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Exploiting the social fabric of networks: a social capital analysis of historical financial fraudsABSTRACT The article will present two strategic cases of financial fraud that demonstrate the recurring reference points that conmen use to facilitate their white-collar crimes. The cases are constructed from the Ponzi and Madoff financial frauds, perpetrated by the most well swindlers of the twentieth and (so far) twenty-first centuries. The article will illustrate that their ‘modus operandi’ shared essential reference points, as it owed as much to their sophisticated socioeconomic insights and consequent exploitation of social capital processes, as it did to their sophisticated insights into criminal financial schemes and financial engineering. This article will demonstrate that social relations and the resources that inhere in these relations (social capital) can be negative. This contribution will add to an emerging field of analysis that considers deviant organizational behavior. For this article, the negatives of social capital will be described as its shadow aspect, which for financial fraud includes decision-making based on excessive in-group trust, as well as general credulity replacing due diligence. The article’s theoretical contribution will be to develop understanding of historical phenomenon, in this instance of financial fraud, with the application of the shadow side of the social capital concept.