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Cheating the System: Financial Fraud
If a situation presents itself and you could commit fraud and not suffer any consequences, would you do it? When someone thinks about committing fraud, they’re likely thinking about the financial benefits that can come from it. What goes through a person’s mind in the moments leading up to and during a fraudulent act? Is it about the money or is it more?
Our next guest, former licensed mortgage broker and now true crime author Matthew Cox was declared as “one of the most prolific mortgage fraud con artists of all time,” by CNBC’s American Greed. In this episode, Matt and I discuss his mindset around money before, during, and after his time in prison. He sheds some light on how perpetrators rationalize their behavior and what motivated him to commit fraud.
Matt’s criminal case received national media attention after he used forgeries, combined with stolen and synthetic identities to swindle America’s biggest banks out of an estimated $55 million. Despite numerous encounters with bank security, state and federal authorities, Cox narrowly, and quite luckily, avoided capture for nearly a decade. Eventually he topped the Secret Service’s most wanted list, and led the U.S. Marshals, FBI, and the Secret Service on a three-year chase, while jet-setting around the world.
Matthew Cox is a former-licensed mortgage broker and brokerage business owner. He is a nationally recognized expert on white-collar crimes, specifically, the creation of synthetic identities, the fraudulent acquisition of credit cards, personal loans, and mortgages, in addition to real-estate scams. He has consulted with both the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service, and he is also a former-federal inmate.
Matt has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Florida, giving him unique expertise in graphite, print making, graphic design, and, as it turns out, forgery.
Matt is a published author of several popular true crime books, including: Shark in the Housing Pool, Once a Gun Runner, Generation Oxy, Bent, and It’s Insanity.
Check out Matt Cox’s Inside True Crime channel on You Tube where he highlights unique, clever, and bizarre true crime stories.
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Click to Read Full Transcript
Bob Wheeler: [00:00:00] If a situation presents itself and you could commit fraud and not suffer any consequences, would you do it? When someone thinks about committing fraud, they’re likely thinking about the financial benefits that can come from it. What goes through a person’s mind in the moments leading up to and during a fraudulent act?
Is it about the money or is it more our next guest, former licensed mortgage broker, and now true crime author, Matthew? Was declared as one of the most prolific mortgage fraud con artists of all time by CNBC’s American Greed. In this episode, Matt and I discussed his mindset around money before, during, and after his time in prison.
He shed some light on how perpetrators rationalized their behavior and what motivated him to commit fraud. I’m Bob Wheeler, and this is Money you should ask, where we explore why we do what we do when it comes to money.[00:01:00]
Matthew Cox: Matthew
Bob Wheeler: Cox is a former licensed mortgage broker and brokerage business owner. He’s a nationally recognized expert on white collar crimes, specifically the creation of synthetic identities, the fraudulent acquisition of credit cards, personal loans, and mortgages. In addition to real estate scams, he has consulted with both the F B I and the US Secret Service, and he is also a former federal.
Match criminal case received national media attention after he used forgeries, combined with stolen and synthetic identities to swindle America’s biggest banks out of an estimated 55 million. Despite numerous encounters with bank security, state and federal authorities, Cox Narrowly and quite luckily, avoided capture for nearly a decade.
Eventually, he topped the Secret Service Most Wanted List and led the US Marshall’s, F B I, and the Secret Service on a three year chase [00:02:00] while jetsetting around the. Matt has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Florida, giving him unique expertise in graphite, printmaking, graphic design, and as it turns out, forgery.
He’s a published author of several popular true crime books, including Shark in the Housing Pool Once a Gun runner, generation Oxy Bent, and Its insanity. Check out Matt’s inside True Crime channel on YouTube where he highlights unique, clever, and bizarre true crime stories. Matt, thanks for coming on the show.
Thank you for
Matthew Cox: having me. So
Bob Wheeler: Matt, you started out in mortgage financing and all that kind of stuff, and when you were going into the mortgage industry, did you have this idea that like, hey, this will be a great place to commit some fraud, or was it that there was just some opportunities like stated loans and things that just presented themselves and said, Hey, here’s an opportunity.
Nobody’s paying a.
Matthew Cox: No, I went into it thinking it was a legitimate business. I’d been an insurance adjuster. I mean, I went to college, [00:03:00] like I had never broken the law or anything. It’s just literally, I was just in such a bad financial spot and my manager, my first loan, I basically, it had a 30 day late.
Like if you know anything about mortgages, you have to be 24 months having a perfect payment history on your rancher. Right. Case may be, and this person had been 30 days late on their rent. And my manager suggested I white it out and she said they’ll never catch it. And I was like, oh my God. Like, whoa. I was shocked.
But she was so flippant about it and I trusted her and she was like, oh listen, I do it all the time. It’s not a big deal. They’re never gonna catch it. There’s a ton of documents. They’re not gonna call, they’re not gonna ask. And even if they do, she’s like, it’s not a, the worst that’ll happen is you’ll lose your job.
