Loud scams related to financial fraud always cause a wide public response. But famous swindlers attract huge public attention, and their names remain in the memory of people for a long time.
The Eiffel Tower story
The Parisian swindler Victor Lustig, nicknamed the Count, was well known in narrow circles. The fashionable casino frequenter always determined who was worth dealing with. At first glance, he assessed the well-being of a new acquaintance and, if such an opportunity presented itself, cleaned him up to the skin while playing a card game. But in 1992, Lustig decided to pull off a truly grandiose scam. Sitting in a cafe with a cup of morning coffee, Victor looked through the newspapers and found an advertisement for the forthcoming renovation of the Eiffel Tower. The note stated that the renovation would be very expensive, and a proposal to demolish the tower is currently being considered. Lustig immediately came up with a brilliant plan - posing as a government official, he sent an offer to buy the tower to several rich people, citing the too expensive content of the attraction. Lustig announced a competition and gave the win to an entrepreneur who offered $ 50,000. Of course, having come for his property, the businessman was convinced of the deception, but Lustig with money in his pocket was by that time already outside France.
In 1926, Lustig was caught and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Loud scam that nearly cost your life
Han van Meegeren was a not-so-famous Dutch painter who often abused alcohol. Undoubtedly, Meegeren had abilities - he painted animals and portraits well, subtly conveyed the play of light, but in his works there were a lot of imitations of earlier masters. This quality served as a source of income for him in the future. In 1937, the missing painting of the legendary painter Vermeer Delft "Christ at Emmaus" was found. The canvas was discovered by van Meegeren and sold to a museum for several million dollars. After that, a few more "missing" works by Vermeer appeared on the painting market. In 1943, one of the paintings was discovered in Germany. The Dutch authorities determined that van Meegeren was the seller. The artist was arrested and sentenced to death for the sale of a national cultural property. Under pain of death, Meegeren confessed that he was the author of all the works. To prove his innocence, the artist had to make a copy of Vermeer's painting in a prison cell, only after that he was released.
Van Meegeren became the hero of several novels.
One of the biggest real estate scams
German realtor Jurgen Schneider entered the real estate business in 1981, during the incipient reunification of Germany. At that time, many objects of pompous socialist architecture were being demolished, and more massive and modern housing was built in their place. Jurgen Schneider specialized in the most expensive and elite properties. He invested a lot in the restoration of existing buildings, turning them into masterpieces of architecture. Schneider quickly became one of the largest investors in Germany, founding several subsidiaries and gaining a huge workforce. In 1994, the entrepreneur announced to his employees that he was going on a short vacation. However, several weeks passed, and Schneider never showed up. It turned out that the successful real estate guru had simply fled, leaving the firm millions in debt and in trouble with the authorities. However, Schneider's carefree journey did not last long - in 1995 he was caught and arrested for 7 years.