Matthew Cox: FBI Most Wanted Con Man - $55 Million in Bank Fraud | Lex Fridman Podcast #409
- Matthew Cox, a recently released con man, served 13 years in federal prison for various crimes including bank fraud, mortgage fraud, identity theft, and passport fraud.
- He has admitted guilt to all charges and now writes true crime stories about his fellow prisoners.
- Cox also interviews criminals about their crimes on his YouTube channel called "Inside True Crime."
Matthew Cox's Crimes (00:00:01)
- Cox's first crime was writing bad checks.
- He then moved on to more serious crimes such as bank fraud and identity theft.
- Cox used stolen identities to open bank accounts and obtain loans.
- He also created fake companies to launder money.
Cox's Capture and Imprisonment (00:00:10)
- Cox was arrested in 2008 after a nationwide manhunt.
- He was sentenced to 13 years in federal prison.
- While in prison, Cox wrote true crime stories about his fellow prisoners.
Cox's Release from Prison (00:00:22)
- Cox was released from prison in 2021.
- He now lives in Las Vegas and continues to write true crime stories.
- Cox also interviews criminals about their crimes on his YouTube channel.
Cox's Motivation for Crime (00:00:25)
- Cox says he was motivated by greed and a desire for excitement.
- He also says he was addicted to the adrenaline rush of committing crimes.
Cox's Advice to Others (00:00:30)
- Cox advises others not to commit crimes.
- He says that crime does not pay and that it will eventually catch up with you.
- Cox also says that it is important to find a positive outlet for your energy and creativity.
Mortgage fraud (00:01:59)
- Matthew Cox committed mortgage fraud by misrepresenting borrowers' financial information to obtain loans.
- His first fraudulent action involved altering a borrower's rental payment history by whiting out a 30-day late payment.
- He was encouraged to commit fraud by his manager, Gretchen Zas, who assured him that it was common practice and that he would not get caught.
- Cox justified his actions by convincing himself that he was helping people who were struggling financially.
- He made money through broker fees and yield spreads, charging borrowers higher interest rates and collecting a percentage of the loan amount as a fee.
- Cox acknowledges that there is no gray area when it comes to fraud, stating that any alteration of information to meet loan guidelines constitutes fraud.
- After successfully committing his first fraudulent act, Cox became emboldened and began altering various documents, including W2s, pay stubs, appraisals, and verifications of rent.
- He rationalized his actions by believing he was helping people who deserved a chance, but later realized that some individuals he helped ended up in foreclosure.
- Cox acknowledges that he was not smarter than the actuaries who set the underwriting guidelines and that he should not have put people in houses they could not afford.
- Cox made money through broker fees and yield spreads.
- Broker fees were a flat fee charged to borrowers.
- Yield spreads involved charging borrowers a higher interest rate than the bank offered, with Cox receiving a percentage of the difference as a fee.
- Cox asserts that there is no gray area when it comes to fraud, stating that any alteration of information to meet loan guidelines constitutes fraud.
- However, he acknowledges that there are instances where fraud is committed but remains undetected due to the complexity of the documents involved.
Creating fake people (00:16:47)
- Creating synthetic people involves creating fake identities using real information like names, dates of birth, and social security numbers.
- Matthew Cox discovered that credit bureaus don't have records of individuals until they apply for credit, which led him to realize he could create fake credit profiles.
- He obtained W2s and pay stubs from real people and used them to create synthetic identities with perfect credit scores.
Leveraging synthetic identities for property fraud (00:18:43)
- Cox used the synthetic identities to buy properties at low prices, renovate them, and sell them to the same synthetic identities at inflated prices.
- To obtain appraisals for the inflated prices, he recorded the sales of the properties at higher values and used comparable sales to support the appraisals.
- He created fake scenarios, such as car accidents, to explain why the synthetic borrowers stopped paying mortgages and credit card bills, preventing the banks from collecting the debts.
Scale of the scam (00:21:27)
- Cox and his associates made millions of dollars through this scheme, with the FBI estimating that they conducted fraud on over 1000 houses.
- The scam caused the real estate values in the affected area to artificially inflate, making it difficult for legitimate buyers to purchase properties at fair prices.
Arrested by FBI (00:50:33)
- Matthew Cox was arrested by the FBI for his involvement in a $55 million bank fraud scheme.
- He owned a mortgage company that engaged in fraudulent activities, including creating fake bank statements and falsifying loan documents.
- Cox's former manager, Gretchen Zas, and her husband were also involved in the scheme.
