For the first part of his life, Barry Minkow made headlines for being the youngest person in United States business history to take a company public through an S-1 registration statement before he was 21 years old. However, his company, ZZZZ Best Co., Inc. (which at one time had a $300 million dollar public stock evaluation) was built on fraud and deceit. In an unprecedented case for its era, Barry Minkow was able to secure three clean audit opinions from two separate accounting firms, a cold comfort letter on the ZZZZ Best Co., Inc. registration statement from a large, prestigious Wall Street law firm, and another quarterly review and cold comfort letter from a Big 8 accounting firm. He amassed over $20 million in loans from 15 different banks, including three investment banks and several private individuals – all for a company whose actual revenues were 86% less than what they reported and who never earned a profit in the five years ZZZZ Best Co., Inc. was in business (October 1982 to July 1987).
Unlike most white-collar criminals, Barry Minkow did not receive a slap on the wrist and an 18-month stay at a golf course prison camp for his crimes. Quite the contrary… Mr. Minkow served more time in custody than Michael Milken, Nick Lesson and Leona Helmsley combined. For the most part, he served his sentence in maximum and medium security facilities and one of his cellmates was serving time for murder. As a result of this long prison stay, no one is better equipped to talk about the consequences of compromise than Barry Minkow. His incarceration time totaled seven years and four months (January 1988 to April 1995).
Since his release from prison, Mr. Minkow has traveled the country speaking to law enforcement agencies like the FBI, public accounting firms, the Institute of Internal Auditors, private business, and even the Pentagon. His subject matter varies from disclosing the techniques perpetrators use to deceive their victims to the methodology of circumventing current due diligence (that is used by banks and accounting firms) to the psychology of fraud. He draws not only on his experiences from ZZZZ Best; but also from his seven plus years of prison where he met some of the nation’s leading white-collar criminals. Mr. Minkow also participated in a video produced by the California Attorney General’s office dealing specifically with elder fraud.
He has also earned a Masters of Divinity Degree from Liberty University and serves as the senior pastor of Community Bible Church in San Diego, California (March 1997 to present). He speaks at non-profit organizations for little or no fee; always stressing how the line between legal and illegal can become blurry when faced with economic pressure. For the last 12 years, Mr. Minkow has made monthly restitution payments to the final victim of the ZZZZ Best fraud. He has written two books (most of the proceeds went to the victims of the ZZZZ Best fraud), hosted a national radio show on the Business News Network for four years, and is a frequent guest on many television shows.
In 2003 Barry Minkow proved the old adage “it takes one to know one” and began working undercover identifying financial crimes in progress. Before long, Barry was traveling across the country and internationally--sometimes secretly recording conversations in order to help law enforcement penetrate high dollar investment fraud schemes. Schemes that have impacted investors of all ages but were closed down because of the work of law enforcement and Mr. Minkow. As a result of this work, in October of 2005 the FBI wrote an official commendation letter acknowledging that Mr. Minkow had been involved in uncovering some 13 cases totaling millions of dollars which law enforcement had no knowledge of prior to his involvement. More “uncovering” cases have been added to this list of 13 since the issuing of this letter.
Although not a licensed private investigator, Mr. Minkow is the Co Founder of the Fraud Discovery Institute in San Diego, California and the Fraud Discovery Institute is a fully licensed private investigative agency in the state of California (License #24817).
Mr. Minkow speaks to executives and investors alike about the dangers of corporate fraud and the techniques criminals use to deceive victims. As an expert on fraud, he has appeared on national television networks including Fox News, CNN and CNBC. Barry is married to Lisa and has twin sons, Robert Irwin Minkow and Dylan Gene Minkow who were adopted at birth from Guatemala and are now 3 years old.