Page protected with pending changes

List of con artists

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This is a list of notable individuals who exploited confidence tricks.

Born or active in the 17th century[edit]

Born or active in the 18th century[edit]

Born or active in the 19th century[edit]

  • George Appo (1856-1930): Operated in New York and was involved in green goods scams. Wrote an autobiography and also had a biography written about him which discusses prison conditions and various other socio-economic conditions in the later 19th century.
  • Lou Blonger (1849–1924): Organized a massive ring of con men in Denver in the early 1900s[4]
  • C. L. Blood (1835–1908) American patent medicine huckster, fraudster, and blackmailer[5]
  • Cassie Chadwick (1857–1907) Canadian woman who defrauded banks out of millions by pretending to be the illegitimate daughter (and heir) of Andrew Carnegie[6]
  • Eduardo de Valfierno (1850–1931): Argentine con man who posed as a marqués and allegedly masterminded the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911.
  • Lord Gordon Gordon (1840 – 1874) British man who defrauded $1 million from Jay Gould, who was fighting for control of the Erie Railroad.
  • Bertha Heyman (born c. 1851) Active in the United States in the late 19th century[7][8]
  • Canada Bill Jones (c.1837–1880): King of the three-card monte men[4]
  • Daniel Levey (c. 1875-?): American swindler and gambler, specialized in passing fake checks and stealing goods under the pretense of brokering sales for their owners
  • Victor Lustig (1890–1947): Born in Bohemia (today's Czech Republic) and known as "the man who sold the Eiffel Tower twice"[9]
  • William McCloundy (1859–19??) Convicted of selling the Brooklyn Bridge to a tourist.
  • George C. Parker (1860–1936): U.S. con man who sold New York monuments to tourists, including most famously the Brooklyn Bridge, which he sold twice a week for years[10]
  • Charles Ponzi (1882–1949): "Ponzi scheme" is a "get rich fast" fraud named after him[11]
  • Soapy Smith (1860–1898): Jefferson Randolph Smith II organized bunco and crime boss in Denver and Creede, Colorado, and Skagway, Alaska, in the 1880s and 1890s[12]
  • Adele Spitzeder (1832-1895): German actress that arguably was the first to perpetrate a ponzi scheme between 1869 and 1872 when she defrauded thousands of people by promising them 10% return of interest monthly which she paid with the money of new investors
  • William Thompson (fl. 1840–1849): U.S. criminal whose deceptions caused the term confidence man to be coined[13]
  • Ferdinand Ward (1851–1925): American swindler whose victims included Thomas Nast and the former U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant.[14]
  • Joseph Weil (1875–1976): American con man[15]
  • Fernando Wood (1812-1881): U.S. Congressman, Mayor of New York City, and a con artist who defrauded his brother-in-law and three others of $20,000 in a scheme involving the charter of a ship to sell goods during the California Gold Rush.[16]

Born or active in the 20th century[edit]

Living people[edit]

