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Bernie Madoff in "Tricksters & Con Artists" (or "Uncle Ziggy, Cousin Bernie, and the Big Mistake")

Your Uncle Ziggy, a retired entrepreneur who's created and sold several highly successful businesses, tells you that he has an "in" with a prominent Wall Street money manager, "His funds never lose money -- even in a down market,” Uncle Ziggy tells you. It sounds too good to be true. But, your uncle is a savvy investor, so he should know...

People at every level of intelligence and sophistication can fall prey to an experienced con artist. The word "con" comes from "confidence". The goal of a con artist is to gain your confidence with tricks that exploit your vulnerabilities. A good con artist will zero in on our weaknesses (like greed and vanity), while taking advantage of our better angels (like friendship, honesty, and trust).

Just as a con artist wants to trick people into believe information that is not true or "half-true". The con artist will write with "tricky" handwriting and will disguise something right in front of your face. Let's have a look at the handwriting of a few notorious tricksters. 

Can you read the numbers in Exhibit A? This writer is a pro at making you see what he wants you to see. When you meet someone who writes with ambiguous letters or numbers, you are almost always dealing with a trickster or con artist. These ambiguous numbers (his zip code) were written by Scott Peterson.

Exhibit B looks readable. Right? Well, not quite. Take a close look at the first word. Can you make it out? In context, most people will be able to see the word, "All." Now, cover all the other words with your fingers. Does it still look like the word, "All". Or does it look like "Ell" or "Gee" or maybe "Gel"? Exhibit B Belongs to Sante Kimes. The con artist and murderer whom a Judge described as "surely the most degenerate defendant who has appeared in this courtroom."     

Exhibit C is the signature of Bernard Madoff, the hedge fund manager who, allegedly, scammed investors out of $50 billion dollars. The only letter that you can read is the first letter "R" (and, yes, Bernard starts with a B not an R.). Madoff is so used to living a lie that it's no coincidence that his writing is confusing, ambiguous and difficult to interpret.

Interestingly, one successful investor, French financier, Patrick Littaye, used handwriting analysis to screen fund managers before investing his money with them. "Of course we made an exception with Mr. Madoff," Littaye said, as he couldn't "imagine asking him to pass a handwriting test," what with Madoff's sterling reputation on Wall Street.

Using handwriting to screen your potential business partners... great idea! Giving Bernie Madoff a free pass... big mistake!

Michelle Dresbold is a nationally known handwriting expert and personality profiler. Are you a doodler? Have a personal question or problem? Mail your doodles and handwritten letters to: The Handwriting Doctor, P.O. Box 1161, Monroeville, PA 15146.

© Copyright 2008 Michelle Dresbold and James Kwalwasser