Hank Lee

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Brad Jeffers » 03/31/12 05:02 AM

Accusations were being made only last month on this forum, under the heading "Hank Lee - Customer Service Gone Bad". Most likely, there are other victims besides RG in Texas, but his must surely be the most egregious case.
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Postby CraigMitchell » 03/31/12 05:05 AM

If the allegations are true it would seems that Amex was Hank Lee's choice of card in terms of putting through fraudulent charges ... as I, too, had fraudulent billings on my Amex.

http://www.geniimagazine.com/forums/ubb ... 136&page=1

Fascinating to think that he was being investigated by the Department of Justice and yet was continuing to over-charge customers!
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Postby SEBASTIEN » 03/31/12 07:00 AM

My credit cards have been pirated two times just after Hank Lee orders...
Incredible !!!!
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 03/31/12 10:15 AM

Craig...I remember your post about this. It is amazing that the Dept. of Justice took so long to act. They definitely are not the A Team, far from it.
Please visit my website.
http://houdinihimself.com/
I buy,sell + trade Houdini, Hardeen items.
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Postby IrishMagicNews » 03/31/12 10:27 AM

Is trying to work out who RG is.

Never ordered anything from Hank Lee's thankfully. Hopefully those who have had issues will get them resolved.
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Postby El Harvey Oswald » 03/31/12 10:41 AM

Hank Lee in 1970s Boston was to me what Lou Tannen on Saturdays was to the generation of New York magicians in the 50s and 60s, and with the obviously destined for greatness Phil Goldstein often around the shop. Usually I have no visceral connection to "news," even the big, supposedly society-shaping events; this, however, I care about and wish weren't true.
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Postby IrishMagicNews » 03/31/12 10:56 AM

Ah, Google is a wonderful thing. If I have got the right guy, I must say I had never heard of this man before. Interesting guy. Hope he uses all his might to resolve this.
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Postby magicrobharv » 03/31/12 11:01 AM

I havn't ordered from Hank Lee for several years now, but when I did order I didn't have any problems. Sorry to hear about what is going on now. I still have an old Hank Lee catalog on my magic book shelf in my man cave. I remember getting the Hank Lee newsletters in the mail (before the internet). I remebering enjoying them as well as the Hank Lee ad in Genii. I hope he gets back on track with his business and life. I am still amazed at the story. Like El Harvey Oswald said, some magic news items are no big deal. This one, because so many people have a connection (some like myself just through mail ordered magic), feel shocked by the news.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/31/12 11:27 AM

Sad news.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine
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Postby AJM » 03/31/12 12:10 PM

Not sad at all - if he is guilty of what he is accused of then he deserves all he gets.
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Postby Oddly Bent » 03/31/12 12:16 PM

I live in Texas in the mountains and I have rocks for sale.
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Postby Matthew Field » 03/31/12 12:37 PM

I'm not excusing anything, but it's easy to condemn someone without knowing the circumstances. I've certainly done things I'm not proud of. I wonder if Brad Henderson can shed any light on this from the other end (RG).

Meanwhile, I just received an email from Hank, which follows.

Matt Field

--------------


A Special Message From Hank Lee:

Greetings from me, Hank Lee.

I suspect that by now you have read the reports of the governments charges against me. I have agreed to plead guilty to these charges. Although the charges allege misuse of a customers credit card, I am writing to assure you that Hank Lees Magic Factory has since adopted procedures to insure the safety and privacy of our customers information.

I was wrong in every way, and now I will face the consequences. I could not possibly be more sorry for my behavior.

My actions have deeply impacted my family. And, I know that they have impacted you, our customers and friends. While we have tried to build a base of trust over the last 37 years, it has been seriously damaged, and must now be rebuilt.

If there is a brighter side, Hank Lees Magic Factory is not just about me. It is about our long time employees who are here every day and could not be more honest, forthright and knowledgeable. These people can be trusted, 100%. They have been with Hank Lees for more than 20 years each and have impeccable records, both in life and in the workplace.

In the past day, I have received many emails and notes. Most are from people hoping that the present situation resolves itself quickly and wishing me the best in this difficult time. Some are from people who do not exactly wish me well. This is to be expected. I appreciate all correspondence.

This is what I can tell you right now. Hank Lees Magic Factory is not in danger of closing. We will continue to accept your orders, process them and ship them as always. I hope that you will continue to place orders with the Magic Factory, and allow me to rebuild your trust in us.

Hank
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Postby mrgoat » 03/31/12 12:56 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:Sad news.


Sad?

A criminal got caught and is now going to face justice.

