On this throwback Thursday we take a look back at “Crazy Eddie” a consumer electronic chain of stores that was started in Brooklyn in 1971 by Eddie Antar. Before Best Buy, Circuit City and the internet, Crazy Eddie had carved out a large niche with 43 stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut and reportedly brought in 300 million dollars in sales.
Things seem to be going well for Eddie, only one small problem. The entire company was based on fraud. From the beginning nearly every aspect of the business was shady. They would fix broken equipment and sell it as new, they would lie about their inventory and fake damage for large amounts of insurance money.
In 1984, Eddie performed his biggest scam yet and managed to fool Wall Street and go public with the IPO “CRZY”. In 1987, the State of New Jersey started an investigation that would ultimately lead to the companies downfall. Crazy Eddie filed for bankruptcy in 1989. In 1990 after being formally charged on a wide range of fraud charges, Eddie fled to Israel. Turns out Eddie and his family were bringing large amounts of cash to Israel in the years prior, then opening bank accounts in Panama.
Now on the run, the US government alongside the Israel Government set up a small sting to catch him and bring him back to the states in 1993. Ultimately he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight years in 1997. In September of 2016 he passed away.
Turns out Crazy Eddie was actually insane.