  • Frank Abagnale, Jr. (1948): U.S. check forger and impostor turned FBI consultant; his autobiography was made into the movie Catch Me If You Can.[25] Abagnale impersonated a PanAm pilot, a doctor, a lawyer, and a teacher to illegally make over $2.5 million[26]
  • Sergio Cragnotti (1940): Former Italian industrialist and president of a football team who masterminded the Cirio bankruptcy
  • Ali Dia (1965): Senegalese semi-professional footballer, duped the manager of Premier League team Southampton into signing him after posing as World Player of The Year George Weah in a phone call in which he gave himself a fake reference[27]
  • Marc Dreier (1950): Founder of attorney firm Dreier LLP. Convicted of selling approximately $700 million worth of fictitious promissory notes, and other crimes[28]
  • Kevin Foster (1958/59): British investment fraudster, convicted of running a Ponzi scheme[29]
  • Randy Glass, who defrauded jewelry traders and became involved in the entrapment of undercover arms dealers.[30]
  • Robert Hendy-Freegard (1971): Briton who kidnapped people by impersonating an MI5 agent and conned them out of money[31]
  • James Arthur Hogue (1959): U.S. impostor who most famously entered Princeton University by posing as a self-taught orphan[32]
  • Jho Low (1981-?): Claimed to be an financial expert and trusted by Malaysian Ex prime minister, Najib Razak, in managing 1MBD, a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund. He abused his position and committed a grand heist, stealing its money in billions of US dollars. He is one of the reason that caused Malaysia to be in mega debt.[33]
  • Brian Kim (1975/76): Hedge fund manager who pleaded guilty to Ponzi scheme, passport fraud, and other crimes[34][35]
  • Steven Kunes (1956): Former television screenwriter convicted for forgery, grand theft, and false use of financial information;[36] he attempted to sell a faked interview with J. D. Salinger to People magazine[37][38]
  • Simon Lovell (1957): English comedy magician, card shark actor and con man
  • Bernard Madoff (1938): Former American stock broker and non-executive chairman of the NASDAQ stock market who admitted to the operation of the largest Ponzi scheme in history[39]
  • Gina Marks (1973): American "psychic" con artist.[40]
  • Matt the Knife (1987): American-born con artist, card cheat and pickpocket who, from the ages of approximately 14 through 21, bilked dozens of casinos, corporations and at least one Mafia crime family[41][42][43]
  • Rudy Kurniawan (wine connoisseur and collector) (b. 1976): Pulled off the biggest wine scam in history. Famously consigned several lots of Clos St. Denis from Domaine Ponsot from vintages long prior to any recorded production of Ponsot wines from that vineyard.
  • Barry Minkow (1967): Known for the ZZZZ Best scam[44]
  • Richard Allen Minsky (1944): Scammed female victims for sex by pretending to be jailed family members over the phone[45]
  • Ian Mitchell: Posed as an heir of a wealthy Jamaican family and defrauded investors of hundreds of thousand of dollars.[46]
  • Jim Norman (musician) (2009): Used the ESPAVO Foundation and Thrum Records to defraud millions of dollars in a cross-border advance fee scam, and was eventually convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud[47]
  • Christophe Rocancourt (1967): French con artist who scammed affluent people by masquerading in turn as a French nobleman, the heir to the Rockefeller family or family member of a celebrity.
  • Steven Jay Russell (1957): Georgia police officer who impersonated several individuals to escape from a Texas prison; embezzled from the North American Medical Management corporation; inspired the movie I Love You Phillip Morris[48]
  • Ong Kean Swan (1982): Ran multi-level pyramid schemes in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan, walked away with an estimated US$35 million.[49]
  • Calisto Tanzi (1938): Former Italian industrialist and president of Parmalat, which he led to one of the costliest bankruptcies in history
  • Alessandro Zarrelli (1984): Italian Amateur footballer who posed as a fictitious Italian Football Federation official offering a professional player (himself) for a cultural exchange to various clubs in the United Kingdom; he signed with one club and trained with several more[50]
  • Drunvalo Melchizedek (1941): American author who scams people by pretending to have access to special knowledge by channeling the god of Egyptian Mythology Thoth.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; Paul Hopkins and Stuart Handley, 'Chaloner, William (d. 1699)'
  2. ^ "Document of the Month January 2005". The Scottish Executive. January 2005. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  3. ^ Haslip, Joan (1987). Marie Antoinette. New York, NY: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 9781555841836.
  4. ^ a b Maurer, David W. (1940). The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man and the Confidence Game. Bobbs Merrill. OCLC 1446571.
  5. ^ "A Man of Ominous Name". The Inter Ocean. 1890-02-19. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  6. ^ "Encyclopedia of Cleveland History: CHADWICK, CASSIE L." Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  7. ^ Byrnes, Thomas (1886), Professional Criminals of America, New York: Cassell & Company, pp. 200–201.
  8. ^ Jay, Ricky (February 2011), "Grifters, Bunco Artists & Flimflam Men", Wired, 19 (2): 92.
