A number of these con artists used their knowledge and well-planned lies to gain wealth and fame. They would persuade almost anyone into believing their story. You have to be careful since this con artists may employ more tricks to keep you from even going to the police. Their scams may come in various forms for example, fortune-telling fraud, romance scam, Drooped wallet scam or Gold brick scams. With the high standards of living especially in urban areas the number of con artists has also risen. This calls for you to be vigilant.
Table of Page Contents
The top 10 list of most famous con artists ever is as follows:
10. Bernard Cornfeld
He was a businessman and international financier, Cornfield sold investments in United States mutual fund. He was born in 1927 in Turkey. He initially worked as a social worker in United States but later became mutual fund salesman. He was gifted in selling although he was a stammer. Cornfield started his mutual fund selling company. Cornfield and the founders of IOS pocketed some amount. Later they were charged with fraud and got arrested by Swiss authorities. He served 11 months jail term and $600,000 fine. In Beverly Hills, Cornfield lived a quiet life as compared to the previous years. Unfortunately in 1995, he suffered a stroke and died of cerebral Aneurysm.
9. Mary Baker
Her story was that she escaped pirate captors by swimming the storm and getting to the safe shores. This story brought her fame and got the attention of the wealthy Worrall family. This family cared for Baker even after her true colors were revealed. They funded her journey to Philadelphia where her fame continued to grow. Later, Baker returned to England.
8. Robert Hendy-Freegard
He was a British barman, impostor and conman, who pretended to be MI5 agent and lied to several people to hide for fear of IRA assassination. He met his customers at various occasions including in the pub and car dealership where he worked. He would tell them he was an undercover agent for MI5 working against IRA. They believed his lies, he asked for money and made them do his bidding. He forced them to cut off any communication with friends and family. Later they would go through “loyalty tests” and stay in isolation in very poor state. He played games on five women and promised to marry them. Hendy-Freegard blackmailed a newly married assistant. He told her that he was with MI5 and demanded that she cut any communication with her friends and family. He had also taken naked photos and claimed to send them to her husband if she refused to co-operate. He was convicted for kidnapping twice, theft charges were ten and deception were eight. He was sentenced in 2005 for life imprisonment. This was revised and instead convicted for 9 years.
7. Barbara Erni
She was born to a homeless couple in Liechtenstein. Erni went around the countryside claiming she had treasures in a trunk. Wherever Erni would go, she would ask those hosting her to lock her trunk somewhere safe. This had to be somewhere safe where the hosts kept their valuables. Early the next day Erni would have taken both her trunk and their valuables. Erni always had someone within the trunk that helped her execute her plans. Eventually, she confessed to seventeen robberies and got executed in 1785. She was the last person to be beheaded in Liechtenstein before this death penalty was abolished.
6. James Hogue
He went to Princeton University and pretended to be a self-taught orphan. He enrolled in Palo Alto High where a reporter exposed him. In the year 1988, he enrolled in Princeton University as Alias Alexi Indris Santana. Hogue was out of school for a year since he was convicted for stealing bicycle frames. Hogue’s true identity was exposed by a fellow student who recognized him. Later, he was arrested for taking $30,000 in financial aid and was convicted to 3 years imprisonment. Five year probation and community service of 100 hours.
5. Big Bertha Heyman
Heyman followed the footsteps of her father who was a forger. She was the sharpest of the con artists. She used peoples’ greed, hubris and ambition to benefit herself. Heyman was paid load of cash in exchange for wealth in future. Even after she got arrested, she was still able to use people to her will. She also convinced prison officials to release her in order to take carriage rides in Manhattan and visit the theater too.
4. Charles Ponzi
Charles was born in 1882 and died in the year 1949. He was an Italian immigrant and became among the famous con artists in America. He was known to fabricate stories and so his early life is not fully known. Although, he dropped out of the university and arrived in United States with $2.50. Charles used to work in a restaurant where he eventually got fired for playing tricks by shortchanging customers. He landed himself work in a bank but sadly the owner of the bank used to steal money and later fled to Mexico leaving Ponzi without a job. Ponzi was now determined to become rich no matter the cost.
He began buying foreign coupons that he later sold for a 400% profit. He borrowed money from friends and promised them to return with a 50% profit. With all these money he started his company known as the security exchange company that would later promote this scheme. Ponzi started living a luxurious life. Cash was flowing in at a fantastic rate, although the financial analysis showed he was losing it at a faster rate. Later Ponzi pleaded guilty of fraud and was sentenced.
3. Mary Carleton
After a couple of disappointments, Carleton fled England for Netherlands. She had a couple of men who she played and robbed them. Many of these men were ashamed to reveal her schemes. These led Carleton to be convicted of death sentence at the age of 30.
2. Frank Abagnale
He was initially a cheque con artist, he used to pass bad cheques of more than $2million. As a youth he took his father’s Mobil card and bought car parts. He sold them back at gas station at a cheaper price. When his mother confronted him with the fraud and found guilty he was sent to a juvenile correction facility. He continued to use the money he earned in his fraudulent activities while in New York. Abagnale printed his account number on fake bank deposit slips, so that when customers deposited their money it would go directly to his account. Before this fraud was realised, Abagnale had stolen $40,000.
He was later caught in France this is after he had toured the world free by masquerading as a pan. He spent six months in prison. Frank escaped while travelling to United States but eventually got sentenced to 12 years in prison. He was born in 1948.
1. Aurora Florentina Magnusson
In the past before blood tests were easily accessed, it was easy to find your way into a wealthy family. All that you needed was a grandiose backstory. Florentina named herself Helga de la Brache, the alleged daughter to King Gustav IV and Queen Frederica. She formulated a detailed story of the divorced royals coming back together in a German Convent and left her with her aunt Princess Sophia. Since Princess Sophia was dead, Magnusson story was valid. She was then forced into an asylum and her claims of noble background were ignored. After she ran away, Magnusson pleaded with Sweden for a royal refunding. All these was proved to be scam in 1876, she was later fined but did not go to jail. After all these she lived with Henrika Aspegren.
These famous con artists had scams that were not easy to classify because they changed often. They would tend to target elderly people since they are inexperienced. This happened mostly when modern technology was inaccessible to most people, which increased their vulnerability.