Nobody’s calling the fbi . And I was, I really needed a loan to close and I whited it out and whatever. Four or five days later, the loan closed and I made like 3,500 bucks, and it just kind of emboldened me.
Bob Wheeler: Yeah, well, I mean, in a way there is a lot of complicity with the industry cuz [00:04:00] people want you to just do the loan.
People want you to make it happen. I know a lot of bankers and stuff that’ll say, eh, just make sure it works and as long as you pay the loan off, nobody cares.
Matthew Cox: Right? Yeah. That’s absolutely how people feel. You know, I think the pro, it is very easy to justify. I’m helping this person, I’m helping ’em get into a house, they’re gonna make the payments, they’re gonna, you know, you can justify anything if the situation is.
Bob Wheeler: so you said your financial situation was a little tight and so there was some motivation to make sure you got that 3,500 bucks. Do you remember when you started going, oh shoot, I’m doing this a little more often than I should, or, oh man, I’m crossing a line. Do you remember like, is there any hesitation or was this like, oh cool, I didn’t get caught, or it didn’t feel like you were doing anything really, cuz you’re helping people?
Matthew Cox: Initially, I. You know, it’s easy to justify. So I mean, sure. Yeah. Every time I would get caught I would think, oh man, I went way too far. Like, oh wow, they caught me. They this, [00:05:00] this is it. And then I would talk my way out of it and nothing would happen, . And I realized that I was getting better and better at it, to the point where I was getting caught less and less.
And so, like I said, every time I got away with it, I just became more and more em. Yeah. Was there ever a point when I was like, oh, I need to pull back, I need to stop, I need to, I, I know the right thing to say, .
Bob Wheeler: I’m not interested in the right thing to say I’m interested in.
Matthew Cox: No. Like, there was never really a time when there was multiple small times, but of course I immediately talked my way out of it and you know, and I got away with it and I was like, Hey, let’s keep going.
Bob Wheeler: Well, yeah, at a certain point the money’s coming in. The finances aren’t so bad and sort of looks a little sexy having a bigger bank account.
Matthew Cox: Yeah. Well, I mean, let’s face it, it’s fun to beat the system. It’s fun to try something and get away with it. I used to always say like, oh, I started because I needed the money and, and I did.
I needed the money. Right. It was absolutely, I needed the money. But the problem was is that a year [00:06:00] later, You’ve got plenty of money, right? Why are you doing it now? Well, now it’s a way of life and I enjoy it. I was good at it, and that was really it. Everybody wants to be good at something. Gotta be good at
Bob Wheeler: something.
And did you ever feel like I gotta keep looking over my shoulder, or at a certain point you’re like, I’m probably home free.
Matthew Cox: It’s funny. People ask me that, like, once again, I know what the appropriate answer is. Yeah, I was riddled with anxiety. I couldn’t sleep at night. I knew what I was doing. I was fine.
I was good. Life was good. I was taking, Paxil was like an anti-anxiety drug. I had Xanax, not that I think I was addicted or anything like that, but I think it handled any anxiety that I did. And I just remember people used to always joke, like, you could call up Matt and tell ’em, man, your whole house just burned down.
I’m here in front of your house with the fire department. It burned down. And I would be like, oh, okay. Well that’s cool. No big deal. Yeah, , I got homeowners, you know, I always make money on a fire. It’ll be all right. I mean, I didn’t have a lot of personal stuff, so I’m not [00:07:00] really attached to anything. I’ll get new pictures, like nothing really bothered me.
Yeah. And even when I was on the run, I was on the run for like three years. People were like, we maybe you were constantly worried, not. Yeah.
Bob Wheeler: And speaking about being on the run, when you’re on the run, I mean, can you use your at t m card? Do you have to work in cash? I mean, are they constantly looking for you or it’s just, eh, I need to be aware.
People are looking for me, but I’ll just go to Chicago or I’ll head over to. No, no. I was .
Matthew Cox: I was number one on the Secret Services. Both wanted Liz. Yeah, they were looking, they were looking pretty actively. So there were news programs, there were national magazine articles. There were the St. Peters were Times did about 35 articles on me alone.
I mean, I was in the Chicago Tribune. I was, they were looking. They were looking. But by the time I went on the run, I had already figured out how to steal someone’s identity. And go into the DMV and get a driver’s license in their name. I’ve had 27 driver’s [00:08:00] licenses in seven different states. I’ve had two dozen passports.
I’ve traveled in and outta the country. Passports were issued by the State Department. DMV issued all of the driver’s licenses, so. I would get pulled over and get traffic tickets. Listen, I sold a guy’s identity one time, bought a car and a house in his name, had credit cards in his name, the whole thing. I got so many tickets in his name.
I had to go to driving school as him . So I wasn’t concerned. I was more concerned about getting recognized. It wasn’t that concerned, but there were a few times when I actually got arrested, brought to the police station, and I saw my wanted poster and I caught my way out of it and they let me go. They didn’t know who I was.
