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Always be grifting

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The latest iteration of the Big Con: FREEDOM PHONES!

It was a pitch tuned for a politically polarized audience. Erik Finman, a 22-year-old who called himself the world’s youngest Bitcoin millionaire, posted a video on Twitter for a new kind of smartphone that he said would liberate Americans from their “Big Tech overlords.”

His splashy video, posted in July, had stirring music, American flags and references to former Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Donald J. Trump. Conservative pundits hawked Mr. Finman’s Freedom Phone, and his video amassed 1.8 million views. Mr. Finman soon had thousands of orders for the $500 device.

Then came the hard part: Building and delivering the phones. First, he received bad early reviews for a plan to simply put his software on a cheap Chinese phone. And then there was the unglamorous work of shipping phones, hiring customer-service agents, collecting sales taxes and dealing with regulators.

A combination of grifting MAGA suckers and the Enron Executive Brain idea that all that matters is The Idea and worrying about executing it is beneath you — perfect! Here are some concluding Deep Thoughts:

To unveil the phone, he recorded an infomercial in which he cast the tech companies as enemies of the American way. “Imagine if Mark Zuckerberg banned MLK or Abraham Lincoln,” he said in the video. “The course of history would have been altered forever.”

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