American Greed: Season 2

Fraud in Cyberspace Evidence Files

Barton Watson

Barton Watson always wanted to be a CEO. At the age of 8, he arrives at school in a suit and carrying a briefcase attire appropriate for a corporate executive. It's a predicting image of the years to come. (Source: James Cameron / MSR Realty)

Mom's Advice

Barton Watson's mother Geraldine taught him that the exceptionally wealthy and the exceptionally brilliant do not have to follow the rules. She made it clear that he will succeed, no matter what the cost. (Source: James Cameron)

The Victims: Mark & Lois Gottlieb

Mark Gottlieb trusts his friend Barton Watson to handle his family's half-million dollar portfolio. But, unbeknownst to the Gottlieb family, Barton Watson purchases life insurance policies in their names totaling $239,000 and he receives a fat commission from his employer, investment firm E.F. Hutton. (Source: Mark Gottlieb)

The Ex-Fiancee

Ex-fiance Victoria Baardsen is shocked. Watson is fired from E.F. Hutton for embezzlement and ordered to pay damages. He disappears, leaving behind Baardsen and his mother. To add insult to injury, Baardsen discovers her engagement ring is a fake. (Source: Kurtis Productions)

The Lifestyle

Barton Watson later marries Krista Kotlarz and becomes the high-flying chairman of Cybernet. The company is posting good numbers. The Watsons move into a new home in the upscale, gated community of Ada, Michigan. (Source: WOOD-TV8)

Rare Wine Collection

Barton and Krista live a luxurious lifestyle. Their home houses a rare wine collection. The Watsons purchase expensive show horses and cars. They travel first-class around the world to exotic locations... Europe, Asia and the Middle East. (Source: WOOD-TV8)

The Cybernet Headquarters

In the late 90s, Cybernet moves into posh new offices in downtown Grand Rapids. But behind closed doors, there is a world of lies and deception. A veil of secrecy falls over all things financial. Watson uses intimidation to silence employees who start asking questions. (Source: Kurtis Productions)

Inside Cybernet

Beneath the glossy patina lies a toxic environment. Morale is low. Many workers hate their jobs and fear getting fired. Some describe Cybernet as a "virtual hell for employees," a place where no one was safe from the wrath of CEO Barton Watson. (Source: WOOD-TV8)

The Mahogany Palace

Barton Watson's decadent office is known to employees as the "Mahogany Palace." The posh office is decorated with rare vases from Asia and expensive art. (Source: WOOD-TV8)

The Watsons

Barton Watson and his wife Krista scammed more than $100 million from lenders and traveled the world with the proceeds. Eventually, Cybernet comes under intense scrutiny from federal investigators. The Watsons' world, as they know it, is about to end. (Source: James Cameron / MSR Realty)

The Agent

FBI Agent Roberta Gilligan explains how Cybernet used empty servers with blinking lights and cables in order to fool banks into lending the company money. Cybernet was using the servers as proof to the banks of their contracts. (Source: Kurtis Productions)

On the Run

After embezzling nearly $500,000 from clients at E.F. Hutton, Barton Watson is slapped with a federal indictment. He flees. After five months on the lam, the FBI nabs Barton in San Francisco. (Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation)

The Reporter

TV News Reporter Brad Edwards outside of Watson's house. Inside, with a 20-gauge shotgun pointed at his head, Barton Watson threatens to end his life. (Source: WOOD-TV8)

The End

A desperate and haunting 911 call from the company chairman. After three hours on the phone with an emergency dispatcher, Barton Watson pulls the trigger. (Source: James Cameron)


In a final twist, investigators discover that Geraldine Watson, Barton's mother, bought the shotgun he used to kill himself. Geraldine pleads guilty to a gun charge and is sentenced to two years probation. (Source: WOOD-TV8)