- Gretchen approached Cox to refinance her house and obtain $75,000 to pay their attorney.
- Cox provided fake documents to help Gretchen secure the loan, which raised suspicions and led to an FBI investigation.
- Gretchen informed Cox that the FBI was asking questions about him and his involvement in fraudulent loans.
- Cox attempted to devise a plan to protect himself and his wife from legal trouble.
- Gretchen refused to lie to the FBI, leading to a confrontation with Cox.
- Cox realized that Gretchen and her husband were likely wearing wires during their conversation.
- Cox consulted with his brother-in-law, a lawyer, who advised him to hire a federal defense attorney.
- Cox hired a lawyer and paid him $75,000.
- Initially, the lawyer led Cox to believe he could face several years in prison.
- However, upon reviewing the fraud guidelines, Cox realized he was unlikely to go to jail as there was no potential for the bank to lose money.
- Cox's lawyer informed him that the FBI had evidence against him from two confidential informants.
- The lawyer proposed a pre-trial intervention where Cox would cooperate with the FBI and provide information about his fraudulent activities.
- In exchange, Cox would avoid indictment and potential jail time.
- Cox declined the offer, choosing not to cooperate with the FBI and snitch on his associates.
- Cox reflects on his decision not to cooperate with the FBI and expresses regret.
- He believes that most people involved in such schemes would sacrifice friendships and loyalty to save themselves.
- Cox mentions that only one person, his ex-wife, refused to speak to the FBI and remained loyal to him throughout the investigation.
Omerta: Code of silence (01:07:24)
- People in the criminal world rarely cooperate with law enforcement due to a code of silence known as Omerta.
- Matthew Cox expresses his low opinion of people and does not expect loyalty or honesty from others.
- He acknowledges that many criminals claim desperation or financial need as reasons for their crimes but argues that they could have chosen different paths.
- Cox criticizes those who commit fraud while expecting others to uphold ethical standards.
- Cox initially committed fraud out of financial desperation but later became motivated by the creativity and the need to prove his intelligence.
- He describes feeling a sense of accomplishment and importance from successfully deceiving banks.
- Cox acknowledges that his actions caused financial harm to others, even if he did not directly take their money.
- He expresses regret for the consequences his fraud had on innocent people who trusted him.
- After being caught for fraud, Cox received three years of probation.
- As part of his probation, he was prohibited from owning a mortgage company but was allowed to work as a consultant in the industry.
- During his probation, Cox attempted to flip houses legitimately but soon returned to fraud.
- He created synthetic identities using names inspired by characters from the movie Reservoir Dogs.
- Cox also created fake banks to provide false financial information to lenders.
- Cox describes his fraudulent activities as a collaborative effort involving multiple individuals.
- He emphasizes that it was not a highly organized system but rather a group of people helping each other and coming up with solutions to challenges.
- Cox explains that he continued committing fraud during his probation due to financial reasons and a desire to avoid disappointing his father.
- He had achieved financial success as a mortgage broker, which made his father proud, and he did not want to lose that approval.
Fake ID's (01:29:41)
- Cox created fake IDs using mugshots from the Hillsborough County arrest website.
- He would print out the mugshot, cut it up, and paste it onto a driver's license.
- He used these fake IDs to close loans and avoid detection by title companies.
Eric's Involvement (02:55:48)
- Cox recruited Eric, a handyman who worked for him, to impersonate James Red, a synthetic identity created by Cox.
- Eric was initially hesitant but agreed to do it for $500.
- Eric successfully impersonated James Red and helped Cox close a loan.
- Cox later paid Eric $1,000 for his assistance.
Appraising Properties (03:40:33)
- Cox obtained appraisal software by creating a fake appraiser identity.
- He used this software to appraise properties himself, ensuring that they would be approved for loans.
- Banks typically did not thoroughly check the comparables used in the appraisals.
Getting Caught (04:44:26)
- Cox faced several instances where his fraudulent activities were discovered.
- In one case, a bank identified irregularities in an Allan Duncan loan and suspected fraud.
- Cox managed to convince the bank that it was a mistake and paid back the loan to avoid further investigation.
- Cox also encountered issues with fraudulent loans done by his brokers, including fake canceled checks used as proof of rental income.
Industry Corruption (06:12:17)
- Cox believes that the real estate and banking industries are prone to corruption.
- He claims that many loans contain some form of fraud, even if it's just a minor lie.
- Cox suggests that tightening regulations too much can make it difficult for the average person to obtain a loan.
