Bankers might be feeling public’s wrath — literally
A Los Angeles lawyer who had represented a failed subprime mortgage lender is found dead outside his home, having been shot in the head.
Three men allegedly invade the home of a former subprime lender, and are arrested after reportedly injuring three people inside.
Vandals target the home of the former CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland, smashing windows in the banker’s home and car.
Those are just three notable incidents of violence aimed at people who were in some way linked to the financial crisis that has unfolded over the past year. And while in many of those cases it’s unclear whether the incidents were politically motivated, or motivated by financial issues, or just a coincidence, the cases fit into a pattern of escalating crime and violence in the wake of the recession.
Matthew Padilla of the Orange Country Register reports on a series of violent incidents in California in some way linked to the financial collapse.
“While fortunes were won during the credit boom, reports of violence are now surfacing as California continues to struggle with the credit bust and fortunes lost,” Padilla writes, noting the case of lawyer Jeffrey Tidus, who was found dead outside his home in Los Angeles on Monday.
The Associated Press reports that Tidus had represented New Century Financial, which was the US’s second-largest subprime lender until the company went bust in 2007. Coincidentally or not, the SEC began legal proceedings against three New Century executives the day before Tidus was shot.
The same day that Tidus died, three men allegedly forced their way into the Newport Beach, California, home of Daniel Sadek, who had reportedly made billions in subprime loans before his company, Quick Loan Funding, went bankrupt in 2007. The Orange County Register reports that, two weeks earlier, a Mercedes parked in Sadek’s driveway was set on fire.
And these incidents are by no means limited to California. In a highly-publicized incident this spring, the home of a former CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland, one of the UK’s biggest banks, was vandalized. A local newspaper “received an email from an anonymous address reporting the house had been vandalised … in connection with the row over Sir Fred’s £700,000 [$1.2 million] pension payout,” the Daily Telegraph reported.
Criminologists have long noted a correlation between violent crimes and recession, but the phenomenon of business leaders being targeted — potentially for their roles in a financial loss of some kind — appears to be unique to this recession.
Northeastern University criminologist Jack Levin told the Christian Science Monitor that during the recession of the early 1990s, for example, there was a trend towards employee violence against employers and co-workers. The early 1990s “saw a dramatic increase in workplace violence committed by vengeful ex-workers who decided to come back and get even with their boss and their co-workers through the barrel of an AK-47,” Levin said.
The CSM reported:
And in the midst of this downturn, one study released Monday in Florida finds a link between domestic violence and economic tragedies like job loss and foreclosures. The Sunshine State saw an almost 40 percent jump in demand for domestic-violence centers, an increase related to the state of the economy, the study says. George Sheldon, secretary of Florida’s Department of Children and Families, calls the situation “the worst I’ve seen in years,” according to the Associated Press.
And a report released this year linked an upsurge in violence among teenagers to the recession.
BLACKMAIL ON THE RISE
In the wake of the much-publicized attempt to blackmail late night talk show host David Letterman, security companies are reporting a rise in the number of blackmail incidents, most of them apparently targeted at wealthy individuals, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Some private security experts say a growing number of clients are calling on them for protection from extortion threats. The severe recession and high unemployment rates, as well as general turmoil following last year’s economic meltdown, appear to be swelling the ranks of blackmailers, they say.
“The economy is at low ebb, and people are looking for a mark,” said security consultant Michael Guidry, chief executive of the Guidry Group, in Montgomery, Texas.
National statistics on blackmail are hard to get because extortion can be a federal or state crime and is charged under a number of different statutes, including larceny, wire fraud and mail fraud. The number of defendants in such federal cases has averaged about 145 per year since 1994, except in 2002, when they suddenly spiked to 205 during the last recession.