The success of most get-rich-quick schemes and other haphazardly planned money grabbing scams is next to nil. Of course, there are always a few that get people, but they’re generally short-lived and the risk far outweighs the reward. As it turns out, not trying to swindle people and earning money honestly is your best bet, but some people can’t be convinced of this and turn it into a hobby.
Let’s talk hobbies for a moment. You can choose anything. Growing steadily, the number of gardeners in the United States topped 117.6 million in the year preceding 2017. Great hobby. Make something grow. In the U.S., there are between 2.7 and 3.5 million scuba divers. A little less common, but still a solid hobby. We als0 love football in this country. Not just watching it but creating hobbies surrounding the sport. Fantasy football, gambling pools, snack-and-drink-fueled gatherings, you name it and football fans have made it so.
One man living in the tundra-esque Buffalo Bills country in Western New York thought he might use a football based hobby to scam some buddies out of some money. So, 60-year-old Robert Brandel made a squares gambling pool that totaled a $50,000 payout. In this pool, Brandel entered several fake names along with taking the names of a few actual people. He hoped this would boost his odds of winning the cash without drawing suspicion.
One survey of 1,000 people found that 44% of women surveyed found New Year’s Eve to be the holiday most associated with alcohol. The ladies responding to this survey must’ve forgotten the extensive booze-fueled debauchery of the Buffalo Bills’ football fanbase, let alone the veritable national holiday that Super Bowl Sunday is. Well, we like to think that Brandel didn’t totally have his wits about him throughout the execution of his whole scheme. His elaborate plan didn’t work out and he was left owing money he didn’t have to the actual people in the pool.
Uh oh. To get out of shelling out money he didn’t have, Brandel hatched yet another plan. He faked his own kidnapping and robbery. Police found Brandel bound with duct tape in the back of his own truck in a Tops supermarket parking lot 30 miles from his home in North Tonawanda, New York. He told the troopers that two men involved in the gambling pool kidnapped him, stole $16,000, and drove him around for two days before abandoning him.
“Troopers located the blue Ford F-150 parked with a single male occupant in the back seat with a rope tied around his neck attached to the head rest with his hands and ankles bound with duct tape,” the police reported.
After filing the kidnapping report, investigators began to get suspicious. Brandel was curiously unfazed by being robbed, kidnapped, and abandoned over a two day period. Oddly enough, it was his facial hair that caused the suspicion of the police to grow.
“We’re on the third day when we find him, but he’s pretty clean shaved around his beard. A normal person that’s abducted and has gone through something like that, their heart rate would be very high, they’re very worried, depressed, a lot of emotions that will be bubbling up,” said New York State Trooper James O’Callaghan.
Brandel showed no such signs and a little further inquiry determined that he made the whole thing up to get out of paying money to people he attempted to scam in the first place. The karmic layers are fascinating.
Brandel is being charged with a felony for attempting to scheme and defraud, plus a misdemeanor for falsifying a police report. Atop his losses from the gambling pool scheme, he’ll need to cough up additional funds for legal counsel and will probably never host a football betting pool ever again.
Thus concludes the brief tale of Buffalo’s Bernie Madoff.