trade back losses before his credit was cut off. I seem to recall more than one FPA scam finding where account managers have gone on and on about trading back losses, but no money every materializes. A scammer might give out a little money up front (like in a Ponzi Scheme), but after a certain point, money only goes to the scammer, never back to the victims.

    With the exception of Bernard Madoff, I can't recall any recent large scale swindler ever coming clean and admitting to his crimes. Servaas Louwrens has left a long trail of innocent victims in financial ruin over the last 10 years, but continues to tout himself as an investment genius. One of these days, I'd really like to strap someone like him down, pump him full of truth serum, and find out what makes this type of scum work. Obviously, there's always a ready supply of gullible victims, but does he really think he can keep lying to people who know he'll never return even 1 cent of what he's taken from them? How can someone who ruins the lives of so many people live with himself? Sure, the money is good, but are people like this really so deeply sociopathic that they don't care what happens to anyone else? If so, then I won't be to distressed about what happened to one of his associates.

    There's a reason Servaas Louwrens turned himself in back in 2002. Once things unraveled, he and his brother did a great disappearing act with a lot of money. One of his associates involved in the Equilibrium scheme, Ivor Killian, wasn't quite so lucky. His bullet-riddled corpse was found in his parked car. Police think he may have known the killer instead of having been taken out in a drive-by shooting. They say this since his Mercedes was in park, alongside the road, and the bullets had gone through the door before ending his career as a scammer. Sometimes, justice can be very swift and lethal.

    Would I condone murdering a scammer? Probably not. I despise scammers. I've been ripped off a few times and have seen it happen to friends, but I still wouldn't gun one down. Then again, I've never lost my life savings to one of these vermin. I can't condone this murder, but I can certainly understand the motive behind it.

    I hope Servaas Louwrens is caught soon and sentenced to the harshest and longest possible punishment. I hope his victims also get civil judgments against him so that if he ever gets out, every cent he touches has to be used in compensation. I wonder if South Africa will put up posters for him - “Wanted, Dead or Alive!”

    If there's any lesson to be learned from this, it's that enforcement and penalties for fiscal crimes have lagged too far behind other crimes in most countries. Legislatures and courts need to be made to see that these crimes are far from victimless. If you have been victimized, report it. Write to your government's legislature and demand harsher penalties. Until scammers realize they have a very high probability of getting caught and of loosing far more than they steal, they'll never stop.

    I guess there's one other lesson. I was discussing this with someone after learning about it last night. His comment, “Why did they have to go and shoot a perfectly good Mercedes just to kill the scammer inside?”
    :D


    There's a lot more out there. Just Google “Servaas Louwrens” and you'll find a lot of stories about his scams and his victims. These 3 cover the critical parts.

    M-Net interview with wanted fugitive Servaas Louwrens – will he never stop scamming?

    Initial reports of Ivor Killian's murder – Forex street justice at work

    Servaas Louwrens turns himself in after his associate is murdered
     
    #1 Pharaoh, Aug 4, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2009
  2. MidasFX

    MidasFX Private

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    To paraphrase the above... 'ripping people off is a heinous crime worthy even of the death penalty'.

    Killing such people would certainly make others think twice about doing the same and act as a very strong deterrent to other scammers.

    Following this logic I think we should also extend the death penalty to all forms of scamming and ripping off people because in the end the outcome to the victims are the same, if not worse.

    If the death penalty is deemed too harsh for these crimes then perhaps we could consider just hacking off a limb or two such as is practised in some countries.

    Based on this I think we should also kill...

    1) Anyone who regularly robs a home or shop store depriving people of their savings

    2) Anyone who knowingly cheats on their tax thereby ripping off the rest of the community and the people who need it most.

    3) Any worker who doesn't put in a full days effort or falsely claims to have worked the hours they are paid for thereby ripping off the owner. Countless business people have been sent to the wall through this sort of scamming and from theft at work?

    4) Anyone who doesn't pay back a loan to a friend or family member thereby causing enormous hardship to those affected. The death penalty should even be extended to those who fail to pay back a bank or home loan they knew they couldn't afford in the first place. In the long run we are all affected by the actions of these despicable criminals.

    5) Anyone who drives recklessly or drunk thereby threatening to ruin the lives and families of those that are unfortunate enough to be in their path. This is a particularly vicious crime as the victims don't even have the choice whether to participate or not as one does in something like an investment or ponzi scheme.

    I am sure you can think of many other examples of crimes that involve willful acts of ripping people off which could justifiably be avenged by killing the perpetrators.
     
    #2 MidasFX, Aug 4, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2009
  3. StWayne

    StWayne Recruit

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    These guys are nuts!

    I've always held that if these bastards were taken out to the public square, and hung by their nuts until dead, the message would get out -- end of story. Even so, everyone knows these guys are nuts!
     
