Some of history’s most outrageous work deceivers


Marcus Licinius Crassus

One of the wealthiest men in ancient Rome, Crassus would set fire to homes. As they burned, he’d buy them on the cheap and put out the flames.

Pope Leo X

This industrious 16th century pope, a Medici, made a very unholy fortune selling absolutions. He funded the construction of St. Peter’s basilica.

The Fox Sisters

The 19th century siblings, touring spiritual mediums, profited from conducting séances. The “rappings” they got out of ghosts were the cracking of their joints.

Charles Ponzi

The Ponz promised investors profits by purchasing foreign coupons and redeeming them for postage stamps in the U.S. His investors lost $20 million.

Frank Abagnale

The expert check forger, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2002 film Catch Me If You Can, was also a fake airline pilot, doctor, and attorney.

Seven Dwarfs of Big Tobacco

In 1994 the chief executives of the tobacco industry testified under oath to Congress that nicotine isn’t addictive.

Kenneth Lay

Enron’s No. 1 dumped its stock just before it became one of history’s biggest bankruptcies. He was convicted of six counts of fraud and conspiracy.


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