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Monday, March 11, 2013

"I am no longer that person"

From today's NY Times:

Hedge Fund Manager Found and Jailed in Fraud

Tom Solo/Picture Alliance, via DPA

FRANKFURT — Florian Homm, a flamboyant former hedge fund manager who spent the last five years in hiding, was arrested in Italy and faces extradition to the United States on securities fraud charges which could expose him to a lengthy prison sentence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

The Italian police arrested Mr. Homm, a 53-year-old German who holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University, on Friday at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the F.B.I. said. Mr. Homm is accused of defrauding investors of at least $200 million, the F.B.I. said. The most serious of the four felony charges carry maximum sentences of 25 years in prison...

Mr. Homm resigned as head of Absolute Capital in the middle of the night on Sept. 18, 2007. By his own account, he boarded a private plane in Majorca, his Calvin Klein underwear stuffed with cash, and made his way to Colombia, where he lived under an assumed name.

But Mr. Homm said he was never a fugitive. He said he dropped from view because he wanted to find himself, and also because some dubious people with whom he had done business were trying to kill him. Mr. Homm reappeared in November when he gave clandestine media interviews to promote a book he wrote, “Rogue Financier: The Adventures of an Estranged Capitalist.”

The book was intended as a cautionary tale, Mr. Homm said in a November telephone interview. “The pursuit of happiness is not correlated with the pursuit of money,” he said. In the book and interview, Mr. Homm insisted he was no longer the same person who once owned a stake in a Berlin brothel and lived in a $5 million residence on Majorca with a Russian table dancer. He said he prayed daily and was devoting his energy to charity work....

Whenever I hear that someone facing trial has been engaging in good works, I think, aha, he's trying to get the judge to show leniency.

But whenever someone claims that he is not the same person he was before, what I hear is, "I am a sociopath."

This is a frequent theme with sociopaths. They are forever claiming to have turned over a new leaf, to have reformed. And they always seem to expect people to believe them. 

But we are who we are. Our actions may change based on circumstance, but our basic psychology -- our reactions, if you will -- remain the same. (It's all pretty much set at a very early age.)

And a sociopath, which is what Mr. Homm would have to be given his extensive history of swindling, has about as much chance of shedding his sociopathy as he has of changing his ethnicity.

The next time you hear someone claim he's a changed man, beware.


Anonymous said...

Some day, a brilliant scientist will invent a Repersonating Machine, and then we can close all the prisons by making all criminals "no longer that person." Hopefully, the new person will not be worse than the previous iteration.

John Craig said...

Anon --
That would be nice. Though when it comes to sociopaths, I'd settle for a Depersonating machine.

Anonymous said...

"I don't want to be held to account (and I think I can con you)"

John Craig said...

G --
Is that a personal statement (it IS in character) or your summation of what the sociopaths described in the post are saying?

Anonymous said...

John, you give me too much credit. How could I con YOU?

John Craig said...

G --
Actually, you never get ENOUGH credit. And as far as conning me, you certainly wouldn't be the first.

Wodgina said...

Hi John, love your blog. I actually found it about a year ago when I was searching for 'is Lance Armstrong a Sociopath?'I'm a huge fan of cycling and my Dad called hime a robot years back.

I became interested in sociopaths after being a victim of one and they continue to facinate me. I actually picked up on them be dodgy straight away although I know this is rare... they still got me though (hardly suprising!). He convinced all the decision makers at my workplace I was a bully and got me sacked.

I still know this person and my friends/co-workers still fall for his imitations of being a real person. Blows my mind! I think they know but still go along with it or do for a while and then forget?

I am glad I am not a sociopath but think they have a purpose in this world.

John Craig said...

Wodgina --
Thank you very much. Yes, a lot of people seem to have found this blog by Googling "Lance Armstrong sociopath" or something like that. I'm happy that the public perception has finally caught up to the reality of his personality.

I came by my fascination with sociopaths the same way. If you come from a normal family, it's just unbelievable at first to discover that such creatures exist. But they do, they're not uncommon -- unfortunately -- and a lot of them become very famous, like Lance.

Not so sure I agree with your assessment that they have a purpose in this world though, unless it's to make the rest of us suffer.

Wodgina said...

Hi John,

99% of people who deal with this sociopath who ruined my career have no problems at all. If he picks you out though you are gone!

Sociopaths are often very successful, start business, crush people and most of the time will never be caught out. Women also love though the sociopath.

Drives me nuts to see people socialising with this guy and him making facebook posts which are so contrived ...but people lap it it up, they love him.

I now suspect a family (who are part of my extended family) maybe ones. Is that possible? A whole family? my Dad again picked them out. Anyway, everyone loves them but my Dad said 'eventually everyone get's scewed by that family'.

Anyway thanks for letting me post, I'm very slowly coming to terms with all this.

John Craig said...

Wodgina --
Yes, it's frustrating to watch a sociopath's success. And they are successful in business and with women as well. Eventually people wise up to them, but by then it's usually too late, the sociopath has gotten what he wants from them and has moved on.

Sociopathy does run in families, if the parents are sociopaths they are not going to show the kids the kind of love it takes to bring up a normal (non-sociopathic) child, and the cycle continues. Though in my experience it's rare for two sociopaths to marry, usually sociopaths prefer to marry "victims," people who aren't wise to their tricks and whom they can manipulate.