And so I went and got plastic surgery. Like I’ve had two hair grafts, had a nose job. I had a, it’s called a mini face lift. Okay. And they go in your here, and they stuck out on the fat and teeth, done some lipo, you know? So I had some work. So I was, you know, I was okay. It was all right.
Bob Wheeler: That’s, and was there a vision?
Was there like, [00:09:00] here’s the plan. My 12 year plan is at a certain point, this is
Matthew Cox: a much better interview by the way, than I thought. , what is gonna be a very serious show?
Bob Wheeler: Oh, no . Okay. Sorry. It’s
Matthew Cox: much better. Cause I was like, what am I gonna, I don’t. Talk about finance. You don’t want finance advice from me.
Yeah, so, but okay, go ahead. So what was
Bob Wheeler: my, yeah, did you have a vision? Did you have a 10 year plan, a 12 year plan? Like I’ll be on the run for 50 years, but at some point I’ll go overseas. Like I’ll try to get back into the mortgage industry. ,
Matthew Cox: you remember the scene in the Joker where , Aaron, Batman. When they ask him when the Joker, he is like, do I look like I have a plan?
I’m just a dog chasing a car. Like I wouldn’t know what to do if I. So my plan consisted of, I figured at some point I’ll have three or 4 million, I’ll have a new identity, I’ll go to another country and I’ll set myself up. And ultimately that evolved as I’ve realized the authorities were probably getting pretty close.
Yeah, there was gonna be a program on Dateline. Dateline was gonna do like a one hour. [00:10:00] At that point, I started saying, okay, well I gotta leave. This is getting crazy. So I was gonna go to Australia and Australia At the time. If you went to Australia with like $200,000 in a business plan, you could go there.
They would allow you to buy, you could become what’s called a permanent resident alien. Okay? So I can’t vote. I can’t get a job, but I can live there and start a. Now I was gonna go with about 3 million and a business plan and in someone else’s name that’s not a felon. The reason I didn’t wanna try to be a citizen is at that point you get fingerprinted, but you, there were no fingerprinting.
If you were just a resident alien. So I was gonna go to Australia with several million dollars and that was the plan. It didn’t happen, the Secret Service, they were adamant that that wasn’t gonna happen. So yeah, it didn’t work out, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time. Just not all
Bob Wheeler: plans work out.
They don’t. They don’t. Now with the forgeries and all the different things, can you credit art class for that? I mean like, how did you get good at
Matthew Cox: this? I don’t think my professors really [00:11:00] thought that that was what they were training me for , but it did definitely worked out. Like I figured out how to make fake IDs.
I figured out how to make fake birth certificates, social security cards, basically documents that could pass mustard. And then what happens is when you’re building like a, a legend or like a synthetic identity or. You start with some forgeries to get the real documents and then you use those real documents to get more documents.
And before you know it, you don’t need the forgeries. You’ve got nothing but real documentation. You’re able to get driver’s licenses and passports and bank accounts and houses, and so yeah, it definitely, definitely, I mean, let’s face it. Most people just are not gonna be able to make a birth certificate.
They’re just not gonna be able how to kind of reverse engineer it. Yeah, not me. Not
Bob Wheeler: me. Now I read several articles and I’m curious, I thought this was funny cuz I was curious, like, was there an incident or in your childhood that you felt like, man, I just can’t beat the system and finally, here’s a way I can beat the system.
But this one article implied [00:12:00] that because you’re five six, and I’m five five, by the way, Because you were five six, you weren’t in the highest pecking order in South Florida. Right. And so you couldn’t get ahead legitimately. But like I’m five five, I’m an inch shorter. I haven’t been like super motivated to commit felonies yet.
Yet. I mean, it’s still possible there’s time, but I’m curious, like in your childhood, were there things where you were. Or was it just fun? Like it’s just fun to tell a story. It’s fun. The challenge or f the system, it screwed up my parents and I’m gonna get payback. Like, was there any of that or it was just like, I’m a dog chasing a car.
Matthew Cox: said, it was like, this is gonna sound horrible, but I was good at it. Yeah. Like I’d never been this good at anything ever. And I was confident, I was able to, most people that can’t, I’ve talked to bank robbers and drug dealers and guys that have done things that I’m like, that’s insane. You know, guys that have done home invasions, like, I would never do that.
And they’re like, you walked into a bank with completely [00:13:00] fake information, and handed to the person and sat there for 45 minutes to an hour, two hours. And I’m like, right. They’re like, oh, that’s insane. Right. So like, I would never, I’d be terrified. That seemed perfectly okay to me. Like I would argue with you if you were the loan officer or the manager and there was an issue with something like, I’m not leaving, we’re arguing, right?
now this is right. Call your manager, call this, do this, do that. Like, I’m not leaving. Well, we’re gonna call the police. Call the police. And they’re like, yo, Jesus, you know? And next thing you know, they’re cashing a check for you. So I was very confident about it and I was confident in my ability to do it.
