Dream of: 04 April 1996 (2) "How Do You Defraud Someone"

I was standing outside the open door of a bathroom, talking to my father, who was inside the bathroom. I knew I was in Patriot in a house owned by my mother. This house wasn't the House in Patriot, but the large two-story frame house next door to that House. My mother had bought this house and was now living in it.

It was early in the morning, and I thought my father had probably just stopped in for a few minutes before he left to go to the Gallia County Farm, about 15 kilometers from Patriot. I thought he would like for me to accompany him to the Farm. I didn't particularly want to go, but since I thought he needed me to help him with some work on the Farm, I told him I would go with him.

Thus, after having talked so long, I was quite surprised when the man who finally walked out of the bathroom wasn't even my father. This slender black-haired man was only about 30 years old. Although not my father, he starkly looked like my father had looked at that age.

I had barely regained my composure when my father himself walked into the room. My father immediately approached the other man and led him over to the side where my father could talk with the man. I now realized who the other man was – he also lived in Patriot just a few houses away. I also knew that he was a lawyer, although he no longer practiced law.

Eavesdropping on the conversation between my father and the man, I quickly discerned the gist of their discussion. Although the details were unclear, they were talking about a land deal which had gone sour. It seemed that a corporation had either agreed to buy or sell (it was unclear which) the very house we were in. The other party in the deal had reneged, however, so the deal had collapsed. My father was friends with the owners of the corporation, and when my father had found out that the owners were going to need some legal representation, my father had recommended the black-haired lawyer with whom he was now talking.

All this seemed like routine business and it didn't much interest me, until my ear caught something quite surprising – the amount of money which the corporation was going to pay for the legal representation: $19,000! I couldn't believe it. I myself already knew most details of the land transaction – settling the matter shouldn't have been difficult. I was no longer actively practicing law, and I had no desire to practice again. However, this particular matter shouldn't take more than a few hours to work out. That was exactly the kind of legal work which I thought I would be willing to do – high pay with little time involved.

I wished my father had told me about the job before he had simply recommended the other lawyer for it. When it sounded as if the conversation between my father and the lawyer had ended, thinking the lawyer had left, I walked around the corner which separated me from my father and I blurted out, "$19,000 – that's a lot of money!"

Only after I had spoken did I see that the lawyer was still standing next to my father. I felt sheepish for my outburst – but no one seemed to mind. The lawyer even seemed somewhat glad to see me. Since he had already been hired, I had no intention of trying to take the job away from him, and he didn't seem threatened by me. Instead, realizing that I knew quite a bit about the matter, he began asking me questions. The first thing he asked was, "How do you defraud someone?"

The question seemed rather basic to me. I was unsure whether he was asking me about the legal elements of fraud, or the methods which people used to commit fraud. I began explaining that fraud could be committed in several ways.

As I talked, I had the impression the lawyer was capable, but that he simply didn't want to practice law. However, he also seemed to realize that in this case he would be able to make quite a bit of money for a small investment of time, and he had decided to do it. I also suggested to him that he could quickly settle the matter by filing bankruptcy for his client. I added that he would only be able to file bankruptcy if his client had no assets.

After I had spoken with him, he picked up a phone and began talking to someone. It sounded as if he were speaking to the man in charge of the corporation. It also sounded as if he were asking the right questions and that he knew what he was doing. From the tenor of the conversation, however, I was beginning to believe the case might turn out to be more complicated than the lawyer had originally thought. I felt a sense of relief that I wasn't going to be tied up in the matter.

My father walked over and began talking to me. He asked me if I knew that the little store down on the corner had recently been sold for $14,000. I told him I hadn't known that, but that $14,000 sounded cheap. I knew the value of land around Patriot was going up; maybe I should check into whether any more land could be bought cheaply there.

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