Getting caught (01:59:03)
- Matthew Cox was involved in multiple large-scale scams, including identity theft and mortgage fraud.
- He and his girlfriend, Allison, attempted to refinance a house using a stolen identity.
- Allison changed her appearance for the closing, which raised suspicion and led to the scam being discovered.
- Cox's friend, Travis Hayes, was arrested while trying to deposit the fraudulent check.
- Allison was a mortgage broker who approached Cox for help closing a fraudulent loan.
- They became romantically involved and started collaborating on scams.
- Cox and Allison's scam involved refinancing properties and cashing out on fraudulent checks.
- Travis Hayes was arrested after attempting to deposit the fraudulent check at a bank.
- Cox initially thought the police were waiting for Hayes, but Hayes assured him it was fine.
- Hayes was arrested upon entering the bank, and he later cooperated with law enforcement.
- Cox hired a lawyer for Hayes and provided financial support while he was out on bail.
- Hayes used the money to start a tree trimming business while secretly working with a state task force investigating the scams.
- Hayes provided information about Cox's scams to the task force, leading to the discovery of multiple fraudulent property transactions.
- Cox and Hayes continued to flip houses and engage in fraudulent activities while Hayes worked with the task force.
- Cox is aware of the ongoing investigation and is prepared for potential legal consequences.
- He acknowledges that it may take months or even a year for the legal process to conclude.
Going on the run from FBI (02:12:28)
- Matthew Cox received subpoenas and phone calls from a reporter investigating suspicious property sales involving him.
- A sheriff's deputy, Steve Sutton, informed Cox that the FBI would arrest him in a few days based on a task force's findings.
- Cox decided to leave town to avoid prison and started cutting checks to pay back people he owed money to.
- Cox's girlfriend, Rebecca Hal, who had recently moved from Vegas to St Petersburg, revealed that she was embezzling money from her boss and had been banished to Florida.
- Despite the risks, Cox decided to let Rebecca come with him, and they used credit cards and traded in a car to fund their escape.
- Before leaving, Cox wrote a letter to his parents explaining his decision and apologizing for disappointing them.
Identity theft (02:24:09)
- Gathered personal information of a man named Scott Cugno through casual conversation.
- Created fake IDs, business cards, and set up virtual offices in Atlanta.
- Obtained a driver's license in Scott Cugno's name using fake documents.
- Changed his appearance to match the photo on the fake driver's license.
- Obtained a Social Security number in Scott Cugno's name.
- Satisfied two mortgages on a house owned by Michael Shanahan, making it appear as if the loans had been paid off.
- Opened several bank accounts using stolen identities.
Stealing real people's identities (02:54:03)
- Started running ads in magazines offering home loans to people with bad credit.
- Gathered personal information from people who responded to the ads, including a man named Michael Eert.
- Legally changed Michael Eert's name to Michael Johnson.
- Surveyed homeless people, collecting their personal information and Social Security numbers.
- Used the information gathered from homeless people to obtain driver's licenses, passports, and other forms of identification in their names.
Opening bank accounts and establishing credit (03:23:43)
- Opened bank accounts in the names of homeless people.
- Ordered secured credit cards to build credit in the names of homeless people.
- Avoided building credit in Atlanta in anyone's name to avoid establishing a history there.
More scams (02:44:49)
- Matthew Cox describes another scam involving a fake ID, hard money lenders, and multiple closings on a house in South Carolina.
- He and Becky run another scam in Tallahassee, Florida, and their finances dwindle.
- Becky's bipolar disorder and erratic behavior cause problems for their scams.
- Cox mentions that they were able to successfully continue their scams for three years.
- They cash large checks at banks, leading to suspicion and an encounter with the Secret Service.
FBI Most Wanted (02:56:38)
- Matthew Cox is wanted by the FBI in Tampa.
- A fugitive warrant has been issued for him, involving the US Marshals.
- The Secret Service got involved due to identity theft and banking identity theft.
- The Secret Service protects the financial infrastructure of the United States and has jurisdiction over identity theft and bank fraud cases.
- US Marshals track down federal fugitives, while the Secret Service focuses on financial crimes.
- Matthew Cox was unaware of the extent of his pursuit at the time.
Trying to Stay Low (02:58:10)
- Matthew Cox was not trying to draw attention to himself.
- He avoided flashy cars and lived in areas where expensive cars were common.
Close calls (02:59:06)
- The narrator shares several close encounters with law enforcement during his fraudulent activities.
- The narrator receives a call from a lawyer representing Washington Mutual, informing him of a mortgage fraud issue.