And so as a result of that, I just continued on with that lifestyle because it’s a lot easier than getting a real. Yeah, you know, then you still have to
Bob Wheeler: work. It’s just, uh, different work.
Matthew Cox: Yeah, it’s different. It’s different work. You know, it’s funny cuz a decent person would’ve just gotten a full-time job and if he needed more money, he’d get a part-time job, and he’d work a little bit harder.
And that’s kind of when you know, you’re like, oh wow, you’re just a scumbag. Like, I decided to go with fraud because [00:14:00] it was easier and I was good at it instead of just getting a regular job and maybe getting another degree that was more useful at the time. But yeah. Well, hey, it
Bob Wheeler: pays a little quick. Yeah.
You know, it’s interesting, I mentioned this briefly before, but around this time when people were doing stated loans and there was a lot of fraud and people were buying houses they couldn’t afford and all that stuff, but I had a client who, coincidentally was named Matt, so I don’t know if there’s a commonality there, but Matt also did a lot of fraud to the tunes of millions and millions of dollars, and he was a client for mine for a very short period.
But when they caught. He basically said, well, Bob did everything . And so about five days before tax season, two agents walk into my office. They show me their guns to let me know I shouldn’t run, and I immediately almost wet my pants and they proceed to tell me that I’ve masterminded this mortgage fraud.
To which I’m like, he was a client for six months. I only did one tax return. I thought things were weird. I disengaged [00:15:00] and they ultimately believe me, but it was a terrifying experience, even just being accused cuz they were ready to shoot me or I thought they were ready to shoot me. But that’s me. I’m not, I’m like, I’ll stay, I’ll come close to the line, but I don’t wanna cross it unless I have absolute guarantee that I won’t get.
Right. . Okay. Right, right. But that’s the fear factor for me. It’s the fear factor. When you got caught, was there relief was
Matthew Cox: there, once again, it’s like everybody’s like being on the run. It was, I was almost relieved when I got caught. Right. And I wasn’t relieved. I loved being on the run. I enjoyed committing fraud.
And I know that’s the wrong thing to say, but you know, it is what it is. And when I got caught, I remember exactly what my thought. I had a girlfriend at the time, her name was Amanda, and all week like Amanda was a planner, we’re gonna go to this, whatever this fair, and we’re on Saturday and we’re gonna, so all week I remember her saying, Hey listen, on Saturday morning we’re going to brunch with so-and-so.
I [00:16:00] said, okay, that’s fine. But on Friday I wanna see Casino Royal. It was just coming out. I love James Bond, right? It’s good. I said Casino Royale. And she goes, we’re gonna go see. I know that. Okay. And then the next day she says, Hey, listen. On Sunday, there’s a festival, the medieval festival, whatever. We’re gonna go with so-and-so and so and so.
I said, okay, but on Friday, , we’re going to see, cause I know that, okay, hey, Thursday we’re gonna go to dinner. Can we go to dinner? And such and such, that’s fine. But Friday she goes, yeah, casino Royal. So when I finally get arrested, it was like a Thursday. Ugh. I get arrested. So they pull up, they in the car, get on the ground and the whole thing, and I get on the ground.
I get up and they put the cuffs, I’ve got the cuffs on, they’re looking at me and they go, Hey Mr. Cox, we’ve been looking for you. And my first thought was, I’m not gonna be able to see James Bond on Friday. I’m not gonna see Singer Royal. Yeah, like you’re not, didn’t. I never did. I never did see it. That was my first thought was, I’m not gonna be able to see Casino Royal.
And that was a good. That’s [00:17:00] a really good movie. It was a good movie. I saw it about five years later on the prison movie channel. I did see it. Yeah. So yeah, I know exactly. I said there wasn’t a moment of, oh, thank God there was a moment mode of, damn Hmm. Yeah, it’s not good. Stuff’s a bad day, .
Bob Wheeler: Yeah, that would suck.
I mean, I wouldn’t mind missing the medieval fair, but Festival. Yeah, festival. Those are great. I mean, I guess they’re fun. This was a good movie. So when you went to prison, were people impressed? I know that you weren’t at like high security and I don’t think you were like with rapists and murderers and stuff like that, but maybe you were, but I was.
Oh, you, and were people happy that you defrauded the system? People didn’t care. I mean, do people compare like, Hey, you did that. That’s.
Matthew Cox: I mean, initially when I got arrested, I, it had been on the news, so by the time they processed me and I got into the actual US Marshal’s holding facility and I walked into the room and I looked up like everybody looked over at me and this guy goes, [00:18:00] You were just on the news and I was like, I was.
And I’m like, a orange jumpsuit or a yellow jumpsuit or something. And they were like, yeah, man, you stole millions, man. You stole millions, man, you like that? I was just like, oh God, it’s not good. Like it’s not, when you’re on the news, it’s not good. Right? So, Yeah, there was a level of people being impressed.
I mean, look, oh God, what is the name of, there’s, I think it’s Charles Ford. He wrote a book called Liar. Liar, the Art of Deception. Anyway, he says that basically in the criminal world, like the conman or frauds are like they’re at the top. Like the guys at the bottom, the guy, you know, the bank robbers and drug, like they aspire to be that in the criminal underworld.
