Anta, at the age of 20, launched his inaugural store, Crazy Eddie, an electronics store renowned for its low prices and lively ambiance. As the business prospered, Anta swiftly expanded his empire by opening another store. However, from the very beginning, there were indications of fraudulent activities in Anta’s mind.
He refused to abide by the rules and began his business by secretly taking money from cash sales before they were recorded. The less cash he reported, the lower his taxes would be. With his close-knit family working for him, the amount taken gradually increased to a ratio of $1 for every $5 earned. By the time he opened his second store, Anta had made hundreds of thousands of dollars through this illicit practice. He paid his family discreetly with cash from these illegal profits. Anta soon realized that increasing his inventory was the most effective way to expand his assets.
Due to Anta’s implementation of competitive pricing, manufacturers began to withhold shipments. To acquire inventory, Anta relied on personal connections within the underground market. His approach involved purchasing damaged or pre-owned goods, repackaging them to appear brand new, and marketing them as unopened items. Additionally, Anta engaged in insurance fraud by filing multiple claims for store damage due to floods or fires. During assessments by insurance agents, Anta manipulated the situation by placing empty boxes saturated with water or exhibiting burn marks.
He pocketed and distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars from these claims, eventually accumulating a significant amount of wealth. Although he opened additional stores, Anta was aware that an audit was imminent. Recognizing that the inventory recorded in the books was incorrect, he sponsored his cousin, Sam Anta, to pursue an accounting degree. Once Sam graduated, he landed a job at the CPA firm responsible for auditing Crazy Eddie. With insider information, Eddie could anticipate upcoming audits and manipulate inventory accordingly. As a result, Eddie began to generate millions of dollars through skimming by 1978.
He concealed cash in safety deposit boxes, walls, ceilings, and various other places until he ran out of hiding spots at the mint. To avoid detection, he began making monthly trips to Tell Aviva, Israel where he could deposit the cash into different accounts. Eventually, he enlisted his wife and other family members to assist with transporting the money. In 1984, Eddie Anta decided he wanted to make his actions public. After extensive research, he realized that a thorough audit was necessary. He contacted Sam Anta to arrange for an inexperienced auditor to review the stores.
By this time, Crazy Eddie has transported inventory from other stores to his main store in order to present it to the auditor. He would then proceed to open several boxes, displaying a sample of the inventory to the auditor, while assigning an employee to count it. Taking advantage of the auditor’s distraction, Crazy Eddie manipulated numbers on his inventory count worksheets, artificially increasing them. Additionally, he managed to steal a schedule detailing his upcoming stops, enabling him to transfer inventory to the next store for the subsequent inventory count. The auditor ultimately perceives Crazy Eddie as a prosperous company with 13 stores and grants permission for them to go public.
After the initial public offering, Eddie Anta opened 26 new stores in the trim-state area, and he sold $40 million worth of his shares. However, the company was not built on a solid foundation, lacking both inventory and funds. Consequently, Eddie became stressed and resorted to infidelity, causing his wife and sister to discover his affair in 1984. This incident led to immense turmoil within the close-knit family and amplified issues within the stores, as the disparity between their actual possessions and their claimed possessions grew wider. Recognizing that it was only a matter of time before Eddie’s indiscretions were exposed, Sam Anta attempted to communicate with him.
Eddie cashes out another $30 million of his own shares, which causes people to question the legitimacy of Crazy Eddie. Eventually, a new company acquires Crazy Eddie through a hostile bid and uncovers the lies upon which Eddie had built the business, including $80 million worth of nonexistent merchandise. When the police get involved, they discover that Eddie has fled to Israel with suitcases full of cash. As Sam becomes a target, he decides to confess to the police and reveal all of the fraud committed by Eddie. As a result, an international manhunt ensues.
Eddie Anta made a trip to Geneva, Switzerland after a two-year period in order to withdraw money from a secret account. However, upon arrival, he discovered that the account had been frozen. The Swiss authorities promptly contacted their counterparts in the United States after identifying Anta and his account. Despite this setback, Anta managed to escape back to Israel where he was ultimately apprehended by a female officer. Eventually, Anta admitted guilt for 17 counts of fraud within the United States legal system. As a consequence, he is now confronted with fines and restitution amounting to $150 million as well as civil lawsuits totaling nearly $1 billion. Following an 8-year prison sentence, Anta was released in 1999 having served only 6 years.