That's great news.
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Postby El Harvey Oswald » 03/31/12 01:22 PM

It can be simultaneously sad news and an entirely welcome legal resolution of the sad circumstances. Of course many will opt to demonstrate just how opposed they are to crime and criminals by attesting to feeling no sadness; point taken; we get it. But more than one adjective attaches to most events of any complexity.
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Postby Bob Cunningham » 03/31/12 01:30 PM

From Hank Lee's message:

"I have agreed to plead guilty to these charge ... was wrong in every way, and now I will face the consequences."

and

"I am writing to assure you that Hank Lees Magic Factory has since adopted procedures to insure the safety and privacy of our customers information"

How does one institute procedures to protect from the criminal misconduct of the boss? In a privately owned company, any procedure that the boss implements can be changed or circumvented by the boss.

At this point, anyone who spends a dime of cash, let alone uses a credit card, with Hank Lee has only themselves to blame for the results.

Caveat emptor!
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Postby JordanB » 03/31/12 01:43 PM

I looked at several instances of fraud, including misappropriation of assets (stealing) and financial statement fraud (lying), as part of my undergraduate and graduate level courses in auditing.

It's a shame, because in a lot of otherwise honest people, the combination of pressure, opportunity, and rationalization can be overwhelming and lead to lots of bad decisions. The other thing you see so often is that once you get started it's so hard to stop.

It's also sad because I'm sure he has family members that rely on him, kids, grandkids, etc. It's tough.

My dad often said and I have said before "Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time." Punishment is just and the right thing to do and it's good that he has been stopped....that doesn't make it less sad for everyone.
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Postby El Harvey Oswald » 03/31/12 02:43 PM

By one take on human behavior and risk assessment, he's now the least likely person to attempt defrauding someone with their credit card. I'm inclined to give him a chance.
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Postby AJM » 03/31/12 03:00 PM

What??
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Postby the Larry » 03/31/12 03:01 PM

And by another take on human behavior and risk assessment: once a crook always a crook.
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Postby Bob Cunningham » 03/31/12 03:06 PM

In other
El Harvey Oswald wrote:By one take on human behavior and risk assessment, he's now the least likely person to attempt defrauding someone with their credit card. I'm inclined to give him a chance.


In other news, Bernie Madoff is opening a new investment group under the theory that he is the LEAST likely person to abscond with your investments.
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Postby Tom Gilbert » 03/31/12 03:51 PM

As mentioned earlier, the Hank of the 70's was a great guy. He worked out of a house and Max was there a lot. The big move to downtown Boston and a great shop. He would tell you what you might be interested in and warn you about junk. As the shop and mail order got bigger things changed.
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Postby CraigMitchell » 03/31/12 04:37 PM

The full PDF of the stipulated statement of facts:

http://medford.patch.com/articles/read- ... df-9464351
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Postby Mark Collier » 03/31/12 04:56 PM

Ouch!
I can't imagine providing federal investigators with a bunch of falsified invoices thinking I was going to get away with it.
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 03/31/12 05:41 PM

There is a German word that fits some of the "shoes" tied to the bandwagon's bumper: Schadenfreude. The news and current evidence is indeed sad, but the evidence is still incomplete. As the buzz is reduced to the whir of mosquito's wings, if we are still chattering a week from now, perhaps we will know more and more about less and less? Rest assured that recompense will rule the day. Justice will serve some...more or less. The guilty of course will pay...and THAT payment will probably suffice. Meanwhile, the landscape of magic continues to change and we too feel ourselves changing. As Kurt Vonnegut used to say, "So it goes..."

Onward...
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Postby Bob Cunningham » 03/31/12 06:09 PM

One man's schadenfreude is another man's comeuppance ;-)

Since Hank/Harry has stated his intention to continue doing business in the magic community, and he has signed a legal document acknowledging the facts of the case, it is entirely appropriate for those who he would have as customers to discuss this today and next week.
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Postby AJM » 03/31/12 06:23 PM

No Shadenfreude on my part - don't know the guy, never purchased anything from him and, now, never will.

What more evidence do you need, by his own words he has 'fessed up - therefore if he has committed the crime then he should face the consequences.

To be honest I find the pretentious pap and the related horesh*t here, around how great a guy he is and how he be given a 'second chance', to be somewhat pathetic.

As Jean-Paul Sartre wrote famously in La Nausee - 'Tu es nicked, mon fils'

Upward.

Andrew
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Postby M.Lee » 03/31/12 06:26 PM

Hell of an attempt at damage control - Shhees

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Postby Jim Swain » 03/31/12 06:32 PM

I had a dispute with Hank involving a fraudulent credit card charge at the very time he was being grilled by the Feds. I feel sorry for his family and his employees, but not for him. He needed to be stopped.
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Postby the Larry » 03/31/12 07:53 PM

What is surprising is that Paypal and credit card companies have not revoked his privilege to charge credit cards after $560,000 in fraudulent credit card transactions. How he can continue his business is quite surprising. Somebody who steals half a million (and potentially more if the accounts of other defrauded customers are true, which given what we know seems completely plausible) has no right to continue his business. I really hope the magic community is strong enough to hold ranks and just not buy there anymore.
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Postby jwalkmagic » 03/31/12 08:06 PM

I will always have very fond memories of my first visit to Lank Lee's as a teenager when he was in the tiny walk up on Lincoln St.