So I came in at the top, which is great. I guess if you know you wanna be on the top of the ship. Then I eventually went to prison. I went to a Medium, and like the first day I was there, somebody got stabbed on the wreck yard. Oh. You know, and the medium was like a real prison. Like I didn’t go to a camp. I never made it to a camp.
I went from a medium for three years and then eventually I went to a low, which was okay, but it’s still a [00:19:00] prison.
Bob Wheeler: Right. You’re not going to the spa. You’re not like, yeah, no spas. It wasn’t
Matthew Cox: bad. Here’s the problem is it sucks, but it’s not as bad as it could have been. It’s probably better than I deserved.
And it’s like, you know, guys would complain and I’d be like, well, you were robbing banks. What did you think gonna happen? They complain about the food. Well, what, what’d you think? Will, at least they’ll serve me good food when I get arrested. Like, I mean, you’re selling crack. Yeah. What’d you think they were gonna get there?
And they would treat you like a, they were gonna wait on you? Yeah, like, it sucks. It’s supposed to suck. Yeah, it’s
Bob Wheeler: a lifestyle adjustment. . It is . You’re not getting unlimited sushi. .
Matthew Cox: Right. You’d be shocked what you can get used to. Yeah. Like after the first decade, it wasn’t that bad. Yeah.
Bob Wheeler: took a couple days, but I mean the first couple weeks, was it still like, holy crap, Maria?
I mean, it just gotta be sort of like, oh, crap, because you know it’s a possibility and everybody was looking, but now you’re here. Now it’s
Matthew Cox: a. You know, I think the real problem was that I’m so [00:20:00] arrogant and I’m so cocky that I just genuinely didn’t think I was ever gonna get caught. Yeah. I never pictured myself in jail, in prison.
Right. I just didn’t picture it. So when it was happening, it was like, wow, like, you’re gonna be here. This is not good. Like you didn’t plan for this. Like, I’m a schemer, I’m a planner. That was not
Bob Wheeler: one of the things I planned. When you did plan for writing books though, you sort of got, you’re sitting there, spending time doing nothing.
I mean, I never thought about it, but I guess you can earn money from your books while you’re in
Matthew Cox: prison. It’s funny. It’s the one thing you really can earn money from in prison. That’s about it, right? Because
Bob Wheeler: not a lot you can do.
Matthew Cox: Listen, like think about it. You would think, okay, well you know what I can do in prison?
I could run an accounting firm, . You could, right? Think about it. You’ve got guys that will work for virtually nothing. All they have to do is balance the numbers. Like you could run a whole accounting F, but they won’t let you. But writing articles and stories and being paid for them. You cannot be a staff writer for a magazine or paper, but [00:21:00] you can be an independent contractor where you sell them, so you are allowed to write.
So one thing, the b o p, they say there’s like a mandate where they say they encourage it. I never saw any encouragement, so I don’t know about that part. But you are allowed to actually make money doing that, which is what I. Yeah,
Bob Wheeler: so in a way, they gave you your second career, . Oh,
Matthew Cox: absolutely. , right? I would’ve never done this if it weren’t for,
Bob Wheeler: because you wouldn’t have been sitting around with people with crazy stories and murders and robberies and all that stuff.
To be able to do your podcast and write your stories. And
Matthew Cox: to be honest with you, if I had not been forced to sit down for 13 years mm-hmm. and kind of take a deep reflection of myself, look at myself, and then I think I would’ve probably gotten back out and committed fraud again. And yeah, I don’t think I would’ve stopped then.
I don’t think. It wasn’t until I really sat down and read those articles and heard what people were saying about me before I ever really realized. What I was doing and the detriment of it. [00:22:00] Not only let’s say to, I don’t know, society, banking, but you know, to myself, to my family. Like those things never even occurred to me.
Yeah. But definitely, you know. But then again, what kind of a conman would I be if I went to prison? I was surrounded by all this true crime intellectual property. If I didn’t say, Hey, there’s gotta be a way to somehow turn this into something. You meet these guys that have amazing stories. Yeah. And they can’t write.
It’s hard for articulate intelligent, well-educated people to write their own stories, right? So Danny, who’s got a G e D from prison? Isn’t probably gonna be able to write his story, but he has an amazing story. So I was able to kind of go in there and I wrote my story and guys were reading it, and then I wrote Efram Dev Roll’s memoir.
The guy from Ward OGs, Jonah Hill, plays him in that movie and I wrote his memoir and then other guys started approaching me. And so I started writing their stories and I started optioning their film rights or their life rights to their. [00:23:00] And I was doing that from inside prison and plus I, I had time to really research those stories in order of Freedom of Information Act, and it became a lot of fun and it made my time blow by like, it was fast.
