Barry Minkow Now: Ex-Convict Talks Fraud, New Doc ‘King of the Con’

Dan Clarendon - Author
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Jan. 11 2022, Published 2:00 p.m. ET

Convicted conman Barry Minkow is now back in the spotlight in the Discovery+ docuseries King of the Con, which premieres on the streaming service on Jan. 14.

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“From whiz kid, to convict, to pastor, to fraud fighter, to convict yet again, Barry Minkow has become the master of self reinvention—just ask the countless individuals who fell victim to him over the years,” Discovery+ says in a press release for the series. “King of the Con gives true crime fans the ultimate look at how a scam artist can reinvent himself and get rich—many times over.”

Minkow says that he was “lying to get money” as he accumulated a million-dollar net worth.

In a new interview with the Southern California News Group, Minkow reflects on the decisions that have landed him behind bars.

As the News Group recaps, Minkow was 16 in 1982 when he founded carpet-cleaning company ZZZZ Best from his garage. At 20, he became the youngest person to take a company public. He was also a millionaire by the time he was 21, according to The Los Angeles Times.

In 1988, he was convicted of fraud. His business was the front to a mob-affiliated Ponzi scheme.

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He said, “My poor decision making, my compromise, my lying to get money” as he described the root of his problems. “I wanted to do what was right, but I was prepared to do what was wrong to survive, and always with the justification that as soon as I open my next office, I’ll pay off this check-kiting scheme, or I’ll pay off this credit card fraud, and when I get my next office, I’ll pay off the mob.”

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Barry Minkow was running a fraud while investigating frauds for the FCC.

Minkow served almost eight years of his 25-year sentence in federal prison. After finding faith during that time, he became a pastor of the San Diego Community Bible Church. He also founded the Fraud Discovery Institute to investigate fraud for the FBI and FCC, the News Group reports.

In 2011, however—after playing himself in the biopic Con Man, released in 2018—Minkow was busted for committing securities fraud during his work fraud-detection work. “I was secretly addicted to drugs, Oxycontin and Vicodin, living a double life uncovering fraud for the FBI and the FCC by day and by night commingling funds to support it all,” he tells the News Group.

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In 2014, while he was still in prison for that fraud bust, Minkow was convicted of embezzling $3 million from his church. “It was me lying to myself saying ‘I’m uncovering a billion dollars worth of fraud,’” he says now. “So in my mind, I could do any evil I want, so it doesn’t matter because I’m doing good.”

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You’ll hear Barry Minkow's story from the man himself in "King of the Con."

Discovery+ says that the new documentary features “one of the first interviews with Minkow discussing his life and crimes,” in its three-episode span.

“Dripped in iconic 80s flair and funky 90s pop, King of the Con catapults Minkow’s inconceivable story of deception, redemption, and deception again across four decades, exposing Barry Minkow as one of the most unbelievable conmen to ever exist,” the streaming service adds.

Talking to the News Group, Minkow says that the documentary is a warning. He said, “When you lie to get money, that thing has one ultimate destination. … Here’s who I’m trying to reach, and let’s make sure we’re real clear on this. If you lie to get money, or attempted to, if you’re an alcoholic, a drug addict or been in and out of prison, you’re my people. … I have a specific, limited targeted audience that I’m trying to reach.”

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