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Ruthless: How Enraged Investors Reclaimed Their Investments and Beat Wall Street by Phil Trupp

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Chapter 4. "I Have No Dreams"

The most essential gift...is a built-in, shockproof shit detector.

George Plimpton: "An Interview with Ernest Hemingway," The Paris Review, Spring, 1958

As February's shock faded and the snows of winter visited the East Coast, Sandy insisted that I get out of the house, away from the computer, the telephones, and the streams of Internet blog sites.

I was glued to the computer and finding my way deeper into the fight. It was obsessive. In a strange sort of way the ARS scandal was a little like the pack behavior I had noticed while working on a movie project a few years earlier. When I had finished writing the story, the wolves appeared out of nowhere demanding byline and screen credits. Their method of assault, like that of the ARS sellers, was to grab the money and run. I was forced to threaten legal action to protect my interests from being swallowed whole. The ARS scam reminded me of Samuel Goldwyn's classic remark that Hollywood isn't just about the money—it's about all the money. But unlike the Hollywood money changers, the Wall Street scammers were a lot less charming and infinitely more devious.

Wall Street creates a lack of transparency for obvious reasons. The business of making money out of thin air requires what syndicated columnist Michael Kinsley calls "transparent obfuscation." This is another way of saying that transparency and truth (facts) mean little if no one understands how to put the two together. Here's some language from a credit ...

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