Friend's a fraud. Freak out or fly on?
September 6, 2012 4:30 PM Subscribe
A formerly close friend (with some family ties) is building a career as a seminar leader by misrepresenting himself as a business success and giving paid seminars supported by a local government agency. Should I care?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've known this fellow for 15+ years: a genuinely decent person in a lot of ways, but tremendously entitled and flighty in others. And, in the course of those 15+ years, I've seen failures in day trading, gold investing, landlording, opening a car wash, starting a renovation company, buying and selling real estate, etc. All buoyed by a lot of family money that has ensured a freedom from any real consequence, but money that's just now starting to dry up. Most of these ventures have fizzled out, some have been kind of disasters (having to sell off the car wash before the bank seized it, getting into legal trouble over some dicey real estate deals, serial flirtation with bankruptcy, etc.) The latest venture was "business consultant," which I sort of shrugged off.
My wife, however, is hoping to open her own small business, and has started looking into local government support programs. To my surprise, they've started sending her invitations to seminars they're "sponsoring," costing non-trivial amounts of money, hosted by... my friend.
The bio being presented is that of somebody with thousands of hours of business experience (arguably true), who has created and run three wildly successful small businesses in the region over the past decade (terrifically false). Dozens of participants are paying in aggregate thousands of dollars on these, thanks (I'm guessing) the implicit stamp of approval that this government organization brings with it.
I am fantastically conflicted. This is somebody I consider a friend, albeit closer in the past than today, and with some family ties that I'd hate to break. I like his wife and kids a lot. But he's also a fabulist, and has an ironclad belief that he is destined for hand-over-fist amazing financial success – the qualities that have kind of cooled our friendship over the years.
I don't wish him harm. I'm happy, I guess, that he's found some sort of work that won't land him in jail or worse. He's run out of rope with family cash to keep failing consequence-free.
But I also feel that he's misrepresenting himself at best, flat-out lying at worst, and that he's doing active harm to both this well-meaning organization and the participants to these seminars by selling them all a bill of goods.
I also -- and this is my problem, I know -- hate confrontation. I'd hate to lose contact with other members of his family because this blows up, and if I confront him about this, it will blow up.
I also know some people that work for this government body, but in a different department, quite well. It wouldn't be hard to have a quiet word about my concerns and be fairly sure of confidentiality.
Do I shut up and carry on, and trust that the people running this government agency will eventually cotton to the fact that they're being peddled bullshit? Do I accept the fact that 99.9% of all "seminar speakers" are probably as poorly qualified as my friend and move on with my life? Do I confront him, knowing that this will just result in a broken friendship, lost ties with other people I like a lot, and endless drama among our circle of shared friends?
Your thoughts, hivemind?