The last few years were just like whipping by. It’s
Bob Wheeler: interesting, I have this whole premise that every story has a cost and certainly, you know, mental maps, but these stories that you’re sharing certainly had a cost because everybody you were talking to got. Yeah. So did you find that most people that there was regret or that they had the time to reflect that it was humbling experience or Most people are like, shit, if I had the opportunity, I’d do it again.
Matthew Cox: There’s one or two of the guys that I’d say didn’t learn their lesson, one or two of ’em, but I’d say most of them did. Listen, almost everybody I’ve written stories about is out and have jobs, wives, kids making money, like they learn their. Was it the right lesson? Maybe, maybe. Maybe it was just, I’m not gonna do that again.
Like it’s too good out here [00:24:00] for me to risk going back to prison. But there were some guys that you truly I met and I would speak with and they had had like just life altering revelation of what they had had done to themselves and the situation they were in. And I mean, I know of the appropriate things to say, you know, what they did to society and the people they heard, but look, whether or not they decided to change or not or realize, hey, this, I can’t continue to behave like this.
And everybody named. Who’s in prison for the murder of two F FBI informants. He’s a nice guy. So
Bob Wheeler: really nice guy if you’re not f FBI .
Matthew Cox: Right, right. They weren’t fbi, they were informants. But anyway, yeah. Oh yeah. So he didn’t do it. He didn’t do it. He, whenever I say I’m like, Pete, and he’s like, all I did was move the bodies.
So he always says, you know, you can’t go to prison and be in prison and continue to think the same way you were prior to prison, and then get outta prison and expect to not come back. You have to come and you have to look at yourself and you have to change [00:25:00] or you will come back. Period. Like even if guys say, oh, well I’m not gonna commit another crime.
It doesn’t matter. You’ll do something. You will eventually, those, your thought process will lead you back to the same behavior and you will end up back in prison. Yeah. And I just didn’t want that to. . Yeah. And
Bob Wheeler: do you still work with law enforcement on fraud and crimes now? I know you did for a little bit cuz I guess it’s still happening, right?
You’re not the last, you won’t be the
Matthew Cox: last. No. I work with a company called Home Title Lock. Mm-hmm. . And they have a system where you sign up and they monitor your title to keep people from being able to steal your title. And so I work with them. I don’t work with law enforcement at all anymore. I mean, I don’t work in to avoid them, but no, that’s not really happening.
Bob Wheeler: Well, at least you’ve got this new career cuz you can’t work in insurance, right? No. Or
Matthew Cox: mortgages. Or the
Bob Wheeler: mortgages. But since you’ve gotten out, have you bought a house?
Matthew Cox: No, but I’ve only been out [00:26:00] three years. Okay. And a part of that, you know, I was in the halfway house for part of that, then I was living in someone’s spare room for about 18 months.
You know, it’s not like I got out and there was people waiting to hand me money and give me opportunities. So, I basically am renting a house, and I don’t think I could buy a house anyway at this point because my probation officer probably wouldn’t let me. I’m still on federal probation. Oh, okay. And everything I do, I have to get a permission.
Get permission. Like I had begged to get permission to buy a car. I’m under a lot of scrutiny. Not so much now as I was the first two years, the last year’s been a lot lighter. Mm-hmm. . But yeah, I don’t see her letting me do that, do that
Bob Wheeler: anytime soon. How has your relationship changed since you’ve gotten out to money?
How has your relationship with money changed or has it? Like what is the relationship with money now because people are watching you?
Matthew Cox: I think that for a long time I really had this foolish idea that if I made money and was successful, I was going to become happy, and I was just never really. And I think that you go to [00:27:00] prison and it’s like the great equalizer.
Yeah. I’m stripped of everything and I’m living in probably something that’s about the size of your bathroom. Yeah. With two other guys bunk beds and it’s horrible. And there’s 180 guys sharing six toilets and a couple of urinals and I mean, it’s a rough existence and you know, your expectations of life I think get really low and you start enjoying just the minor little tiny.
And when I was out and I had, you know, millions of dollars, like I was never really a happy person. And then while I was locked up, I kind of became, I felt happier. I think I got a purpose in life. And so getting out of prison and not having any money and being happy, I need money to pay my bills. I’m not turning down money, right?
Sure. What I’m not doing is I’m not solely doing things for money. I do things that make me happy, that I enjoy, and I hope the money will come. So far, I’ve been lucky. I pay my bills. I don’t really even have a job. I mean, I [00:28:00] write stories. . I do my podcast and yeah, I do interviews. I do keynote speaking, you know, engagements.
Mm-hmm. . And at the end of the month, I somehow or another keep coming up with money to pay all my bills. So I’m certainly not struggling for money. I don’t have the kind of money I used to have, but I would say my relationship with money is that it’s vastly different when thinking about my happiness or being happy.
I don’t think that that’s really even one of the factors anymore, where it was a huge factor before. Yeah. Well, and that’s what most of us. Right. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Especially, look, you have to know that money’s not everything. When you have someone like Robin Williams killing himself and half these filthy rich guys that will kill themselves, and you’re like, you’re kidding me.
