A Word About Counterfeit Affiliations

By Noni Mausa

In the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, King Arthur and his companions come to a cave which is guarded by a terrible monster. The king and his men scoff when they see that the monster has every resemblance to an ordinary white rabbit. But as they approach the cave, the “white rabbit” shows itself to be a formidable killer, and in the end they have to use the Holy Hand Grenade to destroy it.

Things are not always what they appear, to state the obvious. Sometimes a spouse, or financial adviser, or police officer you are dealing with turns out to be acting not within that role, but instead as something entirely different — while claiming the status and privileges of that role. I call this situation “counterfeit affiliation”.

Very few bunny rabbits are capable of the sort of attack seen in the Python film, although I must say I have been attacked by a female Dutch rabbit whose technique was very similar to the rabbit in the film.

Human beings have a lot more scope when it comes to blurring the outlines of the roles they inhabit. In fact, there are probably few people aside from professionally trained butlers who can consistently stay solely within the bounds of a role.

However, when someone returns to their ostensible role only for the sake of establishing their cover identity, it’s reasonable to say that they are exhibiting counterfeit affiliation.

Of course this is far from a new insight. It’s such a grotty old chestnut that I wouldn’t even write about it, except that like most old scams and cons it lives today, fresh and vigorous, and needs to be spoken of.

The “Duck Standard” can be useful to distinguish a counterfeit from a real affiliate. No one attempting to establish the bona fides of a suspect duck is going to stop with listening for the quack and checking a feather. They will also watch the behavior of the duck, check for swimming and diving, hang around waiting for a few eggs, etc.

If, after a couple of weeks, you notice that there are no eggs, the duck is making late night phone calls to eastern Europe, all your ice cream (and your furniture!) is missing and your duck suddenly seems to have a lot of cash, you can assume you do not actually have a duck — you have a smalltime con artist sleeping on your sofa.

So, if a bank begins offering mortgages of around $1 million with no security and little documentation of the buyer’s ability to repay, and immediately turns around and sells these mortgages in an unrecognizable form to other people, it may look like a bank duck and dress in bank duck pinstripes, but I would call it some sort of a con artist, and not expect to see any eggs anytime soon. More stripes, yes, wider probably, but no eggs.

This post by Noni Mausa