- He contacts his corporate lawyer, who sets up a meeting with a criminal defense attorney.
- They negotiate with Washington Mutual's lawyer and agree to pay off the fraudulent mortgage to avoid further legal action.
- The narrator expresses relief at narrowly avoiding FBI involvement.
Arrest at Wachovia (03:06:30)
- The narrator is arrested by sheriff's deputies at a Wachovia bank for allegedly committing a "shotgunning" scam involving multiple mortgages on the same property.
- He engages in a conversation with a detective, arguing that his actions were not illegal and that the loan officers may have been involved in fraudulent activities.
- The detective expresses skepticism but agrees to investigate further.
- The narrator's real identity is almost revealed when the detective mentions his driver's license, but he manages to talk his way out of the situation.
Becky's reaction and financial situation (03:14:30)
- Becky, the narrator's accomplice, reacts hysterically upon learning that he has been arrested and is now on the Secret Service's Most Wanted list.
- She refuses to help him get a lawyer or post bail, as she is in possession of all their money (around $800,000).
- The narrator discusses the challenges of storing large amounts of cash during their fraudulent activities.
Police station encounter (03:17:30)
- The narrator enters the police station to file a police report.
- He sees his face on a "Most Wanted" poster in the hallway and considers fleeing, but realizes it's impossible due to the security measures in the building.
- The detective informs him that the district attorney is investigating the case but decides to let him go for now.
- The narrator is warned not to leave town and continues to withdraw money from banks, sensing that something is amiss.
Break up with Becky (03:30:01)
- Matthew Cox and his girlfriend Becky had a disagreement about living arrangements after he moved to Houston.
- Becky refused to split the money they had made from their fraudulent activities and threatened to get him caught by the police.
- After a heated argument, Becky gave Matthew $100,000, which was less than half of the money they had.
- Matthew left Houston and drove back to Charlotte.
Calling parents (03:34:42)
- Matthew called his parents, who were upset and worried about him.
- His father had a history of alcoholism and drug abuse but was sober at the time.
- His mother was crying and concerned for his safety.
Calling FBI (03:36:41)
- Matthew received a call from Susan Barker, a former broker who worked for him, informing him that the FBI was actively searching for him.
- Candace, the lead FBI agent on the case, contacted Matthew and urged him to turn himself in.
- Matthew refused to surrender without knowing the specific charges against him and the potential sentence he faced.
- Candace offered to negotiate a deal but couldn't provide any concrete information without Matthew turning himself in first.
- Matthew declined to give his phone number, suspecting that the FBI might be tracking his location.
- He turned off his phone and later discovered that the FBI had tracked him through the phone number he used to make the calls.
- Candace offered a plea deal of seven years in prison if Matthew turned himself in at Tampa and cooperated against everyone, including his ex-wife.
- Matthew refused to cooperate against his ex-wife and ended the conversation.
Running from cops (03:42:21)
- Matthew Cox was running from the police and US Marshals after being caught in a bank.
- He managed to escape by driving away while the Marshals were running towards his car.
- He felt terrified but operated calmly and rationally.
Getting a new identity (03:43:32)
- Cox surveyed three homeless men in Nashville and chose one named Joseph Carter Jr. to steal his identity.
- He obtained Carter's vital information, including birth certificate and social security card, and used it to create a new driver's license and other documents.
- Within a few weeks, he had a completely new identity and was able to buy a car and start a new life.
Dating and buying houses (03:45:20)
- Cox started dating a woman named Amanda Gardner and moved in with her.
- He began buying houses in Nashville, renovating them, and refinancing them to pull out money.
- He used Amanda's name for some of the financial transactions to avoid detection.
The relationship with Amanda (03:47:12)
- Amanda eventually discovered that Cox was using a fake identity and that he was wanted by law enforcement.
- She was initially shocked but agreed to keep his secret.
- Cox continued to buy and renovate houses, and Amanda opened bank accounts and websites in her name to facilitate their financial transactions.
Becky's betrayal (03:48:46)
- Cox's former associate, Becky, was caught by the authorities and turned on him.
- She told the authorities about their relationship and provided information that contributed to the growing legend surrounding Cox.
- Becky's betrayal led to negative media coverage, with articles portraying Cox as abusive and manipulative.
Getting arrested (04:04:11)
- Matthew Cox was featured on Dateline as the "thief of hearts" for allegedly wooing women to commit fraud and stealing their money.
- He was on the run for three years and decided to move to Australia, where he could become a permanent resident alien without a criminal background check.
