Scams and fraud. Do you hate them? Maybe you’ve paid more than you should have for your products; maybe you’ve bought something online that you never really received. As annoying as such incidents might be, some people have been unfortunate enough to be scammed on a much, much higher level. We would like to present you with a list we have compiled of the 5 biggest scams in history. Let’s take a look; this list has a much more “historical” take then previous coverage of the biggest corporate scandals.
No. 5: The Mona Lisa Scam
Photo Credit: Joaquín Martínez Rosado
In 1911, Argentinean Eduardo de Valfierno paid a Louvre employee to steal the Mona Lisa for him. Valfierno had no use for the original painting as his plan was to sell various forgeries to art collectors throughout the world. He simply needed the painting to be out of the museum so that everyone would think he was selling the actual Mona Lisa; and it worked.
No. 4: Bridges for Sale
Photo Credit: anieto2k
Few men in American history have been so prolific at conning gullible people as George Parker. For years on end, Parker made a living by selling various New York landmarks to unsuspecting tourists. His favorite pieces of “real estate” were the Brooklyn Bridge, Madison Square Garden, Grant’s Tomb, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and even the Statue of Liberty. Eventually, Parker was sentenced to life and he spent his last days in Sing Sing Prison.
Check out the rest of the world’s worst scams and fraud on the following pages:
No. 3: The Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower
Photo Credit: Terrazzo
Victor Lustig conducted several scams and cons throughout his lifetime and at one point he even managed to fool Al Capone, but he will forever be remembered as The Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower. In 1925, France, rumors were circulating that Parisian authorities were finding it increasingly difficult to keep up maintenance of their prized landmark, the Eiffel Tower. Lusting took advantage of this information and managed to convince a metal scrap dealer that the Tower would be sold. He ended up taking a hefty sum of money from the dealer who, after discovering he was scammed, was too embarrassed to report the incident to the police.
No. 2: Catch Me If You Can
Photo Credit: marcus_jb1973
Did you know that the Hollywood blockbuster Catch Me If You Can was based on a true story? Well, the movie’s plot was inspired by real life conman Frank Abagnale, who spent the better part of the 1960s passing out bad checks, amounting to a flabbergasting $2.5 million. He operated his scams in no less than 26 countries and at various times he impersonated doctors, lawyers, and teachers. Nonetheless, he ended up spending only 5 years in prison until the US government enlisted his help fighting scam artists. Nowadays, he runs his own fraud consultancy agency and is a millionaire. Crime does pay after all.
No. 1: The Ponzi Schemes
Photo Credit: tpholland
Throughout history, there have been countless Ponzi schemes, but where did it all begin? Italian native Charles Ponzi managed the performance of having a scam named after him. Eager to become rich at any cost, Ponzi devised a scheme where he promised people he would double their investments in a time frame of 90 days. The scam worked for a while, until investors and federal agents became suspicious of Ponzi’s activities and discovered his elaborate fraud. Everyone who invested in the scheme ended up losing every last cent.