When I started watching “Lords of Scam”, I really didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. Based on the Netflix description, it’s a French documentary about the scammers ensnared in the European Union (EU) carbon scam.
The premise itself is pretty fascinating. I remember learning previously of the carbon laws and immediately thinking “someone is definitely going to take advantage of that” and it seems I was right.The EU legislation was implemented to lower carbon emissions. Companies were each given a set number of allowed emissions but were able to buy from other companies if they exceeded their quotas. This in turn incentivized companies to use less emissions so they could profit off of selling carbon credits. The scam featured in the documentary revolved around creating multiple companies, selling these credits between them, and shipping the VAT (value added tax) made off these exchanges to offshore bank accounts. The system is not inherently flawed, in fact, it has a noble goal that would be groundbreaking if successful and not so easily schemed.
“Lords of Scam” reminded me of “Tiger King” in a way because of how out of the box and unreal the characters feel. I found myself struggling to decide if I thought the head of the scamming trio Marco Mouly was evil or flat-out hilarious. As Marco began as a low level scammer and had little experience with large amounts of wealth, his awe and lack of responsibility are interesting to see in comparison to his elite, “daddy’s money” partners.
Unfortunately, I do wish there would have been more of a focus on the investigation side of things. There were a few interviews with police officials, but they were mostly just talking about the difficulty of the investigation rather than how it was conducted. However, based on the way that the crime was solved I don’t think it’s too surprising or unexpected that there was not much emphasis on this aspect. Watch “Lords of Scam” to find out how it was solved.
Another thing I felt was missing from the film was a focus on the flaws of the legislation that allowed the scam to take place and why it was implemented. Additionally, climate change, which is what led to the entire documentary taking place, was only discussed very briefly at the beginning of the film. I think it would have been impactful to include a more serious note reflecting on the damage created by both the tax scheme and the enduring climate crisis we are facing.
As this is a French documentary, you’ll likely need subtitles to follow along. While English dubbing is available, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you deem it absolutely necessary. The voices are pretty ridiculous and honestly took away from the experience for me.
Ultimately, I would recommend this film if you’re interested in watching some funky characters and their delusions surrounding wealth. However, if you are hoping to learn specifics about carbon laws or how scammers run their operations, this character-based documentary isn’t for you. “Lords of Scam” definitely isn’t what I was expecting, but it was an interesting way to spend a few hours and is a case study on the scammers themselves. 7/10.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.
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