By Ray Schultz
Earlier this fall, braving my first plane ride since the pandemic: I flew to Boca Raton to help Mo Moss with his futile annual effort to get into the Inc 500. In lieu of payment, Mo treated me to lunch in an outdoor place in Boca, and pointed out various celebrity criminals who were eating there, like the one who invented automatic debiting that you can never stop as long as you live.
Suddenly one of them came over to us: A bear of a man I recognized as Sonny Taylor. Mo introduced us, but fortunately Sonny did not remember my name or face. The last time I saw him, he threatened to break my back over something I wrote about him.
“You owe me $40,000,” he said gruffly to Mo.
“What for?” Mo asked.
“I’m being sued by Walmart for breach of contract, and they were once a client of yours. Somebody’s got to pay.”
“Go fuck yourself,” Mo said.
“You could end up in a swamp,” Sonny said.
I was ready to leave at this point, but instead Mo and Sonny started talking business. Sonny needed the emails of 1 million chain smokers, preferably hooked on opioids.
“I’ve got them,” Mo said.
They negotiated a price on the spot. And when it ended, Mo said, “I’ll have my lawyer contact you about the Walmart suit.”
“Why are you caving in to this extortion attempt?” I asked Mo when Sonny had left.
“I need the list order. I’ll pay him $10,000. It’s a cost of doing business.”
“Do you really have that many smokers?”
“No, but he won’t know the difference.”
I watched Sonny return to his table, then noticed a desiccated-looking man wearing a knit cap, sunglasses and an inhaler, seated in a wheel chair. It couldn’t have been his father, because I wrote the old man’s obituary 15 years ago.
“Who is that man in the wheelchair?” I asked Mo.
“I don’t know. Probably a client.”
“Who wheels his client around in a wheelchair?”
“It doesn’t pay to ask questions,” Mo said.
We had dessert, and I typed up the flawed Inc 500 data. Then I flew back to New York (at my own expense), and Mo returned to Tampa.
A couple of weeks later, Mo emailed me a link to this local story:
Man Busted In Florida For Digital Fraud
A Florida man was arrested Wednesday for his alleged role in an international conspiracy to sell fraudulent pennystocks online.
Sonny Taylor, age 65, of Boca Raton, was booked after a brief armed standoff outside his home at the Luxuria condominiums.
Police are also looking for an unidentified man in a wheelchair, who fled on foot. They believe he may be Taylor’s brother Sidney, age 70, long thought to be dead but still on the wanted lists of the FBI and Interpol.”
I nearly choked on my Starbucks Americano. Sid Taylor was reported dead 20 years ago, believed to be eaten by crocodiles in Central America.
“Is this true? I emailed Mo.
“It’s him,” he replied.
Well, it figures: There’s no way Sonny could have come up with an online scam on his own, especially one that pulled in $100 million, as the story said. But he was clearly going to take the rap for it. Sid was still missing, the last I heard.
As for Mo, he failed to make the Inc 500, the Inc 1000, or even the Inc 100,000, as far as that goes.
Note: Any resemblance between these characters and living persons is strictly coincidental.