Sam Antar is the convicted felon CFO of Crazy Eddie, a retail fraud back in the 80s. His website whitecollarfraud.com is actually excellent and worth reading as it explains his participation in the fraud. Currently, Antar is a “reformed” fraud fighter that writes about fraud and “educates” others on how to spot a fraud. I am highly skeptical of his current work on his blog at whitecollarfraud.blogspot.com.
In Antar I see shades of his (former?) buddy Barry Minkow, a “reformed” fraud fighter who decided to commit fraud again and landed in jail for a second time.
Antar’s post “Is Overstock.com Trying to Cook The Books, Again?”
One of his points in his latest Overstock hit piece is that Overstock has changed the useful life over which computer hardware and software is depreciated.
The depreciation for computer software has changed from 2-3 years to 2-4 years.
The depreciation for computer hardware has changed from 3 years to 3-4 years.
He has a point in that the accounting has become slightly more aggressive. But honestly, the change is so small that it would hardly matter. It is nothing compared to Continental Resources’ accounting. They depreciate their ERP software over 25 years.
What Continental is doing looks fairly egregious to me. What Overstock is doing is still within reason.
In general, I think that Antar is making mountains out of molehills. His attack on Overstock seems fairly weak.
With so much fraud out there, how can Antar find so little???
There are many places to look for fraud:
- Pump and dump penny stocks. When the stock promoters state how much they are paid to promote a stock, it’s pretty obvious.
- Junior mining. See my post on “How would a sociopath fleece investors in mining?“.
- Independent oil and gas.
Chinese reverse mergers.
- Development-stage pharmaceutical drugs.
- Stocks with extremely expensive borrows. See my post on “Guess the short thesis”.
- Stocks with very high short interest.
Given that there is so much fraud and questionable accounting out there, I’m surprised at how little he has uncovered. As well, his targets are unusual.
- Some of them just aren’t that scummy relative to the worst stuff out there. What they’re doing isn’t particularly egregious. When it comes to depreciating software, Overstock is clearly bested by Continental Resources.
- For a former retail CFO, I’m surprised that he isn’t writing about retail stocks. Many short sellers see many similarities between Antar’s Crazy Eddie fraud and Tile Shop (TTS). I personally think that there is a very high chance that Tile Shop will become the next Crazy Eddie. Instead of writing about these retail stocks, Antar has attacked companies such as Tesla, Overstock (not a bricks and mortar retailer), Zagg, Green Mountain, etc.
- The stocks Antar has chosen to attack are all heavily shorted. To me, it looks like he is trying to engage in bear raiding (the opposite of pumping and dumping) on behalf of hedge funds who are short those particular stocks.
Don’t trust Sam Antar. Don’t trust me. Do your own homework!
*Disclosure: No current positions in stocks that Antar has attacked: TSLA, OSTK, ZAGG, JCOM, GMCR. No current positions in CLR or TTS.