My favourite Christmas film is The Muppet Christmas Carol. I’ve loved this movie since I was a kid and it’s just full of catchy feel good songs and is a lot of fun. I mean, come on, it’s got The Muppets in…what’s not to love?
However, when Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge cries ‘Bah Humbug!’ this does actually also tie in with fraud. As we discovered in my blog last year, a humbug ‘is actually a person or object that behaves in a deceptive or dishonest way or is a quality of falseness or deception. So in other words, a fraudster’.
The Nightmare Before Christmas is my pick. It’s the tale of Jack Skellington who not only commits a kidnapping but also identity theft. Bored and disillusioned of being the King of Halloween, Jack stumbles upon Christmasland and decides he wants it all for himself. So begins his plot to kidnap ‘Sandy-Claws’ and take his place, by stealing his identity as the King of Christmas.
But Jack soon discovers that even the best laid plans can go seriously awry. Identity fraud can be described as the use of stolen identity in criminal activity to obtain goods or services by deception. Usually, there is an increase in the number of fraud incidences that occur during the Christmas period. This is generally because everyone is in the spending mood and many retailers and consumers are not on the lookout for scams.
My favourite Christmas movie divides opinion, with many people refusing to acknowledge it as a Christmas movie. However, Die Hard remains my number one Christmas film.
The story of one man, John McClane, visiting his estranged family on Christmas Eve and getting caught up in a terrorist attack, provided me with some key lessons about financial crime.
Hans Gruber, superbly played by Alan Rickman, heads up a terrorist organisation and showcases the high cost side of financing a terrorist act. His political ‘motivations’ were actually just a ruse to break into the vault at Nakatomi Plaza to steal bearer bonds.
Bearer bonds are high risk for being abused by criminals as they aren’t issued to an individual – the physical ‘bearer’ of the bonds is the legal owner. Although their usage has been curtailed around the world, they were the original tool of money launderers wanting to ensure anonymity.
Maybe not a film to watch in front of all of the family, it always helps me get into the Christmas mood. And who doesn’t love a story where the good guy wins in the end?
Dr. Seuss’ immortal Grinch from Whoville has had many incarnations, but Ron Howard’s 2000 The Grinch with Jim Carrey in the starring role is my Christmas pick. Everybody knows that the Grinch steals Christmas, but less well-known is the Grinch’s evasion of tax.
A citizen of Whoville despite living atop Mount Crumpit, the Grinch, it appears, fails to pay his taxes to the Whoville local authority. Indeed, the Grinch, in his palatial residence, scorns all the norms and traditions of civilised society, which includes paying his tax. Someone might say his theft of Christmas gifts is the more abhorrent crime, but it’s all a matter of perspective.
My favourite Christmas movie is the all-time classic, Home Alone. The main character is eight-year-old Kevin McCallister who is accidentally left at home in Chicago on the morning the whole family leave to spend Christmas in Paris.
Now, my beef isn’t with young Kevin, in fact, I’m in awe of the way he manages the few days spent home alone, during which he battles with two idiot burglars, outwitting them with a series of complex booby traps. Cue lots of very funny ‘slapstick’ comedy involving falls, fire and feathers (plus a whole lot more).
Kevin’s parents however, are a different story. They’re clearly very wealthy, they live in a mansion located in one of the wealthiest suburbs in Chicago, Winnetka. They’re also footing the bill for a Christmas vacation to Paris for 15 family members, with the four adults travelling by first class.
The movie leads us to believe that this is a normal American family. So, perhaps the McCallisters are involved in some sort of criminal activity. Laundering money for an organised crime group can be very lucrative, and splashing out on expensive holidays is all part of the lifestyle. There’s definitely more than meets the eye when it comes to Mr and Mrs McCallister, but don’t let it spoil your enjoyment of a great movie!
Well I would normally go for Trading Places – as it’s a smashing film, very funny and very relevant still in terms of its social commentary. But I’ve already referenced that recently so feel I should pick a different one.
On that basis, I’m going to go with Elf. Will Ferrell is arguably not as funny as he used to be – but he’s great in this. He plays Buddy. Buddy was a baby in an orphanage who stowed away in Santa's sack and ended up at the North Pole. He was raised by the elves and considers himself to be one, but he’s not a great fit as a human adult (in more ways than one) – so Santa allows him to go to New York City to find his ‘real’ father.
Obviously, lots of comedy ensues when the charming and innocent Buddy encounters the all too real NYC and we see how the two perspectives on life clash. Cut a long story short, it’s all about relationships, priorities and where we feel we belong. So pretty Christmassy.