1. An ultra-wealthy family was shown a financial strategy where they could purchase very large life insurance policies with a substantial single payment using pretax dollars. The strategy was quite complex and was only being made available to a very few families because the capacity of the insurance company was limited. It was essential to act quickly, and the ultra-wealthy family did. As it turns out, the life insurance was a fiction. 

2. The house was 30,000 square feet made from the highest quality materials. This ultra-wealthy family boasted they were able to get the house built at a ridiculously low cost. The builder made the arrangement so he would have permission to say he built the house for the family. Because the family was so well respected, it would generate more construction business so taking a loss on this house make sense. It turned out that he did not always use the highest quality materials. For instance, the family was told they were getting galvanized piping for water throughout the house. It turned out this was true except where the piping was invisible (e.g., in the walls). When out of sight, the piping was cheap plastic. 

3. A biohacker and a supposed medical expert came up with an underground treatment they proclaimed added decades to the lives of 60 and 70 year olds. It involved getting blood transfusions from 20 year olds. But there was more to these treatments than just blood transfusions, and the blood traveled through a machine that enhanced its potency. How the machine did this was a trade secret. The cost of the treatments were so expensive because of the number of machines was severely limited.  

According to Justin Breen, the driving force behind the exclusive BrEpic Network and co-author of Superior Results: Maximizing the Value of Your High-Performing Multi-Family Office, “A common definition of the ultra-wealthy is they have a net worth of US $30 million or more. They are in the cross-hairs of a legion of narcissistic and manipulative predators. A percentage of these predators are clinically psychopathic. They can be grifters with no regard for legalities or business people staying just this side of the lawful divide. In the latter case, the predators, for example, are promoting financial strategies and products, which are ethically questionable but have not yet been deemed illegal.”

What’s characteristic of just about all these predators is their ability to be what the ultra-wealthy want them to be. They often like what the ultra-wealthy families they are dealing with like. They regularly express many of the same political and social opinions, and they are very good about complimenting the ingenuity and intelligence of their intended victims. 

It's Always A Good Story
All these predators are quite proficient at weaving a compelling story. The narrative can be about a restricted approach they are willing to share only with them or having the mansion they want at a substantially lower cost or being able to access “secret” longevity treatments. It’s whatever the ultra-wealthy sincerely (sometimes desperately) want but would be unable to get without their assistance.

As always, when something sounds too good to be true, it just might be. Even though a large percentage of the ultra-wealthy are perpetually on guard to avoid being exploited, if the story is captivating enough and the circumstances are right, the ultra-wealthy can be taken in. Story elements, such as limited availability or that the ultra-wealthy family is special and deserves the advantages, can be very enticing.

Extensive Due Diligence
“The best way for the ultra-wealthy—and anyone for that matter—to avoid being exploited is extensive due diligence. This way the veracity of the claims are assessed. While many savvy ultra-wealthy families take this approach much of the time, it is those handful of times they fail to do so that can cause all the problems,” explains Jeb Burton, the managing principal of The Burton Law Firm.

The Russians have this proverb: Doveryai, no proveryai. Translation: Trust, but verify. President Ronald Regan adopted the phrase when negotiating with the Russians. It became his signature phrase and is an important lesson, which has been strongly embraced by the ultra-wealthy a lot of the time. It’s when they trust but fail to verify that problems are more likely to occur. In fact, it’s a powerful lesson just about everyone should embrace.

In all meaningful situations, everyone can be better off if they are circumspect about someone’s claims when he or she is trying to sell them something. “Not responding reflexively and thinking through the story presented will go a long way to not getting exploited,” says Breen. “Bringing in specialists to evaluate either what they have already done or are considering is an easy way for the ultra-wealthy to dodge predators.”

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