5 Legendary Con Artists Who Managed the Unimaginable
It takes guts and wit to trick people into believing you. Getting you ‘under the ether’ is a con artist’s fundamental objective. They engage your feelings of easy achievement and quick earning so you quit thinking with a cynical approach. Hence, the term – confidence trick.
So, we decided to enlist some of the most legend-(wait-for-it)-dary con artists who managed to fool the world.
We don’t support fraud but give the devil its due, so read on..
1. Frank William Abagnale Jr.
Possibly the greatest con artist of all times, Frank Abagnale Jr., a check forger, a trickster and an impostor, claimed to have around 8 identities, including an airline pilot, a lawyer and a doctor. He masqueraded as a PanAm pilot and dead-headed to various destinations. It is estimated that between the ages of 16 and 18, Abagnale flew more than 1,000,000 miles on around 250 flights and traveled to 26 nations for free. He now works for the federal government and is a security consultant for the FBI. You might remember Abagnale’s autobiography ‘Catch Me If You Can’ which made it big as a feature film starring Leonardo Di Caprio.
2. Charles Ponzi
An infamous swindler of the 1920s, Charles Ponzi was best known for the monetary law violations and financial crimes he committed when he conned speculators into providing for him a large number of dollars, and paid them returns with other financial investors cash. The very famous Ponzi Scheme, that is often used in business, was named after him. Charged with fraud for about $7 million, Ponzi spent 14 years in prison after pleading guilty.
3. Victor Lustig
Popularly known as the “Man who sold the Eiffel Tower.. Twice”, was the smoothest con artist that ever lived. Posing as the Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs, Lustig held a secret meeting with scrap dealers from the town and convinced them that the government had no funds to maintain the Eiffel Tower and was thus selling it as metal scrap! In another scam, he devised a machine which he called the ‘money box’ and sold them to greedy victims who believed that this machine would print $100 bills. When Lustig was arrested, a key was found with him. The key led the police to a locker which contained counterfeit bills which amounted to about $51,000.
Born Mithilesh Kumar Srivastava, Natwarlal, was a professional lawyer before he became a con artist. During the course of his life, Natwarlal duped and cheated hundreds of people including big industrialists of India such as the Tatas and the Birlas. Natwarlal is known for selling the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort, The Rashtrapati Bhavan and also the Parliament House of India. Not once, but again and again. Natwarlal escaped prison more than 10 times and in 1996, he went missing after slipping away from the police’s hands once again. He is considered the greatest con man of India and is often compared to Frank Abagnale and Victor Lustig.
5. Eduardo de Valfierno
An Argentine con artist, Eduardo de Valfierno is often remembered as the man behind the Mona Lisa Theft of 1911. He was accused of paying Vincenzo Peruggia, a Louvre Museum official, who stole the painting for him. Meanwhile, Valfierno also paid an art restorer Yves Chaudron to make six copies of the original painting, which he then shipped off to different buyers making them believe they had the original painting. He was, thus paid a great amount by each buyer.