When I began to write the book that would become Lucky Charm the Enron CEO was just going to trial – the catalyst for the book – and I remembered my own odd brush with a financial scam.
For me it was an awkward and disturbing moment in my life – I was to accompany two County Sheriffs, a detective and an auditor for the company I worked for to an office where I had installed computer software nearly a year before. I was aware of the multiple issues with the company in question, but I also knew the people there and considered them friends. Despite that, both morally and legally I couldn’t warn them of what I knew was coming. Instead, we entered their office. The receptionist hadn’t arrived yet. My job initially was to simply do one thing – shut down their computer system so they couldn’t transfer the money elsewhere or destroy the records. Because I knew them, and probably because I was unthreatening, I was requested to go into the office of the company president to tell him and the other executives that there were people waiting for them in the lobby, and then immediately go to shut down the computer system.
Now, I have to say, I didn’t much like the president of the company – he had a habit of declaring his devout Christianity at every opportunity – but there was at least one person in the room I liked. I was dismayed to learn he’d been just as deep in the scam as everyone else.
I delivered my message, and then walked to the computer room… past dozens of people who I knew would be out of a job in a few moments due to the greed of the three people now walking toward the lobby. To add insult to injury it was likely that none of them would be getting a paycheck that week – the company’s finances were being locked down at that very moment.
As I walked into the computer room something in my face must have told the in-house IT guy – another nice guy – that something was seriously wrong. If that didn’t do it, pushing the button that shut down the server certainly did. As insurance I also disconnected the network cable and took it with me. In the main room I could hear the consternation of the employees. I was also thinking of all the people who had entrusted their money to that company – of what would happen to the homes they were in the middle of buying or selling.
As I worked on various drafts of the novel, I researched and tried to understand the various kinds of Ponzi schemes and all the ways – large and small – that finances could be manipulated.
Bernie Madoff and R. Allen Stanford made it a lot clearer. Madoff stole from the rich. Stanford stole from everyone. Both took the walk of shame – handcuffed and escorted out of their offices.
Lucky Charm echoes much of those days, detailing the time spent on the road installing software, the offices and the type of people I met in them, but also the financial finagling.
Years would pass as the cases moved through the courts before the money could be released. The one thing I couldn’t detail in the story was the upheaval in the lives of those affected by these people – homes lost and dreams destroyed…
Lucky Charm is a fun and exciting book described as a “complex mystery/thriller that just happens to have a really good romance in the mix…” I hope you enjoy reading it.