5 Famous Con Artists and How To Find More
Con artists. They may be your friend, a salesperson, or someone calling you about your car’s extended warranty. The good news is that con artists don’t have to remain hidden. In fact, many of the most famous con artists have been caught and brought to justice. Still, it’s always best to find the con artist before they swindle you or take any money from you.
To help you spot them, we’ll take you through a handful of famous con artists and explain what they did. By learning about some famous examples, it’s possible to avoid potential scams and cons. Additionally, we’ll show you how to find a con artist using a background check search tool like Information.com.
5 Famous Con Artists
Several con artists have walked the Earth and taken money from people’s pockets, some literally and others through schemes and financial investments. We’ll take you through the five famous con artists below.
1. Charles Ponzi
There can’t be a list of con artists without Charles Ponzi, who has an entire scheme named after him. Charles Ponzi duped people out of about $32 million during the 20th century, equivalent to almost $500 million in the 21st century. In fact, Ponzi had one of the largest cons in all of history, hence the name Ponzi Scheme.
Ponzi was eventually caught for living a lavish lifestyle and ended up getting deported to Italy. From there, he died in Brazil without any wealth. What’s more, he was all alone.
2. Sylvia Browne
Sylvia Browne was a religious con artist. Unlike the basic financial cons of the 20th century, Sylvia Browne claimed that she could speak with God. She even became a famous radio and talk show personality during the 1900s. While some of her work was legit, Sylvia Browne eventually turned to conning people.
Conning people consisted of claiming that she could speak to the dead, which she used as a means to get money from grieving family members. From there, she would use that money to create fraudulent investments and ultimately scam thousands of people out of money.
3. William Thompson
Another con artist that had a phrase named after him is William Thompson. The phrase was “Confidence Man,” which was later shortened to “Con Man.” People began calling him a “Confidence Man” because he would get rich people in New York City to give him money or other valuables. Instead of using the money, he would run off with it.
Overall, William Thompson stole thousands from the upper-classmen of New York. That said, what made William Thompson a threat was how likable he was and how easy it was to trust him.
4. Frank Abagnale
Ever seen the movie “Catch Me if You Can?” Well, that’s based on the true story of Frank Abagnale, who’s played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Abagnale ran a successful con on banks in the United States by forging information, which helped him steal thousands of dollars from banks using fraudulent checks. Abagnale was found by an FBI agent and helped the FBI once he was released from prison after serving his sentence.
Abagnale also got away with a few other instances of con artist behavior. For example, he impersonated lawyers, doctors, and pilots. It’s also important to note that Abagnale committed fraud in 12 different countries, so his cons were widespread.
5. Elizabeth Holmes
Elizabeth Holmes is a great example of a modern con artist. In 2003 she started a company called Theranos, a health tech company focused on blood testing. Because of the company’s success, Holmes became one of the richest people in the world in 2015. In fact, she was the world’s first self-made female billionaire.
The company was worth about $9 billion, but there were a few issues. First and foremost, she lied about what the company did to mislead investors. Additionally, she also misled regulators in the industry. Now, Holmes is awaiting sentencing and may serve 20 years.
How To Spot a Con Artist
Con artists are usually good at what they do, and it often takes several years for them to get caught. It’s also important to note that con artists are in many fields. They may call you, try to sell you something, or enlist your help for a specific task. Therefore, knowing how to spot one is important.
Signs That Someone Is a Con Artist
Several signs will indicate that someone is a con artist. In most cases, they don’t want to be found or will have a dodgy background. They may even be standoffish when you ask about what they do or if there are other members of their group.
Below we list some of the signs that point to someone being a con artist:
- They’re dodgy and don’t want to be noticed or found. They may use different identification, phone numbers, and email addresses.
- Con artists are better dressed than the average person and may wear expensive or fake designer jewelry.
- Most con artists will push financial products like insurance or investments that aren’t easy to understand.
- A con artist may bring out the worst in you.
- They’re friendly before they take money from you or sell you a product.
- They may be involved in MLM schemes.
Paying attention to these warning signs shows that someone may be a con artist. Of course, it doesn’t guarantee that they are one, but when you see a few of these characteristics in one person, running a background check on them is a good idea.
How To Find a Con Artist
The best way to find a con artist is to use a background check tool. Background check tools will help you find someone’s criminal or court records, sex offender status, and much more. Therefore, finding a con artist comes down to looking for more information you have about them.
The more information you have, the better your chances. When it comes down to background check tools, our favorite option is always Information.com. Information.com’s background check search tool will help you find accurate and current information about people, which includes the following:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Email address
- Sex offender status
- Criminal records
- Court records
- Traffic records
- Marriage or divorce records
- Relationship status
All of this information, if it’s available, you’ll find with Information.com. As long as you have their name, phone number, email address, or address, you can look up just about anyone with Information.com.
Find Con Artists Today
Con artists are everywhere. You may think someone is genuine, but there is a chance that they’re interested in stealing from you. What’s more, con artists may even have legitimate businesses, but they con more money from you. Therefore, con artists are dangerous and need to be avoided.
The good news is that with criminal background check tools like the one offered by Information.com, it’s easy to avoid falling victim to scams and con artists. When you run a background check, you can see if someone is who they say they are, which tells you if they’re legit or not.