In an economy this depressed, it can sometimes seem that fraud is the only honest living to be made. I see more and more news stories about fraud scams every day. The latest one I caught was about Annapolis resident Winnie Joanne Barefoot. She was recently sentenced to five years in prison for defrauding “banks, lenders, insurers and the Social Security Administration of $2.6 million.”
Reading that list of much maligned institutions I can’t help but think of ’30s gangsters like John Dillinger and the Barrow Gang who became folk heroes for robbing banks during the Great Depression. I wonder if Dillinger and the like would’ve captured the public’s imagination the way they did if, instead of criss-crossing the Midwest robbing banks at gunpoint and engaging in shootouts with police officers, they ripped off banks by taking out loans under stolen identities, received disability checks (if such a thing had existed) under false pretenses, and set up a business that sent phony bills to health insurers, as Barefoot did. I have to imagine they wouldn’t have. But on the other hand, neither would they have been gunned down, in all likelihood.
So, though Barefoot is unlikely to enjoy the consolation of being played by a modern-day Faye Dunaway (Hmmm… who would that be?) in a movie version of her exploits, it could be worse