- To raise money for the move, he and his girlfriend, Amanda, started refinancing houses and pulling out cash.
- Amanda discovered his real identity and learned about the Dateline episode. She became concerned for her safety and contacted the Secret Service.
- The Secret Service watched Cox's house for three days before arresting him.
- Cox was arrested and charged with various offenses, including bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, passport fraud, and money laundering.
- He initially pleaded not guilty but later agreed to cooperate with the prosecution in exchange for a reduced sentence.
- The prosecution initially claimed he was responsible for $25-30 million in losses, but Cox disputed this amount.
- Through negotiations with his lawyer, the charges were reduced, and the estimated loss was lowered to $6 million.
- Cox faced a potential sentence of 14 years in prison.
- After cooperating with the prosecution, his sentence was reduced to 26 years and four months (316 months).
- Many of Cox's co-conspirators had already cooperated with the authorities and received reduced sentences or avoided charges altogether.
- Some of his co-conspirators, like Allison, voluntarily pleaded guilty and served shorter sentences.
- Becky, another co-conspirator, initially received a 70-month sentence but had it reduced to 40 months due to her cooperation.
- Matthew Cox discusses his decision to cooperate with the FBI and Secret Service after his arrest for bank fraud.
- He describes the Secret Service as professional and the FBI as ineffective, except for one agent named Candace.
- Candace is described as an aggressive and intimidating FBI agent.
- Cox mentions that he initially lied to the Secret Service about hiding money, but they confronted him with evidence of a fake bank statement he created.
- The questioning process involved long days of interrogation, with Cox feeling frustrated by the agents' agenda-driven approach.
- Cox expresses his willingness to cooperate and provide information about his co-conspirators, but he is aware that there is no guarantee of a reduced sentence.
- He recalls an instance where an inmate received a signed guarantee from the head of the FBI for a reduced sentence in exchange for cooperation.
- Cox describes his interactions with Candace during the questioning, including an incident where she dismissed his complaints about wrist pain.
- He mentions bribing a politician to get him elected to the city council in order to obtain approval for a real estate project.
- Cox discusses the legal gray areas and questionable practices employed by politicians to make money.
- He expresses frustration with the sentencing process and the enhancements that increased his potential sentence.
- Cox mentions that he was interviewed by Dateline and the Secret Service and FBI, which were considered substantial assistance by the prosecution.
- Despite this, the prosecutor reneged on the promise of a reduced sentence, claiming that the cooperation was not enough.
- Cox's lawyer filed a Rule 35 motion for a sentence reduction after sentencing, based on the expected arrests of his co-conspirators.
- He praises his attorney, Millie, for her professionalism and dedication, despite the challenging circumstances of his case.
- Matthew Cox was sentenced to 26 years in prison.
- He was moved to the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Coleman, Florida, which is the largest federal complex in the nation.
- Despite having a security level that would normally place him in a camp, Cox was sent to the medium-security prison due to his long sentence.
- Cox describes the dangers of prison, including stabbings and other violent incidents.
- He mentions that he began teaching residential real estate classes to other inmates and gained respect from some of them.
- After about 3 years, Cox was transferred to a low-security prison.
- The FBI started questioning him about a politician involved in his bank fraud case.
- Cox was placed in solitary confinement for 45 days for his own protection after an article about his involvement with the FBI was published in the newspaper.
- He had a confrontation with a member of the Aryan Brotherhood who warned him not to walk the yard, but Cox refused to back down.
- Cox mentions that he made friends and had some protection from other inmates, which helped insulate him from potential violence.
- Bubba, the leader of the Aryan Brotherhood, would occasionally confront Cox and inform others that he was a cooperating witness, but he never directly threatened him.
War dogs (04:53:23)
- Matthew Cox was questioned by the FBI about his files related to the 12 indicted individuals in the Tampa case while he was in prison.
- The FBI agents informed him that they had enough evidence to indict all of the individuals but due to the economic meltdown and ongoing investigations of larger banks, they decided not to pursue the case.
- Despite his efforts and cooperation, the indictments were dropped, and no one was arrested.
- Matthew's public defender informed him that he missed the one-year deadline to file a 2255 motion, which could have challenged the effectiveness of his lawyer or any mistakes made by the court.
- Feeling defeated, Matthew decided to write a memoir to share his story.
Writing the Memoir (05:35:41)
- Matthew Cox started writing his memoir while in prison.
- He received help from a literary agent to rewrite and improve the manuscript.
