Top 10 Worst Swindlers in History
Swindlers are known for their deception skills and confidence tricks. Perpetrators of this offense usually aim to seize victim’s capital assets through subtlety; that is fooling victims into believing that something does exists or will take place. Many swindlers have managed to amass a substantial amount of wealth by tricking a large number of people. These are ten worst swindlers in recent history:
10. Frank Abagnale
Frank Willian Abegnale Jr. is a famous American swindler who gained fame in 1970’s for traveling across twenty-six countries before reaching the age 19 using forged travel checks. In just five years, he assumed 8 different identities and collected a total of $2.5 million through various illegal means. The movie “Catch Me If You Can” was inspired by his exploits. He currently works as anti-fraud consultant in Abegnale and Associates.
9. George Parker
George Parker was one of the most successful swindlers in the history of the United States and he made his fortune by selling popular public landmarks, including the Brooklyn Bridge, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ulysses S. Grant’s Tomb, Madison Square Garden, and even the Statue of Liberty. More than once New York police had to deal with toll barriers erected on the Brooklyn Bridge by Parker’s victims. He was sentenced to life imprisonment at Sing Sing Prison and stayed there until his death.
8. James Hogue
James Arthur Hogue was an American swindler who posed as self-taught orphan. He grew up in Kansas City and was known as a talented athlete. He enrolled at Princeton University using the name Alexi Indris-Santana and arrested three years later for defrauding the university for about $30,000. After released from the Mercer County Correctional Center, he worked as repairman and remodeller. In 2005, police searched his house and found $100,000 worth of item he stole from homes he worked on.
7. Robert Hendy-Freegard
Robert Freegard was British con man. He met his victims in public areas and claimed that he worked for M15 and the Scotland Yard. He tipped fake information to his victims that they were being targeted for assassination by IRA. He guided them to safe areas and convinced them to give a large amount of money for various purposes. In 2006, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for various cases of deceptions, kidnapping and thefts.
6. Joseph Weil
Nicknamed the “Yellow Kid”, Joseph Weil worked with a network of other con men, including Billy Wall, Doc Meriwether, Bob Collins, William J, WInterbill, Romeo Simpson, Jim Porter and others. He is believed to have gained $8 million using various illegal methods. Weil served his sentence in the Atlanta Prison in early 1940’s and died in Chicago at the age of 100 in 1976.
5. Soapy Smith
Ryolph Jefferson “Soapy” Smith II was a gangster and con artist from the Wild West era who set up criminal operation in Alaska and Colorado. Through sleight-of-hand and various manipulation methods he tricked buyers, while posing as a soap seller. Smith promised that some cakes of soap in his display case contained $100 bills. He died in the “Shootout of the Juneau Wharf”, after grabbing a sack of gold from a returning miner.
4. Victor Lustig
In 1925, France was still recovering from the First World One and Paris was a fertile ground for a con man. Lustig read a newspaper article that one of city’s major problems was the maintenance of the Eiffel Tower. He forged a government document and invited major scrap dealers in a secret meeting. The idea of scrapping the Eiffel Tower wasn’t too strange at the time as it wasn’t meant to be a permanent monument in the first place. The tower was built in 1889 in Paris Exhibition and the designer originally planned to dismantle it in a few years. Lustig not only received a large sum of money from the Eiffel Tower scam, but also from bribery and money printing machine scam. He spent 20 years sentence in Alcatraz and died from pneumonia in Missouri at 1947.
3. Eduardo de Valfierno
Eduardo Valfierno was an Argentinean scammer who stole the Mona Lisa and paid a skilled art forger to make copies of the masterpiece. Valfierno paid Vincenzo Peruggio, an employee of the Louvre Museum, to steal the Mona Lisa. He didn’t intend to sell the original painting and only wanted to make it disappear so buyers who bought a copy would believe that they had the original. Peruggio was caught trying to steal the original painting and denied that he knew Valfierno.
2. Lou Herbert Blonger
Lou Blonger was a mining speculator, saloonkeeper and a con man. As his crime gang grew bigger, he no longer worked in the saloon and styled himself as a mining magnate. From his headquarters at the American National Bank building, his crime gang was untouched by local police. Blonger always cultivated the image of a model citizen, while continuing to bribe law enforcement officials and to schmooze public officials. Blonger was incarcerated in the Colorado State Penitentiary and died there on 1924.
1. Charles Ponzi
Charles Ponzi is an Italian-born scammer who specialized in finance-related frauds. The term “Ponzi scheme” is coined from his illegal activities and today, it is used to describe any scam that requires victims to pay in advance for a fake investment plan. Ponzi promised his victims a whopping 50 percent profit in less than two months. In 1920, he managed to collect $420,000 or $4.6 million in 2008 terms. Ponzi spent his last years in poverty and died in a charity hospital.