Look Past a Person’s Title

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Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Adhering to this little bit of wisdom can really help us grow as individuals, accept new things, and the list goes on. But if you have something that may be valuable to others, you need to realize that this saying really isn’t enough. John Donald Cody was an incredibly accomplished man with a very unique personality which proved to be attractive. He graduated from Harvard Law but if that’s not good enough for you, he also has a background in military intelligence. With a successful history in law and his own practice, people didn’t find reason to suspect any foul play.

Well I guess his public image took a turn in a different direction when he hit the age of 36. Despite his impressive resume, nothing positive can really come from conning clients out of $100,000. I’ll call this a pivoting point and fast forward to October 2nd, 2012. The linked article describes the capture of ‘Bobby Thompson,’ the pseudonym used by Cody during his Navy vet charity scams that net him over $100 million. Some of the pictures provided within the article show Cody next to a few high profile Republicans whom donated to his fake charity.

The ultimate goal of this post was to use Cody’s story to provide a bit of perspective in regards to social engineering. Just because a person has a list of verifiable credentials doesn’t mean you should stop being skeptical. As students we don’t really have much that would attract con men like Cody, but as we travel down one of life’s many paths we may end up on their radar. If you have something to protect, you really must set your brain’s ‘default mode’ to skeptical or doubtful and you can’t make exceptions.

Links:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/feds-id-fraudster-behind-veterans-charity-scam-article-1.1172640

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/slideshow/life-con-man-bobby-thompson-16296074

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6 thoughts on “Look Past a Person’s Title

  1. Very interesting. Seemed like something out of a movie more than a real story. Its amazing how people can forge identities and live off them for so long.

    • Yeah, this guy was extremely smart as well, but that is a trait associated with many criminals. Intelligence can oftentimes breed different types of psychological issues. I’m assuming this guy idolized Frank Abagnale Jr (DiCaprio’s role in Catch Me if You Can) and his actions leading up to arrest were indicative that he wanted to be caught.

  2. Was this guy on any FBI most wanted lists and did he ever face criminal charges before? Also were was he planning to go with all of the money?

    • Yes, he was on the FBI’s most wanted list but the name he was listed under happened to be a pseudonym. He was arrested several times throughout his life, but somehow he was able to keep up with his lies and live as a different person each time. I think his plan was to go from safe house to safe house, living and collecting the money he had stashed away.

  3. With such an impressive background it’s surprising this guy turned to crime when he very well could have made a good amount of money legally. I guess some people are born natural con-men.

    • His life is most certainly very interesting. Isn’t there a show about the psychology of criminals? Why criminals decide to be criminals is very fascinating. Like many hackers both young and old, this guy got pleasure from the act and not the money. Haha, I guess it’s a perfect example of how money or college degrees can’t buy happiness.

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