Fraud allegations are everywhere — and it's only going to get worse

Fraud allegations are everywhere — and it's only going to get worse
When the tide goes out, you discover who's swimming naked, according to Warren BuffettTetra images/Getty Images

Good morning! It's Kaja Whitehouse signing in from New York City, where you can still find hotels that hand out loose sheets of toilet paper at check in. I'm filling in for Dan DeFrancesco, who will be back later this week.


Today, we have stories on the science behind the mushroom zombies in HBO's "The Last of Us;" Goldman's advice for making money in what's expected to be a volatile earnings season; and the tech founder getting rich off ChatGPT.

But first, get ready for a flood of frauds.

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1. This is gonna hurt.

A rising tide lifts all boats. And when the tide goes out, you get to see who is swimming naked. That's Warren Buffett's curious way of saying that everyone looks smart when the money is flowing. Once it stops, some people will get caught with their pants down.

Just take a look around and you will find no shortage of companies that have fallen (or are in danger of falling) from grace — from FTX to student loan fintech Frank, which JPMorgan says concocted almost four million customers to induce the bank to buy it. (Founders of both companies have denied any wrongdoing.)

Then there's the Adani Group, which lost a jaw-dropping $72 billion in market value after short-seller firm Hindenburg Research last week accused it of "brazen" market manipulation and accounting fraud. Adani Group, whose founder's net worth recently approached Elon Musk's, has vehemently denied the allegations.

According to Insider's Linette Lopez, this is just the tip of the iceberg.


Linette spoke to accounting pros and ex-Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement officials who say there are two types of fraud that tend to emerge when the free-money spigots get turned off. She points to examples going all the back to the Great Depression, as well as the dot-com bust and the financial crisis of 2008. Having lived through two of those crises, I can say her words ring nauseatingly true (unlike the fungus pandemic that turns people into zombies, although apparently that's not impossible either).

Read Linette's chilling predictions here.

In other news:

Fraud allegations are everywhere — and it's only going to get worse
Insider explores the science behind a mushroom apocoplysePhoto by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

2. Psst, wanna make some dough? Goldman Sachs' researchers have apparently concocted an investing strategy designed to be profitable whether a stock spikes or nose dives after an earnings report. Here's everything you need to know about the "straddle trade."


3. Could Wall Street get hit by the Adani Group fiasco? Bill Ackman seems to think so. Here's what he says about banks involved in a share sale of the Indian conglomerate that's been caught up in an explosive tit-for-tat with short seller Hindenburg Research.

4. Hey, ChatGPT, who's getting rich off you? I haven't tested how the bot (which can speak on almost any subject with a decent amount of authority) might answer this question. But Wall Street is placing its bets on a California chipmaker, helping its founder get richer to the tune of $5 billion.

5. Can eating Vegemite make you smarter? Regulators in Australia were expressing concerns about FTX as early as March 2022 — almost six months before its collapse, according to a new report.

6. Crypto endorsers get their day in court. From Madonna to Tom Brady, many celebrities who shilled for crypto or NFTs are either being sued civilly or facing regulatory scrutiny, according to the Wall Street Journal.

7. Behind every great man is a really strong woman. No, seriously. Joanna Welsh, a powerlifting champion with tattooed legs, was reportedly instrumental in helping Ken Griffin's Citadel post $16 billion in profits last year.


8. Blackstone steps up evictions, according to the Financial Times. As Insider has previously reported, this sets the stage for a protracted battle between one of the US's largest landlords and tenant advocacy groups.

9. WFH means more work? Instead of using the time we would have spent commuting to do things for ourselves, like exercise or reading to our kids, most of us usually just do this.

10. The mushroom apocalypse? If you've been watching HBO's "The Last of Us," you have probably been wondering whether a fungus can actually take over our brains and make us zombies. Scientists say it's unlikely, but not impossible.

Curated by Kaja Whitehouse in New York. Feedback or tips? Email Edited by Jeffrey Cane (tweet @jeffrey_cane) in New York and Hallam Bullock (tweet @hallam_bullock) in London.