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Famous hustles and cons

Some of the best hustles have involved the world's most famous monuments. A fast-talking Scotsman named Ferguson was one of the best. He made a tidy profit of 6,000 pounds for Trafalgar Square, received a 1,000 pound down-payment for Big Ben and even sold the White House for monthly payments of $100,000. He was caught out when he tried to sell the Statue of Liberty to a visiting Australian.

Ferguson was sent to Alcatraz. The clerk writing out his death certificate had to ponder for a moment before entering Ferguson's occupation. In the end she settled on& salesman.


Frank Abagnale Jr made a fortune from forging checks and outwitting even the smartest of FBI agents. Posing as a Pan Am pilot, a paediatrician and a professor of sociology at a renowned American university, Abagnale's talents in deception saw him swindle millions of dollars from renowned banks, airlines and hotels around the world - all before the age of 21.

Although he seemed invincible, the FBI caught up with him. But he was not captured for long; the same people who caught him eventually offered him a job. To this day, Frank Abagnale Jr still remains the FBI's foremost authority on document fraud.


Another great master of the con was Victor Lustig - the man who sold the Eiffel Tower. Lustig's great con began one morning when he read an article about the troubles Paris City Council was having in maintaining the Eiffel Tower. Lustig had just the solution.

After adopting the persona of a government official, he sent six scrap metal dealers an invitation to attend a confidential inspection of the Eiffel Tower. After arriving in a limousine, Lustig wined and dined them before proposing his offer to sell the tower on behalf of the French government. Within hours the first bids were flowing in. Lustig got his sale. Not once, but twice. Another six scrap metal dealers fell victim to his scam a month later.