This book tells the fscinating story of a highly intelligent boy who, for whatever reasons, didn't thrive at school (and was actually expelled from several schools) and ended up without any formal qualifications. Instead, he grew into a young adult using his considerable brainpower to extract vast sums of money from credit card organizations. The book explains some of the techniques involved, though hopefully not in enough detail to encourage others to follow the criminal's example. Indeed, even as we read about his high living in luxury hotels in London, Belfast, Dublin, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Dublin, Sydney, the Bahamas, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other places, we are regularly reminded that the criminal was constantly on the run. Even so, he spent spells in prison in Canada as well as Britain, usually for a length of time that seems lenient in retrospect.
When the criminal tried to stabilize his life in Belfast, chosen because it is part of the UK but with its own distinctive police force, he learned that he couldn't do so for any length of time because people started wondering how he really came by his wealth. People can spot the difference between those who are genuinely wealthy and those who are not, even without any evidence. The stories that the criminal told just didn't add up. When he was continually on the move, people didn't see him for long enough to worry about such matters. So it was that a long spell in Belfast combined with regular visits to certain other places, especially Edinburgh and his parents' adopted home of Glasgow, made it increasingly difficult for the criminal to operate effectively in the places he liked. As the criminal acknowledges, he might have evaded the police for much longer had he continually sought out new places to visit. Somewhere along the way, the criminal realized that his life of crime, while having its moments, would be ultimately unsustainable. The excitement of all the international travel and the lavish spending on luxury goods most of which he couldn't use, was fading. The criminal releazed that the police would eventually catch up with him once and for all, come what may.
The other side of the story, from the police perspective, gets limited coverage here but this book is the story of the criminal, so that's fair enough. Nevertheless, the author discussed the case with at least one of the detectives involved. He was based at Heathrow Airport, but what becomes clear is that the various police forces involved focused on their own local cases although they alerted each other if the criminal was captive and whenn he was scheduled to be released. Whether this was incompetence or whether the police were constrained by the way that policing operates in Britain, I can't say for certain. It looks like incompetence but I've seen how how other British public services operate and I know that it may not be. In that case, politicians should read this book and see whether there is a need to change police organization in Britain.
Meanwhile, the Heathrow detective built up a long list of crimes based on information supplied by credit card organizations. Unfortunately, this information was of a historical nature so all he could really do was wait until one of the other police forces caught the criminal and alerted him. Eventually this happened and, finally, a case came to court based on a s substantial number of crimes. Although the criminal got his longest sentence yet imposed, I suspect that most people would regard it as lenient, especially with all the time deducted for good behaviour while inside prison.
Maybe the criminal will spend the rest of his life as a law-abiding citizen, but his job opportunities are limited, not only by his criminality but also by his lack of formal education. For somebody who started to read books enthusiastically long before he reached school age, this is a complete and utter waste of talent.
Although the education system as such is not mentioned in the book, the criminal's story confirms my fears about the way in which the British education system fails to cater adequately cater for the needs of highly intelligent children. It is an issue that politicians need to examine, as are the issues of discipline and bullying in schools. I'm not advocating a return to grammar schools, which would in any case not address the crimninal's problems (which started at primary school) but the present system clearly doesn't work. Far too often, we hear that intelligent children will cope with school anyway because their enjoyment of the academic work will compensate for whatever else happens. Although an extreme case, the criminal proves otherwise. Whatever the shortcomings of police, schools or politicians, the cdriminal's story makes a highly entertaining read.