George Sizler was an experienced man. He had a past checkered with financial statement fraud allegations and even a conviction for falsification of public documents. However, not many people in business today and in charge of the current investment industry are old enough to know about his very special history. George Sizler was well over 70 years of age and his conviction happened almost 30 years earlier — an entire generation ago. His anonymity among modern professionals afforded him a second chance to embark on his quest for money. This time around, he was determined to learn from his past mistakes and planned to work from the second row. He would leave the risk-taking to the young and greedy hotshots dreaming of founding the next Microsoft, Google or eBay.
This time he saw himself as the elder consultant sharing his profound knowledge with a group of mediocrely successful small-business owners. He promised them a deluge of investor money to buoy their struggling businesses and offered them his expertise as proof. They were IT entrepreneurs hoping to escape their garage or basement offices and start the next big thing on the Internet. Naiveté grew into solid egoism when these business owners started to realize the true rules of the game. Some of them left Sizler's scene early enough to escape the public prosecutor's searchlight. Others played a minor role on the edge of the scheme and actively pulled out when they realized they weren't ...