This guy had everything. Yeah. And then he killed him. I mean, yeah, but money doesn’t. It’s not, it’s only money. , right? It’s only money.
Bob Wheeler: Well, Matt, we’re at the Fast five, so we’re gonna shift it up a little bit. Change the energy a little bit fast. Five is brought to you by Survey Junkie. Join millions who take online [00:29:00] surveys and make extra cash. You could do online surveys. Matt, click on the link in the show notes to learn more. All right, we’re gonna just jump in and let’s have some fun.
What would you say to a younger person who’s taken their first steps towards crossing the line legally?
Matthew Cox: Oh, I would say it’s not worth it. It’s not worth it. It’s absolutely not worth it. You ever talk to those guys that say, oh, would you do it again or, yeah, because it made me the person I am and I Listen, man, it’s not worth it.
I assure you that the system is set up to take everything from you and then some, and start you at a disadvantage for the rest of your. So all the justifications that you can give yourself to commit that crime, I promise you. Yeah, that they’re absolutely wrong. Honestly, like most people, every bad decision I’ve ever made was based on my pride.
Every single one. Yeah. So ego gets in trouble. You gotta think about that. You have to think, am I making this decision based on the fact that I don’t wanna go backwards? Am I making this decision based on the fact that I want a new car, that I want a [00:30:00] nicer house that I want? Those are all. Oh, I’m gonna do this so I make more money.
Cause I want my son to have a better life. Eh? I think your son would rather you just take him to the movies. Yeah. Or
Bob Wheeler: if I just do this one and then I’ll stop .
Matthew Cox: Yeah, no, I just do it one. Listen, the worst thing is doing that one and it works. Yeah. That’s the worst. That’s the worst. Because now it definitely not gonna end.
Bob Wheeler: end well. Now I know the first thing that went through your mind when you got arrested was you didn’t get to see Casino Royal, but what was the first thing that went through your mind when you walked
Matthew Cox: into. This is a bad environment. not
Bob Wheeler: good. . I
Matthew Cox: remember thinking I told you that the first day of prison I was introduced to my cell and I walked in and the CO was like, Hey, this is so-and-so.
Hey, you’re gonna be his cellie. Show him where the cell is. Okay? Shake his hand and within five minutes the alarms are going off. My Sally comes up, says, Hey, they’re locking everybody down. We gotta get in the room. And I was like, why? What happened? He goes, somebody just got stabbed in the wreck yard. And I went, someone got killed in the wreck [00:31:00] yard.
And he goes, nah. They just stabbed them up a little bit, . And I thought, this is a bad environment. Like this is not gonna be good for you. Like this guy’s actually just said they stabbed them up a little bit.
Bob Wheeler: It’s not a bad, this is bad. It’s, it’s not a bad stabbing .
Matthew Cox: You’re not gonna do well
Bob Wheeler: here. Not comforting.
Right. Not comforting. Is there anything you still miss about being on the run and making tax-free money? ?
Matthew Cox: I, yeah. Being on the run, honestly, it was an absolute exhilarating. I know, I know this is the wrong thing to say. Like people, even the comments like, oh, this guy’s a jerk, or he’s a scumbag, or whatever, and all of that’s true, but in the end, honestly, it was an exhilarating experience.
Yeah. And listen, there’s a lot of money, like there’s just nothing like having half a million in cash in a duffle bag. Yeah. You feel like you’re living in a movie. I mean, it had a horrible ending for. , but it, it also had [00:32:00] the appropriate ending too. Yeah. So, you know, these aren’t great
Bob Wheeler: answers. Go ahead. No, no.
They’re , they’re, they’re truthful answers and that’s really what matters. If you could say one thing to the F FBI agents who caught you, what would you say? I mean, besides, I’m not gonna catch my movie, but is there anything else you might
Matthew Cox: say? No, because I talked to them, they was type, said everything I had to say.
they know. I mean, honestly, like it’s funny because the Secret Service was super professional. Mm-hmm. , the FBI was not professional. The F FBI agent that I talked to, although I’ve met a bunch of FBI agents that actually pretty cool. They’re just doing their jobs and it’s not like they’re looking for justification from me.
Like, well, I hope he still likes us .
Bob Wheeler: Right. I wonder if we’ll have dinner . Yeah. That’s not what they’re thinking. Yeah. Maybe we’ll catch a movie next week, . Yeah. Do you still feel like you’re a mastermind?
Matthew Cox: No. You know what’s so funny is to hear that about yourself? To read that? Yeah, like it’s insane. I think that [00:33:00] I’m extremely creative.
I know that I definitely think in a way that most people don’t. I see things in a way that most people don’t because I’m creative. I don’t know about Mastermind, but I’m not even sure what that means, , but. It’s kind of cool to read that about yourself and the fact that, God, I remember reading an article about me one time with my girlfriend.