- During this time, he met Efraim Diveroli, who was involved in selling munitions to the US government and had his story featured in Rolling Stone magazine.
- Efraim asked Matthew to help him write his memoir, and Matthew agreed.
- Matthew's writing skills had improved over time, and Efraim praised his work.
Movie Rights and Collaboration (06:02:42)
- Efraim's memoir was sold to the producers of "The Hangover" movie.
- Matthew expressed concern that the movie might portray Efraim in a comedic and trivializing manner.
- He emphasized the importance of sharing one's version of events through writing a memoir to avoid misrepresentation.
- Matthew and Efraim worked together on Efraim's book, and Matthew's writing skills continued to develop.
Frank Amodeo (05:00:05)
- Frank Amodeo is a Rapid Cycling bipolar with features of schizophrenia.
- He was sentenced to 22 years for stealing $200 million from the federal government.
- Amodeo was running a medium-sized law firm from inside the prison.
- He was teaching legal research and helping inmates with their cases.
- Matthew Cox, the narrator, approached Amodeo for help with his case.
- Amodeo filed a 2255 motion on Cox's behalf, arguing that he was not time-barred.
- The government came back and said Cox was time-barred, but Amodeo filed a retort.
- The case went back and forth for six months to a year.
- Eventually, the government filed a motion for a stay so they could appoint Cox a lawyer.
- Cox met with the lawyer, Esther Panic, who offered him a one-level reduction in his sentence.
- Cox was hesitant because he believed he deserved more, but Amodeo advised him to take the deal.
- Cox was moved back to Atlanta, and the FBI agent came to talk on his behalf.
- The judge ended up giving Cox three levels off his sentence, which was seven years.
- Cox was disappointed but understood that he couldn't get more.
Ron Wilson (08:41:20)
- Ron Wilson was a con man who ran a $57 million Ponzi scheme.
- He was sentenced to 19 and a half years in prison.
- Wilson was cooperating with the Secret Service in his case against his codefendants.
- He told Cox that he had hidden some of the Ponzi scheme money.
- Cox thought that the money might be enough to get him a sentence reduction.
- Cox started talking to Wilson and asking him questions about the money.
- After six months, Wilson was indicted and charged with obstruction of justice.
- His wife and brother turned over half a million dollars in cash and gold bullion.
- Wilson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months, which was added to his original sentence.
- Cox waited for his reduction but didn't receive anything.
- He filed a 2255 motion with Amodeo's help, but the government claimed they didn't know about any cooperation.
- The judge waived the certification fee and expedited the case to the appeals court.
- The prosecution immediately filed a one-level reduction, but Amodeo filed to stop it.
- The judge froze everything and appointed Cox a lawyer.
- The lawyer negotiated for two levels, but Cox wanted four levels.
- In the end, Cox agreed to three levels, which was five years off his sentence.
- Cox credits Amodeo with helping him get his sentence reduced.
- He believes that he would still be in prison if it weren't for Amodeo's help.
- Amodeo has helped many other inmates get their sentences reduced.
- He is known for being willing to badger the prosecution into doing what they should have done in the first place.
- Cox wrote a book about Amodeo and his story called "Insanity."
- Matthew Cox was released from prison and went to a halfway house.
- He felt survivor's guilt for leaving his friends behind in prison.
- A friend gave him $400 to help him get started.
- He bought clothes at Walmart and got a job at a gym owned by a friend.
Starting a Website (05:52:17)
- Matthew's friend Pete encouraged him to start a website to share his stories.
- Pete got donations from people in prison to help Matthew build the website.
- Matthew struggled to create the website and learn how to use Photoshop.
True Crime Podcast (06:08:36)
- While in prison, Matthew was encouraged by fellow inmates to start a true crime podcast.
- After his release, he reached out to Danny Jones, host of the Concrete podcast, about starting a podcast.
- Danny invited Matthew to be a guest on his show, which led to increased popularity and opportunities for Matthew.
- Matthew Cox's father visited him in prison twice or thrice.
- His father was disappointed in him but never told him he loved him.
- After receiving a 26-year sentence, his father visited him alone and expressed pride in him for the first time.
- His mother visited him every two weeks for 13 years, even after suffering a stroke and using a wheelchair.
- Matthew Cox considers spending the last year and a half of his mother's life with her as the icing on the cake of his release from prison.
- He was able to take her to dinner once a week, go on walks with her, and was present when she had her final stroke.
- Matthew Cox doesn't care about being called a snitch if it means he got to spend time with his mother before she passed away.
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