Richard Kaufman wrote:... and if guilty he will pay...
By his own admission he IS guilty of $560k credit card fraud and obstruction of justice (lying to federal investigators). He is a criminal and deserves to be treated as such.
To me the 'Mr. nice guy' criminal, as Hank Lee is portrayed by some, is even more dangerous than the obvious crook. Hank Lee robs you blind with a smile and a handshake.
What we should not forget is that Hank Lee didn't just steal $560k from RG. A theft of that magnitude doesn't start cold turkey. He stole from many other customers, small amounts here and there, didn't ship something, overcharged another, double charged the third, sold second hand items as new, copied products himself and sold as original... Over 37 years that could mean thousands of small claim frauds. So Hank Lee could have easily stolen a million or more during his 30+ years as magic dealer.
Consider the damage he has done to magic. Consider the 13 year old whose initial magic purchase was with Hank Lee, who ripped him off. That poor lad probably was disgusted to the point of not pursuing magic at all. That potentially is a damage of tens of thousands of dollars to the magic community as a whole, just from one kid he ripped off. Potentially there are hundreds of cases like it.
Consider the damage he has done to other magic shops who will be damaged simply by generalizations like "All magic dealers are crooks." And "Why should I buy magic at all if dealers steal - I will steal it myself and illegally download the book or DVD from a pirate website."
By my accounting Hank Lee has damaged the magic community by several million dollars. Nice guy eh?
On top of that damage the "El Harvey's" of this thread who somehow try to rationalize what has happened simply provide the rationalization arguments for the next thief in our community who is waiting just around the corner. You guys are actually making the whole thing even worse not better.
For me personally the common sense response to the Hank Lee case are very simple:
+ I will never purchase from Hank Lee, ever, no matter how low his prices are, no matter how many promises he makes. There are many other dealers who deserve my business and they will get it.
+ Any business who supports Hank Lee, runs his ads, supplies products to him will also be avoided. Anybody who does business with a criminal and supports his business is no better in my view than the criminal himself.
+ No more credit cards online for me. Paypal is much safer. Their dispute system is also a lot more convenient than making a charge back through your credit card.