Yes! (See full synopsis of the book below.) This is a tale of money and madness on three continents. I think the easiest and most powerful image would involve lots of $100 bills streaming through the sky. Perhaps with a helicopter in sight. Perhaps not. Maybe with a town below.
You're welcome to try other design ideas, too. I'm open to ideas.
The story starts in a small-time Caribbean cyber-cafe. We meet Nigeria's greatest scammer of the 1990s, Righteous Johnson. He fled from Africa a decade ago, when anti-spam software ruined his life. Now he's broke, hobbling on a cane, and unable to get anyone to answer his emails. He needs a new business model.
Enter his 19-year-old niece, a child of the digital age. She's got big dreams, all of which involve a fake computer-security company that can wiggle its way inside U.S. banks. She knows almost nothing about banking, but that is not a problem. We live in an era where global fraud can be crowd-sourced. She connects her uncle to a vast network of faraway buddies that she's met via Coursera-style online classes (MOOCs.) Suddenly, their cyber-cafe takes on the trappings of a go-getter Silicon Valley startup, full of babble about disruptive thinking ... minimally viable products ... REI-style climbing walls, etc.
She and her uncle form The Benjamin Squad and land their first client: a frightened Queens-based banker whose ATMs are vomiting out money. By rights, his decision to hire the Benjamins should be a career-ending blunder. But the Benjamins tap into a nonstop run of brilliant anti-fraud advice from their MOOC. Within weeks, the Benjamins haven't just collected millions from their banker; they have inadvertently fixed his bank. Inspired by this beginner's luck, our scammers start getting ever-bigger security contracts in America.
Meanwhile, the book's anti-hero, Jack Pinto, is in a heap of trouble. He runs Five Beans Capital, a grandiose hedge fund in New York that's based on the principles of "Jack and the Beanstalk." He's a blend of George Soros and Deepak Chopra: a holistic zealot who doubles as an investment genius. Pinto also is in the midst of being busted by the U.S attorney's office for various securities-law mischief. The facts are hazy but the feds want $20 billion in penalties (echoes of JPMorgan.)
Pinto negotiates a face-saving settlement in which he will give away some of the money in an effort to help the unemployed. He can't figure out the right way to do this, until an idiot-savant hardware clerk puts Pinto onto the winning strategy. Rent some helicopters. Load them up with $100 bills. Fly over troubled parts of America and hurl money down below, as fast as you can. It's what Fed chairman Ben Bernanke metaphorically alluded to in 2009, without having the guts to go airborne. To make it work, you literally do have to use helicopters.
Pinto becomes an outlaw, dodging FAA regulations to get his helicopters in action, and skirting money-laundering laws to get his hands on enough $100 bills. While he goes on the lam, the Benjamins get their biggest job ever: helping the U.S. government audit all of its electronic-payment systems. But suddenly everything that the Benjamins recommend turns out to be more like sabotage than security. The MOOC tipsters start providing really bad advice. Our scammers can't disentangle from them. It's starting to look as if the old Nigerian phisher-man and his cute niece are being set up by villains who want to destroy the global financial system.
Who's behind this scheme? And if the Benjamins can't contain the damage, can anyone react fast enough? For that matter, why is Jack Pinto's helicopter headed toward Washington? You'll get all the answers in Chapters 19 to 21.