Greed, American Style

GreedTelevision Show: American Greed (2007 – Present).  The tagline “Scams, Scoundrels, and Suckers” sets the stage for this show.  Narrated by actor Stacy Keach, this CNBC original prime-time series examines the dark side of the American Dream. 

The program focuses on the rise and fall of high-profile, highly successful business-people; some of the biggest corporate and white-collar crimes in recent U.S. history; and stories about common financial crimes (e.g. money laundering, Ponzi schemes, investment and real estate frauds, etc.) that affect thousands of everyday citizens. 

This latter group contains the stories I find most interesting as the overarching theme is that too often, generally ordinary citizens over reach, get greedy, and get burned.  The victims are typically people who invest large sums of money ($75,000, $300,000, $500,000, $1,000,000) on promises of guaranteed returns of 15%, 20%, and more. 

The question I always have is, “for people who you would believe have some level of sophistication with regards to investing – after all, they were able to establish portfolios that exceed five figures in many cases and six figures in some – why would they entrust their money to people and/or small firms that are way off the radar on the promise of exorbitant guaranteed returns?”  

SavvyInvestors know that there are very few true investment vehicles (e.g. savings bonds, CDs, US treasuries) that offer guaranteed rates of return and none of those will be anywhere near 15% or 20%. 

New episodes premier on CNBC Thursday nights at 8:00 pm ET.  Some episodes available for streaming at Amazon, Hulu, and iTunes.

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. This is a testament to the long-ingrained American mindset of “get more stuff”. We have been taught that this is the way to achieve happiness, fulfillment and the coveted American dream. We believe that without the latest gadgets, the most updated versions, the biggest and best of models, etc. we are somehow less than our neighbors.
    With this mentality comes the sense of urgency in gathering more stuff. Many realize that keeping up with the Jones family is impossible if patience & contentment reign. So they seek ways to accumulate in the shortest time possible. They’re now easy prey for those “get rich quick and have it all now” scams.
    The American dream is a nice thought. But, we need to have the “plant, cultivate, harvest” mentality. Too many of us want to skip the essential step of patient cultivation & it leaves us open to manipulation.

    • Taz, Love the “plant, cultivate, harvest” mentality sentiment. Well stated.

  2. People need to be aware of that nothing can yield more returns than average. It is always the greed which makes them invest in get rich scheme and eventually lose all those hard earned money.

    • Rita, Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. As the victims in these stories demonstrate, greed will catch up with you. SavvyInvestors realize that over-sized promises of guaranteed returns that exceed 10% are not realistic and wealth is not attained overnight. It is definitely a case of it is better to be the tortoise (conducting due diligence and practicing patience) than the hare (seeking shortcuts and being impatient).

  3. Leona (

    I agree–the safest vehicles normally yields paltry returns. I would not invest money where returns are far above averages for the market. I want to check out the show.

    • Absolutely! Every time I watch a show that illustrates the level of greed displayed by some investors, I am still blown away by the knowledge that they never conduct due diligence on the adviser and/or company they are doing business with; and never seem to question how the promised returns could possibly be delivered…legitimately.

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