Joe Lewis currency trader. Google that now, those exact words “Joe Lewis currency trader” and you’ll come up with a Wikipedia entry for (surprise, surprise) Joe Lewis a British businessman famous for… Yes, well done, you guessed it; currency trading.
Give yourself a biscuit.
So what’s the big deal?
There is Joe Lewis the currency trader and then there is Joe Lewis the alleged Ponzi scheme fraudster. Two completely different people, same name.
Why is this significant? Because Joe Lewis the currency trader is famous within the world of finance, and Joe Lewis the alleged Ponzi scheme fraudster is soon to be infamous within the world of finance.
The Ponzi Joe story was originally reported by the Telegraph yesterday. The long and the short of it is that after a few erratic emails saying 'Yes, I've got your money' and then "No, I don't have your money' and then 'Oh, I’m terribly sorry', it appears that Ponzi Joe has either blown away or run off with around £130 million ($200million) of client funds.
What amazed me was that no one mentioned that Ponzi Joe shared the same name as the legendary currency trader. The sad reason for this, I can only surmise, is that so few financial journalists have a deep enough knowledge of the financial world. Not knowing the name Joe Lewis when it comes to currencies is a bit like a professor of WWII history saying 'who is that wildly gesticulating chap with the Charlie Chaplin moustache in that black and white newsreel'.
In this particular story the name is important. It doesn’t take the deductive skills of Sherlock Holmes to work out (it is elementary dear Watson) that Ponzi Joe has been helped, and his investors mislead, by the fact that he was running (an alleged) currency investment scam and his name was Joe Lewis.
I kindly draw your attention to the roly-poly, baby faced 17-year-old high school senior investor Mohammed 'Mo' Islam, who at one point a few weeks ago, according to some financial media, had made $72 million investing in the markets.
Like most bankers I’m not that good with numbers, but even I (and many others) reacted to this story with a rather generous amount of skepticism. In my case it involved me spitting coffee all over my laptop while screaming “Bull$*!t”
Apparently Mo and his mates had shown the reporter a bank statement with lots of zeroes after the number 72 which, surprise gosh and golly, later turned out to be a fake.
I’m no journalist, but even I know you are required at least two separate and credible sources (unless you’re a blogger, hahah). A 17 year-old kid telling you he is a multimillionaire and showing you a piece of paper doesn’t really seem to qualify. Speaking of credible sources. Considering that this young fellow was underage, why didn’t any of the reporters stop to think a bit and ask his mum if all this stuff was true? Based on reports after the hoax was uncovered her reaction would have been newsworthy on its own merits.
One more thing! According to the young man himself, he was trading on margin. Surely in America you need signed consent on the account opening papers from mum and dad to begin trading!