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The Successful Frauditor's Casebook by Peter Tickner

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Chapter 19

Firepower: a bitter pill to swallow

The public will believe anything, as long as it is not founded on truth.

Edith Sitwell (1887–1964)

FIREPOWER, A LITTLE BLUE PILL AND TIM JOHNSTON

Aficionados of the Hollywood blockbuster ‘The Matrix’ will recall that the hero, Neo, has to choose between a blue pill and a red pill. The blue pill leaves his perception of reality and life as it is but the red pill changes everything. Neo chooses the red pill. Tim Johnston built business empires in New Zealand and then Australia on the back of a little blue pill that in reality left things as unchanged as the Matrix’s blue pill. But there was much, much more to his deceptions than a simple con trick.

Case background

Tim Johnston had an early career in Australia as a sales manager with a shampoo company and then a time working in property sales with a well-known businessman in the mid 1980s. He had moved in a hurry to New Zealand in 1991, at the point when he split up with his then fiancée, the daughter of the businessman. Whether that was what triggered his flight from Sydney one can only speculate. But, once he had relocated, Tim Johnston soon moved into the big time with his blue pill, sold to unsuspecting New Zealanders as a super energy efficient and cleansing agent that increased car engine life and massively enhanced fuel economy. Johnston was a natural seller of any product or idea, with a persuasive charm that many people found hard to resist face-to-face.

When the New Zealand ...

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