It’s one the most troublesome aspects of the Pigford settlement – how could thousands (or tens of thousands) of people knowingly commit fraud to receive a $50,000 check that they weren't entitled to?
We have the answer in the form of undercover audio that was recorded at a meeting that taught potential Pigford claimants exactly how to commit fraud. The meeting was conducted by a man named Thomas Burrell, the head of the Black Farmers Agricultural Association, Inc
. At CPAC in February, we held a press conference where we released a two hour unedited section of audio
. Now I'm releasing the first in a series of shorter excerpts that take you through some of the key points.
There are two parts to the full answer of how such massive fraud could come to be ; one practical, the other ethical. Practically speaking, they were coached.
They were told precisely what to say in order for their claim to pass muster with the adjudicator. Who told them? People like who conducted meetings for years throughout the country.
The ethical question is the more troubling part. I believe that thousands of basically honest people were induced into committing fraud by people like Mr. Burrell. How? As you will hear in this excerpt from undercover audio that we recorded earlier this year, Thomas Burrell uses a powerful combination of persuasive techniques including literally invoking the name of God, telling his audience that their ancestors were owed the money and the technique of "social proof", which makes collecting a $50,000 check seem like something many people have done. Stir this together with the basic human failing of greed and frankly it's a wonder that many more people do not file fraudulent claim.
Here is the first excerpt:
And if you can't wait for more, here's a short excerpt from later in the meeting that shows you how blatant Thomas Burrell was in telling people that if you file a claim properly, nobody can possibly tell whether you were lying or not.