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Greatest Scams of All Time

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Scams have been a recurring theme throughout history, with cunning individuals exploiting the vulnerability of human nature for personal gain.

In this article, we embark on a journey through time to unveil some of the most audacious and infamous scams ever recorded. From ancient civilizations to modern-day complexities, we explore the deceitful schemes that have shaped the world’s perception of fraud and deception.

The Ponzi Scheme

The 1920 Ponzi scheme, orchestrated by Charles Ponzi, involved enticing investors with promises of high returns from international postal reply coupons. 

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Instead of generating profits through legitimate means, Ponzi used new investments to pay off earlier investors. The scheme eventually collapsed, causing substantial financial losses for many victims and leading to Ponzi’s arrest and conviction for fraud.

The Miracle Car Scam

The Miracle Car scam, led by Robert Nichols and Robert Gomez, operated from 1997 to 2002 where 4000 people bought 7000 cars. They fraudulently claimed to have developed a revolutionary fuel-efficient car engine.

Attracting investments from unsuspecting individuals, they promised huge returns. However, the engine was non-existent, and the scam ultimately collapsed, resulting in legal actions against Nichols and Gomez for their fraudulent activities.

Sir Drake Estate Scam

The Sir Drake estate fraud involved a sophisticated scheme in the early 2000s. Con artists claimed to represent a wealthy estate, offering fake inheritance opportunities to potential victims.

Through convincing stories and false documents, they scammed people into paying fees to claim their non-existent inheritances. The scam resulted in financial losses for many individuals and led to legal actions against the perpetrators.

Matchstick Man Scam

Ivar Krueger was pursued by international banks, unaware that his numerous companies existed solely on paper and relied on mutual investments to appear profitable.

The facade unraveled during the 1929 crash when investors sought to liquidate, exposing the empty nature of Krueger’s enterprises.

The Great Diamond Scam

Prince de Rohan orchestrated Queen Marie’s purchase of a six-million-livre diamond necklace on credit, while his former mistress, Jeanne de la Motte, had ulterior motives. Picture PP

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She planned to steal the necklace for herself. However, her scheme was discovered, and as punishment, she was to face public humiliation by being stripped naked.

The Bre-X Minerals Gold Scam (1997)

Bre-X Minerals, a Canadian mining company, claimed to have discovered a massive gold deposit in Indonesia. Investors poured money into the venture, hoping for riches.

However, it was later revealed that the gold reserves were non-existent, leaving investors with substantial losses and a loss of faith in mining investments. The victims were left with nothing but disappointment and financial loss.

The Republic of Poyais

Enticed by Gregor MacGregor’s promising vision of the new country of Poyais, hundreds of hopeful individuals from England and Scotland embarked on voyages seeking a better life.

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 However, upon arrival, they were devastated to discover that Poyais was nothing more than a barren and uninhabitable wilderness, leaving them disillusioned and deceived.

The Portugal Banknote Affair

Reis engaged in the act of forging a contract with the Bank of Portugal, which granted him permission to produce a fresh batch of banknotes. He then approached Waterlow and Sons, the company responsible for printing Bank of Portugal notes in the past, to manufacture the counterfeit currency.

Fake Airport Sold

Emmanuel Nwude earned infamy as Nigeria’s most notorious scammer by successfully deceiving a Brazilian man named Nelson Sakaguchi into purchasing a non-existent airport for a staggering $242 million. This audacious act has secured Nwude’s place in history as one of the biggest fraudsters to ever operate in the country.

The Guy that Sold the Eiffel Tower Twice.

Victor Lustig, a con artist in the early 20th century, masterfully sold the Eiffel Tower in a daring scam. Pretending to be a government official, he convinced scrap metal dealers that the iconic landmark was to be dismantled.

Duping one dealer, he vanished with the money, only to repeat the scheme later. Lustig’s audacity and cunning made him a legendary figure in the world of scams.

HushPuppi

A Nigerian Instagram influencer, known as Hushpuppi (real name Ramon Abbas) has been sentenced to over 11 years in jail for his involvement in an international fraud syndicate.

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Behind his glamorous social media façade, Hushpuppi operated as one of the world’s most prolific money launderers, boasting about his wealth acquired through business email compromise scams, online bank heists, and other cyber-enabled fraud.

The FBI’s assistant director, Don Alway, revealed that Abbas even assisted the North Korean regime. He was sentenced to 135 months in Federal prison.

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