The Reporter

He had become a legendary figure in the annals of Philadelphia journalism …

What happened was that too many greedy hands started dipping into Young Development’s assets. As money began to be manipulated all over the place and the handwriting appeared on the wall, a frantic effort to squeeze as much out of the company as possible began. A series of phony stock deals through various fronts was one of the last gasping attempts at survival. It failed, Young folded and a brokerage firm lost its license for the fraudulent sale of its stock.

Where was reporter Harry Karafin when all this was going on? Right with it. Scolnick had slipped him in a side door and got him on Young Development’s payroll. As a public relations man, of course.

WHEN A PUBLIC relations man starts looking around for new business, he has a number of sources which may provide him leads for potential clients. He checks the trade papers, business briefs, new company listings, telephone installations. He talks to old clients, golfing buddies, drinking pals, family friends. As a public relations man, Harry Karafin could have gotten leads for new business from the very same sources. As a reporter, however, Karafin had access to leads unavailable to other public relations men.

It is a question just how much of coincidence it is that the names of good many of Harry Karafin’s public relations clients could also be found in the complaints files of the business frauds division of the District Attorney’s office. There is no question that Karafin had access to those files. He could walk in and open drawers whenever he wanted and he was regularly seen doing so. At the time when Karafin’s public relations business began to boom, the chief of the division was an eager young assistant D.A. named Jack Myers.

It so happens that some of Myers’ principal areas of interest became the most lucrative areas for Harry Karafin’s public relations operations.

These areas included a segment of the local business community inhabited by a coterie of what are known colloquially as "suede-shoe operators" and "fast-buck boys."

It is amazing how tight and interrelated this group is. Newcomers arrive and familiar names fade now and then, but the coterie is a definite entity. Their businesses and firm names change with the times and the tastes of the community, but if one of them comes up with a new gimmick or money-making device or piece of merchandise, the whole group, almost to a man, moves into the field.

Home remodeling, aluminum siding, debt consolidation, rugs, heating repairs, encyclopedias, record clubs, appliances, freezer-food plans — all are areas these sleazy characters have moved into at one time or other. (This year they are moving into wigs and swimming pools.) They always offer the cheapest and shoddiest service or product at the highest possible prices. They promise the most and deliver the least. They work the middle and lower class segments of the community, among the least financially sophisticated, those who least know how to handle their meager incomes, those who can be fast-talked while papers are shoved in front of them and their signatures obtained, those to whom credit means a dream of luxury uncluttered by a $69.50-a-month-for-five-years nightmare.

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