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Think you cant be scammed?

Dont be so sure
Dont feel sorry for them. Thats the most common response I get when I write about victims of investment fraud, whether its those who lost money in R. Allen Stanfords Ponzi scheme or some other scam. Few crimes seem to invoke less sympathy for victims. The reaction to my recent column about investors suing the law rms they claim helped enable Stanfords $7.2 billion swindle was no different. I heard, once again, how the investors were being greedy or stupid. They got what they deserved. Its not about being greedy, and its not about being stupid, Texas State Securities Commissioner John Morgan told me. Its a lot more complicated than that. Morgan should know. Before becoming commissioner, he spent more than a decade in the enforcement division. Hes probably interviewed more con men than anyone in the state. These people are charismatic, he said. It sounds very plausible, what theyre saying. Consider Stanford. Sure, he ran an offshore bank that promised above-average returns, which should have been a red ag. Yet he told investors their certicates of deposit were insured. He sold the fake CDs through a registered brokerage,

Steffy continues on D2

Houston Chronicle | and | Sunday, December 9, 2012 | Section D

Detailing: Hes a shining example. D5

Over the top with places to shop

If you think Westheimer is a shopping mecca now, just wait. More retail is on its way. At least three new real estate projects are planned or under way along a short stretch of the citys longest street. Others are close by. Last week, a national developer announced NANCY plans to restart a SARNOFF $450 million project it shelved during the recession. River Oaks District will break ground next year at 4444 Westheimer, just inside the 610 Loop. A major component of the 15-acre development is 270,000 square feet worth of retail. Thats as many as 80 stores, says the developer, San Diegobased OliverMcMillan, which plans to break ground next year. Westheimer is the address in Houston, particularly for
River Oaks District
Post Oak Sage



Fred Ceasar was a barber in Alexandria, La., before he applied with Ensco. He was hired as a roustabout in 2006 and three years later was promoted to assistant crane operator. He now earns twice as much as he did as a barber.


Projects continues on D2
Millennium High Street San Felipe Highland Village Mid Ln.

Searching the seven seas

Offshore industry looks for workers far beyond the conventional sources
By L.M. Sixel How hot is offshore drilling? So hot that its hard to nd enough roustabouts, mechanics and experienced managers to staff all the rigs under construction. So hot that Ensco, with six new rigs set to debut over the next two years, will need 1,000 more people, said Kurt Basler, the companys manager of strategic staffing in Houston. So hot that some 20,000 to 25,000 offshore workers will be needed industrywide over the next two to three years, Basler said. The shortages are acute everywhere, said Steve Colville, president and CEO of the International Association of Drilling Contractors in Houston. The search for workers with the right skills who would be the right t has sent companies like Ensco looking outside traditional oil and gas businesses. Not everyone is enthusiastic about working 12 hours a day for up to 28 days straight on a drilling rig half a world away. But with the right training, even a small-town barber can make a lot of money on a rig. The last ve years have seen an explosion in the number of countries seeking to exploit their energy resources, Colville said. That, in turn, is causing a surge in drilling activity. Add to that the effect of an aging workforce that is beginning to retire in big numbers, he said. Many workers put off retirement during the last


W. Alabama

The Galleria

Future development

Richmond Weslayan


Houston Chronicle

Recruiters continues on D6

Prospect of a warm winter brings chills to gas producers

By Zain Shauk There never may have been a more prominent cheerleader for winter gloom than the natural gas industry of 2012. Nothing would make it happier, it seems, than dark clouds and an Arctic chill to keep Americans indoors. Thats because a warm winter for a second straight year could be catastrophic, cutting demand for natural gas-consuming heat and electricity and presenting serious challenges for some energy companies. But another warm winter may be on the horizon, according to government projections. And that would be negative for gas producers, said James Sullivan, an analyst for Alembic Global Advisors. Some of those with


On Dec. 5, 2009, it was a frosty day in Houston for joggers along Buffalo Bayou. There might not be many chilly times this year or in 2013 for the U.S., which could hurt the natural gas industry.
James Nielsen / Houston Chronicle

Low gas continues on D4

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