  9. ^ Johnson, James F.; Miller, Floyd (1961). "The Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower". Doubleday. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. ^ Cohen, Gabriel (27 November 2005). "For You, Half Price". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  11. ^ Zuckoff, Mitchell (March 8, 2005). "Ponzi's Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend". Random House. ISBN 1-4000-6039-7. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ Smith, Jeff (2009). Alias Soapy Smith: The Life and Death of a Scoundrel, Klondike Research. ISBN 0-9819743-0-9
  13. ^ "Arrest of the Confidence Man". New York Herald. 1849. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  14. ^ "Son's Gems Claimed By Ferdinand Ward" (PDF). New York Times. 6 April 1909.
  15. ^ Weil, Joseph (1948). "Yellow Kid" Weil: The Autobiography of America's Master Swindler. Ziff-Davis. ISBN 0-7812-8661-1.
  16. ^ Allen, Oliver E. (1993). The Tiger: The Rise and Fall of Tammany Hall. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. p. 63. ISBN 0-201-62463-X.
  17. ^ "The Fund Industry's Black Eye". Brian Trumbore, 2002-04-19. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  18. ^ "Life Terms For Pair". The New York Times. 2005-03-22. Retrieved 2011-04-10.
  19. ^ Dirda, Michael (August 8, 2018). "Book Review : The most shameless con artist of the Jazz Age knew that the biggest lies work best". Washington Post. Retrieved 2018-08-14.
  20. ^ Willetts, Paul (August 8, 2018). "White Elk, Black Shirt by Paul Willetts". Powell's. Retrieved 2018-08-14.
  21. ^ (July 21, 2018). "Con-man Edgar Laplante's Oregon connections discovered in new publication". Oregon Digital Newspaper Program. Retrieved 2018-08-14.
  22. ^ "Natwarlal leaves 'em guessing even in death". Hindustan Times. 29 July 2009. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  23. ^ "The Cowboy Philosopher: A Tale Of Obsession, Scams, And Family". National Public Radio: Hidden Brain. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
  24. ^ Liston, Barbara (2008-05-21). "Boy band mogul Pearlman sentenced to 25 years". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
  25. ^ Frank W. Abagnale Jr.; Stan Redding (1980). Catch Me if You Can. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-64091-7.
  26. ^ 1948-, Abagnale, Frank W., (2000). Catch me if you can : the amazing true story of the youngest and most daring con man in the history of fun and profit. Redding, Stan, (1st Broadway books trade pbk. ed.). New York: Broadway Books. ISBN 0767905385. OCLC 43542209.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  27. ^ Gibbs, Thom (7 February 2011). "Five terrible debuts to make Fernando Torres feel better". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  28. ^ "N.Y. lawyer arraigned in alleged $700M fraud". March 19, 2009. Retrieved 2011-02-14.
  29. ^ "KF Concept £34 million Ponzi scheme organiser convicted". Serious Fraud Office. 9 March 2010. Archived from the original on 13 March 2010. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  30. ^ Mintz, John (2002-08-02). "U.S. Reopens Arms Case In Probe for Taliban Role". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
  31. ^ "Fake spy guilty of kidnapping con". BBC. 2005-06-23. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  32. ^ "Princeton 'Student' Gets Jail Sentence". The New York Times. 1992-10-25. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  33. ^ "Malaysia's 1 Trillion Ringgit Government Debt Explained". 2019-03-07. Retrieved 2019-03-09.
  34. ^ "Hedge Fund Founder Kim Gets Five to 15 Years for Scheme". Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  35. ^ "Ex-NY hedge fund head who fled admits $4M swindle". Crain's New York Business. March 16, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  36. ^ Hayden, Tyler (31 March 2011). "A Tale Stranger Than Fiction". Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  37. ^ Associated Press "Lawsuit by Salinger muzzles his imitator" Ottawa Citizen November 5, 1982, p. 65, col. 1
  38. ^ "J.D. Salinger in Accord On Impersonation Suit". The New York Times. 6 November 1982.
  39. ^ "Madoff Confessed $50 Billion Fraud Before FBI Arrest". Bloomberg. 2008-12-12. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  40. ^ McAfee, David G. (11 February 2018). ""Psychic" Convicted of Stealing $340K from Her Clients, Blames Racism Against Gypsies". Patheos. Archived from the original on 13 March 2018. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  41. ^ "American Voices". American Voices. October 12, 2008.
  42. ^ Schwartz, Dan (August 2007). "From Grifter To Guinness". Providence Monthly: 14.
  43. ^ Perry, Rachel (January 17, 2007). "Matt The Knife: Fire-Teething Never Looked So Good". Play (Philadelphia Edition): 10–12.
  44. ^ Leung, Rebecca (May 22, 2005). "It Takes One To Know One". 60 Minutes.
  45. ^ Gorman, Anna (2001-12-01). "Rapist in Sex Scam Case Sentenced to Life in Prison". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-06-27.
  46. ^ Rosenberg, Rebecca; Trefethen, Sarah (January 6, 2019). "Con man scammed investors over $100K at swanky Manhattan parties". Retrieved January 7, 2019.
  47. ^
  48. ^ "Master Manipulator". Texas Observer. 2003-07-03. Retrieved 19 August 2007.
  49. ^ "大马王子在澳门狂赢1.3亿然后大撒币?真相原来是丨无路可套" (in Chinese). 知乎专栏. 15 July 2018. Archived from the original on 27 August 2018.
  50. ^ "Alert over Italian soccer 'star'". BBC News. 10 October 2005.