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Dos Vidanya Sasha

     

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In This Issue

   

 

The fraud and law enforcement communities have lost a champion. I'd like to tell his story, because it has relevance to who we are, how we do things, and the ultimate results.

 

Alexander Gorkin, PhD, was an often published writer in the John Cooke Fraud Report. He is responsible for educating many in the fraud community; sharing his knowledge freely to all who wanted to learn, and building the bridge that allowed American investigators to understand so much more about the Russians..

 

The first time his name appeared in JCFR was as a part of an article entitled "Emerging Crime, Emerging Nation,"  published shortly after I returned from a trip to Russia. I traveled there to learn the answer to a question. Is the vast amount of Russian Organized Crime we see is the US a product of Mother Russia, or it is it instead an opportunistic crime that is borne here in this country? Alex was among those I interviewed in Moscow; inside the heavily guarded compound that housed a detective agency of the likes that I never expected.

 

I'd anticipated finding a bunch of outdated 286 computers, yet walking into Unifile was like walking into the command control center of a spaceship. I expected records searches to take place in an underground warehouse, dark and feeling like the 1940's. Wrong again. I handed Alex the business card of the top executive at Baltic Insurance Company, the largest insurer at the time. Within 30 seconds of his entering the man's name into a computer, three pages of data spit out of the modern printer. On those pages was printed a life synopsis of the man, an investigative dream. I was soon to learn that the tracking capacities of Russian computers made our ChoicePoint, Accurint and Lexis Nexis looks like child's play. I interviewed Alex with the help of American Joe Serio, the then Russian operative from Kroll & Asociates. Alex spoke fluent English, but he got so excited answering and asking questions, that he would lapse into Russian. Joe, who spoke Russian better than most Russians do, translated. Not only did I get my story, but I made two new  friends in the process..

 

When he showed up to permanently live in the US less than three years later, I was thrilled for the fraud industry. Buried in Russian organized crime, companies were about to have access to the most amazing expert resource imaginable. Not only did he understand the Russian Criminal Justice system, he taught it at the college level in Moscow's leading Criminal Justice College. Soon after arriving here, Alex willingly taught the Russian segment at Alikim Media's first Cultural Diversity seminar. He continued making a contribution by writing numerous articles assisting fraud investigators and law enforcement, assisting our federal authorities with investigations and speaking to many investigative groups.  When researching subsequent articles, we could always count on Alex to fill in the details. The last full article he wrote concentrated on addressing the plight of Russian immigrants as they tried to acclimate to a new American culture. After specifically being asked why a Russian doctor would come to the US and end up involved in criminal enterprises, he offered an eye-opening explanation. He said that many top professionals were non-hirable in the American marketplace. Some were met by language difficulties, some by financial difficulties, some by monetary difficulties. Integration into the American culture was challenging, and many professionals were overcome with frustration. They chose the route of easy money

 

Alex, himself, faced some challenges. He had a very heavy Russian accent. A few within our own investigative community did not trust him ... or assign him work ... because of his ethnicity, not because of what he, as a man, was or stood for. He was honest to the core, although deeply troubled that the Russian criminal element in the US was casting a shadow  on the goodness of his people. He fought to clean up crime, often donating his expertise when investigators of companies needed help. He did it because he

cared. Deeply and completely.

 

On July 29, he wrote the following essay in the Russian section of the Denver News. It was the last thing he ever wrote. On July 30 he was dead, sadly by his own hand.  Dos Vidanya (goodbye), Sasha. I will greatly miss you my Russian friend.

 
LK
 

CULTURAL RELATIVITY

People everywhere share common problems. There solutions, however, vary. As people move from one culture to another, differences become apparent to them. Even cultures that appear similar on the surface may reflect many subtle contrasts.

As people grow up, they learn certain values and assumptions from their parents, teachers, books, newspapers, and television programs. Any list of values is arbitrary, because these values overlap with and support each other. A culture can be viewed as a collection of values and assumptions that go together to shape the way a group of people perceive and relate to the world around them.

Americans take pride in not being very philosophically or theoretically oriented. If they would even admit having a philosophy, it would probably be that of pragmatism: Will it make any money? Will it pay its own way? What can I gain from this activity? These are the kinds of questions Americans are likely to ask in their practical pursuit, not such questions as: "Will it be enjoyable?" or "Will it advance the cause of knowledge?"

The love of "practicality" has also caused Americans to view some professions more favorably than others. Management and economics, for example, are much more popular in the United States than philosophy and anthropology, Law and medicine are more valued than the arts

Americans believe it protects their individual freedoms, which is a value of supreme importance to them. Paradoxically, most Americans usually do not welcome criticisms that come from foreign visitors.

Americans consider their country to be superior, so it cannot be surprising that they often consider other countries to be inferior. The people in those other countries are assumed to be not as hardworking or sensible as Americans are; other economic systems are regarded as less efficient than the American economic system. They tend to suppose that people born in other countries are less fortunate than they are, and that most foreigners would prefer to live in the United States. The fact that millions of foreigners seek to enter or remain in the U.S. illegally every year supports this point of view.  The fact that billions of foreigners do not seek entry in the U.S. is ignored or discounted.

Copyright 2007 The John Cooke Fraud Report