Great Con-Artists, Scammers & Rip Off Artists

In 1872, veteran prospectors Philip Arnold and John Slack bought $35,000 worth of diamonds in Europe and scattered them on land in Wyoming. They managed to convince the Bank of San Francisco they had discovered a diamond field and made $700,000.

Starting in 1921, Oscar Merril Hartzell began a scam selling fake shares in the estate of Sir Francis Drake. He contacted as many families as he could find with the surname Drake and was eventually accused of defrauding 270,000 people. The hoax netted him over $2,000,000.

When J. Bam Morrison arrived at Wetumka, Oklahoma in 1950, he claimed to be the advance publicity man for Bohn's United Circus, which, he maintained, was due to hit town in three weeks. He allegedly sold advertising space to local traders...for a circus that didn't exist.

By forging signatures, James Addison Reavis was able to claim he was the legal owner of 17,000 square miles of Arizona. The enterprise raked in $300,000 a year until he was arrested in 1895 and he was sentenced to six years in prison.

Joseph Weill, who inspired the movie "The Sting," rented abandoned banks and convinced businessmen that he had set up a genuine bank. He waited for them to deposit large sums of money before shutting down and moving on to the next town. This, plus some of his other scams, earned him over $6,000,000.

Now we can add Bernie Madoff!

Digg It! Stumble Delicious Technorati Tweet It! Facebook Add To Reddit RSS Google Bookmarks Meneame