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The Pretender (2002)

 The Pretendor: How Martin Frankel fooled the financial world and led the feds on one of the most publicized manhunts in history is a book about Martin Frankel, a self-taught U.S. stock-broker, by Ellen Joan Pollock. The book describes the rise of Martin Frankel from an unemployed nerd who lived in his parent’s basement to a global businessman who hobnobbed with celebrities and politicians in US and Europe. It describes how Frankel, who did not like to leave his Greenwich (Connecticut) mansion, cheated investors of more than $200 million all over the country. It vividly describes the sex life of a perverted man who ‘obtained’ women from all over the US and many other countries of the world to build himself a modern-day harem. It discusses the financial decline of Martin Frankel and his eventual arrest in Germany when one his girl friends betrayed him to the feds.

Martin believed he was a genius at identifying stocks which could give better returns than what Warren Buffet was able to have. Unfortunately, Martin was never able to make the decision to invest (or divest) stocks. He believed he had ‘trader’s block’, a psychological barrier that prevented him from making trading decisions. Despite his alleged brilliance in identifying high-growth stocks, martin Frankel obtained his fortune from his acquisition of financially-troubled insurance companies which sold insurance policies to senior citizens through family-owned funeral homes in southern states such as Tennessee and Mississippi.

In the book, Martin Frankel is repeatedly described as a modern-day Howard Hughes (they were both eccentric millionaires and shared a common obsessive fear of germs). Martin Frankel was sentenced to a 17 year prison sentence after his arrest and continues to live in infamy as an admitted perpetrator of one of the largest insurance scams in American history.    

The book is worth reading, especially if you can overlook the somewhat unnecessary description of Martin Frankel’s sexual adventures.


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