I walked in as he and Phil Goldstein were in the process of editing the Magic Factory's first catalog.

At last there was a real magic shop in Boston and not a joke shop with tricks.

Many years later when they were in the larger shop down the street I visited with my niece who at 9 or ten decided she wanted to learn magic. The staff worked patiently as she tried many different thumb tips till we found one that fit.

To me this is tragic. Tragic in that we in the magic community have lost yet another resource. From what I have been reading this is a resource that had been gone for some time.

I can not imagine what may of happened. While the Hank I knew was a bit of a hustler I would never have thought he was capable of this. I can only imagine that something must have happened to bring him to this.

For myself I will mourn the loss of the Hank I used to know.
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Postby erdnasephile » 03/31/12 08:10 PM

Just received this from Mark Stevens:

"At what cost - for a cheaper price? I don't have to detail the situation. My guess is you're already aware of it... And as unfortunate as "it" is, it's not something we want to blitz too much... That stated, it should be mentioned - that "trust" is a benefit worth a lot... It's not an add on or an option when you check out - (like selecting insurance), but make no mistake it has tremendous value.

We at SME never wanted to be the biggest, never wanted to be a carnival sideshow selling anything and everything at close to the our cost. We want to sell quality magic at a fair price, using the profits (which I assure you are not what you think and sometimes not) to re-invest in keeping our business alive...

Our goal is to focus on those clients, that value integrity and quality (with respect to both products and services). We can't be all things to all people. At the end of the day, we hope that people who share similar value's will "vote" with their dollars, euro's and pounds, and Yen by choosing Stevens Magic Emporium - knowing you can buy with confidence.
Mark Stevens - SME"
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Postby JHostler » 03/31/12 09:42 PM

the Larry wrote:And by another take on human behavior and risk assessment: once a crook always a crook.


And once a speeder, always a speeder... once a cheater, always a cheater... once a bed wetter, always a bed wetter... once a jerk, always a jerk - right??!?! Everyone screws up. Some just do a better job of it.
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Postby Joe M. Turner » 03/31/12 11:25 PM

I spoke to RG in person today in Atlanta while at the Gathering for Gardner. As I was told, at multiple steps along the timeline of the legal proceedings RG apparently offered to settle the whole matter for pennies on the dollar. It is utterly incomprehensible to me why this went all the way to federal court with so many other less expensive and less personally damaging options on the table. (I can only speculate that HL thought he could hide behind fraudulent documentation and get away with it. Perhaps there are other reasons, I don't know. That is purely my speculation.)

At any rate, RG is pleased at least to have the matter resolved satisfactorily. He and his lovely wife are expecting the birth of their child on July 1. They are a delightful couple.
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Postby the Larry » 03/31/12 11:45 PM

HL didn't screw up 'once'. He screwed up hundreds of times over the course of years. Can people change and get their act together? Yes, but it happens very seldom after such a behavior has been established over that amount of time and magnitude. In business when you loose your integrity it is gone. It will never come back, no matter what you do or say, because there is always that lingering feeling that no matter what is done or said, one day he is bound to do it again.
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Postby JHostler » 03/31/12 11:47 PM

All - As "RG's" physical address is included on page 5 of the Stipulated Statement of Facts linked above, masking his name makes about as much sense as hiding the word s***t from folks who have no idea what a shift is. His identity is no secret.
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Postby Harry Lorayne » 03/31/12 11:58 PM

I'm awfully sad about this, and I do wish you'd stop referring to Hank as HL!! HL. (Seriously.)
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Postby the Larry » 04/01/12 12:15 AM

Ok, we will call him by his full first name Harry L. Better? :-)
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Postby CraigMitchell » 04/01/12 03:19 AM

I feel sorry for the family and staff. The situation is tragic all round. I just can't see how he intends to continue the business in its current form. Besides the PR fall out ( would you trust your payment details with them ? ) what bank would continue to offer them merchant account facilities ? Amex, Visa and Mastercard would be hard pressed to continue to offer them the ability to process cc transactions when you have admission of guilt of mass credit card fraud.
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Postby IrishMagicNews » 04/01/12 08:30 AM

Without wishing to de-rail this thread... While in the process of trying to find out who RG was I came across the following video. In it he gives a tour of his house. Quite a cool place. The man seems like a really nice guy to boot.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mM109_EbMcs
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Postby Terry » 04/01/12 09:24 AM

I used to have the same self-righteous attitude toward those who broke the law until I became the IT Branch Manager for the KY Dept. of Corrections.

There are individuals who through one stupid act cause great pain to everyone around them. But they are tried, convicted and sentenced. They serve their time and are released. Their debt to society is paid according to the law.

Instead of this trial of public opinion, let the legal system do it's job.

There is an old saying, "Let those without sin cast the first stone."
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