  4. Pharaoh

    Pharaoh Colonel

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    Perhaps you should carefully reread what I wrote before making such extremely poorly interpreted claims. What I expressed was an honest opinion that those who deliberately and with malicious intent inflict massive financial hardship on hundreds or thousands of people should face the most severe punishment that society is willing to dish out. If such people receive disproportionately light punishment, then vigilantism (aka Street Justice) will happen sooner or later. I don't condone such actions, but I can certainly empathize with someone who loses their live savings, children's college fund, etc feeling the need to do something above and beyond what is considered to be legal under such extreme duress.

    Taking your logic to a similar extreme as you deliberately twisted mine, perhaps you would like to reward scammers for teaching people about how to better manage their money? Maybe you think Bernie Madoff deserves a Congressional Medal of Honor for teaching thousands of people about the risks of not conducting proper due diligence? Perhaps you think this Servaas Louwrens guy should get a full professorship at a University teaching about avoiding fiscal scams?


    I say punishments must be proportional to crimes for true justice. How many lives does a person have to ruin before that person is locked up forever (or is broken up and his organs are sold on eBay to repay at least a little of what was taken from victims)? A petty thief deserves some time in jail and triple repayment to all victims. Servaas Louwrens is a repeat offender who steals the life savings of large numbers of people without the slightest hint of remorse while leaving a 10 year long trail of financial wreckage. There is no chance he'll ever even begin to compensate his victims. How much more damage does he have to do before he's permanently removed from society, one way or another?
     
  5. eful

    eful Recruit

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    i choose this one is a GOOD NEWS...
     
  6. MidasFX

    MidasFX Private

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    I guess my point is that death is probably a disproportionately harsh punishment that is not justified for crimes of a financial nature.

    I think the harshest penalty should not exceed the old 'eye for an eye' rule. If someone has scammed you of money then they too should be stripped of their possessions and prevented from reoffending by way of appropriate incarceration (for life if necessary).

    If they have maliciously taken your life then perhaps the death penalty could then be considered.

    My other point is that in many cases I believe the victims should bear some responsibility for being the victims. It takes two to tango.

    Who was it that said..."Damn the Master for oppressing the Slave... Damn the Slave for being oppressed by the Master" (or words to that effect)


    =========================================

    Taking your logic to a similar extreme as you deliberately twisted mine, perhaps you would like to reward scammers for teaching people about how to better manage their money? Maybe you think Bernie Madoff deserves a Congressional Medal of Honor for teaching thousands of people about the risks of not conducting proper due diligence? Perhaps you think this Servaas Louwrens guy should get a full professorship at a University teaching about avoiding fiscal scams?

    ===========================================

    In a twisted sort of way I do actually think this paragraph has some merit. I think we can learn a huge amount from the actions of such people... and who better to gain that knowledge from than the ones who have done it.

    If Bernie Madoff was giving a lecture on scamming I would be the first one there, sitting in the front seat taking as many notes as I could to educate myself on how to avoid scum like him.


    Peace Pharaoh... love your posts
     
  7. Pharaoh

    Pharaoh Colonel

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    Hey Midas, no hard feelings.

    The death penalty is harsh. Some people wouldn't impose it, even for genocide. If that's the way the majority of society feels, then I'm willing to live with seeing murderers and the most extreme financial criminals locked up with a minimum sentence of 200 years. Personally, I think the worst of the worst should face something a little more swift and painful.

    Still, the people should demand that laws be passed to make punishments and crimes match more closely. In the USA, it's only been recently that white collar criminals began to pull serious prison time, and usually it's still pretty minimal compared to "lesser" criminals.

    If the law can't bring justice, sooner or later, someone will break the law to administer it. I'd prefer the law do the job, since that gives the accused a much better chance to prove whether or not he's innocent before being sentenced.

    I do think we can learn from these criminals, but I wouldn't give them any reward other than maybe a few minor privileges in prison, if they agree to submit to that truth serum interrogation. Knowing what makes them tick would be valuable information.
     
  8. precap2

    precap2 Private

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    Shooting that guy was a whole huge waste. Imagine the bullets and the beautiful car that was perforated. Someone could have done better than that, like roast his balls and feed him, then gradually feed him his rotten brain. Good riddance to rotten rubbish:mad:
     
  9. fxtender

    fxtender Private

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    I would happily offer my services for such a worthy cause.;)
    yours truly, FxTender (and the 'Tender' part of the name hasn't anything to do with soft...THANKS for the article Pharaoh, good job!
     
    #9 fxtender, Aug 5, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2009
  10. Rick B

    Rick B Private

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    Come on! What are you gonna do--get rid of all our elected officials?;)
     

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