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Affinity Fraud Preys On Group's Trust

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Affinity Fraud Preys On Group's Trust


Affinity Fraud Preys On Group's Trust

Affinity Fraud Preys On Group's Trust

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The alleged Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme is the latest example of a crime referred to as affinity fraud. The SEC has warned about these crimes, in which a member of an ethnic or religious group preys on his own. Ronald Cass, dean emeritus of the Boston University Law School, wrote about affinity fraud recently in The Wall Street Journal. He talks with Linda Wertheimer about why affinity fraud is relatively easy to pull off.


Over the Christmas season 40 years ago Americans did all the traditional things - decorated trees, lit candles, drank eggnog. And on that Christmas Eve, many added one very modern touch. They looked up to the heavens and imagined three men orbiting the moon.

This was the first time that anyone had ever ventured so far from our home planet. As part of our ongoing series, Echoes of 1968, NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce recalls the Apollo 8 mission and how it changed the way earthlings saw themselves and their world.

NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE: Christmas Eve, 1968, prime time TV - across the nation and the world, people were tuned in to a live broadcast from outer space. The astronauts pointed a camera to show the view out their window, the moon's gray craters and mountains passing by around 70 miles below. That was staggering enough, but then people heard this.


COMMANDER FRANK BORMAN: For all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message that we would like to send to you. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, let there be light.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: The decision to read the first ten verses of the King James Bible came from Commander Frank Borman. He knew the broadcast would have the biggest audience in history.

COMMANDER BORMAN: The only instructions that we got from NASA was to do something appropriate. That to me has always been the epitome of what this country's all about.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: He says, remember, NASA was racing Russia to the moon.

BORMAN: I was absolutely convinced that if my name would have been Leonov or Titov or something, I would have been extolling the virtues of Stalin or Lenin or somebody else.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Borman recently told this story at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. He and his two crew mates explained that NASA originally planned for their mission to stay in earth's orbit, like all previous missions. But in August of 1968, the agency's top officials made a bold decision. NASA suspected the Russians might soon try to send a cosmonaut into lunar orbit. So, Borman says, Apollo 8 would try to get there first.

BORMAN: The whole concept of changing our mission and getting ready in four months was done because that we were in that program, the can-do program, beat the Soviets to the moon.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: His crew mate Jim Lovell recalled the morning of the lunch, December 21st, he was standing near the top of the Saturn V, a new rocket taller than a 36-story building that was going to blast them away from earth. Noone had ever ridden a rocket this powerful. The sun wasn't up yet. Lovell looked down at the ground and saw the lights of the press corps.

JAMES LOVELL: And I looked at the press corps, and I said, these people are really serious. We're going to go to the moon! And it suddenly dawned on me that this was not another earth orbital flight.


Unidentified Male #1: 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 - 0. We have...

MONTAGNE: It's now moving. A huge spread of flame and smoke now reaching out. The booster is...

GREENFIELDBOYCE: The rocket hurled their tiny capsule towards the moon more than 200,000 miles away. As they moved out into space, the men became the first earthlings to watch their home planet grow smaller and smaller and smaller.


BORMAN: This is Apollo 8.

Unidentified Male #3: Go ahead.

BORMAN: I'm looking out my center window, which is a round window, and the window is bigger than the earth is right now.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Three days later, the night before Christmas.

BORMAN: This is Apollo 8, coming to you live from the moon.

GLYNN LUNNEY: Gee, you know, first time in history, human beings were away from the earth, they were orbiting around, you know, another body in our solar system.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Glynn Lunney was a NASA flight director. He was watching the TV broadcast at Houston's Mission Control. He says he was startled and deeply moved to hear the familiar words of Genesis beaming back from an alien world.

LUNNEY: It's almost like thinking about the human race growing up, coming out of the caves, growing up, making all the mistakes that we do, and then somehow having the intellectual ability to create something that goes to the moon. It's sort of like - it's our best.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: And it came at a time when Americans needed to be reminded that the best was still in them.

LUNNEY: There was a lot of stuff that preceded Apollo 8 in the calendar year of 1968, and almost all of it was bad.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: The year started with the shock of the Tet offensive in Vietnam. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, then Robert Kennedy. People were rioting in the streets.

Roger Launius is a space historian at the Smithsonian. He says because Apollo 8 came at the end of such a desperate time...

ROGER LAUNIUS: I would contend that it may have been even more of a striking success from a public perspective than the Apollo 11 landing was the next year.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: Because Apollo 8 was more than just a step closer to the moon. It was also a step towards a more true understanding of our own home planet.


BORMAN: Oh my God, look at that picture over there. There's the earth coming up. Wow, that's pretty.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: The astronauts saw a small, far away earth rising over the lunar horizon. They captured the image with a camera. The earth looked so beautiful and so fragile. The environmental movement was just beginning, and these photos made a lot of people see that, hey, the earth might actually need protecting. This vision of the earth also reminded the divided world of 1968 that everyone shared something important. The poet Archibald MacLeish published a Christmas day essay in the New York Times.


ARCHIBALD MACLEISH: To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold. Brothers who know now they are truly brothers.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: These days, the U.S. and Russia cooperate in space with each other and with other nations. The partners have almost completed the construction of a massive space station, someone lives up there 24/7, and NASA's aging shuttles take different people back and forth a few times a year. Glynn Lunney says, for the public, it's become routine.

LUNNEY: I know people have gotten used to shuttle flights, and it's hard to distinguish one shuttle flight from another today.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: NASA wants to return to the moon and someday go on to Mars, but even so, it's not clear if anything could recapture the transformative power of missions like Apollo 8.

LUNNEY: Hopefully we will have more Apollo 8 moments in the future, but I would grant you that it seems on the surface that opportunities for that are relatively a handful in number.

GREENFIELDBOYCE: He says he doesn't know what the next one might be.

Nell Greenfieldboyce, NPR News.

MONTAGNE: And you can see video and other images from the Apollo 8 mission, including that famous earth photo at


BORMAN: And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good earth.

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

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