They were just saying horrible things. I was like, that’s not true. That’s not true. That’s not true. And then she read, and she said that there’s some psychiatrists from like John Jay College in New York who said, guys like Cox are charming. And I was like, that’s true. charming. I’m charming. Did you? You’re not charming.
She’s like, yeah, well, a lot of this is true . That’s not the only thing.
Bob Wheeler: Well, you know, pick the good stuff. Charming is a good one. All right. That’s the fast five. We’re at the m and m, money and motivation. Let me ask you this nowadays, do you have a practical financial tip or piece of wealth wisdom? I know you talked about.
Money is not happiness. But is there something that now at this point [00:34:00] that you’ve used as a guide? I
Matthew Cox: really need . I’m on federal probation. for bank fraud. Yeah. No, I mean, I can’t think of it honestly. Like, you know, I mean, are you allowed
Bob Wheeler: to have a savings account? Okay. You can’t vote, probably can’t have a gun, and you have to have permission to get a house.
But basic stuff, you can still, can you have a credit card? I mean, can you.
Matthew Cox: Yeah, I have credit cards, any types of lines of credit I have to get approved while on federal probation. But when I was in the halfway house, you’re in the Bureau of Prison’s custody. So while I was in the halfway house, I got several credit cards.
Okay. In the halfway house before I was on probation. Okay. But then when I was on probation, they didn’t really care cuz they’re monitoring me so closely. They just don’t want me to run up a lot of debt. You know what’s so funny is everybody’s got bad credit. Well, I mean, not everybody, but people have bad credit.
So like I got outta prison, got three credit cards, walked outta the halfway house. Six months later I had 7 [00:35:00] 54 credit scores. Wow. From nothing straight outta prison, over seven 50 credit scores. You know, I’ve got a hundred percent loan on a vehicle because of course part of my crime was I was building synthetic identities.
Where I was getting social security to issue social security numbers to people that don’t exist. And then I was building their credit. So I’m very good with credit like my financial tip. It’s funny, I talked to some real estate guys the other day and they were like, bro, like with the way the market’s going down and this and that, like I don’t know what to do.
And I was like, Buy single family houses, . Yeah. And they were like, why? I was like, buy single family houses in lower income neighborhoods. And they were like, bro, why? And I said, convert them to rooming houses. Yeah. Because when people start hurting for places to live, they’ll rent rooms and you know, you don’t have to run a slum.
It’s not like you’re running, you’re a lord. Right. You know, if you wanna make it sound trendy, you can call ’em micro lofts or mini sweets or something. You can make it [00:36:00] sound good. Exactly. Yeah, like I’d buy single family houses and rent out the rooms and I’d turn the living room and dining room into a bedroom and buy as many as you can.
And when the market turns around, you just gut ’em and resell ’em. I mean, but people will be moving into rooms when money’s tight. It’s about to get tight. That’s something to think about. Yeah.
Bob Wheeler: And it is getting tight. It is getting tight. All right. Go out and buy single family homes, folks.
Matthew Cox: Okay. Do the math too.
Yeah. Rooms rent for like 150 to $200 a week. If you buy a three bedroom, two bath and turn the living room and dining room into a bedroom, do the math. You’re bringing in like 34, 30 $500 a month. And what’s your mortgages? Your P I t I is what? Your mortgage and you know, insurance, taxes and insurance are gonna be what?
700? A thousand? 1100? Yeah. You pay for the water and electric, let’s say it’s another three, 400 bucks. I mean, you’re pocket. 1500 to $2,000 a month. I mean, you can really like that’s way better than a rental, than renting it to a family. Yeah, for sure. [00:37:00] So something
Bob Wheeler: to think about. Something, think about, something to think about.
Well, Matt, where can people find your book? Where can they find your podcast and all the good
Matthew Cox: stuff. I’ve got, I think, five or six books on Amazon. My memoir is on Amazon, it’s called Shark in the Housing Pool, and I’ve written several other guys’ stories. I’m on YouTube, which is under Matthew Cox inside True Crime.
Basically the channel’s, just me interviewing other criminals and talking about their stories and that sort of thing.
Bob Wheeler: You know, it sounds fascinating and there’s a lot of folks out there. That have committed crimes, that have thought about committing crimes or just loving listening to crimes. So we’ll put all that in the show notes and have everybody check you out.
I so appreciate you taking the time. This has been really fascinating. Having had federal agents with guns at my office, that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. So I mean,
Matthew Cox: let’s hope it the stops there , that’s enough. .
Bob Wheeler: But I so appreciate it. I appreciate your honesty and wish you well.
Matthew Cox: All right, well I appreciate you [00:38:00] having me.
Bob Wheeler: We hope you enjoyed this episode. Did you learn something new about your relationship to money today? Maybe you have a friend who has some financial blocks or beliefs that are holding them back. Please share this podcast so they too can get off the rollercoaster Ride of Financial Fears and journey towards financial.
To learn how to have a healthy relationship with money, visit the money nerve.com. That’s nerve not nerd. We’ll be back next week with another perspective on money and the emotions that bind
Matthew Cox: us.