Octopus is a real-life thriller that tells the inside story of an audacious hedge fund fraud and the wild search, by a colorful cast of rogues and schemers, for a “secret market” beneath the financial market we all know.
Sam Israel was a man who seemed to have it all – until the hedge fund he ran, Bayou, imploded and he became the target of a nationwide manhunt. Born into one of America’s most illustrious trading families, Israel was determined to strike out on his own. So after apprenticing with one of the greatest hedge fund traders of the 1980’s, Sam founded his own fund and promised his investors guaranteed profits. With the proprietary computer program he’d created, he claimed to be able to predict the future.
But his future was already beginning to unravel.
After suffering devastating losses and fabricating fake returns, Israel knew it was only a matter of time before his real performance would be discovered, so when a former black-ops intelligence operative told him about a “secret market” run by the Fed, Israel bet his last $150 million on a chance to make billions. Thus began his year-long adventure in “the Upperworld” -- a society populated by clandestine bankers, shady European nobility, and spooks issuing cryptic warnings about a mysterious cabal known as the Octopus.
Whether the “secret market” was real or a con, Israel was all in – and as the pressures mounted and increasingly sinister violence crept into his life, he struggled to break free of the Octopus’ tentacles.
Relying on "hundreds of hours interviewing Sam Israel in prison" and "thousands of pages of legal documents," Lawson (The Brotherhoods) reveals the inside story of the infamously fraudulent hedge fund trader who in 2008 faked his own suicide in an attempt to escape imprisonment. As a prot g in the 80s to the successful but ethically dubious Frederic J. Graber, Israel quickly learned that shirking the rules was the quickest way to a buck. But by the late 90s, Israel's independent hedge fund venture, Bayou, was in serious trouble the promise of guaranteed returns had driven the greedy financier to engage in increasingly unsavory business practices. Things hardly improved, but Israel's willingness to dissemble grew as time went on, Israel became involved with ever shadier individuals; the job of upholding Bayou's manifold lies amounting to a kind of full-time counter-espionage. One such contact, intelligence operative and contract killer Robert Booth Nichols, informed a desperate Israel of a secret market run by the world's 13 most powerful families and for which the Fed is ostensibly "nothing but a front." Needless to say, things didn't turn out well for Israel, but the tale of his fraught journey makes for an exhilarating page-turner.
That's an eye-opening experience. This book might save thousands who want to try shortcuts to the world of Rich Crooks.
As Sam Israel said it's a matter of time, the con of Wallstreet would be unraveled.
After reading this book, I would never trust my money to Crooks from banking and brokerage.
Wall Street Mystery Caper
Octopus is a great book. From the first page I couldn't put it down. it is meticulously researched, the interviews of the main players (especially Sam Israel) are conducted very well, and the financial jargon is explained in an interesting, readable way.
What's awesome is that this book has something for everyone: it's an account of Wall Streets ever increasing delusion and dangerousness since the 1980's; a chronicle of a sophisticated financial con man's playbook; an international espionage thriller; and a good old-fashioned mystery. The best part? Well...I won't say, but the ending makes the reader wonder who really got conned on Wall Street--you can't make this stuff up. Highly recommended.
Octopus is an amazing read!
Guy Lawson's writing of Sam Israel's unbelievable story is captivating. It does not take a person even interested in Wall Street to be entranced completely by this book. The fact that it is nonfiction is what is so shocking. Highly recommend this book. More from Guy Lawson please!