North Falls for a Hostage Scam

A phony rescue scheme in Beirut costs Ross Perot $300,000

It was an urgent call from the White House. National Security Council Aide Oliver North asked Texas Billionaire H. Ross Perot for $200,000 fast to rescue two American hostages in Lebanon. The billionaire immediately dispatched an associate who handed over the money to North in cash.

"Nothing ever materialized," says Perot. But eight months later, in January 1986, North phoned again and asked Perot for $100,000 to fund a new rescue attempt. Perot sent the money by courier to intermediaries of North's in Canada.

Once again, nothing happened. North, it seems, lost Perot's money chasing a will-o'-the-wisp. He had authority, however;...